Farouk Martins Aresa
We seem to forget what we hated so much about Buhari and Obasanjo, even under his civilian rule. Buhari may come out even worse if he cannot get his way on corruption. Nigerians need a decisive leader to set wayward and erring criminals that are willing to take advantage of every situation. In the process, innocent people pay a price. Losers cannot control Buhari’s agenda!
The achievement worthy of praise in Buhari first month is corruption watch. Assurance by G7 leaders to haunt looted funds during their summit he attended; closing loop holes of revenue generating and collecting agencies at the Federal level must also be extended to the state level as previously promised by the former Coordinating and Finance Minister; discovery of 3.8t naira unremitted from NNPC and $2b depleted cash from Excess Crude Account deserve appreciation.
Security is very important but it’s an ongoing fight not only against Boko Haram but also against ethnic militia, day and night robberies and total disregard for human lives by Police and Army in their abuse of civilians. Indiscipline within the Armed Forces has demoralized Esprit de corps and their ability to respond to both internal and external threats.
It has only been a month since Buhari took over the new Government in Nigeria but looking at the criticism he has received, one would think he has been there for a year. Comparing this to the last time he took over as a dictator, his impact was immediate after the initial celebration that welcomed him and Idiagbon. What he lacks now is ruling by decree or fiat. While his voters may be patient for the next 100 days, the criticism by those that voted against him is startling.
There are problems from his own political Party that may distract him from fighting corruption. All of us have to decide which Buhari we want. It has to be one that will let some criminals go scot free to our dismay so that the right of most innocent people is not jeopardized or Buhari that will punish a few innocent people so that most criminals can be severely dealt with. It is easier to want something in between but practically difficult, even in western democracy.
Moreover, his APC alliance is under fire, revolt and subterfuge. Most of the inside fire is coming from the likely sources. They are members of PDP, his main opponent during the election, that were enticed to undermine their leaders and former President Ebele in collaboration with the new cross-overs from the same party. Instead of following the terms of their new party, they have decided on the minds of their own, with different agenda and goal. It may sink APC.
Ethnic rivalry will always have a place in the politics of Nigeria. The Hausa do not have to get involved in this. Let the Igbo and Yoruba play their politics of elimination as usual depending on which of them successfully gain not only alliance with the North, but trust. The Igbo gave their loyalty to Jonathan the defeated President that Yoruba found wanting. Sadly, the defeated President had been elected by most Nigerians North and South of the Country.
Since the Yoruba backed the elected new President, the Igbo are having the greatest fun of their life asking what Yoruba has gained from their endeavor with the North in view of the entire problem in APC between PDP crossover and Tinubu leadership in the APC alliance. Time will tell in hundred days or more how Buhari will solve the mess.
The Yoruba felt they have lost the Speakership twice in a row; with the opposition of Igbo that were against Ms. Akande in PDP in collusion with Tinubu during the reign of Jonathan. For the second time, Igbo went against Gbajabiamila with the support of Saraki against their past ally Tinubu. Yoruba must not feel sorry for themselves if they did not put their best foot forward.All Hausa brothers have to do is nothing, but watch the two other brothers go after one another.
There is nothing new here. Nigerians have a history of taking over parties that they were not foundation members of. Indeed, it has created problems for the leadership and Presidents of the parties. What is surprising here is that they would plan and carry out the plot under Buhari, the well-known former dictator. We are now under democratic disposition, he does not count?
There is also a saying in Nigeria that too many heavyweights will sink the boat. Nevertheless, we thought Buhari and Tinubu worked their differences out. What they didn’t take into account was their differences with members coming from the opponent’s party. Even more disturbing is the caliber of Buhari’s partner Tinubu and those of PDP crossovers, especially Bukola Saraki. Tinubu and Saraki are far from change Nigerians desired from Buhari’s anticorruption image.
Unfortunately, speculations are rife that Buhari had some insight into what may later be his waterloo. Some claim he did it to curtail the influence of Tinubu and his loyalists. Others claim PDP renegades want to make sure he did not probe PDP for corruption. If he has to probe them, he must start from Tinubu. If Buhari does not kill corruption, Corruption will kill Buhari!
Expecting Buhari to hit the ground running might have been easier under dictatorship. This time he has to prove that he is a true democrat willing to achieve his goals in a “civilized” manner by due process. He has made some appointments alright but they are heavily from his side of the North which other Nigerians see as common flaw of Northern leaders. The same Nigerians see Governor of Kaduna State, El Rufai appointments fairly accommodative of Nigerians in his State.
It may be unfair to estimate Buhari’s disposition when he has more appointments and ministers to select. There are some opinions that are harder to dispel based on first impression or initial missteps. Buhari is in politics now and he should have mixed up his initial appointments because he must have known that sceptics are watching every move he makes. We must also remember that he has some Northern constituencies he needs to send messages to.
If my leaders tell me the "treasury is (virtually) empty" and I look around me and across the country, and I see progress and development, upliftment, empowerment of the masses; I see the hospitals working, with efficient and effective healthcare system; I see a good and qualitative education system that is there to steer future generations on the right path to making this country great; there is employment created or made conducive for our present and future generation; I see good roads everywhere I drive; the farms and industries are working with 100% productivity, there is potable water and regular electricity; there is no threat of Boko Haram or any other home-sprung terrorists threatening my people, etc.
Then I will say, "Yes, I know how the money was spent so much that the treasury is empty". In fact, with what we have as a country blessed with all kind of resources, one will be confident, and will fear no evil, that we will soon make up the treasury, and I will sleep easy. I will commend those types of leaders for spending our money wisely and for the benefit of my people. I will be happy that the treasury is empty and tell them “you are doing fine by the people who elected you, no fears, no shaking, God bless you for an empty treasury”.
But when all the above listed, and more, are missing, and I see poverty everywhere; with my governors, local government chairmen, ministers, legislators, civil servants, commissioners and other political jobbers and office holders, all within a short time of elected or appointment have already built several houses at once and sleeping in 3,4 rooms at the same time; tar only the roads leading to their palatial residences; are driving 10 cars at the same time (yes, in Nigeria, that is now possible, though I don't know how they do it, but I suspect they may keep one mistress or girlfriend in each room and dart all over the house to each one in one night) and flaunting ill-gotten wealth in my face, while our education system, healthcare system, moral fabric, social, industrial, agricultural, technological, academic and economic infrastructures, remain moribund and neglected by the same people who are supposed and entrusted to initiate and implement good governance; and someone tells me "the treasury is virtually empty” why wouldn’t I believe it and be angry?
Why wouldn’t I believe that the treasury is really “empty”, even when we know it is not really that empty, and the use of that phrase is merely political and figurative?
Just my view and opinion!
Farouk Martins Aresa
How many people have you seen with a real red, white or black skin? For years some “colored” have “passed” for white just as some have “passed” for black. We have to understand people’s anger when actors passed for black to gain fame or undue financial advantage. We wonder out loud when under-represented minorities excelled against all odds then copied by majorities and few minorities get the opportunity to penetrate some privileges to foster cultural diversification.
Many so called whites from southern Europe are darker than some light skin Africans but will never take on the black commitment. It has nothing to do with the color of the skin but it has everything to do with a caste system perpetrated after slavery to enforce economic dominance.
Africa also had its own definition of black.If you are not dark enough, you must be white. It boils down to definition in each environment and majority of the people in control. Dark skin African Americans get cultural shock when so treatedeven if they are not accepted as white in their own country. Some light skins Africans actually claim relatives and religions outside Africa in the new world, when in fact their ancestors have never left Africa.
American history defined the “one-drop rule,” as anyone with an ancestor that is African. It was used to keep black people from white privilege. On that side are those that were born black but denied it so that they could gain political positions. Some went as far as becoming President of United Statesorthe Pope in Europe. The case of albino is totally different except that in those days, Africans see whites as albino by genetic mutation, which is closer to scientific fact.
Did Rachael Dolezal identifying as black the same as white hip-hop artists or Elvis Presley playing black music frowned upon by white parents? Parents did not want them to listen and dance to black music because they considered them “vulgar and gyrating”.It is easier for whites to be more respected when presented as blacks which disenfranchises blacks. But then, more white and black kids immersed in Hip-hop, sport culture patronize more black than white artists.
Most people of color understand this but they get mad when others are trying to compare their situation which they have no control over or can’t easily “pass”, for the skin color of others. This is why many black people still insist, in spite of offending others, that they cannot be likened to transgender, trans-color or gay because they are comfortable in a color only they have to live with. The fact remains that others also feel more comfortable as trans-whatever or gay.
Nevertheless, there are more varieties of rainbows that see themselves as white than there are white people that are so committed to black causes. Indeed, some are considered Niger-lovers and suffer the consequences or get treated worse than blacks when expedient to do so.
When we say color is only skin deep, this is a scientific fact. But science is not the same as social reality. We have more information and reality checks than ever, so we now understand that a black woman can give birth to twins: one a blue eye blond and the other with darker skin. Each will be treated and accepted differently in the same environment. One white blue eye blond had to warn her husband that there is a chance that one of their children may turn out black!
Black women are especially more offended by Racheal Dolezal identity as black may have its root in how easily white women identify with black men. Somehow sex has a tangential basis if not a dominating role for human behavior, courtesy of Sigmund Freud. It is the same black women that accuse some black men of looking for the closest lady to white skin.We have to be careful here because when some black people pass for white, they hardly make such a splash!
The way black women see white woman is not different from the way white women see Asian women and white men today. Though white women may understand African history but may not realize that their role perpetuates white privilege as much as the stereotypes they want to help fight. As a color commitment many foreign women (white or black) work against misogyny in Africa but the same communities will not tolerate as much assertiveness from local women.
Another extreme was Patty Hearst. When she was deeply entrenched in Symbionese Liberation Army, nobody could convince her she was not black. In order to be so deeply involved, one has to be a religious convert willing to take up the cause of the oppressed. If one can become a religious fanatic, it is easier to see how one could make a color commitment but not necessarily a fanatic. There are different ways of serving a cause, taking up arms is just the worst extreme.
There are mother Theresa spread all over the world that serve peacefully and die in the colors, beliefs and causes of those they serve. Some of them spend so much of their time in the sun, they acquire natural dark skin. Some African women and a few men bleach their skin white or change their hair and operate on their features to look anything but their natural selves as black.
Africans and African Americans have tried very successfully to diminish the “civil” war between different shades of blacks. Cases in point are in the West Indies and South Africa where light skin blacks or “colored” have a higher status than dark skin blacks. It is also easier for them to get jobs and aspire to political positions, even in the U.S.A. So some whites go the opposite way.
It is even more difficult to trace the mixture of those exotic ladies highly in demand by men of all races today. Since some successful black men are also involved in the discrimination against black women, the term MISGYNOIR has evolved to describe how black women are particularly affected or disfavored in getting a man to marry. It becomes easier for white women than white men to “pass” as blacks because more black men than black women accept it.
We can hardly find a pure race in the world no matter how strong the caste culture of skin color.
Let me start by confessing that I have a dilemma; and what is the nature of this dilemma? I will attempt to answer this question illustratively.
The current self-proclaimed governing party has since the May 29th inauguration been quick to remind us of the scale of the crisis that they have inherited, and consequently seized every such opportunity to plead for time, our patience, and our understanding.
I understand the necessity for patience, I know that we should not expect a miracle, nor should we expect a supernatural solution to problems caused naturally by human incompetence, ineptitude and greed.
But I also know that there is an elastic limit to patience, and that as a people battered by decades of bad governance and maladministration, time cannot mean eternity for us.
Come to think of it, President Muhammadu Buhari had sought the presidency unsuccessfully three earlier times. The implications of this to me are that he ought to have had twelve years to prepare for his presidency.
His Party, the APC on the other hand has had nearly three years since the announcement of the merger; nearly six months since the conclusion of its presidential primaries; nearly three months since it won the general elections; and nearly three weeks since the inauguration of the new administration to prepare to govern.
But alas, this self-proclaimed ‘governing party’ has been behaving more in the usual Nigerian parlance of a ‘party in government’, than as a governing party since the inauguration.
And although there is an emergent apparent job share between the President and his Vice, with the president taking the lead on security, and his vice taking the lead on the economy, uptil this moment, we are as clueless now as we were during the campaign as to what their holistic change program entails, in clearer details, beyond the sweeping generalisations and sloganeering of the party and its leaders in the public space.
After the APC had won in convincing fashion the 2015 general elections on the crest of popular disillusionment with 16 years of failure, and a collective aspirational hope for change, I had pointed out my worries with respect to the victorious party’s predilection and fixation with the structure and appearance of government, rather than with the content and essence of governance.
The implications of such a fixation the structure of government and the consequent sharing of the spoils of office on governance and the wellbeing of citizens, as well as on the ability of the party to meet popular expectations of the people can be very well imagined!
The most recent manifestation of the consequence of this fixation on structure and appearance rather than on content and essence was played out in the National Assembly leadership elections.
It is instructive to note that throughout the entire period that the contestation lasted in its current phase, the contesting platforms within the majority party did not present any legislative agenda. There were no programs of what the contending platforms will achieve or undertake as a path to fulfill the party’s program and promise of change.
Instead the crux of the divisive contestation was built around how to share the spoils of office and allocate lucrative rewards to this or that platform within the party.
On this issue of the NASS leadership elections, let me state clearly my views on the principles of it. First I am convinced that any organisation, let alone a political party must be interested in, and should play a decisive role in the selection of its flag bearers for any public office. I am for party supremacy over individualism, and for the will of the collective overriding the selfish interest or personal ambition of the individual. I am convinced that party supremacy can be justified only on the basis of robust internal democracy. And I know for certain that a party that tolerates indiscipline erodes its capacity to build internal cohesion.
But let us face the reality; the seed of the NASS leadership fiasco of the APC was planted way back in the foundation of the party.
This is a party whose emergence was based not on any previously articulated program and agenda for change. The merger was announced months and more than a year before a manifesto was developed. One would have expected that the first stage would have been the articulation of a minimum program around which the merger will then be negotiated.
Now the Party’s manifesto appears to be an afterthought, something undertaken in order to fulfill all righteousness, a document that is alien to discussions within the party, and one that remains unknown, unlearned, and uninternalised by party members. The party’s manifesto is neither owned by party members, nor does it seem to be understood and appreciated by the party leadership.
Earlier I had referred to the absence of a programmatic legislative platform by the contending forces within the party for the NASS leadership. Well how can these platforms articulate any agenda when the party itself does not seem to have a governance program for its four year tenure?
This foundational error it seems will be carried on into the composition of the cabinet. A party that won a highly contested general election on the promise of change, and against the backdrop mushrooming popular expectation engendered by the experience of a decade and a half of failed governance; is going to constitute a cabinet to assist it execute its program without haven articulated the program in the first place!
Now I hope you understand my dilemma with this unraveling situation where it seems that ‘The more things change, the more they are the same’.
To sum up; the historical challenge of governance in Nigeria is that the ruling class is still blinded and distracted by its primitive accumulation mode of building the foundation of the national economy and polity.
It is the underlying reason for its collective light-fingeredness and its rapacious looting of the treasury aided by impunity.
In fact the unprecedented levels of treasury looting and impunity of the last six years can be located and largely explained by the ascendancy to political power of the most marginalized and excluded faction of that ruling class, hence the uncharacteristic manner of its frenzied approach to public thievery.
This nature of the ruling class, and its dependence on the allocative power of the state to grow private wealth and build up private capital, is what is responsible for its fixation on the structure of allocation of spoils of office whenever it is negotiating or renegotiating a ‘National Consensus’ among its various factions and fractions.
The National consensus on sharing the spoils of office which laid at the basis of the 4th republic since 1999 had collapsed over the last six years, with the ruling class still in the process of renegotiating a new national consensus.
It is this process of renegotiating a new national consensus for primitive accumulation, which has produced the APC against the backdrop of the implosion of the PDP as the political vehicle to realize this new emergent national looting consensus.
However the ongoing internal contestations within the APC are reflective of the emergent and therefore yet unsettled nature of the negotiating process to produce a new national looting consensus.
Herein lies the historical task placed before the popular movement; to build an effective mass and popular political opposition on the understanding that the ruling class, no matter which faction is in power, will most likely rule in its own interest rather than govern in our collective interest.
The implication of such an understanding is that we must build a political platform based on clearly articulated minimum and transitional programs, and capable of not only taking advantage of the current instability within the ruling class to influence the development and governance agenda in our own interests; but also capable of undertaking a project to challenge the ruling class for political power, and take the power and govern in the popular interest.
JAYE GASKIA IS NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF PROTEST TO POWER MOVEMENT [P2PM] AND CO-CONVENER OF SAY NO CAMPAIGN [SNC]. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @jayegaskia
Friday, May 29, 2015 was “Coronation Day”!
I told my daughter Adetamilore, who is nearing her fourth birthday, that just like in her favorite cartoon movie Frozen, Muhammadu Buhari was the new King and he had good special powers to make things fantastic in Nigeria, but that unlike in the movie, everything went well with the “Coronation”. We got her to watch the inauguration of the new president live on TV, her little sister Adetimileyin in tow – the two little ladies witnessed history like most of the 180 million other Nigerians.
On December 31, 1983, I was about her age at the time of President Buhari’s first coming. Circumstances were way different. It was a different type of transition - a military coup heralded by martial music on our radios. For those of us who grew up in the 80s through the early 90s, that was the type of transition we became accustomed to, as the country experienced coups, failed coups and a “stepping aside”.
Another factor that made this transition an interesting one is that it was peaceful. Asides the long stretches of military interventions in governance, our country’s history has also been pockmarked by mindless violence associated with political transitions. Certainly, the number of lives lost due to military coups since our independence in 1960, is nothing compared to the number of those lost during the build-up-to and immediate aftermath of elections. My people in the Southwest of Nigeria especially understand the volatility of transitions. We are familiar with the spirit of totalitarianism, intolerance and poor sportsmanship that has characterized our politics in previous eras, such as the “wetie” crisis of 1965, preceded by the violence in 1962 which led to the declaration of a six months state of emergency. In fact, at the time of President Buhari’s first coming in 1983, the country was still reeling from the violence that marred the very contentious general elections, which featured in some places, the rehash of the “wetie” style of politicians inciting mobs to douse their opponents with gasoline and brazenly set them on fire. All the elections since 1999 also caused varying degrees of violence.
The foregoing provides a context within which to view the apprehension of Nigerians and the international community towards the 2015 election, with widespread predictions that at worst, it would lead to the disintegration of the entity called Nigeria and at best, it would occasion widespread bloodshed. But our republic came through it standing strong and the better for it. Seeing former president Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, our new president, seat together, smiling and sharing banters during the historic moments that power to lead the most populous black nation in the world was changing hands, is a sight etched in the memory of many Nigerians forever.
Friday, May 29, 2015 was a major step in the deepening of our democracy. Since the end of military rule in Nigeria and the commencement of our fourth republic of civilian rule in 1999, Nigeria has gone on to witness the peaceful civilian to civilian transition of power in 2007 and now in 2015, the first alternation of power from one political party to the other. It is instructive that President Buhari duly acknowledged the patriotic sacrifice of M.K.O. Abiola and other martyrs of the botched June 12, 1993 transition in laying the foundation for this to happen.
So it is in this context, that I will by God’s grace spend time teaching Tammy and Timmy the significance of “Coronation Day” in our history and for our future. However, before I teach her some key lessons, I have to help her unlearn that the answer to the question “Who is the President of Nigeria”? is no longer Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, but now Muhammadu Buhari. Similarly, in the spirit of the season, we adults have a lot of attitudes to unlearn and new ones to adopt if we are to be active citizens working with Muhammadu Buhari to birth a new Nigeria.
I will teach my daughters that despite his many failings, Goodluck Jonathan’s last major act in graciously conceding defeat indeed made him a hero. I will teach them that Muhammadu Buhari has been magnanimous in victory and promised not to use his powers to hurt any of his enemies. I will teach them that the Nigerian spring was via the ballot and a lesson to the whole world. Just like the world acclaimed diplomat and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku stated when proposing a toast during the inaugural dinner, I will teach them that Dr. Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of Ekiti State, similarly deserves commendation for setting the patriotic precedent in our polity by conceding defeat even when evidences were manifest that the June 21, 2014 election in Ekiti State was manipulated to put his opponent at an advantage. I will teach them about characters like Elder Orubebe and Prof. Jega, and the roles they played in our transition. I will teach them that the campaign that brought President Buhari to office was powered mainly by young Nigerians, including many of daddy’s friends.
Hopefully, the restructuring of the country will result in a more robust framework for deterministically teaching our children History and Civics in our schools and via other non-formal platforms. Hopefully these lessons will be available not only to Tammy and Timmy but to all Nigerian children. Hopefully, Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure of leadership will usher in the new Nigeria of our dreams – a country where doing good is rewarded and wrongdoing is punished; a country where everyone regardless of age, gender, tribe, religion, physical ability, or any other social markers would be given an equal chance to live life more abundantly and fulfill his/her God-given destiny. Hopefully, I can remind her that the change that made Nigeria a great country again started on “Coronation Day”.
Akin Rotimi, a strategic communications, diplomacy and public policy professional writes from Lagos.
How do we keep this generation of talents happy at home in Africa to develop and advance our arts, culture and sciences to save us from ruin? Our best talents in Africa are young people that bear the cross of poverty at home but still conquer and excel.Nurturing environment enables African unique ideas to determine our relevance or usefulness to compete in the world market.
We are still fortunate in Africa otherwise our culture, religion and people could have perished. Despite all odds, Africans relentlessly become durable in the face of economic onslaught and degradation of our people mostly with our own cooperation. Yet generations after generation, not only do we retain our culture and languages, we managed to keep them even outside the Continent. Despite the situation of African Americans, they have developed unique world niche.
If two out of three children in a family abscond overseas without a trace of our grandchildren, stories would be told of those two we never heard of again. The Yoruba have a saying that eunuchs never have children nearby. Okobo ki b’omo si tosi. What became of those children overseas that either left on 707 planes or by boat crossing the desert becomes immaterial.
Indeed some ladies go to Africa, get pregnant and left spouses there. Realizing the dilemma, the rich that sponsor the children overseas have resorted to starting new families with young ladies hoping the children would be grounded in Africa so that their lineage will not disappear. It does not make a difference whether the sperm is still productive intheir old age. There is that young lady that can make it happen either with a gardener or driver as in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
On the same lineagethinking, men that gave up on their overseas oyinbo and African wives, are coming back home to Africa to start new families with the hope that their own lineage will not disappear. There are stipulation by these men in the two categories, that is at home and those coming back from abroad. They make sure their wives and children never leave the shores of Africa. Moreover, they are denied foreign passports but given education anywhere but abroad.
A friend of ours used to say his children are going back home to live in his village. We asked: if you cannot live in your village, in the nearest city or country, what made you think your children will. Like the Israelis, he still promises next year in Africa. One has to begin with one stone, one brick and one step to lay a foundation on a dry land. It may be too late to raise a child at home.
But for the children that remain in African countries building and keeping the tradition, cultures and language; there would be nothing to rely on. As we get older we feel some sense of duty to preserve our own culture so that future generation can survive and propagate the tradition that must endure the test of time. In other words, we must refine our culture so that all the fetishes, crude and uncivilized way of life can compete equally with other cultures.
How long we are going to survive depends on our children at home, not the children sponsored by the rich overseas or those poor children crossing the deserts. Most of those children are not coming back to live, they will only visit. Some will visit for weeks to bury their parent, others for summer of winter holidays. Even those with foreign passports living in Africa cannot wait.
The who is who of Africa, pride themselves on the fact that their children are trained overseas by foster parents, not by them. Former Presidential candidate in Nigeria, Chief Falaye reflected on this sometimes ago as he wondered aloud about his children and grandchildren overseas. It used to be that we studied and go back home as soon as we were done. If you stayed too long community would wonder if you were trying to kill your parents or vying for Mayor of London.
Now, parents actually encourage their children to go after greener pasture and stay where they could send money back rather than become a burden at home. When men and women come home on holidays, parents offer their daughters and sons to those willing to marry. So the girls can escape overseas with them. It happened more often with men coming home to marry, cut off oyinbo wives, until they learned that some of the new wives turned out, not to be angels.
It is disappointing to Africans in Diaspora that after paying their dues and getting all educated, their desired jobs compared to white counterparts, only come in a trickle or as a token. Even after getting their dream jobs and moving to the best neighborhoods, discrimination from neighbors and police still follow them there. So, in a three piece suit, your color cannot hide.
The children of these overseasAfricans usually follow their parents home on holidays or other occasions. Many lose their languages and culture. We are usually happy when they eat some of our foods. But if their parents could not get our food to eat where they were, they substituted fine wheat for cassava and adopt other grain for fufu or millet. Fortunately, most African foods are now available overseas and there is no excuse for not eating some of the real thing.
It must be noted that Africans at home like all mankind have varied their tastes. Some of the foods eaten at home are not necessarily indigenous to the countries. A good example is bread. Trying to incorporate cassava with wheat in making bread is a continuous struggle because of adherence of taste to foreign seeds. It creates enormous demand for wheat farmers in country of origin. Believe it or not, some people are trying to create market for oats as fufu in Africa.
The same way Africans got introduced to food is the way we get adapted to many of the foreign culture that has diminished our capacity to expand and proliferate our own. It is so easy to get adapted to foreign taste and get hooked on it forever but to the detriment of homegrown food, culture, language or religion. This is how we craved for the countries built by others while we leave ours in disarray.
Let me begin by explaining a personal dilemma. Since the conclusion of the March 28th Presidential and National Assembly elections and the trumping defeat handed to the outgoing ruling [some, among them myself, will say ruining] party, by the now incoming self-styled ‘governing party’; a victory resoundingly confirmed in the subsequent State level elections two weeks later; I have tried my possible best to refrain from critiquing the continuing mis-governance of the incumbent government.
I had felt, and still feel that there would be no use literally flogging a dead horse! Nevertheless the deepening crisis of bad governance and the rapid unraveling of the transformation agenda in the last few weeks compel one to speak. And to speak out loudly not so much because one loves to dissipate energy flogging a dead horse, but in order that in-coming horse can hopefully take a different path and avoid the fate of the now over flogged dead horse.
In the few weeks since the general elections were won and lost our nation has been thrown from pillar to post, pilloried by the intensified storms of adversity. It is as if the nation is now running on auto-pilot, as if there is no government in place! The situation has been so bad, and is still deteriorating so steeply that many citizens have wondered what would be left of this nation and her people were the PDP and the outgoing regime to have won another four years mandate.
How did we get to this sorry state? In the twilight of the sixteen years of the PDP inclusive of six years of the GEJ presidency, on virtually all major critical fronts we are back to where we took off from in 1999 at the inception of the 4th Republic. And in some significant instances we have been taken even beyond the low levels of 1999.
It is that bad. Take for instance the argument over the national debt profile. The in-coming government says it will be inheriting a $60bn debt portfolio. The out-going government through its de-facto Prime Minister and coordinating minister of the economy comes out to say the debt stock is actually $63bn, but it is infact the total debt stock since independence in 1960, and furthermore, the GEJ government incurred only $21bn of that stock.
Now this is amazing coming from the same person whose claim to fame and economic wizardry lies in the fact that she successfully negotiated the pay off and write off of our national debt before 2006. In fact as a result of that deal we paid up in cash and at once $12bn in exchange for the forgiveness and write-off of the remaining $18bn.
So how come this current debt stock is the total debt stock from independence? And regardless of whether this current total debt stock is since independence or post debt forgiveness and therefore since 2007; the fact that the GEJ administration is responsible for $21bn of the $63bn is very significant. The implication of these is that if it was from 1960, the GEJ regime alone accumulated over 33% of the total debt; that is in 6 years out of a total of 55 years since independence.
Whichever way you look at it, it is another one of the indicators of the level of wanton profligacy of the Jonathan administration.
Secondly, we all now fully know that under the watch of this administration and as a further since of its congenital profligate nature we exhausted both our external reserves which came down from over $60bn in 2007 to less than $30bn by 2014; as well as our Excess Crude Account, which came down from $10bn as at Dec 2013 to below $2bn as at January 2015 for instance.
Now the case of the Excess Crude Account is even more worrisome. This is the account created to save for the raining days proceeds from sale of crude oil above the Benchmark in the annual budget. So let us do some mathematics. In the Jonathan years, for at least 5 of those 6 years crude oil sold for not less than $110 per barrel, whereas the annual benchmark never exceeded $80 per barrel.
The implication of this is if we assume a daily sales of an average of 1.5 million barrels of crude oil, over 300 days a year, over 5 years; and multiply this by an average daily excess of $30 per barrel, the total amount of money we get should be what is the total inflow into the Excess Crude Account throughout the Jonathan years. [1.5 (million barrels) multiplied by 360 (days) multiplied by 5 (years) multiplied by $30 = $81bn].
What does this mean in concrete terms? It means that as at May 2014 the total in flow into the Excess Crude Account out to have been $81bn, but what was in fact in that account as of that date was about $7bn which had been drawn down to $3bn by Dec of that same year, and which is now less than $2bn since then. I will leave us to make our own deductions with respect to the profligate and rapacious treasury looting capacity of this regime in particular and the entire ruling class in general given that this money was shared and looted by all the tiers of the government in contravention of relevant laws over these several years.
And because both the outgoing and incoming ruling parties participated in varying degrees in this dance of the insane, that is why we must take this promised change with a large dose of cautious optimism backed by eternal vigilance.
Let us now shift our focus to the combined energy crisis that has shut down the country and put her people in a state of National lock down.
At the inception of the 4th Republic in May 1999 the PDP inherited actual and available power generation capacity of about 2,500mw, and a national grid transmission capacity of about 4,000mw. Well 16 years down the line and after spending $40bn on investments in power generation, along with the unbundling of PHCN and the privatization of the power sector; what do we have?
As of May 22nd total available and transmitted power was down to 1,400mw. Additionally we have also witnessed a total and comprehensive collapse of the national grid.
According to NERC of the 23 power plants across the country 18 had to shut down completely and were not generating any power at all. These was due to a combination of reasons including ageing and increasing dilapidation of the transmission and national grid facilities, as well as inadequate [due to pipelines vandalisation] or non-availability of gas supply [due to workers strikes in the sector].
A number of issues are cogent here. First the grand scale and scope of corruption in the power sector reform process that has ensured that after injection of $40bn into increasing power generation, the result is that today all of the power plants, including independent power projects cannot generate more than a combined 6,000 to 8,000mw. The same level of corruption has ensured that the Gencos and Discos were fraudulently sold to and bought by cronies who had no technical expertise in power generation or distribution, and who took loans from our banks to effect payments for the fraudulent bids they made and won.
Another related issue is the parlous state of the transmission capacity and national grid. This national grid has not undergone any significant upgrading or refurbishment in three decades. And all the inchoate and frenzied attempts over the last decade or so to overload the grid with generated power has only further led to the weakening of the integrity of the grid, and rapid decline in its transmission capacity. This was a major reason to trigger the last collapse of the national grid which was triggered when a load of a mere 1,900mw was going to put and transmitted on it.
In fact over the last 5 years we have witnessed on the average 18 to 20 system collapses annually, with 80% of this being total collapses.
This lack of upgrade or maintenance of the national grid is responsible for the situation of frequent failures and collapses; and the consequent incremental decline in its transmission capacity is why even if all the power generation projects and plants were completed and working at full capacity and generating say 10,000 to 20,000mw combined today, it would still be impossible to evacuate and transmit the generated power and there will be no improvement in the power situation overall.
It takes a combination of three interrelated factors to achieve sustainable improvement in the power sector: adequate generation capacity which for the size of our economy ought to be at least over 30,000mw; adequate transmission capacity, which for a generation capacity of 30,000mw ought to be at least about 35,000mw; as well as robust distribution infrastructure.
As usual blinded by corruption, powered by impunity, we have placed the cart before the horse, and have developed a power transformation road map that is imbalanced and irrational; over focusing on power generation, eager to reap distribution booties without any thought at all for transmission and how to evacuate the generated power.
Relatedly also, why depend on gas fired power plants when you cannot guarantee gas supplies to the plants? And instead of establishing specialized trained units of the armed forces to undertake pipelines protection and the protection of other critical national infrastructure, the Jonathan presidency decides to outsource this critical national duty in lucrative seedy contracts to cronies, ex-militant generals and militia warlords.
And now the other leg of the energy crisis, the fuel scarcity saga. The near shut down of the economy occasioned by non-availability, scarcity and outrageous black market pricing for PMS, Diesel, and Aviation fuel is the most significant evidence that buttresses our point that due to the parlous state of power generation and availability in the country, petroleum products to power generators and the transportation system have unwittingly become transformed into factors, and in fact major factors of production, rather than consumption.
The high cost of fuel, and the near total dependent of citizens on independent self-generated power through generators for business, industrial and domestic use is a major contributant to the high cost of doing business in Nigeria, and the abysmally low levels of industrial capacity utilization. It is why businesses close down, reduce their operations and lay off of workers; and it is therefore a major factor in growing unemployment in the nation.
And corruption and impunity that drives it is the major reason why our refineries are not working and why we are dependent on importation of refined petroleum products to meet our domestic needs by more than 90%. In fact we are the only OPEC member country to be this totally dependent on imported refined petroleum products. Across OPEC, the average figure is that 80% of domestic needs in refined products are met through domestic refining; the near exact opposite of our own situation.
Let me illustrate the pervasive corruption; for instance in 2010 the nation paid subsidy on 33 million litres per day of petrol; however this figure irrationally short up to 60 million litres per day in 2011, and came down again after the outcry occasioned by the January Uprising of 2012 to 40 million litres per day in 2012, and 38 million litres per day in 2013. Similarly number of importers short up unexplainably from less than 60 in 2010 to 170 in 2011, and came down again to about 70 in 2012.
The fact is that these figures came down and yet no one was punished; not the marketers, nor the different officials of the respective MDAs who enabled this to happen, nor the political office holders who super intended over these sordid affairs.
We have said before, and we need to reiterate it, we have no business importing refined products. We need to quickly develop adequate domestic refining capacity and identify and severely punish economic saboteurs and criminals responsible for the failure of our refineries and abusing the subsidy regime. The proceeds of crime should also be seized along with recovery of looted funds.
In the interim, it is possible and desirable to do away with the subsidy regime without increasing prices. The best to do this is to negotiate crude for refined products swap deals utilizing the 444,000 barrels per day of crude allocated for domestic consumption.
To conclude, after 16 years of the 4th Republic, we are in the midst our worst economic crisis for decades; we have found ourselves right at the center of a combined energy crisis, with fuel scarcity combining to deepened an already bad power situation to produce a near shut down of the economy and a lock down of its citizens.
The unfolding crisis of absent governance of the last six weeks is turning out to be a sad commentary on 16 years of PDP stewardship of the economy and an epitaph on the years of the locusts.
The in-coming government and ruling party will do well to learn the appropriate lessons; otherwise the same fate shall befall it, and this time much quicker than the last time.
JAYE GASKIA IS NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF PROTEST TO POWER MOVEMENT [P2PM].
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