Recurring civility of Buhari’s Star Boy, Osinbajo wins more converts

By Tope Templer Olaiya
There’s presently no challenger; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is the undisputed poster boy of Buhari’s first-term presidency. And by each passing day, the Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) carves a niche for himself through his conduct and carriage of rising above the ashes of a floundering administration to earn the sobriquet, Star Boy.

Long before President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated his cabinet in November 2015, one man had been primed to take that space, the former governor of Lagos State. Babatunde Raji Fashola, a.k.a. Eko oni baje, was propelled then as the poster boy of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) that won the hearts of many during the 2015 elections.

And when the cabinet was unveiled with the president assigning three heavy portfolios – power, works and housing – to Fashola, the coast was clear for the Lagos ‘golden boy’ to transit from APC’s poster boy to Buhari’s actualizer, but it is another Lagos ‘golden boy’ that has taken the shine and grabbed the medal of this administration’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. He is by popular acclaim the Buhari administration’s ‘Star Boy,’ the poster boy of efficiency, commitment, honesty and loyalty.

The Star Boy, Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

Both friends and foes, young and old are left enamored by the vice president’s exemplary and humble lifestyle, especially his ebullient spirit and ability to maintain uncommon composure in the face of threats and barrages of attacks.

Tuesday’s incident was unscripted. It was the latest of the vice president’s recurring civility and addition to his expanding crest lined with badges of honour. Angry youths of Gbagyi village in Abuja had blocked the busy Umaru Yar’Adua expressway connecting the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to protest against the alleged land grab by the Nigerian Army.

The vice president was heading to the airport on his way to Ekiti State to launch the Homegrown School Feeding Programme when he ran into the protesters at Goza village. The protesters blocked Osinbajo’s motorcade and all entreaties by his security aides to appease the youths failed. They were only disarmed and placated when the Star Boy seized the moment, alighted from his bulletproof Mercedes Benz to engage with the angry youths, by proposing to meet with their leaders on the matter and intervene with a view to finding an amicable solution.

Instantly, the people ended the protest and opened the highway for free passage. Still not done, the vice president didn’t order his convoy to squeeze through the congested road, he waited to ensure cars ahead of his convoy went on first and then got back into his car to continue his trip to the airport. Deservedly, the once incensed youths now formed a guard of honour that stretched several miles to bid him goodbye.

That was a simple but classic act of courage and leadership, which has never failed the vice president in the last four years, especially at critical periods when he mounted the saddle as acting president.

NO AIRS: Osinbajo walking down to engage with the protesters

Acting otherwise with an excessive show of force would have been expected but out of character for Osinbajo. A similar incident with a different outcome occurred in December 2015 when the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, ran into the annual procession of the Shiites Muslim sect in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The ensuing clash turned violent, leading to the deaths of over 300 sect members and incarceration of the sect leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife since then. It is, therefore, left to be imagined what would have been left in the wake of such obstruction if it had been the motorcade of the president and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

Osinbajo left that rowdy scene, arrived in Ekiti, performed his official function but what makes the man so much loved still trailed him to Ekiti when he visited the man who served as official driver to Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The senior citizen, Pa Olajide Olabode, aged 87 and his family was visibly elated and felt honoured.

Apart from serving as official driver to the late sage, he also functioned in same capacity and had the privilege to interact with the former governor of Western Region, Oba Adesoji Tadeniawo Aderemi, who was also the Ooni of Ife; the former Premier, Western Region, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and the first Military Governor, Western Region, General Adeyinka Adebayo. Pa Olabode was also the chauffeur of visiting head of states that included Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.

Before then, Osinbajo had sat on a school bench to eat with pupils of St. Michael’s African Primary School, Ado-Ekiti after the launch of School Feeding Programme.

Long before the TraderMoni social intervention scheme was launched that would see Osinbajo visit major markets across the length and breath of the country, he had also being a crowd’s man. Osinbajo in 2017 had almost caused a scare in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, when he went for a state visit.

On arrival at the airport, then acting president Osinbajo had inspected the guard of honour mounted by troops of the Army, Navy and Air Force before proceeding to the palace of the Obong of Calabar for a brief interaction. On the way, a visibly elated Osinbajo stopped his motorcade along the IBB Way to meet the cheering crowd, especially pupils of Federal Government Girls College, Calabar, who trooped out to catch a glimpse of his motorcade.

VICTORIA ASCERTA: Osinbajo being hailed by the protesters after the engagement

He not only walked a long distance just to shake hands with the crowd, an elderly woman from the throng forced her way to Osinbajo bringing freshly harvested vegetables to present to the vice president in a tray. That gesture melted the heart of Osinbajo who couldn’t help but reward the old woman with a tight hug.

Ever since then, the vice president has always been greeted by a mob wherever he goes, a situation even his security details sometimes find difficult to control.

As a polemicist, Osinbajo enjoys sermonizing. He likes to espouse on issues. As a university lecturer and senior advocate, he is in his elements when engaging on issues to win diehards to his side. As a vice president, he has taken his long years of scholarly antecedents with measured steps to tackle the matters of state that begged his attention.

He won hearts, even from unexpected quarters, and somewhat courted some enemies, with his swift response to the blockade of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) during one of his stints as acting president last year.

While some of the president’s appointees have riden roughshod in their line of duty with no respect for democratic norms and ethos, Osinbajo had stood at variance from such malfeasance like a rare breed cut out from a refined piece. That was what Lawal Daura, the sacked director-general of the DSS, tried to display when he ordered his operatives to take over the National Assembly. He had a mission, to prevent the leadership of the National Assembly from holding their scheduled meeting. But Osinbajo aborted the Daura coup.

It would also be recalled that while Buhari was away on his routine medical trips, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) staged a public show. It demanded a referendum on Biafra. Osinbajo, also acting president at that time, handled the situation with the maturity it deserved.

“Nigeria’s unity is one for which enough blood has been spilled and many hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost. Many have paid for the unity of this country with their lives, and it will be wrong of us, as men and women of goodwill in this generation, to toy with those sacrifices that have been made.

“The truth is that many, if not most nations of the world are made up of different peoples and cultures and beliefs and religions, who find themselves thrown together by circumstance. The most successful of the nations of the world are those who do not fall into the lure of secession, but who through thick and thin forge unity in diversity,” he said.

Osinbajo, subscribing to this civilised tenets of democratic form of government, weaved through the thorny issue of self-actualisation, but once he reverted to his nominal role as vice president, the cart soon turned and a crackdown was ordered on the unarmed and defenceless members of IPOB, codenamed Operation Python Dance. Many lost their lives in the process.

But the vice president is not all out for the show. He brings his intellectual rigour into governance. Last week, the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, though started late due to other state assignments he anchored in the absence of the president, went on late into the night on Thursday. That was not his first time; last year when he had cause to take charge of FEC meeting, the ministers were forced to deliberate for seven long hours.

His forward thinking approach to governance has been the soothing balm in moments of crisis. Once on a tour of duty in Rivers State in 2017, Osinbajo declared that the federal government would work with illegal refineries and help convert them to modular refineries.

His approach to the Niger Delta challenge is an approach of intelligence and diplomacy, which has achieved more in the restive region than the president’s ‘command and obey’ tactics. The man approached the region with compassion and understanding, not with threats and bluster.

He physically visited and toured the region, not to canvass for votes, but actually to get a firsthand on-the-spot assessment of the issues befuddling the Niger Delta. What was the result of his avowed civility, oil production continued to rise and militancy waned.

He is an efficient technocrat in politics. Little wonder he is regarded across combustible and corrosive party lines as Nigeria’s most effective No. 2 citizen ever. He gets the work done. He is down to earth. His brainpower and people management skill more than compensate for what he lacks in a towering physique.

Where many are announced by raw physical presence only, Osinbajo only needs to speak to announce his presence: very articulate, never caught unprepared in situations needing empirical validation; always thinking on his feet and hard as granite under the harmless exterior. And when situations demand it, he is never short on quotable riposte like his anecdote of the looted empty shop and needless security over it during his sparring session with Mr. Peter Obi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the vice presidential debate.

Again, Osinbajo does not strike one as an individual who has been changed by the power of his office. He is still the same good old ‘Jebby’ that his friends called him in the formative years. He appears more comfortable with being called ‘Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’ than being tagged with the awe-inducing ‘His Excellency’ label that tends to create a distance between the leader and the led.

Nigerians won’t forget in a hurry other few incidences where the vice president has shone brightly standing the middle ground between the government and the governed. In February 2017, there had been a mass movement of Nigerians mobilized for a nationwide anti-government protest tagged #IStandWithNigeria.

The protest was championed by music star, Tu Face Idibia, but he later succumbed to threats by the police not to lead Nigerians out on the protest. The rally lost a bit of momentum when the Afro-pop singer pulled out, citing security concerns, but his call to action had received widespread popular support and several civil society organisations keyed into it.

Yet at such difficult moment when responsibility fell on his shoulder to keep the country together in the midst of economic crisis skyrocketing prices of food items, then acting president, Osinbajo, received the protesters in Abuja and said: “We hear you loud and clear, those who are on the streets protesting the economic situation across the country and even those who are not, but feel the pain of economic hardship, we hear you loud and clear. You deserve a decent life and we are working night and day to make life easier.”

That statement, which was also posted on his social media handles, poured cold water on the fire the mass movement was generating.

It was a masterstroke that even disarmed a regular critic of the Buhari presidency, Reno Omokri. He had said then: “The man speaks to Nigerians as a leader should. He does not talk at us like the president. He talks to us. I may have issues with what he says sometimes but I am still impressed by his conduct and courteousness in office. Even if you do not like him, you must respect Vice President Osinbajo.”

 

Recurring civility of Buhari’s Star Boy, Osinbajo wins more converts

 

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Secrecy continues on Buhari’s London trip as Aso Rock clinic gulps N5b in four years

By Tope Templer Olaiya
Seven days into President Muhammadu Buhari’s 10-day private visit to the United Kingdom with no public appearance of the president in Britain save for his arrival into the country in the late hours of April 25, has revived raging debates over concerns and secrecy of the president’s state of health.

For nearly 170 hours in a foreign land, the president has not been seen nor heard from. As stated in the announcement by the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, who termed the holiday a private visit, everything about Buhari’s trip since arriving Britain at about 11:30p.m. last week Thursday, has been shrouded in utmost secrecy. “He is expected to return to Nigeria on May 5,” Adesina said, giving no further details.

Abuja House, the president’s choice destination in London, has been devoid of its usual buzz whenever Buhari is around, signifying that the president has opted for another location for his private visit.

Also significantly absent during this visit is the customary pilgrimage of Very Important Personalities (VIPs) and high-ranking government officials to London to see Buhari for photo-ops. Same is the reception hosted for the president’s long-time friends like the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Likewise, UK’s media is unconcerned about the presence of a foreign head of government in their country. The Guardian checks in Britain’s top dailies turned up nothing about the president’s visit. The only reports that featured Nigeria in The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Star, Daily Express and The Times were on the recent murder of the British aid worker, Faye Mooney, in Kajuru, Kaduna and visit of celebrated supermodel, Naomi Campbell to Lagos for a fashion event.

President Buhari arriving in London on May 25

The 76-year-old president has previously been in London for long spells of medical care. From May 2016 until mid-2017, Buhari was in London for medical treatment for increasingly long periods of time, forcing government denials that he was gravely ill or even dead.

By the time of his expected return on May 5, he would have barely three weeks left to the end of his first term in office, which has seen him spent a total of 409 days – a year and 44 days – (and still counting) travelling to 33 countries in four years of his first term in office. He has spent so far 224 days in the United Kingdom, the country he visited the most, mostly on health grounds and meetings of Commonwealth Heads of State and Government.

To date, he has not disclosed details about his condition, apart from saying he had “never been so ill” and had to undergo multiple blood transfusions. His health status was an issue in the campaign for the February 23 presidential elections, with the opposition’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) insisting he was physically unfit to govern.

The retired general, who was first elected in 2015, is scheduled to be sworn in for a second four-year term on May 29, though the PDP’s presidential candidate and main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, has lodged a legal challenge to the election results.

All these have gone to institutionalize one of the legacies of the present administration, which is the Buhari secrecy. The secrecy surrounding an individual’s health condition is a pervasive cultural practice in most African societies. Such secrecy is exemplified by the illness and death of monarchs, which are typically wrapped in secrecy until appropriate rituals of purification had been performed. Even then, the monarch’s subjects are never told about the ailment to which their monarch succumbed.

In the case of President Buhari, however, such secrecy has attracted much controversy for various reasons, including the bitter experience with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, whose ailment was kept secret until he was rumoured to have died in a foreign hospital. The cloak of secrecy around Buhari’s health creates a shift from the norm in Western democracy, where the government’s business is the people’s business.

Abuja House, London

Even more importantly, secrecy is abhorred, having given way to transparency and accountability as guiding principles of information management. These principles are further enhanced by the constitution and the Freedom of Information Act, which empowers the people to know what is going on, not only with the government’s business but also with the business managers, including the president.

This trip, dubbed private visit, is an extension of the president’s legacy of secrecy. The president and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces is not a private or ordinary citizen. The day he decides to contest for the office and gets elected, he ceases to be a private citizen. He becomes a public citizen, owned by the people who elected him into office. He no longer has a private life.

Interestingly, this latest trip is coming on the heels of the president’s directive last month that the State House Medical Centre (SHMC), also known as Aso Rock Clinic, be reverted to a clinic to serve the original purpose of its establishment — primarily to serve the first and second families and those working within and around the Villa. This was announced by the Permanent Secretary, State House, Mr. Jalal Arabi, in Abuja.

Arabi had appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs for the 2019 budget defence, where he said: “Without prejudice to what is currently obtainable at the SHMC, the intention to revert to a clinic is a presidential directive.”

Also last month after the directive was given, the president had lamented Nigeria’s loss of over N400 billion yearly to medical tourism, saying the inability of government to address various health challenges had resulted in increasing medical tourism, that costs Nigeria over N400 billion yearly.

Later, Arabi explained to journalists that the reversion of the centre to a clinic was a case of cutting one’s coat according to one’s cloth. He said: “It was initially meant to serve the first and second families and those working within and around the Villa. The overstretching of facilities at the medical centre by patients is some of the challenges the centre has been going through. It wasn’t meant for that purpose.

“Nobody was charging anyone for any services and relying on appropriation means we will depend on subvention when it comes to running the centre. Whatever comes is what you utilise and if the last patient comes in to take the last drugs based on the last budgetary release, that is it and we have to wait till another release is done. But this new development means that services will be streamlined to a clinic that will serve those that it was meant to serve when it was conceived.”

Aso Rock Clinic

It would be recalled that in 2017, Aisha, the wife of the president, publicly upbraided the Chief Medical Director of the SHMC, Dr. Husain Munir, for the poor state of the health facility. Mrs. Buhari admitted that Nigeria was unstable for over six months owing largely to the president’s ill health that forced him to remain outside the country for months.

She wondered what could have happened to the common man on the street if Buhari could spend several months outside Nigeria for health reason. She also recalled that she was sick and was advised to travel abroad because of the poor state of the clinic, adding that she had to go to a private hospital owned by foreigners when she was told the x-ray machine in the SHMC was not working. The president’s son was also flown abroad when he had a bike accident last year in Abuja after being initially treated at a private hospital in Abuja.

Despite top presidency officials routinely flying out of the country to seek medical attention, the Federal Government has allocated a total of N4.17 billion for the operations of the SHMC between 2015 and 2018. The figure could, in fact, hit N5 billion, if the N823.44 million the government proposed for the operations of the facility in the 2019 budget is not slashed by the National Assembly.

In 2018, the SHMC for the exclusive use of the president, vice president and their families had a total budget of N1.03 billion, with N698 million as capital expenditure and N331.7 million as overhead cost.

Besides this, contained in the State House 2019 budget proposal of N14.3 billion is N416,668,229 for the new construction of the presidential wing of the State House Medical Centre; N1,001,318,171 for Buhari’s local and international travels – N250,021,595 for local trips and N751,296,576 for overseas travel.

In the 2018 budget, the presidency had proposed N1,030,458,453 for the State House clinic after Aisha Buhari had criticised the medical centre for not having an “ordinary syringe”, but was slashed by the National Assembly to N823,441,666. In the 2017 budget, N3.2 billion was allocated for the upgrade of the state clinic, including “the completion of ongoing work as well as procurement of drugs and other medical equipment.”

Many are left to wonder why such huge expenditure is expended on a facility the president and his family routinely ignores for their much fancied medical treatment abroad. This further enforces the continuation of the Buhari secrecy.

Meanwhile, the continued secrecy about the president’s state of health and whereabouts has reignited the rumour mills, which went into overdrive after his time in London last year, leading to the Jibril from Sudan clone story. And this may regain some momentum as the private visit winds down.

What is however trending this time around is that it is not a twist of fate and coincidence that APC’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the party’s chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and Lagos governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, among others are also in the UK on private visits. However, both Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu returned to the country on Monday and were seen on Tuesday at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) induction for new and returning governors in Abuja.

The word on the street is that the president is taking a break to restrategise for his second term and is compiling the list of those who would play active roles as cabinet members in the second-half of his administration, while possibly evading the distractions of Aso Rock regular callers of aides, politicians and close friends.

A peep into the last minute intrigues that may shape the next administration and possible actors played two week ago when a directive was issued for all ministers to submit progress reports of their various ministries, a pseudonym for handover notes, to the Permanent Secretaries in their respective ministries before April 30.

President Buhari’s last assignment in Maiduguri, Borno State last week Thursday before traveling out

Last week, while briefing journalists at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had said President Buhari would dissolve his cabinet seven days to the end of the administration, on May 22, as the president has scheduled to hold a valedictory session with members of the FEC on May 22 ahead of his inauguration for the commencement of his second tenure on May 29.

Although there were speculations that the president was going to dissolve his cabinet last Thursday before his trip going by the earlier directives for all ministers to submit their progress reports, Mohammed, moments after his briefing in an afterthought, clarified that the valedictory session of the FEC on May 22 would not mean the cabinet would be dissolved on the same day. According to him, “it is inaccurate to extrapolate from my statement – that the FEC valedictory session will hold on 22 May – to say that the president will dissolve the cabinet on the same day. They do not mean the same thing.”

Insiders in Aso Rock say the politics of the next cabinet might have forced the president’s private visit, rather than insinuations of a health challenge. They claim the president wants to avoid the repeat of 2015 mistake when he deliberately waited for six months to form his Change Cabinet.

A source confided that it was such scheming that made Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, rush to commission uncompleted projects with the president in attendance much against the advice of the Lagos leader, Asiwaju Tinubu. “Ambode is racing against time to impress the president as the new ‘Mr. Infrastructure’ for the Next Level. That was why all the Southwest leaders were in attendance except Tinubu and Fashola.”

According to another source within the presidency, the president has resolved to source seasoned technocrats as members of his new cabinet to help him actualize his agenda for the ‘Next Level,’ saying that part of the reasons he travelled was to avoid distraction by political jobbers, who have been mounting pressure on him.

However, back home, the polity is being heated by statements credited to the presidency that Buhari has not contravened any section of the constitution by not transmitting power to the vice president before embarking on the trip.

Special Assistant to the president on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, while speaking on a television programme, said the president can work from anywhere and discharge his duties from any part of the world.

According to him, Buhari would only be accused of not transmitting power if he stayed beyond the shore of the country for more than 21 days without doing so.

Shehu said: “The president can exercise authority from wherever he is as he is currently doing. This is a relatively short absence. If you check Section 145 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, you will see that the law is only infringed upon when such absence extends to 21 days.”

But a Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, faulting Shehu’s position, said: “Whenever the president is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice-President shall perform the functions of the President as Acting President.

“In the event that the President is unable or fails to transmit the written declaration mentioned in subsection (1) of this section within 21 days, the National Assembly shall, by a resolution made by a simple majority of the vote of each House of the National Assembly, mandate the Vice-President to perform the functions of the office of the President as Acting President until the President transmits a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is now available to resume his functions as President.

“The literal, grammatical and commonsensical reading of Section 145 (1) and (2) evinces the true purport of the said provisions and does not leave any room for ambiguity or debate as to the actual intention of the framers of the Constitution.

President Buhari does not have the discretion or prerogative to embark or proceed on vacation outside the mandatory constitutional framework of Section 145 (1) and (2) of the Constitution.

“It is immaterial that the President’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, mischievously decided to play with words when he referred to the President’s 10-day visit to the United Kingdom as “a private visit”.

If Adesina by his evasive statement intended to distinguish the instant foreign trip of his principal from the vacation enshrined in Section 145 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, he, unfortunately, has ended up exposing his ignorance of the law and contempt for the Nigerian people. The President’s so-called private visit is a vacation simpliciter. It is a distinction without a difference to assert a contrary view.”

Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that “President Muhammadu Buhari’s private voyage out of the country without transmitting power, as required by the constitution, is an act of dereliction, which confirms that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Buhari Presidency are not interested in governance but seeks to vacate our constitutional order and foist an authoritarian system on our country.

“Such dereliction of office can only come from leaders, who do not have respect for the people they governed but always muscling their way to power through intimidation and official manipulations, as witnessed in the rigging of the February 23 Presidential election by the APC,” it insisted.

The party, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that “Mr. President’s abandoning of governance, particularly at this critical time when our nation is facing grave security and economic challenges, signposts the level of impunity and recklessness that will characterize our nation in the next four years, if the stolen Presidential mandate is not retrieved from the APC.”

It queried: “What else, beside an authoritarian propensity, can explain why the Buhari Presidency relegated our Constitutional Order by declaring the application of Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which directs that the President transmits power whenever he is travelling out of the country on vacation, as a mere “convention”.

The opposition party declared that the import of this “relegation of Section 145” is also a clear absence of a constitutional command structure which the part noted “leaves our nation at the mercy of the extremely corrupt, vicious and anti-people cabal with whom President Buhari presided over the most corrupt and most incompetent administration, which wrecked our economy, divided our nation and opened her up for escalated insecurity.

“Such dereliction at the high levels emboldens bandits, bolsters insurgents and fuels cruel acts such as extra-judicial killing, illegal arrests, detention of innocent citizens, constitutional violations, attack on institutions of democracy as well as reckless looting of our national treasury by members of the cabal because they know that “nothing will happen.”

The PDP urged Nigerians to unite in condemning this act of impunity in the interest of the nation.

 

Secrecy continues on Buhari’s London trip as Aso Rock clinic gulps N5b in four years

 

https://www.latestnigeriannews.com/news/7158178/secrecy-continues-on-buharis-london-trip-as-aso-rock-clinic-gulps-n5b-in-four-ye.html

 

Secrecy continues on Buhari’s London trip as Aso Rock clinic gulps N5b in four years

 

http://newspin99.blogspot.com/2019/05/secrecy-continues-on-buharis-london.html

 

 

The disappearing scent of Christmas

Ailing economy, other hassles take the shine off yuletide celebrations

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor

IT’S three days to Christmas but it seems like four weeks away. Being the weekend heralding Christmas and end-of-year festivities, the frenzies of the season are far from being felt in the air, signaling a not too merry Christmas.
When we think about Christmas, we see so many pictures of laughing children, ear-piercing firelight, Santa Claus visits and gently falling snow. However, for many families, this romantic view of the season is very different from reality.
As millions of Christians across the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Tuesday, there are many more who do not have the resources to dine and wine, with members of their families and friends.
The holiday season, for many people, is the hardest time of the year, in part, because of the glaring contrast between their experience and the romanticised image of Christmas so often projected. For thousands of families, their struggles to put food on the table and pay their bills are mocked by commercials urging them to buy more expensive gifts at discounted rates.
In the past during this period, at every turn of the street, loud speakers blared Christmas tunes, ear-piercing firecrackers constantly rattled the eardrums, banners dotted major streets announcing dates of carnivals, and corporations and public buildings were adorned in the Christmas colours of red, white and green, with major markets abuzz with end-of-year shopping bazaar.

This Christmas scent is also absent from Lagos – the Centre of Excellence. Once upon a time, it was a beautiful sight to behold at night decoration lights adorning major streets and parks in Lagos. Oshodi, the heart of Lagos, was once transformed from its symphony of chaos into an aesthetic garden park, with the state government unveiling every year a giant Christmas tree, beautifully decorating the relaxation garden at Oshodi.
The festive decoration was not restricted to commercial business districts. Many residential areas and streets were usually lined with Christmas lights in the countdown to their carnival nights, where residents, neighbours and well-wishers gather to dine and wine in a convivial atmosphere to enjoy either a live band or deejay dishing out music till the early hours of the morning. That too has gone with the wind.
Street carnivals, which used to be the biggest socio-cultural events of the year on the calendar of many Lagos metropolis every Christmas, have become part of Lagos’ recent history. This, though, have been replaced by the five mega concerts introduced by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and which are staged by the state in the five districts of Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos Island and Epe. But the thrills and frills of the street carnivals usually marked by the voyage of music and dance are things hard to replicate with the concerts headlined by A-list artistes.
Also, part of the disappearing scents of Christmas is the deluge of end-of-year sales bonanza. Citizens were spoilt for choice with offers, such that even commercial sex workers declared bonanza for their regular and loyal customers, who had patronised them throughout the year.

The season is not complete without the traditional shopping. This is evident in the high traffic of movement seen in most markets during this time. The biggest of market sales is clothing as many, both young and old, look forward to celebrating Christmas and New Year with new wears.
But now, clothing traders at five major markets in Lagos are worried about the low sales they are experiencing days to Christmas celebration. The survey conducted at Balogun, Idumota, Docemo, Oluwole and Yaba markets, revealed that the traders complained that the low sales trend had been recurring for five years consecutively.
“Many of the customers just come to the market for sightseeing. We only come to the market because we do not want to stay at home idle,’’ said Mrs. Nkechi Okonkwo, a seller of used imported clothes at Yaba.
Okonkwo said: “The last time I made any reasonable sale was in November and the same is the case with many of my fellow traders. The gloomy looks on their faces and those gossiping over there tell the situation of things in the market. Most of us resort to sprinkling holy water, praying, fasting and anointing our goods, with the hope that the situation will change for better’’.
Another trader at Yaba market, Mr. Jeff Oha, blamed the situation on the harsh economic state of the country, coupled with a low purchasing power of consumers. “The economy is bad and workers are owed salary; that is the reason patronage is low.
“The way things are, it is like the National Assembly has postponed Christmas because everybody is just going around with a gloomy face or how can you explain that even common Christmas greetings like ‘Compliments of the season’ or ‘Merry Christmas in advance’ is so scarce as if people were being charged for it?
“Before, people would troop into ‘Okrika market’ to purchase goods for themselves and their children. But now, used clothes, which are seen as a cheaper alternative by most people, are also affected by low patronage,’’ he said.

Mrs. Aisha Lawal, a trader of children’s clothing at Docemo market, attributed the lull in trading activities to the forthcoming election, saying that some people were hoarding fund.
“Normally, at this time of the year, we would have made some good sales unlike now where people just come to check the prices. The situation in the country is affecting everyone,’’ she said.
Speaking further, Mrs. Idayat Olaitan, a seller of fabrics at Idumota market, said it did not feel like a Christmas season. “Many people do not bother about new clothes but make do with wears they had before.
“In previous years, from October, markets become a beehive of activities with many people shopping for Christmas, but now the story is different. How can you expect someone that has not balanced his children’s school fees since September or someone that does not know where his next meal will come from to buy clothes?” she queried, adding that the way out was for governments to make policies that would impact favourably on citizen’s welfare.
Ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations, hampers have flooded markets and shopping centres in Lagos, but dealers too complain of low patronage. Hampers are usually presented as gifts by individuals, groups and corporate organizations during the celebrations. It was observed that many shopping malls in Lagos metropolis had unsold harpers in decorated raffia baskets, plastic bowls and wooden boxes.
The prices of the hampers depend on their sizes, contents and descriptions. They range from N10,000 to N200,000. Dealers expressed disappointment at the low patronage, which they attributed to the poor economic situation in the country.
Mrs. Folasade Aribisala, a shop owner at Apongbon Market, said she regretted investing in hampers in the last two years, adding that hardship greatly reduced purchasing power. “I have had 50 hampers for sale since November; hardly have I been able to sell 10. It is so discouraging. Low patronage of hampers is becoming a recurring nightmare to us. Many of my counterparts did not invest in hampers this year; I wish I did not tie my money down in it,” she said.
However, Mrs. Monisola Adewale, attributed the low purchase of hampers to the attitude of some dealers, who put cardboards on the base of the baskets to make hampers appear fuller than they are.
“It is annoying that when you open some hampers, most of the items are almost expired. There is no value for the money paid for the hampers. Because of these unwholesome practices, many people buy the items needed in bulk and prepare the hampers by themselves. They are even cheaper than off-the-shelf hampers,” she said.

According to the Director General of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said this situation is so because the disposable income in possession of Nigerians is very little compared to their demands, which is why they resort to the purchase of basic necessities to stay afloat.
Earlier in the year, according to the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. Precisely, 86.9 million Nigerians are now living in extreme poverty, representing nearly 50 per cent of its estimated 180 million population. Clearly, millions of Nigerians in this bracket will not know it is Christmas.
An explanation for the absence of heightened Christmas festivities came last weekend when President Muhammadu Buhari told governors of the 36 states that the Nigerian economy is in bad shape. The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting, said the president told them: “The economy is in a bad shape and we have to come together, think and rethink on the way forward.”
That official admission of the flagging state of the economy is at the crux of the ‘un-merry’ Christmas. This fact was reinforced on Wednesday with data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showing that the number of unemployed Nigerians has risen to 20.9 million from 17.6 million.
The report contained the employment trends from the last quarter of 2017 to the third quarter of 2018. The economically active or working age population (15 – 64 years of age) increased from 111.1 million in Q3, 2017 to 115.5 million in Q3, 2018. The number of persons in the labour force (i.e. the number of new entrants into the job market looking for jobs) increased from 75.94 million in Q3 2015 to 80.66 million in Q3 2016 to 85.1 million in Q3, 2017 to 90.5million in Q3, 2018.
The total number of people in full-time employment increased from 51.1 million in Q3 2017 to 51.3 million in Q3, 2018 (a paltry addition of 200,000). The total number of people in part-time employment increased from 18.02 million in Q3 2017 and to 18.21 million in Q3, while the total number of people classified as unemployed, which means they did nothing at all or worked too few hours to be classified as employed increased from 17.6 million in Q4 2017 to 20.9 million in Q3 2018.

Clearly, these about 21 million unemployed Nigerians and their dependents may not have a merry Christmas, coupled with the millions of Nigerians in the informal sector not captured by the NBS data.
The Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Ajayi Kadiri, noted that the country had been witnessing consumption apathy. He said: “We have witnessed a drop in the patronage of goods manufactured by our members, and our warehouses are full of inventory for lack of patronage, which is an indication of a dwindling economy.
“The season of this Christmas is lackluster, so we are looking at the government to take necessary steps in returning the economy to normalcy. Basically, we are close to election where the economy ought to have started experiencing fresh injection from the patronage of electoral campaign materials and advertisement, but this is not so.”
But while markets are experiencing dwindling patronage, the roads are getting cramped. In the days leading to any major festivities, plying on Lagos roads could be a torture and it is no different this season.
In recent times, the city of Lagos has been a theatre of the absurd with gridlocks crisscrossing major roads across the state. The best way to test one’s resilience is to navigate Lagos during this period.
Owing to the constant gridlock, the state House of Assembly on Tuesday urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to direct officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) to intensify traffic control.
According to the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, the traffic situation in the state has become worrisome, adding that it was the responsibility of the state government to ensure a free flow of traffic.
“We call Governor Ambode to order the leaders of LASTMA to ensure a free flow of traffic in the state. LASTMA officials should stop the actions of folding their arms, while motorists and okada riders do whatever they like on the roads. Any official that fails to perform his or her duty should be sanctioned. The LASTMA officials are being paid salaries. We know that this is Yuletide period, but we must ensure there is a free flow of traffic in the state. We also urge motorists to always obey traffic laws,” he said.
Thankfully though, Nigerians have been spared the agony of petrol scarcity, another feature of this season in times past. This year, that intractable problem didn’t rear its head though labour unions in the petroleum sector were at a time spoiling for war over unpaid subsidy claims.
The lamentation of low patronage is also being expressed by transporters. The parks are unusually not busy as expected because very few people are travelling. Some drivers at Ojota Motor Park said the patronage was low compared to what it used to be in previous years.

And with the season comes the familiar story of Christmas hassles. While one may feel strongly about the hassles of Christmas – costing too much in money, time and stress in the bid to get things done for a befitting yearend celebration, incidentally the very first Christmas posed many hassles for Joseph and Mary; the first being Mary’s pregnancy.
Joseph and Mary were engaged but not officially married when Mary learned she “was with child by the Holy Spirit”. Joseph was ready to call the whole thing off until an angel explained the situation. But the hassles are just beginning.
Not long after the wedding, the Emperor determined that every Jewish male should return to his birthplace and pay a new tax, a bill Joseph hadn’t planned to pay and a trip he hadn’t planned to make. They headed out for Bethlehem where they met another hassle; there was no room in the inn. With his wife about to give birth, Joseph settled for the only available accommodation – a stable.
And just when they thought everything was over with, an angel brought a message to Joseph, to take Mary and the baby to Egypt, because King Herod was going to kill the baby.
The nativity story sure makes the hassles of Christmas a familiar story.

 

https://guardian.ng/features/ailing-economy-other-hassles-take-the-shine-off-christmas/

 

https://latestnews.ng/ailing-economy-other-hassles-take-the-shine-off-christmas/

 

https://veemnews.ml/ailing-economy-other-hassles-take-the-shine-off-christmas.jwpub

 

https://knowxup.com/ailing-economy-other-hassles-take-the-shine-off-christmas

Buhari’s body double suspicion that won’t go away

By Tope Templer Olaiya and Chukwuma Muanya

Beware of what you consume on social media. That space is a theatre of the absurd. From matters of no consequence to serious issues, when trends break on social media, one is guaranteed an inventive spin of all shades. This has given birth to one of the latest entries into the social media lexicon, which is Fake News.

Each trend and ‘Breaking News’ has its fake news version but usually, as with all things news, they have a short lifespan. The longest of them in recent times was the controversy that trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s secondary school leaving examination certificate, which lasted for about a fortnight.

But one ‘Breaking News’ or ‘Fake News’ that has refused to go away after many weeks is the story of President Buhari’s body double conspiracy theory, one Jibril Aminu from Sudan, which is spreading like wide fire. What started as a gossip shared in hushed whispers has gained so much traction strong enough to elicit official reactions.

It was a story that broke on the clandestine medium, Radio Biafra, propagated by its promoter and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, who earlier this month resurfaced in Israel many months after he was missing in action during the military’s Operation Python Dance in his home state of Abia.

Kanu has consistently asserted that there is an imposter in Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power, with threats to expose how Jibril Aminu was transformed to replace ‘dead Buhari’ in London. He alludes that Jibril resembles Buhari except for a cleft ear, broad nose bridge and teenager fresh hands.

He further claimed that the Nigerian diplomat who was murdered in Sudan on May 10, 2018, Habibu Almu, was killed over his alleged involvement in the recruitment of Jibril. The IPOB leader, who promised to shock Nigerians with his revelation of how Jubril was transformed to replace ‘dead Buhari’, while sympathizing with the family of the deceased, urged the Sudanese police to uncover the killers of Almu.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs according to its spokesperson, Dr. Tope Elias-Fatile, at the time had disclosed that the Nigerian immigration attaché, Almu, was murdered in Khartoum, Sudan by a Sudanese woman of Nigerian origin.

Reacting to the allegation of an impostor in Aso Rock, the Personal Assistant to President Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, said the intelligence of some Nigerians has been insulted by the outrageous lies that the president is a body double, taking a swipe at Femi Fani-Kayode, who also shares the same opinion with Kanu.

Yesterday, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) posted online, ‘President Buhari cancels his planned five-day ‘casual leave’ as a mark of respect for victims of Boko Haram attacks across the battlefields in the North-east zone of the country.’ Someone immediately posted: ‘Buhari or Jibril, which one? We play too much in this country. Buhari has been on technical leave since 2015, now Jibril is going on casual leave.’

Another quipped: “I am beginning to believe this Jibril story because the difference between the original Buhari and Jibril Aminu is so glaring. The body language of the real Buhari was said to work wonders like longer electricity supply and scaring potential looters, but we can’t say the same of this new Buhari.”

The Jibril story travelled like the speed of light when in the heat of the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) after its primaries held, some leaders of the party began to vent their anger and speak in innuendos. Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, was reported to have said: “If I say what I know about APC, Nigerians will burn down Aso Rock within 24 hours,” while governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun was rumoured to have said: “If APC provokes me again, I will tell the whole world what we were cooking that got the house burnt.”

But weighing in on the story, Shehu Sani, the Senator representing Kaduna Central reacting on his Twitter page, discarded such report, saying Buhari has no ‘double’. The Kaduna lawmaker urged Nigerians to see ‘Jibrin’ as an imaginative character.Sani wrote: “There’s no one and nothing like Jibril El Sudan. Buhari ‘Caesar’ is healthy and has no double. But you can literally refer to Jibrin as an imaginative and mythical character in Shakespearean Nigeria. It is natural to creatively invent characters and promote conjectures in our theatre of the absurd.”

While some Nigerians have helped in amplifying the rumour, using posts and comments to express their belief and disbelief in a ‘cloned’ Buhari, others have been cropping and magnifying recent pictures of the president in comparison with 2016/2017 images when the president was sick and feeble.

It would be recalled that after initially spending over 50 days on medical vacation in London, the president had in May 2017 returned to the United Kingdom, for follow-up medical check-up where he stayed longer than three months.

Those who buy the Jibril narrative fuss that since the last medical extended vacation, it was a young-looking, somewhat shorter Buhari that is in Aso Rock. The issue received some fuel last Saturday when former President Olusegun Obasanjo urged Buhari to “do the needful and stop inadvertently giving credence to the story.”

At the installation of Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, as Turakin Adamawa, he said: “No matter how long we choose to feign ignorance, the news of a stranger running the affairs of Nigeria has gained international attention.”I have in the past few weeks received calls from different world leaders and some concerned global investors who sought for my response over this issue which is currently being talked about in almost every home in the country.

“Fake news is real, but this story, whether false or true can only be put to rest by the accused who happens to be President Muhammadu Buhari. In 2010, many of you, I believe, still remember how it was rumoured that I was shot dead by assassins. The news understandably went viral immediately, and on learning about it, I came out and said I was alive and well.”

Another Senator representing Ondo North, Ajayi Boroffice, on Monday reportedly gave an intellectual bent to the discourse in his piece titled ‘Buhari, the imaginative clone and human genetics’. It was not as if Boroffice held a conference anywhere to release his alleged statement. Again, it was a glean from the social media where he said: “Ordinarily, I wouldn’t like to involve myself in the nauseating debate about the rumoured cloning of President Buhari and the imaginative Jibril Aminu of Sudan because it is rubbish in the face of scientific realities.

“As a Nigerian who bagged Ph.D degree in Human Genetics in congenital malformations arising from chromosomal aberrations in 1975 and had Post-Doctoral Research in mutagenesis and carcinogenesis, I consider myself as competent to comment on the needless controversy. For a 75 years old adult to be cloned, a living cell must be obtained and subjected to some manipulations that will convert it to totipotent cell. The totipotent cell will now undergo embryological development that will produce a young human fetus.

“Therefore, for the clone to look like the same man, it must be exposed to the exact environment for a period equivalent to 75 years. It is therefore ridiculous for anybody to think Mr President has been cloned and that the person who is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a clone from Sudan.”

But cloning is not the dominant narrative. First, it is not logical to clone a 75-year-old Buhari, as the science of cloning must yield to the natural process of growth. The narrative instead is that a Buhari look-alike is in charge at Aso Rock

Amid the rising suspicion of a Buhari double, peddlers of the Jibril story refer to a particular incident in history. For decades, rumours circulated in Russia that former President Joseph Stalin had a “twin” who replaced him during certain situations. Decades after Stalin’s death, the decoy finally decided to talk. Felix Dadaev, a former dancer and juggler, had been ordered to work at the Kremlin as Stalin’s body double.

For more than half a century, Dadaev remained silent, fearing a death sentence should he dare to open his mouth. But in 2008, at the age of 88, and with the apparent approval of the Putin regime, he finally came forward to write his autobiography, where he explained that he was one of four men employed to impersonate the supreme leader, taking his place in motorcades, at rallies, on newsreel footage etc.

When the Second World War started, Dadaev was required to fight and was so badly injured during the war that his family was told he had been killed. Fortunately, he survived, though that “death” was the start of a strange double life. Soon his resemblance to 60-year-old Stalin (which got him teased in school) caught the eye of Soviet intelligence agents, who started using him to save the real Stalin from assassination plots and tedious public ceremonies.

Just into his 20s, Dadaev was a great deal younger than Stalin, but make-up and the strain of war meant that he could pass for the 60-year-old. “We had all experienced so much suffering that I looked much older than I was”, Dadaev said. Trained at the personal request of Stalin, Dadaev attended rallies and meetings across the Soviet Union wearing the leader’s trademark Red Army cap and heavy overcoat encrusted with medals. He watched movies and speeches of Stalin to perfect the mimicry of his movement and intonation.

“By the time my make-up and training were complete, I was like him in every way, except perhaps my ears. They were too small”. In an age before media dominated, he didn’t have to mimic perfectly Stalin’s vocal inflections, just his look and mannerisms. He pulled it off so well even Stalin’s closest comrades couldn’t spot the imposter.

United States and Korean scientists in 2014 cloned claimed a 75-year-old human was cloned for the production of stem cells. The study was published in the journal, Cell Stem Cell.

This technique was recently used to create embryonic stem cells from an infant donor. The team managed to perform the technique successfully with two male donors, one 35 years old and the second 75. The primary change needed was simply to extend the period in which the donor DNA is reset by the proteins present in the egg.

So can Buhari also be cloned? The Guardian put the question to president of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) Prof. Kalu Mosto Onuoha. “I don’t know. I don’t believe so. What I do know and what I have read is that many former leaders had several look-alikes, like President Winston Churchill of the United States, even some actors. The double or look-alike is used sometimes to protect the original person,” he said.

President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, on his part, said: “They cannot clone an adult person and it is not possible. The only thing is to have a look-alike.”

This is one reason why folks are skeptical and slow to shake off, no matter how far-fetched, the tale that Aso Rock’s power brokers organised a Buhari double to continue control over power. Another is the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua saga.Eight years ago, Yar’Adua was pronounced dead after long months of speculations about an illness that led to his being flown, in November 2009, to a Saudi Arabia hospital. It was one of the most vicious and dangerous power intrigues in Nigeria’s history, where a small knot of family and close-knit power brokers held the nation to ransom. There were no updates on treatment progress. There was no word on the wild rumours flying around that Yar’Adua was already dead in Saudi Arabia and in February 2010, he was secretly brought back into Nigeria under the cover of darkness.

Just like Yar’Adua’s case, the nation is on the tenterhooks over a Buhari double story that refuses to fade away. And that is because everything about the president, including his state of health is a classified official secret.

 

https://guardian.ng/features/focus/buharis-body-double-suspicion-that-wont-go-away/

 

 

Orphaned deaf, dumb siblings seek lift for education

By Tope Templer Olaiya
Life sometimes could be cruel and hard. For 17-year-old Somtochukwu Emmanuel Chiagorom and his sister, 13-year-old Nneoma Scholastica Chiagorom, they are served both in full measure.

Both are not only orphans but suffering from impaired hearing and are vocally impaired, which in local parlance is being deaf and dumb.

The siblings lost their father 10 years ago and in 2016, had the double misfortune of losing their mother to the cold hands of death. Their only strong pillar of strength was gone and their world came crashing with no one else to share their pains with.

Nneoma (left) and Somtochukwu

After many days and nights of stuttering to themselves, ‘God, why us?’, they gradually began to come to terms with their realities in the heart of the Kirikiri town ghetto, Apapa area of Lagos State under the care of the frail hands of their maternal grandmother, Mrs. Catherine Eze.

When The Guardian visited the duo in their one-room apartment, nothing betrayed the harsh life they have experienced in their short years. Though a bit withdrawn, they looked intently on, watching the grimaces on everyone in the room, which included a sign interpreter, Mrs. Patience Yekini and two family members, as if waiting for their turns to join the conversation, as their grandma told their life’s story.

Mrs. Catherine Eze

“He no dey easy at all, na only God dey help us. I just had an eye operation. That is why I need help from government and the public to lift this burden off me, which I have been carrying all alone for the past two years,” Grandma Eze said.

Somtochukwu is a JSS 2 student of State Junior Grammar School, Surulere and Nneoma is a Primary Four pupil of Amuwo Odofin Primary School. They are both doing very well academically.

The guy is very intelligent despite his handicap, while his sister has more interest in vocational skills. They are desperate about their education and despite their challenge, want to complete their secondary school and advance further.

Somtochukwu is presently the captain of his class. He is shy and finds it hard to communicate but his sister is more social. She tries to speak by picking up little words.

Surprisingly, when in his element, Somtochukwu is a delight to behold, apart from his dexterity in sports; he is good with fixing electrical appliances and wiring people’s houses. Both don’t have difficulty playing with their peers.

It is a struggle for Grandma Eze to provide means for the only thing they derive joy from, which is going to school as transportation to the two special schools they are attending costs N1,000 daily, excluding feeding, which makes it N1,500.

It would cost their aged caregiver about N180,000 alone, excluding school fees, just to keep them in school for a term of 120 days; reason they seek the public’s help in making their life meaningful.

Catherine Eze can be reached on 08066455315 and her bank details are: First Bank, Catherine Eze, 3054056276.

 

https://guardian.ng/news/orphaned-deaf-dumb-siblings-seek-lift-for-education/

Lessons missed in Yusuf, Boko Haram founder’s death nine years after

By Tope Templer Olaiya

ON July 30, 2009, the Nigerian Police Force summarily executed Mohammed Yusuf, founder of the dreaded militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, then aged 39. Nine years after, it has turned out to be an ‘unforced error’ in one of the unending incidences of extrajudicial killings that is hurting the nation dearly.
Security forces had hunted door-to-door for the Islamic militants after killing more than 100 of them by storming the sect’s compound in Borno State. The military captured Yusuf at his parents-in-law’s house. They transferred him to the custody of the Nigerian Police. The police summarily executed Yusuf in public view outside the police headquarters in Maiduguri.
Police officials claimed Yusuf was shot while trying to escape. Abubakar Shekau took over Boko Haram following Yusuf’s death. At thew time of his death, Yusuf had four wives and 12 children, one of them being Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who has claimed since 2016 to be the rightful leader of Boko Haram, opposing Shekau.
Today, the home of Yusuf is to be turned into a museum, in the hope it will boost tourism in the area by the Borno State government. The state is also considering plans to transform the Sambisa forest – the group’s base – into a tourist centre. But critics say the plans risk immortalising the Boko Haram founder. About 20,000 people have been killed in the group’s eight-year insurgency, with dozens still dying in deadly attacks on a regular basis.

Mohammed Bulama, Borno Commissioner for Home Affairs, Information and Culture, told reporters in November 2017 that the house in Maiduguri would become a museum “where all the things that had happened relating to the insurgency will be archived. We want to document and archive all that had happened so that our future generation will be able to have first hand information,” he said.
At the moment, save for the capital in Maiduguri, many parts of Borno is still an active theatre of war with security forces repelling attacks from the insurgents.
Yusuf began the group in 2002, focusing on opposing Western education. It was not for another seven years that it launched its military operations in an attempt to create an Islamic state. Since then, the group, which officially is called Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, meaning “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, has spread into neighbouring countries.
Boko Haram, literally ‘Western Education is Sin’, has been one of the deadly terrorist groups, not only in Nigeria but in the world. In 2014, the group overtook ISIS as the world’s most deadly terrorist organisation, after series of beheadings, bombings, kidnappings, and other terrorist activities. Shortly after, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS, also known as the Islamic State. This led to the breakout of the group into two factions, the Shekau group and the al-Barnawi gang.

Before the end of 2015, Boko Haram had conquered and captured more than one-third of the Borno and Yobe states local government areas and instituted its own violent interpretation of sharia law. The insurgency dislocated social and economic activities in the North-Eastern and some parts of the North-Western Nigeria that resulted in over 20,000 deaths while displacing more than three million people.
Born in Girgir village, in Jakusko, present-day Yobe State, Yusuf received a local education. Later he studied more of Islam and became a Salafi. As a young man, Yusuf was strongly influenced by the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah and studied theology at the University of Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Upon his return, he violently criticised the Federal Government and believed in the strict application of Islamic law, which represented his ideal of justice according to the teachings of the Prophet. In a 2009 BBC interview, Yusuf stated his belief that the concept of a spherical Earth is contrary to Islamic teaching and should be rejected. He also rejected Darwinian evolution theory and the concept of the condensation cycle that produces rain.
In the interview he said: “There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam, like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain; or like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism.”
What then led to the uprising in 2009 that marked the turning point of the deadly sect? Boko Haram members were en route to bury a comrade at the cemetery in Maiduguri. The police officers, part of a special operation to suppress violence and rampant crime in Borno, demanded that the young men comply with a law requiring motorcycle passengers to wear helmets.
They refused and, in the confrontation that followed, police shot and wounded several of the men. On July 28, Nigerian troops surrounded the home of Yusuf in Maiduguri, after his followers had barricaded themselves inside. On July 30, the military captured Yusuf and transferred him to the custody of the police.

According to a young scholar, Aliyu Dahiru Aliyu, Boko Haram, officially ‘Jama’at Ahlussnnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad’ (Ahlussunnah Group for Preaching and Combat), can be traced back to 2001, when some unknown militants appeared in some Northern states, especially Yobe and Kano, who were then called Yan Taliban.
“The group called Nigerian government ‘thaghut’ (an Arabic term that means ungodly or satanic). The people that would later be called Boko Haram, started becoming popular after they attacked a local government secretariat and police station in Kanamma, Borno in 2003. The group then moved to Gwoza, where they took the town as their training underground camp.
“Yusuf, Boko Haram leader, who before his death was a student of another popular salafi cleric, Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmoud Adam, started preaching violence in the mosque he named after the 13th century controversial scholar, Ibn Taimiyya. He embarked upon aggressive preaching mission between 2004 and 2009 and started to win the heart of the Maiduguri youth and attracting them to the Markaz Ibn Taimiyya.
“In 2009, the terror squad started to launch attacks in various cities and villages in Northern Nigeria. The primary motive of Boko Haram is to institute a caliphate in the region and to continue conquering lands as it is in the slogan of its terror mother ISIS.”
Recent developments have however shown that the Federal Government has learned little lessons from the growth and expansion of religious sects in the country. Barely two weeks ago, a new religious sect known as Hakika emerged in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. The group, with members claiming to be Islamist saints, is currently occupying a large expanse of the forest in the area.

At a meeting in Lafia, Alhaji Isah Agwai, the Emir of Lafia, who is also the chairman of the State Traditional Council of Chiefs, expressed dismay over the activities of the group and cautioned residents to be wary. Speaking also, the Secretary General of the state Ja’martu Nasil Islam, Ahmed Ali, said the doctrines of the group were not Islamic.
“They have the kind of religious belief which I think is not Islam; they don’t believe in Quran, they don’t believe in any of the doctrines that Allah talked about in the Quran,” Ali said.
On his part, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters, Brigadier General Muhammad Adika(retd), said: “It is believed that some of them are those running away from Zamfara State as a result of the pressure and have concentrated themselves in an expanse of land, which is highly forested.”
Also, there is tension in Kaduna State ahead of Thursday’s August 2 resumption of the trial of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky at the state High Court. At his last day in court on July 11, messages of possible violence by Zakzaky’s followers were being circulated on WhatsApp, advising residents to avoid some areas in the city, as the IMN members, also known as Shiites, were allegedly planning “a big attack” during the trial.
But the spokesman of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa, dismissed the message, saying it was false. Musa maintained that the message was being peddled by the detractors of the IMN, including the security agencies.

At Zakzaky’s court appearance on June 21, his followers allegedly killed a policeman during a clash. Zakzaky has been in detention, alongside his wife, for over two years following a clash between his followers and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, in December 2015. He was charged with unlawful gathering, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide, punishable with death.
At the root of the crisis is religious extremism upon which religious terrorism is built. The other loopholes that are exploited are poor economy (the wider gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria) and poor governance associated with corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government officials. Religious conviction and the extremists’ interpretation of Islam are two among the most important triggers of terrorism in Nigeria.
Nigeria may see the emergence of another Boko Haram if it turns a blind eye and allow extremists continue propagating their own interpretation of religion, of war and bloodshed. Preaching should be regulated and religious hate speech should be curbed and countered before it reaches the point of becoming religious terrorism.
Also, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, recently noted that no unjustly treated man would be interested in embracing peace if nothing is done to ensure that every segment of the society is given a sense of belonging. Ekweremadu, advocated justice, dialogue, and tolerance as key instruments for building peace at all levels of the society.
According to the Deputy Senate President, mankind was “besieged by a groundswell of intolerance, injustice, racial discrimination, and ethnic hatred, leading to violence, conflicts, extremism, terrorism, insurgency, and all forms of restiveness.”
Ekweremadu spoke at the first procedural session of the International Parliament for Tolerance and Peace (IPTP), which was launched in Valetta, Malta, early this month. The lawmaker, appointed by the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace (GCTP) as a founding member of the IPTP and Nigeria’s representative at the parliament, urged governments to always toe the path of dialogue, rather than force in resolving issues.

 

https://guardian.ng/features/lessons-learned-missed-in-yusufs-death-nine-years-after/

https://allafrica.com/stories/201807310109.html

 

Reality versus scorecard in Buhari’s declining rating

By Tope Templer Olaiya
May 29, 2018, Nigeria’s Democracy Day, was planned to be another chest-thumping occasion marking the third year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of change and 19 years of return to democracy, but it turned out to be a rude reality check for the administration.

The day began well from Aso Rock, the seat of power at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, with the president’s national broadcast, where Buhari highlighted his achievements and plans for the next year, the last of his four-year term.

Buhari said his administration came at a time Nigerians needed change, which he is delivering, especially in the three cardinal points of his administration – security, corruption and the economy. He said the capacity of the Boko Haram insurgents had been degraded by his government, leading to release of captives, including 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the terrorist group.

He called for utmost sense of fairness, justice and peaceful co-existence ahead of the 2019 general election to have a hitch-free elections as well as a credible and violence-free process. He added that in a few days to come, he would be joined by some promising young Nigerians to sign into law the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ Bill, which he later did two days after.

Angry reactions immediately followed the Democracy Day broadcast, especially as most respondents said the president failed woefully on many fronts. Tackling the issue of insecurity, the Anglican Bishop of Okigwe South, Rt. Rev. David O. C. Onuoha, noted that far greater percentage of Nigerians live in fear of the country’s direction.

“The fears are heightened daily by news coming from the print, electronic and social media, as well as what the eyes can see about the growing level of insecurity in the land. Though Boko Haram has, according to the Federal Government, been decimated and degraded to the point that they no longer occupy territories in Nigeria, I am terribly disturbed that they are still wasting precious human lives and property. The menace of killer herdsmen and their manifest proclivity for killing people in scores, destroying farmland and sacking communities are unprecedented. That they carry sophisticated weapons, operate freely, openly and escape prosecution, is as disturbing as it is intriguing,” Bishop Onuoha fumed.

The voices from the streets also did not spare the Buhari administration. In Lagos State, citizens from all walks of life who last week told The Guardian of their hopes and fears about Nigeria, expressed dissatisfaction over the state of the nation. While they agreed that the nation had been consistent in achieving a democratic rule since 1999, they, however, chided the government for their incompetence in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people.

Despite scoring itself high on its achievements in the past three years, a new poll conducted ‘amongst 4,000 Nigerians’ last week rated President Buhari’s performance below average. According to the poll, he failed Nigerians in his three cardinal campaign promises: Corruption, Security and Economy. The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) launched ‘Buharimeter’ to track the delivery of Buhari’s campaign promises to Nigerians. According to CDD, this year’s poll was conducted in May by telephone amongst 4,000 respondents across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The poll revealed that 40 per cent of Nigerians approve of the president’s performance while 44 per cent disapprove, with the remaining 16 per cent being indifferent.

“This implies that the president is rated below average by Nigerians. The president’s approval rating of 40 per cent marks a decline of 17 per cent from 57 per cent rating recorded in the 2017 Buharimeter National Survey,” it said.As if that didn’t reflect popular opinion enough, former Vice President and presidential hopeful, Atiku Abubakar, handed President Buhari a crushing defeat in another online poll conducted by the president’s own consultant.

A flurry of polls largely promoted by pro-Buhari influencers sprung up shortly after the administration marked its third anniversary on May 29. In the first poll conducted by Mark Essien via his Twitter handle @markessien, Atiku polled 43 per cent while Buhari trailed him with 35 per cent. But in the second the poll conducted by @YNaija, Atiku polled 70 per cent versus Buhari’s dismal 19 per cent. The other participants in the poll, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu and Mr. Fela Durotoye polled six and five per cent respectively.

The poll, which commenced on May 29 and ended 11:00p.m. of June 1 asked respondents: “Which of them will have your vote, if you had to vote today?” At the end of the voting of 7,444 respondents, seven out of every 10 respondents representing about 5,210 settled for Atiku compared to Buhari’s vote of 1,414; Moghalu’s 446 and Durotoye’s 372. The outcome of the poll by YNaija, a youth blog run by Red Media, which played a major role in Buhari’s media during the 2015 elections, is a reflection of result of the latest poll by NOI/Gallup Poll, which saw Buhari’s rating dip to 41 per cent.

Against the run of play of public opinion and ratings however, the Buhari administration’s third year report/factsheet says otherwise. On the economy, the report says the economic growth is back and consolidating after the recession of 2016-2017. The administration’s priority sectors of agriculture and solid minerals maintained consistent growth throughout the recession.

Inflation has fallen for the 15th consecutive month from 18.7 per cent in January 2017 to 12.5 per cent as of April 2018; External Reserves of US$47.5 billion are the highest in five years, and double the size as of October 2016; in 2017, agriculture exports grew 180.7 per cent above the value in 2016; Nigeria’s stock market ended 2017 as one of the best-performing in the world, with returns in excess of 40 per cent; five million new taxpayers were added to the tax base since 2016, as part of efforts to diversify government revenues; tax revenue increased to N1.17 trillion in first quarter of 2018, a 51 per cent increase on the Q1 2017 figure; and N2.7 trillion was spent on infrastructure in 2016 and 2017, an unprecedented allocation in Nigeria’s recent history.

On investment in people, the Buhari factsheet listed four components of its Social Investment Programme (SIP), which have already taken off. The SIP is the largest social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with N140 billion released and more than nine million direct beneficiaries so far – 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries currently participating and receiving N30,000 in monthly stipends, with another 300,000 new enrolments being processed, to take the number to 500,000 this year.

Second is the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP). N15.183 billion in interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N350,000 have been disbursed to more than 300,000 market women, traders, artisans, and farmers across all 36 states of the country and the FCT. In November 2017, GEEP was chosen as the pilot programme for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Policy Innovation Unit in Nigeria.

Another of its SIP is the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), covering currently, a total of 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 public primary schools across 24 states. Over 80,000 direct jobs have since been created from the School Feeding Programme, with 87,261 cooks engaged in the 24 states. Lastly is the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) with 297,973 families benefiting from the scheme, which pays N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country.

For security, while Nigerians have lost count of incessant attacks and galloping death toll across the country, owing majorly to herdsmen/farmers’ conflict, the Buhari’s scorecard list the following: In the Northeast, revitalization of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), aimed at combating trans-border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency; resumption of public secondary schools in Borno State in 2016 after two years of closure; reopening of Maiduguri-Gubio and Maiduguri-Monguno roads; capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, ‘Camp Zero’, in Sambisa Forest; return of more than a million displaced persons to their homes and communities across the Northeast; and release of more than 13,000 Boko Haram hostages, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014, and 105 of the Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018.

The report listed successful military operations across the country: Operation Lafiya Dole, and Operation Last Hold, to defeat Boko Haram, in the Northeast; Operation Whirl Stroke, operating in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states, to tackle the menace of armed herdsmen, cattle rustlers, communal militias, kidnappers and other bandits; Exercise Crocodile Smile I (September 2016) and II (October 2017) to curtail the menace of militant activities in the Niger Delta; Exercise Obangame, a multinational operation aimed at securing and protecting the Gulf of Guinea; Operation Awatse, a joint operation between the military and the police, in the South West, to flush out militants and pipeline vandals; and Exercise Python Dance I (November 2016) and II (September 2017) in the South East, to tackle kidnappers and militant elements.

The government notes that its anti-corruption crusade and corruption war has been hinged on the plank of its fiscal reforms aimed at plugging leakages, one of which is the new Whistleblowing Policy. The policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance in December 2016 has since yielded the following in recoveries: N13.8 billion from tax evaders, and N7.8 billion, US$378million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials targeted by whistleblowers.

The Ministry received a total of 8,373 communications on contract inflation, ghost workers, illegal recruitment and misappropriation of funds, as a result of the policy. Of this number, the Ministry has undertaken 791 investigations and completed 534. Ten are presently under prosecution and four convictions have been secured. There is also an increased oversight of MDAs. The National Economic Council (NEC), under the chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, approved the audit of key federal revenue generating agencies, with revealing results: a total sum of N526 billion and US$21 billion underpaid to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015.

NEC has now approved the extension of that audit to cover the period until June 2017. The administration is also addressing the issue of poor levels of remittance of operating surpluses by MDAs. From remitting only N51 million between 2010 and 2016, JAMB went on to remit N7.8 billion in 2017, and is on course to remit a similar amount in 2018. How this factsheet or its impact on citizens can halt or sway public opinion from dangerously going south, thereby eroding remnants of the already exhausted goodwill of this administration, will be seen in the next eight months in countdown to 2019 general elections.