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

 

 

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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/

 

 

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.

#IStandWithBuhari, #IStandWithTuface, #IStandWithNigeria

• Showdown as citizens take to the streets
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
THERE’S no sitting on the fence. This weekend, Nigerians will be sharply divided into three distinct groups – #IStandWithBuhari, #IStandWithTuface and #IStandWithNigeria. All three will be stomping the streets in a popularity contest from Sunday.
Of the three, #IStandWithTuface, a sort of 2012 remake of #OccupyNigeria and #EnoughisEnough fuel subsidy protest, is leading the pack in popularity and resilience, as the other two appear to be a belated afterthought in response to the growing acceptance of a movement that may well define public consciousness and shape the next general elections in 2019.

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The missions of the three groups are well stated. Popular music icon, Innocent Idibia, popularly known as Tuface, is leading a nationwide protest against the government and for good governance; a group, which sponsors are yet to be unveiled, #IStandWithBuhari immediately launched a counter protest in support of the government; while a fairly unknown group, led by those who refuse to be bystanders in the emerging power show, is floating #IStandWithNigeria.

The third group will on Monday, February 6, assembly by 8a.m. at the National Stadium, Surulere in Lagos and march to the National Theatre, Iganmu. According to Bemigbo Awala, one of the organisers, “we are marching on the two national icons that epitomizes our decline as a nation.

“We want to state very clearly and peacefully that #IStandWithNigeria and the country must work for all of us and all of us must work for Nigeria,” he wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.

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Ahead of the clash of the mega rallies, it has been a feverish war on the social media space with each canvassing for supporters and maligning the others.

The group in support of the government had on Wednesday in a Facebook post stirred some controversy when it announced its nationwide solidarity rally for February 5 to take place on the same day Tuface had earlier fixed his protest march.

Not taking the bait, the #IStandWithTuface group immediately shifted their rally to Monday, February 6, to avoid some clash with the president’s supporters, while announcing they intend to hold the march on the day President Muhammadu Buhari would be returning to the country from his 10-day vacation in London.

Despite the controversies generated by the much-publicized protest, including the warning by the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, stopping the protest, the ‘African Queen’ crooner yesterday vowed to go ahead with the planned protest.

#OccupyNigeria - #EnoughisEnough protest against fuel subsidy removal at Ojota, Lagos, renamed Freedom Park in 2012

#OccupyNigeria – #EnoughisEnough protest against fuel subsidy removal at Ojota, Lagos, renamed Freedom Park in 2012

Meanwhile, the police have been advised to desist from becoming tyrannical by attempting to stop the Tuface Idibia-led rally. A pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said the Nigeria police should not attempt to stop an idea whose time has come just as it affirmed that the peaceful nation-wide rallies called by the reputable social crusader and musician, Idibia is in compliance with a plethora of human rights provisions enshrined in the Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution.

In the same vein, activist-lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, yesterday said the police cannot stop the planned mass rally organised by the popular musician. Adegboruwa said he considers it to be an attempt to intimidate those who wish to partake in the rally.

“For the information of the police commissioner, Nigeria is a democratic country governed strictly in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Section 39 of the Constitution grants freedom of expression, including the right to be heard and to disseminate information and ideas.

https://guardian.ng/news/showdown-as-citizens-take-to-the-streets-to-stand-with-buhari-tuface/

http://allafrica.com/stories/201702030300.html

 

Change or Chains

Angst as Nigerians feel pains of increasing hard times
By Tope Templer Olaiya
These are not the best of times in Nigeria. Long before July 21, 2016, when the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, officially confirmed that the country was ‘technically in recession,’ it had been an arduous battle for survival for citizens, organizations and governments at all tiers.

The first half of the year was rough.

In spite of government’s assurances, Nigerians weathered the storm, bracing the challenge of petroleum scarcity, epileptic power supply amid increase in electricity tariff, removal of subsidy on petrol, hike in cost of food, goods and services, unprecedented scarcity of tomatoes, skyrocketing exchange rate of the naira to a dollar, backlog of unpaid salaries and mass retrenchment of workers.

For this man, RECESSION is not just a word

For this man, RECESSION is not just a word

Government kept repeating that the tide would turn once the 2016 budget was passed and the second half of the year would be better for the country and its citizens.

President Muhammadu Buhari eventually signed the budget on May 6, raising the hopes of turnaround with the injection of government funds across critical sectors of the economy.

With four months left in the year, it’s a stark reality of a depressed economy staring Nigerians in the face as strange things are reported daily.

Organized and petty crimes have been on the increase, unsecured pots of soup have become endangered species, sale of human blood and organs for economic reasons is rife, and frustrations have given rise to rampant cases of domestic violence, child abuse and suicide.

The hunger is so widespread that poultry farmers confess to skipping meals for their birds as the cost of feed has risen by 100 per cent.

Signs of the time: A boy eating crumbs from a pot.

Signs of the time: A boy eating crumbs from a pot.

Even in the president’s home state of Katsina recently, there was a massive scramble for unwholesome grain when the truck conveying bags of the suspected poisonous grains for destruction broke down in a village.

When persuasion failed, authorities had to engage the help of task force to retrieve some of the poisoned grains in a bid to avoid devastating consequences.

The new economic reality is affecting the lifestyle of Nigerians.

Today, an exchange of pleasantries is incomplete without the word ‘Change’ in reference to the evocative slogan that brought the present administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to power.

The standard reply to any untoward situation in the country is ‘Chanji’, the street version of APC’s motto – change.

President Buhari takes a peep at the capital city from Aso Villa

President Buhari takes a peep at the capital city from Aso Villa

A public affairs commentator based in Kano State, Aminu Muhammad Ofs, last week recounted his experience of the times, which has gone viral on social media.

He said: “I was sitting with a guy who sells tea when an elderly man came and said ‘Give me ‘Buhari’s mixture’. Without saying anything more, the man was given some tea and small bread for a sum of N40.
I was baffled, so I asked the seller what the man meant by ‘Buhari’s mixture’. He explained that it means tea without milk plus a small loaf of bread.

“Again the next day, I stopped by a small kiosk to get a battery for my wireless computer mouse. While I was leaving, a guy came who said: ‘Give me Buhari and Osinbajo. I waited to see what he meant and the seller handed him garri and groundnut.

“I inquired from the seller, who explained that garri is the street term for President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is groundnut, while Senate President Bukola Saraki is sugar, slang for the staple foods the poor can afford.”

A drummer bows his head in agony after low patronage.

A drummer bows his head in agony after low patronage.

Before now, Lagos State was often referred to the city that never sleeps, because it is known for its hustle and bustle from dawn to dusk.

The wind of recession has blown all that away.

The bustling nightlife is disappearing in the Centre of Excellence, as the city practically shuts down and becomes a ghost town once it is 10p.m., even on weekends.

Due to the harsh economic conditions in the country, Nigerians have developed some clever methods of dealing with the tough circumstances.

Policemen take to lotto and gambling to make ends meet

Policemen take to lotto and gambling to make ends meet

According to a public opinion survey by NOIPolls, released on August 10, 2016, 97 per cent of the respondents said the recent economic realities have had a negative effect on the wellbeing of the average Nigerian.

Some survival methods discovered by the polls include cutting down on household expenses and luxury items, resorting to prayers and hoping for a miracle, engaging in subsistence farming, adjusting feeding patterns in place of the regular three-square meals.

A businessman, Emeka Obinna told The Guardian that he has had to adjust the feeding patterns of his family.
“I have a family of six, with several other dependents. That’s the only way we are managing to survive. No more three-square meals. It is either breakfast and dinner, or lunch and dinner. So, it is the 1-0-1, 1-1-0 or 0-1-1 formula I am operating now with the little resources at my disposal,” he said.

 

Angst as Nigerians feel pains of increasing hard times

Lagos ‘golden boy’ becomes Buhari’s ‘Actualizer’

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R), CONGRATULATING MR BABATUNDE FASHOLA AFTER TAKING HIS OATH OF OFFICE

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R), CONGRATULATING MR BABATUNDE FASHOLA AFTER TAKING HIS OATH OF OFFICE

ONE hundred and sixty six days after dropping the saddle as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigeria’s richest state, Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who would forever be remembered for the sobriquet, Eko oni baje, was yesterday recalled from rest to take up a higher responsibility for national assignment when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated his cabinet and assigned portfolios to the ministers.
While social media leaks had skirted around the probable nomination of Fashola as Minister of Works or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), no one, not even the ex-governor, would have won the bet on the president’s plans to assign three heavy portfolios. Alas, when the president unveiled the ministers and their portfolios, the former governor of Lagos got the lion’s share as he was given a combination of three ministries – namely power, works and housing.

Fash He joins the newly constituted cabinet on the strength of his antecedent with his above-average performance as Lagos helmsman. Former governor Bola Tinubu’s eight-year administration laid the groundwork of modern Lagos as has been rightly termed ‘The Navigator.’ Fashola came on board and did his spell as ‘The Actualizer’ to implement the development and policy thrust of his predecessor before Akinwunmi Ambode’s emergence, who is touted as ‘The Consolidator.’
Fashola, the ‘Actualizer’ must have earned the absolute trust of President Buhari for a few reasons, some of which shone brightly during the intense campaign for the general elections. Others were the way he carried himself brilliantly during his eight-year administration of Lagos, which made him far ahead of his peers and first among equals of the Governors’ Class of 2007 to 2015.
Before the president selected Fashola as a ministerial nominee, there was a lot of talk from some quarters that Buhari might drop him due to some powerful forces within the ruling All Progressives Congress APC working against his nomination. However, the president had other ideas. He had so much faith in Fashola. Moreover, Buhari saw Fashola as a disciplined man just like himself who was ready to work assiduously.

Fashola during his appearance at the Senate for Ministerial Screening

Fashola during his appearance at the Senate for Ministerial Screening

One of the qualities you can’t deny Fashola of is his high spirit of patriotism. The former governor has always showed his passion for the progress of Nigeria. He believes in the project of a prosperous Nigeria. He proved this sufficiently when he steered the ship of Lagos, and became the toast of other African countries and foreign investors across the world.
Next to his patriotism is the fact that Fashola is a workaholic. The new minister of power, works and housing is a person who never gets tired of whatever he sets his eyes to achieve. When he came in as governor of Lagos in 2007, he could count the number of grey in his hair. Today, the reverse is the case. Eight years of intense work has made his hair all grey.
The minister, who would be the cynosure of all eyes in the new cabinet, also has a soft spot for innovative ideas. And his signature and indelible marks are all over the state. From the boosted Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, which assisted in reducing crime in the state; the restructuring of the once notorious Oshodi under bridge and beautification of some notorious hotspot are few examples.

L-R; New Ministers, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing); Lai Mohammed(Information); James Ocholi, (State, Labour and Employment)and Alh. Abubakar Malami (Justice) taking the oath of Office as Federal Ministers

L-R; New Ministers, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Power, Works and Housing); Lai Mohammed(Information); James Ocholi, (State, Labour and Employment)and Alh. Abubakar Malami (Justice) taking the oath of Office as Federal Ministers

For the poster boy of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Fashola has proved the saying to be true that the reward for hard work is more work. In a sense, he has had his short rest abruptly truncated to help deliver the change the ruling party promised Nigerians.
In August, when during the twists of an intra-party high-wired politics that was meant to dim his chances of being considered for a national call into the president’s team, he had replied his traducers, particularly the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) on the subject of the N78 million personal website that he was not looking for a job.
“I cannot conclude without responding to the crusade of CACOL and their ilk, seeking my prosecution on allegations that have no proof and writing “pre-emptive” letters to the Presidency. In case they are unaware, I am not looking for a job. I expect them to know that allegations of wrongdoing are not resolved without evidence, neither are they resolved in press conferences.

Readers are definitely Leaders

Readers are definitely Leaders

“I have served my state, and by extension, my country for twelve and half years and I did so with my heart. I am taking the rest that I believe I have earned. For those who still wish to remain in the mud, they should look in the mirror. For those who wish to throw mud at me, they should look at their own hands. As for me, I have moved on. My job is done.”
After taking the oath of office yesterday as Minister, the job is beginning afresh, on a national scale, where he is expected to drive the vision of the president.
All hopes are on Fashola to succeed. Some of the fangs he released at the Federal Government during the previous administration will now be used to measure his achievements in office. The Federal Government must live up to its responsibility to Lagos. Expectedly, he stole the show during the ministers’ screening at the Senate, Nigerians now expect him to steal the show with a sterling performance.

 

Lagos ‘golden boy’ becomes Buhari’s ‘Actualizer’

Potholes, potholes everywhere you go!

Federal mess in Lagos (Part 1)
By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

Failed portion of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Ile-Epo bus-stop, Abule-Egba

Failed portion of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Ile-Epo bus-stop, Abule-Egba

LIVING in Lagos can be as stressful as living in a war zone; the weather is constantly humid, traffic is hellish, living conditions are horrid, roads are terribly bad and the government appears to be ‘indifferent’. In the last few weeks, the combined problem of traffic logjam and insecurity across the state have made many Lagosians wondered aloud what is going wrong with their beloved Centre of Excellence.
A latest survey conducted by leading research institute, NOIPolls, revealed that severe traffic gridlock and heightened crime rate have now become the major sources of concern to the residents of Nigeria’s commercial capital, since Governor Akinwunmi Ambode assumed office in May 2015.
Predictably, the latter (heightened crime rate) exists because of the precarious situation of the former (severe traffic gridlock), which regrettably have been blamed on the lukewarm attitude to work by the state’s traffic regulatory personnel and hideous potholes littering many of the major artery roads in the state.

Creek Road, Apapa

Creek Road, Apapa

Lagos has elevated the definition of potholes. They are no longer small openings carved out on its roads by rainfall and lack of drainage but are alternatively death traps, that an unsuspecting motorist can pay dearly for.
These potholes, mostly on federal roads, have widened into craters and usually cause unnecessary traffic gridlocks. In some cases, car owners have to visit mechanics after a trip or two on these roads. More so, it has become an eyesore to Nigeria, the nation’s former political capital.
Lagos is encircled by dreadful roads on all fronts. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is perennially a motorist’s nightmare; Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway is caving in under pressure and influx of citizens to the fringes of Lagos; Lagos-Badagry Expressway is taking forever to remodel and expand; too much has been written and said about the deplorable but busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway; and the situation remains the same with Ikorodu-Sagamu Expressway.

Wharf Road, Apapa

Wharf Road, Apapa

At a time, former governor and now member of President Buhari’s cabinet as a minister, Babatunde Fashola, had relentlessy told the world how the Federal Government has over the years neglected Lagos and why a special status needed to be granted.
It is no longer fruitless to play politics with Lagos. Concrete action must now be taken to arrest the rot, which is threatening the economy of Nigeria’s biggest cash cow after oil. If taken as a country on its own, Lagos would be among the largest economies in Africa. According to a recent Economist report, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos exceeds that of Kenya, East Africa’s beefiest economy.
All these have made life miserable for Lagosians. There is an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. As a result of the traffic, many have missed business engagements, while those gainfully engaged have lost productive man-hours to the traffic.

The worries do not end there, as every person behind the wheels are weary of daredevil robbers clutching dangerous weapons in the bid to disposes motorists of money, phones and valuables. And these men of the underworld have found a new hobby in plying their trade during traffic. They are so brazen they don’t need the cover of darkness anymore.
All these are enough to stress out even the calmest soul, and sometimes most people who are stressed out don’t even know it until it’s too late.
Little wonder then Lagos was listed as one of the least livable cities in the world alongside Pakistan, Harare in Zimbabwe and Dhaka in Bangladesh by a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking, which rated 140 cities in the areas of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Inspite of this, it is an irony of sorts that the city of Lagos still attracts visitors in their hundreds daily.

• Federal Ministry of Works keeps mum

Oshodi-Isale service lane, Oshodi

Oshodi-Isale service lane, Oshodi

WHEN The Guardian contacted a deputy Director, in the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Godwin Eke, for comment on the bad state of the road, he directed the reporter to contact the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works in Abuja, on the ground that he is not allowed to speak to the press.
When reminded that he has been talking to the Press in the past on the parking of trucks and petrol tankers constituted nuisance on the highway, Eke, who is in charge of Section I of the Federal Highway said it was in the past and not now.
Minister-designate and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, had last year, said a good number of federal roads in the state were in a state of disrepair, pointing out that the situation would have been worse if his administration had not intervened on some of them, adding that he spent over N50 billion of tax-payers money to fix federal roads without getting any refund, despite acknowledgement by the Federal Government.
“We intervened in federal roads because they would disrupt economic activities if we leave them in a state of disrepair. One can imagine the economic impact of watching Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to be completely unmotorable. We can’t just watch these roads to rot away because we feel the pains.”

• Quick Facts

• Lagos has 117 federal roads.
• Length of state roads is 328.
• Length of local government roads is 6,415.

• Length of federal roads in Lagos is 719.2km.
• Length of trunk routes is 646.2km.
• Length of secondary routes is 73km.

 

Federal mess in Lagos (Part 1)