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My Top TEN Problems with President Buhari

It is not a secret that I supported PMB in the 2015 Presidential election. I was a big fan and supporter of the President. While I became disappointed earlier on in this administration, but I felt maybe things will change with a bit more time. However, I grew increasingly disillusioned by the direction of the government and its self-mutilating tendencies. So, I have not seen any reason to support PMB re-election ambition at the moment, although that may change. I will need to see a few changes in approach and tone to be convinced things will be any different if re-elected in 2019.

My main concerns with PMB and his government are:buhari-2

1. Inadequate communication of the context of what the government has been doing. Lack of a central Policy Team to harmonise policy decisions on a unified basis. Lai Mohammed is a good political spokesman but a terrible Minister for Information. The President’s spokesmen also seem to make matters worse with their style of communication. We all know communication is not PMB’s best asset, hence we expected he would appoint the best people with the gift of the gab and knowledge of public relations, not just media relations.

2. Simply blaming the previous administration for everything. It began to sound like excuses after a while. No acceptance of responsibility for its own actions. The more focus is given to what the previous government did, the less we see and know what this government is doing. Change the narrative.

3. Not acknowledging the mistakes of the current PMB administration. We do not expect perfection, but without acknowledging errors, the government loses the power to convince us they can fix the issues. You cannot fix a problem you have refused to accept exists. There are lots of people who wish this government well, but are shocked that there has been no admission of errors or unmet Manifesto promises. How can we be assured you will do better if you do not acknowledge what you did not do too well in.

4. Not accepting there is a problem with the slow pace of this government in comparison to the urgent actions expected by Nigerians. The government did not behave like it has a Four year mandate. Six months to appoint Ministers in an economy on a downward spiral is negligence and unexplainable. One can be forgiven to think this government was voted in for a ten year term given the crawling pace of every decision taken. Things have been done at too slow pace. This is made contrastingly obvious by the energy and responsiveness we see from the Vice President anytime he acts as President. It shows what is possible.

5. The government has failed to score some obvious quick wins of low hanging fruits of policies that will generate support and goodwill from Nigerians. Yes there has been a lot of good work done by this government; but to an average citizen, things have got from bad to worse in their daily experiences. They are not getting the acknowledgement of their suffering from the government.

6. The President has not been seen as being able or willing to hold any of his team to account. No queries, no sacking, no consequence for bad behaviour or disobedience to his orders, no new thinking or innovation, etc. The president just appears to be stuck in the past and removed from reality.

7. No overarching Vision for the country has been given by the President. Where are we going as a nation? What is the big picture? Stumbling along will score some successes, but that is no replacement for an overarching plan.

8. Over-Politicisation of issues. Corruption for instance is a PDP and APC problem. It is a Nigerian problem. Making corruption look like simply a PDP issue is wrong and insulting our intelligence. This erodes credibility when we all know the thieves that have joined APC from PDP being shielded and made to look like saints. Some of the biggest looters of the last two decades are now in APC and many of the current ones are the staunchest supporters of the President. Balance need to be brought to this fight against corruption; but most importantly, its root causes need to be addressed.

9. We know the President cannot do everything, how about his team. His inability to assemble the best brains in Nigeria is a concern. Recycling the same old and tired politicians is not building confidence in his ability to bring a good team together in the interest of Nigeria. We need to be innovative and strategic. This is the only we can leverage the advances in science and technology to grow rapidly. More educated and creative hands are needed in government. These same political dinosaurs will not deliver the change needed for our nation.

10. Imperviousness to common sense Public concern about perceived nepotistic tendency and behaviour. Even if it is not true, the President could have taken steps to reassure the public on the one-sidedness of his security appointments for instance by making changes. In politics perception is everything. The President has failed to reflect an understanding of genuine public concerns in his actions on security matters. Reassurance is part of the job of the President, but it seems he does not care about what Nigerians think. At least that is the vibe we get.

The needs of the nation require urgent and agile transformational leadership. The sedentary pace and posture of the President is out of place. He does not seem to have the energy, speed and nimbleness needed to respond to the needs of the nation in a fast changing world. We need energy and enthusiasm that will motivate a nation. PMB looks healthier and sharper than last year, but there does not seem to be any change to his responsiveness to the needs of a nation in pain. Hopefully, it is not too late to change.

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My Top EIGHT Praise for President Buhari

Previously, I wrote on “My top 10 Problems with President Buhari”. The usual anti-Buhari brigade blamed me for his emergence as I supported him in 2015 (imagine the foolery). Others even told me to ask God for forgiveness and repent for supporting PMB in 2015. Similarly others who are Pro-Buhari no-matter what criticised me for daring to speak negatively about their “Saint Buhari”. They claimed the Premohammadu-buhari-officialsident has done well in ALL areas. These extremes of blind loyalty and blind hatred is a legacy of poor education and lack of critical thinking capacity among our people.

Yes; It is not a secret that I supported PMB in the 2015 Presidential election. I was a big fan and supporter of the President. But I became gradually as this administration continues, but I felt maybe things will change with a bit more time. Alas, I have seen no major change. Goodwill is important for any government to succeed and PMB had loads of it when he got elected. But it seems his style which is still largely a legacy of his Military background is not well suited to a democracy and the expectations of the citizens.

So, I grew increasingly dissolution by the direction of the government and its self-mutilating tendencies. So, I have not seen any reason to support PMB re-election ambition at the moment, although I am still watching. I will need to see a few changes in approach, style and tone to be convinced things will be any different if re-elected in 2019.

Despite my criticism, I will still like to commend the President for the following achievements, which is by no means exhaustive, but my salient points:

1. The President has used his more prudent approach to spending to grow our External Reserve. This is commendable and puts us in better position to deal with any shock in the global economy in the years ahead.

2. After an initial Roller Coaster; Naira has fairly stabilised in the past few months. Although the exchange rate is till unattractive, it is nevertheless fairly stable and this is helpful to the economy to allow some planning ahead by businesses.

3. There is more negative disposition towards Corruption. This is needed. As a general posture, corruption is now perceived as more of a negative than before in Nigeria. This is the right message to craft. Even though successful prosecution has been few; I will still commend PMB on his war against graft.

4. Greater Diversification of the economy. PMB has succeeded in diversifying our economy better than any government since 1999. Although this has yet to feed into the good feel factor for many Nigerians, it is work in progress and commendable.

5. Growth in Agriculture has been exemplary and commendable, almost unprecedented. I know personally the successes scored by the government in expanding our agricultural base and outputs.

6. There appears to be better success with the fight against Boko Haram terrorists compared to Jonathan’s regime. Although let down badly by his service chiefs and IGP in my opinion; Mr President has however done well to invest in and marshall the resources needed to prosecute the war against terror and violence. The herdsmen killings have been a notable blight on this achievements.

7. Vice President Osinbajo is a credit to this administration in my view. He has done very well within the limits of his constraints as a VP. And has been superb as Acting President each time.

8. There is an improvement in the Standing and image of Nigeria abroad under this administration. So that is a positive thing.

So as you can see, I am not one of those that think this government has not done anything good. That will be uncharitable and and falsehood to say all has been bad. My concern is mainly around the government not accepting its glaring errors thus failing to reassure me they will fix the problems. You cannot fix what you do not agree is a problem. I also will like to see a sense of urgency from Mr President.

His “I will take my time” posture is a real put off and out of sync with the urgency our situation demand. The pace need to be accelerated. II am not convinced that PMB is able to change and accelerate development in another term. That makes me for now reluctant to support his re-election bid. He has not shown he is able to assemble the best brains in Nigeria to fix the country; instead of the bandits he has surrounded himself with and appointed. He also lack self awareness of his own weaknesses. Weaknesses are not bad….but identifying them will allow you to appoint people that will be able to mitigate them.

So PMB has achieved a lot in the past three years; but he could have done better and I am certainly not sure he can do better in the next four years if his approach does not change. But I am open to be convinced. And I wish him well.

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NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN CAN BE TOO YOUNG TO LEAD – A Strategic Lesson for the Nigerian Youth.

With the President signing into law today the Not Too Young to Run bill, a lot of our youth are celebrating. But I am not so sure what victory has been won. Age alone is not a criterion for good political leadership. Many Nigerians support their argument by saying not-too-young-web-891x329the new trend in the world is for young leaders in more developed democracies. This is true but the youth in Nigeria are missing the point. These young politicians that became their nations leaders may be young in age, but definitely not young in public service and political experience. Take a look at the following few facts about some of the famous young leaders whose names are banded around by our youth.

A). EMMANUEL MACRON

  1. On 15 May 2012, Macron became the Deputy Secretary General of the Élysée, a senior role in President François Hollande’s staff
  2. He was appointed as the Minister of Economy and Finance in the second Valls Cabinet on 26 August 2014,
  3. In 2017, at 39, he became the youngest President in French history and the youngest French head of state since Napoleon.

B). JUSTIN TRUDEAU

  1. Elected into the Parliament in 2008 as an apposition politician in Canada.
  2. In September 2010, he was appointed as party spokesperson for youth, citizenship, and immigration
  3. He was reelected into Parliament in 2011
  4. In 2013, he was elected the national leader of the Liberal Party.
  5. In 2015, He was elected Prime Minister of Canada at the age of 44.

C). LEO VARADKAR

  1. In 2004, he received the highest first-preference vote in the Ireland with 4,894 votes and was elected on the first count into the Fingal County Council.
  2. Elected in 2007 into the Lower House of Parliament of Ireland.
  3. In 2007, he was appointed him to the Front Bench as Spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment until a 2010 reshuffle, when he became Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
  4. In 2011, He was re-elected into Parliament.
  5. Varadkar was appointed Federal Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport on 9 March 2011.
  6. In July 2014, Varadkar replaced James Reilly as federal Minister for Health in Ireland.
  7. He was re-elected into Parliament in 2016.
  8. On 6 May 2016, after government formation talks had concluded, Varadkar was appointed as the Federal  Minister for Social Protection.
  9. In 2017, He was elected by the Parliamentary party as the Prime Minister of Ireland aged 38

As you can see from these facts; all these young leaders have had exposure to politics and public service for many years before being elected leaders. So, these young Nigerians coming from nowhere and aspiring to be President simply because “we don’t PIC-13-SIGNING-OF-THE-NOT-TOO-YOUNG-TO-RUN-BILLwant old men” to lead us any more are making strategic errors. Instead of coming from running your own business and seeking to be President; why not start at lower levels.

Local Government Chairman, State Assembly, Governorship, National Assembly Member. Pack some experience behind you first in the public arena before running for the Presidency. Leo Varadkar was elected into the city council at the age of 25. He was elected into Parliament THREE times, Federal Minister TWICE before becoming Prime Minister at 38. So his qualification was not his age but his experience.

It will be a shame to replace Old and tired politicians, with Young but inexperienced ones. You don’t solve one extreme by going the other extreme. I will advise that anyone who go about saying his claim to the Presidency is due to his young age should be thrown out of the arena; if there are no public-sector experience to back it up. Nigeria is an incredibly complex country to govern. While I believe a young person can effectively be President; I believe such a young person should have had exposure in public service. But this is where the problem is.

The Youth should fervently lobby the politicians to appoint young people as Commissioners, SAs, and Ministers. How come we don’t have a 25yr old Commissioner in any state? How come the average age PMB’s Ministers is almost 60? These are the areas youthDFl7TpfXoAANvmm-e1501133205984 can shine and cut their teeth in the public arena before gunning for the top job. So the battle is not over for the Nigerian youth.  Don’t fool yourselves into thinking a 35yr old without any experience of public service can win the Presidential election. It is very risky to place the huge burden of a complex nation like Nigeria on the shoulders of a 35yr old who has worked in his own private company all his life. Under-Experience of the young is not the solution to the Outdated-Experience of the old.

Let the words go out from today; that at all levels of government, the young must be appointed and given the opportunity to be elected to begin their climb of the political ladder and public-sector exposure. Anyone who has ever moved from the relative efficiency of the private sector to take a job in the public sector will tell you it is a major paradigm shift to adjust to the slow, inefficient and corruption-ridden public sector. You don’t get your first taste of this dangerous beast at the presidential level.

So, let us all go to work and help our youth invade the public domain at all levels so that we can create the needed pipeline of future presidents that will be in their 30s and 40s. In the end, experience will be the trump card not simply a young age. Therefore, it is now time to start early. Begin the work of infiltrating all levels of government, gather a few experiences and your young age will become an asset if backed by some public experience. God bless Nigeria.

 

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Objectivity Needed if we are to be Pro-Nigeria and not just Pro-Buhari

I am seeing a lot of posts from those who claim they are pro Buhari and anti Buhari. The anti-Buhari seem to only highlight his errors with both real and fabricated facts. For the pro-Buharis, they believe stating only his positive achievements (as though no mistakes were made or even being made by the PMB government) is the way to go.

What is lost in translation between these two extremes is what should be our main Focus: NIGERIA. Our country should be the main focus and as such we should be Pro-Nigeria. I am pro-00340825_3ec9962f652bb1d6c5fc7dbc8d53071c_arc614x376_w1200Nigeria. That means you will be able to see the positive things PMB has done for Nigeria; but also see his errors and misjudgements as they have not helped Nigeria. This essential OBJECTIVITY is what is missing from both extremes of Pro and anti Buhari brigades.

Nobody (and I repeat nobody) who is pro-Nigeria will look at the PMB government and say there has been no mistakes. Also, nobody who is pro-Nigeria will say the PMB has achieved nothing in its 3yrs of existence. Both propositions will be lying and dishonest to the extreme.

What we need is a Pro-Nigeria position. Opposition for the sake of it is foolishness. Nobody and no party has a monopoly of knowledge or solutions for our Nation’s problems. As with many other democracies; many patriots feel (in an ideal world) they should be able to combine attributes from different parties and politicians to create a new politician that will be the best for their country. Imagine a politician with the relative integrity of Buhari, the detribalised and action speed of Obasanjo, the attention to building consensus of Jonathan and the frugality of Yaradua. This clone that combines all these attributes will be best for Nigeria at this time. But that is in the realm of imagination.

So being Pro-Nigeria means you are duty bound (if you are Pro-Buhari) to highlight not just his successes; but the areas he is failing (or has failed) so as to ensure the next four years do not repeat the mistakes of the past. After all, how do you correct something if you do not accept it is incorrect in the first place. How do you make a different policy choice, unless you accept the current one is inadequate? Stating the errors of PMB administration is the best Pro-Nigeria step to take. I love my children, but I am equally happy to highlight the areas they need to adjust in their approach to life to be even better than they are. That does not mean I do not love them. Listening to someone like Festus Keyamo defend PMB can be heart-breaking. He just could not get himself to admit that PMB has made some mistakes. True friends are not YES men. They are able to accept that lessons have been learnt from errors thus assuring us that the future will reflect different choices.

I can list the many achievements of PMB and I can also list is many mistakes and errors. Both lists could be perfectly correct. We need to be mature in our political discuss. That is why in my posts over the last few weeks, I have stated that my final decision whether to support PMB or not for 2019, will depend on who the other candidates are. I am not a PMB or nothing person; but I will also not want my beloved Nigeria to move from frying pan into fire with an even worse candidate. So, I am still open minded. I truly believe this is the position of 50% of Nigerians. You will have the 25% who are anti-Buhari regardless and another 25% who are Pro-Buhari regardless.

Loving our country and putting her first demand that we are objective in our analysis and not pretend Buhari has been all bad as well as not saying he has been all perfect either. I will be more comfortable with PMB and his 2019 ambition, if he can come out to itemise and accept some of his errors, admit them and say he will work to make sure they are not repeated in future. That will assure me he has learned from past mistakes. Nigeria_politicalBut with praise-singers all around him; I fear he may be living in a bubble devoid of reality.

When the Americans were on the outskirt of Bagdad, Saddam’s generals were still assuring him that Iraq was winning the war against the allied forces. That is what happens when you are surrounded by people who do not tell you reality as it is but tell you what they think you want to hear. We should love our country enough to reject such parochial disposition.

According to Festus Keyamo’s last interview I saw; Nigeria was already sliding into depression from late 2014 under Jonathan administration. All the signs were there he said. I happen to agree with him. But PMB inherited an economy sliding into depression and felt the best approach is not to appoint Ministers for SIX months leaving the economy without political direction. THAT WAS A MISTAKE. Then, only to appoint after six months ministers that could have been appoints in six hours. They were the usual suspects of recycled politicians. The delay was a bad signalling to Investors.

Yes, the Forex market was already boiling by the time PMB took over in 2015 with Naira sliding in value. But rather than allow the Market to correct itself as Jonathan had allowed; PMB decided to stiffing demand for FOREX through a series of Administrative actions that made live hell for Nigerians and made Naira to lose even more value. This political interference was not in the interest of Nigeria and was a mistake. The government seem to be doing the right things now gradually in the forex system. But I have never heard PMB or any of his supporters admit that the 2015 policy was wrong.

I can go on to education and show how the structural damage and inefficiencies in the system are not being addressed. In 35yrs, there has been only one nationwide inspection of our secondary schools to check the quality of the teaching which was done when Dr Obi was the Minister under Obasanjo regime. So, increasing funding to education now is simply giving more funds to perpetuate dysfunction. Then the curriculum is out of sync with the modern world. There is need for fundamental change in the national curriculum. Only a good education turn normal citizens into human capital. This is not being addressed by PMB so far, that to me is a failure.

But PMB has also achieved a lot in his three years. The President has used his more prudent approach to spending to grow our External Reserve. This is commendable and puts us in better position to deal with any shock in the global economy in the years ahead. There is more negative disposition towards Corruption. This is needed. As a general posture, corruption is now perceived as more of a negative than before in Nigeria. This is the right message to craft. Even though successful prosecution has been few; I will still commend PMB on his war against graft. It has been a success in comparison with his predecessors.

Greater Diversification of the economy. PMB has succeeded in diversifying our economy better than any government since 1999. Although this has yet to feed into the good feel lagos1factor for many Nigerians, it is work in progress and commendable. Growth in Agriculture has been exemplary and commendable, almost unprecedented. I know personally the successes scored by the government in expanding our agricultural base and outputs. There appears to be better success with the fight against terrorists compared to Jonathan’s regime. Although let down badly by his service chiefs and IGP in my opinion; Mr President has however done well to invest in and Marshall the resources needed to prosecute the war against terror and violence.

I can go on and on about PMB’s successes. But in the end, being Pro-Nigeria means we must demand assurances that the next four years (if he wins in 2019) will reflect on many lessons-learnt from this current administration. This will only happen if we see sufficient humility to accept his errors and reassure us how he will learn from them and do things differently if re-elected. Blind and unqualified support for PMB or any other candidate for that matter in my view is unwise at this stage. If there is a list of PMB’s successes, there must also be one for his failures. That is how life is. One does not cancel the other. It simply means we need to know what has been learnt from the mistakes of this first term that will be corrected in the second term. This is not too much to ask.Without pointing out mistakes; how will PMB know what to correct in the next four years. Simply singing his praise is bad for him and ultimately bad for Nigeria. More of the same alone, will be disaster without tweaking and change of approach in many areas.

I know objectivity is lacking in our polarised polity. So, I accept to be criticised by BOTH Pro and Anti Buhari brigades in equal measure. That has become the sad reality of our public discuss. But I am Pro-Nigeria and I will do what I feel is best for my country when the options become very clear to see. I however feel it will be in the vital interest of the PMB administration to insist his spokespeople admit mistakes that were made and the corrective measures that has been put in place or will be taken whilst pointing saliently to the obvious successes of his administration.

So if in the end I support PMB (after seeing all the alternatives); it will not be unqualified. It will be on the basis of continuing with his successes, while addressing the areas of weakness that I will be pointing out. This is what being Pro-Nigeria is. How he needs to change his strolling posture and show more dynamism and speed of action. How he needs to make all his appointees more accountable and sack those not performing. Supporting PMB will not be because I feel he is the best Nigeria can offer; but it will be because I feel he is best in the field provided to us. These are not the same considerations. PMB will not be helped by those who simply sing his praises as if the rest of us are blind to his obvious mistakes. We all need to be Pro-Nigeria.

Nigerians did not vote for a perfect individual. They just need to know that you can see the imperfections we all can see and how you are going to mitigate them and move our country forward. So, let us be Pro-Nigeria and challenge all those who aspire to lead us in the interest of generations to come. God bless Nigeria.

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PROBLEM WITH BUHARI GOVT: To Build a Nation, we need a Story.

Government can be about policy, politics and taking specific steps and counter-steps to address the needs of the nation and its citizens. But for a president, Leadership also has to be able telling stories. It is about painting a picture of what is possible. Is there such a thing as Nigerian Exceptionalism. What is it that makes us as a people special? What do we hold dearly to and what values do we stand for. When a people have been so disappointed by past words that never turned into action, simply giving more words will not suffice. They need a vision to follow.

Simply stumbling from policy to policy without clear thread of deep convictions may produce results from time to time. But to carry the nation along, Mr President need to tellmohammadu-buhari-official a story. The story of the Nigeria he sees in twenty years time. A vision we can all coalesce around. After all, great leaders like Great elders are those who plant trees under whose shade they know they will never sit.

Many times when the fervent supporters of President Buhari speaks; they end up answering questions that was never asked. When they reel out policy achievements of this government they make it seem the accusation against the President is that he has done nothing. The question is not if this government has achieved some success; of course they have. The Question is: Given our current situation as a nation; does this government represent the Best team, the best minds and the best hands Nigeria has to offer.  This for me is the real question. And my answer is a resounding NO.

President Buhari has the opportunity to assemble the best minds and brains in Nigeria; but instead he gave us recycled Gallery of failed, dubious and tired politicians. And to make things worse; he has not held them to any form of performance based accountability standards. No sacking, no discipline, no reshuffling, no reprimand of any of his appointed multitude. Ministers are not performing but they are kept in post. Security chief are tired and bereft of new and innovative ideas, but they are kept in post and even given special extensions to retirement deadlines. Ministers are busy contesting for other political positions and yet are kept in place at the same time.  Close associates are tainted with corruption and yet they are kept still in proximity to him and to the base of power. This litany of inaction and passivity is overwhelming. Yet this government doesn’t have enough self awareness to self-correct its own errors and mistakes.

So we need a story. A story that binds us together in common vision. A story that gives us a glimpse of the destination we are heading as a nation. A story that gives us the reassurance that although things are difficult at the moment,  it is a temporary bus stop on our way to a clear Promised Land.

This administration is missing that story.  The story of what the Nigeria of our dream looks like. A story that inspires us collectively and stiffen our backbone as a people to endure what we hate in order to create what we love. Nigeria can be a great country and the envy of the world.  But we need leaders who are story-tellers. Leaders who can tell us about the bright lights awaiting us at the end of this dark tunnel. A leader who though a politician can still rise above politics to do what is best for this nation.

If President Buhari wants a second term with the support of the masses; he needs to show how the next term will be different from this current one. living in denial that all is well will not cut it. Honestly about the lethargic pace of activities is needed. Honesty about lack of personal accountability to the nation by his appointees must be acknowledged. Honesty about the Aged and Old faces of the government in a nation where 60% are aged 30 and under need to be confronted. These combined with that compelling Story of the Nigerian dream will be required to move this nation forward.

As a people, we can endure any pain if we know it is part of our journey as told by our collective story as a nation. We will be inspired by the hope of a prosperous future for our children as engraved in the tapestry of our story to nationhood. Without a vision the people perish. But I also know that without a people the vision perishes too. We need to  make this journey together as Nigerians. There will be no Hausa, Yoruba or Ibo enclaves on this journey. Our collective Story will be our tribe. Though we may have different inputs as federation units; our story will not be complete until none is left behind. This revolution will be televised. It will be televised in our hearts, hopes, expectations and desire as a people. But we need to know what that story is. Simply saying you want to kill corruption is not a story, that is an act. What happens after it? There are Nations like China that has been transformed despite their high position on the corruption index. So corrupt countries have developed in other parts of the world. Fighting corruption should be part of an overarching story of where we are going. Not just an end in itself.

We need the Nigerian story to bind us together in common brotherhood so that the labours of our heroes past will truly not be able in vain.  So what is the Nigerian story Mr President?  A story that leaves no one behind. A story that need the inputs of all tribes and ethnic nationalities that make our great nation. A story that put the young in the driver seat, wisely guided by our wise elders and old sages. A story that gives prominence and opportunities to our women, who though make at least half our population have never been elected Governor much less as President. A story that will uphold loyalty to this nation and our constitution above all else.

Until this story is told with clarity, vigour and passion; Nigeria will continue to stumble from one division and crisis to another. And your name as a leader will merely be written on sand to be washed away by the wave of inevitable wind of change that looms on the horizon. To successfully win our support for your reelection bid; we need to be convinced the next term will be a departure from the current. We need to know you are now out of your “Do not rush me” mode. There is no sign of that yet. You must give us a story of the new  Nigeria of our dream.

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PRAISE OF PRESIDENT BUHARI FOR REJECTING THE PEACE CORPS BILL PASSED BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

If the newspapers are to be believed that President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) has refused to sign into law, the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC) Bill passed by the National Assembly; then that will be one of the best decisions taken by PMB. The NPC Bill passed by the National Assembly is an appalling piece of legislation drafted by those who have no genuine knowledge of the security history of this country and who lack a vision of the future architecture to secure a country begging for security solutions. Allow me to explain why.

One of the reasons for the confusing security architecture in Nigeria is the proliferation of para-military and security organizations. This has not served the country well. In most democratic countries, there is only the main police force, with divisions and specialised units and branches to deal with particular crimes. For some inexplicable reason, the mohammadu-buhari-officialgovernments of Nigeria over the past thirty years established several parallel policing/para-military related agencies some with dubious, conflicting and confusing mandates.

Based on Section 4 of the Nigerian Police Act 1943, the police are adequately empowered to enforce all laws and rights of citizens as provided by the Nigerian Constitution and other Acts of the National Assembly.  The duties and powers of the police are well articulated in the Police Act, 1943. Section 4 of the Act itemised the basic duties of the police as directly quoted below:

  • prevention and detection of crime
  • apprehension of offenders
  • preservation of law and order
  • due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly, charged, and
  • The performance of such other military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be required of them by or under the authority of the Act or any other Act.

So, the police in Nigeria are empowered by law to carry out global standard policing duties and enforcement of the law and keeping of the peace. With mass poverty and high unemployment in Nigeria, along with the chronic funding shortage facing the police, they are seen as serving only the rich and powerful. Many of the operational challenges facing our police make it easier and some will say inevitable for the police to become subservient to the rich and powerful. And some may say it seems to be in the interest of the ruling class to keep things the way they are as it entrenches their hegemony and control of the nation’s resources.

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in section 214 (1) states that:

“There shall be a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force and subject to the provisions of this section, no other Police Force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof”.

Section 214 (2)(a) empowers the National Assembly to produce an Act to organize and administer the details of police operations in Nigeria in ways that protect the Nigeria-National-Assemblyconstitutional rights of Nigerians. This is known as the Police Act. First enacted in 1943, it has been reviewed by the legislature in 1967 and 1979. A new review is definitely overdue by the National Assembly.

This constitutional provision makes it unconstitutional for either the government of the states or even the federal government to establish a parallel police service in competition to the Nigeria Police Force. This has however not stopped the Federal government from establishing additional investigatory and enforcement institutions, even though they have not called any of them ‘police’. They cannot legally be called that in any case.

From an objective analysis, the Nigerian government seem to be in breach of the spirit of the constitution if not the letter of it. By not calling these parallel agencies “police” the government seem to say they have stayed within the provisions of the constitution. But with these agencies having powers and duties similar to that of the police, it can be argued that if it looks like a dog, barks like a dog, walks like a dog, then it is a dog.

These agencies perform policing-related duties; hence it can be argued that they are police in practice if not in names. But nobody has yet litigated this fact by taking the government to a court of competent jurisdiction over it. Examples of these additional agencies are:

  • The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC)
  • The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC)
  • The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC)
  • The National Civil Defence Corps (NCDC)
  • The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB)
  • Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO)
  • State Security Service (SSS)
  • National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is another needles organization, but I have not included it directly in the list because of its judicial related additional duties.

One hundred percent of the senior police officers I interviewed believe the plethora of agencies, many with overlapping powers, has led to the weakening of the main police force as a result of talent flight to these silo agencies and an accompanying reduction in Service-chiefs-Nigeria-militarypolice funding, as scarce resources are allocated to these additional new agencies.

The main police force (NPF) is then left to do the heavy lifting task of crime prevention and investigation with fewer resources to do the job. These policing related agencies consume a lot of resources and those questioned believe overwhelmingly they are inefficient and incoherent in operational agility.

These organisations consume billions of naira that would have been allocated to the police. They also create inefficiencies in back office activities as they duplicate all the support departments that already exist within the police. So, including the main Police, we have NINE back office departments and cost centres.

To add to the cannibalization of the main police, the Special Branch, (SB) was expunged in mid-1970s from the police force but rebranded the National Security Organisation (NSO). The NSO was later changed into the Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB), which later transformed into today’s State Security Service (SSS). With the DSS saddled with Domestic intelligence and the NIA with Foreign intelligence; one wonders what the role of the SSS is? Why was the SSS removed from the NPF in the first place?

Therefore, despite the Constitutional provision that there shall be only one police service in Nigeria, the foregoing agencies have been established to do policing related duties, by either taking over partially or completely duties of the police. To evidence the claim of these multiple agencies taking away valuable money needed for core policing, it is necessary to analyse a typical year financial allocation to some of these agencies. So, 2014 will be our sample year. This occurs every year by the way; I am just using a typical year for illustration.  In 2014, the budgetary allocations to some of these policing agencies outside the core police (NPF) force were as follows:

 

  RECURRENT BUDGET (N) CAPITAL BUDGET (N) TOTAL BUDGET ALLOCATION (N)
ICPC 4,542,989,874 132,897,643 4,675,887,517
CCB 1,856,158,560 1,006,147,091 2,862,305,651
CCT 460,229,424 52,440,642 512,670,066
EFCC 8,838,694,493 1,406,674,677 10,245,369,170
AGENCIES TOTAL 15,698,072,351 2,598,160,053 18,296,232,404

Figure 1: Budgets of some agencies with policing related duties[1]

 

From the above table, just four of these parallel agencies performing policing related functions (but there are more than four of them in existence) were allocated just over N18Billion.  In that year the combined allocation to the core operations of the Nigerian Police Force was about N23Billion. In fact, if the funding allocation of these eight 00340825_3ec9962f652bb1d6c5fc7dbc8d53071c_arc614x376_w1200policing-related agencies were combined in 2014; it was almost 50% more than the budget of the NPF. So, merging these agencies will instantly more than double the budget available to the police.

From its regional formations of four centres in 1960, the Nigeria Police has grown to reflect the expansion of the political and demographic structure of the country. Now there are 36 states plus the Federal Capital City, Abuja. The country now has 774 local government areas and 37 state command centres.

In the past; when a state was created, a start-up grant is usually allocated to assist in setting up the infrastructure for the new state. Sadly, the setting up of police was never included in these financial disbursements. Consequently, they operated from temporary accommodation not suitable for policing duties. The budgetary allocation to the police has not kept pace with its ever-enlarging office and operational facilities requirements. With the exception of the Headquarters building, police offices are renowned for being the one of the ugliest and most dilapidated looking in all the states.

Some have become a hazard to the serving officers, much less the visiting public. The cells are horrible, unhygienic and health risks for detainees.  Most of the police offices do not have running water and it is a common sight to see police posts being illuminated by candles at night.

Hence, against these challenges, why does the National Assembly feel we need another para-military organisation in Nigeria called the Peace Corps. Our silo security and intelligence framework are bad enough why do we need to make it even worse. The Nigerian Police Force does not have a national criminal database and its intelligence operations are segregated and not joined up. Then there is lack of technical interoperability between the NPF and other agencies; so, the right-hand does not know what the left-hand is doing.

Our priority as a nation is to create a joined-up security architecture and not creating new silos. The Peace Corps Bill is needless, ill-informed and against the national security interest; in my opinion. There is confusion amongst the citizenry on which agency deal with what on a daily basis. For instance; if your staff steals N1Million from you; where militarydo you report it? The NPF or EFCC? You will get different answers from different people you ask. Where people go will depend on where they know someone who will assist them. These things should be simple enough.

We need economies of scale to reduce public expenditure on security. Creating additional silos is not the way to go. Rather, we need to consolidate the many outfits into one or two to provide clarity and operational efficiency. The Peace Corps website lists dozens of objectives as its goal. Reading between the lines, an organisation with over two dozen operational objectives is a catastrophe going somewhere to happen. You become a jack of all trade and master of none. We do not need the peace corps and it is a huge disappointment that our lawmakers either don’t see this or they are driven by other agendas only known to them. So, kudos to PMB for rejecting this Bill but he must now work to consolidate and unify our security estate to better protect Nigerians and institute intelligence-led policing for the safety of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] CLEEN Foundation Policy brief analysis of 2014 Appropriation Bill for Anticorruption Agencies

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THE KENYAN SUPREME COURT VERDICT AND LESSONS FOR NIGERIA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS – A Brief Legal Analysis

The verdict of the Kenyan Supreme Court yesterday, annulling and voiding last month’s presidential election contains a lot of lessons for many common law countries of the commonwealth and Nigeria in particular. The reason for my conclusion is the technical nature of the verdict which many have missed in their comments of the court’s decision as its ripple is felt across the continent.
 
Most legal challenges of elections in Africa and Nigeria, in particular, are mostly based on the conduct of the election on the day of voting. Irregularities with voting methods, citizen’s denial of voting, violence, tampering with voting materials and so on. As a 000e920d-800result, the courts have always based their verdicts on what happened on the day of the election. It is not a coincidence, that until this verdict in Kenya yesterday, no opposition legal challenge of a presidential election in Africa has ever succeeded. This is the first time in the history of this continent that an opposition will win a legal challenge to the Presidential election victory of a ruling party.
 
For me, the technical and nuanced elements of the verdict are very important and instructive. The Kenyan Supreme Court did not base their decision on what happened or did not happen on election day alone. They examined the conduct of the electoral body, procurement of electoral materials, voters education process, its procedural inaccuracies long before election day, errors with voter’s registration process and notification and so on; plus, some irregularities on the election day itself. So the irregularities on the day of the election alone may not have been sufficient to void the election; but taken in totality, the Supreme Court concluded that there is sufficient weight of breaches of electoral acts and the constitution to warrant a new election. It is not just about what happened on the election day.
 
Judges stand in court as President Uhuru Kenyatta's election win was declared invalidSo the lesson for Nigeria is this; Stop focusing just on what happens on election day alone. Plan to rig elections are years in the making. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be held to high standards in its conducts and procedural adherence to the provisions of the statutes. For example, I remember before the 2011 Presidential election in Nigeria; INEC published the Voters register for people to go and verify if their names were on the list much later that stipulated in the Electoral Act (too close to election day); yet nobody took any legal action. It is such procedural breaches by the electoral umpire long before the voting day that adds to the portfolio of error that can vitiate an election.
 
Many of the past Supreme court verdicts in Presidential election petitions in Nigeria found some irregularities with activities on the election day. But the court has always stated that these irregularities did not rise sufficiently to the level needed to vacate an election victory. This in my view is based on the irregularities on the voting day alone. If irregularities in the entire electoral process are part of the petition, there may be a different outcome.  If political parties based their challenge on the totality of INEC breaches (if there were any) they will stand a better chance in court.


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Most of the plan to rig an election would have been executed months before voting day. So any challenge from now on should be based on the totality of actions by INEC, the parties and of course what happens on voting day as well. It is this WHOLESOME VIEW of the electoral process that is a worthy legacy of the Kenyan Supreme Court bold verdict this week. An Electoral system is a process, not just an event. The process must, therefore, be executed according to the law without any deviation, gross negligence or incompetent management of its provision. This is my salient takeaway from the Kenyan verdict and a brilliant lesson for Nigeria and our future elections. 

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