Tag Archives: Buhari

Nigeria’s Senators And Legislators Receive UK MP’s Annual Salary As Wardrobe Allowance

Nigeria is an emerging economy, considered as the fastest growing economy on the continent. Yet according to numbers from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), over 61% of Nigeria’s population lives under $1 per day. In the last four years, the country has gone through a steady battering, with raging terrorism in the North east, and a failing infrastructure that means the cost of business and livelihood are at an all time high. In the last couple of years, corruption has also been significantly high and amnesty granted to politicians who were known to have looted from the treasury.

The Nigerian National Assembly. Source:www.sunnewsonline.com
The Nigerian National Assembly. Source:www.sunnewsonline.com

Fast forward to March 2015, Nigerians voted for what has come to be known as change. President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office on May 29th, 2015 and he promised in his inauguration speech, to prioritise the tackling of terrorism and the improvement of infrastructure. He has spent his first two weeks in office travelling to some parts of West Africa and to Germany; to discuss the strategy for fighting Boko Haram and to engage with world leaders at the G7, respectively.

Nigerians have very high hopes, particularly given the poverty that is rife in the country. Imagine the shocker today when the realisation hit, that this may be business as usual. The realisation that politics is indeed a quick avenue to rob the country and enrich oneself. The Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives in Nigeria are very well paid. Indeed they are so well paid that the 8th National Assembly which has recently been sworn in will allegedly receive the sum of NGN9billion which is about 28 million pounds for wardrobe allowance. No statement denouncing this has been issued by the National Assembly. Nigeria is spending this much to clothe the members of the National Assembly, yet we receive international aid. This is incredibly shameful.

Agbada which the NASS requires £60,000 per annum for. Source:www.thisisafrika.com
Agbada which the NASS requires £60,000 per annum for. Source:www.thisisafrika.com

In other words, the Senators will receive about 21.5 million naira each, while the legislators at the House of Representatives will receive 17.5 million naira each, all for clothes. The question is; how is it that a country which still receives aid from the countries in the G7 is giving about 60-70,000 pounds each to its senators and lawmakers to buy clothes? This is the annual salary of members of Parliament in a country that gives Nigeria aid. Nigerians are waiting and hoping that President Buhari intervenes in this and puts a stop to this wastefulness, vulgarity and mismanagement.

Furthermore, considering that Nigeria’s 2015 budget was approved by Goodluck Jonathan the former President, one understands that this wardrobe allowance was not fundamentally instituted by the Buhari government. However, he is the President and has the authority to dispose of certain wasteful parts of it or to review it, thus we shall hold him responsible.

Finally, recall that Nigeria is heavily reliant of oil and gas for 99% of its revenue. The 2015 budget was laid out using the revenue number of $70 per barrel. Since the price of oil has not risen above $64 per barrel since its crash to about $40-$45 per barrel last year, this government must begin to cut back, it should be running an austerity government. The economy must be run efficiently with as many cuts as possible where feasible. This ridiculous wardrobe allowance is one of such costs which should be implemented. Nigerians are watching President Buhari closely to see what kind of policies, economy and country he will run.

Nigerian President’s Inaugural Speech

The newly sworn in Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has made his inaugural speech. He has said that three key areas for his government are power, employment and terrorism.

He called on the judiciary to act with dispatch in matters of abuse of office and corruption, and called for a reform which will purge it of its immediate past. He also talked about a clear definition of the three tiers of government and declared that the Federal Government will not close its eyes to the problems of governance particularly gross corruption in the states and local government. He has declared he will ensure that there is adequate control under his watch. He demanded for accountability at all levels.

He called on labour unions, organised private sector, press and civil society organisations, to raise productivity in order to share in increased wealth and economic growth. He called on the media to exercise their role with dignity particularly on social media.

President Buhari-official portrait
President Buhari-official portrait

He talked about four immediate priorities for the Buhari government; Boko Haram, Niger Delta situation, power shortages, and unemployment in young people. The president spoke about longer term priorities to include Education, Medical care, physical infrastructure; all of which need overhauling and updating. For Boko Haram to be adequately tackled, President Buhari announced that the Command centre will be relocated to Maidugri until Boko Haram is subdued. He spoke about rescuing the Chibok girls and all who have been kidnapped; alive if possible.

According to him, Boko haram is a typical example of a small fire causing large fires. Negligence, complacency, and collusion have all made Boko Haram strong. He said that Boko Haram was a mindless and godless group, who were as far away from Islam as possible. As the group is subdued, the government will commission a committee to study the group; its emergence and sponsors, in order to stop further emergence. He says that the military’s rules of engagement will be overhauled to avoid human rights violations, and legal system will also be overhauled to tackle human rise abuses of the armed forces. Furthermore, he was clear about working with sub-Saharan neighbours and the entire international community to deal with Boko Haram and the emerging refugee problems as well as financial crimes.

His priorities include a disciplined and well compensated security forces, and although the amnesty programme in Niger Delta which is due to end in December, his government plans to invest heavily in infrastructure. He says he is willing to listen to grievances and extends his hands of fellowship.

The president declared the Power situation a national shame; the fact that Nigeria generates only 4,000 megawatts and distributes even less. He says 20 billion dollars had been expended on power since 1999 and has only brought frustration and misery and resignation among Nigerians. The government will discover the safest and quickest way to bring power to Nigerians. Youth unemployment will be tackled through investment in agriculture, and micro-credits will be given to small and medium businesses. In addition, he wants to accelerate the revival of roads and railways.

Buhari stated that the international community has extended a hand of goodwill to Nigeria, and the country is basking in goodwill. We can achieve our mission as a great nation. To finish, he quoted Shakespeare’s Julius Cesear saying Nigeria had an opportunity, urging the nation to “cease it”.

For me, the most profound statement the President made was his phrase ” I belong to everybody. I belong to nobody”. Perhaps this is the tone which we can expect from the government, where he pledges allegiance to nobody but to the entire nation and to the oath he swore.

AIT To Return To Covering Buhari

The President elect Buhari has just issued a statement through his spokesperson basically allowing AIT and other media houses to cover his activities. In a statement, the APC said that all accredited media houses including the AIT were free to cover the President elect’s activities. The party confirmed that the incoming administration would not discriminate against any party. Please find the statement below.

”There is a Code of Ethics guiding the practice of journalism in Nigeria, and this demands every journalist to ensure a strict adherence to the highest levels of ethics and professionalism in carrying out their duties. ”There must be repercussions, within the realms of the law, for media organizations which have wantonly breached the Code of Ethics of the journalism profession and turned themselves to partisans instead of professionals. But such repercussions will not include barring any accredited media organization from covering the activities of the President-elect,”

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

National Publicity Secretary

All Progressives Congress (APC) Abuja,

April 28th 2015

Buhari’s AIT Ban: Is the Dictator Back?

The President elect of Nigeria in a move that critics say has just given Nigerians a glimpse of his old dictator self, banned the media house African Independent Television (AIT) from covering his activities. AIT reporters were escorted off the premises of Defence House where Buhari presently lives pending the transition. He was due to meet with the Cuban and Swiss Ambassadors when the incident took place. This move by the retired General and president elect Muhammad Buhari (GMB) has stunned even his most ardent supporters. His spokesperson said this was as a result of some security and family matters.

“You can quote me that I said that we have asked them to step aside and that we are resolving the the issues of ethics and standards with them.” GMB confirmed

GEJ and GMB: Outgoing president and president elect, respectively. Source:www.nairaland.com
GEJ and GMB: Outgoing president and president elect, respectively. Source:www.nairaland.com

Ethics and standards, security and family matters, these seem like censorship. Freedom of press is an incredibly essential ingredient for Nigeria’s democracy, indeed any democracy. Censorship and any kind of heavy handedness are equally bad for our democracy. For all the criticism leveraged against it, GEJ’s government was the most criticised and it took it on the chin, sometimes responding on social media platforms through the presidential spokespersons. Are we then off to a bad start with GMB?

World Press Freedom Day arrives in a week. Nigeria cannot go back to the time when its press was unable to investigate stories and criticise the polity. At last year’s world press day May 3, 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, released a statement.

“Journalism provides a platform for informed discussion across a wide range of development issues – from environmental challenges and scientific progress to gender equality, youth engagement and peacebuilding. Only when journalists are at liberty to monitor, investigate and criticize policies and actions can good governance exist.”What exactly does Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”

Source:www.wire2014.eu
Source:www.wire2014.eu

In 1991, when Nigeria and many other African countries were going through some of its worst times with dictatorships and human rights abuses, the UN declaration of Windhoek was adopted and included the following regarding the press:

Recalling General Assembly resolution 59(I) of 14 December 1946 stating that freedom of information is a fundamental human right, and General Assembly resolution 45/76 A of 11 December 1990 on information in the service of humanity,

Recalling resolution 25C/104 of the General Conference of UNESCO of 1989 in which the main focus is the promotion of “the free flow of ideas by word and image at international as well as national levels”,

Declare that:

1. Consistent with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development.

2. By an independent press, we mean a press independent from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals.

3. By a pluralistic press, we mean the end of monopolies of any kind and the existence of the greatest possible number of newspapers, magazines and periodicals reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community.

4. The welcome changes that an increasing number of African States are now undergoing towards multi-party democracies provide the climate in which an independent and pluralistic press can emerge.
The world-wide trend towards democracy and freedom of information and expression is a fundamental contribution to the fulfilment of human aspirations.

5. In Africa today, despite the positive developments in some countries, in many countries journalists, editors and publishers are victims of repression-they are murdered, arrested, detained and censored, and are restricted by economic and political pressures such as restrictions on newsprint, licensing systems which restrict the opportunity to publish, visa restrictions which prevent the free movement of journalists, restrictions on the exchange of news and information, and limitations on the circulation of newspapers within countries and across national borders. In some countries, one-party States control the totality of information.

6. Today, at least 17 journalists, editors or publishers are in African prisons, and 48 African journalists were killed in the exercise of their profession between 1969 and 1990.

7. The General Assembly of the United Nations should include in the agenda of its next session an item on the declaration of censorship as a grave violation of human rights falling within the purview of the Commission on Human Rights.

8. African States should be encouraged to provide constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and freedom of association.

9. To encourage and consolidate the positive changes taking place in Africa, and to counter the negative ones, the international community-specifically, international organizations (governmental as well as non-governmental), development agencies and professional associations-should as a matter of priority direct funding support towards the development and establishment of non-governmental newspapers, magazines and periodicals that reflect the society as a whole and the different points of view within the communities they serve.

There have been reports from AIT which many argue are one-sided and target the opposition. If this is the case, isn’t that what the courts of law are made for? Is GMB out of touch with the times? Does a president in a 21st century democracy arbitrarily send off the press or play pick and choose? Or does the president sue for defamation or you prosecute for whatever grievance it may have? How about some finesse then; write AIT a letter and have the security agencies investigate whatever this is?

This move is certainly ill-advised and the world will be watching keenly to see if this is extended to corruption and all who plundered the nation’s treasury. The world will be watching to see if the soon to be president of Africa’s largest economy and the world’s most populous black nation will have respect for the rule of law in the first democracy won by the opposition.

Lagos to Abuja Trekker Suleiman Hashimu Finally Meets Buhari

The man who trekked from trekked from Lagos to Abuja in honour of Buhari’s victory at the 2015 presidential election, Suleiman Hashimu, finally met with Buhari on April 24th. He e night there.I spent 18 days from Lagos to Abuja.

He said he made this promise and decided to keep it. He trekked from 6am to 6pm daily and spent the night in the nearest village he could find. Apparently, people were very kind and welcoming. He said from Kwara state, he had company for almost every five kilometres that he trekked.

Suleiman Hashimu meets President elect Buhari. Source:nigeriamonitor.com
Suleiman Hashimu meets President elect Buhari. Source:nigeriamonitor.com

Let us see how this unfolds, hopefully the Lucozade and other energy drinks endorsements work out. This is quite heartwarming. He will make a great poster for energy and fitness.

Buhari’s “Surgical” Treatment of Nigeria

When a man succeeds in winning an election after four times, the expectations are quite high; and rightfully so. Add the fact that he was once a military head of state, add the recent happenings in Nigeria including the episodes of vanishing treasures; millions of dollars and hundreds of children, then what you have is a system in dire need of revamping and reforms.

Buhari needs to treat Nigeria like a a project. Now he has a project mandate. He must develop a viable business case with the main aim being sustainable growth and a state with functioning infrastructure and essential services. In some countries, these are really basic, in Nigeria, it is not. Everyone is a government unto himself in Nigeria. People who can afford it generate their electricity, provide their water supply, provide their security. In terms of Justice, well God is the police and the court. Forget the quest for a second term Mr. President-elect, treat these four years as though they were the only ones you had.

GEJ and GMB: Outgoing president and president elect, respectively. Source:www.nairaland.com
GEJ and GMB: Outgoing president and president elect, respectively. Source:www.nairaland.com

The advantages of running Nigeria like a project is that it cuts out delays, focuses on value delivery and stays on budget. The stakeholders are Nigerians and these are a high interest high power group, we need to see his quality plans, risk plans, budgets, and schedules particularly for the areas which need massive reforms. I am a big fan of the Iron Triangle; governance on time, on budget and on quality. We have seen that the business of government can be handled with dispatch and impact, as many projects went live in the final days running up to the just concluded elections; in the states and at the federal level.

GMB’s government will require an excellent communication plan, spokespersons and social media experts who understand stakeholder management and political correctness. A government is as good as its messages and its messengers. Corruption has literally ruined the country, to be fair, I do not understand how we are the largest and fastest growing economy in Africa. Forget the MINT predictions by economist Jim O’Neil, when share prices are falling courtesy of the impact of terrorism, unbalanced books, and corruption.

There is still a shocking 68.1% of the population living on under $1.25 per day (United Nations Millennium Development Goals report). People are often shocked by these numbers. That is probably because if you have a smart phone or a nice laptop and internet connectivity, and you are reading this article, then you are quite clearly in the minority. You are one of the lucky ones. Why else do you think that you are paying the fees of 20 closet cousins and people are always hassling you for handouts? I am still investigating how this is Africa’s largest economy, I suppose something has to be said for having a population such as ours, and a Havard trained economist who rose to management levels at the World Bank, as Nigeria’s Finance Minster. But I digress.

Rescuing the kidnapped Chibok girls, a pressing issue for Buhari. Source:www.ap.com
Rescuing the kidnapped Chibok girls, a pressing issue for Buhari. Source:www.ap.com

When May 29th arrives, Buhari’s hand must be swift, quick and firm. Forget lip service to the rule of law, Nigerians would like to see radical implementers and finishers running this show. The burden of leadership is great and I hope he surrounds himself with excellent and experienced people who have integrity. The amount of reforms required is staggering; where do you start in a country where many policemen do not understand traffic rules? Where citizens have to pay to “open a file” in the police station when they are victims of crime?

Falling price of oil is seeing Nigeria suffer the blow of falling oil revenue. It is time to invest more in Agriculture and a hybrid in rural-urban development. While urbanization aids the pull out of poverty for millions of people, if not managed well, can also lead to growth of slums, pollution, and crime. Opportunities must be created across board and investment in infrastructure encouraged. Isn’t this why we have 36 States? Outgoing president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) invested in Agriculture and youth entrepreneurship through the disbursement of youwin grants. Hopefully Buhari carries on this legacy.

So let me set the scene for you. Nigeria is a 55 year old man who has just had a heart attack. He is overweight, has coronary artery disease and has history of congestive heart failure in his family. Buhari is the Cardiologist on duty. This is a new Nigeria by the way, because in the regular Nigeria, he would be dead. An ambulance rushes him to the hospital. The cardiologist is already there waiting to receive the patient. He has arrived because the paramedics rang the hospital to provide feedback. The hospital team already had news on the patient heading its way. Nigeria will be checked into Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the period right after that heart attack. In the ICU, Buhari will lead the team of healthcare workers assessing the damage to the heart, preventing complications, monitoring and treating the symptoms.

Agriculture: A major area for investment. Kano groundnut pyramid Source: superstock.com
Agriculture: A major area for investment. Kano groundnut pyramid
Source: superstock.com

There will probably be Oxygen to support Nigeria’s heart during this early recovery period. This will come in the form of consequences for the bad eggs in the body; justice through medication given intravenously, as pills, or by other methods (frozen assets put into government coffers, jail sentences, early retirement, public naming and shaming, revoking of so-called amnesty for thieving politicians and civil servants; both existing and suggested).

This will serve as a deterrent to other bad eggs. Buhari will have assigned work packages to other members of his team. Some will carry out constant monitoring of Nigeria’s heart, others will frequently check its vital signs. The laboratory team will draw blood frequently for tests, there will be imaging tests such as X-rays and echocardiograms. There will be electrocardiograms for ongoing assessment of the heart rhythm. The heart otherwise known as budgets will have limited activity and carefully chosen expenditure, alternating with bed rest, as directed by Buhari’s team. After the initial treatment in ICU, the continued length of Buhari’s stay as head would be dependent on Nigeria’s recovery and progress. Otherwise, the care notes are there, another cardiologist will resume.

Urbanization. Source:www.spyghana.com
Urbanization. Source:www.spyghana.com

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nigeria’s population is set to grow to 440 million by 2050 This number, calculated based on the growth of the last decade, fertility rates, maternal and neo-natal mortality rates, is worrisome. Imagine the state of affairs in Nigeria now with the current population which stands at over 160 million. It is worrisome not just because in Nigeria, people are murdered and the perpetrators are never found. We pray to God for justice, because that’s all we have really. It is worrisome because of continuing state of affairs. Try visiting the Federal Universities or the General hospitals, the stagnation and quality of service will shock you. Try reading through social media to see the venom of ethnic stereotyping and social construct which people genuinely mean, and see why these numbers are worrisome.

So this is Buhari’s “inheritance” at least for the next four years. Here’s wishing him the best of luck, he will be needing it.

2015 Elections in Nigeria: Which Candidate Will Win?

Elections in Nigeria will finally start with voters going to cast their ballots this weekend for the presidential election. The presidential and National assembly election was moved from valentine’s day to March 28, 2015. Has anyone been at any campaign event or witnessed any rally? It’s been quite an experience to watch the two largest political parties APC and PDP go at each other, manufacture stories, slander each other, and just provide general entertainment and many times embarrassment to Nigerians. The two main candidates are the current president Goodluck Jonathan and one time military head of state Muhammad Buhari. To me, this is the most intensely contested elections so far. Nigerians are beginning to ask questions, although we still have people whose politics are based on ethnic and religious sentiments, but I think we are making progress, albeit a slow one. The response of the political parties to this awakening is to give away money and ‘goodies’ to the man on the street, which is a little bit sad.

GEJ and GMB: PDP and APC Presidential candidates respectively. Source:www.nairaland.com
GEJ and GMB: PDP and APC Presidential candidates respectively. Source:www.nairaland.com

To be fair, politics all over the world is usually based on some giving and taking, last minute lobbying and discrete allocations of funding to different development schemes. Take the UK for example, with the forthcoming elections and before the two months (or so) embargo on new public spending before elections (which it looks like Nigeria doesn’t have or maybe we just do not implement?), the Tory government is giving funds to community development programmes, schools initiatives, charities, and conducting the announcements and press releases themselves. This is a final push and bid to look good and ‘earn’ votes. I know some charities which have received sudden funding for projects that were not funded previously. We are talking about grants up to one million pounds to recognised bodies who will of course do development work and show evidence. First world lobbying eh?

Now this is a slight difference from the Naija model which has seen politicians distributing branded phone recharge cards, bags of rice branded APC or PDP. The last one I saw yesterday was branded sachet of garri, sugar, and groundnut. Haba! Why are people wicked like this? No milk included, I find it really upsetting, at least add milk if you must share garri, and I hope it was ijebu garri. It smacks of laziness, ignorance, greed, a disrespect of the people, and just sheer poverty. Why do we think these people will do anything worth doing if their style of lobbying is agbalumo and garri? I will take a new road quickly constructed in my home town, or scholarships quickly paid out for six years for some bright financially disadvantaged students. I will take hospitals being revamped and programmes for free and expedited treatments set up, a borehole renovated for clean water, or a community centre for the elderly built or renovated.

PDP dividends of democracy: Garri, sugar and groundnut.  Source:www.nairaland.com
PDP dividends of democracy: Garri, sugar and groundnut. Source:www.nairaland.com

I will take a new programme providing meals in schools, research grants for universities, training for the police, and small and medium enterprise grants over agbalumo, bags of rice and groundnut oil. But this is what you get in a country where a shocking percentage of the population lives under one dollar a day. This is what you get in a country where people are murdered and justice is committed to God because we do not have a system that works; the police is either not competent enough or not equipped enough to find the criminals. Or maybe it is both. This is why we have such intense proliferation of religion which does not translate into social change; because God is our police, our NEPA, our only recourse to surviving the reckless driving on the Abuja-Lokoja expressway and malaria. But that’s a post for another day.

APC recharge cards. Source: www.nairaland.com
APC recharge cards. Source: http://www.nairaland.com

Has anyone been to the airports or to the motor parks in the last couple of days? People are leaving in droves, it is as though there is war in Nigeria. I wonder if we are making too much of this situation of if this will indeed be the bloodiest election that Nigeria has ever seen. Which ever way one looks at it, it is quite scary to be honest; that we are in such a defining moment in our history and it could be marred by dishonesty and blood shed. I hope it does the opposite, I hope it sets Nigeria on the path to dealing conclusively with evil such as Boko Haram. I hope the country remains the largest economy in Africa, and an emerging market where the world congregates economically, and where this growth reflects on our indices, social services, infrastructure and the life of the man on the street.

Peace in Nigeria. Source: www.pinterest.com
Peace in Nigeria. Source: http://www.pinterest.com

Yesterday, international election observers arrived to be a part of the monitoring process and the rest of the world will be watching to see what Nigeria makes of this opportunity to choose its future and to maintain peace and prosperity. So March 28th let’s go out and vote for the right president and the appropriate members of the National assembly. On April 11th, vote for the right governor and members of the state house of assembly.

Do not vote for those who will loot the national treasury and instead of fixing our social services, spend it on educating their children at the most exclusive schools around the world (anywhere but Nigeria right?) or go to the best hospitals in the US or Europe to treat migraines while Nigerians take panadol and die from the simplest infections. Do not re-elect anybody who you know was not akin to Dangote before he became Governor, and now suddenly, his children are driving porches and Lamborghini on instagram. Now he/she owns houses in London High street Kensington and hosts lavish and vulgar weddings for their children. May we get it right. Vote your conscience.

Say no to pre, during and post elections violence. Stay safe. God bless Nigeria.