Connect with us

Politics

Obasanjo’s Letter

Published

on

There is this African adage that says, “A dancer does not see his back”. This assertion is apt as it is the spectators that judge the dancing skills of a dancer and could, when asked to make a comment, point out the mistakes the dancer makes.
In essence, dance steps follow a drum beat or musical beat and when a dancer performs well, follows the correct rhythm, he or she is commended for a job well done. Also, in the political realm, the accolades or criticisms follow the same pattern as it takes only the professional to see the fault in any political setup and offers good advice to those at the helm of affairs.
Just this week, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo sent an open letter to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the nation where he expressed worry over the security situation and other lapses of the administration. This is not the first time Chief Obasanjo has done so. During the presidency of the late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, he counselled the former President and hauled abuses and condemnation at him. Under Ibrahim Babangida, he did same and the reaction was not different under Yar Adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan. His pen danced and danced and the reward he got was not different.
Chief Obasanjo two years back also wrote a letter to the same President Buhari on his handling of the ship of the nation but was criticised not minding the fact that it was the same Obasanjo that Buhari met to seek his support for the office of the Presidency in 2015.
That notwithstanding, advice is never a curse. That is why those who really want to succeed in life brook criticisms and never hits back at those who give them useful advice. But to say Chief Obasanjo who fought in Nigerian Civil War and even saw to the surrender of Biafra is an unpatriotic person is really ludicrous and laughable.
Obasanjo has paid his dues and most of his observations are done without malice and it is only a dumb-witted person, people who don’t love the country that will see nothing good in his observations and advice.
The issue is not that Obasanjo is a saint or knows it all, but the stark reality is that Nigerians are in trouble and probably have entered what motor park touts call a ‘one chance journey.”
Of all the points or observations made by the former president which really touch the fabric of the country’s future is the issue of Nigerians gradually losing confidence in the ability of the Buhari administration to fight criminality perpetrated by herdsmen, Boko Haram and kidnappers in virtually every part of the country.
Today, even the wealthy in the cities and the poor in the rural areas are afraid for their lives, our houses have become fortresses and our streets in the urban areas are now gated. There is no week that we don’t hear of killings and kidnapping on our waterways and highways which have become death traps to travellers’ and commuters. In short, no place is safe anymore in the country.
Basically, Obasanjo’s letter raises about 11 salient points which include the need for a national dialogue to discuss the way forward and suggested that all former presidents, heads of state, heads of security , governors (both present and past) and other major stakeholders in the country, including council chairmen be invited to deliberate on the issues confronting the country.
Another point he raised was that the government must be an inclusive one. This observation is quite apt because of serious lopsidedness in the composition of the country’s security structure and other critical appointments which show that they favour only one section of the country and people of a similar religious affiliation.
This to some Nigerians shows that the present administration is the most sectionally -minded government Nigeria has ever had. That even after the end of the Civil War under General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria was a better place in terms of appointment of people to positions of trust.
The advice did not come as a surprise to all who have been following the trend in the country and for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to use his pen once again to sound a note of caution on the nation’s march into the future calls for concern. According to him, it seems Nigeria has been handed over to a bunch of criminals that even the Chief of Army Staff seems confused and is blaming the spate of insecurity on sabotage and lack of commitment by personnel of the Armed Forces. Is it not the same government that said it has crushed Boko Haram? How come this confession that it is fighting the war against criminality suddenly overwhelming it?
For Obasanjo to say the security issue is hitting the very foundation of our existence is not far from the truth as herdsmen have become a threat to the corporate existence of the country, and if left unchecked, might eventually result in massive inter-tribal war on a national scale as acts of retributive justice may lead to ethnic cleansing as it happened in Rwanda in 1994. So to curb any upheaval of such nature, the president must start thinking of solution and stop living in a cocoon where he sees nothing, hears nothing and is not even aware that his security chiefs are also doing nothing.
It is quite sad that in Nigeria, we are never always truthful to those who occupy the office of the president or governor. That is why according to the late music maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, “Nigeria is a big blind country”. A country where advice is seen as a crime with those who render good advice hounded, called nasty names and even threatened with arrest or even arrested for disturbing the peace of the nation. To be truthful, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed in all facets of governance. Under his watch between June 2018 to May 2019, over 7,253 Nigerians have been killed. The figure released by Nigeria Security Trackers (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations Africa, consists of those killed by Boko Haram and Islamic State in the Northern part of the country, herdsmen and extra-judicial killings by the military.
During the time frame according to the report, Borno and Zamfara recorded the highest number of killings, contributing to 49% of the total deaths within the last one year. Borno recorded 2,384 killings while 1, 157 people were killed in Zamfara. Other states that make up the most affected states are Kaduna, 540, Benue 330, Adamawa 303, Yobe 264, Taraba 176, Plateau 166, Rivers 160 and Katsina, the President home state, with 127 deaths.
One of the factors that ensured President Buhari’s success in the 2015 election was the issue of insecurity and most Nigerians thoughts that with his military background he would do a better job in the fight against criminality, but today, the tale is different as things are worse. States which never experienced bandits before are now bearing the brunt of banditry, robbery and kidnapping. States like Sokoto, Kebbi in the north and Ekiti, Oyo and Kogi axis are now seeing people killed on the highways, homes and farms. Not just there alone, farmers both in the South-South and South-East regions are even not faring better.
The situation is so bad that even elderly women are reportedly raped in their farms, killed or maimed and yet nothing is done to arrest and prosecute the culprits.
To Obasanjo, this is due to poor management of or mismanagement of our diversity, and when the silence by the victims becomes too much, something might set up a spark which might result in unforeseen circumstance. The earlier we tackle this malady, the better for the future of the country. And the only way forward is for President Muhammadu Buhari to be presidential in his actions by abiding by his oath of office to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians and obey the constitution.
A country can survive one civil war but might not survive a second one which also involves ethno-religious differences.

 

Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye

Continue Reading

Politics

Still On Security Votes

Published

on

When Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), spoke at the induction programme for returning and newly-elected governors, he did not mince words in accusing governors of misusing security votes.
He alleged that some governors deliberately fuelled insecurity in their states just to collect more money as security votes.
He noted that some of the governors “now covertly promote insecurity as justification to inflate their security votes.”
Magu also alleged that there was a link between corruption, banditry and terrorism.
His allegations were contained in a paper, titled,  “Imperative of Fighting Corruption/Terrorism Financing in Nigeria.’’
Magu told the session that a debate on the legality of security votes enjoyed by the governors was ongoing.
“We have also seen evidence of theft of public resources by some state governors,  cashing in on the insecurity in their states.
“Insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired.”
A study carried out by the University of Nigeria, agreed with Magu on the abuse of security votes.
The study is titled “Legitimising Corruption in Government: Security Votes in Nigeria.’’
It was authored by  Obiamaka Egbo, Ifeoma Nwakoby, Josaphat Onwumere  and  Chibuike Uche, of the  Department of Banking and Finance, University of Nigeria.
“The tendency among Nigerian politicians, particularly the executive arm at the various levels of government, to manipulate security issues for political and economic gains is widespread.
“This has been fuelled by the abuse of security votes, an ‘opaque fund’ reserved for the executive which is not appropriated, accounted for or audited through the legislature.
“ Sometimes, a state governor could (mis)appropriate as much as N100 million monthly as security vote.
“Such slush funds are channelled into the secret funding of militias and gangs of government enforcers.’’
The appropriateness or otherwise of security votes was at the centre of discourse at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)  second Quarterly Anti-Corruption Policy Dialogue Series.
The dialogue focused on Accountability for Security Votes.
ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, who spoke, agreed with Magu that security vote is an easy and attractive route for stealing public funds.
According to him, it is also a veritable avenue for abuse of public trust, escalation of poverty and underdevelopment and ironically the escalation of insecurity.
“It has pushed up insecurity somehow, that is not to say we do not need security vote.
“In the 2019 budget as appropriated, for example, 162 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had money appropriated for them as security votes.
“These MDAs span boards, centres, committees, ministries, commissions, councils, hospitals, schools, law enforcement agencies, obviously the armed forces and intelligence offices.”
Owasanoye said that the number and categories of MDAs given security votes, suggest that something was wrong with the parameters for determining those who are entitled to security votes.
“This then provokes some question as which MDAs are entitled to security votes and how should security votes be accounted for?
“It is clear from our present approach, that we do not have any rational principle being followed at the moment.
“If there is one, I will be happy that my ignorance will be diminished and removed,” he said.
The chairman explained that it was clear from the current approach to budgeting for security votes, that no principle was being followed.
He said that this is clear from the quantum and range of sums appropriated in the 2019 budget for MDAs, where the lowest amount for security vote was N3,600, while the highest amount was N4.20 billion.
“What on earth can anyone do with N3, 600, and I am not talking of an individual.
“If the N3, 600 is the security vote of an individual, most likely it will take him from somewhere to his house. That is the safest place to be.
“But what on earth can an agency do with N3, 600 as security vote, as appropriated?”
With this disparity, what then should security votes be used for?
Owasanoye opined that it was pertinent because MDAs with budgets for security votes also have separate budgets for other security related matters, such as the production or procurement for security or defence equipment.
“In the case of defence and core security and law enforcement agencies, some of these items and the votes are undoubtedly justified. But the quantum and use is open to scrutiny,” he said.
He, however, explained that it was apparent that security vote was not for any of those other security items mentioned, because they were often separately covered in the budget.
“There is the erroneous impression that security votes are not being accounted for with our recent experience as a country, that almost lost a geo-political zone to insurgency.
“Whereas billions of dollars were appropriated for security, but diverted by corruption to matters like engaging prayer warriors demands that we reflect very closely and ask ourselves whether we can afford to continue on the same trajectory of lack of accountability for security votes.
“We need security votes; we should give the votes to those who deserve to have security votes and we should demand some framework for accountability,” he said.
On his part, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that security vote was subject to audit and “if it is not done, it is wrong”.
He said that the votes were not votes for defence and were also not meant for the armed forces.
“Strictly speaking, if you look at security votes in the true context, it is not meant to tackle insecurity.
“We have funding for Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. If you have budget lines for these services and organisations, then why security votes?
“However, it can be used for security; but it is not meant to solve insecurity,
“There are other votes which are constitutional which include the contingency fund,” he said.
Buratai explained that even though there was security vote that was generally applied, it must follow the Public Procurement Act 2007.
The chief of army staff said that if security vote was made constitutional and proper guidelines set out on utilisation, the issue will be laid to rest
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, described  security vote as the budgetary or extra budgetary allocation ostensibly for security, received by the President, Governors and Local Government Chairmen.
This allocation he said, is spent without legal obligation to account for how it is spent.
Fayemi said that security votes have not been widely accepted by citizens, because of the assumption that such funds are being abused by state governments.
He said that the problem really is not about the security vote but about its usages and the character of the people administering it.
“Security votes attract more attention because of the seemingly non accountable nature of the expenditure under the budgetary provision.
“There is widespread belief that the appropriation of security votes in Nigeria is unconstitutional and thus illegal.
“This is not correct because in the Nigerian constitution, the executive is entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a budget which is then sent to the legislature for ratification.
“The fact that huge amount of monies are routinely being budgeted and expended in the name of security vote does not make it an illegal practice
“The act of approving any sum allocated to such a heading, covert or overt, legalises the concept. The insinuation that such money is not budgeted for is not true,” Fayemi said.
Like Magu said, the legality or otherwise of security vote is ongoing, and must continue until it properly defined. The earlier the better to avoid misuse and diversion of public funds in the guise of security vote.
Sharang writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

 

Naomi Sharang

Continue Reading

Politics

Grudges Not Healthy For Our Music Industry –PMAN President

Published

on

Voombalistic Uncle P, National President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), says grudges among Nigerian musicians is not healthy for the music industry.
Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) is an umbrella organisation that guides, protect and promotes the interests of musicians in Nigeria.
Dr Obi Okwudili Casmir, popularly known as Voombalistic Uncle P, who spoke with our source in Lagos, advised musicians to shun grudges to avoid resentment in their relationships.
“Grudges amongst musicians is not healthy for our industry and will only create further resentment in their relationships as musicians and may affect what we represent or present to the public.
“Being emotionally immature when composing or writing your songs means you can not control your emotions or reactions towards your colleagues.
“Having quarrel is a fact of life amongst best of friends but you don’t take it too hard on yourselves because it might graduate to what happened in the case of 2pac and Biggie.
“I advise we settle our differences internally if we have any, rather than taking them to the studio and then streets/homes. That doesn’t project us in good light,” he said.
It was gathered that Nigerian rappers Jude Abaga popularly known as M.I and Olanrewaju Ogunmefun (Vector) are currently expressing grudges against each other in songs which had been trending on social media platforms.
The grudge, which reportedly began over supremacy in the rap category of the music industry, has being described as publicity stunts, while some saw it as real disagreement between the two rappers which had been brewing over the years.

Continue Reading

Politics

Rescind N5,000 Fee For National ID, PDP Tells Buhari

Published

on

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),  yesterday,  charged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)  to recind the N5,000 fee for national identity cards immediately.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary,  Kola Ologbondiyan,  said the new fee is repressive and an attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to further impose hardship on the citizens.
The opposition party noted that the idea of an ID card fee is offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians, as it amounts to stripping Nigerians of their constitutional rights in their own country..
“Our party holds that issuance of national identity card to citizens, as an obligation of the state to its citizenry, must remain free as established by the PDP. The N5000 levy must be immediately rescinded before it triggers restiveness in the nation.
“Already, the fee is generating tension in the country as Nigerians have continued to register their rejection in the public space.
“The PDP notes the increasing penchant of the APC administration to impose all sorts of taxes on suffering Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed five bills passed by the 8th National Assembly into law, Mr Umar Yakubu, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) has said.
Yakubu who made the announcement at a news conference last Wednesday in Abuja, said that the Acts were to ensure good governance in the country.
The bills include the Obafemi Awolowo University Transitional Amendment Act, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi Amendment Act, the University of Maiduguri Amendment Act, the National Fertiliser Quality Control Act and the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology Establishment Act.

Continue Reading

Trending