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Consensus Vs Open Contest In APC

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Ethnic and Religious Hatred and the Deceitful Campaigns in Nigeria By Salihu Moh. Lukman

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Salihu Moh. Lukman

 

Electing Party Leaders through Consensus

Since the commencement of negotiation for new leadership in APC, starting with Ward Congresses, the decision of the APC CECPC is that new leaders will be elected through consensus. This implies that stakeholders will reach an agreement on specific individuals who will emerge as party leaders. So far, the process has achieved some degree of success as the new leaders of the party from wards to local governments and states have emerged through consensus. There were instances of disagreements, which the party’s reconciliation committee under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu has succeeded in resolving many of the cases.

With the National Convention scheduled to hold March 26, 2022, the process of achieving consensus is similarly expected to produce new national leaders. Already, following meetings of the CECPC, Progressive Governors and other party leaders with President Buhari, some initiatives aimed at achieving consensus leading to the emergence of new national leaders have commenced. A zoning formula has been reported to be agreed and the president is reported to have expressed his support for the emergence of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman of the party around whom the negotiation to achieve consensus for other positions is expected to be achieved. Progressive Governors were reported to have been mandated by the president to work with the CECPC and achieve agreed consensus on all party positions.

Party Activities and Attempts to Undermine Consensus

Incidences within the last few days appear to be almost questioning whether any negotiation is taking place within the party to achieve consensus. From uncertainty about whether the party’s National Convention will hold, circumstances have been created whereby directives of President Buhari, who is unquestionably the leader of the party, to negotiate consensus leading the emergence of new leaders seem to be discarded. Conflicting directives to party leaders allegedly from the president are allowed to appear in the public. Every time a new directive appears, party leaders and members complied, and new realities also emerge in the party.

For instance, when on Sunday, March 6, 2022, on the day President Buhari went to London, the information emerged that President Buhari instructed Progressive Governors to initiate processes of leadership change in the party given the reluctance of His Excellency Mai Mala, the APC CECPC Chairman to implement decisions to hold the party’s National Convention, party leaders and members welcomed the decision, which accounts for the legitimacy enjoyed by all the eleven members of the CECPC who immediately rallied themselves around His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello who was vested with the responsibility of acting as APC CECPC Chairman in the absence of His Excellency Mai Mala who was out of the country for medical treatment.

Immediately, activities of the party around preparations for the March 26, 2022 National Convention were strengthened. The CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello began meetings almost on a daily basis. Decisions taken were implemented immediately and communication with party members and the public regarding preparations for the National Convention was very regular, unlike under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala. Newly elected state leaderships of the party were inaugurated, an action which should have been carried out long ago but deliberately stalled as part of the plans to sabotage the National Convention. With the inauguration of state leaderships of the party, the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) was scheduled for Thursday, March 17, 2022. The scheduled NEC meeting was also designed to begin to return the APC back to normal operations as provided by the party’s Constitution.

READ ALSO: Fresh Crisis In APC As INEC Fails To Recognise Bello As Interim Chair

The NEC being the second highest organ of the party has the powers to take decisions, which should guide party operations in between National Conventions. Under the APC constitution, the NEC is required to meet every three months. The last time the NEC met was December 8, 2020, when in view of the challenges facing the party, and trusting that the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala will faithfully and honestly implement decisions taken leading to the emergence of new leaders, transferred its powers to the CECPC. As of December 8, 2020, the expectation was that the tenure of the CECPC would not go beyond six months, implying that by June 2021, the APC National Convention would have taken place and new party leaders would have emerged. Sadly, His Excellency Mai Mala began endless postponement of the National Convention, and it became clear to everyone, including President Buhari that the CECPC leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala has abused all the trust of party leaders and members, with allegations of corruption against the Chairman and Secretary, His Excellency Mai Mala and Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe respectively.

Changes in CECPC and Syndicated Media Campaigns

With the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting CECPC Chairman on March 7, 2022, and all the actions taken to implement decisions leading to the convention, confidence of party members and leaders began to be restored. Some few party leaders who collaborated with His Excellency Mai Mala to sabotage the decision to organise the National Convention, however, began media campaigns aimed at undermining the legitimacy of actions taken by the CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Mostly done through surrogates, the campaigns include planting syndicated report of a coup against His Excellency Mai Mala, leading to the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting Chairman of the CECPC.

The CECPC Secretary, Sen. Akpanuduodehe, on Monday, March 7, 2022, walked out of the meeting of the CECPC chaired by His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Then news of his resignation and subsequent rebuttal by him emerged. As it turned out, the CECPC actually passed a vote of no confidence in the Secretary in line with the provision of Article 21(vi) of the APC, which affirms the power of organs of the party to take such actions based on two-third votes by members of the organ. The resolution for vote of no confidence against Sen. Akpanuduodehe was passed by ten out of thirteen members of the CECPC. Thereafter, the CECPC announced that Prof. Tahir Mamman is the Acting Secretary and Barr. Ismail Ahmed is the spokesperson. Throughout the week of March 7 – 14, Sen. Akpanudoedehe was conspicuously absent from the APC National Secretariat and didn’t attend meetings of the CECPC, although on Friday, March 11, 2022, he was reported to have visited the APC National Secretariat but did not attend the CEPCP meeting, which was ongoing at the time of his visit.

READ ALSO: Rescuing The APC: A Task For All Party Leaders

As part of the syndicated news reports aimed at undermining decisions and actions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello, there was the false report that thirteen APC governors were threatening to leave the party if the decision to change His Excellency Mai Mala as Chairman of CECPC is achieved. Some party leaders, including Governors Nasir El-Rufai and Rotimi Akeredolu SAN of Kaduna and Ondo States respectively responded with the information that only three governors, not thirteen, are supportive of His Excellency Mai Mala. The three Governors are Yahaya Bello of Kogi, Hope Uzodinma of Imo and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun States. The remaining eighteen governors and the deputy governor of Anambra State are supportive of initiatives being taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello.

Conflicting Presidential Directives and London Lobbies by Party Leaders

Around the same period, during the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were reports about President Buhari returning His Excellency Mai Mala as the Chairman of the CECPC. Then on Sunday, March 13, there was the statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special to the President on Media and Publicity, informing APC leaders about President Buhari’s warning drawing attention to the electoral consequences of the open leadership contestation in the party and calling for order. By Monday, March 14, the report was that party leaders including His Excellency Mai Mala, His Excellency Kayode Fayemi and His Excellency Nasir El-Rufai have travelled to London to meet with President Buhari. No details of the meetings emerged. The feeler, however, was that President Buhari met Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai and endorsed preparations for the March 26 National Convention initiated by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello and accordingly confirmed that he would be attending the scheduled March 17 NEC meeting of the party.

Before the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were media reports about some party leaders, including Sen. Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education and Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu, meeting the President in London. This report of the visit by Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was remotely associated with all the lobby to influence decisions of the president regarding the need to achieve consensus leading to the emergence of new leadership for the APC. Interestingly, the presence of these longtime political associates of President Buhari in London may have been responsible for many of the reversals of decisions taken by President Buhari regarding the party’s leadership contestation.

READ ALSO: APC And Surrogate Politics Of Timid Leaders

The four leaders – Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu were political associates of President Buhari since 2003 when he first contested for President under the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP). Part of what has emerged suggests that their mission to London was to get President Buhari to alter the decisions reached with Progressive Governors and other party leaders on zoning party positions. Particularly, they wanted the president to unilaterally change the decision to get the deputy national chairman, North, moved from North-East to North-West so that Hon. Aliyu can become the president’s anointed candidate. Recall that there was a discredited zoning list purportedly signed by the president, dated February 25, 2022 with Hon. Aliyu, who is from North-West as the agreed candidate for deputy national chairman, North, instead of allowing it for the emergence of someone from the North-East as agreed. In that discredited zoning list, the position of National Secretary was given to South-East and not South-West as was later announced by the CECPC.

Consequently, by the evening of Wednesday, March 16, 2022, news about the president reversing his earlier directive to Progressive Governors and party leaders to the effect of changing the leadership of the CECPC emerged. Conveyed in a letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Chairman Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ on the leadership of the CEPCP, with photo images of President Buhari together with His Excellency Mai Mala in the company of Mallam Adamu, the President effectively reversed his earlier instructions. By the morning of Thursday, March 17, 2022, Sen. Akpanuduedehe announced the cancellation of the scheduled March 17 NEC and attempted to alter the composition of Convention Committees announced by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello. Members of the CECPC had to immediately enforce the vote of no confidence in Sen. Akpanuduodehe to stop further attempts to reverse decisions taken on the March 26 National Convention. His Excellency Mai Mala who returned to the country on Thursday, March 17 had to issue a statement affirming the sanctity of all decisions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello.

Return of Old Attempts to impose Party Leaders and Candidates

Part of the sentiment being used by the London lobby team of Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was to ensure that the old Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) leaders are not ‘marginalised’ in the new APC leadership to emerge from the March 26 National Convention. These are old opportunistic arguments, which were self-serving used by some few vested interests around the president to impose themselves as party leaders and candidates. There were many instances leading to the imposition of candidates during elections, which undermined the electoral viabilities of parties associated with the president. From the ANPP in 2003 and 2007 to CPC in 2011, this has been the reality. Often, individual politicians with this self-serving agenda have used it to impose themselves on party members as candidates for elections. Although there are many instances whereby imposed candidates win elections, there are also many instances when acts of imposition destroyed the electoral advantages of the parties leading to the loss of elections. This was partly the reason for the large-scale defeat of CPC in 2011 election in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and many states.

Perhaps, it needs to be highlighted that while the team of ‘CPC London lobbyists’ used the CPC sentiment to push for the anointment of Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North, they were not interested in the reversal of the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu as the president’s choice for the National Chairman in favour of Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who is by far the most qualified former CPC leader aspiring for the position of National Chairman. Noting that Sen. Adamu was never a member of CPC, unlike Sen. Al-Makura who was the only elected CPC governor in the country between 2011 and 2013 when CPC was dissolved into the current APC, why shouldn’t any CPC lobbyist prioritise the case of National chairman over and above a deputy National Chairman? This partly highlights the limitations of all the scheming influencing many of the president’s decisions to reverse decisions he took around all the leadership contestation in the party. Why should the president endorse Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura as the National Chairman of the APC? Didn’t Sen. Al-Makura defeat Sen. Adamu, which made the CPC to have the only State, Nasarawa, it won in 2011?

Sen. Al-Makura has led the APC to victory in all elections in Nasarawa State since 2015. In fact, it could be argued without any fear of contradiction that Sen. Adamu was compelled to leave the PDP because of the domineering electoral influence of the APC in Nasarawa State under the leadership of Sen. Al-Makura. Every rational consideration would expect President Buhari to choose Sen. Al-Makura ahead of Sen. Adamu. But the same old irrational and illogical decisions leading to the imposition of candidates in ANPP and CPC have found their way to APC and may have influenced President Buhari’s decision for Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura. These irrational and illogical decisions are driven by people who are opposed to political contests because they must impose themselves at all costs using their close relationship with President Buhari. Largely because they hardly have much electoral significance, meaning that on their own they can hardly win elections, instead, they just want to ride on decisions of the president to anoint them as candidates based on which they may succeed in bulldozing their way to emerge as elected leaders and candidates.

Partly because the so-called CPC lobby around President Buhari wasn’t about getting trustworthy people to emerge as APC leaders during the March 26 National Convention, the objective may have been to bring in people who can do the hatched jobs of imposing some so-called CPC old leaders as candidates for 2023 elections. Noting that, for instance, both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are aspiring to emerge as APC governorship candidates for Kebbi and Katsina States respectively, this may be the major consideration for the lobby around Hon. Aliyu to become the deputy national chairman, North. Also noting that both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are facing strong opposition within the party in their respective states, Kebbi and Katsina, the suspicion that they want Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North so that he can do the hatched job of producing them as candidates by whatever means cannot be dismissed.

Recall that Hon. Aliyu was alleged to be at the centre of most of the allegations of corruption against the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole during the 2019 elections, the probability that he will collaborate with aspirants for elective positions to impose candidates cannot also be wished away. There were specific allegations against Hon. Aliyu of extorting huge amounts of money as Chief of Staff to Comrade Oshiomhole from some aspirants for the 2019 elections. Part of the information was that Hon. Aliyu parted ways with Comrade Oshiomhole on account of these allegations. Although these are allegations, however, to the extent that Hon. Aliyu is yet to put up any public defence to clear himself should discourage anyone from promoting him for any party leadership position in the APC.

Unilateral Reversal of Decisions Creates Open Contest

By some default, therefore, while desperately pushing the President to anoint people like Hon. Aliyu as consensus candidates, these ‘CPC lobbyists’ have inadvertently created situations whereby there is the strong likelihood for an open contest in APC during the March 26 National Convention. Instead of working to support the president to win the cooperation of all party leaders, including the speculated choice of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman, an unregulated situation has emerged ahead of the APC March 26, 2022 National Convention whereby everybody is free to join the contest for the position of National Chairman. One of the mistakes of the so-called old CPC members, including the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, is to elevate the respect of party leaders for the president to the level of compelling obedience without recognising that it is a mutually reciprocal respect. Unlike what obtained under the CPC, whereby President Buhari was largely the singular electoral asset of the party, in the case of the APC, President Buhari, although the dominant electoral asset, other party leaders are also electoral assets in varying degrees, which was the added factor responsible for the electoral victory of 2015 and 2019.

READ ALSO: Political Leadership Recruitment: Appeal To APC Leaders

Once President Buhari is made to unilaterally change party decisions, and to that extent therefore create unregulated conditions for leadership contest, he is made to effectively undermine the respect he enjoys among APC leaders. Beyond creating an unregulated situation, an unhealthy condition has also been created whereby the president being a moral leader is being projected to be directing party leaders based on his presidential powers. With or without presidential powers, President Buhari has earned his position as the leader of APC. His unique personality as someone who is truly loved by very ordinary citizens remarkably earned the APC its electoral victory of 2015 and 2019. Party leaders and members will always respect instructions coming from President Buhari. Therefore, party leaders and members, by extension all supporters of President Buhari must appeal to so-called ‘CPC lobbyists’ to stop undermining the president’s authority through the attempt to impose party leaders and candidates for election.

Expanded Democratic Space in APC

The good thing, however, arising from the actions of the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ by getting the president to issue conflicting directives to Progressive Governors and party leaders, thereby disrupting negotiations for the emergence of consensus leaders is that it has in some ways mobilised internal rebellion within the APC, which will lead to open contests for all positions in the party in the March 26, 2022 National Convention. Given open contests, it is doubtful if any attempt by the president to influence the emergence of any leader, including the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu for the position of the National Chairman can succeed. Thanks to the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, the democratic space in APC has been expanded beyond what it would ordinarily have been. For the first time, since 1999, internal party contest in a major Nigerian political party, APC, which is also the governing party, will most likely experience full- blown contests for all leadership positions whereby winners may emerge irrespective of speculated choices of the president, and by extension, possibly all other party leaders.

Unintended, the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ have also helped to inadvertently expand the democratic space for internal party contest for the emergence of candidates for 2023 elections. In other words, by their actions, they have weakened the high possibility that the party’s candidates for 2023 elections will emerge through consensus. This new reality is very much needed to challenge Nigerian political parties to comply with basic democratic tenets of free and fair internal contests for the emergence of party leaders and candidates for elections. This is perhaps very much needed to return the APC to its founding vision such that it can recover all its electoral advantages.

Acknowledgement and Appeal

The unfolding dynamics in APC, which by some default is expanding the democratic space within the party is made possible due to the liberal leadership of the president. Associates of the president should also respect the decisions the president takes jointly with other party leaders instead of undermining his liberal disposition by seeking to get him to reverse decisions he jointly takes with other party leaders. It was the liberal disposition of the president that allows him to respect positions of party leaders, based on which he subscribes to decisions and delegate implementation to competent structures of the party. If the president can respect other party leaders, why should other associates of the president exude any form of disrespect or contempt for other party leaders in whatever way?

Accordingly, APC leaders and members should appeal to both President Buhari and his old political associates in the old CPC to refrain from acts that will undermine the authority of the president as the leader of the party. The president needs to recognise that being the leader of the party, imposes on him some level of propriety, which requires that once decisions are taken through meetings, it will require at least another meeting to change decisions taken. In every respect, the decisions of the president as conveyed in the letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, PGF Chairman of March 16, 2022 directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ could have been achieved from the London meeting with Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai. The letter to the PGF Chairman was avoidable and unnecessary.

So-called old CPC leaders should stop projecting the president as a leader of only a section of party members. The piresident is the leader of all members of the APC and all Nigerians. Some of the so-called old CPC members, should also be reminded that, in their own rights, they have what it takes to successfully negotiate their emergence as leaders and candidates of the party without resorting to the undemocratic practices of imposition. Many of them are highly respected leaders of the APC and therefore, given free and fair environment for electoral contests within the APC, they can win elections to emerge as party leaders and candidates for elective offices. APC leaders and members should therefore appeal to these old CPC leaders to properly integrate themselves in the structures of the APC and develop the needed confidence to freely negotiate for leadership positions in the party based on the ability to mobilise support to win majority votes. May Allah (SWT) bless the new democratic space in APC and support the emergence of new APC leaders based on majority votes at the March 26 APC National Convention. Amin!

Dr. Lukman is a freelance APC campaigner. smlukman@gmail.com

 

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Opinion

Professor Ayo Olukotun, My Eyuze

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Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof Tony Afejuku

 

By Tony Afejuku

My bosom friend, Professor Ayo Olukotun, a man and personage for whom I placed considerable respect, who died recently, was committed to mother earth last Friday. The ever-delightful Professor Kayode Soremekun, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Federal University Oye-Ekiti pointed my attention to this in his tribute to Professor Ayo Olukotun symbolically captured in The Punch newspaper of Friday, 27 January, 2023. After reading his tribute on the very day Ayo Olukotun normally appeared on the back page of The Punch as a five-star columnist, I nodded my head in painful pain. Kayode Soremekun’s tribute essentially captured aspects of our friend’s public life, and I gave some long thought to our departed humanist of humanists’ hurried committal to the brown earth of Ibadan which was not near his homestead, geographically speaking, in Egbe Yoruba of Kogi State. Was an injustice done to him in his prompt burial in Ibadan of cultural and poetic seven hills?  Perhaps circumstances of his demise compelled his remains to be committed to mother earth in Ibadan of JP Clark’s “broken china in the sun.” (How my memory is failing me as a result of my emotional state!) The one who was supposed to get back to me for accurate information on and about the event did not when I was putting my words together. Another common friend and my friend’s course-mate at Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife, Ile-Ife), did not divulge this information in his similarly public picture of my friend in his The Guardian’s roaring tribute of Tuesday, 31 January, 2023. I am of course referring to Barrister Alade Rotimi-John who was one of the early bringers of our gone hero’s demise to my poor attention. The other person was Suyi Ayodele, Tribune’s Tuesday ace columnist.

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Before Soremekun’s and Rotimi-John’s well-crafted tributes found me, Professor Olu Obafemi’s great elegiac poem of immortal diamond had galloped and gasped to me. The poem by our National Laureate, a Nigerian National Order of Merit winner, clearly made its mark on my mind. The privately circulated poem to a select audience was one in which Professor Olu Obafemi tried successfully to crowd Olukotun’s career with conquest in Olukotun’s years and years of eventful events. I never knew that Obafemi knew Olukotun until I read his afore-said poem entitled “Ayo, Omo Olukotun, Odabo!”

Professor Olukotun’s “Yagba homestead” and ancestry and scholastic biography right from “Titcombe College, Egbe in Kogi State” up to the “forest of Knowledge” in Ile-Ife and beyond as “hero of the Globe” were/are movingly and movingly rendered in the poem. But why was the dazzling adventurer “Okun, Son of Jege” committed to the red soil of Ibadan when his eyes finally and eternally closed? I tried in vain to reach Professor Obafemi, another worthy friend, and  my friend’s close kinsman, for an answer. All I got was prophetically rendered in the poem as follows: ”It is doubtful that this adventurer into/the forest of knowledge/Shall return to these shores again.” Another common friend, Professor Ademola Da Sylva, who knew Ayo in their Ife days, was similarly moved by Obafemi’s elegy.

    Professor Ayo Olukotun was no Professor Ayo Olukotun to me. He was simply to me – until he breathed his last breath Eyuze as I was to him Tone Baba. We first met in 1977 in Zaria now in Kaduna State. We were lecturing colleagues (Graduate Assistants – later Assistant Lecturers) at Ahmadu University. He was my tightest pal. Our other tight friend was the sociologist/criminologist Basil Owomero (a fellow Graduate Assistant) from Ozoro town in Isoko-land in Delta State. Basil died a pretty long time ago after earning a doctorate in Criminology. Of the three of us I am the only living one now. As I am reflecting on this confusion of thought, emotion, and vision of our then years a void stares at me pitilessly. The vastness of the then years of youthful youthfulness up to when we left Zaria at different times blurs and time becomes hollow. I am in the moment of writing remembering only one or two or three things of the happy and unhappy events we shared. 

    I remember that Eyuze Baba brought Adebayo Williams and me together. Adebayo Williams is now a Professor of Literature and a novelist and columnist of no mean repute. He and Eyuze were together as under-graduates in those years of tempestuous student unionism of patriotic patriotism when Eyuze made hay and held sway in Ife as President of the Students’ Union. But it is not this I am recalling and remembering. I am recalling and remembering… I am recalling and remembering Bayo Williams’ visits in his ever-faithful Passat to Eyuze (and then eventually to us) from Kaduna (where he was teaching at Federal Government College and at the same time working on his Master’s degree in Ife as we were doing in Zaria) when we dreamed dreams of Nigeria and our tempestuous love affair with your country my country our country. We dreamed the dreams of writing and of how to help this country to constitute ethical or moral or whatever science and knowledge of growth to shape it and humankind. Each of us endeavoured to adopt the method which would make him the peerless master of positive criticism of our country. Then we really had and held lofty dreams of enlightened patriots as young as we were with the whole world before us. Until he died Eyuze did not betray the dream and did not deviate from its anatomy.  Our man was a stammerer and stutterer in private conversations but in his public speeches and lectures he was a brilliant and very brilliant orator and analyst of acute dialectical proportions who always was an orator’s orator. He always reminded me of the late famous socialist novelist Professor Festus Iyayi of the University of Benin (who famously led the Academic Staff Union of Universities in the military era that in hindsight is hundred percent better than this civilian democratic regime of rotten rottenness). And in Professor Olukotun’s shining and shiny writings you would not notice any stammering and stuttering. Let me refrain from citing numerous examples. Eyuze was simply and more than simply audaciously brilliant and courageously courageous. He stood on a very high moral ground which his elegant writings are evidence of.

    What else am I remembering? When I was leaving Zaria finally, with my all-what-not, Eyuze accompanied me to the Mid-West. This attests to the measure of our tight friendship. We spent three days together in Sapele and Warri before we travelled back together in order for me to tidy up my disengagement from Ahmadu Bello University. I can write a treatise on the pure geometry of our healthy relationship. But it is immaterial now. Yet let me say this. In later years, in much later years, after we were fully committed to marital duties – with the vagaries of our politics and economy not helping matters – the cruel wind and breeze of boisterous Nigeria roped, wrestled, beat bare our friendship but we never ignored the generosity of our closeness through ample calls. In one of those calls I related the gloriously memorable one night I spent with him in the Lagos Daily Times estate/quarters he was staying in then as an editorial staff  member of that once famous global newspaper before he was a faculty member of University of Lagos. He enjoyed it all then. I can imagine how he and our elderly GG Darah, who is also now a Professor, cordially and graciously – and very warmly, welcomed me to the editorial office when I visited Kakawa! Or is memory failing me again? No, no, no.

    Is there anything further I want to recall about Eyuze? Of course, there are many more things to say about my kind and joyfully-minded Eyuze. But I must hold my breath here. In despair, of course. And my despair is not the vigorous pleasure of despairing. Our gone revolutionary humanist was every revolutionary’s humanist. He should not have left us now. But his time was surely up. I say this as a revolutionary mystic and peace activist – if you permit me to say so.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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Opinion

Witch Persecution And Dream Experiences In Nigeria

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Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches welcomes the arrest of a young man, Joseph Friday, who allegedly murdered his father for witchcraft in Akwa Ibom. The development represents some of the best ways the police could help end impunity and beat back the tide of witch-hunting in the country. The suspect told the police that the father used to appear to him in a dream. He said that the father would hypnotize him before depositing a spell in his body. Mr. Friday said, “My Father used a charm on me; he appeared in my dream and hypnotized me. Whenever he appeared, something like a tortoise entered my body, and I would start to behave abnormally”.

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Akwa Ibom is one of the states in Nigeria where witch persecution is pervasive, and abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs are widespread. As in this case, many cases of witchcraft accusations are linked to dreams, mystical interpretations of dreams. It will take more than arresting suspects and perpetrators to end these savage acts.

In Akwa Ibom, people are taught to take their dream experiences seriously. They believe or are made to believe, that those who appear in dreams are witches or agents of the occult. People are taught that dream experiences are revealing; they disclose potential harm and harmers. So people believe that their dreams point to what would happen to them or their families. So, whenever a person sees someone threatening or attacking them in a dream, they confront, attack, or kill the person when they wake up. Some people have noted cases where they have seen people pursuing them with a machete, or pressing their chest in the dream. And they felt horrified upon waking up. People who see others in a dream prefer to expose and kill them before they wreak further havoc. People take the dream experiences as real-life experiences. Incidentally, this mistaken idea of dreams is real and dangerous. And as this case has illustrated, the mystical idea of dreams leads to horrific abuses.

To end witch persecution, Nigerians need to change their attitudes towards dreams. Nigerians should understand that dreams are natural, not supernatural phenomena. Dreams are a stream of images and sensations that well up in the mind whenever a person is asleep. They have nothing to do with witchcraft or magic as popularly believed. People dream because their brains are not dead. Dreams are rooted in thoughts and imaginations that the mind entertained while awake. It is grossly mistaken to attack or kill someone based on another person’s dream experiences.

Dr. Igwe is an executive director of the
Advocacy for Alleged Witches.

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Opinion

Where Did All The Money Go?

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Mike Hunder

By Mike Hunder

For eight straight years, the Buhari administration had been turning up the “no money” rhetoric.  Added to the puzzle, at a time when oil-producing countries were reaping sustained windfalls from high oil prices, at above $100 per barrel on average in 2022, following the Russia-Ukraine war, the NNPC made zero remittance to the federation account for most of the year. 

Now, a series of striking revelations have contradicted the administration’s “no money” claim, at a dramatic speed.  

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First, the Auditor General, in a 2022 letter to the Senate revealed that “a total of 17,877,705 barrels of crude oil valued at $1,020,969,281.12 (over one billion, twenty million dollars), were exported between 2016 and 2020, without proper records. This perhaps explains the non-remittance of funds by the NNPC into the federation account that characterized the administration. 

Second, things got so bad that, the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, locked horns with NNPC over shortchanging the government on several occasions. In one instance, in June 2018, there was a standoff between the National Economic Council and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), when the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, pointedly accused the NNPC of short-changing the government.  She declared NNPC’s account to the federal accounts allocation committee (FAAC), “unacceptable” and asked that they render the full account of the “missing billions”!

What happened there after?  The “deep state” clipped her wings, with allegations that she forged her NYSC certificate. Three months later, she resigned, and life went on.

Another revelation came to fore on the floor of the Senate in December 2022. That about 100 federal MDAs failed to account for the sum of #1.9 trillion naira from 2017 to 2021, despite several invitations. More shocking, most of the agencies involved, report to the presidency. This included the State House, Presidential Fleet, Ministry  of Finance, the armed forces, Police, Accountant General office,  NEMA, Ministry of Defence,  Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and many others.

The fourth was a bigger problem than many first thought. The CBN embarked on unfettered “printing of money” for the Buhari administration since 2015, in repeated disregards of the laws. Under the CBN Act, “ways and means” facility (a code for printing money for government), should not exceed 5% of the previous year’s revenue of the government and must be paid within the financial cycle. Then again, Section 38 provides that, “ways and means”… must be refunded before the collection of another one.” Yet, the Buhari administration kept collecting “ways and means” from the CBN, without making a refund, in a zeal not seen before, hitting #23.7 trillion by December 2022.

When the Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki, first spilled the beans about CBN’s printing of money for the federal government back in April 2021, the government denied it. Now, realizing that the “ways and means” account, cannot possibly be kept way from the public beyond May 2023, the president has sent a request to the Senate to give it a second life. Asking for a legislation to restructure it, and pass the repayment to future generations over a period of 40 years! Added to the puzzle, the request contained no records of how, when and what the #23.7 trillion was spent on.

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Until recently, the administration claimed that Nigeria does not have a debt problem, but a revenue problem. Then, it embarked on constant external borrowings, increasing external debts by 300% between June 2015 ($10 billion) and June 2022 ($40 billion), without a corresponding increase in foreign currency earnings.  Now, Patience Oniha, the director general of the Debt Management Office, when appearing before the House of Representatives to defend the 2023 budget, revealed that Nigeria does have an external debt problem. To the extent that Moody’s and Fitch downgraded Nigeria to a Category ‘B’ economy in 2021, the international market has closed its doors of borrowing against Nigeria, making it difficult for the country to borrow.

On top of this, fell the huge national debt stock, at seventy-seven trillion Naira.

Thus, an ugly spiral has developed: huge sums of money that are unaccounted for, constant external borrowings without a corresponding increase in foreign earnings – and a gigantic national debt of seventy-seven trillion Naira, completes the circle!

In the current climate, what is puzzling to people is, where did all this money go? Many who have defended the administration on financial prudence, now say they cannot go beyond this caricature. Then again, post-May 2023, things will probably get worse, before they get better. So, now comes the hangover! 

*Mike Hunder, an economist and business-training consultant based in Lagos, is a former General Manager at Union Bank Plc and Oceanic International Bank, respectively. He can be reached at: hundermike@mikehunder.com

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