Salihu Moh. Lukman
The emergence of APC in 2013 presented a new ray of hope and opportunity to address problems of political leadership recruitment in Nigeria, especially the big issue of producing successors to president and governors. Experiences during the sixteen years of PDP were cases of last-minute and impulsive decisions influenced by considerations of factors of loyalties to current leaders. Arbitrary decisions influenced choices of leaders, often creating big gaps leading to the emergence of leaders who have little or no capacity to meet public expectations. This reality further entrenches problems of accountability, with many leaders flagrantly converting public resources to personal wealth. Mainly because leadership recruitment based mainly on consideration of loyalty is not a function of commitment to principles or values, even where so-called loyalists succeed current leaders, problems of political disagreements between past and current leaders continue. Consequentially, this has negatively impacted on governance through policy reversals, with successor leaders behaving worse than leaders from the opposition.
As a party envisioned to facilitate the process of changing Nigerian politics, APC leaders and members must be reminded that the most important determinant for political change at this crucial point in the nation’s political development is an initiative to change the orientation of political leadership recruitment. The reality is that leadership recruitment in APC, as it is today, is not fundamentally different from what exists in PDP. Partly because it is not different, we have produced leaders, both in government and in the party, APC, who at best, are typical PDP leaders. These are leaders who only succeed in reducing government and party management to a bureau de change.
However, unlike PDP, in our case in APC, internal contest in the party is effectively mobilising opposition against such leaders. The current contest going on in APC is a typical example. Although the contest is partly to ensure that the March 26, 2022 APC National Convention holds and produces new leaders, it must be stressed that the quality of the new leaders of the party being expected to emerge from the convention should begin to change, if APC is to meet public expectations. For instance, the internal opposition against His Excellency Mai Mala Buni’s leadership of APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) is largely because of all the numerous cases of allegations of corruption against him. How different from His Excellency Mai Mala will the new leaders of the APC after the March 26 National Convention be? Will the new leaders continue the business of extorting aspirants for elective positions and to that extent continue to run party management as a bureau de change?
How the party treats allegations of corruption against the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala will substantially determine the nature of new leaders to emerge. Many of the allegations against His Excellency Mai Mala are already public knowledge in the media. From Anambra to Ekiti and Osun primary, there are allegations about extorting money from aspiring party leaders for governorship. Part of the media report alleged that the discovery of how much money could be made from conducting primary is responsible for why His Excellency Mai Mala is doing everything necessary to ensure that APC National Convention is delayed and merged with the process of party primary to produce candidates for the 2023 elections. The speculated expectation is that the opportunity to organise APC primary to produce candidates for 2023 election will provide the opening to make ‘good business.’ There are already allegations against His Excellency Mai Mala that he has started extorting money from some of the emerging presidential aspirants. Although no details are available, there are speculations that one of the aspirants who is alleged to have made some payment is yet to join the party. Yet, party campaign offices are being speculated to begin to spring up for the would-be aspirant expected to join the APC, as part of the deal.
There was also specific allegation against His Excellency Mai Mala bordering on extorting money from party leaders, including serving governors, involved in disputes arising from the party congresses. First term APC governors are being alleged to have been offered automatic tickets. Similar automatic tickets are also being alleged to have been offered to APC Senators and House of Representatives members. If Anambra State 2021 governorship primary is to be the yardstick, automatic tickets would mean that highest bidders will emerge as the APC’s candidates at different levels. Serving Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members, etc. will be required to match the amount given by aspiring highest bidders. Based on that, dishonest party leaders will be given the responsibility of returning highest bidders, just like His Excellency Dapo Abiodun was the returning officer of the APC Primary election in Anambra State, which declared Sen. Andy Uba as the winner with more than two hundred thousand votes. Yet, in the main election, APC could barely poll fifty thousand votes.
Beyond the new APC leaders to emerge from the March 26 National Convention, how is the APC going to take steps to block bad leaders such as His Excellency Yahaya Bello from emerging as standard bearers of the party for 2023 elections ? The case of His Excellency Yahaya Bello requires some bold decisions by the APC as a party, which should include acknowledging that his actions as Kogi Governor contradict the commitment of the party for good governance as represented by the provisions of the APC constitution and manifesto. Take the case of N19.3 billion salary bailout given to Kogi State by the Federal Government, which was deposited in an unlawful bank account domiciled with Sterling Bank Plc. The money was recovered in November 2021 by the EFCC and returned to the CBN.
Interestingly, while the controversy of the seizure of the N19.3 billion salary bailout is yet to be resolved, in February 2022, Kogi State announced the commencement of payment of N30,000 minimum wage. By the end of February 2022, media reports emerged that Kogi State workers, instead of receiving the new minimum wage of N30,000, received only percentages of their old salaries, some as low as only 25%. Part of the media reports suggest that there are workers who have received as low as N2,000 as salary for February 2022. Amid all these, His Excellency Yahaya Bello is going round the country shamelessly campaigning for his so-called emergence as the presidential candidate of the APC for 2023. With such records of anti-people and anti-workers policies, APC must take steps to disclaim the government of Kogi State under Governor Yahaya Bello. In addition, he is one of the few APC leaders collaborating with His Excellency Mai Mala to undermine the decision to organise the convention of the APC, perhaps in expectation that His Excellency Mai Mala, as APC Chairman, will manipulate the process of electing the APC’s presidential candidate in his (Yahaya Bello) favour.
We must appeal to all APC leaders, especially governors, to recognise that the weight of political responsibility of producing new leaders for the APC is in fact a very strong test of whether the party can continue to justifiably earn the confidence of Nigerians. Will leaders, especially governors, undertake the crucial task of performing background checks for aspiring candidates and dispassionately, even if painfully, select both party leaders and party candidates for elections, beyond issues of loyalty? The crucial task before APC leaders is to ensure that leadership selection process produces trustworthy leaders both as party leaders and as candidates for elections.
In fact, the quality of party leaders will substantially determine the quality of candidates the party will present for elections. Once party leaders make the mistake of producing bureau de change managers as APC leaders during the March 26, 2022 National Convention, the probability will be very high that there will be many bad eggs emerging as standard bearers of the party for the 2023 elections. Already PDP leaders have dug their political grave when for instance they elected people who shared $2.1 billion meant for arms procurement to fight insecurity as national leaders of the PDP. Till today, PDP leaders continue to arrogantly and contemptuously ignore this foundational reality of public trust in politics. This is among many other factors why the PDP is still very unpopular among Nigerians. APC must fundamentally take every step necessary to produce new orientation for political leadership recruitment in the country as we approach the 2023 elections.
Therefore, starting with the March 26, 2022 APC National Convention, APC leaders, especially governors should demonstrate stronger commitment towards recruiting tested and trustworthy leaders. As much as possible, situations whereby good leaders only emerge ‘accidentally’ must begin to be reversed in Nigeria based on carefully planned initiatives under the APC. As part of the process of planning for the emergence of trustworthy leaders’ issues of getting current leaders to account for their actions or inactions will be necessary. For instance, His Excellency Mai Mala should be made to account for all the allegations of extorting money from aspiring candidates and party leaders. It is only when His Excellency Mai Mala is made to account for such charges that successor leaders would avoid toying such a path. Similarly, there should be an investigation into the conduct of party primary in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun to determine the truth or otherwise of the allegation of corruption against His Excellency Mai Mala.
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APC, as a party, need to also take a special interest in what is going on in Kogi State. It is embarrassing that a government produced by the party will demonstrate that level of rascality. If PDP can tolerate such public rascality as was the case under for instance the inglorious era of Ayodele Fayose in Ekiti and many other PDP state governments across the country, APC must decisively disown what is coming out of Kogi State under Governor Yahaya Bello. If necessary, APC should declare opposition to what is emerging as the governance credentials of Governor Yahaya Bello, including taking every necessary step to save the people of Kogi State from the influence of Yahaya Bello in determining who succeeds him.
Every step must be taken to ensure that APC emerges as a distinctively different party from PDP and other parties especially on the question of leadership recruitment. While in the case of PDP and other parties, issues of leadership recruitment are considered as given based on the received wisdoms of political leaders, in APC these issues are being debated and contested, which explains all the dynamics around the March 26, 2022 APC National Convention. If anything, the contest for the emergence of trustworthy political leaders in APC is a contest for the unfettered development of Nigerian democracy. Nigerian democracy cannot develop unless the right conditions within parties are created for the emergence of trustworthy leaders both as party leaders and candidates for election. May Allah (SWT) continue to guide both leaders and members of APC to strengthen internal contest for the emergence of trustworthy leaders. May He also give victory to only trustworthy people to emerge both as leaders of APC and candidates. May He also save the party and all the structures of government at all levels from falling into the hands of bureau de change leaders. Amin!
Dr Lukman is a freelance APC campaigner. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Professor Ayo Olukotun, My Eyuze
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.
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.
Witch Persecution And Dream Experiences In Nigeria
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”.
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.
Where Did All The Money Go?
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.
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.
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: email@example.com
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