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True Federalism And Labour Issues

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Issues For APC 2023 Presidential Campaign

By Salihu Moh. Lukman

Background

After its March 2, 2021 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) announced that ‘should the need arise, it has empowered the National Administrative Council (NAC) to declare and enforce a national strike action especially if the legislators continue on ruinous path of moving the National Minimum wage from the Exclusive to the Concurrent Legislative List.’ In addition, the Communique of the meeting signed by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and Acting General Secretary, Comrade Bello Ismail also ‘condemned and rejected in its entirety the ploy to decentralise Nigeria’s judiciary through the establishment of State Judicial Councils describing the move as unpatriotic, self-serving and an attempt to throw Nigeria into judicial and social chaos.’

It is important that as a nation we are able to engage these issues with the democratic understanding that these are negotiable items based on recognising that every interested Nigerian has the inalienable right to express and canvass for positions as provided under the 1999 Constitution as amended. It is however worrisome that both the language and content of the NLC Communique fall far below the standard of NLC and smacks of undemocratic posture of intolerance and imposition. This is partly because, there is hardly any attempt to provide any justification of why minimum wage should be retained in the Exclusive List or the disadvantages of establishing State Judicial Council beyond some claims to entitlements and condemning people promoting these changes. The threat to go on strike is needless and to allege ‘attempt to throw Nigeria into judicial and social chaos’ is simply cheap blackmail. Besides, while Nigeria may not be said to be in any judicial chaos today, are we not already in some form of social chaos in the country?

Minimum Wage Challenges

No one can dispute that as a nation, we are faced with the challenge of developing a framework for minimum wage review, which should be indexed with workers productivity as well as cost of living realities. The mere fact that often it takes upward of five years for minimum wages to be reviewed in the country is both an anomaly and a reflection of our stagnant labour relations reality which also is a reflection of the weakness of the labour movement. If workers have been able to contribute their role in the nation’s revenue, why should it be difficult to ensure annual or even quarterly review of minimum wage? Part of the distortion so far is that the question of workers’ productivity is hardly a reference point in matters of wage determination especially in the public sector.

It may be convenient for the leadership of labour, including the NLC, to retain current framework of determining minimum wage based on the capacity of federal government. Unfortunately, our union leaders have weakened themselves so much that their negotiating power is hardly oriented based on knowledgeable disposition about workers input in the production process at all levels in the country. The only weapon they seem to use so often to win concessions and agreements is strike. Blackmails and muscle flexing have become an important integral strategy to discredit perceived opponents. Name calling and campaigns by the NLC leadership aimed at blocking any consideration of proposals to change our harsh realities as a nation are now very common.

Today, we have a minimum wage of N30,000, which unions have been unable to achieve implementation in many states and many private sector establishments. In fact, even at the time of negotiating the minimum wage of N30,000, there were problems of getting the old minimum wage of N18,000 in many states and private establishments implemented. Some of the states that were able to implement the minimum wage are barely surviving. Rather than objectively reviewing our challenges, our labour leaders imagined that name calling and threatening political leaders with strikes is the way to go. This is most unfortunate. NLC leadership may want to share the full picture of status of implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, both in the public and private sectors, with Nigerians.

Elementary analysis would caution against the consequence of continuing with a centralised framework for minimum wage legislation based on using the financial capacity of the Federal Government to fix national minimum wage that is hardly informed by economic indices of work output across the country and reflecting all sectors of the economy. Such a framework can only result in either shortchanging workers in high-revenue states/areas or over-stretching employers in low-revenue states/areas. Certainly, a review of wage fixing theories would highlight these challenges and perhaps dangers.

It needs to be stated emphatically and unequivocally that although there is increased revenue in the country, which has resulted in improved financial profile of especially states and federal governments in the country, it has not favourably altered the structure of government finances. Some of the underlying factors would include factors of corruption, which the APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to fighting and has been taking initiatives. While we may debate about the level of success, it should be a welcome development to have input from our leaders of non-governmental organisations such as the NLC in terms of what needs to be done at all levels in order to strengthen our fight against corruption and therefore increase the financial capability of all governments especially at state levels to be able to accommodate increased wages for workers. In all these, beyond the lamentation against political leaders in the country on the issue of corruption, what are the specific demands of NLC on fighting corruption in the country given that it is a problem that have ravaged all sectors and all levels of society, including the labour movement?

Besides, given characteristically unstable international oil market, current levels of oil revenue are on decline. It is to the credit of the Federal Government that non-oil revenue is increasing and in the case of many states, capacity to mobilise internally generated revenue has increased. What all these suggest is that the nation should be able to assess these emerging realities and accordingly reconfigure wage determination process in recognition of revenue realities of the constituent units of our federal system and as well as ensuring that our national capacity to affirm the ability of private sector employers to operate and therefore create more employment are not undermined. Therefore, to use the capacity of the Federal Government as determining variables for minimum wage fixing would be almost suicidal.

READ ALSO: Abuja Doctors, Nurses Become First To Take AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine

Be that as it may, there are certainly challenges that need to be addressed. The challenges border on ensuring the availability of enough financial resources to guarantee higher levels of wages in the country, in the context of which issues of minimum wage can be correctly computed taking both production and cost of living indices into account. NLC should approach this based on a strategy of strengthening its own organisational capacity to negotiate improved conditions in the country and not look for easy approaches of centralised minimum wage fixing that are not sustainable, which include retention of a faulty constitutional provision such as the provision of item 34, Part 1 of Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

As it stands, item 34 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule is not sustainable and could only expose Nigerian workers to greater risks and danger. Being conversant with the internal logic influencing leadership thinking in the Nigerian trade movement, it is quite worrisome that NLC is approaching these matters less objectively. It has never been the case that workers will get justice on matters of employer/employee relations bordering on pay and entitlements with simple reference to the law. Had that been the case, there would be no need for unions. The business of unions will always be to develop strategies and carry out actions that can result in improved working conditions and better pay. These are issues bordering on workers input to the process of revenue generation.

The big worry is when matters of pay and benefits are delinked from these factors, which appears to be the logic of the NLC argument with respect to national minimum wage legislation in Nigeria. Of course, it could be argued that this has been the case, perhaps since the 1970s. That it has been the case does not make it right. What has been the tradition of NLC and Nigerian trade unions is the courage to campaign for what is right especially in relation to workers benefits and welfare. It is a matter that requires a good measure of intellectual and political capacity. The position of NLC with respect to minimum wage fixing in Nigeria is weak intellectually and politically unfounded.

Informed by the need to respond to our national challenges bordering on operating a centralised minimum wage fixing framework, the APC Committee on True Federalism argued that ‘each state should be free to decide on its level of remuneration based on its resources and productivity. In fact, the committee is of the view that all labour relational issues should be federalised, and each state is free to determine its own labour laws.’ With all our challenges, which are reflected in the failure to enforce a minimum wage legislation in many sections of the country, ideally, the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Movement should be effectively preparing itself to develop new strategies of ensuring the emergence of a new framework to strengthen a mechanism for justice in the workplace, covering issues of wages, benefits and other entitlements. They should be able to ensure that negotiations for states labour laws are properly guided by relevant international standards, including International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions.

A major difficulty is that the Nigerian Labour Movement represented by NLC and TUC are operating a centralised model of organisation whereby every issue regarding labour relations is concentrated at the national level. This has inadvertently weakened the capacity of state councils of both NLC and TUC to successfully negotiate issues affecting workers at state levels. This is also why there is so much difficulty in getting state leaders of NLC to achieve the implementation of the minimum wage even when it has become law.

It is important we recognise that our current challenges as a nation require a complete overhaul of existing frameworks. Whether in relation to minimum wage or all the other issues affecting all sectors of our national economy, we are faced with a reality that questions all the existing frameworks. Any suggestion to hang on to all the frameworks that have become source of our national pain and crisis in the country can only create more problems. In many respects, it can be argued that the question of negotiating new proposals aimed at addressing these challenges is a democratic obligation. If at all our democracy can prove its relevance and capacity to move our country forward, it is dependent on how much openness and tolerant Nigerians, including all our interest groups, can be.

Against all these, one wonders, what is the position of NLC regarding all the debate on True Federalism? Proposals of moving minimum wage to Concurrent List is only an integral part of the debate. NLC prides itself, being part of organised labour, as ‘about the only truly pan Nigerian organisation with diverse membership that cuts across tribal, ethnic and religious affiliations which has continued to speak and champion for the rights of Nigerians regardless of creed and breed.’ With all these claims why is the NLC unable to speak or intervene on the issue of blockade of supply of food items from the North to the South by Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN)? With AUFCDN being an affiliate of NLC, which at the time of the NLC NEC meeting (March 2) was going through very difficult times and Nigerians also going through difficult times as well, is it that the issue of blockade of food supply to the South is not an important matter requiring the attention of the NLC and perhaps a resolution in the Communique of its March 2nd NEC meeting? It is not only on the issue of minimum wage that NLC should demonstrate its nationalist credentials. Nigerians want to see a pan Nigerian NLC actively providing a united rallying point for the resolutions all our divisive challenges.

Establishment of State Judicial Council

So far, the recommendation for the establishment of State Judicial Council as contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism is informed by the need to correct the anomaly of a federation that has a more or less unitary judiciary. If we are to operate a truly federal system, why should we have a critical sector such as our judiciary being over centralised? Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who was the Chairman of the APC Committee on True Federalism made this point very clear during the 50th Anniversary Lecture of Arewa House on October 31, 2020 when he stated that ‘State Judicial Councils should be established, while the National Judicial Council should be limited to the federal and appellate courts.’

Specifically, the APC True Federalism Committee recommendation is that states should have State Judicial Council, which should take over ‘the functions of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in relation to state courts. This will be more in tune with our federal system. At the same time, it will preserve the independence of the judiciary in the states through the State Judicial Council similar to the function of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in relation to federal courts.’

The APC Committee specifically argued that ‘After very careful deliberation, the committee notes that of the three arms of government, the judiciary is the most centralised. The committee therefore recommends that each state should have and control its own judiciary including appointment, promotion, discipline, transfer and remuneration of judges. The function of the National Judicial Council, NJC, should be limited to federal courts only while the constitution should be amended to establish states judicial committees to be responsible for state courts. Their powers in relation to the state courts shall be analogous to the powers of NJC in relation to federal courts. This of course will be without prejudice to inter-service transfer in which case such transferees will come under the relevant judicial service. Section 6(5)(K) should be amended to make it clear that states can establish courts to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which the states can make laws.’

What is the position of NLC regarding reforming the nation’s judiciary? The standard of NLC is that it always has a comprehensive position. If it is going to object to any proposal, it will always be within the context of advancing its own position. It is difficult to situate NLC’s objection to the establishment of State Judicial Council based on a clear proposal of how we should proceed as a nation with the task of reforming our judiciary. Or is the NLC suggesting that reforming our judiciary is not needed? It is therefore very disappointing that the voice of NLC is missing in all the debates on True Federalism or Restructuring. Perhaps on account of its absence in all these debates, all manner of divisive campaigns is going on in the country.

APC’s Response to our National Challenges

No one should deny the fact that Nigeria is going through existential challenges. What is required in the circumstance is for all patriotic citizens, organisations and leaders to step forward with proposals on how to respond to these challenges. As a party, APC Manifesto is very clear regarding its commitments to the critical challenges facing the country. Although it can be argued that it has its internal challenges, it is important to restate that unlike in the past, APC leaders and governments controlled by the party never respond to these challenges based on the strategy of imposing its positions on Nigerians. If anything, internally, there is a consultative process. It is on account of that, given the national challenge of resolving issues around the campaign for true federalism or restructuring and in line with commitments as provided in its manifesto, the APC in 2017 set up the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai-led Committee on True Federalism.

 

The committee reviewed the reports of the 2005 National Political Reform Conference and the 2014 National Conference based on which it identified thirteen (13) issues requiring some responses. The thirteen issues are – Creation of States, merger of States, Derivation Principle, Devolution of Powers, Federating Units, Fiscal Federalism & Revenue Allocation, Form of Government, Independent Candidacy, Land Tenure System, Local Government Autonomy, Power Sharing & Rotation, Resource Control and Type of Legislature.

Memoranda from Nigerians were invited and public hearings in all the six geopolitical zones of the country held. Dedicated public hearings for labour, women, youth, civil society and physically challenged groups were held. Unfortunately, both NLC and TUC did not honour invitations to the dedicated public hearings. But in many of the zonal public hearings State Councils of NLC and TUC participated. Based on all the submissions from the public hearings, the committee adopted the following recommendations:

Creation of state – creation of state is not expedient given the bureaucracy and attendant cost but recommended the need to attend to the isolated case of South East zone where there is the demand to balance states to be equal to other zones.

Merger of states – recommended constitutional provision for legal and administrative frameworks for states that may consider merger provided it does not threaten the authority or existence of the federation.

Derivation principle – recommended amendment to section 162 (2) of the constitution to allow for upward review of the current derivation formula and its adoption in respect of solid minerals and hydro power.

Fiscal federalism and revenue allocation – recommended amendment of Allocation of revenue Act 2002 to ensure upward review of current revenue sharing formula to states.

Devolution of powers – recommended the transfer of some items on the exclusive legislative lists to concurrent and residual, which include foods, drugs, poison, narcotics and psychotropic substances, fingerprints and identification of criminal records, registration of business names, labour, mines and minerals including oil field, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas, police, prisons, public holidays, railways and stamp duties be transferred to concurrent list.

Federating units – recommended retention of current political arrangements with states as federating units. In order to continue to manage constant agitation to make geo-political zones federating units, recommended that group of states can cooperate on a regional basis in line with section 5 (3) of the constitution.

Form of government – recommended continuation of the presidential system but concerns about corruption and high cost of governance should be addressed with all seriousness.

Independent candidates – recommended that anybody who wishes to contest as independent candidate can do so provided that such a person shall not be a registered member of a political party at least six (6) months before the date set for the elections, his/her nominators must not be members of registered political party, he/she pays a deposit to INEC in the same range as the non-refundable deposit fee payable to candidates sponsored by political parties to their parties, which should be determined by Act of the National Assembly and the candidate must meet other qualification requirements provided by the constitution.

Land tenure system – recommended that the land use act be retained in the constitution in the greater interest of national security and the protection of Nigeria’s arable land from international land grabbers.

Local government autonomy – recommended that LGA should be removed from the constitution and states be allowed to develop local administrative system that is relevant and peculiar to respective states.

Power sharing and rotation – recommended that the complexity of power sharing and rotation be managed at party level rather than in the constitution.

Resource control – recommended amendment of Petroleum Act, LFN 2004, Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, Land Use Act, 1978 and Petroleum Profit Tax Act, 2007 so that states can exercise control over natural resources within their respective territories and pay taxes or royalties therefrom to federal government.

Type of legislature – recommended retention of current system but with downward review of running cost.

Other issues

Beyond the 13 issues, the committee made additional recommendations on 11 issues, which are considered necessary to strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and make it functionally appealing to wider sections of Nigerians. The two issues of minimum wage and establishment of State Judicial Council are part of the 11 recommendations, all of which came from the submissions received from Nigerians from all the public hearings across the six geo-political zones. The 11 additional recommendations are:

 

Demand for affirmation of vulnerable groups – recommended that vulnerable groups (women, youths and physically challenged persons be given adequate attention in terms of appointment in government jobs and political positions, including creating dedicated advisory role at all levels.

Citizenship – recommended a comprehensive review of all constitutional provisions on indigeneship and residency status to eliminate all the pervading primordial sentiments on citizenship and indegineship so that ethnic affiliation begin to give way to birth and residency.

Ministerial appointment – recommended amendment to section 147 (3) of the constitution to remove requirement on the president to appoint ministers from every state who must be indigene of the states.

State constitution – recommended that state constitution is not a priority.

Role of traditional rulers – recommended that each state explore ways of incorporating traditional institutions into their governance models based on which respective House of Assembly enact appropriate laws.

Community participation – support all efforts to promote increased community participation in governance within the framework of two-tier federation.

Minimum wage legislation – recommended that each state should be free to decide its remuneration based on its resources and productivity

Elections – recommended that every tier of government should have autonomy in conducting its own elections

Governance – recommended the review of scope of immunity granted to governors and deputy governors

Judiciary – recommended the creation of State Judicial Council to exercise the function of National Judicial Council in relation to state courts.

State alignment and boundary adjustment – recommended that section 8 (2) and (4) of the constitution be amended in order to subject any request for boundary adjustment to a referendum as the case with the creation of states and local governments under section 8 (1) and (3) of the constitution.

The full report of the committee was submitted to the APC National Working Committee on January 25, 2018 organised in four volumes are:

 

Volume 1: Main Report. – http://pgfnigeria.org/2018/01/29/volume-1-report-of-the-apc-committee-on-true-federalism/

Volume 2: Legislative, Executive and Other Action Plans http://pgfnigeria.org/2018/01/29/volume-2-report-of-the-apc-committee-on-true-federalism-action-plan/

Volume 3: Project Communications Report & Online Survey – http://pgfnigeria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Volume-3-Project-Communication-and-Online-Survey.pdf

Volume 4: Summary of Memoranda and Analysis of Data – http://pgfnigeria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Appendix.pdf

Volume 2 of the report contained proposed legislative bills for either constitutional amendments or changes in all the relevant laws based on the recommendations contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism.

In all of these, the APC is not approaching these issues with the classic arrogance of a governing party. If anything, it can be argued that the matter is still being debated internally within the party. It can also be argued that the APC’s approach is to allow for engagement such that in the end, both with reference to minimum wage, establishment of State Judicial Council and all the other recommendations, the democratic process of negotiating these issues should determine the eventual agreement that should emerge.

No decision is made on all these issues. As far as the APC is concerned, it is Nigerians that should decide based on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended. This should mean that the National Assembly will have the leading role and representatives of Nigerians in the National Assembly will drive the process. No doubt members of the National Assembly truly reflect our diversity as a nation. Some members of the National Assembly are as passionate as most Nigerians in terms of fast-tracking the process of resolving our challenges. Across all our parties, there are representatives who are taking initiatives to facilitate the process of resolving our challenges.

 

Certainly, Hon. Mohammed Garba Datti, member of the House of Representatives, representing Sabon Gari Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, is one person that has demonstrated abiding commitment to ensure that we are able to move our nation forward by sponsoring a bill to move minimum wage to the Concurrent Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution in line with recommendations of the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism. Being a member of APC and also one of the representatives of the 10th House of Representatives in the National Executive Committee of the APC, it is within his competence to initiate a legislative process on any of the recommendations in the APC True Federalism Committee report. Any Nigerian who disagreed with him should take advantage of the legislative process to ensure that the bill is not passed. Part of the democratic logic is that all interest groups including the NLC can activate the process of lobby and advocacy to mobilise members of the National Assembly to adopt their positions.

 

Negotiation Versus Imposition

Ultimately, the question is, are we going to negotiate these issues and emerge with agreements that reflect the choices of Nigerians? Or are we going to just dance around the issues and scheme for overpowering contending interests? If negotiation is our choice, why should disagreement become reason for condemnation? Are we negotiating to contract agreements based on capacity to win support? Or is it that we can only win the support of fellow Nigerians if we threaten perceived opponents?

Be that as it may, as democrats, we have no option but to negotiate. As far as is known, the NLC is a democratic organisation and the capacity of its leadership to negotiate is never in doubt. However, to move into the over drive mode and threaten representatives in the National Assembly with strike because individual members such as Hon. Garba Datti Mohammed, have sponsored a bill in the House of Representative on the need to move minimum wage to Concurrent List is simply unacceptable. Why should NLC reduce itself and Nigerian workers into disparaging lawmakers and calling them ‘hireling in the plot by … sponsors to disorient, injure, and exterminate Nigerian working class’?

 

This is not the NLC that is pro-active and progressive. It smacks of intolerance and project an organisation that is only interested in imposing its position. As far as NLC and its leadership are concerned, it is either you agree with them or you are against the working class. Once you disagree with them, you are declared a sell-out or anti-working class. No evidence, factual or imagined, is required. This is certainly not the NLC that used to be a true reflection of the progressive aspirations of Nigerians and to that extent therefore open to engagement based on which it is able to unconventionally provide leadership in a way that accommodates the diversity of our nation and society.

 

Is the proposed bill seeking to move minimum wage to the Concurrent Legislative List in the Nigerian Constitution not going to be subjected to public hearing? Why is the NLC not preparing to engage the public hearing? May be the best form of engagement is to prevent any public hearing from taking place with the threat of a strike. But with or without the public hearing, why is the NLC not able to deploy the strike weapon to compel resolution of all our democratic problems, including the achievement of true federalism, however it chooses to define it?

 

Conclusion

Somehow, it is difficult not to conclude that NLC and its leadership have a misplaced priority. As a union federation, its primary responsibility should be to ensure that Nigerian workers are able to have all it takes to guarantee maximum production. Wages are supposed to be the share paid to workers for their role in production. As things are in Nigeria, at all levels, production is low and in many cases wages, especially in the public sector, are hardly a function of workers’ productivity. Part of the difficulty, which our democracy must address is the question of developing the labour market. With more than 200 million population, could NLC be contented with its current low membership of far less than 20,000?

 

Beyond creating jobs, the quality of those jobs is important. The whole notion of decent jobs is compromised so long as workers don’t earn living wages. Living wages will be a far cry if the current low productivity indices are retained. The implication of what NLC is campaigning for is that current unacceptably high levels of unemployment and low wages should be retained. If the truth is to be told, the minimum wage of N30,000 in the present-day Nigeria for any family is an apology. In terms of potential, if our workers are optimally productive, minimum wage should not be anywhere less than N100,000. What is the proposal of organised labour, including NLC regarding how to increase employment, have decent wage that is indexed with both workers productivity and cost of living realities? Is it even an issue for concern for our labour leaders that workers productivity in the country is low?

 

We need to take responsibility where it matters most. Nigeria is faced with a lot of problems and the earlier we come to terms with the reality that the only way we can solve our problems is to think out of the box, the better. Resolving these issues requires a holistic approach, which should be about reviewing all our existing frameworks. If we want to be a federalist nation, centralised frameworks will completely undermine the capacity of our institutions to meet our national needs. Thinking out of the box requires that we first accept that part of why we have most of our problems, including low wages, in the country is because of existing distortions in our federal system. We need to develop our democracy and we need to ensure that as a nation we operate a truly federal system.

 

Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum. But this position does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors Forum

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Opinion

Exposed: The Real Peter Obi

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Exposed: The Real Peter Obi

By Promise Adiele
Today, I am possessed by the spirit of exposure. Without let or hindrance, resistance or disputation, I surrender to the service of my fatherland to expose, perhaps in the process, educate the foolish and enrich the wise, nothing more. While exposing, I didn’t consult the Ifa oracle or Delphic oracle, both Yoruba and Greek prognostic divination essences famed for revelation. Exposure, that act of revealing the unknown, invades my conscious mind while the revered apostle of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud watches with keen interest. I admit to being a helpless captive of the spirit of exposure. It goes beyond the paralyzing mental hypnosis suffered by victims of religious ecstasy. I am fully aware and awake, with no hallucination, reverie, or phantasmal anecdote. I have no choice in the matter, therefore I must expose, reveal, uncover, and inform. St. John suffered the same fate as I do today which inspired him to write the Biblical book of Revelation. Exposure is different from prophecy, the alter ego of prediction. While exposure reveals what exists but is not known, prophecy reveals what does not exist, therefore not known. Today, I am not predicting anything. I want to expose many things about the presidential flag bearer of the Labour Party Mr Peter Obi. Every presidential aspirant must be exposed, nothing hidden. No guesswork. No half-truths.

My determination to expose the real, undiluted, factual, identity of Mr Peter Obi inheres from the tumultuous effect his persona is currently having on the Nigerian political horizon. Interestingly, the emergence of one man in our country’s political maturation is causing a tsunami across the length and breadth of the land. In my commitment to unravel Peter Obi, I have engaged the remote and immediate peculiarities of his identity, his historical existentialities, and the sublunary ethos that foreground his groundswell among Nigerians at home and abroad. Also, my objective is to steer the wheel of our contemporary political discourse away from obtuse, unreasonable circles to centres of rational, objective thinking. Granted that we can make mistakes sometimes, but we shouldn’t hug idiocy forever. Nigeria is on the cusp of collapse due largely to the mistakes of 2015 when we collectively plunged into a semblance of Hades for failure to expose what needed to be exposed. But 2023 offers a good opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past. Peter Obi’s exposure? Here we go.

READ ALSO: How I’ll Treat Agitators, Secessionists As President – Peter Obi

First Exposure: His full name is Peter Gregory Obi and his nickname is ‘Okwute’. He has a clear, real, and honest identity. There should be no contention or controversy about the identity of the potential of the next president of Nigeria. ‘Okwute’ in Igbo language means rock. The muse reminds me of the connection between the Biblical Peter and rock. Recall that the Master told the Biblical Peter, “upon this rock will I build my house and the gates of hellfire will not prevail against it”. Today, we have a potential president of Nigeria whose real and nickname are subsumed in that divine declaration by the Master. Peter ‘Okwute’ Gregory Obi’s identity draws on celestial and terrestrial possibilities which explain the wildfire his emergence on the political scene is provoking. Surely, the gates of religion, ethnicity and other nebulous metaphors that represent hellfire will not prevail against his name. Remember, his name is Peter Gregory Obi. No questions. No stolen identity. No one adopted him as a child. No family is denying his parentage. It is only a deluded generation that will vote for anyone whose identity is shrouded in secrecy. Identity denominates human existence therefore a fake identity presupposes a fraudulent personality. Peter ‘Okwute’ Gregory Obi is his name. He does not have any other name. Go and verify.

Second Exposure: Mr Peter Obi was born in 1961 and he is from Aniocha Local Government Area in Anambra State. No controversy. That is his origin. Did you know that? He has an identifiable genealogy and definite origin. Any political office aspirant with an indeterminate origin is a disgrace to the political process and unbridled insolence to the electorate. Peter Obi’s origin is well known. His origin is not an object of infinite conjecture. He did not migrate to Anambra from any of the neighbouring states or countries. The next president of Nigeria must have a specific origin known to all Nigerians. No guesswork, no permutations, no lies, no mysteries and no sophistry. Anyone, even a foreigner can aspire to any political office in any part of the world, but hiding one’s identity is criminal, therefore morally disqualifies anyone from any political office in the land much less the presidential seat. Peter Obi is from Aniocha Local Government Area in Anambra State. Go and verify.

Exposure Three: Did you know that Peter Gregory Obi is arguably the only former governor in Nigeria that does not collect a kobo as pension from his state Anambra? Go and verify. Some past governors have impoverished their states by appropriating the exchequer and collecting almost 70% of the Internally Generating Revenue. Such states have the potential to be like Dubai or even better but because their former governors, cronies, and family members have the states in their pockets, the states wallow in inadequacy, leveraging the average, not aware of their vibrant potential. Peter Obi’s wife does not control any part of Anambra State. His only daughter does not control any market in Anambra State. His only son does not own properties in Anambra State. Peter Obi does not have thugs all around the State as a murderous arm of violence and civil menace. A man that does not collect a pension from his state as a former governor is not greedy. Nigeria does not need a greedy president who will turn state coffers and structures to private use.

Exposure Four: Are you aware that Peter Gregory Obi is healthy, fit, and agile? Now you know. He can engage in physical exercise and do thirty to fifty push-ups in a few minutes. He can jump on the treadmill in a jiffy and remain there for a long time. Did you know that in 2022, he plays football, table tennis, and lawn tennis? He does not have any known medical history which will impair his official function as the president of Nigeria. Given Nigeria’s experience under the current administration, the country does not need a septuagenarian, sickly, frail, and senile president. According to Suyi Ayodele in his Tuesday FLATOUT column in the Daily Tribune “a town which makes the invalid its king does not prosper because the health of the king determines the prosperity of the town”. No one gives a sick baby to a sick nurse to look after. Nigeria is sick, very sick therefore requires a fit, proper, agile, and healthy president to fully take charge of our collective affairs. Remember, when Muhammadu Buhari took over the reins of power in the country, he lamented that age was affecting his performance and wished he was younger and healthier. He went on to spend considerable time in a London hospital while the country suffered in parturition. This must not recur. A body led by a set of rotten eyes will inevitably head for disaster. Nigeria should never be led by a sick president again. Peter Gregory Obi is healthy and rearing to go. Kindly go and verify.

READ  ALSO: Can Peter Obi Win The Presidential Election In 2023?

Exposure Five: Peter Obi attended Christ The King College Onitsha Anambra State. Afterwards, he was admitted to the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1980 to study philosophy, the acclaimed parent discipline. He graduated in 1984. Some lost souls are peddling the propaganda that he spent twelve years at UNN studying philosophy. Well, Obi graduated from UNN in 1984 at the age of twenty-three. If he spent twelve years studying philosophy at UNN, that means he was admitted to the university in 1972 at the tender age of eleven. These greasy-brained detractors will stop at nothing to merchandise falsehood of impudent dimension. Anyway, he attended Lagos Business School, Harvard Business School, London School of Economics, Columbia Business School and the International Institute of Management Development. He also attended the Kellogg School of Management of North-Western University, Said Business School of Oxford University and Judge Business School of Cambridge University, go and verify, no controversy.

As Nigerians feverishly trudge towards the 2023 election to save the country from imminent collapse, all the presidential hopefuls must be exposed and critically scrutinized. We must also remember that our present condition is the end-product of an odious conspiracy in 2015 by a few people with vaunting, inordinate, self-serving objectives. It appears that APC’s only objective as a political party is to preside over the liquidation of the Nigerian federation. Do they think we are stupid? We cannot succumb to ennui at the most critical moment of our corporate existence and allow the ruling potentate to further imperil our existence. We must ask the basic questions about all the candidates, their identity must be exposed, health profile, education history, and place of origin. I have exposed the Labour Party candidate. Expose APC and PDP candidates honestly and straight to the point.

Adiele, PhD,
Mountain Top University.
Promee01@yahoo.com

 

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Opinion

The Failed Government Of Muhammadu Buhari

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By Victoria Praise Abraham
We do not have problems in Nigeria. What we have is a failed leadership and a failed government of the APC-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari. His government cannot effectively tackle insecurity, unemployment, food security, incessant strikes by various bodies in the country and many other leadership challenges presently plaguing our nation.

When Buhari of the All Progressives Congress took over in 2015 we all thought our many problems as a nation were finally over. We thought that our great messiah had finally come and that our lives as a people would now finally get better, richer and healthier. The Buhari government had promised change and we were already in a bad place as a nation and as a people. Alas, this was not supposed to be.

Today, we all can testify that it has been a change from bad to worse and from the frying pan into the fires of life.

Life as a Nigerian living in present-day Nigeria has become extremely difficult, frightening and a great ordeal and struggle. Everything that can collapse has collapsed. The health care system, the educational system and even the economy is in the sliding bend. We have never had it worse than this and our prayer to God Almighty is for urgent interventions and deliverance from this clueless government that has helped to mismanage the economy and our naira.

We have been bruised and battered by the lack of leadership or poor leadership by this APC-led government of Muhammadu Buhari for more than 7 years. Our sensibilities have been assaulted as we daily now live in the fear of being kidnapped either on trains, on the roads and even in the air. The situation is dire, pathetic and desperate at all levels of life. The daily kidnappings, killings and abductions have now reached alarming low levels the kind we have never seen before to the point that the president himself is lamenting the situation. How on earth can you as a president lament the troubles in your nation? This is a clear and glaring sign of a failed leader and a failed government because it means that you are fed up and unable to properly cope with the challenges that you are facing as a leader in the 21st century Nigeria.

We are assaulted daily by terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, abductors, armed robbers and pen robber in the same Buhari-led government. If not, how do we explain the humongous thefts of our collective wealth by top people in the Buhari-led government? A case in view is the high-level theft by the accountant general of the federation Ahmed Idris who stole billions of naira from the coffers of the nation.

Unfortunately, we have a president whose greatest pastime is jetting all over the globe in search of pleasure and peace while his own nation burns under the fires of terrorists, bandits, armed robbers and pen robbers. It is an open secret that Muhammadu Buhari is the most-travelled president of Nigeria.

Muhammadu Buhari at the slightest invitation from any country and for any occasion is quick to accept these invitations and of course there are also his many medical trips abroad at the expense of the Nigerian state.

It has never been this bad in our national life. People no longer sleep with their two eyes closed especially in the areas worst hit by terrorists and bandits in Nigeria. The north and the south of Nigeria including some parts of the east and west are being bombarded and we are daily losing precious lives of our Nigerian youths and even the middle aged and elderly. Women and children are not spared by this daily ordeal of insecurity, and instability.

READ ALSO: Okotie Wants To Lead Interim Government After Buhari

A large percentage of Nigerians can no longer eat three square meals because of the prevalence of poverty, food shortages and this is further compounded by poor or no health care systems. The power outages are another pathetic showing in the life of this APC-led Buhari government.

For the average Nigerian, it is hell on earth because they cannot eat well, they cannot sleep well and whenever they fall sick there is no access to good healthcare and so many are dying under the terrible hardship that never gets reported in the papers but this hard reality of the ordinary Nigerians is clear for anyone to see because more and more people have taken to begging for their daily living.

There is no job for the poor man. There is no peace for the poor man. There is no joy of any kind for the poor man. Even the educational sector is not spared in this great failure of leadership by the APC-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

A large number of Nigerians live below a dollar a day. This situation is so bad that Nigeria has been dubbed the poverty capital of the world. Most of our youths are jobless, helpless and hopeless. The government has not deemed it fit to create an enabling environment for job sustainability.

There is nothing concrete and planned on the ground to curb youth restiveness, so you find most youth taking to crime because somehow, they have to find a way to live.

The Buhari government of the APC party has failed to provide these teeming millions of youth jobs to secure their future. A president that cannot think outside the box and be creative enough to find solutions to our myriads of problems is not my ideal kind of president.

During the campaign season just before Buhari took charge of the running of Nigeria as president he pledged to tackle insecurity, unemployment, and corruption. In his presidency these problems have worsened at a frightening rate.

Under this Buhari-led presidency Nigerians have become poorer and impoverished in an alarming fashion. The exchange rate of the naira to the dollar has been on a free fall for years now and the central bank governor under the Buhari-led government does not seem to know what to do about the problem.

The economy has been battered and bruised because of the lack of proper structures that can help grow the economy. Nigeria is importing everything and exporting less and less. Even the oil that is produced in Nigeria is again taken out of the country for refining before it is again imported back into Nigeria.

Our economy continues to struggle at the lowest levels. We are rich as a nation but poor as a nation and as a people. This is a great mystery, misnomer and travesty.

We are unable to travel interstate to do business with each other as Nigerians because of incessant abductions. Economic activities continue to dwindle to an all-time low since the Buhari-led government took over from the Jonathan-led government in 2015.

Buhari has borrowed so much from international bodies and China that we will spend many years repaying all that he and his government have borrowed in the last seven years and more.

READ ALSO: Buhari Goes To Saudi Arabia For Investment Conference

We are in desperate times because our innocent citizens are being kidnapped, and killed daily all over the north. There are problems of IPOB in the eastern part of Nigeria and we all remember the killings in the Owo massacre of Sunday the 5th of June 2022.

President Muhammadu Buhari never deemed it proper to visit Owo to commiserate with the indigenes of Owo over this dastardly act of terrorists in South West Nigeria. This lack of empathy and compassion from Buhari is unbelievable and acceptable. It shows that as a leader he lacks compassion and a very strong attribute of a great leader is empathy and compassion.

The Buhari government has not deemed it proper to enact laws that will stop Fulani herdsmen from roaming the lands of Nigeria and wreaking havoc on the innocent land owners of the south. We have a government that prefers cows to the precious lives of its human citizens in Nigeria. Under the present Buhari-led government we have become more divided as a people and as nations. Nigeria is a marriage of many nations and a wise leader will work at uniting these different nations with the Nigeria nation and not work hard at dividing it as the Buhari government has done in the last seven years.

Our present situation as a nation is pathetic, frightening and we are in need of quick divine interventions from God. On a practical level it is time for the impeachment of Muhammadu Buhari because in his time we have had unprecedented records of death of innocent Nigerians, more corruption, higher levels of the unemployed Nigerian youths and general insecurity and traumas.

The problem we have as a nation is not the myriads of problems but rather a failure of leadership or no leadership at all. Our leaders at the highest and at all levels have failed us a nation. We are rudderless, leaderless and clueless as a nation.

Our leaders at the highest helm of governance has failed woefully and it is time for them to all bow out and retire back to their bases.

It is time for the Buhari-led government to be impeached to save our fatherland and our unborn generation from further slide, decay and destructions.

We do not have problems in Nigeria, what we have is a president that prefers to jet around the globe to seek pleasure and peace in faraway Britain, Dubai, France and Spain rather than stay in Nigeria to fix the challenges confronting his leadership.

What we have in Nigeria is a leadership problem because everything starts and ends in leadership.

 READ ALSO: Buhari Goes To Rwanda For Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

All these other countries that Buhari prefers to stay in is as a result of leadership that works, that is effective and promising. We have leaders that lack the know-how, of how to properly solve problems in Nigeria.

In 2023 we need a president who is visionary, intelligent, fearless, selfless, courageous, compassionate, a unifier, sincere, competent, charismatic and a good communicator to help us rebuild our nation Nigeria,

We have fallen as a nation and we need a rescuer and a builder to help us rebuild and restructure the Nigerian nation.

As it is now, we are yet to find the messiah. As we begin the countdown to the search for the next crop of leaders, we must be very clear and discerning so that we do not choose leaders that will traumatize us as a people. We must choose credible, competent and compassionate leaders going forward. We truly do need ‘CHANGE’ now not the change Buhari promised us in 2015 but the change that will help to move our great nation forward forever. The APC-led Buhari government has failed woefully. He must now do the decent thing by resigning or be impeached by the senate.

2023 beckons.

A new Nigeria will emerge by the special grace of God Almighty.

. Abraham is an award-winning author and CEO of Vic-Abraham Media Nigeria Ltd.

 

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Opinion

Muslim-Muslim Ticket Narrative: The Republic In Peril

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Muslim-Muslim Ticket Narrative: The Republic In Peril

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The Muslim-Muslim ticket which the APC under the otherwise shrewd and perspicacious Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has adopted promotes and reinforces a dangerous narrative which the seven years of the Buhari administration have negatively entrenched in the minds of Nigerians. For, before Buhari, it was largely in somewhat hushed tones that the mythical Fulani ownership of geographical Nigeria was discussed. Not supported by any instruments of pre- or postcolonial relations, that dangerous supposition was essentially in the minds of a few and believed by fewer persons. For most southerners it was a joke, an infantile joke to claim that the rich waters and oil of the Niger Delta belong to some fellows who live one thousand miles away.  It is like the Israelis claiming that the oil fields in the Arab states belong to them because God had promised them the land flowing with milk and honey!

With the style and composition of the Buhari government, the irredentist president made his plans clear to all – government was by a section of the country, for a section of the country and for a particular religion! To boot, Fulani from some countries in Africa have started assembling in the country to make Nigeria their home. The hostile scoundrels who kidnap, maim or kill are not indigenous to Nigeria, I dare say. The baffling thing is that southern leaders could not effectively challenge the gradual dismantling of a national consensus that had governed interethnic relations since 1960. Most of them in mainstream politics simply latch on to the received wisdom that to gain power in the centre you must suck it up to the holders of power from the north. So, they sacrifice their people on the altar of greed for power!

In 2003, before the grand alliance of unlikely forces that finally gave Buhari access to federal power, Bola Tinubu was reported by Wikileaks to have said that “Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilization, ethnic bigot, and religious fanatic who if given the chance would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardize Nigeria’s national unity’. It is true that the Tinubu camp has vigorously argued that their principal never said any such stuff. But Farooq Kperogi in Notes from Atlanta (December 4, 2021) has laid the authenticity of the statement to rest by asserting that ‘I took up Tunde Rahman’s challenge and showed that Tinubu indeed said what he was quoted to have said – and worse’, citing diplomatic cables wrenched from Wikileaks trove.

READ ALSO: Rivers APC Ex-governorship Aspirant Resigns From Party Over Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim Ticket

In skewed appointments both to cabinet and non-cabinet positions, Buhari made no bones about telling Nigerians that he meant to govern Nigeria as a colony of Fulani hegemony. Nowhere is this hegemony so evident than in the security architecture of the country. Also, the marauding herdsmen in the country never fail to remind abductees that Nigeria is their patrimony and that accounts for the soft approach of the incumbent government in dealing with the menace posed by terrorists and bandits. Nigerians have cried aloud about the skewed appointments in favour of one section of the country. Nothing has entered the ears of the Commander-in-Chief! Suddenly, the successor administration if the APC wins is a Muslim-Muslim band. Not good for the sight. Not healthy for perception. Not healthy for inter-religious harmony.

Nations build institutions which sustain and protect the core values of the country. In a country as multiethnic and multireligious as ours, no individual or administration should violate those core values. It is possible to argue that the fundamental principles for national unity have not been defined and nationally accepted. For example, power rotation, the place of religion and ethnicity must be worked into the Constitution. Nothing must be taken for granted. No section or religion must claim or preach superiority. It has the capacity to implode the country, either now or in the future.

READ ALSO: Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim Ticket Disastrous – Babachir

It is against this background that the APC Muslim-Muslim ticket must be resisted by pressure groups, ethnic and religious associations. The issue must be on the ballot box on election day. A northern Christian who was Legal Adviser to APC resigned his position because of his objection to the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Ironically, Senator Tinubu and the APC had expressed reservations about the same-religion ticket in 2015. It was for this reason Professor Yemi Osinbajo was drafted in with his impeccable Christian credentials as a pastor in RCCG. What changed in 2022 or 2023?

The ethnic tension in the country that has reached a crescendo is alarming. Whether by design or default, the Tinubu and Shettima ticket is an attempt to further increase the tension and permanently destroy the fragile attempts at inter-religious harmony. It promotes the inane idea that one ethnic group or religion is superior to others in the federation. It is foolish to believe this nonsense, even if the ethnic group is numerically stronger. The point must be made that this rejection would not have mattered if the operating conditions in the country were settled or acceptable. For as we know, a Muslim could be as bad as a Christian in governance and vice versa. In other words, promotion of a religious faith does not bestow administrative or governing competence on anybody. The list of those who have misgoverned the country includes Muslims and Christians, with religion playing no moderating role in attitudes to the commonwealth.  The ruling APC which has mismanaged Nigeria into a freefall is slapping Nigeria further in the face by tying to force an anomaly on the nation.

READ ALSO: Tributes As Ace Artist Onobrakpeya Turns 90, Celebrates 60 Years Of Creative Genius

The APC has attempted to make things look good by appointing spokesmen who are Christians. This is after suggesting that a Christian from the north as a running mate to a Muslim from the south is not good enough to attract votes from the north. What a slap to northern Christians. This accounts for the bold and resolute reaction of the Dogaras and Babachirs, something we must take seriously.

All Nigerians must queue up to vote for their candidates in 2023. Hopefully, votes will count this time around. If they do, the Nigerian people will speak on who they want to govern the country. Sadly, the PDP ticket is also guilty of negating one of the assumptions that had governed the country – power rotation. We are therefore in a fix with the two old political parties. What will the end be?

Professor Eghagha writes from the Department of English, University of Lagos.

 

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