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And the clock ticks …

Ihave decided to yield this column today to two ardent readers, one from abroad and the other from the home front. Before then, the ongoing campaign is so, so drab; the two leading parties appear to be bereft of ideas; very much unlike what we witnessed this same period four years ago. It is like you are watching a drab football match by two un-enterprising football teams: No momentum, no sparks, and no moments of brilliance! Thinking aloud: If EU, UK and United States’ commentaries on the suspension of CJN Walter Onnoghen amount to interference in our internal affairs, how do we interpret the presence of two governors of a neighbouring country at the campaign rally of President Muhammadu Buhari? Aside that provocative incident standing our sovereignty on its head, it also reminds me of Russia’s alleged interference in the last US presidential election, which is still under intense investigation. But this ain’t US; it is a banana, sorry, Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Why Buhari, Atiku fight over Niger Republic govs

Still on Onnoghen…

Thanks for taking your readers through the political history of Nigeria under your four-part serial articles “2019, YORUBA INTERESTS, AND OSINBAJO’s VAULTING AMBITION” You diligently and systematically took your readers through the history of political development in Nigeria and the roles the old breed politicians played (bad or good) including the military head of state sequel to the first coup of 1966. It was an eye-opener. Your candour and dispassionate analysis of the treachery, disloyalty, and tribal jingoism are compelling and heart-rending. Yoruba, as you rightly opined, have fallen on bad times politically and socially as well as in commerce and leadership. The earlier they charted a new course, the better! Your assessment of the Buhari administration and his nepotistic character tallies with what Sonola Olumhense wrote in his syndicated column (Sunday PUNCH, January 20, 2019 edition). Both of you have a large retinue of readers because you tell the truth, no matter whose ox is gored. Again, true to type, your comments about the unfortunate ordeal (?) of the CJN cannot be dispassionately narrated more than you did: That what goes round comes around; that injustice begets injustice; that it is Onnoghen today, it could be anybody tomorrow; that Onnoghen, by his past conduct, was an accomplice to judicial pronouncements tainted with ulterior “political convenience” instead of legal logic. Nemesis will always catch up with evil doers. It is the Law of Karma at play!

-Yacoob Abiodun, Hayward, California, USA.

 

Buhari does not deserve second term

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) became military head of state of Nigeria in a coup de’tat that ousted the civilian tenure of Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari on December 31, 1983. About 20 months after, Buhari was himself overthrown in another coup d’état. Some of the reasons adduced for his overthrow were: That a small group of individuals in the ousted Buhari regime misused power to the detriment of Nigeria’s aspirations and interests; that the concept of collective leadership was substituted by stubborn and ill-advised unilateral actions; that all the energies of the ruler-ship were directed at imaginary opposition, rather than at effective leadership; that the nation’s meagre resources were wasted on unproductive ventures. Hence, most of the economic and social ills that plagued Nigeria during the civilian government were still prevalent during Buhari’s regime. In fact, Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance that efforts to make him realise that a diverse polity like Nigeria required recognition and appreciation of cultural differences and perceptions only served to aggravate such attitudes; and that the methods used by the Buhari regime to deal with indiscipline and corruption were devoid of natural justice.

From the above, one may deduce a lot of facts about the attributes of Buhari. As a former military head of state, he did not impress many patriotic Nigerians. Between the time of his release from house arrest in 1988 and May 2015, how many times did Buhari attend the Council of State meetings? If he failed to attend during the eight years Babangida was military president, his absence from such meetings could be understandable. After the regime of his arch enemy, why did he absent himself? Why did he fail to emulate the past heads of state of Nigeria who attended the meetings regularly from 1985 to May 2015? I strongly believe that patriotic Nigerians who attend the Council of State meetings do so to brainstorm on national issues as stated in the Third Schedule, Part 1, Section B of the Constitution. I also never heard Buhari give constructive suggestions on how Nigeria could overcome its numerous challenges. Rather, he was fond of making provocative statements that added to the woes of a country which he now governs as civilian president since May 2015.

On June 14, 1999, Obasanjo set up the Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission (HRVIC) headed by retired Supreme Court Justice, Chukwudifu Oputa. According to Paragraph 97 of the HRVIC report, “the Commission is of the view that General Buhari has a case to answer in regard to the killing of the three young men referred to in the petition brought by the Kenneth Owoh family. There was overwhelming evidence to show that the execution of the three young men fell well outside the time frame allowed by the Decree under which they were tried. The HRVIC, therefore, recommend that the General (Buhari) tender an unreserved apology to the families of the deceased.” Buhari was one of the three heads of state who refused to appear before the Oputa Panel. In Paragraph 96 of the report under consideration, the Commission recommended that all the former heads of state who deliberately refused to honour the invitation of HRVIC to defend the charges against them “be considered to have surrendered their rights to govern Nigeria and Nigerians at any other time in the future.” (The News, Vol. 23, No. 22 of December 8, 2004). If Nigeria were a country where sanity prevailed, Buhari would have recorded zero votes when he contested the presidential elections in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.The man who had no regard for the rule of law vied for the country’s presidential position in March 2015 and won. I know that many Nigerians would have forgotten this issue, but Professor Wole Soyinka would never forget what he said about the retired Army Generals who refused to appear before the HRVIC: That the affected Generals should forget ever ruling Nigeria again. Alas! When Buhari was elected president, Soyinka kept quiet!

According to Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule (1988), “People should aspire for leadership when they are ready to serve sincerely, honestly and with dedication.” Between May 2015 and now, many things have gone wrong with Nigeria under Buhari. The economy and finances of Nigeria are now in a state of partial paralysis. The situation worsens with every day that passes. This is because Buhari’s party, APC, has no manifesto. It only has a slogan, “change.”

Buharists claim that the Buhari’s administration is waging war on corruption, but the world knows that the administration’s war on corruption is being discriminately fought. Some notable members of the APC, even in the cabinet of President Buhari, are neck-deep in corruption and are not investigated while members of the opposition political parties, particularly the PDP, are persistently investigated and prosecuted on corruption charges. The APC has now introduced other forms of corruption to Nigeria like vote-buying during election and wooing members of the major opposition party with money.

According to Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1978), “the Presidency of Nigeria is not an office of pleasure; it is an office which should not be adventured light-heartedly or recklessly or with one’s mind suffused and dominated with self-regarding, ethnocentric or tribal prejudices, predilections and partial affections.” In order to avert a total collapse of Nigeria, Buhari does not deserve a second term because he has, since May 2015, left Nigeria worse than he met it in all ramifications. One wonders why he woefully failed to develop any blueprint on how to govern Nigeria since 2003 when he first contested the Presidency. More importantly, Buhari is academically unqualified to continue governing Nigeria. The highest academic qualification he has is a Secondary School Certificate, which the defective Nigerian Constitution has ludicrously accepted as the minimum qualification for the presidency in this 21st century. After Buhari retired from the Nigerian Army, there was nothing preventing him from acquiring additional academic qualifications. Gowon obtained his PhD. in Political Science after his military career. Obasanjo also obtained his PhD. after his military service, doing so even as an octogenarian. There are 195 countries in the world as of 2018. There is none where the head of state has less than university degree. As of now, there is no state governor in Nigeria’s 36 states that has less than university degree. It is high time Nigeria raised the minimum academic qualification a contestant to the Presidency of Nigeria must have.

Former President Bill Clinton of the US was a voracious reader. His autobiography, My Life, was considered “a bulky, self-absorbed tome with moments of sparkle and brilliance.” Current President Donald Trump is also a prolific writer. Compare these with Buhari who has admitted to being “slow at reading!” Nigeria should not be allowed to remain in the doldrums economically, socially, and politically for another four years.

– Deacon Dapo Omotoso, Ado-Ekiti.

 

Adieu, Bola Aragbaiye!

News, last week, of the demise of Mr. Bola Aragbaiye hit me like thunderbolt; not on account of his age, but that he passed away at all. At 77, he far bettered the life expectancy for the average Nigerian, which is 53.43 years (2016) to Ghana’s 62.74 and the United States’ 78.69. Apart from the fact of both of us hailing from Owo in Ondo State, Mr. Aragbaiye was instrumental to my starting journalism career at Sketch newspapers, Ibadan, in 1985. In fact, I collected my letter of employment from his hand. And together with his assistant, Nosa Osaigbovo, also departed, he helped to make me the complete journalist that I later became. Though employed as a senior reporter whose desk should be in the newsroom, they gave me a desk in the Features Department, accommodated and encouraged me such that my news editor, Mr. Kayode Muritala, and his assistant, Baba Israel Ojo, always asked whether I was a reporter or features writer. Easygoing, caring, gentle, humble, hardworking – same features as Nosa – Mr. Aragbaiye was thoroughbred professional. Eternal rest grand him, O Lord! To his wife, Sister Funmi – whose gospel music I treasure – and the entire Aragbaiye family, receive the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

 

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