ANALOG NIGERIA IN A DIGITAL AGE

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I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other, so help me God. Amen (Martin Luther)

One of the consequences of excessive centralization and the military rule that facilitated it is that the Nigerian President is the most powerful president in the world. It would have been well if we can always have self-less sages as presidents. But, all we have experienced since the 1979 Constitution are rapacious individuals awarding oil wells to friends (including girlfriends) and getting us into Halliburton, Siemens scandals, 52 pieces of luggage unchecked and Mainagate (The Vanguard)

Nigeria is truly the maddest place I have ever had the pleasure of living in. It’s a country that constantly feels on the brink but never quite goes over the edge. It feels like you are living in a giant soap opera with all the joy and tragedy that goes with it. It is a nation blessed or burdened with an extraordinary cast of characters. It can make you want to cry with laughter or with tears. ”where else?” said a friend. That you have to bribe the attendant in a lift just to be allowed out of it; or you will be hassled in a church for a donation or where you will go to a lost but found office only to be told that nothing has been handed in this entire year. What you may not have heard about is the sheer exuberance of this country. They should hand out earplugs in Nigerian weddings because the noise is so intense! Millions truly believe that tomorrow could be the day they make it big. The language here is unbelievably colourful. A top official once described a former president as an honest fool, who held the horn while the others milk the cow (BBC’s Martin Patience while leaving Nigeria after 2 years’ service as a correspondent).

Because Nigeria remains an analogue country when other countries, which are doing fine, have moved into the digital age, was the reason an analogue president was elected in this 21st century. How can we elect a president, who is at his best, an all-round illiterate – a president who turns a laptop upside down; a president who doesn’t know that East and West Germany unified in 1990; a president who does not know that Angela Merkel is not the president of Western Germany, but the Chancellor of the whole Germany – a president who does not know that Germany has a ceremonial president, but, Angela Merkel, as the Chancellor, is the political leader of that country; a president who does not know the full meaning of his own Party, APC, and called it All Progressive Confidence.

In fact, we all have failed Nigeria, big time, by electing a caveman as a president in this century. How come that we made such a grave mistake? Just as the Vanguard pointed out, it is all very well to say that things will be better in the long run. But, Nigerians, like anybody else, don’t live in the long run. They live now, and they have waited for almost three years and things are going from bad to worse. Now, the same man that has done nothing for almost three years, is promising Nigerians heaven on earth, just to hoodwink them again, in order to get re-elected, and then, it will be business as usual.

I wish Nigerians will learn from South Africans and force Buhari out of office, even before the end of his tenure. I know that this is a fantasy that will never turn into reality. South African President, Jacob Zuma, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, resigned, because, his Party, the ruling ANC party, finally turned against him after nine years of corruption scandals, economic slowdown, and falling popularity. The Punch reports that “in a 30-minute national television address, Zuma said he had “come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect”.

Come to think of it: his own party turned against him because of his misdeeds. That’s how democracy works and thrives. When a leader breaks the law, he is supposed to be forced out of office, as every office should be bigger than the occupier, unlike in Nigeria. President Buhari is grossly incompetent, and has committed uncountable atrocities; but his Party, The APC, will be the last to criticize him, and will never contemplate asking him to resign.

The Stupid constitution the military crafted for Nigeria is the main source of the problem. Because, those buffoons in military uniform, calling themselves “General” were dreaming of becoming civilian president after removing their military uniform, and they made sure that the presidency of Nigeria becomes the most powerful office in the world. That’s why the Nigerian president does not know why he was “elected”, and does not see himself as a servant of the people, but as the “Lord”. The Vanguard noted that the Centralization of power in Nigeria has created in our Presidents the same feeling expressed by Louis XIV, 1638-1715, King of France who declared L’Etat C’est Moi” or I am the State.” Once in Aso Rock, they treat Nigerians including state governors as their servants at best or slaves at worst. A Nigerian President took five months to select his cabinet and still has not appointed board members for most agencies. Can Trump or Macron get away with that? “We must begin to think differently, think big and come out of our comfort zones so the world would not continue to leave us behind.” Let us ask ourselves: when in the last three years have we heard that sort of appeal? Great leaders challenge their people to reach for the moon; not to wallow in the blame game; not to spend almost three years lamenting what they inherited but charting the way forward”.

There are no ideologically distinctive political parties in the country – that’s why we’re in a political quagmire in Nigeria – as all political parties have only one cardinal aim of taking over power and looting the treasury for its members. That’s why a PDP member will easily decamp to APC, and vice versa. In saner climes, it will be hard for a liberal to join a conservative party, and vice versa, but in Nigeria, what we have are politicians calling themselves democrats without telling us if they’re leaning towards the right, left or centre – we have only a bunch of thieves (one thing they all know how to do well is plundering).

South Africans have shown Nigerians that they are not playing in the same “league” – that they are politically sophisticated than Nigerians. Have you ever seen a Nigerian politician resign from office as Zuma has done? Nigerian politicians commit all kinds of atrocities, and when caught, will evoke the ethnic card instead of resigning, and many Nigerians will still condone that. We, the citizens, are part of the problem due to our parochialism, as we tend to defend a criminal politician from our tribe, and will not want him or her to face justice.

Buhari is not better than Zuma or Mugabe who have all gone, but he still hangs on to power and is even planning to contest again. The difference is that South African citizens are more politically astute or sagacious, and the Zimbabwean military is more patriotic than their respective Nigerian counterparts. Just as someone commented, we know that Buhari will never resign, but he should just finish his term and go quietly to Daura, as Nigeria needs younger and dynamic leaders in this century.

In saner climes, Buhari would have been history by now – in other words – Buhari is overdue for impeachment or resignation, but, unfortunately, none of these will ever happen. Because the National Assembly is not equal to the task – it is only a congregation of thieves hiding there just for the immunity against prosecution it offers them; and Buhari has no integrity or honour, in himself, despite his claims to the contrary, to do the right thing by tossing in the sponge.

We were better off without Buhari, and Nigeria will get better when Buhari leaves. I’m irked, because, despite the fact of being one of the few “lonely voices in the wilderness” against Buhari’s candidacy during the 2015 election, I’m now being forced, again, to appeal to Nigerians to right their wrong by voting out, in 2019, whom they voted in, in 2015.

Nigerians are seeing what I was warning them about in 2015. Who would want Buhari to remain as president after all he has put Nigerians through? Since Buhari came to power, we have been inundated with words seldom heard, priorly, such as the other room; fantastically corrupt; snake swallowing millions of naira etc (I will comment on this in subsequent parts of this article).

If Nigerians are conscious citizens, they would have behaved like their South African counterparts, thereby forcing president Buhari to relinquish the office he is under-qualified to occupy. But, since Nigerians are so docile, the best they can do for themselves is to get their respective Voter’s Card now, so that they can force Buhari out through the ballot box.

Why should Buhari leave us? No other Nigerian leader has played the ethnic card like Buhari; he has eroded further, more than any other ruler, the fragile cohesiveness of the Nigerian nation; and has entrenched mediocrity above meritocracy by appointing his relatives and cronies to very important and sensitive positions, even though most of the appointees are unqualified for the job, and may not beat a brilliant and smart primary six pupil in any exam – suffice it to say that the Buhari’s extended family is running Nigeria on their own.

Nigerians should blame themselves for “electing” Buhari, and since then, he has debased the Nigerian society, the more, through impunity and incompetence.

Samuel Ajayi, in an article captioned “Jacob Zuma: As South Africa Shame Nigeria Yet Again”, published by Sundiata Post, summed it better thus:

“Jacob Zuma, the embattled President of South Africa, has resigned. But that is not the news.

I carefully followed the events that led to Jacob Zuma’s exit and the whole thing lasted less than FIVE days. Again, that is not news.

But note these:

  • In the build-up to Zuma’s exit, no one played the ETHNIC card. His place of birth in South Africa did NOT matter.
  • Again, RELIGION was not an issue. Nobody even remembered he bore a Christian name.
  • The party was more interested in saving its NAME and LEGACY, than saving Zuma.
  • Zuma did not deploy police and army to seal off the venue of the ANC meeting and teargas his party members.
  • There was no rented crowd at the ANC secretariat singing Zuma’s praise and trolling Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • It was NOT even ANC that reiterated the supremacy of the party, it was Zuma himself.

Like I wrote earlier in the week, politics is played everywhere. It can be fun and interesting. But is it played FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SOCIETY? IT IS TO IMPROVE THE HUMAN CONDITION.

But here, ours is for the self, our family and cronies and people of our ethnic and religious backgrounds.

IN NIGERIA, IF A PRESIDENT GRABS THE GUN OF HIS POLICE ORDERLY AND SHOOTS A CITIZEN or DOES ANY VISIBLY DESECRATING ACT SOME OF US WILL STILL DEFEND HIM.

Were it to be Nigeria, Zuma would not leave office. Never. He and his supporters could throw up all sorts of mundane excuses to remain in office.

** Do you now see why Toyota, Mazda, Daimler Chrysler, BMW, Volkswagen and so on all have Assembly plants in South Africa?

** Do you now see why they generate almost 40,000 megawatts and we are calling thanksgiving service for 7,000 megawatts?

** Do you now see why they successfully hosted the World Cup?

** Do you know why our citizens rush there?

South Africa has again shown that it is NOT about the black man. We are not intellectually inferior to the white man. Something is just fundamentally wrong with Nigeria and its LEADERSHIP MANAGEMENT.

And that thing is INSTITUTIONS. Both at governmental and non-governmental levels.

As long as we produce LEADERS that we MAKE STRONGER than our INSTITUTIONS, we will NEVER make progress! No be curse…”

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe went by force; Jacob Zuma of South Africa has just gone by force; Buhari of Nigeria should also go by force, and your Voter’s Card will be the weapon to chase him out of Aso Rock in 2019.

Buhari is clueless on how to solve Nigeria’s problems (Balarabe Musa)To be without guile is to be free of deceit, cunning, hypocrisy, and dishonesty in thought or action (Joseph B. Wirthlin)All the commandments:…. You shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself (Jesus Christ) 

If a snake can actually swallow N36 million, one day, we may wake up in this country to see that a snake has swallowed our foreign reserve or it has swallowed money that was gathered in the TSA (Senator Shehu Sani)

I have been asking the question of whether Nigerian politicians are brainless or are thinking all Nigerians are fools. Imagine President Muhammadu Buhari stating that he has fulfilled all his major promises made to the electorate during his political campaign. He told the world this known lie when he visited Yola on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Imagine a president who has never completed any single project since taking office, lying to a suffering nation. He really takes Nigerians for fools. This man does not know why he’s in Aso Rock and should be chased away in 2019.

Why are we hearing all sorts of stories which make the world laugh us to scorn? Why are they telling us, in this digital age, things that can only happen during the Stone Age? The latest is that monkeys have swallowed N70 million Northern Senators Forum money! What kind of a country is this? Are they joking or what? If this story didn’t come from a reputed newspaper like Daily Trust, I would have ignored it. 

According to Daily Trust Newspaper, on Thursday, February 22, 2018, “the N70m handed over to the Northern Senators Forum has been swallowed by monkeys in the farm of a ranking senator. Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) told newsmen minutes after Senator Abdullahi Adamu was removed as the chairman of the Northern Senators Forum. Senator Adamu was accused of mismanaging N70 million belonging to the Northern Senators. Shehu Sani said that it was alleged that some monkeys swallowed the money at the senator’s farm. 

This is happening few weeks after a shocking confession of an official of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, which claimed that a mysterious snake allegedly swallowed N36 million Naira, from the Board’s vault, which she made from the sale of scratch cards”. 

No wonder that corruption is getting worse in Nigeria, according to the latest corruption perception index (CPI) released by Transparency International (TI) on Wednesday, Feb. 21. The Cable wrote that while the country scored 27/100 and was ranked 136th in 2016, the latest CPI scores Nigeria 28/100 but with a rank of No. 148 out of 180 countries surveyed – a significant 12 places below where it was the previous year. This will come as a blow to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that came into office on the strength of his anti-corruption credential. 

Meanwhile, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the national contact of TI, says it is “seriously worried” about the new but unfavourable trend in the fight against corruption in the country, as buttressed in the newly published CPI. CISLAC said in a statement released on that Wednesday evening: 

“On the African continent, Nigeria ranks 32nd position in Africa out of 52 assessed countries in 2017. While Botswana leads the continent with the record of competent and largely corruption-free public administration, Nigeria hopelessly falls behind with 27 points. In West Africa, Nigeria is the second-worst country out of 17 countries leaving only Guinea Bissau behind. This fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favouritism, and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels. It is CISLAC’s view that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian taxpayers around 25% of annual GDP. Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges”. 

For now, the money-swallowing monkeys’ story is still breaking, so, let’s concentrate on the money-swallowing snake’s story. 

Because Nigeria remains an analogue country in a digital age is the reason they will keep a whooping N36 million in the office, and not in a bank; and then, one thief will tell us that a snake swallowed the money. We all heard or read it that “Snake swallowed N36m in JAMB office in Makurdi”. Only in Nigeria can someone make up such a ludicrous story in this century. 

How come that no one saw the mysterious money-swallowing snake? Caleb Onyenso, in asking how and why they left such an amount of money in the office in this age of banking, saw this as a huge slap on the faces of Nigerians. It is such a shame that in a country where the present administration keeps talking about fighting corruption, the same corruption keeps coming in different forms. Last year, before the present JAMB administration took over, it was reported that the board had never remitted more than three million Naira to the nation’s consolidated revenue coffers, but then a new administration came in and remitted 8 billion Naira, so who is fooling who? The reasons they give for looting are always a joke and a big slap on the faces of Nigerians. Today, it’s a snake swallowing money and if the issue is swept under the carpet, who knows another animal that will swallow money in the future? 

This is not the first time a JAMB official has concocted a story to cover up his or her loot. The Public Relations Officer, PRO, of JAMB board, Fabian Benjamin, according to the Vanguard, said the board has heard similar startling and frivolous defence like the one given by Mrs Chieshe over the missing fund swallowed by a snake. According to him, “There was even a case in Nasarawa when a staff claimed that on his way to come and submit the scratch card, he had an accident and the car got burnt with the scratch cards. The cards have numbers and when we checked we found out that those cards were used. There was another staff that said his signature was forged. He agreed that it was his signature but he wasn’t the one that signed and did not collect the scratch cards. We have many issues like that but all of them have been queried, they appeared before the disciplinary committee, they were interrogated. A report has been written. Once that report has been approved, we will recommend for their dismissal and prosecution.” 

Only in Nigeria will they tell us such stories, and it started from the top. When they told us that rats chased the president out of his office, what do you expect from those below? On a Saturday Talking Point, Rose Moses commented that very strange things really do happen in Nigeria, and in quick succession, too. As the now popular saying goes, there’s no dull moment in the country. According to the Vanguard, she noted that in the same country too, a president, after spending over one hundred days away from the country and office, would on his return, be ‘chased away’ from his powerful office by rodents. Some stories, really, can only come out of Nigeria. And so, while the country battles with the menace of marauding, killer herdsmen, the mother of all oddities were released into the public space. In Benue State, which has remained in the news following mass killings by alleged Fulani herdsmen, a ‘fat’ snake reportedly swallowed a whopping N36 million that ought to be remitted to the coffers of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) from the sale of forms during the era of scratch cards. According to the report, the ‘mystery snake’ sneaked into the accounts office, did not bite nor threaten anyone but went straight into the vault where it swallowed the cash. Nothing can be more absurd! As laughable as the development may appear to some, it should also sound a note of serious concern to everyone on how low things could get in Nigeria. How does a snake swallow millions of cash, anywhere? 

With incidents like this, which comes in various shapes, sizes, and colours in almost all sectors and aspects of our human endeavours, there is no reason why any government should question the ranking, by Transparency International (IT), of Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. There is also no arguing the point that anywhere a snake could creep into a vault of a parastatal to swallow N36 million must be a dangerous place to live in, with development far from its lexicon. Or where else can a clerk brazenly look a system in the face and make such bizarre statement just to cover fraudulent acts that may have hitherto been a way of life? If a JAMB sales clerk can come up with a story as stupid as a snake swallowing millions of public money in her care, you can only imagine the bigger picture that may have so emboldened her. 

The Action Democratic Party (ADP) noted that this government has become a looting business centre. The Party described the news of a snake swallowing a whooping sum of 36 Million Naira from the office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) as a huge joke and says that this has further solidified the party’s position on the looting business on-going in government. The Party noted that this has further exposed to all Nigerians how corruption is thriving in a Buhari government that claims to be fighting it. The Party then added that officials in ministries, departments, and agencies in the government have devised means of stealing in millions since top officials have continually gone scot-free whenever their corruption cases are exposed. The party then concluded that grand looting has become a norm under the current administration. 

It’s not surprising that corruption is blooming now more than ever, despite the fact that Buhari was elected to “kill” it. Instead of President Buhari and his APC fighting corruption, they’ve been emboldening it – they’ve been clueless, corrupt and incapacitated. No wonder there’s a stealing spree going on in this government. Someone copied this to me: Since Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau State, joined APC, his trial stopped like a locomotive train that knocked engines. Since Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, joined APC, his trial with EFCC suddenly got a new brake pad. Since Sullivan Chime, former governor of Enugu State, joined APC, his trial with EFCC developed a cataract. Since Isa Yuguda, former governor of Bauchi State, joined APC, his trial with EFCC suddenly developed hearing problems. Don’t forget that Chief Timipre Sylva, the former governor of Bayelsa State, recovered his 48 houses, seized by EFCC when he joined APC. 

Quoting Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008), “lying, stealing, and cheating are commonplace” in Buhari’s government, and ironically, this government was elected to deal with corruption – to make a dent in corruption. If a sales clerk, Philomina Chieshe, can concoct a story about a snake swallowing N36 million she should have accounted for, think of what her superiors have been doing in fleecing Nigeria. Are you surprised? Babachir David Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff; Dambazzau, the Interior Minister; Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; and Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari; all have corruption allegations against them, but President Buhari has refused to take any action against any of them, rather, he has rewarded them for dipping their filthy hands into the nation’s treasury. This is a man “elected” to fight corruption (Mr Integrity). 

Assuming Buhari didn’t win in 2015, we would have been reminded, time and time again, how we rejected the Messiah who would have solved all Nigeria’s problem through his “body language”. Today, that Messiah is on the throne, and Nigeria has been taken back to the cave era. Even Prof. Soyinka claimed, in 2015, that Nigeria will not survive another four years of Goodluck Jonathan; but today, see how Nigeria is surviving Buhari’s rule. Can anybody compare Jonathan’s years and now (Soyinka has been shamed). Thank God Buhari won in 2015, otherwise, they would have claimed that by now the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram would have been crushed; the economy would have been one of the fastest-growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging 10% annually; all political office holders would have been earning only the salaries and emoluments determined and approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC); all the refineries would have been functioning optimally, and there would have been by now: 

* Stabilization of the naira making it N1 to $1 

* Reduction of fuel price to N45 

* Free education at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions 

* Public declaration of assets and liabilities 

* State and community policing 

* Ban on all government officials from seeking medical care abroad 

* Implementation of the National Gender Policy, including 35% of appointive positions for women 

* Revival of Ajaokuta steel company 

* Generation, transmission and distribution of at least 20,000 MW of electricity – 24/7 uninterrupted power supply 

* Empowerment scheme to employ 740,000 graduates across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory 

* Establishment of a free-tuition and scholarship scheme for pupils who have shown exceptional aptitude in science subjects at O/Levels to study ICT-related courses. 

* About 9. 720,000 jobs created 

* Provision of allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members for Twelve (12) months while in the skills and entrepreneurial development programme 

* Creation of a Social Welfare Programme, of at least five thousand Naira (N5000), that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens 

* Recruitment and training of at least 100,000 officers into the Nigerian police force 

* One free meal (to include fruits) daily, for public primary school pupils 

* Eradication of state of origin, replacing that with state of residence to ensure Nigerians are Nigerians first before anything else 

* Establishment of crime squad to combat terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, militants, ethno-religious and communal clashes nationwide 

* The establishment of a conflict resolution commission to help prevent, mitigate and resolve civil conflicts within the polity 

* Permanent peace in the Niger Delta and other conflict-prone areas such as Plateau, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno, and Abia States 

* No plans to Islamize Nigeria 

* At least one functioning airport in each of the 36 states 

* The establishing at least six new universities of science and technology with satellite campuses in various states 

* Increase in the number of physicians from 19 per 1000 population to 50 per 1000 

* Increase in national health expenditure per person per annum to about N50, 000 (from less than N10, 000 currently) 

* Increase in the quality of all federal government-owned hospitals to world-class standard 

* Timely payment of retirement benefits for all pensioned senior citizens and creating a poverty safety net for all aged citizens above the age of 65 

* Etc 

Buhari is here, and have delivered none of the above. Now, nobody is telling us “what Buhari would have done if he had won”. The Guardian, in its “Thank God Buhari won 2015 election”, not only wrote that if Buhari had not won in 2015, there would have been uncontrollable violence that would have been triggered by his supporters’ spontaneous reactions throughout the country; but……

By Temple Ubochi

Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this article is solely the responsibility of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The image is taken from the internet and assumed to be in the public domain. If this breaches the copyrighted material, kindly note that the break of the copyright is not intentional and non-commercial. The copyrighted material in question will be removed upon request and presentation of proof in that case, please contact me via the following email: nzeikay@gmail.com; enquiry@nzeikayblog.com 

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