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Yobe’s Strange Politics



Yobe’s strange politics

By Muhammad Babande

As the 2019 elections draw near, no one should be surprised about how far some people can go – or how low they can stoop – to cook up all manner of stories just to advance their political interests. This is even more so in a democracy like ours where desperation sometimes holds sway in the contest for political space.
This is the sense in which I deciphered an opinion article under the above title in the Premium Times written by one Adam M. Jajimaji.

Desperate to make a case among people who may not be fully aware of the details, the writer reeled out economic indices about Yobe that are generic to much of Nigeria. That Yobe is one of the poorest states in the country and that most of its people are poor is, for a long time, ‘received’ economic wisdom.
What Adam Jajimaji shielded from view is the tremendous effort that Governor Ibrahim Geidam is making, over the past several years, to improve those indices and bring about a better Yobe for all its people. The writer’s cynical claim that “if the people cannot get good roads, good schools, quality accessible healthcare and potable drinking water, at least they should be able to exercise their rights in freely choosing their leaders, without fear or intimidation”, therefore, deliberately conflates the issues and ignores what the people know to be true.
It is true, for instance, that Governor Geidam has built over a thousand kilometres of road across the state. From Kanamma to Yusufari, Gadaka to Godowoli and Damaturu to Buni-Yadi, people daily ply the roads that have been built by the governor. If the writer is in doubt, he should go ask the people who ply the road between Gashu’a and Yusufari towns and he will learn how God-sent is Governor Geidam to them for making them cover in thirty minutes what used to take them a whole day in the sand dunes of the Sahara.
That the governor has built a new teaching hospital and a new college of medical sciences to train Yobe’s crop of medical doctors and improve its healthcare sector also holds true. The hospitals in Potiskum, Gashu’a and Geidam are also being remodelled and equipped to serve people in the three senatorial zones of the state and make quality, affordable care within their reach.
It is true, also, that following Boko Haram’s relentless attacks on Yobe’s schools, Governor Geidam has invested several billions of naira to retrofit primary and secondary schools to improve teaching and learning. Only recently, GSS Fika, GSS Nangere, GSS Gwio-Kura, GSS Yunusari and GGSS Nguru were fully resumed.

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Of Goose, Justice and Equality

By Hassan Gimba

 “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.” – Ernesto Che Guevara.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King.

 There is an English proverb that says “what is good for the goose is good for the gander”. Its older version is “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Basically it means what is right for one person is equally suitable for the other.

 It is a proverb full of meanings. But it all dwells on justice and the impartiality of the law. Justice cannot be selective because selective justice cannot take societies towards stability. That form of justice itself is injustice. Equitable treatment is, without doubt, a prerequisite for ensuring justice.

 There are many cases of selective justice in this country that sometimes you wonder if those behind them are well at all. There have been many instances of flip-flops that draw the discerning to query if we are equal before the law as it should be. Or the law is just being used to subdue the already downtrodden into compliance further. Lack of proper education has already dealt a blow to a majority of the citizenry, making them flawed and docile. Though when they react, it is always volatile.

 Our rulers know that we are people with selective amnesia. So they play with us, hiding the iniquities of their class against the nation whenever appropriate. Just recently our judicial system regaled us with cases of Siemens and Haliburton and Dasukigate with some of the culprits coming to courtrooms in wheelchairs. Where are they and what is the status of the cases?

 We no longer talk of our Chibok girls or Sadiq Ogwuche, the man who masterminded the bombing of Nyanya in the FCT on April 14, 2014, in which at least 88 Nigerians perished and over 200 others injured. Even recently, there were explosive revelations at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) but, well, just as we have not heard anything about the promised NNPC audit, so this case too might have gone with the wind. The failure to pursue cases of the infringement of the law only breeds more lawbreakers. At the end of it all, the government may lose control, and the nation will end up the loser. We are gradually seeing what Latin American countries went through in the 80s and 90s that made the world regard them as Banana Republics.

 While not pursuing justice is a recipe for disaster, inequality before the law breeds malcontents and feeling of not being treated with fairness. A nation is to its citizens what a father is to his children. Just like a father is expected to hide his preferences and treat his children equally, a nation should treat its citizens with equality and fairness, irrespective of any natural or assumed differences. Death is death, and I see no reason why powers that be can stand still for a dead minister’s and not for over forty slain citizens.

 But unfortunately, Nigeria is a country that seems to be in love with inequality before the law. What is good for the goose here is never good for the gander. Take the case of Senator Ali Ndume and Rasheed Maina. Though different courts and different judges, something like that has happened which should have been a precedent. Senators Abaribe and Ekweremadu were instrumental in bailing Nnamdi Kanu, the irredentist.

 You see, left me to me, both senators should stew in their juice. Why should a senator of the federal republic bail a man seeking the dismemberment of his country or one who took from it, for himself, billions that could be of benefit to millions? Why should even the courts set, among its bail conditions, the presence of a senator in such cases? A distinguished citizen of the federal republic bailing a separatist or a suspected thief? Haba!

 Senator Ndume has been given bail after a few days, for ‘good conduct’, though. While I am happy for him, however, one may ask, how many inmates can be so rewarded for good behaviour even if they genuflect to everyone that passes them in the jailhouse?

 We can only get it right as a nation when we treat everyone with equality. Our judicial system and law custodians must also treat people with equality concerning their crimes. An instance that need not leave the consciousness of good citizens has to do with a comparison between Shiites in Zaria and #EndSARS protesters. The Shiites were terminated in numbers by the army for blocking a road. In contrast, the #EndSARS protesters who blocked streets in Abuja for days got treated with awe. Was it an oversight, travesty of justice or just selective application of the law, assuming there is a law that says blocking of roads attracts summary execution? Some said it was because they touched the chest of a General. But a General, even though newly retired, was killed and cannibalised elsewhere without any retribution. So, where is equality before the law? Take note; I am not saying there should be retribution in the latter case. No breach of the law or extrajudicial killing is excusable.

Dr Hauwa Mahdi, a former lecturer at the Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, before going to be a senior at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, tried to answer this. She argued that “by the content of Sharia in Zamfara State, one can see where the new elite lays its emphasis: to threaten the poor and women to consent to their will. The point will be made by juxtaposing two kinds of theft and the punishment for each today. The Zamfara Sharia law says:

 “Whoever commits the offence of theft punishable with hadd shall be punished with amputation of the right hand from the joint of the wrist; [when he/she has had their two hands and feet amputated, they shall] for the fifth or subsequent thefts…be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year.”

 In the application of this law, it seems the critical phrase in the definition of the crime is “movable property”, which led to the amputation of Buba Jangebe’s right hand. Two further clauses of this section could have been used if the Judges in the case of Jangabe had wanted to. It says amputation should be staved off “(c) Where the offence was committed under circumstances of necessity, and the offender did not take more than he ordinarily required to satisfy his need or the need of his dependents”.

 As Abubakar and others had shown, before the new Sharia came into effect, millions of Nigerians suffered from poverty, illiteracy and exclusion. Given the burden of Jangebe’s poverty, did he deserve that punishment for the theft of one cow? Or was the intention of the elite merely to frighten the citizens of Zamfara into silence?

 The punishments for those “entrusted with property or with any dominion over property” who breach that trust is mentioned in Sections 161 and 165. The first says: “Whoever dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his use any movable property, commits criminal misappropriation”. The second says: “Whoever commits criminal breach of trust shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years or with fine or with both”. In the Zamfara Sharia Law, there is no instance where the misappropriation of public wealth invites any punishment which exceeds 15 years.

 For example, Section 295. For a public servant dishonestly receiving money or property not due, the clause states that they “shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall be liable to caning which may extend to twenty lashes”. Thus, although the value of what might have been ‘stolen’ may be much higher than in what is defined as theft, the offender who converts to his benefit in the case of breaching public trust only gets a prison sentence while the other thief loses her/his limb for life.

 Much Ado About Black Friday

 Friday, in countries such as ours that adopt Sunday as the first day of the week, is the sixth and penultimate day of the week. It derives its name from Frigg, the wife of Odin. Odin is a widely revered god in Germanic mythology and paganism. In Norse mythology, Frigg, Freya or Friia, the wife of Odin and mother of Balder, was a promoter of marriage and fertility. (Any relationship with why some Muslim marriages take place on Fridays?). Frigg was known to other Germanic peoples as Frija (in German) and Frea. Whatever it is, her name survives in English today in the word Friday.

 The term “Black Friday” dates back to Friday, September 24, 1869, when the US gold market crashed, and Wall Street barons went bankrupt. Fisk and Gould’s actions left Wall Street barons bankrupt. Jim Fisk and Jay Gould, two Wall Street financiers, had bought large quantities of US gold hoping to make huge profits when prices soar.

 Then in the 1950s, police officers in Philadelphia linked Black Friday to the post-Thanksgiving of the period. In America, the day after Thanksgiving has been the unofficial beginning of the holiday season since the late 19th century when President Abraham Lincoln designated the Thanksgiving holiday as the last Thursday in November. Large crowds of tourists and shoppers came to the city the day after Thanksgiving for the Army-Navy football game, creating chaos, traffic jams and shoplifting opportunities. And because they couldn’t take the day off, working long shifts to control the rough-and-tumble, they used the term “Black Friday” to refer to it.

 Therefore, with all the shopping activities taking place the Friday after Thanksgiving, the day became one of the most profitable days of the year for retailers and businesses. At that time, accountants used black to signify profit when recording each day’s book entries (and red to indicate a loss). Therefore, the day became known as Black Friday or the day when retailers see positive earnings and profits “in the black.”

 To encourage more people to shop, retailers began to offer deep discounts only available on that day. On the other hand, Black Friday becomes a day when consumers can save big money on a variety of items, from appliances to shoes.

 Friday is, therefore, not an Islamic name because it is the name of the wife of a pagan god. Black Friday was also not coined with Islam or Muslims in mind.

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Of ASUU, Fintiri and Self- Control



Of ASUU, Fintiri and self-control

By Hassan Gimba
[email protected], 09029880064

Two issues have spurred me today. The first may have some significant risks, but the second is undoubtedly risky. Firstly, I want to lend my voice to the ongoing imbroglio between the federal government and university teachers’ union, otherwise known as ASUU.

It is unfortunate enough that the grass, in this context, university students, have been at the receiving end of this unending brabble between these two elephants: one a mighty imperious federal government and the other, a vital lecturers’ union. For sure, there has been no government since 1999 that has shown willingness to bow to ASUU or give education the sort of budget the United Nations’ prescribed. Conversely, there has been no ASUU administration since then that has not called out its members to drop the chalk.

It is on record the current federal government, on its way to defeating an incumbent in 2015, promised to make our education sector the envy of all. Perhaps ideas or perceptions change when one is in government. Perhaps when out of government, one views things from a dreamy, above-the-cloud idealistic prism that turns into smoke with the reality of being in power and looking at things from a better angle. Perhaps that was why between 2015 and 2019 the government and ASUU were never on the same page. This is even though, as an-out-of-government current affairs analyst, the minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu, was the best friend ASUU could have.

But in government, the friendship between the minister and ASUU has been strained because they have never been able to reach a common ground. When 2015 to 2019 ministers – even though it is almost the same set now on board – were thanking the president during their valedictory meeting with him in May last year, Malam Adamu told the president: “This is very important; I hope this occupies your mind, the next cabinet and perhaps the party. The ministry of education should not get less than N1 trillion.”

Two years earlier, at a retreat, the presidency held for ministers, the minister had called on the president to declare a state of emergency on education in Nigeria and to increase the government’s investment in the sector substantially. Lamenting that education was seriously underfunded in Nigeria when compared to other sub-Saharan African countries, he asserted that the government must spend more to achieve its goals as a change government. He was adamant that to meet the 13 campaign promises the president made to Nigerians on education, the government needed to spend at least one trillion naira yearly on the sector.

For sure, those currently in government and the ASUU leadership enjoyed the best of education Nigeria could give her citizens in their time. From close to free meals, accommodation and tuition, the libraries, workshops and laboratories were up to date. Therefore they all know what ought to be obtainable in the universities.

However, I want to think there is too much reliance on the government that is busy looking for the funds to service its handlers. If Nigerians, in most cases, provide for themselves what the government should, ASUU must devise ways to sustain and improve the university system through partnerships with corporate bodies, multinational organisations and individuals.

Understandably because they are overwhelmed each year by applicants, they do not court applicants which first-class universities all over the world do, including giving scholarships to top brains. Over-reliance on easy money from the government has made the universities tepid. Advanced countries rely on universities for their breakthroughs in various fields.

It is high time they took the matter by the scruff of the neck and treated education the way it should be. We have seen universities owned and run by Nigerians with almost a hundred per cent Nigerian student population thriving in neighbouring countries. But many believe that were those universities to be uprooted from the ground they are sited and brought to Nigeria, they would flounder. And in retrospect, were one to be taken out of here and transplanted abroad, it would prosper.

ASUU must see to it that Nigerian universities become self-sustaining. It is the only way out. And that is only possible through consultancies, innovations, manufacturing, floating various businesses, etc. These are easily achievable through meaningful partnerships. But as long as the university system remains wet-nursed from the government’s feeding bottle, then the FG-ASUU dogfight will linger unabated. And with such brawls almost all the time, it is only our education sector that will keep on nose-diving and our youths’ future put in peril. This reminds one of a Nigerian university lecturer who went to America to teach in a primary school but had to be disengaged because they said he had learning disabilities.

Having a self-sustaining university system will guarantee real growth, make the universities come up with first-class researches and innovations and propel them into the class of elite institutions of learning. We will have graduates that will answer their names, and the nation will have a solid foundation for development.

One of the best and most potent advertisements of the 80s, which became an icon of advertising creativity, was the one by Pirelli, a world-leading Tyre Company. In 1994, adopting the slogan “Power is Nothing Without Control”, the company’s successful advertising campaign showed legendary American athlete Carl Lewis – a multiple Olympic gold medallist – as a sprinter on the starting blocks wearing soon-to-be-legendary red stilettos. However, the significance of the ad is what matters because it was telling us that without a moderating influence, power can be more destructive than constructive without sparing even the person wielding it.

It is in this respect that the second issue I want to talk about comes in. This, of course, is at the risk of a threatening phone call which may be backed by action. Yet, I want to call on Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri to exercise control over his executive powers as the governor of Adamawa State. He was speaker of the state’s House of Assembly and acted as the governor of the state for a time. Therefore, he is not a newcomer to political power, and it is not expected that he would descend so low as to make threatening phone calls to antagonists.

At the peak of the mayhem that led to the looting of palliatives in the state, a state stakeholder, one Gambo Bello Nakura had accused the governor of complacency. Riled by such accusations, Governor Fintiri, in an audio message that went viral, called Nakura and the exchange that followed was not dignifying of his exalted office. Steven Maduwa, his associate, followed suit by threatening to slaughter Tom Garba, a journalist in the state!

Now, as with everything about us, or with power universally, some associates read the body language of the leader and then act accordingly. Some don the characteristics of the principal and behave likewise. For us, it is to do more with some pre-colonial behaviour which is still with us. We do not question our traditional elite; in some instances, they are treated like demigods. They can confiscate any man’s wife or land and woe betide anybody who dared to question their actions for people will accuse him of insulting “a God-sent leader”.

Our political actors have taken over leadership now. Yet a political office is a great honour that comes with significant responsibilities. The well-being of everyone is tied to the mindset and mentality of officeholders. No one who cannot control the power associated with it or hold their tongues when necessary deserves to lead. This possibly is why many people, including Professor Thomas Adeoye Lambo, OBE (March 29, 1923 – March 13, 2004), have suggested mental checks on those desiring to contest for political offices.

Lambo, a Nigerian scholar, administrator and psychiatrist, is credited as the first west-trained psychiatrist in Nigeria and Africa. He worked at the World Health Organization between 1971 and 1988, rising to become the agency’s Deputy Director-General. He suggested that “all political leaders should be subjected to an annual psychiatric examination while they remain in office”.

Professor Wole Soyinka amplified the professor’s opinion in 2006. The Nobel Laureate advocated an annual psychiatric test for those at the helm of affairs to determine their state of mind. In a paper entitled: ‘Thinking The Unthinkable’, Soyinka recalled the former WHO Deputy Director’s recommendation and said: “Most nations recognise the sad fragility of the human mind, and understand that even the mind of political geniuses can break under strain, that the latent seeds of insanity in all of us may actually come to bloom under the strain of existence, how much more when burdened with the enormity of power.”

Someone once said that “madness, with all its variants, is a familiar, though often imprecise affliction. It is a favourite weapon of the gods – as in the myths of Pentheus and Dionysus, Nebuchadnezzar and others – whose fates were couched in that ancient saying: whom the gods will destroy, they first make mad”.

But the question in the minds of all reasonable people is, should people bear the brunt of their leaders’ insanity, or should they be spared that before the havoc is done? It will be a good idea to enact a law that prescribes the psychological evaluation of aspirants before they even become candidates. However, in the interim, it will also not be out of place if governors can set up a mechanism for peer review and peer counselling.

Former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, then Nigerian Governors’ Forum’s chair, worked tirelessly to institute a culture of peer review among states to enhance even development. Still, his colleagues were not interested in leadership accountability. Under the scheme, all the governors were to visit every state to assess the developmental efforts of the governors and how they were tackling challenges, which they could learn from or emulate. He started with his state, but after visiting Anambra State, all the other governors chickened out. They wanted to behave as they liked with their states’ resources. They didn’t want any control – in the form of discharging the responsibility of responsible governance – on the enormous power they wielded.

Some people can apparently be overwhelmed by the power to the extent that they cannot control themselves. Such people will ultimately be a curse to the people they lead rather than a blessing.

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Resumption of oil exploration, Borno Apc chieftain lauds NNPC



Resumption of oil exploration, Borno APC chieftain lauds NNPC

By Madu Mohammed, Maiduguri

Following the declaration by the Federal Government that oil exploratiin will commence in Borno, A chieftains of the All Progressive Congress (APC), in Borno state Alhaji Yusuf Adamu has commended the Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) for the move to resume oil exploration on the shores of Lake in Borno state.

Alhaji Yusuf Adamu who was also a former staff of the NNPC made the commendation in an interview with neswnen in Maiduguri yesterday said the oil exploration will not only create jobs to the youths but increase the revenue base of the state and federal government.

He said “Well, based on the data collected by the NNPC, there is traces of hydrocarbon in Borno . The oil exploration was stopped due to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency, but now with the attainment of relative peace in Borno, the resumption of oil exploration is timely,”

Adamu urgued that there is traces of oil and gas in the Lake Chad Basin, adding that the neighboring Chad and Niger republic’s have already gotten oil on their basement.

“Very soon everybody will laugh, as Borno will join the oil producing States.. Chad and Niger republic have gotten oil, we are on the same basement .I assured you that we are on top of oil . There is also gas in commercial quantity. Very soon Borno will became oil producing state just as oil was found on the Benue trough in Bauchi state

It could be recalled that on Thursday the minister for state, Petroleum resources, Timipre Silver, the Group General Manager Director NNPC, Kyari Mele and others officials of the ministry were in Msiduguti where they had a meeting with the the chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, theater commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Faruk Yahaya among others principal officers of the Nigerian Army on how best to commence the exploration.

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