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10022018 - 2019 : How we'll stop Buhari - Opposition parties

Vanguard Newspaper 10 january 2018

20—SATURDAY Vanguard,

20—SATURDAY Vanguard, FEBRUARY 10, 2018 lisa Metuh is, ordinarily, a man Oof swagger. May affliction not befall us. He came into the court a few days ago strapped to stretcher, draped in hospital white. And tongues started wagging. I wish him a speedy recovery. Some tongues threw curses into the air for anyone who would compel such a sick man to come to court in an ambulance. Others read it differently. They saw deception and mischief. And they took to laceration and ridicule. They told of remarkable acting ability and a potential Oscar award. The pictures, from every angle,were sensational, scandalous. The multiplicity of what they evoked revealed a society riven by ethnic, religious and partisan allegiances and stuck in pervasive corruption and emotionality. I have surveyed a diversity of reactions. A friend, a senior lawyer, perhaps possessed by ethnic fervour, threw a sentimental poser at me. He wanted to know if the sick man were an Ibrahim Mohammed if he would have been so badly dehumanized? I reminded him that Justice Abang is a meticulous judge. He is not a descendant of Othman Danfodio. Fulani herdsmen didn’t hound the sick man to court. He threw his chin up in derision. He seemed fed up with what he considered as my insufferable naivety. He said Metuh was treated like a second class citizen. A former classmate, a gynecologist, wondered why Justice Abang rejected a valid medical report and ordered Metuh to be brought to court. He was insistent Abang should have deferred to Metuh’s doctors in matters of a patient’s fitness to attend court. He said the judge could have set up a medical panel to ascertain Metuh’s true health status if the medical report lacked reliability. I understood his reasons and his professional sentiments. But he didn’t channel his anger properly. Nigerian doctors sell medical reports. Nigerian politicians feign illnesses to fool judges and avoid trials. Medical panels are costly and cumbersome. Judges can’t therefore be blamed for being vigilant. They can’t curb corruption if they remained aloof to these contexts realities. Judges usually defer to the medical opinions of medical doctors. But medical reports are by law not sacrosanct. Every big man charged with offenses bordering on corruption takes The 48th annual World Economic Forum, WEF in Davos-Klosters, the mountainous Alpine resort of Graubünden Canton, eastern Switzerland took place from January 23 to 26,2018. Leaders from all walks of life come together at the beginning of the year to rededicate themselves to improving the state of the world. This year’s programme was on “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” Many of the participants identified the fractures and were concerned about making the difference. One wondered whether it was possible to have a shared future in a growing world of inequality with the global wealth concentrated in the hands of less than one percent elite of the over 7 billion world population. And typical in mortal combat, it may not matter too many of the world most powerful, the extravagant and almost tasteless display of wealth as witnessed in the recent WEF. The richest in glitzy, glamorous and status symbols shows, were airlifted in over one thousand private jets causing heavy traffic in the Swiss skies in the week-long meeting. There are now genuine fears that the global commons who cannot protect itself would become intolerant and cause global instability. The social contract between states and their citizens continues to erode with perceptions of leaders’ inaction. Forum organisers believe participation by world leaders epitomizes the collegial Spirit of Davos to change the geostrategic narratives on multiple fronts. Out of the 14 system initiatives, shaping the future of energy and the future of environment and natural resource security dominated discourses this year. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s speech, which apparently Olisa Metuh and the predicament of the crayf yfish ill. They all take ill, and routinely seek leave of court for medical treatment abroad. Once that leave is granted, the big man who is already on bail, elopes. I have sympathy for Olisa Metuh, because he appears to be truly very ill. It doesn’t matter that some have said that they saw him everywhere during Ekwueme’s funeral a few days ago, looking legitimately, hale and hearty. People can fall ill even after marathon partying. But who can then blame the judge? The bad eggs in medical practice can truncate nearly all corruption prosecutions by issuing dodgy reports. These medical reports and death certificates are sold for small fees. The problem is that the court’s insistence to see Metuh perhaps didn’t ultimately yield anything. Any politician who cannot play a little Nollywood role before a judge to stall his corruption trial is not from Nigeria. But I believe Metuh is ill. Every big man charged with offenses bordering on corruption takes ill. They all take ill, and routinely seek leave of court for medical treatment abroad. Once that leave is granted, the big man who is already on bail, elopes A man exasperated with the anticorruption agenda of this government asked a good question. He wanted to know why Metuh was even being prosecuted. Metuh was given money to run some errands by his boss. His boss has not lodged any complaints with the police. His boss is alive, well, ubiquitous and noisy. The money given poor Olisa Metuh by his boss was the sort of money his boss was expected to own. Yes, in Nigeria. That boss got many billions during his presidential campaigns’ fundraiser. The EFCC, however, insists that the money given Metuh was stolen from the public purse. But it couldn’t conceivably have been in Metuh’s contemplation that the boss stole from the public to fund his elections. Poor Metuh was not expected to have asked his boss about the source of the money before running the errand. It was suggested that if Metuh had returned the money he would have received instant salvation. But how could Metuh have returned money that had been spent. And why can’t EFCC bring in his boss to explain why he gave an innocent poor Metuh stolen money. Metuh had once looked up to the hills and cried to the judge to invite his boss. So that his boss could come and tell the court the whole truth. The court listened and summoned his boss. His boss avoided court summons. Poor Metuh has been left to grapple with and languish in the long arms of the law. His boss has remained an exuberant hero. And Metuh has been left crumpled like crayfish. Metuh has never been a coward. But circumstances can force a man to eat written statements and adopt timidity. Metuh was a mere Davos forum 2018 and fossil fuels opened the summit, identified climate change as the number one threat to civilisation and called for more wealth transfers from rich countries in order to help poorer nations adopt appropriate technologies for reducing climate emissions. Many knew the angle Modi was coming from. His submission was a precursor to intellectual debates on global warming and climate change. Some experts were able to canvass but not able to foist the widely held view that burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) makes the earth a hotter place. Selling the apparent threat of climate change became half the battle as it coincided with the period when many United States cities experienced gelid weather of extreme cold temperatures in minuses that never occurred since 1884. According to Weather.com, Flint, in Michigan, set its all-time record-low temperature for December of 18, degrees below zero. Davos also had extreme cold. But an Australian science writer Joanne Nova, in a counter, submitted that extreme cold is just weather but all heat waves are climate change and human attribution. Whether a battle of wits, there styled was discordant synchrony in the fossil fuel campaign among political leaders especially between America and members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD led by France. Trump was not under anybody’s thumb, but some experts believed his slight comment in Davos was a retroflection on his America First mantra to: “America First does not mean America alone.” But he was clear that the United States lifted self-imposed restrictions on energy production to provide affordable power to America and to promote energy security for American allies globally. Trump had imposed a fouryear tariff on imported solar cells and modules. Trump was clear that America’s foes Russia should not hold others hostage as an assumed single provider of energy. Energy Secretary Rick Perry earlier said that the United States shale production will not be a spoiler of global oil and natural gas prices in 2018 and was hopeful that unconventional production is sustainable in the long-term. The belief as portrayed was that America was freeing up their allies around the world with energy choices, and letting them know that there were no strings attached in buying American gas. It The bad eggs in medical practice can truncate nearly all corruption prosecutions by issuing dodgy reports. These medical reports and death certificates are sold for small fees. The problem is that the court’s insistence to see Metuh perhaps didn’t ultimately yield anything messenger. But Metuh has been called names and labeled a traitor because he wanted his boss to come to court and tell the truth. They said he had joined opponents to rubbish his boss and expose him to ridicule. So what options are left for Metuh but to fold up and bear the heat alone. Nigerians say circumstances must explain the bent posture of crayfish. Metuh has stooped to overcome. He is no coward. Some have insinuated that Metuh was taking cowardly refuge in Nollywood and exploiting hospital games. May God have mercy on Thomases. May we not have bosses who have big hats and small balls. The gynecologist had warned that if the refusal of the court to recognize the authority of medical reports gained currency it could jeopardize the health of sick accused persons. I understood his point. Everyone is innocent until found guilty. But there is a bigger picture. All should be equal before the law. But we tend remember the rule of law only when the offender is rich and powerful. Politicians will steal big. And will readily meet any bail conditions. The poor petty thief steals small and remains powerless. He never meets his bail conditions. He is remanded in prison custody. The prison doctor comes to work when he likes. The poor inmate on remand for theft takes ill and cannot get a referral. Prison doctors sell referrals. The price of a referral in Kirikiri prison , in 2013, was 250,000 naira after exhaustive haggling. So the poor suspect stays locked in, sick to his bones. No one would remember him and his fundamental human rights. No one would talk about rule of law. Perhaps we should learn to bother more about the poor than the rich. The rich do not need our cries. They can always fend for themselves. Out of the 14 system initiatives, shaping the future of energy and the future of environment and natural resource security dominated discourses this year was obvious Trump did not lose focus on his America First Energy Plan on fossil fuels that drilling benefits outweigh environmental worries. President Emmanuel Macron on the other hand was more concerned about the consequences of fossil fuels and believed the world was losing the battle on climate change targeted by the Paris agreement. He promised that France will shut down all coal-fired power stations by 2021. President Macron called on the EU to create a floor price for CO2 in its first carbon trading market to discourage its use in 619 coal-powered plants in Europe. France and India have courted themselves in the International Solar Alliance, ISA, and a techno-political romance to facilitate large-scale deployment of solar energy in 121 countries in the tropics by aggregating the demand for funding, technology and innovation. Developed countries commitment was to contribute US$100 billion annually from 2020 to mitigate climate change impacts in developing countries. The deliberations were adjudged by organisers as unmatched, being a global policy initiative to engage leaders in peer-to-peer working sessions. The Forum acts as a catalyst for major bridgebuilding efforts to further global peace and reconciliation as well as create awareness in latest economic and sociopolitical trends. C M Y K

Imagine you were in your 30s, had doctorate degrees in a couple of disciplines which gave you a prestigious and comfortable lifestyle in an American University. You were single and therefore devoid of distractions in an environment that would allow you to fulfil your academic and social potentials. More significantly, you were a black person from Africa where diseases ravaged, poverty ravaged, crime ravaged, corruption ravaged and had been lucky to escape all these into a different clime where freedom and opportunities beckoned. Would the images of Africa, the documentaries on Africa that the media constantly aired give you a sense of relief that you had escaped the throes of war, insecurity and hunger which the continent increasingly represented or would they haunt and make you question the meaning of your life? Would you deem it wise to give up the shoes many covet and go back to the very place thousand were dying to escape from? This however, is not a hypothetical story. It is the story of Rev. Fr. Godfrey Nzamujo, a Dominican priest. By 1983 while still in his 30s, he had obtained doctorate degrees in Electronics, Microbiology and Developmental Science and was ensconced in the comfort and security of university life as a professor. But it was at a time famine was raging in Ethiopia and the pictures of children with sunken eyes and bloated stomachs filled the international media. The pictures haunted Fr. Nzamujo and eventually challenged him. He was quoted as saying ‘The stories coming out of Africa challenged my values as a Priest, an Academic and as a Developmental Scientist. I knew Africa to be rich with vast resources everywhere. The fact that Africa had become so poor that it needed aid to survive upset me and I felt I needed to show the world a different Africa.’ His vision was to kick poverty out of Africa with dignity through industry. In choosing the name Songhai to drive his vision, he chose to remember the history of the West African region as a powerful and economically stable zone. He also noted the core values It is now understandable why some senior officials of the Muhammadu Buhari administration were agitated when they got news of plans by the Benue State government to give the 73 victims of the herdsmen attack a televised mass burial. Hours before the mass funeral of the victims on January 11, very high-level officials in the Presidential Villa Abuja through telephone calls tried to persuade Governor Samuel Ortom to call off the mass burial, but their efforts were stoutly rebuffed. The only concession was to cancel the nationwide live television coverage of the burial. What the presidency officials feared most now seems to be materialising with the venue of the mass burial in Makurdi turning into a damaging political testimonial against the All Progressives Congress, APC federal administration given the increasing pilgrimage to the site by political fortune hunters. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who just months ago was in feisty combat with Governor Ortom visited the burial site last Wednesday and dropped N200 million for the care of the refugees from the herdsmen attacks. He was followed on Thursday, by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State who also visited the burial site and left his donation of N10 million. Remarkably, President Buhari was also on Tuesday in the neighbouring state, Nasarawa where he went to commission among other signature projects, a secondary school built by the state administration. A man dares to change the stor ory y of Africa that had contributed to the emergence of the civilisation of West Africa; namely vision, courage, creativity, discipline and a sense of community. This was in the days of the Songhai Empire. This history of West Africa which dated over a thousand years, had been broken but he felt it could be fixed again through integrated and sustainable agriculture. He also felt the land which had been abused and damaged through indiscriminate use of chemicals could be rejuvenated again. His ultimate goal was a holistic integration of bio-energy, aqua-culture and crop production to develop human, technical, environmental and financial resources throughout Africa. He also wanted to develop people who would have the vision, motivation and capabilities to actualise this goal for Africa. It was a tall order. One that met with resistance everywhere even within his family members and country. The biblical saying of ‘A prophet is not without honour save in his own country’ which Fr. Godfrey must know very well as a priest, became more than true in his case. After being turned down by Nigeria, he went to Benin, a tiny neighbourhood country which started him off with a mere hectare of land. That hectare yielded bountiful fruits literally and figuratively. Songhai soon became a pride to Benin, a pride to West Africa and a pride to Africa. One hectare yielded 22 hectares in Porto Novo and became a mother farm birthing 150 and 300 hectares in other parts of Benin Republic. It also now has franchises in 15 African countries with Nigeria leading the pack. The rejected stone had become the corner stone of Africa’s agricultural developments. I had heard of Songhai before and Buhari’s Benue blues While the death of a single person is something that is extremely saddening, emerging truth is that the spate of recent killings by herdsmen may not have been wholly restricted to Benue. Similar killings and sometimes even more monstrous killings are alleged to have also taken place in Taraba, Zamfara, Adamawa and to a lesser extent on the Plateau. But how Nigeria turned into a killing field in an administration headed by a general with a famed reputation for law and order is a saddening commentary on the failed expectation of many Nigerians from the Buhari No one has won the presidential election in Nigeria since Shehu Shagari without winning Benue State SATURDAY Vanguard, , FEBRUARY 10, 2018—21 longed to visit. What I discovered when I found myself as part of a tour group jointly organised by Hadur and Glaf —the former is a tourist agency while the latter is a farm—fascinated and impressed me. To start with, it is difficult not only to keep a dream alive but also to make it grow year in year out. It takes grit, determination and grace. According to our guide, the Songhai experiment is an experiment in determination, organisation and discipline. These are some of the qualities needed in order for Africa to stand up and be counted. Songhai encourages people to develop themselves using the resources available to them. But as I toured the different areas of Songhai in search of knowledge I could not help but observe workers working at their own pace. Some were leisurely while some really applied themselves. It made me think of the attitude of African workers to work. It also made me think of the challenges of a motivated workforce. I thought of the vastness of the farm and what it would require in terms of security to prevent pilferage. This inevitably made me think of the periods of frustration and the number of times Fr. Godfrey would have felt like packing it all in. I thought of the inevitable sacrifice that gave birth to this oasis in the African desert; this spot of light in the African darkness and I am glad he didn’t give up because of the hope it has given to many. Many have tried to replicate the Songhai experiment and have failed even with the help of Songhai personnel because it takes more than money and lip service. It takes passion, discipline, motivation and a burning desire to offer this kind of administration. With the Tuesday visit of the president to neighbouring Nasarawa State and the irritating comments by some of the administration’s senior officials, notably, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and defence minister, Brig. Gen. Mansur Ali (rtd.), it is not surprising that many in Benue are expressing a feeling of abandonment. Even though Wike, Fayose and recent PDP visitors to the APC controlled Benue may have dressed up their visits as essentially humanitarian, there is no doubt that the visitors were also not unmindful of making political capital from the foibles of the APC leadership in Abuja. How the rage plays out in the political arena is one thing that those monitoring events from the Presidential Villa and the stream of PDP visitors are hoping to swing to their benefit. The pilgrimages to Benue underline the key position of the state in national politics. No one has ever won The stories coming out of Africa challenged my values as a Priest, an Academic and as a Developmental Scientist. I knew Africa to be rich with vast resources everywhere. The fact that Africa had become so poor that it needed aid to survive upset me and I felt I needed to show the world a different Africa service to mankind. Songhai has become a Mecca of sorts to people. Some visit as a place of spiritual retreat, some, a place to honeymoon; and judging from the number of expatriates I saw milling around, a tourist attraction. But actually, Songhai is a school— principally of agriculture, but also of life. Over 300 students within the ages of 18 to 35 graduate every year after spending 15 months learning the theoretical, practical and business sides of farming. The idea is to plant good seeds into these youths in the hope that some of the seeds will fall on fertile minds and germinate. This is in addition to those who do sandwich courses. To me however, Songhai is first of all about nature—the relationship between air, water and plants. It is about using research and technology to maximise your resources—almost everything used at the centre is made within it with water being filtered and recycled through hyacinth, a plant we have not been able to find a worthy use for in Nigeria. Songhai is about a man who re-examined his values and was determined to grow beyond his personal needs. A man who found a purpose for his life and defined success his own way. Finally, Songhai is about what is possible in Africa. An apt summary of the Songhai story is: “Head, Heart and Hands.” On second thoughts, start with “Mind.” the presidential election in Nigeria since Shehu Shagari without winning Benue State. The killings and the belated Federal Government response have also reopened the bitterness among some of the Tiv population whose vote helped to swing the state for the APC in 2015. They now recollect that after their massive vote for the APC, that the key appointments from Abuja including the ministerial slot went to the Idoma who ironically voted for the PDP. Nonetheless, for the first time in a long while, the suspicions that cloud political permutations of the Tiv and the Idoma are being put aside as the two dominant ethnic groups join hands together in collective mourning. The political fallouts will be consequential if a formidable opposition to the APC materialises ahead of 2019. Ortom did the near impossible in December 2014, when he won the APC governorship ticket within two weeks of his defection from the PDP. In his first two years in office, his failure to clear the arrears of salaries owed civil servants almost destroyed his political sagacity. It was thus not surprising that almost a year ago, he endorsed Buhari for a second term, maybe believing that he would ride on the president’s coattails to his own second term. Now with the president’s political capital greatly diminished in the state, the governor has been quick to move with the sentiments of his people. He has even regained his political balance. What it means for Buhari is another thing! C M Y K