Vanguard Newspaper 03 February 2018
20—SATURDAY Vanguard, MARCH 3, 2018 Dapchi does not call for finger pointing and trading of blames. Dapchi demands clear eyed sober reflection. Dapchi is an unspeakable calamity. One hundred and ten teenage girls snatched from their school by Boko Haram vultures. The nation, four years after Chibok, has failed disastrously to protect children in a school. It’s truly a national disgrace. But we must understand the precariousness of our situation. And we must channel our anger and grief into rescuing the girls and into exterminating the scourge. The odds are stacked against us. The girl child is very vulnerable in our society. Dapchi makes the girl child in northeastern Nigeria especially endangered. Girl child enrollment figures in the north are abysmal. The abduction of girls and their use as pawns would only complicate a terrible situation exacerbate its generational consequences. The abductions must cease. But with Boko Haram alive, technically defeated or terribly degraded, abductions may not go away soon. The insurgents have learnt through Chibok that any mass abduction of girls can be very lucrative. It disseminates fear. It fetches them international publicity. It fetches them sex slaves. It fetches them tons of cash. It retrieves their captured commanders from the clutches of death in prison. It, literally, magically rejuvenates them. And once abducted, it’s always immoral to argue that ransom should not be paid to retrieve the children. A cursory look at the two recent mass abduction incidents reveals that very little effort goes into these abductions. A few trucks, a few guns, one vulnerable school, some innocent girls, no shots fired. So it is not foreseeable that the terrorists can resist the allure of this stratagem. But the country cannot afford the loss and scarring of school children. It cannot stand further erosion of its dignity and international reputation. Neither can it afford the colossal damage to school enrollment figures. We cannot fail to guarantee the safety of girls in schools. Mass abductions of girls must be made prohibitive rather than lucrative. So what can be done? The geographical width of the In military campaigns an operations centre is always created called a war room. It could be called a situation room, command centre or mission control room. It is a room where operations are planned, coordinated, monitored and controlled. Political campaigns are not left out in war rooms as political campaign strategy headquarters are also created for political operatives to plan and execute tactics and strategy. Some war historians believed the German war room failed in World War 1 because of two frontal attacks from the east and west that were never anticipated. From the Western front, the British and French offensives prevented Germans from transferring sufficient forces to the eastern front. Without the troops, the Germans could not shatter the Russian armies to achieved victory. Russia that manned the eastern front used a strategy that worked for them in previous wars of fitting bloody defensive battles as the opportunity offered. As invading armies wasted away Russia’s vast reservoirs of manpower would refill the Russian ranks. It was a strategy that did not work in World War1. The Russian industry was unable to furnish enough weapons or ammunitions to supply the reserve personnel. When strategies fail parties redraft their plans. Could this be the problem the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC faced in the recent fuel scarcity that continually lasted for three months? The NNPC thought that panic buying was the problem until its war room indicated otherwise. Sabotage from some quarters in the marketing and distribution chain was probably not anticipated. NNPC’s strategy to flush volumes and create a Dapchi:The war against Boko Haram must become a Jihad northeast is daunting. The military cannot protect every single school in that region. The military doesn’t have the manpower to hold the ground in every liberated village. And even if it tried to keep soldiers in every school, it would not be effective against a surprise attack by 200 vultures from Boko Haram. So it wouldn’t even matter that 5 soldiers or 20 policemen are posted to every boarding school. So should boarding schools be closed in the northeast? It would be difficult to offer qualitative education in a region of vast sparsely populated terrains without boarding schools. But we can’t have another abduction. Yes, we cant afford it. Yet we cannot afford to close the boarding schools without furthering the aims of a murderous sect that is committed to the eradication of western education. We cannot hide the girls under their fathers’ beds in their homes. So what must we do? We must quieten Boko Haram. But that’s easier said than done. We beat them 100 times, they strike one blow and they win. The odds are always stacked in favor of terrorists. We are particularly vulnerable. We have thousands of kilometers of very porous borders. With Mali and Libya awash with lawlessness and guns, the insurgents replenish with frightening ease. Our soldiers have done well. They have degraded the insurgency. But at some point we must seek a political solution. But we can only do that meaningfully against these insurgents after we have bled them into coma. Because we cannot The youths must be taught that the destruction of Boko Haram isn’t just dignity and survival. It is the will of God meet their main demands of shared sovereignty. So what must we do? Our military has done very well since Buhari came. Our neighbors have given us tremendous support lately. We have decimated the enemy. But we have not managed to cut off the oxygen and food of the cancer. This enemy must be destroyed from within. We must infiltrate Boko Haram. But that is much easier said than done. Most countries that have been afflicted with a religious insurgency of this strain have not managed to eradicate the scourge completely. But I am optimistic that we can. But we must try something unorthodox. We once hired South African mercenaries during the previous government. That raised eyebrows because that regime failed woefully to equip and motivate our own troops. But we have been fighting at probably our full capacity recently. And we thought the insurgency was in the throes of death. Unfortunately, with Dapchi , this war evidently has Fuel scarcity and NNPC war room product glut situation across the country failed in the war room scrutiny. Subsidy claims and non-payment caused scarcity in some circumstances. Former GMDs got consumed in these circumstances and were removed from office. In 2010, the then GMD Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo activated his war room. Under the arrangement, they worked in concert with major oil marketers and depot owners, coordinated the loading of unprecedented volumes of premium motor spirits, PMS, to filling stations throughout the country. The records showed that over 59.1 million litres of fuel was dispatched throughout the country on Thursday, March 4, 2010 using 1792 trucks. On May 12, 2016, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and GMD of NNPC, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, told newsmen in Abuja that the new pump price of N145 for Premium Motor Spirit would help to sustain supply and reduce the suffering to get the product. He said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), did not have the resources to supply the product to meet the demands of the nation. His war room strategy was the movement of pump price from N86 to N145. “The reality is that we are unable to bring the product with the prices we sold before, that is why we see the systemic queues all over the country for a very long time. “I will urge you to trust that we are trying to do what is right and there is no better time to do this other than now under the leadership of President Buhari.” He said that with the NN86.50 pump price of PMS, Federal Government would have been paying subsidy of N13.7 per litre which he added, translated to N16.4 billion monthly. The minister said government could not go on with such funding and had completely removed subsidy and working with the price modulation to get things done right. Some of us doubted him because we knew the problem was beyond products imports and subsidy. The NNPC under Baru inherited the import regime and the challenges necessitated its Fuel the War Room reactivated. Baru said the NNPC was able to find a solution to the recent problem of fuel scarcity by deploying and activating a 24- hour real time monitoring and sustaining a 24 hour loading and sales operations in all depots and acquired a new intractability. We cannot afford more mass abductions of girls. Neither can we afford to balloon the size of our military. We cannot continue to fund this war for much longer. The local tribes in the war areas have suffered too much. 20,000 dead. Thousands upon thousands maimed and fractured. Three million families dislocated and languishing in IDP camps. Home lands laid to waste and abandoned. The fertility and peace of the region consumed by fear, violence and hopelessness. This war must end, somehow, now. The local tribes have given their youths in courageous militias that have helped the military. But they must do more now. They must find more anger and more desperation. They must stab the soul of the insurgency. The youths must be taught that the destruction of Boko Haram isn’t just dignity and survival. It is the will of God. It is His command. It’s counter indoctrination as counter insurgency. God hates the destruction of women and children. God abhors mass rape of girls. God hates destruction of families. And perhaps God hates cowards. So the local traditional rulers and religious leaders must find volunteers. We must announce that volunteers killed by Boko Haram are martyrs. We will take volunteers, train them , indoctrinate them and seed them into Boko Haram recruitment areas. They will serve Boko Haram its own medicine. They will die for their mothers, and sisters . They will die for the nation. They will fight for God. We will read out their names and bestow on them national honors. We will take care of their families. The communities in the affected areas must take their destiny in their hands. Boko Haram must be destroyed from within. Dapchi has called for inventiveness. Religion must be used against religion. Food sellers, market people, fishermen, transporters. Mosques, Imams , Emirs. The time for passivity is gone. We cannot leave the war to the military alone. Islam must be used to counter the insurgency. Everyone must be recruited into what the locals must perceive as a Jihad against the insurgency. A struggle for God, and for Islam. For freedom, and for peaceful religions. That’s what Dapchi demands. The reality is that we are unable to bring the product with the prices we sold before, that is why we see the systemic queues all over the country for a very long time mega stations in the country. He said other measures taken by the corporation which ensured product availability in the country included sharing information with oil industry regulators and sister agencies and working closely with petroleum tanker drivers and the National Association of Road Transport Owners to ensure seamless movement of petroleum products nationwide. Does the NNPC deserve commendation for ending the queues? Some would say yes while to some others it was a mixed blessing. The NNPC may have achieved victory in the battle against scarcity of gasoline in the country but ones belief is that it is half the battle against scarcity. The ultimate should be local refining of petroleum products. This GMD of NNPC Dr. Maikanti Baru as made commitment to the nation. Baru said the final selection of financiers to secure funding to start the rehabilitation of the refineries towards a 90 per cent capacity utilization per stream day before the end of 2019 was before NNPC’s board approval. He pledged NNPC’s commitment to provide utility services including power, processed steam, water and land, stressing that the corporation has agreed in broad terms on areas of collaboration to fast track the development. That is the way to go.
It’s not easy to spot a talent. In my recruiting days as Editor or Publisher, I often asked young writers to write about their partners. My aim was to see how well they could make their intimacy breathe on a blank piece of paper. I would want to see a turn of phrase, a play on words and a general ease with language that would show promise. When I see the array of people I picked as promising writers who have moved on to become famous Columnists and Editors—a couple have become publishers as well—I know I haven’t done too badly. But then again, many of those I thought would soar have under achieved. So I didn’t always get it right. It’s even harder to pick a leader. There are too many intangibles. There are the silent, strong men. There are the voluble ones. But whether active or passive, it is generally agreed that a leader gets things done —preferably in a timely, decent manner. A good leader inspires. A good leader has a core of competent but fiercely loyal people who watch his back all the time. But the most difficult ability is the ability to select a successor. The stakes are often high; so are the variables. More often than not, ego gets in the way and we look to clone ourselves. Or we go the other extreme and pick someone who is totally different from us; someone whose strengths are our weaknesses or vice versa. I know I have not fared well in this respect. And judging from the way businesses nose dive soon after the owners pull out through illness, death or just retirement, many elders and even contemporaries haven’t fared that well also. Many have tried to place their children or relatives as successors and the result has been as tragic. But the most tragic result has to be that of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who has had many opportunities to right his wrongs and has failed every single time. He has failed in his choice of able successors in the two times he had handed over the reins of power and in the many times he had influenced the choice of successors to the country’s highest office. Anyone wondering why Nigeria is in bad shape could get an insight from the goings-on in the All Progressives Congress, APC; the party that formed the government in Abuja. To wit, the level to which it has so shamelessly trashed its constitution, campaign promises and the values that the party and its leaders once wore as garbs during their messianic campaign for power. Perhaps, one could set aside the narrative of internal crises in several state chapters as famously chronicled in states like Kano, Kaduna, Kogi that led to appointment of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as trouble shooter and focus on the party’s values for its own procedures. Last Tuesday’s NEC meeting was the fifth in as many years that the party has been in existence. The Constitution of the party provides for the NEC to hold its meetings at least once every quarter, meaning that what was the fifth NEC should have been at least its 20th meeting. If the party has been lackadaisical with its NEC, it has simply been defiant in inaugurating its Board of Trustees, BoT, a body that ordinarily should have weighed in to call party executives to order. Is it then surprising that when President Muhammadu Buhari spent six months to constitute his cabinet, or more than two years and still counting to fully inaugurate boards of federal parastatals that the party could do nothing? For a party that has failed to play by A reconciliator in need of reconciliation That cannot be said of Bola Tinubu. His choice of commissioners in his first coming as Governor of Lagos State showed he could spot talents irrespective of religion or state of origin. The way he positioned himself to become the de facto “Asiwaju” of Yoruba politics also showed his leadership qualities. That Lagos is doing so well 12 years after he left office shows he chose his successor well. So he spotted talents, showed leadership and picked a good successor. Kudos to him. He was adamant in his choice of Fashola as his successor and against daunting opposition, fought his way through. Fashola turned out to become a revelation. He followed the template of his predecessor faithfully and added a few of his own. Lagos blossomed. So did Fashola. I felt proud to call him my Governor and I don’t say that often. His eloquence and superb grasp of issues put him a cut above his contemporaries. Somehow, he has managed to brand himself more as a technocrat in government than as a politician. I mean that as a compliment. The same should be said about Fayemi, the ex-Governor of Ekiti State who is seen as a quiet but decent intellectual. They were both protégées of Tinubu. Their national and international strides should make Tinubu happy and proud. But is he? It would be considered a deep flaw in Tinubu’s character if he still tried to control and contain those he has nurtured into plumage. A talent is spotted, nurtured and released into the world. That is how it should be. Otherwise, how do you see and admire the many colours of a butterfly if it never Odigie-Oyegun’s victory came at the behest of the party’s governors who saw his retention as an effective opportunity to squash the resurgence of the Tinubu tendency SATURDAY Vanguard, , MARCH 3, 2018—21 swagger.’ The soured relationship which hasn’t improved much blew into the open after the 2015 elections and has remained frosty since then. Tinubu has his work as a peace maker cut out. The problems in Kogi, Oyo, Kano, Imo and indeed, many states in the country will require all his guile and skills to resolve. The one in Kaduna State has already gotten out of hand and will need a miracle to resolve. El-Rufai is a small man in many ways. His heart and mind are certainly small and unaccommodating. His notion of governance is to crush dissent whether it is religious, ideological or political. Having a building you had used before destroyed under your watch because your authority was challenged is vindictive and small minded. His label as the demolition man is apt since he seems to enjoy demolishing more than building. And it’s not property alone— norms, ethos, relationships and institutions are inclusive. This man seems to enjoy inflicting pain. Tinubu’s task as the chief peacemaker has been made more onerous by this man. But before Tinubu ventures too far out, it would help if he could reconcile himself to his lieutenants and his lieutenants to themselves. His relationship with those who were with him in ACN needs improvement. The relationship between those who should be watching his back and making sure his ideals and credentials outlive him is not at its best. Also, this notion that the enemy of my boss is my enemy is childish and a poor way to show loyalty. Many of the people—and things—that worked for Fashola have been cast out with ignominy by Ambode. Lagos and its indigenes are the loser for it. Information filtering in at the moment is that all is also not well with the Lagos APC. This is a pity but hardly surprising given the way Ambode is reportedly running the show. Lagos is the home base of the chief peacemaker. Again, I wish Asiwaju Bola Tinubu the best in his assignment. But he must remember; charity begins at home. “ile ni ati ngbe eso r’ode.” leaves its cocoon even after maturing? On a personal level, the man who discovered me as a young writer also made me his Editor eventually. He acknowledged my growth along the way and allowed dissent, sometimes vehement ones, on professional The most tragic result has to be that of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who has had many opportunities to right his wrongs and has failed every single time. He has failed in his choice of able successors in the two times he had handed over the reins of power issues. Today, he is my mentor, boss and friend. Our relationship might have been different if he hadn’t allowed me to ‘grow up.’ I was so disturbed by Tinubu’s initial refusal to endorse Fashola’s second term that I spoke to two of his close aides who shall remain nameless in this article since they are both still very visible. The feeler I got was that Tinubu was uncomfortable with Fashola’s ‘sudden independence and APC –crises, confusion and contradictions its own rules, it is not surprising that the government it formed has followed its path. Of course, many would be quick to extricate the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun from the foibles of the party he leads. An otherwise cool gentleman, it is suggested in some quarters that Odigie- Oyegun may have been swallowed by the intrigues playing around him. His lot has not been made any better by his seeming deficit in political prowess and power which has made him swing along with different political power blocs in the party. Originally, a scion of the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu bloc, he has tried to perch on the Muhammadu Buhari tendency, but to no avail. So, he has now been adopted by the party’s governors who by providing the cash to run the party and the votes that Buhari needs for a second term, have formed a power bloc that everyone including the president now panders to. Last Tuesday, the party chairman won the battle against his former mentor, Tinubu with the extension of his tenure. However, the fact is that Odigie-Oyegun’s victory came at the behest of the party’s governors who saw his retention as an effective opportunity to squash the resurgence of the Tinubu tendency in the party. The chaos and internal contradictions of a party not being able to elect new executive officers as scheduled were eloquently expressed by the party’s deputy national publicity secretary, Mr. Timi Frank. In a statement following the extension of the tenure of the NWC, Frank who is estranged from Chief Odigie-Oyegun, said the violations of the constitution had made the party a laughing stock. It was not much of an exaggeration when he said that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was itself better than the APC in the matter of internal democracy. A party that not too long ago mocked the then ruling PDP for its vicious suppression of selected internal critics has not just aped its major rival, but gone ahead to set records in political naivety and incompetence in governance. The Tuesday NEC meeting was foreshadowed with distressing news in the core competences that Buhari and the APC had promised to intervene before the 2015 elections, to wit corruption and insecurity? In the matter of corruption, the 2017 Transparency International anticorruption index released last week showed Nigeria to have dipped further in the anti-corruption index moving from 136 to 148 among 180 countries. In the sphere of security, nothing more damning could have been slapped on the APC and the government it runs than the kidnap of 110 school girls by a group that the government technically defeated in December 2015 and recently completely defeated! C M Y K