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On Kwara Bond and Other Issues – Rafiu Ajakaye



On Kwara Bond and Other Issues - Rafiu Ajakaye

My growing up as a teenager was filled with privileged exposures to interesting scholars like Sheikh Muyideen Ajani Bello, a witty and fiery Muslim preacher then based in Kano. Quoting another scholar, I heard him categorize humans into four groups: those who know and know that they know; those who know but often forget that they know; those who do not know and they readily admit that they do not know; and those who do not know and do not admit that they do not know. He called the fourth category a bunch of perpetual fools who should be cautioned or lectured. Everyday interaction has revealed this to be true.

A certain Mr. Kayode Thomas, a rabid antagonist of the administration, has recently published an article in which he claimed that the ‘N35bn bond’ taken by the administration is an exercise in executive lawlessness. What I see in Thomas’s article are a combination of mischief, ignorance, and what I call the divine rights of the king syndrome. The latter in this context means that he sees himself as a kingmaker whose words are laws and who possesses all the knowledge to fix Kwara from its rock bottom position in basic ratings of human capital development in 2019 to the Disney Land in just two years. It is not our attitude to respond to every opinion, grandstanding, or postulations as that may mean any of three things on our part: lack of focus, joblessness, or a tendency to want to read just sweet things about us.


None of these defines the Governor or his administration. We are not jobless. We remain focused as ever! And we are not ashamed to admit our imperfections nor are we deaf to Kwarans, our employers, pointing out to us what we should do better next time. For this reason, I will restrict myself to responding only to a few of his claims that needed clarifications.

He gratuitously claimed that the ‘norm is for bonds to be issued by Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Nigeria Stock Exchange but neither was part of this arrangement’. Ignorance. Bond issuance may take two broad forms. Apart from the one issued by SEC and NSE, there is also the private bond. No fewer than 10 states — governed by either PDP or APC — have accessed private bonds over the past three years. Kwara’s N35bn private bond is one of the lowest. Private bond issuance is ethical, legal, and faster as it bypasses certain bureaucratic niceties.


The Kwara bond followed every legal step there is, such as cabinet and legislative approvals. For emphasis, ‘public hearing’ is not a legal requirement in bond issuance. The Debt Management Office (DMO) has not only certified the state as financially healthy to take N35bn or more, it has also green-lighted the procedures so far taken by the government. The man again displayed ignorance when he said that some of the projects listed in the budget are also to be funded with the bond. I failed to see any contradiction in it, particularly when he admitted that provisions made for the said projects in the budget are way below the cost of the projects. For instance, only N100m was earmarked for the innovation hub in the budget, whereas the total project cost is N1.1bn. What is the fuss if the bond will complete the huge facility with a balance of N1bn as would be accommodated in the supplementary budget?

Indeed, Kwara got parliamentary approval to raise N35bn. However, it has only raised N27bn at the extant 15% market rate.
A few concerns have been raised on the bond. That included the viability to pay back. Kwara is solvent and can easily pay back. That is the expert conclusion of the DMO, the national statutory body that regulates lending by the national and subnational governments in Nigeria. The administration has cut waste and cannot in good conscience be accused of profligacy. It has earned itself various cognomen for ending the corrupt, unproductive patronage system of the past. Bond redemption will take seven long years, charged to the state’s monthly allocation from the federal government. Bolstered by internal revenue, the plan is such that no basic commitment of the government will be affected.
Some persons have also said the N35bn is a tad much. Measured against infrastructural deficits in Kwara, it is not. As of 2016, the deficits were valued at N256bn. This valuation, ironically, was done by the government peopled by members of the current opposition who now write petitions to block the bond. Thomas is a friend of that lacklustre administration.

Everyone complains that Kwara remains hugely dependent on handouts from the centre. But are there alternatives to changing that status except enough resources go into infrastructural development and creating economic centres? No. We must spend our way to unlocking the Kwara potentials as the southernmost northern state. This is exactly what the administration seeks to do with the bond. The bond will fund some ongoing projects to completion, and do many more. These projects include the abandoned Kwara State University Campuses at Osi (Kwara South) and Ilesha Baruba (Kwara North); the Ilesha Gwanara Road; and a few others. These are projects inherited from the past administration.


Had the administration chosen the self-serving post-2003 path of governance in the state, it will simply abandon those projects and conceive its own for politics. But it is not doing that because the funds already sunk into them came from the public purse. This administration has a reputation of attending to abandoned projects in the interest of the people who brought it to power. If that does not fit into the Otoge revolution, then nothing else should.

Kwara is essentially an agrarian state. Atop the blessing of rich arable lands is its rich tourism potentials. Kwara is home to the Owu Fall, the highest waterfall in West Africa. But it is inaccessible to date. Count the economic loss. The bond will part-fund the road leading to this treasure. Job-creating projects like garment factory, innovation hub, visual arts centre, film factory, and agroprocessing firms, spread across the state, will also be funded. The government will also construct a flyover to decongest the intractable traffic along the densely populated Tanke axis in Ilorin, along with other roads that would boost economic activities. The Gbugbu international market in Kwara North will receive a fair chunk of the bond to attain its potentials as a melting pot for continental trade.

Delving into other issues he raised, Mr. Thomas is out of touch with his own native Offa town. How do you argue with such a person? He said the administration has not done anything at the iconic Offa Grammar School, over a year after it reportedly concluded contractual agreements. Had he upheld the basic tenet of journalism of ‘clarify when in doubt’, he would have known that the people of Offa requested the government to rehabilitate other schools in the town because the OGS is a beneficiary of some communal and CBN interventions that are underway. They understandably did not want a duplication of efforts. Government yielded to that request and has instead invested the resources meant for comprehensive renovation of OGS in eight schools in the community. These are Iyeru Grammar School; Community Secondary School; Government Day Secondary School; Government Secondary School; Nawairudeen Grammar School; Anglican College of Commerce; Moremi High School; and Okin High School.

By every fair standard, the Otoge administration has changed the story of Kwara for good. “Too much had gone wrong with Britain (read Kwara) for it all to be put right in a matter of few years,” a former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once remarked. With various rehabilitation and remodelling works ongoing across 600 schools, 4,701 competent teachers recruited in the most transparent and apolitical process, first-of-its-kind innovation hub and visual arts centre under construction, and high-end facilities installed and historic accreditation secured for the state’s premier general hospital, Kwara is ticking the right boxes in basic education, healthcare, agric, fair, equitable and apolitical access to public-funded programmes, gender inclusion and youths empowerment, and improved access to agrarian communities. The administration has recorded great feats never seen in Kwara since its creation, a couple of which had been documented in previous communications on the achievements of the government.


There is no local government without a clear presence of the new administration. In a matter of months, the new Ilorin master plan will be ready — the second since 1970s. A 10-year development blueprint will be launched soon. Today, Kwara has the largest automated safety net programme for the vulnerable. Under it, vulnerable senior citizens get stipends of N6,000 every two months. Similarly, no fewer than 40,000 indigents have been enrolled in the state’s health insurance.

Until the coming of the administration, workers were owed across MDAs. Teachers were last promoted in 2017. That has been fixed by the administration, apart from defraying backlogs of salary arrears and contractual obligations, some dated back to 2010. The administration has brought dignity back to the civil service with a large pool of new buses and Hilux vehicles for their movement. They no longer visit private business centres to print government memos. This is not an article to break down what the Governor has done, but a subtle reminder of where we are coming from.

The administration makes no pretences about the porous system it inherited and the need to plug the leakages and give a new orientation to its workers in the most gradual, humane way. The figures Thomas bandied about public works and with which he tried so hard to sully the image of the government surfaced through the Governor’s social audit initiative which empowered civic groups to track public funded projects to cut waste. It has also put in place the Kwara State Public Procurement Agency to guide against sharp practices. Governments not committed to transparency and probity will not do that.

The administration is adjudged to have blazed the trail in addressing the basic needs of the people, even as it invests in their future. When completed, the innovation hub and the visual arts centre will be the best and biggest in West Africa. This is strategic positioning of Kwara for growth. With the new ICU facility, which is the largest in central Nigeria, the big investments in eye and dental care, the N2.5bn oncology centre, and new equipments here and there, the Ilorin General Hospital will soon be the go-to place in the country. These, ladies and gentlemen, are a few of the feats of an administration that Thomas said has not done anything. If anyone doubts that the administration has done things differently from the past, let them ask the 4,701 newly recruited teachers, the oldies and the vulnerable already enrolled into various safety nets, the market people who have benefited from Owo Isowo (trader moni), and the 170 young people who recently got the government’s interest-free loans to support their business initiatives.


They were neither asked for their voters’ cards nor did they need to hold an allegiance to any demigod like in the past. Methinks that is the Otoge that the people voted for in 2019, irrespective of what any La Pasionaria conceive of it.

•Ajakaye is the CPS to the Governor of Kwara State



Anklets: Tradition or fashion?



Anklets: Tradition or fashion?

Anklets are now trending among the young and old in the Nigerian fashion scene.


They are now seen as an essential part of any dressing, casual or formal.


At most parties, women and girls are seen wearing clothes that show off their ankles, with different ornaments and chains of high quality.

Anklets are chains or Ornaments worn around the ankles.


A cross-section of Nigerians expressed different views on the use of anklets.


Some told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that wearing anklets beautified women, while some others were of the view that it added no beauty to the users.

Mrs Amarachi Joseph, a Historian, said the use of anklets had become the most controversial fashion among ladies in Nigeria.


Joseph said that Nigerians from different backgrounds read meanings to the use of anklets.


She said that in some tribes, both men and women wear anklets during cultural festivals and other special ceremonies like chieftaincy title conferments or coronation.


“Anklets worn by the Igbos connote prestige, wealth, and beauty. These anklets are made with brass, beads, and elephant tusk,” she said.


Joseph said that in some Yoruba communities, anklets are worn by certain chiefs as insignia.


According to her, the votaries and worshippers of deities also wear anklets as insignia of their offices and to signify spirit children.


“Among the Hausas, some of them wear anklets to beautify their feet on their wedding day,’’ Joseph said.


She added that women of the high class wore them as ornaments, as they are regarded as being prestigious.


Joseph said that in some climes, anklets signify protection or identification of certain groups.


”In some societies, it is used to identify gay community or commercial sex workers, while in some parts it is used as a contraceptive to prevent pregnancy.


“Generally, when I was younger, there was this perception that ladies that wear anklets were commercial sex workers.


“So we don’t associate with anyone is seen with it as our parents also forbade us from being friends with them.


“In some communities in West Africa, anklets are given to brides by the groom to show that she is now married but now, almost everyone wears it.


Dr Doris Usman, an orthopaedic doctor, however, told NAN that anklets were not just for fashion they could be therapeutic too.


“They are the most beautiful piece of ornaments worn in the world,” she said.


According to Usman, it is not only worn occasionally but some also prefer wearing it daily. It comes in various sizes, styles, and designs.


“It provides relief from leg pain and weakness of heels, it also regulates blood circulation, which helps in curing swollen heels,” she said.


Meanwhile, Mr Johnson Ade, a businessman, said that to him the use of anklets connotes waywardness or homosexuality.


“I hate seeing ladies wearing anklets and I don’t think I can have any relationship with ladies who wear it,” he said.


Mr Rasaki Ishola, however, said that he does not see anything wrong in women wearing anklets.


“As far as I am concerned, people can believe whatever they want to but I don’t see anything wrong with its use.


“In fact, I love it when my wife uses anklets. I see it as a piece of decoration worn by women,’’ he said.


Madam Omifunke Salami, an Osun devotee, explained to NAN that all the deities in Yoruba had their specific ornaments worn either on the ankle, the neck or the arm by their devotees.


She said that specifically devotees of Osun wore yellow and white beads on the neck and ankle.


“Osun was beauty personified, she wore beautiful ornaments in her time, on her neck and ankle, that is why her devotees wear same now.


”It is worn for beauty and for identification, so we know that we are children of the same kindred spirit,” Salami said.


Gbemisola Olusayo, an undergraduate, who sells anklets and wears too, told NAN that anklets were the trend in fashion.


Olusayo said she made different anklets and waist beads to the specifications of her customers.


According to her, her client base cuts across ages, students, workers, traders and even grandmothers.


”Some want crystals, some just beads or chains, and I make for them to suit their pockets and requirements.


”I buy strands of beads, chains, and other ornaments and make on-demand for my customers.”


she also said she had made a lot of money from the business, on campus and outside.


.“If I invest N50,000, I usually make between N30,000 and N50,000 profit.


”Sometimes, I need to replace the beading tools, because they break or get worn out,” Olusayo said.


She said that the trend in fashion was also a money-making venture for her.

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The Return of The Taliban – Obadiah Mailafia



The Return of The Taliban - Obadiah Mailafia

Whilst a young university lecturer in London in the nineties, I taught many students from influential families across the world. Salman (a pseudonym), came from an affluent Saudi family. He once told me about a maternal uncle, Osama bin Laden, who had become the black sheep of the family. Their grandfather had emigrated from Yemen and his good fortune had led him into favour with the wise old King Faisal.


The king gave the Bin Ladens the biggest construction contracts in Saudi Arabia, bringing them untold wealth. Theirs was a gilded and gentrified world. Osama was expelled from the Kingdom for leading a plot to bring down the House of Saud. He later joined the Mujaheddin that were fighting the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan. Most of it didn’t make much sense to me until the tragedy of 9/11 which made Osama bin Laden a household name across the world.


Another young student that I took under my wings was Princess Alia (again, a pseudonym), granddaughter of the deposed king of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah (1914-2007). Alia was a beautiful and sensitive young woman. The royal household fled to Italy where Princess Alia was born. She was always proud to be Afghan, a country I knew close to nothing about. After the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001, Afghanistan was a country I could no longer ignore.
Afghanistan is a central Asian country with a predominantly mountainous landmass of 652,864 km2 and a population of 32.9 million. It shares borders with Iran on the West, Pakistan on the east and south, and by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan on the north; with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China on the north east. Afghanistan is a poor country with a GDP of $21.7 billion and a per capital income of $493.


It is largely a Muslim country, with some 99.7% as adherents of that faith. Contrary to what many believe, it is a heterogenous country. There are 14 ethnic communities: Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Balochis, Turkmens, Nooristanis, Pamiris, Arabs, Gujars, Brahuis, Qizilbash, Aimaq and Pashai. While majority are Sunni Muslims, there are also sizeable communities of Sufi and Shiite Muslim adherents.
In pursuit of its so-called “War on Terror”, America invaded Afghanistan and drove away the Taliban from power. For 18 years, America fought the Taliban on land and from the air. Americans were to discover that the Taliban are tenacious fighters for whom warfare has become a way of life. The heaviest aerial bombardments could not “smoke them” from the treacherous mountains, caves and ravines that dominate the Afghan landscape.


The United States has lost more than 2,300 of its military personnel, with more than than 20,000 others wounded. It has been estimated that more than 500,000 Afghans have perished in this cauldron – government military forces, Taliban fighters and ordinary civilians — have been killed or wounded. America has spent more than a $1 trillion on the Afghan war.


Ever since 2001, succeeding American Presidents had looked to the day when the Afghan government in Kabul would be strong enough to stand on its two feet and to allow Washington to withdraw its forces. It was therefore a great shock that after the American withdrawal last month, the Afghan government collapsed precipitately. The President, Ashraf Ghani, fled to Dubai, allegedly with a humongous fortune, while the military capitulated without firing a shot.


He had even co-authored a book with a British political scientist, on state building (Ashraf Ghani& Clare Lockhart: “Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World,” Oxford University Press, 2009). Ashraf Ghani Ghana is a well-educated and highly Westernised technocrat with a doctorate in Anthropology from Columbia University. He was a tenured professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He later worked for the UN and served as a consultant for the World Bank.


But something always warned me that this man is a wimp. Under him, the country was blighted by corruption and the drugs business. The institutions of state remained weak. The greatest sages have warned that a prophet unarmed is a dead one. Governing a stiff-knecked people such as the Afghans requires both enlightenment and superior force.


He should never have allowed so-called “repentant Taliban” to be enrolled in the regular army; a mistake we are already making with Boko Haram in Nigeria. The so-called “repentant Taliban” benefited not only from better training with the regular army, but also as insiders who under-studied the weakness of the regular army, the better to defeat it. And now they will inherit the massive arsenals left behind by the fleeing Americans.


There are many who dismiss the American effort as a disaster. Lest we forget, America’s hegemonic power was central to the post-war recovery of Europe. Through the Marshall Plan, America shored up the war-torn nations of Western Europe, helping them to recover economically while building viable democratic states that could withstand the onslaught of communism.


America helped in rebuilding Japan after 1945, including the drafting of a new Japanese constitution that outlawed war itself. After the Korean War (1950—1953), the United States again played a crucial role in South Korea’s post-war economic recovery and in laying the institutions of a strong and effective state that restored hope to a fractured nation.


The current failures accompanying American state-building enterprises are a relatively recent phenomenon. American intervention has left disastrous outcomes in Iraq, Libya and in Afghanistan today. It is a result of a tragic cognitive dissonance between understanding and the realities on ground; between ambition and hubris. The West have never really understood the Muslim world, least of all Afghans; a people who value their extremist ideologies more than life itself; and who are prepared to wage a war for entire century to achieve their ambitions.


In the words of the distinguished LSE Arabist, Elie Kedourie: “Be it sufficient for the present to record that these things are evil. That persecutors and persecuted, hunters and hunted are in the grip of the powers of darkness. It is enough to elucidate how this came to pass, for the story can at least have this moral, that the consequences of action are incalculable, and that out of the desire to do good, good may not in fact ensue.”


With the benefit of hindsight, the Afghan war was perhaps unwinnable from Day One. The country has been the graveyard of ambitious military commanders and adventurers from the Mughal Emperors of India to Ghengis Khan, Timur and the Soviets of the 20th century. Geopolitically, Afghanistan stands at the strategic crossroads between Central Asia and South Asia. Any world power that controls that treacherous landmass is likely to have mastery over much of Asia.


READ ALSO: End Nigeria Now! The Hoax Country – Ndidi Uwechue

The return of the Taliban today is bad news for the Afghan people and bad news for the rest of the world. In killing Osama bin Laden in May 2011, America only cut the tail of the serpent with the head and body left intact. The New Taliban are going to be stronger and more confidant than the old. They have already announced their intention to govern with a more rabid form of Sharia law.


They have already ordered women to leave the universities, colleges and schools. They are systematically decimating Christians and adherents of other faiths. They have sent strong warnings that they will join their brethren in Nigeria to enforce Sharia throughout our country and the rest of our glorious continent. We must sharpen our swords and wait for them.


The German sociologist Max Weber anticipated such dark times when he had his bleak prophecies long ago: “Ahead of us is not the bloom of summer, but, rather, a polar night of icy darkness and hardness, no matter which group may triumph externally now”. Weber went ahead to warn that what we must not do is capitulate through a “dumb acceptance” of the world and our place in it.


Our lives, our liberties and our land are our most sacred possessions. Those who want to dispossess us of these must be regarded as enemies forever. If they are prepared to fight for a century, we at the receiving must arm ourselves and our children to fight them for a thousand years. America must also quarantine them back into the stone age.


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End Nigeria Now! The Hoax Country – Ndidi Uwechue



End Nigeria Now! The Hoax Country - Ndidi Uwechue

The hashtag #EndNigeriaNow continues to trend on social media. If only the young people using it knew that Nigeria has actually ended, and all they now need to do is to activate that reality. Nigeria ended in 1966 but that truth was hidden from young people by removing History from the national curriculum for more than a decade, and by encouraging their parents to bring them up not to ask questions.


The #EndNigeriaNow young people rightly renounce the Nigeria they find themselves in. They should be told that rejecting One-Nigeria is being honest and being intelligent.Those that could, have fled by going overseas. Tens of thousands of others are also planning, or hoping to escape abroad too.


To understand what has happened to them, young people need to go back in time to late 1950s pre-Independence Nigeria. There were three Regions, each with its own Constitution and being more-or-less like three countries. The Regions then chose to retain the Union of Nigeria if certain conditions would be met and kept. Each Region decided how much self-determination they would keep for their Region, and what they would give up for the collective good in the Union. They now wrote a Union Agreement, that means a Constitution(federating) that would set out how their Union would be. This also meant opening a Union Office ie a Central Government to manage those things they would have in common. Thus, at Independence there were four Constitutions: one for each of the three Regions plus the federating Constitution. Later, a fourth Region, the Mid-Western Region was carved out, so now there were four Constitutions plus a fifth one, the federating Constitution. This arrangement came to an abrupt end with the military coups of 1966.


What the coups did was to topple that federating Constitution, ie the UNION AGREEMENT was overthrown. Thus, without a Union Agreement there was no longer any Nigeria. However, the Regional Constitutions were still there. What should have happened is that the now four Regions should have said: Since our Union is over, the ethnic nationalities in our different Regions will need to decide whether we will remain as we were before the Union, ie, as Regions, or whether we will re-commit afresh to any Union. However, the military prevented that from happening by using military might to force a Union that had ended.


A marriage can be used to illustrate it further for young people. Essentially, a marriage is a Union Agreement: as long as certain conditions are kept, the Union ie the marriage, remains. If however a husband goes on to commit adultery, that very act can end the marriage Union. A divorce ensues to make the end of the Union official. Now, if say, ten years later this same couple decide that they still love each other, and can make their Union work, traditionally the man will have to ask his ex-wife if she would like to re-marry him. He does not just grab her and force her into a re-marriage! She must first agree to re-commit to a new Union again.


The position of that ex-wife is the position of indigenous ethnic nations of Nigeria. The Union has ended. There has been no Nigeria since 1966! They have been abducted into a false Union by military decrees, and now by the imposed 1999 Constitution that is a known forgery. The only acceptable way forward is in doing the right thing, and in doing the right thing the right way. Just as a divorced ex-wife must first decide if she wants to re-marry her ex-husband, ethnic nationalities must decide whether or not to re-commit to the ended Union called Nigeria.


That is why the NINAS Movement is going to win. Justice always defeats injustice. The NINAS Movement Proclaimed a Constitutional Force Majeure (CFM) on 16th December 2020 .That CFM raised a Union Dispute ie stated that there is no Union since the indigenous ethnic nationalities are no longer going to submit themselves to a fake Constitution.


The CFM Proclamation made Nigeria a Disputed Project. The NINAS Movement rightly insists that preparations to general elections in 2023 that would renew the life of the Repudiated illegitimate 1999 Constitution be halted, and a transitioning arrangement be set up, with Regional Referendums, to correct the fraud. Since that 1999 Constitution is a forgery, everything it creates including government is a fraud. The truth that had been hidden from the people has come out – there is NO UNION. Nigeria is the hoax of the century! So it can no longer be elections business as usual. An illicit government should not even try to defy the people, and defy human decency.


Ndidi Uwechue is a British citizen with Igbo heritage from the Lower Niger Bloc. She is a retired Metropolitan (London) Police Officer, she is a signatory to the Constitutional Force Majeure, and she writes from Abuja.

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