Let me give due credit for the idea of this piece. President Muhammadu Buhari had said recently that elites in the country were not giving due accolades to his administration in terms of where it met the country, what it grapples with, and where it has been able to take the nation to, thus far.
The position of Mr President was widely published by the traditional and digital media, and it became an object of debate.
In the middle of it all, I received a phone call from Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Arise Television and Publisher of Thisday Newspapers.
“Mr President says the elite have not given due credit to the administration. That means there are achievements that are not reported, underreported, or not celebrated at all. Come to Arise Television, and talk about it.”
It was a good opportunity. What else was my duty, if not to inform and educate the country (and beyond) on the work my principal was doing for the country? So, to Arise Television I went, on The Morning Show, anchored by cerebral journalist and my immediate predecessor in the office I currently occupy, Dr Reuben Abati.
The sparring session (that’s the way I see it) went well. Abati and his co-hosts came from different angles, trying to take me out with that sucker punch that would send me kissing the canvass. I floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee (apologies Muhammed Ali). At the end of it all, I believe we had a good show, with no side worsted.
So, what are the unheralded achievements of the Buhari Administration? What are the landmarks and milestones given scant attention by the elite, if even recognized at all?
Nigeria has challenges today. Very severe ones. Security is key in any country, if there would be progress and development. But here we are, battling insurgency, banditry, kidnappings, wanton killings, armed robbery, ethnic insularity leading to murder and mayhem, and other vicious criminalities. All these can only make a people sad and dolorous. But is that all there is to Nigeria of today?
The Buhari government is battling insecurity with all it has at its disposal. Naturally, the populace will want faster results, but some things are never by a sudden flight. You don’t just snap your fingers, and the problems disappear. And in the middle of it all, you must still continue to work, and make the time count for country and the people.
So, despite it all, what are some of the unreported or underreported achievements?
Annual budgets and how they perform have always been issues in the country. How timeously has the financial projections been delivered, and what has been the level of performance? These are germane to any economy.
The year 2020 was a remarkable one in the annals of mankind. A novel virus came, which you can’t see, smell or touch, but it succeeded in sending the world into a tailspin. There were national lockdowns round the globe, lives were lost in their numbers, economies suffered, and despondency was the order of the day.
But it was also the year Nigeria had resolved to return its budget cycle to January to December. It was achieved, and despite the fact that fallen oil prices compelled a review, the budget at the end of the day achieved 97.7% performance. Holy Moses! It never happened before. In normal years, without a gripping pandemic, and the need to balance between lives and livelihoods, our budgets never attained such records. You often talk of 50 or 60% performance, at the best.
There were years in the past, when we even had 30% performance. But under Buhari, in a year of collapsed oil prices, and income at about a quarter of what we used to earn, here was 97.7% performance. Jumping Jehoshaphat! There must be more fiscal discipline in this government than Nigerians are crediting it for.
But did the news hug the headlines? Did it become the talking point of talk shows on radio and television? For where? No herdsmen were involved, so it was not going to be sweet to discuss. It was going to make the government of the day look good, so the elite was not interested. That was how that budget feat went uncelebrated, unheralded. Shout yourself hoarse announcing it, those who should run with it were uninterested. They would rather talk of yet unfulfilled promises in the areas of security, economy and anti-corruption.
We have always had stiff antagonism between states and the Federal Government. They were always like Tom and Jerry, with each striving to outdo and undermine the other. Till Buhari came.
At the advent of the administration in 2015, at least 27 states could not pay salaries. President Buhari did not ask them to stew in their juice, but rather made deft footworks, which bailed the states out of their predicament. Succor came for the people. Did it hug the headlines? No. Because herdsmen were not involved.
It used to be that Federal Government never gave states their dues in terms of refunds for projects executed. But not under Buhari. At the last count, about 700 billion naira had been paid to states as refund for road projects. The largest chunk of N78 billion went to Rivers, a state governed by the opposition party, and who’s governor rarely has good things to say about government at the centre. Also approved and paid were Paris Club refunds in excess of five billion dollars, owed by previous administrations. Uncelebrated, unheralded.
We have always talked about the need to have modular refineries in the country, to ensure that glitches in the supply of petroleum products were eliminated. For years, licenses were given, but there was only one such refinery working in the country.
Till Buhari came, and recalibrated the oil industry. Today, many modular refineries are in the works, almost completed. Late last year, the Waltersmith refinery was commissioned by the President himself, and has gone into operation. But not a whimper from the traditional and social media. Why? No herdsman was involved. No interest.
Infrastructure. Ah, infrastructure. This is where Buhari would leave his largest footprints. Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. AKK gas pipeline. All to be delivered before the administration exits in 2023. Second Bridge over River Niger, built with mouth for 16 years under the administration of another political party, is now about 50% completed.
Lagos-Ibadan Expressway racing towards completion. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway being reconstructed. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed,for the first time in 40 years. Bonny-Bodo Bridge and road finally underway, more than four decades after it was conceived. Rail projects round the country.
Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe already in operation, Lagos-Ibadan to be commissioned anytime soon, Ibadan to Kano under works, Kano to Maradi flagged off last week. Brand new airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano. Enugu has been rehabilitated.
Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) completed after decades of lack of will, the local content skyscraper dots the Bayelsa State skyline, the Nnamdi Azikiwe mausoleum completed in Anambra State after 22 years, all by Buhari. No plaudits. No accolades. All they talk about are things not done. No thanksgiving to God for small mercies, which are the real mercies.
It all reminds me of the line from China Achebe, in Things Fall Apart, about a man and his consort: “If I hold her hands, she says; don’t touch. If I hold her foot, she says; don’t touch. But when I hold her waist beads, she pretends not to know.”
Why is President Buhari touching our waist beads, and some Nigerians, particularly the elite, are pretending not to know?
In areas where we had opacities, there is now transparency. The first audited financial report of the NNPC is now done in more than 40 years. The Open Treasury Portal now publishes Federal Government expenditure online. Corruption is being robustly fought. There is public sector reform in many areas. Our waist beads are being touched, but we are pretending not to know. Wetin?
Let’s look at private investments in the country. Such things never thrive, unless government provides the enabling environment. Now see what we have, under Buhari:
*Dangote Refinery. The largest single-train crude oil refinery in the world.
*Lekki Deep Sea Port. A brand new port to serve as alternative to Apapa port.
*Dangote Fertilizer and Petrochemical plant.
*Segilola Gold Project in Osun State, described as “Nigeria’s most advanced gold exploration and production project.”
*Nigeria’s first ever gold refineries under construction in Ogun State and FCT.
*Olam’s $150million investment in poultry feed mills, hatchery and breeder farms in Kaduna and Kwara states, commissioned in 2017.
*GB Foods 20 billion naira tomato paste factory in Kebbi.
*$250 million brewery by International Breweries Plc, commissioned 2018 in Sagamu, Ogun State, said to be the biggest in West Africa.
*Indorama Fertilizer Plant Train 2, nearing completion in Port Harcourt.
*NLNG Train 7, which will expand the company’s production capacity by more than 30%
*Agric investment hits 6-year high.
And many more…
President Buhari is surely touching the waist beads of Nigerians. We should no longer pretend not to know.
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity
Late Smear Campaign Against Akpabio: The Unrevealed Truth
It’s simple: Those who diverted the statutory 3% of Oil funds of NDDC to EFCC/NDDC Account with over $200m sitting idly there are behind the latest story on Akpabio and the EFCC ordeal.
Payments that ought to go to NDDC in the last days of Magu were forced to a special account tagged NDDC /EFCC joint account!
The masterminds who intend to nominate their crony as Managing Director of NDDC hope to keep the account growing pending when they have their way.
Akpabio’s attempt to compel the new NDDC Chairman, Bawa to release the said monies to the NDDC account domiciled at CBN had been misconstrued by a section of the media, with no appropriate investigative skills, and relying on sponsored reports have gone to town with a false tale of the events in the past few days, with regards to the scheduled meetings between Akpabio and Bawa.
Of course, gullible Nigerians and entertainers in the social media without any means of verifying the report are busy painting the street red with the falsehood churned out by non other than Sowore’s Sahara Reporters.
It’s high time Nigerian Politicians became more proactive than reactionary. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who is one of the few politicians who are always in the eye of the storm should know that their political enemies are never sleeping or stopping at pushing out dirt even where there is none.
The Minister’s visit to Bawa should have been preceded by a Press Release or Conference, informing Nigerians on the challenges the embattled Commission under his supervision is currently facing, as it affects the deliberate seize of statutory funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta.
That would have been going ahead of your critics and political enemies to establish the facts of the matter before the reading public gets it twisted as it is now. That also would have saved him the stress of reacting to the negative diatribes of those behind the latest scandal of purported bribery.
In any case, who should have blown the whistle of attempted bribery of the EFCC Chairman better than the EFCC spokesman?
If Akpabio was actually invited, questioned or detained for 2 hours over the alleged crime, let Philp Uwajaren, spokesman of EFCC speak up.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a Public Servant in Nigeria. I do not envy those in power!
Why is no one asking the real question of who masterminded or ordered the diversion of statutory funds from oil companies, from the NDDC account to NDDC /EFCC account?
They are now jittery that Akpabio may win one more time!
I rest my case.
Written by Obiaruko Ndukwe (Mediafbi.com)
A Cold-Blood Beast Called Isa Pantami – Femi Kayode
I am glad that a young, brilliant and deeply courageous freelance journalist by the name of David Hundeyin thoroughly thrashed, disgraced and removed the pants of a shameless ignoramus, bumbling fool and decrepit imbecile called Kabir Bako on Channels Televisions’ ‘Politics Today’ last night.
The latter had attempted to defend the indefensible by seeking to justify and rationalise the despicable and totally unacceptable submissions and actions of the embattled Minister of Communications, Sheikh Isa Pantami.
I considered giving Pantami a soft landing a few days ago and opted to forgive him for his offensive, dangerous and repugnant vituperations only because he had publicly expressed his regrets but this is no longer the case because his expression of remorse was clearly not genuine or heart-felt.
If it was he would not have sent Kabir to Channels Television to defend those vituperations. The matter was made worse by the fact that the man spoke utter rubbish and sounded little better than a village idiot.
Now that his friends and supporters are attempting, to justify and rationalise what he has said and done, I am free to speak my mind about Pantami and this short contribution serves only as the first shot. More will come later.
For him to publicly express the fact that he is “happy” when those he described as “unbelievers” are murdered reflects his homicidal, sociopathic and psychotic mind-set and is not only indefensible but also unforgivable.
And there is so much more that he has said and done, including his alleged participation in a frightful event in Bauchi state a few years ago which allegedly resulted in the tragic death of a young Christian student and which I will write about at a later stage.
Simply put the Minister is a hater of Christians and non-Muslims. He is a religious bigot, an ethnic supremacist, an unrepentant jihadist, a lover of bloodshed, carnage and terror and a psychopathic and clearly insane individual who may well have been responsible for the slaughter of many innocent Christians over the years as a consequence of his inflammatory rhetoric and reckless actions.
His attempt to defend his evil ways and justify them by sending out idiots like Kabo to speak for him disgusts me. In any case if he had the courage of his convictions why can’t he speak for himself?
Does he not owe himself that much? Is he a coward? Does he not have guts? Is he scared of a real fight?
It appears that behind all the bravado he is nothing but a chicken-hearted little quisling who is terrified of his own shadow and who cannot stand the heat of public discourse.
Whatever is behind his cowardly disposition and reluctance to stand up for himself like a man one thing is clear: not only should he resign or be dumped as a Minister but he also ought to be arrested and sent to Nigeria’s equivalent of Guantanamo Bay which is a special facility for terrorists, built by the British Government a few years ago, in Kuje Prison in Abuja.
This self-seeking and fanatical monster and cold-blooded and heartless beast who regards himself as a high standing member of our community and who constantly and disrespectfully refers to Christians as “unbelievers” should be arrested by the authorities like a common criminal, stripped naked, put in chains, placed in a tiny monkey cage, paraded before the public, tried in a court of law and made to spend the rest of his sorry life in that facility for his undying and remorseless support and love for terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Worse of all is the very serious allegation that some of those that have called him out have had their lives threatened and that fatwas have been issued on them by both the Minister and his supporters.
Building bridges across religious, regional and ethnic lines and seeking to establish the peace between hitherto hostile groups and warring factions in our country does not include tolerating the presence of or fellowship with those who seek to kill our people, wipe out our Christian faith, destroy our values and norms and change our way of life.
No single religion can lord it over another in our country because ours is a secular state with constitutional guarantees for members of all faiths.
I utterly despise those extremists that think and behave like Pantami and I have nothing but sheer contempt for all that they stand for and seek to achieve.
The days of butchering, threatening, talking down to and insulting Christians in our country are long over and those that habitually indulge in such things must have a rethink before it is too late.
I consider the millions that have been slaughtered in the East, West, Middle Belt and core North in the name of jihad and sectarian violence over the last 60 years and I shudder with anger and disbelief.
I remember Gideon Akaluka who was beheaded in Kano many years ago, the young female RCCG Pastor who was murdered in the streets of Abuja for preaching the gospel a few years back, the 800 innocent souls that were butchered in their homes in Southern Kaduna on Christmas day in 2016, the thousands that were slaughtered in Plateau, Kano, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Gombe, Borno, Bauchi and so many other places over the years, the hundreds of thousands that were subjected to pogroms in the North in 1966 just before the civil war and the millions that were subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing during that war. And there is so much more.
These ugly and sad events are indelibly entrenched in the minds, hearts, bodies, spirits and souls of millions of Christians in our country and the fact that, in accordance with the dictates of our faith, we are constrained to forgive and turn the other cheek must never be misconstrued for stupidity or weakness.
We remember every single one of those that achieved martyrdom and that were cut short for their faith and in our hearts we still mourn them. The fact that they died in Christ and are therefore with the Lord in paradise is our only consolation.
We also remember those that suffered and are still suffering untold hardship and persecution simply because they are followers of Christ and we do so with much pain and regret.
Yet let me say this loud and clear: enough is enough! The mass murder, religious cleansing and endless, godless blood-lettting that we have witnessed over the years against Christians cannot and must not continue.
The Christians of Nigeria are no longer prepared to be anyone’s sacrificial lamb or whipping boy. The people of Nigeria are no longer prepared to accept religious extremism or intolerance.
Both the Muslims and Christians of Nigeria must all be protected and treated fairly and equally under the law and neither must be killed or persecuted for their faith. There is no room for fundamentalism on either side.
I have as much contempt and hatred for a Christian that kills Muslims simply because he does not share his faith as I do for a Muslim that kills Christians for the same reason.
Religious intolerance is primitive, barbaric, antedelluvian and archaic Those that suffer from that affliction do not deserve to be called Nigerians and they should do us a favour by moving elsewhere.
The good news is that the Muslims in our country that think like Pantami are relatively few. They do not represent the mainstream Muslims of Nigeria and neither do they represent the North. They represent only the Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, ISIS and the Taliban.
They are also ideologically coupled and embedded with the foreign Fulani terrorists and bandits that have plagued our land, that are killing our people, that are tormenting our farmers, that are raping our women and that have a strange and inexplicable affection for cows.
Not only is the cold-blooded beast called Pantami not fit to be a Minister of the Federal Republic but he is also not fit to walk our streets freely because he presents a grave danger to our people and our society.
The sooner he is dropped from President Buhari’s cabinet like a hot potatoe and brought to justice the better. The world is watching.
FEMI FANI KAYODE
Secession: If The East Goes, The West Won’t Go! – Obiaruko Ndukwe
As the quest for secession by several ethnic groups in Nigeria hots up, two major tribes have been more vocal than the rest- the Igbos of the South East and the Yorubas of the South West. Surprisingly, and in spite of heightened security concerns in the North, no group from the region has pitched its voice in the calls for a breakaway. The fourth largest group being the Ijaws majorly found in the Niger Delta region has suddenly lost the desire and firepower for agitation in this light, since after the dramatic emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as President got six years. It all seems that the Niger Delta quest for equity and justice rested when one of theirs mounted the seat of power in Aso Rock and inadvertently provided for them the fresh air of freedom and access to the national cake.
It all began with the Movement for the Survival of Biafra, MASSOB, led by Ralph Uwazurike and now, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, led by Nnamdi Kanu.
Their agitation for a separate country out of the present Nigerian State, albeit controversial but crucial in the light of present circumstances which may be an extension of past unresolved issues that led to the first and only Nigerian Civil War.
Though the 3-year crisis which led to the extermination of more than 3 million Igbos by the Nigerian Forces was declared a “No Victor No Vanquished”, the fundamental issues are still very much alive and staring every part of the nation in the face.
Issued bothering on marginalization, inequity and injustice have continued to pervade the political space, without the resolve by those in charge in correcting the anomalies that have placed some tribes as lesser peoples than others.
My worry is not about the agitation and the representations being made by the leaders of the different groups, rather, I am bothered by the end result of the struggle which seems to have no proper direction, just as the case was during the bolt led by late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Those who have religiously thrown their hearts into the ring may have kept their heads back home, while clamoring for a new nation. How does one reconcile the fact that the agitators have failed to learn from the deception, betrayal and failure that characterized the first attempt at secession?
While the leaders continue to produce a make-believe movie of a new Biafra nation where the land would flow with milk and honey, like the biblical promised land, they fail to realize that those who succeeded in using these kinds of agitations in the past had a bargaining chip with which they were able to actualize to an extent their goals at dispelling inequity in political power and positions.
I watched the likes of Asari Dokubo and co take up arms against the Nigerian Government at that time when Obasanjo held sway. Their demand for secession though eventually narrowed to obtaining power at the Center through the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan, first as Vice President and later, President.
The sources of the Arms were mainly from exchange of crude oil for Cash or Arms through illegal oil activities that thrived and still thrive in the region.
It was easy for the ex agitators to build up support and further engage the Government of the day through series of dialogue, though not without several arrests and detention of many of their visible leaders.
Any ethnic group, like, the Biafra agitators could have easily envied the Niger Delta struggle without counting the losses recorded by the affected States. Till date, multinational companies and expatriates have hardly returned to the region except scantily. The resultant effect of kidnapping and other forms of crime had been the greatest albatross of the most people who live and do business in the Niger Delta.
In spite of efforts in the past by some of the Governors, to revive the economy particularly with respect to direct foreign investment, the Internally Generated Revenue of these States have been on steady decline thereby taking a toll on the economy of these states and also having a downward multiplier effect on the economy of the country.
The agitation by the proponents of Biafra began more with verbal attacks against the Nigerian Government and those considered enemies of the struggle, irrespective of whether they are Igbos too. This strategy gradually has snowballed into a violent approach as seen and heard from the very disturbing audio and video clips purportedly released through the Biafra Radio.
During the recent disturbances nationwide particularly in the South of Nigeria under the EndSARS protest, in places like Oyigbo or Obigbo, a boundary community between Rivers and Abia states, there were unconfirmed reports of members of the proscribed IPOB taking orders from Nnamdi Kanu to attack Police Stations and seize their cache of Arms. A viral audio clips with the voice of the new Biafran leader was heard clearly giving instructions to his members to fight against police brutality by boldly confronting the Police, killing and maiming them as well as seizing their Guns.
The intent and purpose of this directive is clear. The need for an armory cannot be over emphasized.
Sadly, that was a far cry from the strategic approach of the Niger Delta ex Agitators. The latter negotiated with their natural resources in exchange for what they needed most.
The question thus becomes, how does Nnamdi Kanu intend to negotiate with the commercial goods of the Igbos for which they are mainly known for?
It becomes obvious that while the agitations may be right, the current strategy is still far from being realistic.
Again, the sudden clamor again for Oduduwa Republic by a section of the South West people is suspect.
History revealed that the ploy by Ojukwu to lead the secession agenda for the Eastern Nigeria was seconded by the West led by the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo. But when Ojukwu struck, rather than the Yorubas to strike too, Awolowo was smart to renegotiate his way to relevance in the Nigerian Government.
After the war, the Igbos suffered the worst fate with Awolowo as Finance Minister who ensured that every Igbo with monies in the banks was given nothing more than 20 pounds, Nigerian currency. It was this amount that many of them began trading again and today rose to become the commercial power house of Nigeria. This is one of the many reasons why rather than clamor for war, the average Igbo elite would rather seek to mind the business he has weathered the obvious storms to build, out of nothing rather than go to war again.
The second major obstacle to the actualization of a Biafra of their dream is the inability to convince the Eastern people outside the core Igbo states to join in the agitation, in spite of the fact that the name Biafra was coined from the Bight of Biafra, which is outside the region of the Igbos.
Lastly, the conviction that other regions of the South particularly the West have intensified their quest for a separatist State may only be a fluke and a strategy once again by the highly intellectual Yorubas to clinch to Power towards the build up to 2023. The Igbos may have only been sold a kite in a bid to keep them once again out of the power equation when in fact, it is their unquestionable constitutional right to occupy the top position, whether Igbos of the Hinterland or the Coastal States.
“First fool no be fool, na second fool na the proper foolish.”
Written by Obiaruko Ndukwe (Mediafbi.com)
Port Harcourt based Media Consultant, Publisher and Writer.
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