Archive for September 2011

BE ASSERTIVE, SAGAY, CD, CPC TELL JONATHAN   Leave a comment

By Olusola Fabiyi and Olamilekan Lartey
Abuja, September 27, 2011

Prominent Nigerians and groups on Monday, September 26 took a swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan over his defence of his style of governance.

An opposition party, the Congress for Progressive Change, and the Campaign for Democracy, said that the President should be assertive in handling the affairs of the country.

An expert in constitutional law, Prof Itsay Sagay, SAN, also said that Jonathan’s statement on Sunday had potrayed him as a weak President.

During an inter-denominational service to mark the country’s 51st independence anniversary at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, over the weekend, the President had chided critics of his style and government.

The President had said, “Some Nigerians still want the President of this country to be a lion or a tiger; somebody that has the kind of strength, force and agility to make things happen the way they think.” “I don’t need to be a lion, I don’t need to be Nebuchadnezzar, I don’t need to operate like the Pharaoh of Egypt, and I don’t need to be an army general. I can change this country without those traits.”

Jonathan had also said that there were forces that were bent on frustrating his administration. The forces, the President referred to as Goliaths.

But faulting Jonathan, the President of the CD, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said that “being assertive is different from being a Pharaoh or a lion.”

Okei-Odumakin said that the President must go beyond prayers and take actions that would move the country forward. She stated, “People are dying and our President is making reference to biblical allusion. I am disappointed and angry. He should sit up. People paid for this democracy with their blood.”

The CD president also criticised Jonathan for saying world leaders, including the United States President, Barak Obama, commended him.

Okei-Odumakin stated that what should matter to the President should be his assessment by Nigerians, adding that he (Jonathan) should understand that “leadership is not bread and butter.”

Sagay said Jonathan’s intention at the church service was to give the impression that he was not an oppressor or a dictator, but had conveyed the impression he was not decisive and strong enough to tackle the nation’s problems. He said, “He conveyed the impression that he is weak and does not have a sense of direction to take Nigeria forward. He could have said he was a David. David was close to God and very successful, but he did not claim to be that. He did not claim to be strong. What he conveyed was weakness and aimlessness. The late Obafemi Awolowo was not a dictator or an oppressor. He was an organised man who raised his region through careful planning to the leading position.” “What we saw in the President’s statement was the negative. He needs to change his position which indicated weakness and planlessness.”

Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, described the President’s outburst as “unfortunate.” He said Jonathan had shown that he was not prepared to lead the nation and that his comment was an admittance of failure. He said, “One of the greatest tragedies that can befall a nation is to have an unprepared person as its leader. “Jonathan was never prepared to be Nigeria’s president. All he wanted to be was to be a university lecturer until someone brought him to come and assist him as a deputy governor. He again was brought out to be a Vice-President. He never aspired to be the arrow head of any group and that was why he never prepared to lead the nation. The death of his boss unfortunately catapulted him to the position of leadership instead of being a deputy leader. It is an unprepared leader who talks the way he spoke. He said he is not a general. Yet, he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Which rank is higher than that in the military?”

From punchng.com

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Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

HOW GOVERNMENT WASTES NIGERIA’S WEALTH -EL-RUFAI   Leave a comment

By Akeeb Alarape
Abuja, September 23, 2011

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday decried the growing and outrageous cost of governance without meaningful impact on development and empowerment of the populace.

He solicited the assistance of the media in the delivery of dividends of democracy. The former boss of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) gave the charge at the opening of the seventh biennial conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), in Benin, Edo State capital. He noted that the ‘entire oil earnings for the year cannot pay the salaries and allowances of politicians and public sector workers and their overheads such as tea, coffee, travel and estacode’.

The former minister, who was arrested and detained in July, this year for alleged inflammatory talks, gave detailed insight into how government at all tiers squandered collective wealth of the people on few elected and public officials.

While indicting the three arms of government for sheer profligacy, el-Rufai hit the present administration for its wastage and growing budgetary expenditure without commensurate development. In his paper entitled; ‘Perspectives on the cost of governance in a democracy’, El-Rufai stated that Nigeria remains the only developing country where annual expenditure on general administration ranges from 55 per cent to as much as 75 per cent of the budget. “The rich countries spend an average of 10 per cent of their budgets and/or GDP on the general administration of their countries. China and India have the largest bureaucracies in the world. But their average annual expenditure on general administration is only about 12 per cent of GDP, and that is considered high, but at least the results are showing – these are the fastest growing economies in the world that have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the last decade.

Giving a sectoral analysis of how Nigeria’s wealth is cornered by its officials and cronies, the former minister disclosed that a whopping N49.9 billion will be used to run each of the 49 line Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) outlined in the 2011 Appropriation Act; N150 billion to fund the 469 members of the federal legislature and their support staff for the year while upkeep of judges along with their support staff comes to about N73 million on yearly basis.

“Each ministry has at least one minister -some have two or three, with a permanent secretary, and on average eight directors. The ministers and permanent secretaries have personal assistants, special assistants and special advisers. Each of these expects to drive a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) or two to work, complete with police orderlies and other file carriers. Then, they will need houses, furniture and running costs of the vehicles and utilities. The costs of all these somehow find their way into the overheads budget of the ministries, and makes a complete nonsense of the monetization policy we implemented in 2004.

“Up until December 2006, there were 31 cabinet-level ministries including the FCT Administration and about 42 ministers. The reforms of 2006 led to the merger of the ministries of Petroleum and Power into a single Energy Ministry, Water Resources and Agriculture into a single Agriculture Ministry, commerce with industry, the addition to steel development to the mandate of the Solid Minerals Ministry, the abolition of the ministries of Police Affairs, Communication, and Co-operation and Integration in Africa into larger ministries, works into transportation, and so on. This reduced the number of cabinet level MDAs to 21, but without a significant reduction in the number of ministers. The Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations reversed these reforms, and now, we have some 30 ministries housing between 42 and 48 ministers,” el-Rufai lamented.

“We elect a total of 360 members to the House of Representatives and 109 Senators to make laws and enhance good governance by checking and balancing the excesses of the executive arm of government. For this privilege, the 469 members of the federal legislature and their support staff at the National Assembly (NASS) will spend N150 billion this year. From the NASS website, it is evident that they only passed eight bills as at the end of May 2011, and have been on recess for 43 days out of the first 100 days of this administration. So, assuming that they manage to pass another seven bills before the end of this year, it would cost the Nigerian citizen an average of about 10 billion naira to pass a single bill. This implies that to pass the 2011 budget (which allocated N150 billion to NASS), we paid 10 billion naira. An even more interesting statistics is the cost of maintaining every legislator every year. It works out to a princely N320 million per legislator per annum. At this rate, every four-year stint at NASS works out at N1.28 billion per legislator,” the former minister decried.

“The judiciary seems equally determined not to be outdone. In this year’s budget, apart from the nearly 20 billion naira allocated to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the National Judicial Council will receive 95 billion naira. If we compute that the Supreme Court has 22 Judges; Court of Appeal 67; Federal High Court 58; FCT High Court 38 and the National Industrial Court 13, an average of 30 High Court judges per state gives a total of about 1,300 judges nationwide. Following the same statistical analysis, the upkeep of these judges along with their support staff every year comes to a about N73 million per annum per judge”, El-Rufai stated.

He also picked hole in the budgetary allocation of government, which he said was not in tandem with the needs and aspirations of Nigerians. “Another interesting observation is the fact that government says the problem of power shortage will be a priority, yet the Ministry of Power only got N91 billion as total appropriation, while the security sector (Military, Police, Internal Affairs, National Security Agency, Amnesty, Pensions, Police Reform, etc.) got a mind-boggling N1,592 billion.

“This amount is over 35 per cent of the entire budget. In other words, though Nigerians have never felt so insecure, the NSA, Internal Affairs, Police and Defence combined will be spending N4.36 billion per day on our behalf! This does not include the security votes in ministries, and the 36 states. Even local government chairmen now have security votes”, he added.

The former minister, therefore urged the media to wake up to its traditional role by sensitizing the populace on their rights, saying the people have not found their voice but rather ‘polarised on primordial ethno-religious sentiments’. “We should hold accountable those who hold political offices on our behalf, nonetheless the inadequacies in our electoral system. They should be our servants rather than being our ‘Lords’ as they currently arrogate to themselves and flagrantly display at all available fora. Until the people muster the courage to manifestly use the power, which the tenets of democracy vest in them, it is doubtful if the continually rising cost of governance would impact positively on the wellbeing of the populace.

“Those that impose the outrageous system of governance wherein the spiralling costs translate into less investment, poor services and abject poverty for the majority of the people are drawn across the 774 local governments. This, in my candid opinion, is where the media’s role in educating and mobilizing the people to action appropriately lies. But do we have a mass media that is neither cowed nor bought over? That is a question that you, ladies and gentlemen can answer honestly,” El-Rufai said.

From sunnewsonline.com

Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Economy

THE EL-RUFAI-en-GEJ MENT   Leave a comment

By Ochereome Nnanna
Abuja, July 7, 2011

Those who thought it was a one-off thing were soon mistaken. Former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nasir el Rufai, not only took up the Friday slot of the back page of THISDAY Newspapers to write a regular column but also pointedly undertook the mission of “holding government accountable”.

From the tone and content of his two outings so far, he is directly pitched against the policies of President Goodluck Jonathan, whom he had audaciously, in his first article, pronounced as doomed to failure as a leader.

El Rufai’s new mission has been received with mixed feelings. While some think he went into opposition because he failed to get a job under Jonathan, others say he should be judged by his message, not the alleged motives behind it. At first I was sceptical about el Rufai as a newspaper columnist.

But on second thoughts, my new attitude is, why not? It is often true that being exposed to “how government works” in Nigeria leaves a social commentator or journalist with one (or both) of his balls missing when he returns to the beat. It needs not be so if one comes out of that onerous adventure without soiling his fingers. Being exposed to the workings of government puts one in a position of great advantage to inform the reading public better (that is, if it does not end up shutting one up forever or compromising one permanently as a beholden partisan who can no longer deal with issues objectively).

The challenge before el-Rufai and my returnee colleagues like Pini Jason, Olusegun Adeniyi and Chuks Iloegbunam is to prove they are still above board in terms of objectivity.

It is probably wrong to even put el Rufai in the class of the three journalists. El Rufai is a technocrat-turned government operative. His exposure to media work is likely to be temporary. Unlike the journalists who will be bound by ethical demands to be as objective as possible, El-Rufai has made it clear that he is in the business to prove his prophecy that GEJ does not possess what it takes to lead a nation like Nigeria successfully.

That obviously put the Presidency on edge and forced it to make what I consider a blunder in arresting him over his second article entitled: “What Nigerians Pay Government”, published last Friday.

The article itself (save for, perhaps the disagreement in figures between the writer and Marilyn Ogar, the State Security Services, SSS, spokesperson over the amount voted for the National Security Adviser) was, to me, fair enough comment. It did not have the doom-saying, dismissive bile of the first outing.
Through that piece, el Rufai demonstrated the rigour of a person exposed to the complexities of public expenditure and why he thought they were being wastefully deployed.

The President’s team should realise they have in el Rufai an elevated mind who will lean on his keen knowledge of governance to manipulate public opinion to prove his point that Jonathan is not good enough to lead. The arrest and detention was an ill-advised reflex action of government not suited for the challenge that el Rufai poses to the GEJ administration.

El Rufai craftily devised a “Tom and Jerry” game of wits with the Presidency, but the latter was unable to read the game plan and therefore plunged headlong into a blunder from which the former minister came out holding the higher ground. That arrest is guaranteed to make even more people look forward to el Rufai’s next outing against GEJ.

The sooner the Presidency understands that the el Rufai challenge is more of a mind game than anything else, they sooner they will also see the need to meet – and overcome – him at his own frequency. It is an intellectual running battle.

The man says you are incapable of stiff-arming established cabals and cliques to make the changes required to “transform Nigeria”.

In spite of his terminal illness, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s toughness was so evident to el Rufai that he fled into self-exile. Then, when Yar’Adua died, el Rufai returned to Nigeria and has become emboldened enough to poke his finger in the President’s eye to tell him: “No, you can’t”. GEJ needs to prove to Nigerians: “Yes, I can”.

Arresting and detaining the gadfly was not the appropriate way of demonstrating this. The arrest and detention yielded nothing for the government, but it paid el Rufai, who is now on his way to becoming some people’s overnight hero.

Does GEJ have the people who will be able to meet the former minister fire for fire intellectually? Does he have the people who can pick up the pen and put el Rufai’s provocative “facts and figures” in the doghouse? Attempts at answering back to el Rufai have been pitifully amateurish, half-literate and hackneyed. If a president cannot hire the best hands and minds in the land, then perhaps el Rufai has a point.

I shudder at what would have happened if anyone had posed a similar challenge to General Ibrahim Babangida at the height of his reign in Dodan Barracks between 1987 and 1991 when he coated himself with a battery of “A” class intellectuals and specialists in almost every field. It is positively down-whelming for a private Nigerian to put the question mark on the Presidency’s executive and intellectual capacities – and make it stick!

GEJ must understand the mentality of the world out there. People like Obama will not understand the point in arresting el Rufai for raising issues in an attempt to hold government to account. Neither do I. However, we have to keep our eyes peeled and make sure that no Nigerian, no matter how disgruntled, is able to carry out the threat of making the nation ungovernable through seditious rabble-rousing.

From vanguardngr.com

Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Politics

PRESIDENT JONATHAN FAILS TO KEEP GNU PROMISE   Leave a comment

As the screening of ministerial nominees for appointment into President Jonathan’s new cabinet gathers steam, all the relevant factors and forces responsible for the process are also taking shape. However, one of such developments has unfortunately not been so positive. It has to do with President Jonathan’s failure to keep his promise of constituting a Government of National Unity (GNU) in sync with his April 2011 pan-Nigerian electoral mandate.

Meeting with leaders of opposition political parties on June 28, 2011 in Abuja Jonathan said he was facing opposition from his ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on the subject. “I am under intense pressure from my party, I am sorry about that,” Jonathan reportedly told Ondo and Anambra Governors, Mimiko and Obi respectively. Both governors’ parties, the Labour Party (LP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had endorsed Jonathan as their presidential candidate during the April election.

Jonathan rode to power on the crest of a multi-party support given to him by Nigerians from all political persuasions. Buoyed by such support, he felt obliged to constitute a GNU that would be broadly representative of more political perspectives even though the three leading opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) opted against it.

Jonathan followed this promise shortly after his victory by asking Mimiko and Obi to forward nominees for his new cabinet only to backtrack on that commitment three days ago.

While I don’t endorse the idea of a GNU under normal circumstances, I think that when a leader commits to it, he should be decisive and honest enough to see the commitment through. I agree with an APGA chieftain who opined that: “[APGA] ought to have rejected the [GNU] offer to preserve the dignity of the party like the ACN and the CPC that [did so] from the outset.”

Reacting to Jonathan’s GNU u-turn, the LP National Chairman, Dan Nwanyanwu, said amongst other things that “It is the President himself that announced to the whole world that he would run a Government of National Unity…So, if he has decided on his own and his party (PDP) to withdraw from it, he is entitled to it. It is his own word against his own word.”

Seriously, this development depicts Jonathan once again as a president who lacks the will power to confront a political establishment whose best interest is not the greatest good for the greatest majority. The PDP’s June 15 executive meeting had kicked against Jonathan’s ministerial list because it was dominated by technocrats outside the party. To his credit, Jonathan made an effort to convince the PDP to accept his GNU agenda. At the June 15 meeting he had said: “I want to plead with you that I will not want to run a government of opposition party or main party. I want us to collectively run a Nigerian government, a government that will take the interests of the country at heart and work towards solving our problems…” More often, however, it takes great will, beyond words, to transform ideals into actions.

Jonathan’s lack of will power was also referred to recently on June 18, 2011 by a source close to World Bank Managing Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who stated that the former minister and technocrat might not take up a ministerial portfolio under Jonathan because she is not convinced of his determination to afford her the needed support to embark on drastic restructuring plans. “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala succeeded because of the support she got from former President Obasanjo. She has insisted that for every successful minister, there is always a determined and strong-willed President.”

References:
Jonathan’s multi-party cabinet plan crashes
By Chiawo Nwankwo, June 29, 2011
From punchng.com

Cabinet: Okonjo-Iweala snubs President
By Obiora Ifoh, June 18, 2011
From nationalmirroronline.net

Jonathan’s cabinet: Why opposition party members didn’t make list
By Peter Anosike, July 1, 2011
From sunnewsonline.com

Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

NIGERIA IS TOO COMPLEX TO BE LEFT IN THE HANDS OF WEAKLINGS!   Leave a comment

It was President Goodluck Jonathan who, in that infamous jibe on February 8, 2011 while flagging-off his campaign in the South-West geo-political zone, in Ibadan, declared (in reference to the states led by non-PDP governors) that the South-West is too sophisticated to be left in the hands of rascals come April 2011.

Well, inspired by that unfortunate un-presidential slang, the PDP’s Gross National Failure (GNF) in 12 years as well as by a careful observation of some recent developments in the polity, I think it is time we establish that Nigeria is too complex to be left in the hands of weaklings!

My hypothesis about Jonathan and by extension, Sambo being weaklings is hinged on Jonathan’s own personal admittance about his limited administrative capacity in a meeting with the former US Ambassador to Nigeria revealed by the WikiLeaks cables. How do we reconcile Jonathan’s administrative incapacity in the midst of the ravaging PDP political wolves that will go to any extent to influence Jonathan for their personal interests? It is now known that the governors have always taken advantage of Jonathan’s widely believed naivety and always tried to arm-twist him. Indeed, one governor even admitted that most PDP governors rallied around Jonathan at the primaries not because he was the better candidate but simply because Jonathan’s naivety meant they could manipulate him into meeting their demands!

Ribadu, meanwhile, was sacked by late President Yar’Adua because his abrasive outspokenness clashed with the ex-President’s more discreet but slow and unconvincing anti-corruption crusade – a thing which has continued under his former Vice-President and now President, Goodluck Jonathan. Indeed, in 2009, Ribadu was a keynote speaker at an anti-corruption conference for Africa organised by the United Nations Development Programme in which he shared his strong convictions and experiences taking on grand corruption. You only need to read A Paradise for Maggots: The Story of a Nigerian Anti-graft Czar by Wale Adebanwi or The Problem of Corruption in Africa: The Nigerian Experience by Ribadu himself to be able to appreciate how Ribadu, whom Chinua Achebe describes as an “important crusader for justice”, bestrode the anti-corruption drive like a colossus!

The main trust of Nigeria’s problems is not a lack of creative ideas as to the way forward but a systemic dearth of the capacity and bold political will required to drive those ideas into fruition and the integrity needed to bring all defaulters to book. While Jonathan’s campaign is giddy with excitement on the soap box and shying away from pinpointing with precision how it intends to overhaul a system that has failed woefully, Ribadu has challenged the signature symbol of the PDP’s GNF wherein 80% of Nigeria’s total spending is used to sustain government (recurrent capital) and only 20% is used for capital expenditure and has promised to do a much-needed swap (20% for recurrent capital and 80% for capital expenditure). Such a swap, for instance, will mean that the outrageously high earnings of Nigeria’s legislators take a serious downward review. At N182m and N127m respectively, the annual pay for senators and House of Representatives members is stupendously high. We must evolve an economy where value is what determines income. Only Ribadu has demonstrated the resolve to reverse such trends.

On the other hand, as if to worsen matters and compromise the financial integrity of future generations, Jonathan’s 2011 budget, premised on borrowing, is unfortunately set to continue to drain our sovereign wealth.

As EFCC Chairman, Ribadu had the boldness and courage to take on top guns in the political establishment including his boss, the then Inspector-General of Nigeria, Tafa Balogun. Ribadu’s extensive groundbreaking work against corruption boosted our country’s profile abroad and attracted huge foreign investments in ways not seen since he was dropped. Jonathan, as President is naïve and clearly lacks the stamina to tackle corruption head on. Ribadu’s running mate, Fola Adeola is a man of character who founded the Guaranty Trust Bank in 1990 and served as its CEO for 12 years after which he was offered the cabinet position of finance minister in the Obasanjo administration in 2003 but turned it down. Given the complex financial mess the PDP has put Nigeria in, it will require the intelligent input of a career professional like Adeola to steer the ship of state to safety.

On the contrary, Jonathan chose Namadi Sambo, a governor for three years as his Vice-President and running mate because he wasn’t known to have any strategic national political credentials that could compromise Jonathan’s ambition (against the suspicions of some in the North). Very cowardly, Sambo, on October 22, 2010 in the UK said it was right to make Nigeria a G-20 member. Sambo submitted that the G-20 consists of the most industrialised economies of the world but fell short of admitting that Nigeria is clearly not so industrialised.

Recently, a UK-based Nigerian said he was part of a Diaspora organisation that supported Jonathan on the grounds that they who are out there (in the West) know who Western leaders want to do business with. This sounded like a revelation that the West is willing to do business with Jonathan because he has not shown the capacity to challenge them.

Nigeria needs a strong leader who can stand up to the West so that recent unscrupulous deals by Western companies such as Shell, Siemens and Halliburton on the back of government infiltration could be prevented.

Nigeria needs a strong leader who can confront corruption head on and take on the “untouchables” who are draining our beloved country of amazing chunks of wealth; a leader who is not naive or weak. Until we can significantly reduce corruption, developmental projects will continue to suffer huge losses. If you can’t confront corruption, you surely can’t deliver adequate power or provide security or jobs for youths. Corruption is our biggest problem in Nigeria. It is the root cause of all our other problems.

Whereas President Jonathan hasn’t demonstrated the capacity to confront corruption or to systematically manage our country’s wealth, Ribadu has. It would therefore be wise to vote Ribadu rather than Jonathan for President in the April elections. We need a proven Nuhu Ribadu and not a weak Goodluck Jonathan as President of Nigeria in May 2011!

Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa