JONATHAN, BEWARE OF BLAIR!   1 comment

“Tony Blair is not known to do principle but deals which give him money. This is not a man any Nigerian leader who wants to solve Nigeria’s problems should take advice from… Jonathan, [beware] of Blair.” –E. O. Eke

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is too close to President Goodluck Jonathan for my liking. I fear there is something weird or shady going on. Blair has met with Jonathan at least six times since he became Acting President in February 2010. Blair and Jonathan have had four meetings in Abuja (February 20, 2010, November 17, 2010, June 17, 2011 and July 31, 2012), one meeting on the sidelines of the 2012 UN General Assembly in New York at a sponsored event (September 26, 2012) and most recently, in Lagos, on April 20, 2013. The frequency of these Blair–Jonathan meetings can only suggest there is more to it than meets the eye.

Fair enough, Blair has visited Nigeria, under Jonathan, for some humane causes. His faith foundation, for example, has the stated intention of seeking to entrench tolerance between Nigeria’s two main religions. What gets me, and I would assume, other discerning Nigerians, worried, though, is that Blair is ostensibly taking advantage of Jonathan’s gullibility to secure lucrative deals for his business partners and cronies. A case in point is the deal Blair brokered for the US bank, JP Morgan, which led to an upgrade of its representative office in Nigeria to a full branch. Blair is a JP Morgan adviser and is said to also have oil and gas interests. Make no mistake about it: Nigeria’s financial services sector is about the fastest growing in Africa and any investor is assured of good returns from it.

In 2010, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said “Blair [supported Nigeria] in the area of health but more importantly in the area of debt relief. Blair led G7 to get us debt relief.” But, interestingly, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also said that it was her former colleagues and contacts in the World Bank and the IMF that played a leading role in persuading Western powers to grant Nigeria debt relief. Either way, if Blair indeed played a significant role in helping Nigeria to clear off her debts, it is likely that he is now leveraging on that to secure juicy deals as part of his ‘payback’ package.

Blair is often full of praises for Jonathan whereas he always veils his criticisms of the man. Whilst one may excuse Blair’s veiled criticism of Jonathan as a given for diplomatic etiquette, how can one justify the unrestrained praises Blair often heaps on him, with his obvious ineptitude and failings?

On November 17, 2010, for instance, a few months to the 2011 elections, Blair made an indirect endorsement for Jonathan’s presidential bid during an audience with Jonathan and the CEO of JP Morgan. Blair said it was the confidence the international community had in Jonathan that attracted JP Morgan to do business in Nigeria. As Vanguard Newspaper reported, “According to Blair, there was a huge amount of goodwill in the international community towards supporting President Jonathan’s efforts to achieve rapid socio-economic development in Nigeria.”

Similarly, in June 2011, at an audience with Jonathan, Blair described him as a “focused leader”. In fact, after he emerged from the closed door discussion with Jonathan, Blair told reporters that Jonathan would do well as President in the term he had just won. Blair said, “I think the President is absolutely focused on the right areas… that he is making the changes that are necessary.”

However, on July 31, 2012, apparently perturbed by the spate of violence in the country, especially as, I would think, they threaten the investment climate needed to facilitate his business interests, Blair again held talks with Jonathan, in the company of some British officials. It was reported that that meeting was to seek ways to end the menace.

Most recently, in Lagos, on April 20, Blair said “There is need for safety and security of the people…” He added that “For total and stable national transformation to take place in any country there is need for the government to provide adequate power supply, construct new roads, eradicate polio, ensure job creation and do other things that make life meaningful.” For a visit that came only a few weeks after the widely condemned Alamieyeseigha pardon, if Blair truly means well for Nigeria, he would have capitalised on that to strongly speak up against corruption. Corruption is, unquestionably, the main reason why Nigeria lacks adequate power and infrastructure.

Jonathan is fleeceable and easily impressed by the company and compliments of, especially, Western leaders. Blair, an Oxford-trained barrister, expert in the art of persuasion, is just cashing in on that and surely having a field day with his unsuspecting prey. Jonathan would be better advised to be more cautious in his dealings with Blair. An attribute of good leadership is the maverick ability to decipher the motives of powerbrokers that often employ beguiling means in the pursuit of their selfish interests, especially when the national good is at stake.

In a recent opinion piece urging Blair to hands off Nigeria and Jonathan to be wary of his friendship with him, E. O. Eke, a Nigerian medical practitioner who lives in England and keenly followed Blair’s premiership, wrote, inter alia, “Goodluck Jonathan should study closely what happens to Blair’s friends. At the peak of Gadhafi’s dictatorship, Blair was his best friend. He reintroduced him to the West and claimed that he was a changed man. His role in helping Gadhafi’s son (Saif) obtain his degree at the London School of Economics has not been investigated. Blair is still resisting the call to declare how much Gadhafi paid him for that PR job. We know what happened to Gadhafi a few years later. Jonathan should tell Nigerians how much Nigeria paid Blair to attend a breakfast meeting with him in New York (in September 2012). We know that Tony Bair does not do such things on charity.”

Also, in a November 2012 opinion piece, captioned “We shouldn’t be welcoming Tony Blair in Nigeria,” analyst, Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, argues that “Blair comes into Nigeria so regularly that most people seem to have forgotten that he does not even command respect in his home country anymore and is unable to walk around in London, with same spring in his step that we see during his regular, and obviously lucrative, Nigerian visits. Blair is reviled around the world for his role in the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. He told lies about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, as justification for the invasion… Blair should no longer be welcome in Nigeria. His regular visits here assault our human decency!”

In August last year, Nobel Laureate and anti-apartheid icon, Desmond Tutu, said it was “morally indefensible” to share a platform with Blair and withdrew from a leadership summit that Blair was to attend. Tutu later called for Blair and Bush to face trial for the “physical and moral devastation caused by [their] war in Iraq.”

Concurring with Tutu’s stance, a commentator, George Monbiot, writing in The London Guardian of September 3, 2012, said “That Blair and his ministers still saunter among us, gathering money wherever they go, is a withering indictment of a one-sided system of international justice: a system whose hypocrisy Tutu has exposed.” In fact, Monbiot founded an organisation calling for Blair’s arrest.

Blair is not only notorious for having been Bush’s right-hand man in the illegal war in Iraq. Blair has also been noted for his involvement in shady deals in Libya, Kazakhstan, etc. He ought to be on trial for his horrid role in Iraq; not globetrotting to expand his business empire. Jonathan, beware!

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AMNESTY FOR BOKO HARAM???   10 comments

“Faced with an intractable problem, we have to explore all avenues of solution. The security response (arms, gadgets and trained personnel) is useful but obviously not enough. The call for amnesty would seem to me quite appropriate and even necessary. In every conflict, a time comes when dialogue must be brought into the equation, in view of a final solution.” –Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja

I have read rational opinions for and against the granting of an amnesty to the terrorist sect, Boko Haram. In particular, inter alia, I read Doyin Okupe’s “Amnesty for Boko Haram: Need for better understanding”. I also read Abubakar Usman’s very savvy piece, “Amnesty: What’s Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander!” in which he made strong arguments for the granting of a quasi-amnesty for Boko Haram as well as the equally brilliant reaction to it, by Wale Babatunde, “Why what is Sauce for the Goose is actually not Sauce for the Gander” wherein he objected to the whole amnesty idea and rather proffered a medium-to-long-term solution out of the malaise in the form of an advanced security and defence mechanism that can readily quell such violent and terrorist organisations.

I also recognise that there are quite of number of eminent Nigerians on both side of the divide. In all, the debates and arguments by both camps are very healthy for our democracy and policy development. They speak volumes about the interest and participation of Nigerians in the governance of our country, especially such as affects the security of lives and property – being, of course, the primary purpose of government.

Truth is, despite a few modest successes here and there, every now and then, Nigeria’s security apparatus is presently way too impotent against the scourge of terrorism. In fact, the Joint Task Force (JTF) onslaught has proven to be ineffective against the sect and has led to very many civilian deaths and extra-judicial actions that instead aid the recruitment of more disgruntled people into the sect’s rank and file.

Wale Babatunde suggested, albeit rhetorically, that “Maybe we should have extended the same [amnesty] courtesy to Osama Bin-laden for the 9/11 world trade centre bombing and the perpetrators of July 7, 2005 London underground train bombing since we seem to have a large capacity for this.” I understand his implied message is that the United States and the United Kingdom did not grant amnesties to the perpetrators of those heinous crimes. Fair enough, but Nigeria clearly does not have the security and anti-terrorism capabilities of the US and the UK. The granting of amnesty stems, largely, from the unfortunate but obvious incapacity of our security forces to deal squarely with the menace.

Babatunde also asks; “Will granting Boko Haram and their other “brothers” amnesty bring an end to terror in Nigeria (I don’t mean the North alone)? While it might give a short term reprieve, will it not ignite another terror group in another region?” Whilst there may be a possibility that an amnesty for Boko Haram could instigate another terrorist group from a different part of the country, it must be understood that the amnesty granted the Niger Delta militants did not in any way contribute to the emergence of the savage Boko Haram. So, this connection, at best, amounts to a fearful imagination. Even then, a smart, quasi-amnesty that consists of a negligible or no financial package will be difficult, if not impossible, to serve as a bait for the emergence of another terror sect. Such a quasi-amnesty that is designed to stop the wanton killing of lives and the destruction of property will do no harm, especially if the authorities begin taking pragmatic steps towards beefing up the capacity of our security forces concurrently.

However, I agree with some of Mr Babatunde’s proposals regarding what can be done in lieu of the amnesty. The only problem remains that, in the most part, his proposals can only take effect in the medium to long terms. What happens in the interim? Should we resign our fate to the killing of many innocent civilians and the destruction of property? Unless something is done decisively and quickly, there seems to be no end in sight to the Boko Haram carnage.

Babatunde adds that “We don’t need to reform our national security apparels; we must dismantle this existing one and build afresh. Many will agree with me that these present security officers cannot deal with the security challenges we presently face as a nation.” Granted that our present security officers cannot handle the challenges confronting us today but no country can, in one fell swoop, entirely dismantle its police/security force. That’s a recipe for total chaos and disorder that will almost certainly breed the kind of instability in which nation-building cannot proceed.

Of course, I fully concur with Babatunde that there is an urgent need to secure our porous borders – a scenario which exacerbates the frequency and quantity of weaponry that make it into our territory and facilitates Boko Haram’s attacks.

Most importantly, I consent, like Babatunde again suggests, that we must take our education very seriously if we must find a lasting solution to any spate of violence and criminality. Two popular aphorisms hold true to this claim. They are as follows: “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army” by Edward Everett and “Education is peace-building by another name. It is the most effective form of defence spending there is” by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general.

On March 29, good governance advocate, Ayobami Oyalowo, explained the plight of our security establishment in the face of the Boko Haram terrorist rampage. He said: “Ganye was bombed for over 3 hours, yet no reinforcement came until the bombers had left. Many people in Ganye town were already aware they would be attacked, but as usual, no pre-emptive measures were taken to forestall it. Citizens are merely a sitting duck, shooting and moving targets for terrorist attacks. The Federal Government completely has NO clue as to what to do. The JTF still searches for bombs manually. In these modern days, with the huge budgetary allocation to defence, [there are still] no sophisticated SCANNERS in place. Our anti-terrorism war is at best a disaster and a stupid joke. At this rate, the theatre of war will be expanded. Our military is NOT trained on counter-terrorism and how to deal with guerrilla warfare. They are a mere reactionary force, ripe for the picking. They mount stupid roadblocks harassing innocent citizens and making life difficult [for them]. Yet bombers continue to have a field day. In guerrilla (terrorism) warfare, the use of stealth intelligence and infiltration is more effective than brute and naked force.”

It is known that the British government has pledged to support their Nigerian counterpart to overcome the Boko Haram insurgency. Following a recent meeting in London between Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, and his United Kingdom opposite number, General Sir David Richards, after a January 2013 visit by the latter to Abuja, Nigeria’s Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, disclosed that the meeting “has opened doors of new opportunities particularly in addressing counter-terrorism challenges.” Also, on January 23, 2012, at the inaugural meeting of the security cooperation segment of the US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. William Fitzgerald, declared his country’s commitment to assisting Nigeria in finding a way out of the security impasse. Since then, however, not much has really changed. The bombs have continued to go off in their numbers.

In addition, at a March 28 meeting with four African leaders, including the presidents of Nigeria’s regional partners, Sierra Leone and Senegal, and the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, in Washington D.C., US President Barack Obama said, “we all discussed some of the regional challenges involved… many of the threats are transnational. You’ve seen terrorism infiltrate into the region… the United States will continue to cooperate with each of these countries to try to find smart solutions so that they can build additional capacity and make sure that these cancers don’t grow in their region. And the United States intends to be a strong partner for that.” The import of that statement is that Nigeria can be sure to get US assistance in combating Boko Haram. But, as experience as shown, not even the brute force of the US military has completely quelled terrorist activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the latter two, American drone strikes are rather helping to fuel pro-terrorist sentiment. Similarly, we all know what happened when the British attempted to cooperate with Nigeria in the botched rescue attempt of two hostages in March 2012.

The point I’m driving home, essentially, is that guerrilla warfare often needs more of home-grown strategies and solutions, consistent with the country’s abilities and not the unleashing of brute force, even with the assistance of foreign military powers. The greatest gain Nigeria can get from any foreign assistance is in the area of intelligence-gathering. Even with that, our security forces still lack the capacity to execute any decisive onslaught, after garnering sufficient intelligence, against a guerrilla movement without, as we have seen, the reckless and wanton killing of civilians, with the attendant negative consequences earlier pointed out.

To understand why amnesty for Boko Haram is permissible, it is important to take note of the circumstances out of which the sect became so vicious. Usman Balkore, an academic and a social critic, did justice to this issue on March 28 when he analysed thus: “Why is dialogue and amnesty not encouraged in the case of Boko Haram? It worked with similar terror groups elsewhere: IRA, PKK, Tamil Tigers, Columbia, PLO etc. Boko Haram was latent and non-violent until they got attacked and killed by the police. When they protested, there was a crackdown. Their existence was no serious threat. The ideology was [only about] shunning western education and vices [and consisted] no jihad or Islamisation. The crackdown was a major conflagration that killed them en mass including many who did not subscribe to the ideology. And then the violent form ensued, attracting sympathy from unemployed youths and radical islamists to avenge on the police and later, those close to the Borno State government and now, public assets and places of worship. And then, perhaps, the fifth columnists hijacked it to create political and religious divides. Islamisation was a latter day adaptation to garner sympathy from some radical groups which played into the hands of the 5th columnists.” Balkore then concluded, “Guerrilla movements and fighters are hard to exterminate, and when they resort to terrorism it is even harder. Our duty is [amnesty/peace] talks.”

At the end of the day, it is important to note that the Jonathan administration hasn’t ruled out the possibility of an amnesty. In fact, it has technically considered one but only on the condition that the leadership of Boko Haram identify themselves so as to make such an amnesty workable. One of Jonathan’s media aides, Doyin Okupe, wrote on March 29 that “Mr. President insists rightly that the leadership of Boko Haram must be identifiable and must come out and confirm their leadership of the sect unequivocally, so as to make it clear who the government is dealing with; Mr. President and the administration is not ruling out the possibility of an amnesty totally, but condition precedent must be the identification of authentic insurgent leadership.” It is also instructive and expedient that yet another of Jonathan’s preconditions for the amnesty is, as Okupe further explained, “The requirement that the leadership [of Boko Haram] need to assure the nation of their willingness to dialogue with the government and an irrevocable commitment to amnesty terms when [take note; not “if”] granted.” This is the right way to go!

My preoccupation, in endorsing the proposal for a quasi-amnesty for Boko Haram, is that I really cannot figure out, nor have I heard or read anyone come out with any better pragmatic short-term or immediate solution to the killings. Let us see an amnesty for Boko Haram like a kind of first aid. The only reason why I support a quasi-amnesty for Boko Haram is because I am convinced it will help to stop the reckless killing of human lives and the destruction of property and also help the federal government and its security agencies to buy more time and decisively beef up their capacity. We cannot afford to be found wanting again, when, GOD forbid, any other major threat to our security crops up. It is, fundamentally, the inadequacy of our intelligence and security forces to effectively deal with the Boko Haram threat and others before it that has given rise to, in my opinion, the need for an amnesty for Boko Haram. If we must shun resorting to amnesty packages in desperate efforts to stop the kind of carnage that the sect has unleashed upon the nation and the kind of destruction that MEND and co inflicted on our oil installations, then we must, ultimately, elect a government that is truly sincere, courageous and possesses the capability and political will to spend more of our nation’s wealth on things that guarantee the security and prosperity of the citizenry. The status-quo, with over 70% for recurrent expenditure, is so utterly unsustainable. Our security, like our education, health and infrastructure are all crying out for want of funds and resources. We cannot continue to waste funds sustaining a large bureaucracy that, rather than add value to our governance, instead helps to corrupt it the more.

Some say an amnesty for Boko Haram will mean the victims have died in vain. How about preventing more deaths? Some say an amnesty for Boko Haram will amount to capitulating Nigeria’s medium-term security to terrorist vices. No! Like I’ve said above, it will rather buy time to beef up our defence capacity before, GOD forbid, another threat emerges. Peace is priceless. Anything that can help bring about peace and stop the killing of innocent civilians, including a quasi-amnesty for Boko Haram, as painful as it may be, is permissible and desirable.

GOD bless Nigeria!

Meet Raymond on Twitter… @Raymond_Eyo

Posted March 31, 2013 by Raymond Eyo in Politics

THE APC TO NIGERIA’S RESCUE?   3 comments

“The APC is the only promising antidote to the PDP’s venomous bite on Nigerians.” -Shuaibu Mohammed

So much has already been said and written about Nigeria’s new political kid on the block – the merger of progressive opposition parties called the All Progressives’ Congress (APC). By this piece, I am not intending to just add my voice to a myriad of intelligent and objective treatises, with different perspectives, naturally, that have followed the announcement of the formation of the APC. All I will attempt to do is to substantiate the argument that the APC is a major game-changer for Nigeria’s politics and democracy.

First and foremost, it must be understood that this is the very first time a major political party is being born with so much public attention accompanying it. The reasons are not farfetched. At the time the People’s Democratic Party came into being in 1999, very few Nigerians, if at all, had cable television. Even fewer had mobile phones. In fact, today’s social media landscape makes the founding of the APC an entirely different affair from that of the PDP. How relevant is this, you may ask? Well, because there was little mass following of the twists and turns that accompanied the PDP in its early years, it was easy for it to be soon hijacked by a small group of influential politicians and business moguls. The same cannot be said of the APC. Already, there are very positive indications about the great interest many a Nigerian youth, albeit the middle-class social media-inclined, have taken in the APC. It is to be expected that this class of young people will, in the short to medium terms, seek to be counted in the APC’s rank and file and therefore to participate actively in the APC. No APC leadership will undermine this mass, seeing the impact of social media amplification of its formation only.

Secondly, the APC is also a major game-changer for Nigeria’s politics because it clearly represents the first promising and politically-expedient alternative to the PDP. Without any bias, it is a fact that if you give the PDP another chance in power, at the centre, in 2015, Nigeria’s democracy and development will remain encumbered. On the other hand, if you elect the APC at the centre, you will inevitably rejig Nigeria’s body politic. With the great interest Nigerians, especially the youth, now have in national issues, the APC will be compelled to act right, if she must retain popular support whilst the PDP will be forced to undertake much-needed reform in a bid to win power the next time around.

“The emergence of the APC has sent shivers into the spines of PDP, as Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State admits it is a huge threat. If the PDP is jittery about the prospects and implications of the APC for our nation, shouldn’t Nigerians be taking APC seriously by giving it a try?” asks Lauretta Onochie, a political commentator.

I am certainly aware that there are many who fear the APC may turn out to be a copycat of the PDP. But those fears are largely unfounded. It must be recognised that even without the backing of federal power on their side, and with less than one-third of the governorships in the country, there are more performing governors in the opposition than in the PDP. For all their weaknesses, the likes of Rochas Okorocha, Kayode Fayemi, Adams Oshiomhole, Babatunde Fashola rank much higher than many, if not most, of their PDP counterparts.

Of course, I am not saying the APC consists of perfect men and women. Far from it! But the very idea behind its founding is not only noble but very commendable. It is up to all who seek change to harness the APC’s platform and make Nigeria so much better than it currently is. Anyone who is waiting for a bunch of perfectionists to fall from the sky will do well to wait for eternity. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush! Urban Dictionary, an online platform, explains that age-old adage saying, “It is better to have [and take] an advantage or opportunity that is certain than having one that is worth more but is not so certain.”

By the way, is it a coincidence that, for instance, in recent times, only an opposition member of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila, both turned down the National Honours offered to him and publicly asked that their jumbo salaries be whittled down? Is it by chance that of all the states Information Minister, Labaran Maku, planned to visit in his so-called ‘Good Governance’ tour, only one led by the opposition (Edo) challenged him and rightly so, and objected to wasting public funds on that window-dressing and profligate initiative? I reckon that so much more is still to be done to make the opposition look entirely different but these are signposts that we have some people of conscience in the rank and file of the APC, as opposed to the majorly corrupt and unrepentant power-mongers in the PDP!

As publisher and politician, Dele Momodu, said in a February 10 interview, “It’s not in the character of conservative parties [like the PDP] to accommodate, tolerate, encourage and nurture good members,” except of course, political developments like the formation of a strong opposition party, forces them to do so, which I hope it eventually will. Like in the United States recently, the Republican Party was forced to acquiesce to immigration reform, something they vehemently opposed, even going into the last presidential elections, because of the political reality that Latino-Americans have not only become a major voting bloc but that they also contributed significantly to the victory of the rival Democratic Party.

In all, and like Momodu again said, “I firmly support the present APC merger. Nigeria is in desperate need of a rescue from the prodigal [PDP]… All believers in a better Nigeria must join hands and make [the APC] work.” Similarly, Lauretta Onochie said “Nigeria is the only home we have. We must be willing to take every risk, including embracing the APC, to recover her.”

AFCON 2013: LET THE EAGLES SOAR!   2 comments

The AFCON 2013 has finally gone underway and Nigeria’s Super Eagles are set to begin their campaign today in a charity-begins-at-home fixture against their West African neighbours, Burkina Faso. One can only hope that the Eagles will proceed to get the better of their other group opponents, Ethiopia and Zambia, from East and Southern Africa respectively, and then go ahead to conquer Africa!

After a string of bad results at recent AFCON tournaments, with disappointing quadruple bronze medal standings between 2002 and 2010 and a disgraceful absence from the 2012 edition (a first since 1986), the mood in the Eagles’ camp is now that of a team braced up for nothing less than the ultimate prize! A number of semiotic underpinnings can justify this claim. To begin with, and on a light note, the 2013 AFCON marks the tournament’s return to odd number years. Perhaps, the Super Eagles were waiting for odd number years to make things even!

On a more serious note, there’s plenty of wisdom about eagles from wildlife science, in favour of the Super Eagles’ getting victorious at the AFCON 2013. For one, wildlife science has revealed that eagles perch on top of tall trees and watch for the direction of the wind before engaging it for a stress-free flight. Similarly, by thrashing Liberia 6-1 in their final qualification match for the tournament, the Super Eagles can be said to have psychologically perched on their highest score in the process from where they can now engage themselves in the direction of a triumphant AFCON 2013 pursuit. Supersport described that victory saying, “Nigeria’s Super Eagles were ruthless en route securing a ticket to the 2013 AFCON.”

Secondly, wildlife science has also revealed that the mother eagle takes its eaglets on a number of trial-flights before it eventually releases them to begin flying on their own. Incidentally, the captain (leader) of the Super Eagles, Joseph Yobo, can be rightly considered the ‘mother eagle’ in our present context. That he has featured in five previous AFCON tourneys and that he’s likely to not feature in any again is sufficient reason to spur him to give his best and mobilise the relatively younger Eagles, with a good majority having less than 20 caps each and no previous AFCON experience, to go for the kill! On January 17, upon the Eagles’ arrival in South Africa, Yobo said “I want to leave the stage by winning something for the team… I believe in this team… this is a good team going into the tournament…”

In addition and most importantly, wildlife science equally demonstrates that eagles engage in partnerships to hunt and share the spoils of their kill. In fact, the Bible in Matthew 24:28, attests to this: “For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” The relevance of this to the present crop of Super Eagles is that team spirit must be their safeguard. Thankfully, for the first time in a while, there has been little emphasis on key players and rather, greater emphasis on the team as a unit. On October 18, 2012, Sports Motivation (@Sports_HQ), an entity that shares insights on the ideals for sports excellence, tweeted thus: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Hopefully, the Eagles will draw inspiration from their creative attack led by the likes of Ahmed Musa, Ike Uche and Victor Moses as well as their midfield commanded by the experienced John Mikel Obi with ‘mother-eagle’ Yobo, skipper Enyeama, Kenneth Omeruo and co, guarding the back.

It is interesting to note that the AFCON 2013 hosts, South Africa, and the defending champions, Zambia, both specifically wished to avoid playing Nigeria in the group stages. The Zambian coach, Hervé Renard, said: “If I can avoid Nigeria [in the AFCON draws that were then pending], I would be very happy.” Likewise, South Africa’s coach, Gordon Igesund, said “To be honest, I want a favourable draw. I’m not going to declare I want Nigeria in our group. I would prefer to avoid them.” When coaches, especially of other respected teams speak of the Super Eagles in this manner, it is because they acknowledge the high level of confidence with which the team currently plays. Meanwhile, as a token of the confidence he has in his boys, Nigeria’s coach, Stephen Keshi, said “I am not scared of any country. Let’s be put in any group.”

It was precisely this confidence that resulted in the Eagles not losing any warm-up game ahead of the AFCON 2013. In fact, though pundits and many fans wrote them off, they were quite impressive against an FC Barcelona star-studded Catalonian side in that January 2 friendly which they drew before defeating a Dutch top-flight team 1-0 on January 12 and wrapping it up with a 5-0 thrashing of Portuguese club, Farense, on January 15. Alluding to this, Mike Umeh, the NFF’s first vice-president said, “The victory is a morale booster for the team. It shows that the Eagles are consistent.”

After their first training session in South Africa, Super Eagles’ striker, Victor Moses, stated that “The boys are looking sharp. We are looking forward to the tournament.” Moses had previously passionately declared that “…I look forward to making Nigeria proud at the AFCON 2013. I want to give everything in all the [AFCON] matches.”

On his part, soon after the final qualifying match for the AFCON 2013, midfield maestro, John Mikel Obi said “I am very happy that the Eagles have returned to winning ways in grand style. I am happy that we won the game in the manner we did, it was great… [The fans] haven’t seen anything yet from me and the Eagles. They should wait till the Nations Cup…” Mikel later touted coach Keshi as being capable of making history by winning the AFCON as a coach after having won it as a player, in 1994.

Furthermore, in December 2012, Nigeria’s former captain and football ambassador, Nwankwo Kanu, declared that the Super Eagles will win the AFCON 2013 if they have the belief. Kanu said, “We should all believe in this; the players should believe that we can achieve it…”

From the foregoing, there is clearly no shortage of motivation for the Eagles to cruise to victory at the AFCON 2013. The very idea that the winner of the trophy will feature as Africa’s representative at the 2013 Confederations Cups in Brazil, alongside world-class teams, in what will amount to an acclimatising dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup, is a very great incentive.

Moreover, one of Nigeria’s best-ever strikers and the first Nigerian to receive CAF’s African Player of the Year award, Rashidi Yekini, passed on in May 2012, at the age of 49. An AFCON 2013 victory will be a great posthumous golden jubilee honour to his memory. The victorious AFCON 2012 Zambian team was inspired, in part, by the tragic loss of their forebears in 1993. Here’s to hoping Yekini’s death, also in tragic circumstances, would inspire the Super Eagles with the élan to aim for nothing short of the AFCON 2013 trophy!

In all, as they get their AFCON 2013 underway, the Super Eagles must work hard whilst firmly holding on to their confidence and determination to win. Belief and determination made the difference for Zambia in 2012. Belief and determination will make the difference for Nigeria in 2013. I have the conviction that the Super Eagles will do Nigeria proud by winning the AFCON 2013!

OHIMAI, WE’RE NOT ALL PDP!!!   6 comments

“We are not all PDP. I disagree with Ohimai. We don’t all belong to a party of murderers, looters and political juggernauts.” –Babatunde Rosanwo

As an avid reader and a very politically-conscious person, I read Ohimai Ahaize’s article, Like it or not, we are all PDP: http://www.ynaija.com/ohimai-amaize-like-it-or-not-we-are-all-pdp-y-politico/, with keen interest and an open mind. Ohimai acknowledged that it was his first article in three years or so. That set the tone for the seriousness with which it was written, which seriousness was not betrayed by the article’s overall compelling message. I therefore invite Ohimai and indeed everyone to equally accord this rejoinder, interspersed with citations on the subject from Babatunde Rosanwo, the open-mindedness and seriousness it deserves.

Ohimai articulated cogent and valid arguments but betrayed his bias for the PDP when he said “The current fad is how well you can demonise the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). I have seen young people on Twitter curse PDP like our problems as a nation begin and end with the PDP.” Ohimai is wrong! Of course, the current fad is not necessarily how well one can demonise the PDP. Rather, most Nigerians on Twitter and Facebook, including me, lambast President Jonathan for his many blunders and failures. Many, again including me, who criticise the PDP have also criticised the ACN on a good number of occasions. In fact, some like me have had reason to express kudos to a PDP governor like Akwa-Ibom’s Godswill Akpabio. More importantly, Ohimai should know better that, given that the PDP has been in power, at the centre, since our present democratic dispensation in 1999, and considering world renown leadership expert, John Maxwell’s aphorism that “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” it is very safe to say Nigeria’s present and ongoing problems begin with the PDP and the buck that could help resolve many of those problems ends at the table of a certain PDP politician called Goodluck Jonathan!

In 2012, on the sidelines of the Olympic Games, Ohimai met and took a snapshot with one of Hollywood’s greatest actors of our time, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Such moments are special because people of great stature like Van Damme should inspire us to emulate the strides that made them great. Well, Ohimai may have kept such lessons (my literal assumptions) for future endeavours because at the moment there’s a great variance between the ideals captured in Van Damme’s showpiece of force movie (Street-fighter), for example, and Ohimai’s tour de force article.

Two days ago, I watched Van Damme beat the brutally oppressive villain, Bison, in his Street-fighter masterpiece blockbuster. In that movie, Van Damme was courageous to inspire a global regiment to take aim at Bison, a man who tormented people and held some hostage, whereas Ohimai smartly attempts to acquit the PDP, a worse-than any real-life Bison, of its many sins.

Ohimai clearly took the shine off his otherwise brilliant article by entitling it “We are all PDP”. No! My brother, we’re NOT all PDP! He should have been more cautious, especially following the recent pasting of PDP campaign posters for Jonathan’s 2015 re-election bid all over Abuja and the lacklustre reaction of his party to it.

It is one thing to inspire people to get involved in Nigerian politics and it is quite another to ask them to join the PDP. At the moment, there’s so much rot in the PDP that, other than a revolution, it will only take having the right will from its top brass, to effect positive changes. No number of youth joining the PDP will change things for good. As the Jonathan 2015 posters and the pro-Jonathan camp in Occupy Nigeria have shown, many a youth will join the PDP because they want a share of the spoil. Let me ask Ohimai: Does the PDP’s NWC, including the office of its National Youth Leader, have room for youth? Are there any chances that youth will be allowed as members of the body that elects the PDP’s presidential candidate?

Babatunde Rosanwo reacted to Ohimai’s article, saying: “If joining politics is a linear solution to Nigeria’s problems, then Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala joining PDP is not making a huge difference in PDP. The system perpetuated by PDP is one that’s destined to see the crème-de-la-crème fail. Ivy League products are struggling to grasp reality.” How true! The PDP system makes it all too certain for even technocratic Ivy League products to fail. What more of young Nigerian graduates or yet, the Nigerian uneducated mass? It will take political change from the top of both the PDP and the opposition parties to position them to lead a national renewal; not mass enlistment into politics! For now, there may be no difference between the PDP and opposition parties but that instead places a premium on the PDP, as the party in power, to set a positive example. Political power, especially for as many years as the PDP has wielded it at the centre, is one resource no person in their right senses, should overlook.

In addition, contrary to what Ohimai said, it’s not systematically true that Naira notes travel faster than a tweet. In the information age, social media is increasingly becoming a very powerful mobilising tool, even for raising Naira notes for charity. You can never undermine the potency of tweets, especially given the promise by the Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson to facilitate the development of Nigeria’s ICT infrastructure to increase the number of internet users in Nigeria from 33.5million to 70 million by 2015. Let it be known that tweets can spur a revolution!

By the way, if change is what Ohimai seeks, he should be careful to rather help in de-monetising our politics. Nigeria is direly in need of a politics of ideas than a politics of money. It’s time we de-emphasise the demonic role of money in our politics. Ohimai’s point does no justice to that effort.

It’s also not true that big bags of rice inspire more hope than well-written blogs. Blogs like ekekeee.com greatly inspire hope – and more so among an increasingly literate and conscious youth. With its exceptional pieces, the award-winning ekekeee.com highlights, in very clear terms, what has gone/is going wrong with the system and is thus inspiring hope and rallying good people to take on the challenge of making a better Nigeria more and more possible.

Nigeria’s challenges are beyond political participation alone. Whilst Nkrumah’s charge that we should seek first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto it, is true in many respects, Nigeria needs more than just political participation. President Jonathan is a PhD holder whom Tunde Fagbenle describes as one who “displays a shocking lack of eloquence and depth, even of a good school certificate holder.” What this means is, political participation is only one part of the equation. We must get our education right! We must get our civic responsibilities aright. Again, Rosanwo opines, and rightly so, that: “[There’s a] dire need for Nigerians to pay more attention to their civic responsibilities, Ohimai is right only about those who seek political office.”

It’s not the first time Ohimai has stirred controversy with his affection for the PDP. Months ago, he called the PDP “a great party”. I wonder what form of greatness he was touting. If a catchphrase to his otherwise poignant article is what Ohimai sought, he is intelligent enough and should have picked a non-controversial option.

Lest anyone should say I wrote this rejoinder out of hatred or any semblance of it, for Ohimai, let me state that he’s a friend and I have agreed with him before. In fact, I solicited a meeting with him lately but he wasn’t able to see it through. I still look forward to meeting him someday. As our overall objective is to build a better Nigeria, all hands must be on deck – whether PDP hands or those of the opposition! As Rosanwo concluded, “Yet Ohimai’s clarion call must be met objectively. May the best of us who have something to offer, [lead] this nation.”

GEJ’s 5-DAY ₦161BN CONSPIRACY   7 comments

Since its inception, the Goodluck Jonathan administration has treated Nigerians to very intriguing, sometimes laughable, events featuring dramatic twists and the sort of conspiracies that can only be the stuff of grand corruption! The most dramatic of such events, of course, remains the cowardly and botched attempt to remove the fuel subsidy in January 2012.

In the first weeks of December 2012, however, the Jonathan administration presented Nigerians with another very dramatic twist to the bigger fuel subsidy narrative. It was a conspiracy by fuel barons, who enjoy the regime’s subservience, to forcefully draw out more funds from the national till after facing what appeared to be some resistance to that devilish plan from the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (NOI). What followed was equally devilish – the kidnapping of NOI’s mum to compel her to play along with the plan and release the requested funds!

What GEJ’s administration effectively staged was a drama, literally, that incidentally, perfectly suits German playwright Gustav Freytag’s 5-act dramatic structure which consists of five parts: An exposition, a rising action, a climax, a falling action and a revelation – or dénouement.

On December 15, Steve Ade (Twitter: @steve_ade) lucidly presented GEJ’s 5-day, 5-act fuel subsidy conspiracy as follows:
– Exposition: “Sunday (December 9): The Minister’s mum was kidnapped (rather adultnapped).”
– Rising action: “Monday (December 10): Kidnappers asked for a $1bn (₦161bn) ransom.”
– Climax: “Tuesday (December 11): GEJ sent a supplementary budget of ₦161bn ($1bn) to the [NASS].”
– Falling action: “Thursday (December 13): The Senate passed the supplementary budget of ₦161bn ($1bn).”
– Dénouement: “Friday (December 14): The Minister’s mum was released.”

On December 17, at a press conference three days after her mother’s release, NOI said: “[Her mother’s kidnappers] told her that I must get on the radio and television and announce my resignation. When she asked why, they told her it was because I did not pay oil subsidy money.” To foreclose any further details related to her mum’s kidnap and the said conspiracy, NOI deliberately refused to take questions from pressmen at the news conference.

For an administration that was battle-ready to remove the fuel subsidy without any qualms earlier this year, it is evident that their motive for insisting on a supplementary subsidy allocation for three weeks, at the cost of ₦161bn, was certainly not in the masses’ interest. By the way, to further lend credibility to the above claim, if indeed the ₦161bn was needed to service the provision of more subsidised fuel, what explains the fuel scarcity that has remained the norm in many parts of the country since it was approved?

Nigeria’s present ruling class is not at all sophisticated in their whims and caprices. They are only able to cash in on the people’s subdued deportment. Expressing this view, political commentator, Dada Olusegun, remarked that “It must be so frustrating for the federal government that we know their every game.” Not saluting their chicanery but, elsewhere, the bad guys operate using usually complex methods. It often takes a lot of peering to unearth massive corruption in other countries. The Rupert Murdoch scandal in the British press and the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme in the US demonstrate how well doctored-up corruption can be in, especially Western countries. In Nigeria, the corrupt [oil] cabal have a rather very clear and direct way of operating – pillaging state funds by simply compelling their puppets in government to play along in their unholy acts.

It’s not me alone who thinks that Jonathan’s governance is more fiction than reality. Adenike Adebayo recently tweeted: “Blockbuster action movie showing at your nearest cinema called CORRUPTION, starring Goodluck E. J., PhD.” In May, Adebowale Adejugbe established very striking parallels between Jonathan and Charles Logan, a cowardly and reluctant US president in the blockbuster movie, ‘24’. Jonathan’s record on leadership is so shambolic and far from reality that, at best, it fits only fictional examples and images.

Twice this year, on January 1 and December 25, Jonathan publicly said he is slow in order to avoid making mistakes. Truth is, Jonathan is actually very slow and timid to take bold and decisive steps that guarantee good governance for the masses but very swift and daring to act in favour of the corrupt elements and vested interests that have defined the most part of his administration. For example, Jonathan swiftly pursued the fuel subsidy removal, speedily approved a very controversial recommendation for Justice Ayo Salami’s retirement and quickly set this latest ₦161bn conspiracy in motion whereas he has remained very slow on tackling corruption, insecurity, health, infrastructure, environmental degradation and pollution in the Niger Delta and other challenges facing the nation. In fact, more often than not, when confronted by very important issues, Jonathan has resorted to his habitual and lazy approach of creating committees and more committees.

In all, like the above ₦161bn conspiracy demonstrates, Jonathan’s administration is manifestly a blockbuster tragicomedy. It is up to Nigerians to make sure this movie ends in 2015! What Nigeria desperately needs at the pinnacle of its political leadership is a reality show on good governance – not a tragicomedy on corruption!

NB:
If you are still one of those finding it hard to ascertain the background to this latest fuel-subsidy conspiracy, some detailed facts and figures on the subsidy, courtesy of Ogunyemi Bukola’s “The Jonathan Metrics of Fuel Subsidy Scam” will do you good: http://omojuwa.com/?p=15062

GEJ AT 55: THE NIGERIAN PARALLEL   5 comments

“Nigeria [is] a blessed country being destroyed by bad people in government. We have to unite to save Nigeria in 2015.” –Bello Mohammed

On November 20, President Goodluck Jonathan turned 55! For an individual who has spent the previous twelve years of his life in the top echelons of Nigerian political power and the last two as president, with very little or no effort on his part, if he, at 55, looked back at his personal life and the political successes therein, he would have been filled with awe especially regarding how he now occupies one of the most powerful offices in Africa without ever dreaming of it before.

Nonetheless, the supposed festive and recreational atmosphere at Jonathan’s 55th birthday was sadly mired by the gloom of his brother’s passing, on the same day. In a news report, The Premium Times’ Nnenna Ibeh put it succinctly: “It is mixed feelings at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, as President Goodluck Jonathan’s half brother, Meni Jonathan, died same day the President turned 55.”

Nigeria, as a nation, has been there before. In 2010, on her 50th Independence Anniversary, deadly bomb blasts rocked the Eagle Square, Abuja, the scene of the federal government’s celebrations, resulting in the deaths of some of her children.

After that very painful 2010 experience, Nigeria would definitely hope for a much happier celebration, in the short-term, by mid-decade in 2015! Like Jonathan in 2012, Nigeria turns 55 in 2015! And, 2015 is not just the deadline for the actualisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); it is also Nigeria’s next general election year!

On Jonathan’s 55th Birthday, I tweeted this: “Happy Birthday, GEJ! May Nigeria be much better at 55 (in 2015) than it is now, as you turn 55!” By this tweet, I meant that the onus is on Jonathan to muster the courage and the will to do the right things that will make Nigeria a better country in 2015! Like him or loathe him, to be Nigeria’s president for two years at age 55 is a commendable achievement. My expectation, therefore, is that Jonathan will be committed to using the remainder of his term to contribute significantly to what Nigeria can proudly call her own commendable achievements by the time she turns 55 in 2015!

However, even in my hope that, by 2015, Jonathan could have improved on his very unconvincing record thus far, I am reminded about the truism that no person can give what he or she doesn’t have. Only his apologists will contend with the fact that Jonathan just doesn’t have the leadership capabilities needed to take Nigeria forward. It was this realisation that informed my next Jonathan-at-55 tweet: “GEJ, Alameiyeseigha et al gave way for you to have a story to tell at 55! May you give way soon so Nigeria can have a story to tell at 55!”

With the above tweet, I implied what I’ve always advocated for – namely that, for the reasons of his acute lack of leadership capacity, Nigeria can’t afford another presidential term for Goodluck Jonathan! I hope and am convicted that a new, very sensitive and courageous Nigerian president would be sworn in on May 29, 2015 and by the time Nigeria turns 55 on October 1, 2015, such a president should have given the first signals of a radical departure from Jonathan’s very poor performance by putting in place a truly competent and frugal cabinet, void of the too numerous aides and special advisers and assistants comprising the profligate characteristics of the Jonathan era, for example.

Indeed, Nigerians must unite to save Nigeria in 2015! Any effort to save Nigeria in 2015 must have at its core the electing of a replacement for Goodluck Jonathan at the Aso Villa. Nigeria at 55 will deserve nothing less!

Raymond is on Twitter @Raymond_Eyo

Posted November 30, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

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