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A professor’s cure for Dangote’s headache

Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH of Monday, April 15, 2019)

Sitting on a pyramid of wealth exceeding $10bn, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, shouldn’t be worried by poverty. In fact, if Dangote decides to line his path and walk on $1million daily, poverty can’t come near his tent. But poverty has a way of worrying the superrich and giving them headaches. The blood-curdling sight of poverty burying its fangs in the jugular of the North has left Dangote in fright. He disclosed his personal fears some days ago when he spoke at the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, in Kaduna. Dangote said, “The North must focus on harnessing its massive agricultural potential in terms of both production and processing. No region with such a high agricultural potential should be this poor. We have what it takes to turn around our fortunes and I pray all the 19 governors of the northern states will wake up and follow (in) the footsteps of the Kaduna State Government.

“Given the vast arable land and conducive environment, I think in the next 10 years, agriculture can generate more revenue and prosperity than oil that we have now if we have the right commitment. While the overall socio-economic consideration in the country is a cause for concern, the regional indicators are very alarming. In the north-western and north-eastern parts of Nigeria, more than 60 per cent of the population lives in extreme poverty. It’s instructive to know that the 19 northern states, which account for over 54 per cent of the country’s population and 70 per cent of its landmass, collectively generated over 21 per cent of the total sub-national internally-generated revenue in 2017. Northern Nigeria will continue to fall behind if the respective state governments do not move to close the development gap.”

I admire Dangote for his honest view and decent public life. But I sympathize with him for agonizing over a regional malady long cast in beggary steel. The backwardness in northern Nigeria which Dangote seeks to address by his lamentation has long been overtaken by defiance. With their backs to the wall, hungry, angry and vengeful northern youths have been poking their fingers in the eyes of the nation, mushrooming into Boko Haram, herdsmen and kidnap gangs.

Death is the synonym for power without control. Today, the North is writhing in self-immolation because its leaders, over the years, had sought and got power, but never used it for regional or national good. They used it for personal enrichment while the army of disgruntled youths expanded beyond control. It’s not that the current leaders of the South-West and South-East are any better than their northern counterparts in terms of corruption and neglect, but the region’s First and Second Republic leaders invested in education whose dividends the regions have been enjoying for over five decades. The North, however, had been glued to the pyrrhic victory of attaining power and protecting it from other regions while it failed to prepare for the future.

Nigeria is a mistake in history. It’s the product of colonial rape, whose offspring has been struck by cerebral palsy, making it unable to get up from the crib – 58 years after birth. Nigeria was conceived in the slave era treachery and birthed into ethnic suspicion among her major tribes. If the wages of sin is death, the wages of Nigeria’s political suspicion and insincerity is poverty. The foundation for the country’s enduring poverty and backwardness was set at independence when the colonial lords preferred the mortar to the pestle. That was the advent of our national problem. At independence in 1960, the outgoing British overlords, wanting to still maintain a measure of control over Nigeria, decided to align with the North, placing political power in its hands. While other countries like Malaysia, India, Ghana, Canada, Australia etc that similarly got independence from Britain at various stages have made good their freedom, Nigeria has been shackled to the sin of her thoughtless past when General Yakubu Gowon declared that the problem with Nigeria wasn’t money, but how to spend it. The British have come and gone; I won’t be one to perpetually bemoan a paradise lost. But I’ll be the first to announce the signs indicating that our lost glories are in the horizon as we work out our redemption. I prefer our lion to pounce and not to roar in vain. I prefer the truth like Dangote expressed it.

Like a powerful geyser, truth squirted gallons of ceiling-high cold facts from the floor of the red chamber of the National Assembly few days ago. For about eight minutes, the dam of truth broke in the hallowed chamber, flushing through the hollow aisles, seeking to sweep off the country’s choking constitution in a tide wave. But after eight minutes of gushing truth, the oasis in the senate ebbed as the rickety pro-establishment engine croaked back to life, spurted black smoke and moved on. This is the same fate that will befall Dangote’s warning. Dangote has spoken. The powers that be have heard. But nothing will be done. People have been speaking in the last 50 years. Like an unheeded prophet, Dangote had warned in October 2016 that over 100 million Nigerians were living in poverty.

Since the inception of the National Assembly in 1999, I cannot remember when last truth was spoken so frankly, so audaciously and so tellingly as the senator representing Osun-Central senatorial district, Prof Sola Adeyeye, did some days ago on the floor of the Senate. With barely three weeks to the final breath of the 8th National Assembly, Adeyeye announced to a nonchalant parliament that the problem of the country was her constitution! While watching his presentation, I did a quick mental note on many of the 109 serving senators in the country and the word, b-e-n-c-h-w-a-r-m-e-r-s, echoed in my skull.

Canvassing for true federalism, the white-bearded biologist said, “When a nation or Republic cannot keep faith with justice and with the truth, it will never achieve unity, it will never achieve peace and it will never achieve progress. I dare to tell this nation today that this (thrusting up the constitution) is the problem; this constitution can never give us progress, this constitution can never give us peace, this constitution can never give us unity, and unfortunately, most of us in this National Assembly don’t have the spine to do what we need to do for this Republic to have peace and progress.

“What do I mean? This constitution has 68 items on the Exclusive List, this constitution has only 12 on the Concurrent List, and those 12 are written so nebulously, so fraudulently that you will know that the intention is to even undermine those on the Concurrent List. We must put in place, the same safeguards that presidential systems across the world put in place so that we can have what needs to run the society. In this chamber, we tried to federalize the police system. In this chamber, we failed. We failed because we didn’t summon the courage, the wisdom, the tenacity of purpose and the vision and the understanding of what is making nations across the world to work. We must revisit the revenue formula such that more money goes to states; states are where the people live, states are where the problems occur; states are where local ingenuity can be brought to solve local problems. We have only two months left, I don’t believe it’s too late, tomorrow, let our constitution review committee bring only one item, and let’s fast-track everything that we must have state police.”

But Adeyeye’s presentation was dead on arrival at a Senate which murmured in protest, turning his effort into a futile exercise in verbal gymnastics. Like Dangote, like Adeyeye.


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APC’s Claim On My Citizenship Idiotic – Atiku Fires Back

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate for the 2019 polls, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has dismissed the petition by the All Progressives Congress (APC) contesting his citizenship as “idiotic”.

Atiku, who spoke through his media aide, Paul Ibe, told Saturday Sun, yesterday, that it is an insult to Nigerians and the office of Vice President, which he occupied for eight years, for the APC to allege that he is not a Nigerian.

He said everything must not be about politics. Ac- cording to him, “ that is idiotic. It is idiotic. And it is ridiculous. Atiku Abubakar is a former Vice President of Nigeria. Are they telling us that a former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not a Nigerian? That is disrespectful to Nigerians and for the office he has held, which other people will hold and will continue to hold. Everything must not be on the alter of politics. “

Efforts to get the reaction of the PDP leadership to the development, as at the time of filing this report, was unsuccessful as the op- position party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, did not respond to repeated calls to his mobile line.

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Some APC Leaders Expect Buhari To Rig Supplementary Elections – Garba Shehu

Surprisingly, Garba Shehu, spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari, says the president will neither interfere with the supplementary polls in five states nor ask the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to change results in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a statement on Sunday, Shehu said some APC leaders expected Buhari to abuse his office by usurping the powers of INEC to turn the tables in their favour.

He said INEC is fully in charge of electoral matters in the country, advising party leaders in the affected states to work hard to earn the votes of the people.

Shehu said unlike the past when presidents influence outcome of elections, Buhari would not deviate from upholding the constitution.

He said some members of the ruling party are unhappy with Buhari over the stance but the president would do only what is acceptable by the law.

“The presidency also rejects unfair and ridiculous criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari’s apparent disinterest in the upcoming elections in some states by party members who wrongfully assume that the President will abuse his power by changing results to favour them” he said.

“Past presidents of Nigeria were known to interfere in inconclusive elections, and that is why party members appear to be upset that the same thing is not happening now.

“President Buhari is a different kind of leader. He swore to defend the Constitution and he will not veer off from that.

“The Constitution of Nigeria gives the president no such powers. It is unfair and ridiculous to criticise President Buhari for not going against the Constitution.

“Party members in states where there will be supplementary elections then need to be reminded that they need to work hard to earn their people’s votes, rather than expect President Buhari to manipulate INEC in their favour.”

He said while APC members were expecting Buhari to interfere, the opposition too had concluded that the president would use INEC to assist his party to victory.

Shehu said Buhari would not play to the wishes of anyone in the supplementary elections, insisting that the APC must work hard to earn votes.

“Interestingly, while members of the ruling APC party were criticising the president for not interfering on their behalf, members of the opposition were condemning the president based on their assumptions that he would definitely interfere, as many in the opposition did while in power,” he said.

“Under President Buhari, INEC had been and will be completely independent throughout the elections, free from any interference.

“President Buhari is a man of conviction, and the manipulation of election results goes against everything he stands for. INEC is completely in charge.”

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Hon. Desmond Elliot Celebrates Birthday In Grand Style

Nollywood star cum politician, Desmond Elliot is a year older today, February 3rd, 2019 and in the spirit of celebration, the lawmaker who’s a core grassroot man used the opportunity to reach out to his own.

The rendezvous was the popular Paddington Field behind Stadium hotel, Surulere where the honourable member of the Lagos State House of Assembly hosted his constituency’s grassroot politicians.

According to him, the choice to celebrate with my people is just a way of thanking them for the undying support and encourage them to look forward to greater things yet to come.

The occasion was thrown open with special prayers for the celebrant followed by introduction of special guests present including the beloved mother of the celebrant who flew in all the way from Atlanta to celebrate with her darling son who’s been making her proud.

There’s no doubting the fact that Hon. Desmond is a man of the people as his guests practically turned the celebration to a campaign ground of sort drumming their support for a second term for the host of honour.

People from various fields of human endeavour including the locals stormed the occasion with great excitement.Top personalities such as the local government chairman of Surulere, Hon. Tajudeen, actress Dayo Amusa and many others were all present.

To win hearts is an art. It is an art not everyone can perform, It really takes a lot of training and a bit of humility sometimea, Hon. Desmond Elliot must have possessed all these as he has effortlessly won the hearts of many who relentlessly vouch their support for his continuity in the House of Assembly as their representative.

The talented actor cum politician used this great occasion to give out assortment of expensive gifts to politicians in his constituency commending their hard work and input in pushing Surulere forward.

He gave out sewing machines, grinding mills, deep freezers, generators, digital cameras, ludo games, sewing machines, iPhones, volcanising machines, chairs, tables, just to name but a few.

While speaking to Enquirermag, the lawmaker said he decided to celebrate his birthday with his people as a way of making them partake in his blessings because God has blessed him.

He also went on to say his greatest wish on this beautiful born-date of his is that God should continue to bless his mother with long life and health so she can live to see her beloved son grow old gloriously.

To whom much is given like they say, much is expected, the people of Surulere who’re definitely proud of their choice and ready to see him through his second term also reciprocated the gesture by showering him with gifts and dance presentations.

Support groups such as Little City G12, CWC Women, the Keggites and many others expressed their joy of being part and parcel of this great man’s birthday and according to them they will always stand by the Hon. Desmond Elliot because he stands by what is right.

There were lots of drinks and assorted meals to savour at the event and everyone definitely went home feeling overfed

It is worth reiterating just how far the ambitious Hon. Desmond can go just to make the people he serves happy.

It was such a sweet and unique birthday celebration that whosoever present will no doubt leave to remember.

Chichi Marvis and Bisola Badmus who covered the event

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PDP Group alleges Dapchi Girls abduction used to raise fund for Buhari’s reelection, $20m ransom paid

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National New Media Group (PDP-NNMG) has described the abduction and release of 76 out of the 110 Dapchi School Girls as a means of raising fund for President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection, demanding from the federal government how much was paid as ransom for the release of the girls.

The PDP-NNMG, which said “those who facilitated the abduction of the girls simply facilitated their return’ alleged that about $20 million, was paid for the release of the girls, saying that it was painful that those placed in authority in the country had become so heartless to the extent of framing abduction of innocent school girls to raise fund for the reelection of president Buhari as well as for their own personal use.

Reacting to reported release of girls, PDP-NNMG in a release signed by its Acting National Publicity Secretary, Edoko Wilson Edoko, demanded from the federal government the actual amount paid to the Boko Haram insurgents to secure the release of the girls and how much the facilitators got.

The group sympathized with parents of five of the girls that reportedly died and congratulated parents of those that returned alive.

The statement read in part; “The reported release of the abducted Dapchi School Girls, as gladdening as it is still leaves much to be desired as there are more questions than answers.

“Even though we sympathize with parents of five of the girls that reportedly died and congratulate parents of the other girls that returned alive, we wish to ask the APC led federal government how anyone could be so sure that girls purportedly abducted by Boko Haram will be released at a particular time if not that such a person was working hand-in-hand with the adductors. 

“Nigerians should be reminded that the Governor Yobe state Governor, Ibrahim Geidam said publicly that military checkpoints were withdrawn from Dapchi and other towns days before the abduction of the 110 students of Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi. 

“Also, Human Rights Group, Amnesty International said in its report that security forces failed to act on advance warnings that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters was heading to Dapchi town and that the military failed to respond while the insurgents carried out the abduction of the school girls.

“Furthermore, while fielding questions on Dateline Abuja, a Channels Television’s programme which aired on Saturday, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, said the abducted school girls will be released this week and true to his words, the girls were released.

“What all these point to is that that there is complicity in high places as to the abduction and release of the girls and it should be clear to discerning minds that the abduction of the girls was only used to enrich some heartless Nigerians and also justify the looting of our treasury for the funding of President Buhari’s reelection. 

“We therefore call on the international community, especially the Transparency International (TI) to help Nigerians in further exposure of the looting of their collective wealth under the guise of fighting Boko Haram insurgency.”

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Fayose congratulates parents of released Dapchi Girls, accuses FG of conspiracy

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has congratulated parents of the abducted Dapchi Girls that were released today and sympathized with parents of five of the girls that reportedly died, describing the abduction of the girls as an indictment on the federal government and their release as “drama scripted by the government and its agents to swindle Nigerians.”

Fayose, while reacting to the release of the abducted school girls, said; “This appears like an arranged abduction and an arranged release, but we thank God that the innocent girls have returned home and we condole with parents of those that died.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said it was strange that the girls could be brought back to Dapchi by their abductors without the security agents knowing when they were returned and who returned them.
He said; “Curiously, the same spirit who made sure that all military checkpoints in Dapchi and other surrounding towns were removed to pave way for abduction of the girls also made sure that the girls were returned without any security agent seeing them.

“One can only be hopeful that the real script writers behind this drama will be exposed one day.
“Nigerians should recall that the Governor of Yobe state, Ibrahim Geidam said that military checkpoints were withdrawn from Dapchi and other communi