The other title I consider for this article is “What Nigerians must not allow Buhari to forget” by putting his feet to the fire after the honeymoon is over. I chose the title above because it is shorter and it captures my fancy and motivation arguably better than my second choice. I see some worrisome evidence that some of us are already forgetting that Nigerians in their millions decisively voted for change and not continuity in the just concluded elections in Nigeria. Insanity as defined by the Chinese is repeating the same mistake, or doing the same thing time and again but expecting a different result.
The APC campaigned for change while the PDP rooted for continuity and the status quo of misery and corruption galore. I have seen some Monday morning quarter backs like Dr. Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba of Massachusetts come out with a few articles on the ChatAfrik web site that are very troubling to say the least. Dr. Aduba in particular, in a kiss of death, has advised Buhari on what he needs to do and his order of priority and sequence for doing them. I say “foul over the bar” like Ishola Folorunsho the ace soccer commentator used to say in the 60s as he captured for listeners on our bush radio what was happening at the football match in Lagos.
Here was a man who stood on the side of continuity with all of his articles before the election now assuming the role of an adviser to the man he had campaigned against in the weeks and months leading to the election. If Nigerians have listened to Obiajulu Aduba, Ayo Fayose, Femi FaniKayode and some charlatans on their own side of the divide, General Buhari would never have been elected. There is no name in the world they did not call the General. Now they have joined the “Alleluyah” boys or the “parapoism” or the “kingaga kungaga” of effusive praise and adulation for the General to take a script from Honorable Patrick Obahiagbon of Benin, the king orator of Nigerian politics who will crack your ribs with laughter with his bombastic English and vocabulary.
Buhari should instead listen to the advice of individuals like Professor Ozodiobi Osuji who broke ranks with his fellow Igbos long ago to side with Buhari and to articulate why Nigerians must vote for change. I am not a fan of Obiajulu Aduba, but I do read all of his articles just like I never fail to read all of the articles of other powerful ChatAfrik and Nigeriaworld writers like Osuji, Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, Professor Femi Ajayi, Patrick Iroegbu, Cyril Nwokeji, Temple C. Ubochi to mention a few. I am, in fact, a humble student of Professor Osuji whose articles are rated as the most popular on the ChatAfrik web site based on his readership and the intellectual power and appeal of many of his writings. I love that guy to death.
I don’t know about you, I would never put Osuji on the same level with Aduba or myself on the same ranking scale because Osuji belongs to a different kettle of fish compared to many of us on that web site. Anybody can deceive me. I only have a problem when I deceive myself. I call it like it is just like my boss, Professor Osuji who once described Dr. Aduba, with some justification, as an “empty barrel”
Dr. Aduba has written 2 articles between Easter time and now that has captured my attention as a columnist on the same web site. The first one titled, “The Igbos as winners in the 2015 election” and the second titled, “the coming war against corruption in Nigeria” written on April 17. I believe that guy is suffering from some neurosis as defined by Professor Osuji to see the Igbos and himself as winners in the 2015 elections. There is one particular article I would not leave alone. It is his “coming war against corruption in Nigeria” where Dr. Aduba laid out his recommendations and order of sequence for the President-elect.
I am happy that General Buhari and Professor Osinbajo do not have his name down as one of the presidential advisers in their new administration. If they are looking for advisers from the Southeast, I would gladly recommend my learned professor, the one and only Ogbuefi Ozodiobi Osuji who will tell the President not what he wants to hear but what he needs to hear loud and clear for him to lead Nigeria to where Nigeria needs to be. The Igbos of Nigeria, male and female, have many brilliant intellectuals that can be contacted. I know them and I respect them.
Dr. Aduba listed 10 items on his “to do” list for Mr. President as follows: His order of sequence to me is not only crazy but ludicrous to say the least. As the number one on his list of priorities, he wants Mr. President to climb down on clerks in most LGAs, State and Federal offices. Number 2, he wants Mr. President to take on teachers across the board because “they exact bad influence on our kids and teach them corruption” to quote his exact words. The nutty Professor presumably forgot that Dr. Kayode Fayemi got into trouble with Ekiti teachers and civil servants when he started to implement some policies he should have deferred to his second term.
If Buhari embarks on what Dr. Aduba is recommending, that would be a recipe for disaster for the APC and for Buhari in 2019. Oshokomole should have had a hard time beating Dr. Fayemi at Ekiti if the young man had pursued a different policy in his first term. Dr. Aduba’s number 3 priority is that Mr. President who he was earlier on labeled a religious bigot and fanatic must go after religious leaders with vengeance and take them on. He clearly forgot that Buhari’s Vice President is one of them. His number 4 priority which should have been his first is for the President to go after Law Enforcement officers like the Police. His number 5 priority is for the new President to take on the Judiciary. His number 6 is for the new President to take on the Governors, the State and Federal Legislators.
His number 7 is for the President to climb down on the Executives starting with Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar, Abacha, IBB and then Jonathan to summarize his exact words. His number 8 and number 9 are what he labeled as “the big knowns” and “the big Unknowns” His number 10 is his advice to Mr. President to begin his house cleaning with the Yoruba looters and not Igbo and Hausa looters to quote his exact words. I now understand why President Jonathan had to fail. He must have been taking some advice from intellectuals like Dr. Aduba.
I urge all of you to go back to the ChatAfrik Web site to read the article in question and for you to form your own opinions and impressions and not just my words for it. Dr. Aduba probably studied in Boston the intellectual power house of America. I too studied next door at Connecticut. I have great respect for the intellectuals of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which is home to two of the great Ivy League Universities in the world. I am talking of Harvard and MIT. I nonetheless seriously disagree with Dr. Aduba on his self-serving advice to the President-elect in that article. I have issues with the article I would like to elaborate upon with the remaining segments of this article.
If the truth must be told I believe Dr. Aduba wants to set the President-elect up for failure. He wants the new President to fail and to self-destruct but many of us who support him from the beginning are not going to fold up our arms and to let elements like Dr. Aduba have their way. They are coming to their so-called rescue of the President too little too late I might add. They can keep their advice to themselves or offer them to Jonathan and the PDP as they try to rebuild their broken edifice. I really want the PDP to become a virile and vibrant opposition that is equipped to get the best out of the new Federal Government in Nigeria. That is the way it is supposed to be in a stable Democracy we all envisage for Nigeria. If Buhari fails, Nigerians should reserve the right to turn to the opposition if they come up with a better idea. The days of the one party dictatorship in Nigeria are over. That is the message we need to convey to the President-elect and the APC.
There is a need for the President –elect to press the reset button to enable him correct many of the things that have gone wrong in Nigeria for more than 50 years and counting. I suggest the President should stick to his original plan to not waste his precious time by going after looters and political mercenaries who have never been formally charged to Court for any wrong doing or who have been charged but have been discharged and acquitted.
He is right to not interfere with those of them with any case pending against them in Court. All he must do in that front is to serve notice to the corrupt Judges in our system it is not going to be business as usual. I think his Vice President, a SAN and a Law professor can widen the scope of what he had done to sanitize the Judiciary in Lagos State when he served as Attorney-General. Buhari should draw a new line in the sand that some of the pen robbers and looters in his Government must not cross. The APC like the PDP has some well-known looters in their fold as well.
What the President must do is to send them notice they cannot continue to steal and defraud in his Government because that would be counter-productive to his agenda and moral authority to drastically minimize or end corruption first in Government and later on in the public and private sector.
There are few initiatives he alone can begin and that he alone is able to do without running into any “cul de sac” with the Law and the stipulations of the moribund 1999 Nigerian Constitution that was crafted and imposed on the nation by the Military and was never formally ratified by the people.
The President-elect can by a single fiat and pronouncement end the use of “Your Excellency” as a nomenclature for all Governors and himself as done in the United States and the United Kingdom while all of those useless and meaningless titles are used for any public officials except diplomats. Only the Queen answers “Her Royal Majesty” in the UK. In Nigeria their Royal Majesties are two for a penny just like “Your Excellences” are also two for a penny.
The titles have gone to their heads in Nigeria. How could anyone in his right mind ever call the hoodlum or lunatic Ayo Fayose “Your Excellency?” Buhari can end that title by asking to be addressed simply as “Mr. President” and all the 22 or more APC Governors as “Mr. Governor”. If the APC Governors want to continue with “Your Excellency”, let them continue because they campaigned for continuity and those who voted for them deserve to get what they voted for. The British colonial masters laugh at us when we describe ourselves as excellent when they know that most of us are nincompoops at best. If I were Buhari, I would drop the useless title right now.
The gesture would be seen as the first visible sign of change in Nigeria. All heads of Government in the military Government of Nigeria were never addressed as “President” until Ibrahim Babangida took the title on becoming Head of State in 1985. What I am suggesting can easily be done by President Buhari. It would also be a change if Buhari delivers on his promise to deemphasize the role of the first lady that was abused and bastardized by “Madam Hippo” Dame Patience Jonathan with apologies to Wole Soyinka who first crafted the “Madam Hippo” title.
There are some aspects of the 1999 Constitution that need to change now that the APC has a commanding majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The APC currently has more than the 2/3 majority in the 36 states of Nigeria. That majority is enough to change or drastically modify some of those obnoxious provisions like granting immunity from criminal prosecution to Governors and President and Vice Presidents while still in office. The President campaigned on that platform. Now that he has won, he must deliver on that change with immediate effect.
There is very little the new President can do to start fighting corruption as suggested by Dr. Aduba if the step I have underlined is not taken. The President’s new initiative to have all his new ministers and top aides commit to a new asset declaration that can easily lead to perjury charge against them if they lie or are found to have violated the Law is exactly the right thing to do in his fight against corruption. He must immediately sponsor a motion to the House suggesting a new Whistle blower Law that would protect whistle blowers like Captain Sagir Koli not to be run out of town for their own safety for telling on their criminally-minded bosses like brigadier Aliyu Momoh. Those are the kinds of things the new President can focus on like a laser beam starting from May 29th.
I spent 25 years of my prime in the Federal Public Service of Nigeria and I was on my way to being promoted a Federal Permanent Secretary had I tarried a little longer in the Public Service. I served under prominent Permanent Secretaries like Ahmed Joda, Grey Eronmosele Longe, Francesca Yetunde Emanuel, Oluyemi Falae and Ogbuefi Gilbert Chikelu. Many of them are still alive and can testify to the statements I am making here.
I was a whistle blower when I got Ahmed Joda to nearly fire and transfer one of his Deputy Permanent Secretary who took a bribe from one of the Federal contractors while I was serving as the Secretary to the Ministry of Education’s Tenders Board and the Deputy Permanent Secretary in question whose name I would not mention, was the Chairman to the Board. The case I am talking about was reported to the Cabinet Office when late Kabiyesi Oba Festus Adedinsewo Adesanoye O sun gbede N’ola the late Osemawe of Ondo was still the Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office.
There are lots of things wrong with the Public Service that the new President can immediately correct. He should go back to the Oluyemi Falae Special Task Force report on how to improve the service delivery of the Federal Public Service that Obasanjo ordered while he was still a military Head of State. The other members of the Task Force included the late Rex Akpofure the first indigenous Principal of King’s College and a Federal Adviser on Education at the time. Another member was Ralph Okpara of Radio Nigeria. Another member was a former Director of Mineralogy, Pa Adeniyi from Mopa in Kogi. Another member was Mrs. Olawoye from Ondo and Alhaji Gambo Gubio from Maiduguri who was a Deputy Permanent Secretary at the time as I recall. I was the Secretary to the Task Force. We wrote the radical report at Luwera Hotel at Ijebu Ode, owned by one Chief Banjoko of Ijebu Ode. The report was so radical that it gave a black eye to the then Military Government led by Olusegun Obasanjo who was so pissed off that he nearly sacked Oluyemi Falae who was then the Director of Federal Planning at the Federal Ministry of Planning.
He wanted Falae detained or fired for allowing his task force to write such a damaging report against his Government. If Buhari and Osinbajo mean business to reform the Public Service, they should just go and dig out that report from where it has been gathering dust in the Cabinet Office somewhere in Abuja for more than 30 years. Chief Oluyemi Falae is still alive and well in Akure and can be summoned by the President to confirm or deny my statement here.
One of the things President Buhari can do or act upon is the Asset declaration he has mentioned after his election. The declaration form as it was designed was not worth the paper on which it was written. I regarded the asset declaration I signed when I served as the pioneer Director of DIFFRI (Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural infrastructure) in Ondo State under late Okhai Mike Akhigbe as Governor as a sheer waste of time and a joke. I told Governor Akhigbe it was a useless declaration and the young man was going to do something about my observation when he was suddenly transferred to Lagos State by the Babangida Administration, and the initiative never saw the light of day again under his successor, Colonel Ekundayo Opaleye. I left the job at Ondo State to return back to the United States in 1987 because I was fed up with Nigeria.
I am able to write about all these things today because I lived it. I am not writing it to blow my own trumpet although I would not shy away from blowing it if I have to, because nobody is going to blow it for me. I blow it because it is my trumpet and I am entitled to blow it because it is mine not yours. It is quite different from “Ole to ji kakaki Oba” meaning the dare devil that stole the Oba’s trumpet, where is he going to blow it? My trumpet is not the proverbial “Kakaki Oba” It is a factual record of my own life and career and I have a right to tell the world about it at a time our new President needs all the advice he can get to move Nigeria forward. I plan to send a copy of this article direct to Chief Bisi Akande who was himself a Secretary to Government under Uncle Bola Ige and was also a former Osun State Governor and the first interim Chairman of the APC before the position was zoned to Edo State and given to John Odigie Oyegun a former Federal Permanent Secretary of Works and a senior colleague.
Another pitfall in our system that needs to be corrected immediately is the long delay by our judiciary to dispense justice. Justice delayed is Justice denied. A case in point is the recent case of one of my cousins in Akure. His name is Honorable Abegunde, (Abena) a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akure South and Akure North in Abuja.
The young man was elected on the platform of Labor Party but decamped into the ACN half way thru his term. He was supposed to abdicate his seat but refused to do that. His case went to Court and he lost at the lower court but he headed to the Appeal Court. In the meantime he continued to serve and he continued to draw his salaries and allowances which run into millions of naira. Our corrupt Judiciary in Nigeria continued to drag its feet in the Appeal Court which finally announced its verdict a few days ago telling Mr. Abegunde he has to abdicate his seat only a month or two before the end of his term. What kind of justice is that? That is what I am talking about.
Many of you reading this will recall that it took our Judiciary in Nigeria 46 months out of a term of 48 months to decide that late governor Olusegun Agagu who was several years my junior at Ibadan Grammar School actually stole the mandate of Olusegun Mimiko and should never have been certified as Ondo State Governor to begin with. The man had remained Governor for 46 out of 48 months before he was defrocked? What kind of justice is that? That is what I call a Kangaroo Court. That is one of the things that President Buhari and Osinbajo have to find some ways to change as soon as possible. It made no sense. Luckily Osinbajo is an Igbobi Colege old boy I might be able to reach out at some point to brief him on some of these things their Government could do if for any reason they do not stumble on this write-up.
Buhari’s fight against corruption cannot succeed in a civilian administration we have embraced unless and until President Buhari has done what I am suggesting. Gone are those days when he could simply give an order for Yaya Dikko to be returned to Nigeria in a crate before the vigilant British Immigration officials in London stopped the law of the jungle.
I am working on other things that President Buhari can do to get his Administration started from May 29th following his inauguration. I work for Sahara Reporters where our operational creed is summarized by the statement,”Report yourself” Sahara is a common people-oriented Media establishment. We expect the rank and file of our people to become part of the change they want to see in Nigeria.
I urge Buhari, Osinbajo, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, John Odigie Oyegun, Chief Bisi Akande, Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Akume, Senator Bukola Saraki, Raji Fashola, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Joe Igbokwe and Governor Okorocha to become part of the change they want to see in Nigeria. If they do, the change Nigeria has voted for would become the reality we all envisage.
I urge the new President to listen to some of the fine advice coming from the young fire eater that has now been crowned the new Emir of Kano, the one and only Lamido Muhammadu Sanusi the Second, the former Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank who openly challenged the Nigerian Legislature for spending no less than 40 per cent of the Nigerian budget to run the legislative arm of Government. It was a criminal act that cannot be allowed to stand.
I listened to that young man speak and all I could do is shake my head not about the potentials of Nigeria, but what Nigeria could actually do and be if our country is properly led. Dr. Aduba should go find something else to do than advising the new President.
I rest my case.