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Portrayal of Nigerian Heroes in America’s News Media By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi — November 7, 2016

Portrayal of Nigerian Heroes in America’s News Media By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Many Nigerians, especially those on social media, have by now read about Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, a Nigerian doctor in America who, along with his partner surgeon Dr. Darrell Cass, caused a baby girl to be born twice. A deadly tumor was first removed from the baby’s brain when she was just 16 weeks old in her mother’s womb, then she was put back in the womb, and was delivered again after she became a full-term baby.
I examined the reporting of this medical feat in America’s mainstream media and didn’t find references to Olutoye’s Nigerian nationality. (He got his medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in 1988.) The reporting on Olutoye recalled an article I wrote on July 16, 2011 titled, “Nigerian-Americans in America’s News Media.” Read below excerpts from the article: Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye America’s mainline news media deploy a really curious reportorial technique to narrativize Nigerians: They amplify our national identity in negative, unflattering news stories and suppress—sometimes even outright erase—it when stories cast us in a positive light. Three events in the past few weeks instantiate this invidious reportorial temperament. First, on June 11, CNN and other American news media excitedly went to town with the story of two American “Marines [who] showed extraordinary bravery ‘when the world became fire’.” It’s about two military men who were honored with the American military’s second highest honor for their uncommon valiance while on a mission in Afghanistan. The honor, called the Navy Cross, is second in prestige only to the “Medal of Honor,” the highest U.S. military decoration awarded for bravery and valor in action. It turned out that one these two brave Americans is a man named Capt. Ademola Fabayo. Although his name is noticeably Nigerian—or at least “non-American”—CNN didn’t disclose his natal nationality until toward the end of the story. Even so, his association with Nigeria was undermined with the tidbit that he regards himself as more American than Nigerian. “Fabayo was born in Nigeria,” CNN writes, “but considers himself a New Yorker.” Would CNN have respected his preference to be considered more American than Nigerian if he were a criminal?…. It is telling that all the American news media that reported on this award mentioned the original nationality of the marines [the other one is from Mexico] only in the last paragraphs of their stories. As media scholars and practitioners know only too well, we live in an “age of skimming” where people only read the first few paragraphs of a story and then jump to the next story. This seems like petty griping until you contrast this with what happened to another Nigerian-American exactly 19 days later. On June 30, the American news media overflowed with the story of a “Nigerian man,” identified as Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi, who boarded a flight from New York to Los Angeles with expired and stolen boarding passes. The first sentence in The Associated Press’ reporting on the story reads: “A Nigerian man boarded a Virgin Atlantic airplane last week with an invalid boarding pass, according to the FBI.” For those who didn’t know, The Associated Press is America’s (and the world’s) biggest news agency…. Many headlines—in online, print, and broadcast media—identified Noibi as a “Nigerian man.” However, Noibi is actually an American citizen born to parents who are originally from Nigeria. He was born in the city of Ames in Iowa, a state in Midwestern United States. That means he enjoys what is called birthright citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”… So, Noibi, an American by birth, was identified as a Nigerian on account of the nationality of his parents, but Fabayo who was actually born and raised up in Nigeria was identified merely as a brave (immigrant) American marine. His association with Nigeria had to wait until the last paragraphs. Even then, he was described as more American than Nigerian. I find this contrast intriguing. But, most importantly, from all indications, Noibi is clearly mentally disturbed. A Nigerian blogger has chronicled Noibi’s awkward Facebook status updates and incoherent rants on YouTube. He clearly cuts the picture of a brainsick loony, but the American media haven’t even pursued this angle. The media were, instead, initially interested in linking the man’s freaky behavior with Umar Farouk AbdulMuttalab’s 2009 attempted “underwear bomb” plot. But the realization that Noibi is a self-professed Christian evangelist destroyed this potentially sensational media narrative. Finally, on July 7, another stunning story involving a Nigerian by the name of Ikenna Njoku, who was unfairly racially profiled by a bank, came to the open. Njoku was arrested,sent to jail for four days, and had his car auctioned off when he went to cash a check. Njoku, a construction worker, worked hard to buy a home. The American government has a program called first-time home-buyer rebate, which gives back a large chunk of taxes to anybody who buys a new home. Njoku qualified to receive $8,463.21 (about 1.3 million naira) and got a check worth that amount, which was issued by Chase Bank, the very bank that caused him to be arrested! When he went to cash the check, the cashier looked at his foreign-sounding name. She didn’t believe a black man with a funny name could own a home much less qualify for a home-buyer rebate worth that amount. Instead of honoring his check, the cashier called the police on him. He was arrested and jailed for days until the bank realized that he was genuine. Meanwhile, he lost his job, his car, and never received an apology from the bank. He will certainly get millions of dollars in compensatory damages from the bank, especially because the national media are sympathetic to his travails. For some reason, however, the man has never been identified, even for once, in the mainline U.S. media as a Nigerian. He is simply called “an Auburn man.” (Auburn is a city in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington). Why is he not identified as a Nigerian? Is it because he cuts the image of a hardworking, honest immigrant who is the victim of an odious racial profiling, an image that doesn’t sit well with the media stereotypes of Nigerians? Had he been found guilty of check fraud, would the headlines still have referred to him merely as an “Auburn man”? I bet he would have been called a “Nigerian man” at best and a “Nigerian scammer” at worst. And he would have been linked with 419 scams. The truth, in the final analysis, is that every media formation is guilty of cultivating a set of narratives and imageries that it then tries hard to nurture and defend at all costs. The Nigerian media has its own peculiar sets of ethical infractions. But as a Nigerian living in America, I can’t help being miffed by the hypocritical portrayal of Nigerians in the American media.

Microsoft admits to messing up the Windows Phone — November 3, 2016

Microsoft admits to messing up the Windows Phone

The time for revenge has come
Castillos de naipes y de arena
Image: Backchannel

Microsoft admits to messing up the Windows Phone. Their little adventure with Nokia turned out to be a house of cards for the company. While it’s good to recognize, it’s also important to set a new course and seek new opportunities for Apple along the way. In the past, their primary battlefield has been design tools and the brand has stayed miles ahead of the competition. But that’s about to change. During their last conference on October 26, Microsoft revealed a powerful machine, the Surface Studio, with an i7 processor and features that (they hope) would make creatives around the world take notice and abandon their Macs.

On the other hand, Apple team members aren’t rocket scientists. Apple Watch sales have fallen due to poor user reception, making it unable to gain a niche following. To add to this upset balance, the iPhone hasn’t been selling well either. It’s time to see what they’ve got hidden up their sleeves. Apple seems thinks it will recover their losses with the release of a new Macbook Pro with integrated Touch ID. Time will tell

THE WEDDING PROPOSAL THAT IS BLOWING THE INTERNET —

THE WEDDING PROPOSAL THAT IS BLOWING THE INTERNET

DEAR JULIET, I AM SORRY I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE…

Dear Juliet,

 

I have pretended for so long that I am happy with what we have, what we share. I put up beautiful pictures of you, of us, online and people shower us with praises; some want what we have but what they don’t know, what you might not know is that all these years with you, I have been unsatisfied… my heart has always yearn for more, for something bigger, for something better.

 

I have buried my head in that pretense for long, wishing that someone will hand me the happiness, the fulfilment and the “more” that I need. Somewhere in the quite crevices of my mind I have always thought I deserve this “more” but the courage and resources to reach out for it has always eluded me… until I met Jiyoung Sok on the plane on my way from Hong Kong to South Korea recently.

 

It was love at first sight. She is beautiful in a way that defies elocution. Born of an Ethiopian mother and Korean father, she has a white skin that is embellished with voracious melanin. She looks like a resurrection of Cleopatra. Our eyes locked. I was petrified. She waved me a smile and like a robot, I reached out for her… Jiyoung flew into my arms and stayed there for a mighty long time.

 

Somewhere in the eternity of that hug, she pulled back and brushed her lips on my cheek. I melted into a solid awakening. That was my moment of epiphany. That was the moment I realized, dear Juliet that I don’t want what we share anymore. That is the moment I got the courage to reach out for the more I have always wanted. Jiyoung Sok’s hug has set me free.

 

I know you must have sensed that I wanted more, I must have hinted it somewhere in our discussions, and you must have sensed I am tired. Well, if you ever did, you are right… Juliet I am tired. I’m tired of the long calls. I’m tired of the Facebook romance. I’m tired of the smiles and goodnights. I love all of these but I want something more. Please let’s break this… let’s go for “more”… you deserve more too. Don’t you think?

 

Let’s break this and build from the fine blocks. Some of our friends and relatives might be disappointed, but hey dear Juliet, it’s our happiness we are talking about here. Let’s stop this please. Let’s go to that dark murky future and search for that more. I am not afraid anymore. No matter who I hurt, I want to do this. I deserve this. You deserve this too. Or don’t you?

 

And I want to do this once and for all. I don’t want to be going back and forth. No. I want to put a final close to where and what we are and have. I don’t want today to interfere with the tomorrow I’m reaching out for. Please don’t blame the Korean beauty, it’s not her fault, this is what I have always yearned for.

 

So please let’s do this properly once and for all. I will be back to Nigeria soon; so please can I come with my friends and family members to pay your bride price on the 15th of December, 2016? On that same day we will ask your father to bless us and usher us into that “more” that I yearn for.

 

And on the 17th of December 2016, I will be waiting for you in the church… will you come with your friends and family let’s take a vow breaking what we have and build “more” from the fine blocks?

 

I love everything you have given me, I enjoy everything we share and have… but I want more… I want a cute little 3-year old like Jiyoung Sok, hugging me every day and brushing her lips on my cheek. I want someone I can annoy for the rest of life, who will not have another house to rush to.

 

I want us to belong together to the sitting room, the kitchen and the other room… Oh the other room… and we will also conquer the world and impact lives… together.

 

Dear Juliet, will you come?

 

Your Boyfriend, who is begging to be your husband,

First Baba Isa.

 

12:15am, Thursday, 3-November-2016,

Seoul, South Korea.

Coming Petrol Price Hike and NNPC’s Subterfuge By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi —

Coming Petrol Price Hike and NNPC’s Subterfuge By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Another petrol price hike is coming. It’s not a matter of “if”; it’s a matter of “when.” So either brace yourself for it or get ready to fight it. Of course, I’d be the happiest person to be wrong about this. Every petrol price hike follows an unfailingly well-worn pattern in Nigeria. First, government flies a kite of an impending price hike through the bush telegraph and the traditional media, and then gauges the reaction of the public. If government sees that public reaction is intensely hostile, NNPC or some other government agency would issue a forceful but often wily denial, which lulls the people into a false sense of security and comfort. Weeks or months later, supply would run out either because importers refuse to import petroleum products or because some union decides to go on strike to drive home the imperative of “total deregulation,”—or suchlike sterile subterfuge. A biting artificial scarcity ensues, price of petrol skyrockets, and the country grinds to a screeching halt. Then an astonishingly fraudulent rhetorical rape of people, preparatory to the price increase, follows. The usual stale, sterile promise of “total deregulation” in the interest of the “masses” would be given. The masses of the people, we would be told, don’t “benefit” from low petrol prices. Faux anger would be whipped up against an intentionally unnamed, amorphous oil cabal and other elite groups that supposedly benefit from low petrol prices, which putatively robs government of the revenue it needs to build infrastructure and improve the lot of the people. Of course, we would be reminded that our low prices conduce to petrol smuggling to neighboring countries, which purportedly hemorrhages our economy, and that, in any case, most Nigerians already pay way above the official price for petrol. And so on and so forth. Government calls this rhetorical fraud “sensitization” of the masses as a prelude to the increase in petrol prices. Of course, the real name for that is propaganda; deceitful, scorn-worthy, mendacious propaganda. It’s probably the most bizarre and the most intellectually barren propaganda in the world not only because it’s been repeated verbatim since the 1960s but also because it seeks to convince people to accept that their own existential annihilation is beneficial to them, even when their lived realities give the lie to these cheap, stupid lies. This elaborately choreographed scam has started. On August 7, 2016, Sunday Punch reported oil marketers to have said that the current price of petrol wasn’t profitable for them. They said, “the actual or real cost of petrol was N151.87 when all the pricing components are adequately captured.” On September 4, we read again that all “former and present Group Managing Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,” after a one-day meeting with Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kackikwu, issued a statement saying, “the petrol price of N145/litre is not congruent with the liberalisation policy especially with the foreign exchange rate and other price determining components such as crude cost, Nigerian Ports Authority charges, etc remaining uncapped.” This emboldened marketers, two days later, to insist that the “real cost of petrol” is “N165 per litre.” The Punch of September 6, 2016 quoted an oil marketer to have said, “[R]ight now, most of us are getting the product from the NNPC; that is why you still see that there is product everywhere. It is an indirect case of subsidy. It means the government is subsidising it through the NNPC and we are buying at local price. Had it been that we were the ones that sourced the foreign exchange, we can’t sell it at N145.” Then on October 25, we heard that an NNPC Group General Manager by the name of Mele Kyari said at a conference in Lagos that “Sale of petrol at N145 is no longer sustainable.” In the aftermath of the panicky online chatter the statement inspired, NNPC was forced to deny that there would be an immediate increase in the price of petrol. But the denial was, as usual, double-tongued. You need to read the whole story of the denial closely to know what I am talking about. “According to [the NNPC spokesman],” the Daily Trust reported, “IF THERE IS GOING TO BE ANYTHING LIKE A PRICE HIKE, the agency responsible for fixing the price of petrol, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, WOULD DEFINITELY SENSITISE NIGERIANS ON IT AND GIVE REASONS FOR THE HIKE.” It’s the same sadly familiar trickery. Who the heck wants government’s “sensitization” and “reasons” for any impending hike? Government has been “sensitizing” and giving “reasons” for price hikes since the late 1960s, and they are all awfully the same: they are the same predictably fraudulent and flyblown clichés of elite lies and insensitivity that I identified above. “Sensitization” and “reasons” won’t mollify the hurt the increase would inflict on ordinary Nigerians. “Sensitization” and “reasons” won’t stop the cost of everything from food to transportation from escalating. “Sensitization” and “reasons” won’t increase the meager, stagnant, and irregular salaries of people who work for government. The statement from the NNPC is particularly ominous. It says, “AS FOR THIS MOMENT, there is absolutely no plan to do that and no need to do that, because we have more than enough supply, we have very robust stock of product in our custody.” So what of the “next moment” when the “robust stock of the product” in their “custody” is depleted? Got my drift? That’s called plausible deniability. I warned Nigerians before that the petrol price hikes would be never-ending as long as government refuses to invest in refineries and cut off the suffocating stranglehold of the fraudulent oil cabal once and for all. I said government would continue to put forth one unimaginative subterfuge after the other to justify bilking everyday Nigerians and hastening their descent into untimely graves. We had been told that government no longer paid subsidies, and that the money saved from the withdrawal of petrol subsidies would be used to build infrastructure and make life a little better for everyone. Now they have changed the story: they now say they are still paying subsidies. The next lie would be that subsidies are bad, unsustainable, and should be got rid of. They said they had totally “deregulated” the oil market and that only the forces of demand and supply would regulate prices. They even went so far as to say petrol prices would crash. Another big lie. The lies would get to the end of their shelf life soon, and the truth will come out. Brace yourself for the next price hike—and another after that. And yet another thereafter—until all vulnerable and helpless people drop dead, and Buhari and his vultures have no more poor people to feast on. Buhari’s Nigeria is the perfect neoliberal nirvana that even the compulsively evil IMF and World Bank never imagined could ever exist anywhere on planet Earth: a place where mass stupidity reigns so supreme that people would actually protest against protesters protesting government’s piecemeal death sentence on them. These low-IQ Buhari automatons “love” and “trust” their president who doesn’t care about them. Take this from me: Until Nigerians actually unite and resolutely resist this sneaky move, what will follow in the next few weeks would be artificial scarcity of petrol, which would cause prices to go through the roof. The government, in cahoots with oil marketers, would allow the artificial scarcity—and the extortionist prices that accompany it—to linger long enough for people to heave a sigh of relief when the actual increased price they have in mind is finally announced.

Aisha Buhari and the Evil Aso Rock Cabal By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter:@farooqkperogi — October 24, 2016

Aisha Buhari and the Evil Aso Rock Cabal By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter:@farooqkperogi

Mrs. Aisha Buhari bucked tradition by openly criticizing the political appointments in her husband’s government. There is no precedent for this in Nigeria’s entire history. In fact, I know of no parallel in the world for a First Lady (or Wife of the President) to openly disagree with her husband through a foreign media outlet. This can only mean that although Aisha is formally married to President Buhari, she is actually isolated from him. This is consistent with what I’ve heard from inside sources about the relationship between the first couple. Buhari is held hostage by an evil, sneaky, corrupt, vulturous, and conniving cabal that ensures that his wife doesn’t see him even in the “kitchen,” the “living room,” or “the other room.” The BBC interview was Aisha’s vigorous ventilation of pent-up anguish against a cold, calculating, and corrupt cabal that has made Buhari a stranger to his own wife. A few months ago, a close Buhari aide who was unnerved by my all-out, no-holds-barred criticism of this government (which was inspired by my realization that this government is an elaborate anti-people fraud) called to assure me that Buhari hadn’t abandoned the pro-poor posture that endeared him to many of us. He said Buhari personally disagreed with the recent petrol price hike, the “floating” of the naira, the removal of subsides on fertilizer, and other anti-people policies that have become the signature of this administration. He called my attention to the fact that the president always travels out of the country each time this atrociously pigheaded decisions are announced. A few days after our conversation, as if to confirm what the presidential source told me privately, Buhari publicly disagreed with the devaluation of the naira. “How much benefit can we derive from this ruthless devaluation of the naira?” he told business leaders who paid him a visit in the Presidential Villa on June 27, 2016. “I’m not an economist neither a businessman – I fail to appreciate what is the economic explanation.” As I told my informant, this is terribly worrying. If Buhari is personally uncomfortable with the decisions that have come to define his own administration, it clearly indicates that he isn’t in control. It means he is a puppet controlled by inept, no-good puppeteers. But like most Buhari aides, my informant believes Buhari is metaphysically held captive by a potent, disabling evil spell that causes him to be easily susceptible to the wiles and devious manipulations of a vicious cabal in Aso Rock. He said efforts are being made to exorcise this spell. But that’s superstitious nonsense. Buhari is simply an infirm leader who cherishes and rewards loyalty even at the expense of truth, justice, fair play— and the nation. Yet, scores of his supporters go into overdrive to defend the policies of his government because they believe in him and imagine that all the policies churned out by this government have his imprimatur. Many of them would even justify and defend their own murder by Buhari if they have the chance to reincarnate to tell the story. This is the context that instigated Aisha Buhari’s unusual media outburst. When you are denied access to your husband, when your husband is held prisoner by a malevolent, shadowy, and predatory cabal, you can’t help but lash out through the most potent means available to you. So before you talk of the unprecedentedness of Aisha’s critique of her husband’s government, also remember the unprecedentedness of her husband’s critique of his own government, which clearly indicates his alienation from his own government. But let’s not be deceived into thinking that Mrs. Buhari is worried about the fate of everyday Nigerians whom her husband’s puppet government is killing piecemeal. She is fighting a personal battle of self-preservation. She is piqued that she is excluded from partaking in the rampant and unrestrained nepotism of this government. As I pointed out in a recent viral Facebook status update, most disillusioned Buhari supporters don’t care whether the president’s appointees are personally known to him or his wife—or whether or not they campaigned or voted for him. They are worried, instead, that many, perhaps most, of the president’s appointees are corrupt and incompetent, but are shielded from any consequences for their corruption and incompetence because of their loyalty to the president. Let’s start from the president’s first major appointments: Secretary to the Government of the Federation Lawal David Babachir is nicknamed “Cash and Carry” in government circles for a reason. Here is a man who once publicly bragged about receiving monetary gifts from the Ebonyi State governor. He has also been implicated in the N270 million “grass-cutting” contract scandal for internally displaced Boko Haram victims. The Chief of Staff to the President has been accused of accepting a half-billion-naira bribe from MTN to reduce the telecom company’s NCC fine from N1.04 trillion to N330 billion, among other allegations of sordid, avaricious sleaze against him. And the man is incompetent and lazy, to boot. It’s the same story all around members of the president’s “kitchen cabinet.” It took Buhari 6 months to appoint his ministers who have turned out to be the most underwhelming cast of characters to ever be in the Federal Executive Council. Among them is a minister of budget who doesn’t know Nigeria’s debt profile; a minister of agriculture (who, tellingly, is a former PDP chairman) who thinks the cost of rice is high because Nigerians consume too much rice; a minister of science and technology whose technological vision for the country is to start local pencil production in two years; a compulsively lying and comically foul-mouthed minister of information who says dressing and undressing masquerades is a strategy of job creation; a minister of youth and sports who is so incredibly clueless he makes you want to cry; a backward, prehistoric minister of communication who wants to tax Nigerians for calls they make and texts they send; a minister of Niger Delta Affairs who was indicted for fraud by a government commission in the 1990s but still keeps his job even in the wake of this revelation; a minister of finance who hides her incompetence behind a Cockney accent. The list goes on. Add that to the revelations of a series of secretive, illegal employment of the children and relatives of high-ranking political elites in this government, including Buhari’s, while millions of brilliant, hardworking but underprivileged people vegetate in misery amid a biting recession, and you know that Nigeria is wildly adrift. Neither the president nor his ministers have a clue. And they don’t care. If this trend continues, by the end of 2019, Buhari would be so unpopular that he would be chased out of Aso Rock with rocks by millions of his own erstwhile supporters. Aisha Buhari obviously doesn’t want this terrible fate to befall her husband. I don’t, too.

Murderous Mass Persecution of Nigerian Shiites By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi — October 17, 2016

Murderous Mass Persecution of Nigerian Shiites By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi

I am no Shiite. As the son of a Sunni Muslim scholar, I have irreconcilable theologicaldifferences with Shiism. But I would be remiss (and betray the true meaning of my name, which signifies one who distinguishes truth from falsehood) if I failed to speak up in the face of the heartrendingly murderous persecution of Shiite minorities in northern Nigeria. Shiites have had run-ins with Nigerian law enforcement agents for as long as I can remember, but the lamentably cold-blooded mass murder of hundreds of unarmed, defenseless members of the group by the Nigerian military in Zaria on December 12, 2015 took the cake. I was numb with horror for days on end in the wake of this bloodcurdlingly brutal mass slaughter of fellow human beings whose only crime was that they constituted themselves into a nuisance. Report of the government-appointed “Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria Clashes” said at least 348 Shiite Muslims were murdered by the Nigerian military, but members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria said nearly 1,000 men, women and children were butchered by the military.
The group’s leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, was shot several times, including in the eyes, publicly humiliated by being paraded half-naked in a dingy wheelbarrow, and has been in detention for nearly a year—in addition to the insensate murder of his wife and children and the destruction of his home. That was unmentionably horrific. But what was even more horrific was the complete absence of expression of outrage or even a tinge of moral compunction from Nigerian authorities. Not even President Muhammadu Buhari who is always quick to issue statements of solidarity and sympathy when even a single soul dies in a terror attack or a natural disaster in the West deemed it worth his while to express sympathy over, much less condemn, the heartless and unwarranted mass slaughter of his own citizens by soldiers he is commander-in-chief of. When the president was compelled to speak on the mass murder during a presidential media chat on December 30, 2015, he seemed to countenance it. “How can you create a state within a state?” he said. “There are some teenagers I saw stoning Generals [The commission of inquiry set up to investigate the crisis said this wasn’t true]. I don’t want to talk too much about it…
The people of Zaria came out openly to talk about what they have been going through in the last 20 years under the group.” Unbelievable. Just unbelievable! No one denies that Shiites, particularly in Zaria, are an intolerable irritation. They habitually block traffic and make life a living hell for road users. But that is no justification for the callous murder of their members. There is no proportionality of justice in killing people because they blocked traffic. In any case, Sunni Muslims, Christians, and other cultural groups in Nigeria also habitually block traffic for Juma’at prayers, Maulud celebrations, crusades, “owambe” parties, etc. But an even more insidious phase in the persecution of Shiites has just started. Late last week, Kaduna State governor Nasir el-Rufai, who is shaping up to be one heck of an intolerant, hypocritical pocket Nazi, issued a proclamation banning the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. This is the same group whose support he studiously courted in the run-up to the last general election and for whose sake he once called the Nigerian Army “genocidal.” “GENOCIDAL JONATHANIAN ARMY KILLS ONCE AGAIN: My sons were taken alive, then summarily executed by soldiers via Premium Times,” el-Rufai wrote in a July 26, 2014 Facebook status update. Look at this scenario and tell me if it’s not an open invitation to another avoidable insurrection: A government-backed army murdered hundreds of men, women and children of a religious minority group in cold blood for merely provoking soldiers and their head honcho. The army then shot, humiliated, and indefinitely detains the leader of the religious group. In spite of this extreme provocation, members of the group resist the urge to retaliate or take the law into their own hands, but are prevented by authorities from even exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful protest. Finally, government hands down a fascistic fiat banning the organizational platform of the religious minority group with the threat of “a penalty of imprisonment for seven years or a fine or both for any person convicted for belonging to an unlawful society.” That, right there, is the textbook definition of persecution, of fascistic persecution. History won’t be kind to anyone who endorses this vicious rape of a people’s liberty of conscience and right of association. But if you don’t oppose this injustice against a religious minority group because of the violation of its democratic rights, you should at least spare a thought for the short- and long-term consequences of this monstrous governmental oppression. We are witnessing the making of a Shiite version of Boko Haram. When you inflict incalculable physical, emotional, and symbolic injury on a small but determined and largely peaceful group and then proceed to proscribe the group or jail its members for insisting on exercising their liberties, you risk a violent pushback. The English say “(even) a worm will turn,” which means even the meekest and most docile person will fight back if you push him so hard that he has nowhere else to escape to. A dangerous corollary to the proscription of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is the unwitting authorization of jungle justice against Nigerian Shiites in northern Nigeria. That’s why scores of Shiites were murdered last week by remorseless, bloodthirsty mobs in several northern Nigerian cities. One of life’s enduring existential ironies is that most people will rather give up their life than give up their way of life. That’s why laws that seek to legislate people’s way of life never work. No legislation, imprisonment, or murders will stop the existence of Shiites—or any religious group. Repressive tactics historically only solidify groups and drive them underground from which they engage the state—and the society at large— in tediously protracted guerilla warfare. That’s how Boko Haram emerged. This is one avoidable self-injury we can’t afford to inflict on ourselves at this fragile moment in our life as a nation. This isn’t about Shiites; it’s about respect for the basic liberties of all people. Shiites are at the receiving end of fascistic repression today; you, yes you, could be next tomorrow. A society’s health is judged by how well it treats its minorities, it vulnerable members.
THE DSS STING OPERATION AGAINST SOME JUDGES AND THE REAL COLOUR OF THE TRUTH. —

THE DSS STING OPERATION AGAINST SOME JUDGES AND THE REAL COLOUR OF THE TRUTH.

A lot of people have approached this issue like we always approach everything: it’s either Arsenal or Chelsea, APC or PDP, Black or White, Yes or No, Right or Left… but as Aristotle will say, “Virtue resides in the centre, all others at the extremes are vices.” We need to stop and realize that most times progress and national interest is not in the right or left but in the middle; most times truth is not white or black but a shade of grey.My stance is a little bit of there and here…

Assuming and even partially conceding they are corrupt… Yes, the DSS has tons of evidence against them… Is this the proper way to arrest a justice of the Supreme Court or a judge? Even when a man is sentenced to death, there is a proper way to kill him. If a man has been sentenced to die by hanging, you can’t just take him out and gather your family members to stone him to death.

Someone might argue that dying is dying and killing is killing. But such a submission will be bereft of legality and logic. So, sir, stop waiting for whether they will come out squeaky clean. Even if they don’t come out clean, the procedure adopted by the SSS is faulty prima facie; please note that I didn’t say illegal, we will come to that.

There are salient and noble reasons why procedures for investigating and punishing erring judicial officers are put in place. And one of the reasons is so that the bench should not be shamed and demystified, for want of a better word. A judge should first be removed as a judge before he should be arrested and made to stand criminal trial.

Once a judge, like every other person, is arrested for a crime, the Constitutional presumption of innocence kicks in, meaning such a judge will most likely be released on bail and he continues to be a judge, presiding over cases, while attending his trial. And most of those cases the judge who was arrested by the DSS, the judge standing trial and prosecuted by the DSS, will be brought and prosecuted by the same prosecutors, the DSS. In other words, his prosecutors will be appearing before him as a judge to prosecute other cases. Can you imagine that?

That is why a procedure is put in place to first remove these erring judges through the instrumentality of the National Judicial Council before they are arrested and prosecuted. It is not because they are better than the rest of us, it is for the sanity of the system.

Procedural law is the fuel that drives substantive law to birth justice. You cannot copulate procedural law in the mouth and expect substantive law to birth justice… That might be a waste of national and administrative sperm!

But what if this faulty procedure leads to an unraveling of heavy corruption… As might already be unfolding? Should will throw away the truth because the procedure was faulty?Is the sting operation even illegal? This is where the truth begin to take the colour of grey. Not white. Not black.

I have already stated in clear language that there is procedure of disciplining erring judges. The National Judicial Council is saddled with this responsibility. This is an admirable procedure for the reasons I gave above. But here I am, perusing the Third Schedule, Part 1, Paragraph 20-22, that establishes and outlines the function and powers of the National Judicial Council and I can’t see anywhere here, where it is expressly stated or remotely implied that because of the existence of the NJC, our law enforcement agents cannot arrest a judge for an alleged crime. If you have seen it, please show me.

 

The NJC as a body is not even empowered to remove a judge, they only recommend a certain punishment to the executive arm of Government to be meted out to the erring judges. So nothing prevents the executive arm of Government from enforcing the law against judges suspected of committing crimes.“The National Judicial Commission (NJC) is responsible for the appointment, discipline/punishment of judicial officers only in respect of breach of judicial ethics, and not crime. Even where a judicial officer has been sanctioned by the NJC for any misconduct, the state still reserves the right to prosecute the erring officer if his misconduct amounts to a crime.”

 

A corrupt judge cannot be allowed to hide under the procedural cloud of the NJC to evade arrest. We cannot sacrifice justice and the fight against corruption in the judiciary on the altar of decorum.

 

Breaking down doors and arresting judges in the middle of the night is not the decorous thing to do, infact it is shocking and disgusting but that it is shocking and disgusting doesn’t make it illegal; thus inputting illegality to the DSS operation is nothing but grand mischief designed to tell an already story or play out a script.

 

The DSS executed their search/arrest warrant as empowered under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA). Section 144 provides for the issuance of search warrant and this warrant may also empower the officer to arrest. Section 148 of the ACJA states clearly “A search warrant may be issued and executed at any time on any day, including a Sunday or Public Holiday.” So those saying it is illegal to arrest them by 1:00 am in the morning are talking out of their imagination and not within the purview of our extant law.

 

I never thought a day will come when I will see the door of a Supreme Court Justice broken down to effect his arrest. But that day came. But as sad as I am, I will not allow my emotions prevent me from showing us what the law says in this regard. Section 149 (1) of the ACJA states that: “Where any building liable to be search is closed, a person residing in or being in charge of the building, thing or place, shall on demand of the police officer or other person executing the search warrant, allow him free and unhindered access to it and afford all reasonable facilities for its search.” And when unhindered access is denied, what happens?

 

Go and do a community reading of Sections 9, 10, 12, 13 and 149 (2) of the ACJA  and you will see that a law enforcement agent executing a search warrant and/or arrest warrant is empowered to “break open any outer or inner door or window of any house or place” where unhindered access is denied. So if the suspects (judges) denied the agents unhindered access, sad as it is, the hacking down of the door is lawful.

 

Now to the point of whether the DSS has the statutory responsibility to carry out the raid. A very senior lawyer even claimed that he has read the Act establishing the DSS and nothing therein empowers them to arrest the Judges. Really? Let’s see for ourselves.

 

Have you forgotten the SSS Instrument 1, promulgated by General Abdulsalam Abubakar? This instrument was promulgated pursuant to the powers conferred on the Head of State by Section 6 of the National Security Agencies Act (the Act that created the DSS). Section 3(1) SSS Instrument 1 states that:“For the purpose of facilitating the discharge of its function under this instrument, personnel of the State Security Service are hereby conferred with the power of Superior Police Officer in respect of searches and arrests”

 

And before you accuse me of quoting a law made by the military, this instrument has been anointed by section 315 (5)(C) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria; and what the Constitution has blessed no man can curse.

 

Section 12 of Police Act defines a Police Officer to include, “any officer of an equivalent rank in other security agencies”Section 7 of the same Act states unequivocally that, “police officers, custom officers, any member of the Armed forces and Security Agencies can arrest without warrant, any person committingan offence prescribed by law”. So I don’t know where some persons conjured the submission that a DSS operative cannot arrest.

 

We all feel bad about the arrest but the arrest is lawful. I don’t want to belong to a profession where judges are hounded, intimidated and arrested like common suspects by security agents; but I don’t also want to belong to a profession where judges sell justice like yams in a bazaar to the highest bidder.

 

I want the law enforcement agents to hold off until a judge has been disciplined by the NJC before they can make arrest and prosecute but if the NJC is glossing over petitions, being tardy and letting off corrupt judges with a slap on the wrist then by all means let the law enforcement agents swoop on the judges.

 

Break down the door if you must but by all means stop corruption on the bench. I am a young lawyer and the law is my life. I burn the midnight candle to be the best for my clients and to get to the apex of this profession but my hard work won’t stand a chance before a corrupt judge who sells justice like oranges.

 

But don’t just break the doors of judges, break the doors of some ministers, break the doors of some legislators, break the doors of some politicians, break the doors of some military officers, break the doors of some law enforcement agents, break the doors of some activists… go on, break doors; maybe we will have enough wood from the broken doors to build the broken fabric of our nation.

 

First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and the President of Lawyers For Peace Initiative; he writes from Abuja

@firstbabaisa

07037162029

meandisa@gmail.com

Top 5 Expressions that Should be Banned in Nigerian English By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi — October 10, 2016

Top 5 Expressions that Should be Banned in Nigerian English By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Of course, no one has the power to “ban” or approve anything in English. Not even the Queen or King of England has that authority or influence. Nobody does. No authority does. The emergence, popularity, decline, and death of words and expressions in English often happen naturally. This fact, however, shouldn’t preclude language enthusiasts from passing judgments on crooked, fetid, and questionable language use. When language is fresh, evocative, clear, mellifluous, and grammatically correct and complete, we all love it. But we chafe at clichéd, error-ridden, and sterile language—what George Orwell once characterized as “lump of verbal refuse.” Here are my 5 candidates for the “lump of verbal refuse” in Nigerian English that should be tossed out into the linguistic wastebasket: 1. “Wailing wailer” or simply “wailer”: This agonizingly asinine Nigerian social media expression refers to a critic of the Buhari administration. It takes unbelievably remarkable stupidity to think that “wailing wailer” or “wailer” is an insult, but it bespeaks an even more astonishing height in the ignorance index to hurl it at an opponent and imagine you have done something great. Plus, it’s honestly getting nauseatingly stale and sterile. I delete people on my Facebook friend list who use the expression. I make exceptions for people who are personally known to me. If you charge me with linguistic intolerance I’ll gladly plead guilty. In my September 6, 2015 article titled “From Febuhari to ‘Wailing Wailers’: Linguistic Creativity Decline of the Buhari Brand,” I wrote: “There is probably no clearer evidence of the creativity deficit of the president’s media men than that they’ve deployed the term ‘wailing wailers’ to describe critics of President Buhari. “There are two things wrong with that expression. One, ‘Wailing Wailers’ is a historically positive term. It betrays spectacular creativity deficit to insult your opponent with a term of esteem. Anyone who knows a little bit about music history knows that ‘Wailing Wailers’ is one of the earliest names of the reggae band formed by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in Jamaica. “When the band was formed in the early 1960s, it was called ‘The Teenagers.’ A few years later, the band’s name changed to ‘The Wailing Rudeboys.’ The group again changed its name to the ‘Wailing Wailers.’ This change of name coincided with the time it was discovered by an influential Jamaican producer, who gave it national and international prominence. “After some more years, the group changed its name to simply ‘The Wailers.’ When Peter Tosh pulled out of the band, it came to be known as ‘Bob Marley and the Wailers.’ “I grew up on Bob Marley’s music, and one of my trivial bragging rights is that I know every single song Bob Marley sang from the late 1960s till his death in 1981. To use the name of a progressive, emancipatory, anti-imperialist, pan-Africanist musical group as a term of insult is the height of ignorance! “Let’s even assume that Adesina didn’t know of the ‘Wailing Wailers’ (which is unlikely, given his age and the fact that Bob Marley was a sensation in Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s when he came of age), as a grammatical category, shorn of any association with Bob Marley and his band members, ‘wailing wailers’ is an idiotic turn of phrase. What else should wailers do but wail? Laugh? Smile? Well, they are wailers because they wail, which makes ‘wailing wailers’ pointless and, frankly, unimaginative phraseology. It’s like saying ‘writing writers,’ ‘singing singers,’ ‘lying liars,’ ‘fighting fighters,’ etc. That’s meaningless and unintelligent waste of words. “This, of course, does not indict the original ‘Wailing Wailers.’ It was a trademark name, and trademark names enjoy the license to break grammatical conventions in the service of creativity. Just a few examples will suffice. A well-known India-based Coca Cola company called ‘Thums UP’ (with a thumps-up emblem) was probably so named in error, but when Coca Cola bought the company, the ‘error’ in its name was left untouched. ‘Dunkin’ Donuts,’ a popular American brand, misspells ‘doughnut’ deliberately. “Brand names are also notorious for leaving out apostrophes in their names. Prominent examples are Starbucks Coffee, Barclays, Michaels, etc. Two prominent Nigerian examples are Peoples Daily, which should properly be ‘People’s Daily,’ and All Progressives Congress, which should properly be ‘All Progressives’ Congress.’ So brand names intentionally contort the conventions of grammar for creativity, humor, marketing, etc. “Adesina’s ‘wailing wailers’ isn’t a brand name; it’s just illiteracy. And the illiteracy he started is spreading and percolating in Nigerian cyberspace every day. Now Buhari’s army of self-appointed social media defenders habitually tag critics of the government as ‘wailing wailers’ and imagine themselves to be saying something meaningful. No, ‘wailing wailers,’ as a historical term, is a badge of honor. As a turn of phrase to insult an opponent, it’s imbecilic.”
2. “Do the needful.” This expression sprouted in Nigerian English in the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan administration and has waxed thereafter. It should wane. It’s an excellent candidate for the Orwellian “lump of verbal refuse.” As I pointed out in a February 8, 2015 article, “do the needful” is a really old-fashioned English expression that survives only in Indian English—and now in Nigerian English courtesy of our brain-dead politicians. CNN Travel identifies the phrase as one of “10 classic Indianisms,” Indianism being English usage unique to the Indian subcontinent. Many native English speakers are confounded by it. Where Nigerian politicians in the past would have said “do the right thing,” they now say “do the needful.” Unless you want to communicate with Indians, avoid the phrase like a plague.
3. “Sentiments.” This word is perhaps the worst victim of grammatical abuse in Nigerian English. In a December 3, 2009 titled “Why is ‘Sentiment’ Such a Bad Word in Nigeria?”, I wrote: “There is probably no more misused word in Nigerians’ demotic speech than the word ‘sentiment’—and its many inflectional variations, such as ‘sentiments,’ ‘sentimental,’ ‘sentimentalism,’ etc. In popular discourses, both at home and in the digital diaspora—and in blissful ignorance—Nigerians routinely do so much semantic violence to this harmless word. “For instance, in everyday political conversations, it is customary to hear Nigerians enjoin their interlocutors to eschew ‘sentiments’ and instead consider the merit of an argument. An explicitly partisan argument is usually condemned as being mired in ‘sentiments.’ Writers and speakers who want to insulate themselves from charges of bias and prejudice declare their points of view as being free from or not inspired by ‘sentiments.’ “Any opinion that is adjudged to be ‘full of sentiments’—or ‘sentimental’— is often rhetorically marginalized. And so it is typical for Nigerians to preface potentially controversial or divisive remarks with phrases like ‘sentiments apart,’ ‘this is not about sentiments,’ ‘I’m not being sentimental but…,’ “So why is ‘sentiment’ such a bad word in Nigeria? Why do Nigerians strain hard to avoid even the remotest association with the word in their quotidian discursive engagements? Well, it is obvious that many, perhaps most, Nigerians understand the word ‘sentiment’ to mean scorn-worthy prejudice that is activated by visceral, unreasoning, primordial loyalties. That is why, in Nigerian English, expressions like ‘religious sentiments’ and ‘ethnic sentiments’ are synonymous with what Standard English speakers would recognize as ‘religious bigotry’ and ‘ethnic bigotry’ or, in a word, ethnocentrism…. “This permeative Nigerian (mis)usage of the word ‘sentiment’ has no basis in either the word’s etymology or its current Standard English usage. There is nothing even remotely dreadful about ‘sentiment’ in and of itself. Sentiment is, of course, a polysemous word (that is, it has a multiplicity of meanings) but, in all of its lexical ambiguity, it does not denote or connote bigotry or prejudice. In its most habitual usage, especially when it is used in the plural form, it merely means personal judgment, opinion, thought, view, etc., as in, ‘does anyone else share the sentiment that Nigerians widely hate and misuse the word ‘sentiment’? So, stripped to its barest essentials, ‘sentiments’ simply means opinions.”
4. “I appreciate.” Nigerians use the expression “I appreciate” as an alternative form of “thank you.” It’s obviously an inept attempt to imitate the Standard English expression “I appreciate it.” It’s also probably a product of interference from our native languages. The Hausa expression na gode, for instance, literally translates as “I appreciate” in English. But “I appreciate” is both unidiomatic and meaningless in English. Here is what I wrote about the expression in my July 17, 2011 article titled “Most Popular Mangled Expressions in Nigerian English”: “When I lived in Nigeria, this expression was not part of the repertoire of popular speech. Its widespread use in contemporary Nigerian English must be the result of the relentless cross-border linguistic flows that the Internet has enabled. The phrase is clearly a poor mimicry of ‘I appreciate it,’ the alternative expression for ‘thank you’ in America, Canada, Britain, and other native-speaker linguistic climes. “Without the addition of ‘it,’ ‘this,’ or ‘that,’ the phrase can only mean that the speaker or writer habitually shows appreciation but for nothing in particular; it does not convey the sense that he or she is thankful or grateful for a specific thing. The first time someone said ‘I appreciate’ to me in Nigeria, I couldn’t resist asking: ‘you appreciate what?’ As you can probably tell, that expression drives me crazy!” “Appreciate” is a transitive verb that requires an object to complete its meaning. “Thank” is another example of a transitive verb. You can’t simply say “I thank” without sounding like you’re mentally subnormal. To be sensible, something has to come after “thank,” such as “I thank you.” Intransitive verbs require no object. An example is the verb slept, as in “I slept.”
5. “More grease to your elbow” or simply “more grease.” The correct form of this peculiarly British English expression, which started as an Irish English expression, is “more power to your elbow.” But no one uses it now—except Anglophone West Africans who are wedded to its deformed version. In all countries where English is spoken as a native language, people simply say “more power to you!” I don’t know where Nigerians got their “grease” from

President Buhari’s Ridiculously Lengthening Media Aides —

President Buhari’s Ridiculously Lengthening Media Aides

President Muhammadu Buhari obviously has enormous emotional investment in his perception in the media— broadly conceived. His first appointments upon being sworn in as president were media appointments. At the last count, he has at least six media advisers and assistants. He has a Special Adviser on Media and Publicity (Femi Adesina), a Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity (Malam Garba Shehu), a Special Assistant on Digital and New Media (Tolu Ogunlesi), a Personal Assistant on Broadcast Media (Shaaban Ibrahim Sharada), and a Personal Assistant on New Media (Bashir Ahmad). Last week, he added to the list by appointing another Personal Assistant on Social Media by the name of Lauretta Onochie. That has got to be a world record! I teach and research new media for a living, and know for a fact that “social media” is just a component, the most significant component these days, of “new media,” which is synonymous with “digital” or “emerging” media. So it’s not bad enough that the president has two people “advising” and “specially assisting” him on “media and publicity” and another person “specially assisting” him on “broadcast media”; he also now has three people “specially” and “personally” “assisting” him on exactly the same thing: new/digital/social media! Trust Buhari’s gaggle of low-wattage, self-appointed social media defenders to justify even the weirdest and wildest policies his administration churns out. They said new media is vast and varied, and deserves to have a multiplicity of people to effectively handle it for the president. The PA on New Media, they say, monitors Twitter for the president, and that the new PA on Social Media will devote exclusive attention to Facebook on behalf of the president! Well, how about the SA on Digital and New Media? What does he do? Perhaps he supervises—or will supervise— both PAs. And, maybe, the SA and SSA on Media and Publicity, though active participants on Twitter and Facebook dialogic exchanges, don’t count since they aren’t digital natives, as we call people who came of age in the last two decades or so. I have a better idea for the president since he wants to cover all his media planks. You see, “emerging media” is a modern, trendy synonym for “new media” and “digital media.” Another personal assistant should be appointed and called “Personal Assistant to the President on Emerging Media.” If people scoff at the appointment, as they are doing at the latest one, the president or his unpaid social media automatons can justify it by saying the president needs someone to monitor emergent, newfangled social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat to which a new generation of Nigerians is now migrating. What better person to do that than a PA on “Emerging Media”? But there is an even better idea. The president should appoint another PA called “Personal Assistant to the President on Declining Media.” You see, there are social media platforms like MySpace that are declining but that are significant nonetheless. Although only a minuscule percentage of Nigerians congregate in these declining social media platforms, our president can’t afford to ignore them completely because they could bounce back. Even if they don’t, who cares? While we are at it, he needs another PA (no, an SSA actually) on International Media, given all the unflattering publicity he’s been getting lately from the international press. The Economist, which endorsed him in 2015, has suddenly turned against him. Several UK and US newspapers now pooh-pooh him. One cheeky UK newspaper called the Daily Mail had the nerve to remind its readers in a May 8, 2016 edition that Buhari, who said he took a bank loan to buy his nomination form and added, for effect, that he “pitied” himself, and who said he had “less than 30 million naira” in his account after being sworn in as president, “sends his daughter to a £26,000-a-year English school.” So the president does need an SSA on International Media to take on these “racist” (apologies to Lai Mohammed) international media that think they can expose our president’s double standards without consequences. Seriously, though, President Buhari’s media appointments remind me of the lowest watermark of the Second Republic when former President Shagari appointed several ministers for the same ministry and differentiated them by crafty prepositions. One ministry could have a “minister of,” a “minister for,” and a “minister on.” This is frankly disquieting on so many levels. But I have read people justify these ridiculous appointments by saying although former President Jonathan had only three media aides, he did worse in other appointments. This contrast is wrong for many reasons. Is Jonathan now the baseline by which to measure Buhari’s performance? Haven’t we (those of us who supported Buhari’s emergence, that is) agreed that Jonathan was an irredeemable disaster? What does it say of Buhari (who promised “change”) that he is now being compared with Jonathan? What does it say about Buhari that he is now perpetually being compared and contrasted with the lowest common denominators in governance? The other day his supporters defended his unprecedented decision to take his wife and daughters to the UN General Assembly by citing the example of irascible Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko who took his then 11-year-old son (that he is grooming to take over from him) to the UN. Do the president’s defenders realize that they are admitting that their idol has failed if the only defense they can give of his policies is that some tyrant or universally incompetent leader somewhere sometime did them too? Additionally, Buhari was sold to Nigerians as an uncommonly modest and austere man who would lead by example, who would crack down on corruption, who would eliminate waste, etc. Does the appointment of six aides to do basically the same job square with that image? I leave that to your judgment. Finally, this is a time of excruciating recession when millions vegetate in the nadir of suffering and hopelessness and when the government has the cheek to exhort distraught and economically disaffiliated people to “sacrifice” and let “change” begin with a deliberately amorphous, ill-defined “me.” The big question is: Does the “me” exclude the president? But the bigger question is: Is the president aware of the English saying that “Too many cooks spoil the broth”? Well, let’s see how the president’s six media cooks will make his media perception broth.

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Dele Momodu: No, Nigeria can’t be broke — September 22, 2016

Dele Momodu: No, Nigeria can’t be broke

Fellow Nigerians, the biggest story everywhere at this moment is that Nigeria is broke, as poor as a church rat. The frustration of our citizens is boldly written on many faces. Even the rich are crying. Depending on who you talk to, Nigeria is broke because of the profligacy of the PDP-led government in 16 years of the current democratic dispensation. According to these persons, the worst victim and our ubiquitous scapegoat is Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who reigned fully as President for five years out of the 16 fabulous years of PDP misrule. For my part, I sometimes wonder if the politicians under Jonathan stole more money than under his predecessors. And then, what of the PDP politicians who absconded over to APC in the gale of unprecedented desertions that rocked and ravaged that inglorious political party? What happened to all the traced loot and recovered cash at home and abroad, not just under President Buhari but also under Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan? Others profess that Nigeria is broke simply because, since independence, we have not put together a coherent economic and social policy capable of harnessing the abundant human and material resources that God has deemed fit to endow us with. We have embarked on disastrous development plan after disastrous development plan and never been able to put together a creditable and veritable team of individuals that could make some sense of those plans and salvage them. In short we have lacked competent hands at the helm of our affairs. The problem is not therefore with Jonathan and his ilk of seeming merry bandits but with all those that have led us to date although some have clearly been more culpable than others.

Whichever view you subscribe to, the question now on every lip is: could Nigeria be broke? It is difficult to imagine that a country that was declared the biggest economy in Nigeria barely three years ago has suddenly transfigured into a miserable apparition and a laughing stock in the comity of nations. But I personally refuse to believe Nigeria is as broke as our leaders now make out. I have listened to series of arguments on why the Nigerian economy has plummeted from the pinnacle of the temple to the deepest depth of the abyss. The most constant and plausible prognosis is that Nigeria was a disaster waiting to happen and that Jonathan as the undertaker had only succeeded in embalming the dead body in order to keep it looking fresh while the soul was already gone.

As a Minister assured me, it was only a matter of time; Nigeria would have collapsed on Jonathan and led to our hasty interment as a nation if he had stayed longer. My response was that why did President Muhammadu Buhari offer to be the lamb of God by allowing a danger that could not be averted to collapse on his own head? Or why could he not stabilise the nation at the state and stage he met it without the country running dangerously amuck the way it is doing right now? There is a Yoruba saying that: orisa boo le gbemi, se mi boo se ba mi (if the gods can’t make our lives better, they should simply leave us the way they met us! That is the cry of those who feel Buhari has failed on his promise to save Nigeria from the perfidious reign of PDP. What is most galling to most observers is the endless accusations and counter allegations from the past and the present governments. I had advised the APC government to stop the blame game long ago so as to save itself the barrage of attacks from those who are only interested in results and not excuses. Such people do not care if Buhari decides to hang Jonathan and all past operatives of PDP combined as long as our economy stops this kamikaze plunge.

I’m certain the situation won’t improve until the government wakes up to its responsibilities. The government cannot retain the old style of governance and expect a drastic and monumental change in our lives. The cost of governance is still atrociously high. Our style is still ostensibly ceremonial and definitely ostentatious. We can’t continue to practise capitalism without capital.

For starters, and to demonstrate his seriousness and resolve to tackle our almost comatose state, President Buhari needs to butcher the presidential fleet and the lavish protocol and fanfare that seems to attend every departure from Abuja and subsequent return. That is the beginning of our salvation. Jesus Christ demonstrated he could float on water before asking his disciples to join him. That is the way to go.

Our State houses are over-funded and one cannot justify the level of expenditure required to maintain them. Political aides are too many. Their roles duplicated and sometimes triplicated. They have become major drainpipes for a bleeding economy. The end result is that they confuse and obfuscate rather than bring clarity and discernment to a system that is already in the throes of death.

Our parastatals are too many, too large and too unwieldy. Our airports, both international and domestic, which serve as the first advertisement of our country to that much sought after potential investor that the government that the government craves are an eyesore and remain most useless despite the many agencies directing and controlling affairs there and the vast sums of money supposedly spent in trying to transform them. I do not know of any nation with such a propensity for self-destruction. This cannot continue.

My humble suggestion as always is that the Federal Government should stop behaving as if it has all the time in the world to fix our problems. It should endeavour to fight corruption and poverty simultaneously. We must replace what there was with what there is. Not all cases of corruption are high profile or derive from greed. The most endemic form of corruption is the one that has percolated across all of us out of necessity or desperation. Corruption would always be attractive when and where the needs of man cannot be met. This is usually corrected in most advanced nations through credit systems, social welfare, scholarships and loans, etc.

We cannot continue to preach to empty stomachs. The attitude of saying we are suffering because corruption has been blocked is no longer tenable. If this is true, what would happen is that only the poor man would bear the brunt. Those who have stolen in arrears and in advance would always get by. The poor have nowhere to go except to device their own means through petty bribes, armed robbery, beggarly existence, blackmail, kidnapping, brigandage, terrorism and so on. The fact that this can only be counter-productive to economic and social development cannot be refuted.

The Federal Government should make its priorities known to the people. It should not operate like a secret cult. There is no better government than an open and transparent government. The world today is just one wholesome unit because nothing is secret anymore. Social media has put paid to the arcane art of secret government that our previous leaders practised. Much traction would be obtained by a government that keeps its people informed of what it is doing in all areas of its operation and the challenges it faces rather than one that is selective in what it tells the people. I know that the average Nigerian is understanding, patient and forgiving if provided with information that it can properly digest.

Government should regularly make public its plans. The President himself should talk to the nation on a regular basis. It shows not only that he has a human face but the people can resonate with him, after all it is him they elected and not his coterie of advisers. It is an archaic way of governance and a relic of the military way of governance for spokesperson to issue press releases on behalf of the President. That is why there is often great confusion from the multitude of messengers deployed by the Government to disseminate information on its behalf.

The President’s blueprint to resuscitate and restore the economy of this country should be well thought out and articulated. It cannot be done by mere slogans, mantra and platitudes. The President’s word must have the force of conviction and should be practised as much as it is preached. The blueprint must be easy to execute. The President cannot do everything at once and his adoring public knows this. However, we believe that the President can do many things and that is why fought for him and we elected him. Once the generality of Nigerians can see that the President is proactive that would change the perception that this government is doing nothing, whereas I am sure it is doing a lot.

Once government can reduce the cost of governance and concurrently reduce corruption, it should invest heavily and urgently in infrastructure, especially our roads, airports and railways. All the talk about diversifying the economy is futuristic. Nigerians need to begin to feel the impact of this “change” government. Projects that will immediately impact on the people and alleviate their present suffering should be implemented. Palliatives to soothe the deep wounds and hurt of the people should be put in place even if it entails greater sacrifice on the part of government and some form of quantitative easing. For instance, I am sure that the NNPC under its new dynamic leadership can put together a package that will help the generality of Nigerians. Within one year, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State is already considered a success because he is investing in visible things rather than nebulous ventures. There is a feelgood factor in the air in Lagos State. If Lagos can do it the Federal Government has no reason to fail. It is gratifying that Lagos continues to be in the vanguard of unprecedented development and improvement for its people.

Education is another key area to invest in. Until we bring our schools to international standards, travelling abroad would continue unabated and our scarce resources would be donated to even much smaller countries in Africa. The Federal Government should treat the issue of education as of utmost emergency. I would rather we educate our kids and sponsor the brightest of them to the best schools in the world than give dollars at cheaper rate to pilgrims. So many families would be affected and touched by this gesture. We should borrow from the examples of China, India and others. They sent their kids to the best schools wherever they could find one and by the time they returned home, they started changing the economic and socio-political landscapes of their beloved countries. Nigerians are as brilliant as they come and if given the opportunity they will fly to the moon. We cannot compete in today’s world without quality education.

The Federal Government needs to jazz up its style. I will continue to say it, there are many distinguished Nigerians out there who can help reposition our country in the right direction. We should stop making governance look like rocket science. Even within APC, there are known and tested geniuses who have the knack for discovering talents and nurturing them. One such person is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Lagos is what it is today because since 1999, Lagos has been blessed with young and vibrant leaders. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was once Vice President and since leaving power he has displayed uncommon business acumen. He has also invested in one of the best schools in Nigeria today. There is no reason these men cannot be given special roles when it is obvious that this government needs to inject more verve into its contentious capabilities. A man who asks for the way would never get lost on the road, according to a Yoruba proverb. I’m not sure APC has made sufficient use of the amazing talents available in Nigeria. President Buhari should go beyond politics and politicians and do the needful. Nigeria is too great and naturally endowed to be sentenced to archaism and antiquity.

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