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Posts tagged ‘Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’

A National Insult Rejected By Okey Ndibe.


Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe

For those unaware of its source, I might as well state from the outset that the title of this column is not original. It’s adapted from a statement released last week by Wole Soyinka. The statement, which bore the Nobel laureate’s stamp of revulsion at moral impunity, chastised the Goodluck Jonathan administration for its bizarre line-up of 100 personalities worthy of honor at a ceremony marking the centenary of Nigeria’s amalgamation.

The centenary list, typical of such rolls in Nigeria, was a hodgepodge. It bracketed imperial personages, so-called “contributors to the making of Nigeria”—including Queen Elizabeth 11 of England and Lord Frederick Lugard, first British overseer of the forcibly amalgamated territory—with such notable nationalist fighters as Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Anthony Enahoro. It squeezed Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Michael Imoudu, Aminu Kano, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, John Pepper Clark, Chike Obi, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Dagogo Fubara, and Moshood Kashimawo Abiola into the same tent as Sani Abacha. In an even weirder development, Mr. Abacha shows up—along with Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida—under the category of “Outstanding Promoters of Unity, Patriotism and National Development”.

How did we quickly forget that Abacha’s looting of public funds from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria was a patriotic act? Or that he gave his cronies licenses to import toxic fuel into Nigeria because he so fiercely loved Nigerians and fervently desired their development? Or that Babangida’s annulment of the June 12 presidential election was a recipe for Nigeria’s unity?

Anybody who only followed the Aso Rock version of the centenary could have run away with the impression that Nigerians are ever grateful to the coalition of British merchants, bureaucrats, adventurers and royals who cobbled their country together—and named it Nigeria. But the deeper truth lies elsewhere. There were two sets of memory at play last week, two attitudes to Nigeria—a so-called nation bereft of a national spirit, a space that is unformed, ill-formed and malformed.

Those who preside today over the looting of billions of dollars of Nigeria’s resources may deceive themselves that the 100th anniversary of the amalgamation of Nigeria is an occasion for celebration. Many—I’d argue, most—Nigerians think otherwise. For several months, the Internet was abuzz with speculations that the legal instruments of amalgamation stipulated one hundred years as the event’s expiry date. With a great sense of expectancy, many looked forward to the formal cessation of the tragic, nightmarish, and blood-soaked experiment called Nigeria. Was the Jonathan administration unaware of this swell of hope that Nigeria should cease?

In the build-up to the centenary, the band of Islamist extremists known as Boko Haram carried out one of their most savage and outrageous attacks yet. They stormed a secondary school in Yobe under the cover of darkness, slaughtered 60 boys, and set their victims’ dorms on fire. In any serious country, one such act would forever scar the collective conscience, provoking a resolve of “Never again!” Not in Nigeria, a place where a human life is worth far less than a chicken. How did Nigeria’s “transformational” leadership respond to this latest callousness by Boko Haram? It responded in its accustomed soft, indifferent manner. It issued the same tiresome, obligatory condemnation of the carnage, nothing more. The Presidency did not consider the shocking abbreviation of so many innocent lives an occasion to devise and announce a bold, effective plan to assure the safety of all citizens, especially school children, in the Boko Haram-plagued, terror-infested areas. It was, as usual, a do-nothing stance.

But then the government did something even worse than habitual abdication. Apparently, Reno Omokri, Mr. Jonathan’s point man on social media, orchestrated a release that sought to link Nigeria’s suspended Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, with a spike in Boko Haram’s gruesome activities, including the Yobe slaughter. Apparently Mr. Omokri did not reckon with the fact that many Nigerians are quite adept at cyber intelligence, deft at the kind of detective work that can unmask those who exploit the seeming anonymity of the Internet to slander others. Mr. Sanusi is the Jonathan administration’s Public Enemy Number One. The sacked CBN Governor committed the unpardonable sin of telling the world that a major agency of the Nigerian state had failed to deposit $20 billion earned from crude oil exports. In response, the government accused Mr. Sanusi of squandering the funds of the bank he ran, awarding contracts without following requisite laws, and dispensing Nigeria’s funds as if they were his private treasury.

If Mr. Sanusi committed these crimes, I’d like to see him prosecuted, convicted and punished. I’d also like to see the administration account fully for the funds that Mr. Sanusi alleged to be missing. Here’s what the government doesn’t have a right to do: sending Mr. Omokri, its cyber warrior-in-chief, to concoct and disseminate horrific lies against Mr. Sanusi or any Nigerian. Unless Mr. Omokri can demonstrate that he did not mastermind the craven forgery, he ought to resign immediately. Or be fired.

It’s tragic that the Nigerian government, from the president to his aides, continues to fiddle while the country burns. It’s shameful that President Jonathan and Nigerian legislators prioritize a phantom war—going after gays—when the country is besieged by mindless, well-armed zealots who see unarmed Nigerians, including children, as fair game. How does the targeting of gays solve Nigeria’s infrastructural problems? Are gays the reason elections are massively rigged in Nigeria; public funds looted with depraved greed; our educational system a shambles; our healthcare system ghastly?

Nigeria fought a civil war that claimed anything from one to three million lives. It was a war to defend a British-made idea, to uphold the sanctity of a space wrought by British imperial fiat. The mantra was: To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done. To their credit, the British had an excellent reason for keeping Nigeria one. Nigeria was their largest holding in Africa (and their second largest anywhere, after India). It was a prodigious source of raw materials for British firms as well as a huge dumping ground for British-made goods. It made sound sense, from the British point of view, to keep Nigeria one.

As British rule ended, the Nigerian elite who inherited the spoils of the state adopted as an article of faith the idea that Nigeria must remain one entity. But they shied away from asking the hard questions. What’s so sacred about Nigeria? Why should we remain one? What ends are served by remaining one? What does Nigeria represent? And—if unity was not negotiable—then what must be the irreducible terms of our engagement?

I’ve argued before that a central part of Nigeria’s tragedy arises from the fact that the country fought a costly war, but has never permitted the lessons of that war to inform its conduct, to shape its ethos. It’s as if we went to war to defend the right of a few to continue to plunder, to continue to feed fat at the expense of the rest of us, to perpetually rig themselves into power, and to add their contemptible names to every roll of honor, even though they refrain from doing anything that is remotely honorable.

As Mr. Jonathan feted the so-called giants of Nigeria’s centenary, a different, oppositional narrative played itself out. The collective memory of the vast majority of Nigerians beheld Nigeria, not as a splendid monument, but as a sordid, wretched edifice. They saw what Mr. Jonathan and his ilk refuse to see: that the Nigerian state is a provocation, a moral affront, a failed, misery-dispensing state.

Soyinka captured part of the spirit of that deep split in the way Nigeria is regarded. He acted bravely by excusing himself from the insouciant official ritual that amounted to an insult to the outraged sensibilities of the majority of Nigerians. In a statement of renunciation titled “Canonization of Terror,” Mr. Soyinka called attention to the wasted lives of the students in Yobe. He drew our attention to “the entire ethical landscape into which this nation has been forced by insensate leadership.” He would not succumb to the summons to collective amnesia, the only condition under which an ogre like Sani Abacha would be invited to arise, ghost-like, to accept national veneration as a patriotic champion of Nigerian “unity and national development.” Stated Mr. Soyinka: “Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance. To round up, nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership.”

In the end, Soyinka spoke for me—and I suggest, for many other enlightened people—when he stated, “I reject my share of this national insult.”

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe




RARIYA /PREMIUM TIMES INTERVIEW : Why Dying Yar’Adua Was Sneaked Into Nigeria Without Jonathan’s Knowledge – Tanko Yakasai.

Tanko Yakasai
Translated By Sani Tukur

Tanko Yakasai was the adviser to President Shehu Shagari (1979-1983) on National Assembly matters.
A prominent politician and elder statesman from Kano, Mr. Yakasai has been in politics since 1946 when he was just 20 years old. Since venturing into politics over 60 years ago, Mr. Yakasai has never been quiet and has never failed to speak up on any crucial political issue.
The octogenarian sought out leading Hausa newspaper, RARIYA, after reading the interview (also published by PREMIUM TIMES) granted to it by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, to, in his words, set the records straight on some issues raised by the former vice president.

Q. Seeing that the 2015 general election is fast approaching, how do you view the seeming crisis engulfing the ruling PDP and even opposition parties?
Actually, I am not surprised for two main reasons; firstly, since the pre-independence election of 1956 to date, I have observed that the country experiences some form of political turmoil preparatory to every presidential election. In fact, whoever is not used to it will assume that the country will go into flames, but the election always comes and goes, and the country remains intact.

That is why I always refer to Nigeria as a canoe which doesn’t normally move in a straight line, but is always swerving in all directions to reach its destination.

In my opinion, the presidential system of government which we have adopted from the Americans is good, but on the other hand also a bad one especially for a country like Nigeria. It is good because of the diversified nature of Nigeria. We need to have a leader that would look at all Nigerians as his own irrespective of region.

Our constitution has been made in such a way that you must get substantial votes across all the regions before you become the president. In spite of that provision, it has not stopped all the squabbles, because every region prefers its son to be the president; the reason being the privileges attached to the office.

The politics of Nigeria has changed from serving the country, to serving self. Both the one seeking for vote and the one voting are all looking for what to get out of it.

During the elections of 1959, the Action Group made some calculations to the effect that if they can get Yoruba votes, the minorities in the north and some part of the east, they would be the biggest party at the time. And because the country was practicing a parliamentary system at the time, the party with the highest number of parliamentarians forms the government.

NPC on the other hand, also made its own calculations and realise that more than half the people of Nigeria were in the north. So it did not field even a single candidate in the South; they just stayed in the north and worked hard to have full control of the region.

After election, the NPC got the highest number of members of parliament and it formed the government with Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister.

That was when Action Group officials realised that as long as the north continued to hold that numerical advantage, no Southerner would ever become successful. Upon realising that they cannot form the government through election, they began to scheme on how to topple the government, which led to the arrest of the leader of the Action Group and his lieutenants. They were prosecuted and imprisoned.

Since then, if you observe, that is how it has been, and that is why I am not surprised about the ongoing political crisis. The only surprise I do have is the internal crisis rocking the PDP. That too, I have done my own investigations, and I have not found out the reason for it. I am not convinced by the reasons being peddled in newspapers, that it is because Bamanga Tukur’s leadership style which people found autocratic and that it was also because of Jonathan.

Why hasn’t the crisis commenced when Bamanga was first elected until now when election is approaching? Even Jonathan, had been in office for two years now; why did they not revolt against him until now? That is why I told you, the reasons for the crisis as being reported is not convincing for me.
Q. Five of the governors fighting Jonathan, were at the fore-front of those who worked for his election. Have you ever thought that they would withdraw their support for him so soon?
In politics, there is neither permanent friend nor permanent enemy, everything is guided by interest. I have never thought of that, but when it happened, honestly, I was not surprised. If I had the power to advise these governors, I would have advised them not to leave the PDP. My reason being the PDP at the moment has 23 Governors, 15 of them from the north, and PDP is in control in their states. If the North’s strength is reduced in the PDP, it means we will not be strong in the party in the next election; the South would be stronger, especially if Jonathan wins. Disunity is the major undoing.
Q: I recall that even when you were agitating that Yar’Adua should not hand over power to Jonathan from his sick bed in Saudi Arabia; you were very few and did not get the support of northern leaders?

We were very few indeed; we were just about three or four. I was doing that because I saw what happened in Cameroun between Paul Biya and his predecessor, Ahmadu Ahidjo, when Ahidjo travelled for medical treatment. I was also doing it for posterity.

Ahidjo’s advisers and medical staff advised him to abdicate and go for treatment, and then come back to reclaim his mandate when he returns. Ahidjo sought the advice of his mother and she told him that since the doctor said he has no medicine against death, he can’t stop you from dying, and if that is the case, you should rather die as a leader, instead of an ordinary person. That was what his mother reportedly told him.

But Ahidjo chose to relinquish power to the person he felt he trusted the most. But what happened afterwards, even the French President on a visit to Cameroun informed Ahidjo that he has kept a scorpion in his pocket. In fact Ahidjo was shoved aside even during the farewell ceremony for the French President and it was made clear to him that he was a nobody.

At the end of the day, words got to Ahidjo on a visit to his mother that plans have been concluded to arrest him there and he fled the country. He never went back till he died.

It is the fear of such for Yar’Adua that we insisted that he should not transmit power to Jonathan, since the Constitution did not make it mandatory for him to hand over power. After all there was nothing Jonathan could not do in the absence of his boss.

However, most northern governors and elders insisted that he should handover. A judge even said since Yar’Aua’s deputy is already running the government, there was no need for any documented transfer of power. Our fear was that once he transferred his power, they would never have allowed him to return to this country.

That was why his ADC and CSO arranged with the Chief of Army Staff for him to be returned secretly at night without anybody’s knowledge. The fear was that if those in government or Jonathan knew about the return, he might order soldiers to go to the airport and prevent him from landing.

That incident also gave the impression to the Southerners that we are not united. The value of a broom is to sweep. But when it is disorganised, it cannot sweep anything, and it is useless if it is not tied together. Population might is useless unless if the people decide to come together and act in unison to achieve their goal.

So if we willingly push ourselves into becoming a minority in the PDP, we would end up neither here, nor there. Because whether people like it or not, APC is a Yoruba party.

The Yoruba have foresight, in the last election, they supported Ribadu, but they honestly knew he could not win. You also knew he could not win, I knew he could not win, in fact even Ribadu knew he could not win, and because they knew he could not win, they did not even bother to vote for him.
Ribadu came to see me, because I was his father’s friend, and he told me he was going to run for election. I told him I support his decision because his coming in, would mean that all opposition elements are coming together, because as long as they are always divided, they would never achieve their aim. I said if you all come together, then the people will know that you are serious, and they would support you to form the government. How can ACN be in Yoruba land, CPC in the north and APGA in Igbo land and one of them would dislodge the PDP in 2011?

I have been in politics for over sixty one years. Even if I was just watching something for 61 years, you know very well that I would know much more than the one who began to watch two or three years ago, besides, I was actively involved.

Q. When you were trying to convince Yar’Adua not to hand over power, did you let him know what you feared would happen if he did?
Well, I never saw him since he assumed office. I only saw him before his inauguration when we visited him under the auspices of Northern Unity Forum. I never saw him since then. It is just a matter of common sense, foresight and experience.

You know, up to now, they have been trying to return Ahidjo’s corpse to Cameroon, but the president has refused. He feared that if the corpse is returned it might be more popular than him who is in power.
Yar’Adua too may not be allowed to return if he had communicated his decision to return, at least that was what his security details assumed. That was why he was returned secretly at night without anybody’s knowledge except the Army Chief, and I am not surprised.
Q. Let’s go back to the Yoruba and their politics; you were talking about Ribadu, right?
Yes, what I want you to understand is that they were just using us. They supported Ribadu because they knew he would not win, and they would not even vote for him. And now, they would still support another northern candidate, whether he wins or not, they don’t care. In fact they already knew it cannot be won.

But in the election that would follow the next one, it may be their turn to produce the candidate, do you think there is a northerner that would not support a Yoruba candidate? And by then, the Yoruba folk would come out en masse to vote for one of their own.

Q. In our last edition of Rariya newspaper, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme has denied the allegation made by Buhari’s government against that of Shagari saying it was toppled because of widespread corruption. He said it was the Southern papers which were mainly owned by top UPN stalwarts that were spreading the false rumours. Since you were in that government; what do you have to say?

What he said is true. There is widespread corruption even now, but the newspapers only focus their attention wherever they want, not necessarily where the corruption is taking place. You see newspaper looking the other way, even if they knew something wrong is happening in a particular place because of certain interests.

During Shagari’s tenure, only two or three ministers were accused. One of them fled to England after the coup, but don’t forget that while he was there, he was being fed, but the rumour then was that he had amassed lots of dollars.

Another one had to sell his property to feed his family after he returned. That is proof enough that the allegations of corruption against them were not true.
After the military coup, we had soldiers who stole so much that up to now, no one has stolen as much as they did. I don’t have to mention names. Just check critically yourself, from the time of Gowon to date, between the military guys and civilians like Shagari whom we were in government together with, and whom we have been in politics with for over 60 years, who stole the most?
Shagari began politics with the Sokoto youth party, and I with Kano youth party in 1946, and Shagari began before me by one year, and he is older than me with one year.

Go and see at least three people who started politics in that era, people such as Shagari, Ali Monguno and Maitama Sule; they have held all sorts of positions, but go and meet people close to them and let them tell you how much each has in his bank account. I swear to you none of them has more than three million naira in his account, except may be one person, and even you see it there, may be someone gave it to them. They were just engaged in politics and not stealing.
Shagari and Alex Ekwueme were investigated for more than twenty months, at the end of the day, Justice Ayo Irekefe said Alex Ekwueme went into politics a rich man, and left as a poor man. They investigated Shagari extensively, but could not establish a case of stealing a dime on him before they let him be. But we saw what the person investigating him did afterwards, he is still extremely rich.

If you read the history of Shagari, I have a copy, I can give you; in chapter 17, the writers used about 70 pages discussing what they did to Shagari.
I read the interview you had with Alex Ekwueme, and he was saying he was the one toppled not Shagari. Everyone knows he is a lawyer, but I am not. I studied substantial part of Sharia law; and the two branches of law had agreed on a number of subjects.

In Sharia you need at least two witnesses to prove your case. Since he said it was Umaru Dikko who stated this in London, he needed to get a witness to this assertion for it to hold. And as an 80-year-old, he should have used his common sense.
Between the one waiting for the next four years to run and there is no guarantee he would win, and the one in power who has four more years, who was the one toppled?

There is something that Alex would not consider, because in Jos, some northerners turned their backs on him, and elected Obasanjo in the primary election in 1999; but we saw Alex’s attitude to the north during the constitutional conference set up by Abacha. Even before then, he had begun to show his hatred to the north after Buhari’s coup; we were jailed together at KiriKiri prison in Lagos.

We were all gathered in one place, those from PRP, NPN, UPN, GNPP and NPP.

We all used to come out and mix freely with each other, but he was always staying alone in the room, he doesn’t come out. One day, Lawal keita and myself went to his room and begged him in the name of God to be coming out because he is the leader among us, he should feel free and accept his fate. We told him that if God wills that we would all die in Prison, we would die there, and if he wills we would die outside, then definitely we will get out. We advised him not to allow his stay in prison to affect his health.

We continued that way gradually until he became relaxed and even asked me to teach him Hausa language, and he begun to understand the language a bit. After a short while, some of us were released.

Q. How come he doesn’t understand Hausa, even after staying in Kano?
He understands just very little. In the prison, he had the belief that every northerner, whether Muslim or Christian, was part of the coup.

During the constitutional conference of Obasanjo’s government, he went there as leader of the South East with a bias that Shagari was toppled just to stop him from becoming president in 1987.

I swear that was an error on his part, he just picked up hatred for every northerner, including the Tiv, Birom and the rest. But he hated the Hausa, Fulani Muslims the more.

His mistake was that he went to the conference in which every part of this country will be represented, with a pathological hatred for the north. We spent one year in the conference, with Alex as the leader of the Igbo coalition, he meets with them each Monday, meets with all Igbo and other minority tribes’ delegates on Tuesday, meets with Yoruba on Wednesday, and then meets with everyone on Thursdays. He never met with anyone from the north separately.

Chris Abashiya, the Hausa man from Zaria who equally hates us was the one very close to Ekwueme during the constitutional conference; and in spite of being a Christian, but because he was a Hausa Christian, he was never invited. All the schemes to hate the north were formulated in that conference, which was the reason why the north was divided into three in that conference, to divide the country into six regions.
The issue of state control of resources also emanated from that conference. Before then, they were asking for derivation, that is some part of the proceeds from sale of resources.

Because Alex saw that the north was bigger and has higher population, that was why he wanted the country fragmented into six regions. In the entire census carried out in this country in the past, if you check, you will notice that the north has higher population with about 54%.

In 1921, we had 55% and the South had 45%. The same thing happened in 1931, we had 57%. So his suggestion was simply based on hatred and nothing more.

That was the reason why the north refused to support him at the primary election in Jos in 1999. Because he did not isolate any tribe, he combined the entire north, so both Muslim and Christian delegates from the north refused to support him.

That was even the reason why even those NPN leaders from the north did not support him. His actions surprised everyone at the constitutional conference. That was why he was complaining of people like Jerry Gana and Solomon Lar, and the rest. It appears he doesn’t know this.

His statement that he did it because he wanted each region to integrate is not true, because that policy already exists; it was even NPN that put it in place. I was part of the people who put it in place, and Alex did not even join the NPN then.

Q. Let’s go back to the issue of coup, we were on it before we diverted to your stay in prison. Where were we?

In the book I was telling you about, they said Obasanjo told Umaru Shinkafi, that shortly after the election of 1979, some military officers went to him and informed him not to hand over to Shagari. Obasanjo told them that he had already told the world he was going to hand over power, and that he inherited the office, after a coup attempt that was not successful. He stated that his predecessor promised to hand over, and it means he must hand over.

Obasanjo also told them that he has initiated an election process which was successful. Shagari won, people went to court and he won there as well. ‘So on what grounds should I tell the world I would not hand over to him? Who do you even want me to hand over to? And they said, ’hand over to Buhari’!’
So even before power was handed over to Shagari, the military attempted to steal it and hand over to Buhari. So it wasn’t about bribery and corruption or not to hand over to Alex Ekwueme. I am not the first person to say this; the boys who published Shagari’s book said it first. But, I have also relayed it in my book. And I will give you a copy to go and read.

And since his assumption of power by Shagari, there were several attempts to topple him until they eventually succeeded. It was revealed in that book that the military had attempted to stage a coup even before the second election in 1983. They sought the advice of one of their senior officer who had retired, he told them he supported the idea of a coup, but if they did it before the election, Awolowo would say it was because he was billed to win the election, and the Yoruba owns the newspapers and most editors at the time were also Yoruba and so they would give it widespread publicity such that the world would reject the coup.

He advised them to let the election take place first, before they do whatever they want to do.

There was also a revelation in the book that General Domkat Bali’s wife thought her husband was having an affair when she noticed that he always came home late, unlike him. When her suspicion became too much, one day he told her that he was not having an affair, but he was always coming back late because they were meeting in Buhari’s house to stage a coup. Buhari was the GOC in Jos at the time, and he told her not to tell anyone.

Incidentally, Domkat Bali’s wife is related to the wife of Solomon Lar, the then Governor of Plateau State. She realised that a coup would affect her relatives’ husband, and she could not take it, because she feared he could be killed. So, she told Lar’s wife, and Lar’s wife also told her husband.
It happened that Shagari was going to open the school in Kuru. Solomon told Shagari that he had something to tell him, but Shagari advised him to wait until after the event.

After the event, Solomon Lar told Shagari what he was told at the Presidential lodge in Jos, he mentioned Domkat Bali’s wife as the source of the information. Lar said he had wanted to bring up the issue at the meeting of the National Security Committee, but when he realized that he is not the Commander in Chief, he thought it best to wait, since Shagari is also coming to Jos.

Shagari now informed Solomon Lar to go and tell Buhari that this is what he heard, that he was planning a coup. But Lar said I can only do that if you let me inform him that the message came from you. Shagari agreed to that.

So when they met with Buhari while they were seeing off President Shagari, Solomon Lar excused Buhari aside and said he wanted to see him, and would come see him at home. But Buhari said how can you a governor come to my house? Lar insisted that he would go. So he went to Buhari’s house and informed him that it was Shagari that sent him to let him know that there was a rumour going round that they were planning a coup.
Buhari said it was not true, there was nothing like that. He asked Lar to go and assure Shagari that it was not true.

After Lar left, Buhari called Umaru Shinkafi because they were friends and asked him to meet as soon as possible in Kaduna. Umaru Shinkafi informed Shagari and he was given an aircraft to take him to Kaduna. When they met, Buhari told Shinkafi that he was going to retire since the Commander in Chief does not trust him anymore. There was a time, the military authorities wanted Buhari transferred to Abeokuta but people like Umaru Dikko kicked against it because they said bringing someone like Buhari closed to the seat of power is dangerous. That was why Shagari asked that Buhari be transferred to Jos.

He was very angry with that decision because he felt, he was not trusted. So the second incident made him tell Shinkafi that he was going to retire, since no one trusted him anymore. Shinkafi, in his capacity as the Security Adviser to Shagari, informed Buhari that he knew the president trusted Buhari, so he should not think of retiring. He went back and informed Shagari that Buhari said he should not worry; there was no cause for alarm.

That was what prompted Buhari’s group; they realised that the issue had begun to leak, so they had to strike early. But even before this incident, they had also planned to topple the government on the day Shagari was sworn-in for his second term.

In fact Umaru Shinkafi even though did not come out to tell the president that he suspects something was wrong, advised the president to wear a bullet proof vest on his way to the inauguration. Shagari asked him why? I will not wear it. It got to a point Umaru Shinkafi was even shedding tears before Shagari agreed to wear it. In the book, they quoted Babangida as saying they were aware of all this, but Shagari’s people did not know that plans had changed.

Before then, all plans had been perfected and a plane had even been dispatched to Jos to fetch Buhari with instruction to wear his full military regalia, and text of his national speech was already given to him for his inputs before 1st October, 1983. Why they changed their minds, no one knows.

This means that they had planned the coup even before the one Solomon Lar got wind of and informed Shagari. So you see it was never about denying Alex Ekwueme the chance to become president. May be he made his statements out of ignorance or just pure hatred for the north.
(The interview was granted in Hausa to Rariya newspaper and PREMIUM TIMES has the former’s permission to publish in English).


In Search Of Role Models By Ahmad Salkida.

Ahmad Salkida
By Ahmad Salkida

As my parents would say; when they were growing up and getting married in the 60s, they revered great leaders and wished that their children would grow up to emulate these leaders. They proudly recalled.

Nigeria‘s past heroes as if ‘they once walked on water’.

The Sardauna of Sokoto, Tafawa Balewa, the Nnamdi Azikiwe and their likes were wonderful role models. Our parents looked up to them, and
so do we today, because of their accomplishments. These leaders, it would appear, placed the needs of their subjects ahead of theirs and
made selfless sacrifices their ethos in public service.

Great thinkers like Aristotle believe that we learn to be ethical (virtuous) by modeling the behavior of moral people, and depending on
the role models we have, people can learn both good and bad habits.

Today, many Nigerians feel betrayed whenever our leaders stand on podiums to extol the excellent work of our heroes past. At the funeral of late Chinua Achebe, Nigeria’s literary icon, the follies of our leaders played out glaringly when President Goodluck Jonathan recounted reading ‘Things Fall Apart‘ in 1971. Many in the audience that evening felt the President did not learn any lessons from the

And so, for me and numerous other countrymen, the question rings profoundly: Who are the role models in Nigeria’s contemporary
political leadership? There’s hardly any voice that speaks hope. Both from the camps of those occupying the various Government Houses today
and the ones in opposition you routinely receive in different decibels the voices of deceit. There’s nothing in the open pointing towards
affordable housing, healthcare, quality education, electricity, and access to potable water.

Steadily, it has been more of those that uphold ethical precepts that are routinely losing out, and those with dubious characters are heavily
on the ascendancy. Merit and hard work are hardly any qualification for elevation in any field of endeavour instead nepotism and crass political patronage are the rule.

Journalism that ought to be the ground of cultivated values is up to the dogs, sadly.

This is the case in many spheres of our public life, where many that decided not to thread the path of corrupt and retrogressive leaders,
and chose to adhere to the highest ethical conduct are silenced and hounded into submission or passivity. I have asked myself who among
today’s rulers could inspire and not despair. Who could be a leader and not be a dealer? Who could be a real refreshing breath of fresh
air, not a grandstanding, dubious claimant? I can only think of one or maybe two, but I couldn’t think of a third person in a country with
over 160 million people.

Although, a role model can vary from one person to another, however, my focus, here is; are today’s leaders as selfless and committed to the
overall good of Nigeria like what we see in some of the names mentioned here? Why is the disconnect between today’s leaders and their followers so wide that they have to protect themselves with armoured vehicles and heavily armed guards? Can a leader serve without accumulating questionable wealth for himself and for his family?

Can we have a Madiba in Nigeria whose mission in governance was not the institutionalization of self, who served a single term and stepped
down without being heckled? Who left power willingly for the younger generation of South Africans at a time he could command a landslide
to win in any national election?

There was something about most of Nigeria and Africa’s founding
fathers that made them very special. They led by example, raised the
bar for us, and we wish to be like them but today, I doubt if I want my
children to be like any of the Governors or presidents that emerge
A look at one of my favorite pictures of our founding fathers, the picture of Nigeria’s Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa with his two children taking sugarcane in his farm. He sat on the mat with very modest clothes during a vacation in 1963. Such modesty was glaring when these leaders were found to have near empty bank accounts when they were killed in 1966.

Can our local council chairmen today live a modest lifestyle? Today’s leaders at all levels of governance in Nigeria are in a race to have
the fattest foreign bank accounts, the most palatial mansions, who will be treated in the best hospitals around the world when they or
members of their families fall sick.

Today’s leaders or ‘bad’ role models have no compunction with the way they globe-trot with their private jets amidst the squalor and indignation of the people they claim to be working for. Apart from the general despair of any likelihood that things will ever change for the better in our lifetime, the generality of Nigerians have not witness practical   dividends of democracy other than the strange cute scorecards that are published regularly.Today, the absence of role models have made it practically difficult for our traditional rulers, religious leaders, elders, or political leaders to ask restive or irate youths to rest their fists and shun violence. Many youths will say; we have never seen your kids in the schools we attended, under trees, with no instructional manuals, no teachers, where we have to stay at home many times due to strikes. Many youths will say; how can they stop violence when, in fact, it was you, politicians that provided them with money to buy hard drugs, money for training, provided them with weapons and charms to kill or intimidate people, especially their opponents for them to win elections. Today’s political elites erected high parameter fences around their houses, built private boreholes while the community in which they live is bereft of any public amenity. These rulers siphon the resources meant to build hospitals, roads and schools to support the industrialization drive and real estates of many developed countries and invested heavily in their companies and banks, while our industries that can provide jobs to teeming youths are in ruins. Nigeria is indeed, in need of role models.

Salkida writes from the United Arab Emirate and can be reached at / @contactSalkida


As 2015 Beckons – Lessons From The Blunders Of 1959, 1979 and 1999 By Tunji Ariyomo.

Tunji Ariyomo
By Olatunji Ariyomo

All things being equal, it is safe to predict that 2015 is the terminal date for the set of rulers that took over the reign of governance in Nigeria since 1999.

In my self-serving ‘gra gra’, one of those things I pride myself as capable of doing effectively is to predict outcomes of Nigerian general elections. While this may amuse readers, it is not likely to amuse my close friends with whom I have had opportunities to tango over past predictions. I once informed Dr. Adesoji Adeniyi, one of the sharpest minds the nation has produced, that I would start charging fees for my predictions. In 2011, I predicted an overwhelming victory for the incumbent. As 2015 beckons, if Dr. Goodluck Jonathan continues with his ‘transformation agenda’, evident by oddities and reprobate leadership being celebrated as accomplishments in Abuja today, accounts of which  daily saturate the pages of Nigerian newspapers and cyberia, he will not only be roundly defeated at the polls, but disgracefully so. Even the ‘bolekaja’ indices (undemocratic underhand tactics) that often determine who wins and who loses in Nigeria’s brand of democracy are odds that are currently stacked heavily against him.

The good news for the opposition is that leaders, especially those who allow themselves to be shielded from the masses like Jonathan, never see this reality until they are back in their ancestral homes or on exile in Europe as ex-leaders. Then they can write memoirs with fancy titles and grandstand on national issues.

This is why the ongoing merger by opposition political parties is worthy of intense assessment. Yinka Odumakin in an interview with Saharareporters on the merger of political parties warned against “a change from Abacha to Sonekan”. He stated further that it is true that “people are fed up with 14 years of PDP, but there isn’t cause for excitement yet. In the past 14 years, Nigerians have cried about the outrageous allowances that Nigerian legislators collect but virtually all these parties have members in the National Assembly who have been there over the years, but not one of them has opposed the outrageous wages they are collecting while the people were suffering. We complain that PDP rigs election at the centre, most of these people also control states where the states conduct local government election in Nigeria that are worse in some cases than what the PDP does at the centre…which suggest that if they have the same space as the PDP, they will do the same thing or even worse”.

So, if a new set of leaders would take over in 2015, how can Nigerians ensure we do not jump proverbially from frying pan to fire?
The late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi, renowned engineering genius, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in literature, Prof. Chinua Achebe, iconic writer, Col. Abubarkar Umar, a military man who openly sided with the June 12 struggle in 1993, Balarabe Musa, a politician who has made consistent effort to side with the masses – all have one thing in common – they failed to defeat the ‘jegudujera’ (exploitative) forces that lined up against them when it was their turn to engage the prior incarnations of the evil ensembles that have ensured that Nigeria remain underdeveloped, poor and in perpetual crisis.  At each turn, the ‘jegudujera’ forces were ahead.

Timeline – 1959/1960
In 1959, as independence beckons, the leading and most well prepared minds involved in the struggle for independence; the leader of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), the late Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the leader of the Action Group (AG) and Asiwaju of the Yorubas, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo were as divided as the proverbial siblings of the African walnut. Rather than forging a united front ahead of the onerous task of building a new nation capable of surviving in a highly competitive modern world, what history recorded was bare-knuckle artifice targeted at conquering opponent’s territory and subjugating other tribes under peer domination (I have decided not to apportion blame). The inability of these well-prepared and capable minds to forge a common front, or even align with persons like the University of London trained Aminu Kano of the Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU), is at the root of the layers of ills that have now come to define the Nigerian nation. It is a known truth that leadership of a nation requires the service of the best minds in the pursuit of common good. There is no nation that can thrive under the leadership of position-misfits who are again burdened by devotion to causes other than the common good. That is double jeopardy.

Timeline – 1979
By 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a Kaduna College trained grade II teacher was positioned to lead even though the nation had a University of London trained Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister as far back as 1960. Were merit the determining factor, it was unlikely that he would even qualify ahead of many Northern rising stars at the time. He none the less became the President and Commander in Chief of Africa’s most populous nation and for 4 years, achieved very little other than what members of his political party bandied as monumental achievements. Before the fall in oil prices in 1981, his government carried on with such profligacy while allegations of wanton corruption plagued his projects, notably the Ajaokuta Steel complex and the Steel rolling mills that made the people longed for the military days. It was obvious that he had been assigned a role far above his capacity.

When opportunity to remove him came in 1983, perhaps in an attempt to learn from their 1959 folly, Azikiwe and Awolowo attempted to come together.

Extraneous circumstance scuttled that goal. In his well researched piece published in the Punch of February 22, 2013, Jide Akinbiyi went down memory lane stating that “in 1983, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Nigerian Peoples Party whose members had been in President Shehu Shagari’s NPN Federal Government since 1979 decided to team up with Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN); Waziri Ibrahim’s Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) and Comrade Michael Imoudu’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for the purpose of unseating Shagari’s government in the presidential election of that year. They came together under the banner of Progressive Parties Alliance (PPA). But they could not agree on who would be their presidential candidate. Awolowo wanted to run, so did Azikiwe and Waziri. At the same time, Shagari who was sure of his victory assured Dr. Azikiwe and his NPP that he would give them ‘juicy’ positions if he was returned to power. Being thus wooed away from the PPA, Dr. Azikiwe described himself as a beautiful bride torn between different suitors. In the end, Shagari won the election and fulfilled his promise by appointing NPP members into his cabinet.”

As history stands, what eventually unchained Nigerians from the shackles of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was a jackboot intervention by the military in 1983 – civilian strategies having failed.

Timeline – 1999

The next date with history was 1999. By then, most of the original dramatis personae had either died or retired from active politics. The Nigerian people, pushed to the wall, had engaged the military for nearly sixteen years. Suddenly and unexpectedly, some behind the scene intervention led to the death of General Sani Abacha. As revealed by Al Mustapha at the Justice Oputa Panel, the events were choreographed. Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Balarabe Musa and several others were clear champions of this struggle against military rule. However, when opportunity to decide the next leaders arrived, these vocal and leading light rather than retreating and coalescing behind a single candidate and making a united push for the leadership of the nation, got themselves scattered over the nation’s political space with some even forming their individual political parties. There was hardly anyone of them that did not register a political party or group whether as an individual or in conjunction with others. Gani, who should have been the senatorial candidate of a leading party in his state (Ondo), aimed for the presidency while Falana who should have been a Senatorial candidate of a leading party in his Ekiti State gunned for the governorship. These ones even tried as many who were capable of contesting did not, leaving a vacuum that was successfully exploited by the ‘jegudujeras’ such that although ideologically cohesive, these leading lights weakened and diminished their political worth through their inability to unite. The established cartel of evil that has held the nation to ransom since independence quickly united behind a single candidate and even wooed more unto their sides. Predictably, they won the election and the story went back to status quo. This was in 1999.
As 2015 beckons
The Nigerian people have been pushed to the wall. The level of poverty and insecurity in the land is unprecedented despite unmatched income from crude oil and other sources. Like the previous attempts, the opposition is being united by a common enemy. The politicians in the opposition are doing what they ought to be doing – forming a united political group (via merger). The only difference this time, bar a few exceptions, is that members of the political opposition are also mostly people who have been tested and who have failed in the past. The list is endless. Many leading figures of the merger experiment were either notable stalwarts of the ruling party in the past or active contractors and hanger-on of the military while those that have been members of opposition genuinely over time have also presided over their dominions with the same high handedness with which the ruling party has ruled Nigeria. There is little doubt that many are party to the merger solely because they lost out in the PDP. Even at that, they are doing the correct thing – merging!

Those who are not playing their roles are members of the true intelligential, the real moral voices of the nation – those patriots who are not driven by personal political gains – the non professional politicians. Those are the people that are truly capable of objectively searching for and identifying capable and merit-based leaders for the Nigerian people. Those are the people that need to learn from the experiences of 1959, 1979 and 1999.

What can you do?
Professional politicians often take it for granted that theirs is the heaven-ordained right to elect (select) leaders for the rest of the country. It is a farce that thrives because the people allow it. If the mass of the people challenge this notion, they will succeed and 2015 is a good time for such an experiment.

If you are appalled by the level of decadence and leadership missteps in Nigeria, then your best choice is to commence actions at your end toward identifying the leaders you want in positions rather than merely expecting what characters politicians would throw up in 2015. Professional politicians would naturally prefer candidates that would give them high return on their investment. You however should be targeting capable people that can lead Nigeria out of this quagmire of poverty and deprivation.

Nigerians from the North, West, East and South are presently working behind the scene and would be storming the nation’s political space shortly over the choice of leaders they want in 2015. Will you join them or simply idle away thus exposing our people to more years of uncertainty under incapable leaders? The only way we will not jump from frying pan to fire in 2015


Injuries Severe After Nigeria Suicide Bomb Attack.

suicide bomb
(Al Jazeera)

Amid allegations that soldiers were responsible for at least eight of 21 deaths after the suicide bombing of two churches here on June 3, sources told Compass that most of those injured from the blast and alleged military shooting were in critical condition.

A statement reportedly from the Muslim extremist Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of the Living Faith church in Yelwa, a Christian settlement on the outskirts of the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi. The blast also collapsed a wall of the nearby Harvest Field Church of Christ, leaving three people in critical condition.

Of 61 people taken to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital Bauchi after the blast, 38 were in critical condition, a staff member told Compass on condition of anonymity; the other 23 have been treated and sent home. Church leaders said at a press conference on Monday (June 4) that 45 Christians were considered injured.

“Twenty-five out of these were injured by the bomb blast, while 20 sustained various degrees of injuries from the gunshots by soldiers,” said the Rev. Lawi Pokti, chairman of the Bauchi chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, who said the military shot eight Christians to death.

The Nigerian military has yet to respond to the allegations. In similar church attacks in Nigeria, Christians angry that their brethren were being killed in the presence of security agencies have been shot for refusing military orders to leave.

Lamenting that Christians have been attacked and killed without provocation, still Pokti beseeched Christians to refrain from seeking revenge.

“We also wish to call on all Christians to remain calm and not to embark on any act of reprisal or vengeance, as this will constitute a criminal act and a violation of the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said.

Johnson Elogva, associate pastor at Living Faith, said most of the injuries were severe.

“Most of our members are critically ill in the hospitals,” he said. “Some with first degree, second degree burns.”

Elogva said many of the church’s 2,000 members were traumatized, but that the battle belonged to the Lord.

“Like the Lord told Jehoshaphat not to go out and fight, so we too believe that the Lord will fight for us,” he said. “These terrorists believe in chariots, but we trust in the Lord.”

The pastor had completed the first worship service at 9:15 a.m. and had begun the second service when the congregation heard a loud blast that shook the sanctuary, he said.

“The glass windows were shattered, the roof of the church building was shaking and almost collapsing on us,” he said. “Our church members were scattered, and they were running and jumping through all available entrances out of the sanctuary. There was smoke and fire all over outside.”

Mbami Godiya, pastor of nearby Harvest Field Church of Christ, said 10 members of his congregation were injured – three critically – when the blast collapsed a wall of his church building.

He saw two cars being screened at the security point in front of the church compound, the second one containing the suicide bomber, when he turned his attention away from them, he said.

“Suddenly, there was a loud bang which brought part of my church building down,” Godiya said. “Our church became very dark as fire engulfed it. In the midst of this darkness and the cries from the members of my church, I shouted and called for calm, and asking them to lie down in case there were multiple explosions.”

The pastor said he saw the hand of God in that no one from his congregation died.

“Ten of my members who were injured were taken to the hospital,” he said. “Seven were treated and discharged, and three are still in critical condition.”

Most of the people from Living Faith who died had ended their morning worship service and were leaving the building, he said.

“They were all passing by the security check-point by my church when the explosion occurred,” Godiya said.

The government had sent security agents to keep watch over the churches based on threats to the area, but Godiya faulted the government approach.

“They should have mounted security check-points far away from the churches, but they came and mounted such check-points close to our churches, and that was the reason the bombers were able to get close,” he said.

Literally meaning “Forbidden Book” and translated as “Western education is forbidden,” Boko Haram has targeted churches, state offices, law enforcement sites and some moderate mosques in its effort to destabilize the government and impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s population of more than 158.2 million is divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population and live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north. The percentages may be less, however, as those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World.

Five victims of the bombing were buried June 6, amid weeping and wailing.

Buried at Christian Cemetery in Yelwa at 12:30 p.m. were Irmiya Hassan Dodo, 67; Joseph Kehinde Aiyedipe, 30, a student of the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi; Samuel Olusegun, 16, student of the Divine International School, Bauchi; Augustine Effiong Ita, 32, an adolescent health specialist; and Suru Gbamgboshe, a final year student of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.

Gauis Biyal, pastor of Living Faith church, urged mourners at the service not to seek revenge against those who think they are fighting for God by killing Christians.

Vengeance belongs to the Lord; vengeance belongs to Jesus Christ who was persecuted for our sake,” Biyal said. “It is He that can fight on our behalf. He knows what to do. If we try to do it ourselves, we will die in the process.”


By Compass Direct News

Seven Christians Killed in Bauchi State, Nigeria.



christians killed(Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Early morning attacks in Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi state on Sunday, Jan. 22, left at least seven Christians dead and a church building destroyed.

The attack on the Evangelical Church Winning All Church 2, residents of Tafawa Balewa said, was carried out by area Islamic extremists alongside members of the Boko Haram sect, with the church building and surrounding houses bombed.

Yunnana Yusufu, a pastor with the Church of Christ in Nigeria in Tafawa Balewa, told Compass that the assailants arrived in the early morning hours and began shooting at Christians in the town, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Bauchi City.

“I saw seven dead bodies of some of the Christians killed,” Yusufu told Compass by phone. “The situation is terrible, and I am about to go out to other parts of the town, to see the extent of the damage caused by the attackers.”

Yusufu said that many other Christians were injured.

“Some of them have been taken to the General Hospital here, while others are being treated at home by medical personnel who are Christians,” he said.

All churches have cancelled services.

“The situation we are in calls for attention to the injured and taking appropriate steps to calm frayed nerves over the attack,” he said.

Bauchi Police Commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba reportedly confirmed the attack on Tafawa Balewa, saying two soldiers and a policeman, as well as eight civilians were later killed in a gunfight. He added that six suspects had been arrested.

Police also reported that bombs were thrown at a Catholic church building and an evangelical church building in Bauchi City, causing little damage and no deaths or injuries.

Bukata Zhadi, secretary of the Christian Elders Council in Tafawa Balewa, said attacks on Christian communities in the area have been incessant, with Sunday’s attack bringing to 10 the number of Christians killed in the past two weeks in Tafawa Balewa.

A fortnight ago, gunmen believed to be Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked three Christian farmers on their farms in Pyakman village, near Tafawa Balewa, killing the three of them. Corpses recovered from the farms had bullet wounds and machete cuts, Zhadi said.

Boko Haram, the name given to the Islamic extremist group officially called Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad–“The People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”–seeks to impose a strict version of shariah (Islamic law) on Nigeria. The name Boko Haram translates loosely as “Western education is forbidden.” 

By Compass Direct News.

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