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Posts tagged ‘Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’

President Jonathan’s Curious Silence On Wendell Simlin – Karo Orovboni.

By Karo Orovboni

If you are reading this article then you are privileged and fortunate enough to afford internet connection; I say privileged because there are millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to eat three square meals a day, not to even conceive paying for an internet service.

Regardless of whom you speak with, they would concur when you pose this statement that we need a better Nigeria. Having agreed on that, it would be difficult for some to agree to certain facts based on their sentiments to issues or loyalty to personalities and their pockets. The fact remains that Nigeria is what it is today because some people, through their actions or inactions have directly or indirectly affected Nigeria.

Another fact is that Boko Haram has hitherto been a thorn in the flesh of Nigeria; their recent attack and show of bestiality was on a boarding school in Buni Yadi, Yobe State; school children were killed. Now, please pause for a moment, think slowly about what would be going through the thoughts of the parents of those innocent children that were killed in their school. Think about how the parents would look back to the last time they saw their children, the last time the children said goodbye mum/dad. The parents would never have thought it would be the last goodbye they would say to their children, not to even conceive the children would be killed in such gruesome manner.

As this was still fresh in the minds of the parents and Nigerians at large, reports broke on how the special assistant to the president on new media, Reno Omokri, posed as “Wendell Simlin”. He sent out a write-up to media outfits, trying to link the suspended Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to the increased violent activities of Boko Haram in the north-east region of the country. But Reno Omokri was exposed, as the document was linked back to him, with various examples of seemingly concrete evidence.

Now imagine what would have happened had Reno Omokri (Wendell Simlin) succeeded in his smear job, he would have successfully sent Nigerians on a wild goose chase while Boko Haram continue to maim and kill innocent children. The media has been thronged with calls for Reno Omokri to be investigated, but this has been met with robust silence by the presidency, possibly in the hope that there will be calm or there will be another issue to cover this up and people will gradually forget that this ever happened. Well, we may forget, oh yes we may, but not until the parents of those innocent children that were killed forget about the pain of the death of their children.

Some have said Reno was just doing his job; I would advise that if a job description desires a candidate who must be able to: lie to his conscience, morals, and integrity – it’s not worth applying. A job that would be insensitive to the killings of innocent children is no job; but an insult to mankind; which further raises questions surrounding the integrity of your paymaster. Many will rather the status quo continues, for corruption, and injustice to remain, as long as they continue to make their money, but what about the downtrodden and the poor? What about those who have no voice and cannot be heard? You have a voice but what are you using it for? It is written that those that shut their ears to the cry of the poor will one day cry and will not be heard.

So I will like to join my voice with others and implore the president to break the silence on Wendell Simlin as the robust silence from the presidency is deafening. The president had promised to spare no sacred cow in bringing to justice all those involved in the evil perpetration and early termination of innocent souls, this is just the perfect time and avenue to do so. The fact that the story emanated from the presidency should itself prompt the president into swift action and make sure he gets to the bottom of the issue. Reno Omokri’s action is a grievous national security issue and should be treated as such.

There are some very important questions that are begging to be answered. Why did Reno Omokri write such a document? Was the purpose of his piece to disseminate false information just for political gain; are the lives of the children that cheap for people to play politics with – if this is true? Did he act alone or was he under orders? Does Reno know something about the incessant killings by Boko Haram that he may want to avail the security agents with? He may just know something that will help Nigeria nip Boko Haram in the bud once and for all.

We all owe Nigeria a duty to make sure issues like this are not swept underneath the carpet irrespective of what your bias is. If we choose to be silent, our silence on issues such as this may well turn out to be sinful silence. The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke. Whatever we do, posterity will judge us all by the role we played in whatever this nation becomes.

You can engage Karo on Twitter @Karo_Orovboni


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

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




How to fix Nigeria: Sanusi, CBN Governor gives recipe in Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C., Lecture.



Cental Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has stated that the solution to Nigeria’s development challenges is the fixing of the various broken value chains in the country’s economic activities.

He made this assertion today while delivering a lecture at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Rhode Island Avenue, Washington, D.C. USA. The event was organised by the CSIS to take advantage of the conclave of the financial community for the Annual Meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions ? the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He declared that the value chains in agriculture, petroleum and power are the most basic and critical, which will transform the economy.


The CBN Governor noted that the challenge for Nigeria does not necessarily lie in competing with the big multinationals for cutting edge technology, but in doing the basic things that will promote job creation, economic growth and stability.

The event was moderated by Mr. Dan Runde, Director of Project on Prosperity and Development, and William A. Schreyer at the CSIS.

Photo shows CBN GOvernor Sanusi at the lecture. On his left are Dan Runde, Hon. Chukwudi Jones Onyereri and Hon. Haruna Manu of the National Assembly House Committee on Banking and Currency.

Source: Radio Biafra.

PRESS RELEASE: Nigeria’s Economy On The Brink Of Collapse, ACN warns.

CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, IMF’s Christine Lagarde and Nigeria‘s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
By Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has alerted the nation to an impending collapse of the Nigerian economy, unless the Federal Government cuts the astronomical cost of running a bloated government and takes urgent measures to diversify the economy and shore up the production of oil, which remains the mainstay of the country’s economy.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party warned that if the listed measures were not taken, the government may not be able to pay its bills, including workers’ salaries, within the next few years.

”Contrary to what the FG may say, this warning is not about crying wolf but is actually borne out of a patriotic fervour devoid of politicking, which is the usual refrain of this government when alerted to its shortcomings,” it said. ”We will like to be proven wrong, but this will depend on uncommon and monumental effort, rather than on the basis of the usual canned response from the government.”

ACN said the red alert was based on four empirical evidence: The cost of oil production which has skyrocketed from 4 dollars per barrel in 2002 to 35 dollars presently; the massive corruption in the oil sector, with oil theft and sabotage leading to lost production and costing Nigeria some 6 billion dollars annually in crude theft; the sharp fall in the discovery of new oil and gas reserves due to the low investment in the sector, and the most serious of all, the
challenge posed by alternative sources of global supply of oil and gas.

The party said the cost of oil production rose from only 4 dollars per barrel in 2002 to 7 dollars per barrel in 2005 and, from the 12 dollars per barrel at the onset of the Yar’Adua/Jonathan Administration in 2012 to 35 dollars per barrel in 2012, according to the just-concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja, where the mind-boggling cost hike was attributed to the cost of security in the Niger Delta (put at 16 dollars per barrel), it said.

”In other words, the gains recorded from ending militancy in the Niger Delta due to the Amnesty Programme have been wiped off by the cost of maintaining the ‘peace’. Here is how Shell Nigeria MD Mutiu Sunmonu described the situation: ‘Operating in the Nigerian oil and gas environment can be long and tortuous with costs at the high end of the global scale. There are a multitude of security related issues that have to be dealt with on a daily basis.

”’In the recent past, militancy has simply been replaced by INDUSTRIAL SCALE oil theft and sabotage(emphasis ours). We, and others, have had to shut-in significant production; spend huge amounts on replacing and repairing hardware and deploying massive resources to clean up spills’.”

On the discovery of new oil and gas reserves, ACN said the disastrously-low level of exploration activity in Nigeria is supported by the statistics released by the US Department of Energy for deepwater discoveries from 2009 to 2011 in which Brazil alone contributed some 40 new discoveries or 20 percent of the global total, US and Australia contributed 10% each, countries like Ghana making nine new discoveries or 5% of the global total, while Nigeria had only 4 discoveries or 2% of the global total during this period.

This paltry discovery of new oil and gas reserves is due to the low investment in the sector, which needs to attract 15 billion dollars annually in capital investment, up from the present 3 billion dollars, in order to remain a significant global oil supplier and a respected player in OPEC, the party said.

It said, however, that all those challenges pale into little significance when placed against the challenge posed by alternative sources of global supply of oil and gas seriously – that is Shale oil and Shale gas!

”Here are the facts: The US has more than doubled its estimates of recoverable domestic Shale-gas resources to some 827 trillion cu. ft. (23 trillion cum), more than 34 times the amount of gas the US uses in a year.

Together with supplies from conventional gas sources, the US may now have enough gas to last a century at current consumption rates.

”Last month, the agency released a similar announcement in respect of Shale oil to the effect that California’s valleys alone hold as much as 15.4 billion barrels of Shale oil, which companies were hitherto unable to reach because the oil exists in pockets of rock that were expensive to reach before the present advancements in fracking technology. Similar announcements are being made in Europe and parts of Asia.

”For the first time in nearly a decade, the US has regained the position of being the world’s largest producer of natural gas and soon also oil. Thus, in less than five years, the US has gone from seeking new sources of oil and gas overseas to being self-sufficient. Industry experts believe that Shale oil and Shale gas will revolutionize the industry—and change the world—in the coming decades. It will prevent the rise of any new cartels and alter oil

”The announced objective of the US Government is to drive down oil prices from the current 100 dollars per barrel to 50 dollars per barrel within 2 years. If this happens, which is very likely in view of the alternative sources, Nigeria, with a cost of production of 35 dollars per barrel, would immediately go out of business, with dire consequences for an economy that thrives largely (if not solely) on oil,” the party said.

It said the signs of imminent trouble are already visible for those who are willing to see: The Brass LNG Project is unable to take Final Investment Decision (FID) because of the collapse in the US LNG market and rising costs; and a similar situation faces the Olokola LNG Project.

ACN therefore called on the Federal Government to put on its thinking cap in order to rise to the challenges listed above and save Nigeria’s economy from collapse, adding that any delay could mean that those in charge of the country’s affairs would not have enough time to change
course as the ship of state heads for the rocks.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed
National Publicity Secretary
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)
Lagos, Feb. 24th 2013.


Crucifying Dr. Akinwumi Ayo Adesina, Minister of Agriculture: Matters Arising By Pius Adesanmi.

Pius Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi

The Jonathan administration needs to buy a white cock and go wash its head by the riverside in order to know how to start a new year without irritating Nigerians. Luckily for President Jonathan, Dr. Akinwumi Ayo Adesina, his Minister of Agriculture, is the one who has opted to usher Nigerians into a new year with a half-brained initiative. Last year, the culprits were President Jonathan and his fuel subsidy cabal – Diezani Allison Madueke, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and our alienated friend, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who had serious trouble knowing which kind of fuel the ordinary Nigerian uses for his I-better-pass-my-neigbour. It seems the administration can only start a new year with steps that attract fury or scorn and contempt. Last year, it was fury. This year, it is scorn and contempt and they are being generously heaped on the head of the Minister of Agriculture. His sin? He wants to spend sixty billion of our hard-earned naira buying cellphones for farmers in rural Nigeria. I heard with one ear that the target is ten million phones – or handsets as they call it out there.

It’s been laffomania and ridiculepalooza on social media since this initiative was announced. My good friend, Kayode Ogundamisi, announced the arrival of “Harvard-trained lunatics” (I think he meant Purdue-trained though) in government. However, before we get carried away by the hysteria, it is pertinent to look at the profile of the man in the eye of the storm. This will help us address pertinent questions. There are several detailed online profiles of the Minister but this one from the website of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria will do. It’s a three-paragraph bio and I don’t want to summarize it. Bear with me:

“Akinwunmi Adesina is Vice President (Policy and Partnerships) for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an organization established with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the goal of bringing a green revolution to Africa, and lifting millions of poor farmers out of poverty and food insecurity.
Mr. Adesina has over 20 years of experience in African agriculture, development policy and rural development. of Nigerians. Despite massive injections of subsidies, productivity remains low, with many concerns about the effectiveness of existing programmes. He won the Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Research Fellowship in 1988, which initiated his career in international agricultural development. He has worked in senior research positions in international agricultural research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. He joined the Rockefeller Foundation, New York, as a senior scientist for Africa in 1998 and later served as Rockefeller Foundation representative for Southern Africa, based in Harare, Zimbabwe (1999-2003).

He is also an associate director (food security) at The Rockefeller Foundation, based in Nairobi, Kenya (2003-present). Dr. Adesina helped to design, inspire and galvanize support for the landmark Africa Fertilizer Summit. He is consultant on agricultural development issues in Africa by the World Economic Forum, World Bank and African Development Bank, among other institutions. Dr Adesina was a lead organizer of the Africa Fertilizer Summit for African heads of state in 2006. He was instrumental in framing the soil health policies adopted there by over 40 African governments, the African Union the New Partnership of African Development (NEPAD), and other leading global development institutions. Mr. Adesina has worked in senior research leadership positions at IITA, WARDA and ICRISAT. In July 2007, he received the YARA Prize for the African Green Revolution in Oslo for his pioneering work with agricultural inputs and agro-dealer networks in Africa.

In 2008, he was honoured with Purdue University’s College of Agriculture Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award, for his inspiring leadership in spearheading transformative change in African agriculture. In 2009, Mr. Adesina was appointed into the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Advocacy Group that will drive the rapid achievement of the Goals across the globe. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon described him as an “eminent personality’’ who had shown outstanding leadership in promoting the implementation of the MDGs. Dr Adesina holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University (USA). He is married to Grace and together they have two children, Rotimi and Segun.”

I have gone to this length to show that contrary to a certain impression of him now circulating like a wildfire in the harmattan on social media, this Minister has nothing in common with the caterwauling charlatans gorging in government and in the corridors of power. This is not the profile of your typical government official. The man we have on our hands here is an intellectual with unimpeachable academic achievements, a seasoned technocrat who has cut his teeth at the highest instances of international development. The question we need to ask, the puzzle we need to address is: how on earth did the man profiled above come up with such a brain-dead idea?

I’ve been following Dr. Adesina quietly for a very long time. Whenever a new government is formed in Nigeria, I check out the profiles of the new players in town to determine who is worthy of higher levels of expectation from Nigerians. My system of assessment of those running our lives has an unapologetic Apartheid ring to it. Usually, one look at the cabinet and list of other appointees is sufficient to determine that only a few names are worthy of retention.

The rest are usually pedestrian come-and-chop political jobbers unworthy of one’s attention. Once I determine the few whose work and progress I will monitor carefully, I set the bar really high. For instance, I have written previously that I cannot assess Sanusi Lamido Sanusi or my friend, Sam Amadi, with the same yardstick I use for the school certificate forgers who populate the National Assembly. In essence, when you hear certain names, you raise the level, the bar, or the benchmark of expectation or whatever you prefer to call it. With other names, you shrug and expect the usual. When I hear Diezani Allison Madueke or Tony Anenih, for instance, I lower the bar because I expect to find only charlatanish corruption going on and nothing cerebral.

This explains why my pen can be very violent whenever Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Sam Amadi or any of the few people with cerebral minds in government misbehave. As the Yoruba aptly put it, it is disappointing if you find yesterday’s leftover eba and rotten okro soup where you expect to find steaming pounded yam fresh from the mortar and egusi soup. Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture being one of the two or three positive needles in the monumentally corrupt and clueless haystack that is the Jonathan government, we must repeat the question: how have we ended up finding yesterday’s eba in his “sakani” (domain) when we expected fresh pounded yam?

How on earth did Dr. Adesina sign on to this project? Why has such a cerebral technocrat joined the ranks of the resident comedians in the Jonathan cabinet? Yes, the cabinet has comedians. One  wants to go to the moon – or is it Mars – by 2015. Another one says evils spirits are responsible for inefficient power generation. And, now, this brilliant technocrat wants to spend N60 billion buying cell phones for farmers in rural Nigeria.  The idea is actually not bad. I think the Minister has been inspired by similar cases elsewhere in Africa. Consider, for instance, this case: (…).

The tragedy here is that the Minister is going to waste public funds on a project that should be entirely private sector-driven. He should have used his good offices to approach a consortium of NGOs and development funders to buy the phones and work in partnership with cellular providers in Nigeria to ensure cheap access to airtime for the concerned farmers in a carefully determined framework. He could even run a pilot in all geopolitical zones to see how things work out.

The second tragedy – and this is very important for Nigerians in the diaspora as well as highly-trained Nigerians circulating in international organizations and global agencies – relates to disconnection and deracination.  The story by now should be familiar to Nigerians. Every new government in Nigeria casts its net wide, plucking compatriots from the diaspora and from international organizations to come and run the show. They pluck them from European, American, Canadian, and Australian Universities; they pluck them from the UN System, the Africa Union, and the European Union; they pluck them from Bretton Woods; they pluck them from international Foundations, Thinktanks, and Institutes. Usually, they have excelled and made Nigeria proud in all these places. Then they get to Abuja and fail colossally. We get rotten eba from them instead of fresh pounded yam. The failure rate is so overwhelming that I can’t even immediately come up with success stories. They brought Aganga in from Goldman Sachs and I don’t know what to make of his service; they plucked Arunmah Oteh from the African Development Bank and she has ended up a total disgrace; the jury is still out on Ngozi Okonjo Iweala. And now the Minister of Agriculture is running the risk of becoming a comedian.

Perhaps there is something about the culture on the ground which these naïve returnees from the diaspora or from international agencies and bodies misjudge in terms of their own modes of reinsertion into Nigerian society? I suspect, for instance, that Dr Adesina imagines that he is still shaping policy and initiatives for the Rockefeller Foundation or for NEPAD. Perhaps he imagines he is still working on MDGs for Ban Ki-Moon? Somebody had better wake him up and tell him he is in Abuja. He will understand the folly of this cellphone project when he starts receiving letters from above regarding whose wife or whose concubine should get the contract for the importation of the phones. He will wake up to the reality of Nigeria when body language begins to tell him how many of those phones – if they ever get to Nigeria – should go in Easter hampers to Aso Rock, to fellow cabinet members, to members of the National Assembly, to party chieftains and elder statesmen. He will understand Nigeria when, he after allocation to the 36 states, the phones disappear on arrival in the state capital. He will understand the nature of things when he discovers that virtually every civil servant in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has opened a cellphone supplying shop or business and are already quietly telling potential customers that they are awaiting stocks and consignment.
Dr. Adesina has ample examples of Ministers embarking on woolly-headed projects to learn from. There is Dora Akunyili, who wasted millions on her moronic rebrand Nigeria project and castigated those of us wailing against it as noisy armchair critics. What did Nigeria ever gain from that project?

Hundreds of millions of naira down the drain. Just like that. I once called for Dora Akunyili to be prosecuted for criminal wastage of funds. Perhaps that would have dissuaded Dr. Adesina from buying cellphones for farmers with public funds? Why can’t he go to his people at Rockefeller and sell this idea to them? Why can’t he approach the oil subsidy cartel in Nigeria and see if they could cough up the funds for his project? Why not approach corporate institutions and see if they want to come on board and fund part of this thing as corporate social responsibility? Oh, I better not mention corporate social responsibility. Our unpredictable CBN Governor may get to read this and rush a check of N60 billion to the Minister of Agriculture, claiming it is the corporate social responsibility of the CBN to provide the phones.

Anyway, I hope the Minister did not burn bridges at Rockefeller. When this foolish project bites the dust, he may need to pack his bag. It’s a familiar story. After failure at home, we usually tuck our tail between our legs and return to the diaspora or to our respective international agencies to resume the task of accusing Nigerians back home of not knowing how to run Nigeria.

Source: Sahara Reporters.

Boko Haram and poverty in Northern Nigeria.

“From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbour’s rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own.”

 – Carl Schurz

I’m sure if the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, were stuck between a rock and a hard place, that would be preferable to the spot he currently finds himself over pronouncements made in interviews, speeches and off-the-cuff responses on Boko Haram, revenue distribution and poverty in the country, especially in Northern Nigeria.

Consider this: Most Nigerians agree that the current insecurity is worsened or aided by the high level of poverty in the country and ignore any attempt to discredit the allusions made by Sanusi and other economic experts. However, no one is able to establish a link between accountability in governance and revenue allocation or its distribution – the root cause. In this delicate exchange, the CBN Governor’s growing band of critics are having a field day, employing the first rule of politics: characterise everything he says and does as wrong. That is fair game. There are three clear groups that have emerged from these exchanges – the battle tested political class who would pick on any issue if it furthers their cause; the well-trained, disciplined and professional class,  the aggrieved and excluded majority; and the public officials of which Sanusi is the most visible.

If the information, reasoning and exchanges shaping the debate were premised on facts and reflect a thorough understanding of our dire socio-economic realities, the level of discourse would be elevated beyond the current cheap political posturing taking place. Yet, there are serious issues being raised in and around the issue that should attract the attention of serious-minded persons. Indeed, given the backdrop of the terrorist siege that is taking place in the North, the stakes couldn’t be significantly higher.

For now, it is hard for the public to separate the wheat from the chaff, because of where we have been, the growing distrust of government and the biting reality of the accelerated descent to poverty of a large majority of Nigerians. This debate, however, is necessary and long-overdue; yet, before an opinion is voiced; a rebuttal is released, and soon enough everything becomes muddled up. That is no way to hold an absolutely necessary national discussion on something so critical to our federalism and collective well-being.

But in the ‘fear’ driven culture we have created, one would concede this to be an effective way to keep the people distracted whilst the populace pontificates without needing to be right, criticise without having all the facts and loudly call for a redistribution of national wealth without ever having to create one, thus further perpetuating the poverty, unemployment and education malaise.

Statistics appear to grossly under-estimate the immensity of poverty that defines Nigeria’s paradox of ‘rich country with poor masses’.  More than 90 per cent of Nigerians are poor and exist largely at the mercy of fate. These realities are much more obvious in rural areas and slums. In these places, people die because they cannot afford N500 to purchase needed medication or basic public health care. Worse still, people around may not be able to help as they too may not be able to collectively raise that amount of money. It is a very obvious reality in today’s Nigeria! As strange as it may sound, this is going on side-by-side with ostentatious living by the one per cent of the population! Even official statistics admit that over 112 million Nigerians live on less than US$1.00 a day.

A factual indicator is the results of the harmonised Nigeria Living Standards Survey conducted by the non-partisan National Bureau of Statistics which puts the Nigerian poverty profile at 69 per cent — this indicates that poverty and income inequality in the country have increased since 2003/2004. Accordingly, the NBS estimated that this trend may rise further if the potential positive impact of several anti-poverty and employment generation intervention programmes of government fall through. The report reveals that 112.47 million Nigerians live below US$1.00 per day and as a result could barely afford the minimal standards of food, clothing, health care and shelter!

Since poverty and unemployment in Africa strongly correlate, it will not be surprising to assume that the unemployment rate is in excess of 40 per cent. The official figure is nevertheless about 20 per cent which analysts consider a gross under-estimation.

But be that as it may, what is true is that we have a crisis which historically has been a platform for the creation of, and dynamic sustenance of other crises. We have unresolved issues that seek to emphasise our differences more than our common destiny. We operate a system that exposes the weaknesses in the foundation of our unity which the people’s representatives shy away from confronting. Yet, if the January protests and related parliamentary probe(s) provided any lesson, it must be the fact that the inequalities and fundamental imperfections in the macro-economic structure of Nigeria are unsustainable; and that our politics cannot crowd out the impending reaction to this unaddressed problem.

Karl Marx is popularly known for a truism which emphasises our current reality: religion is the opium of the poor! Yet, it is not only about religion but our historical cultural practices of deliberately putting people in a state of ignorance. Illiteracy is also both a product of and driver of poverty. Thus, the greater the level of poverty, the higher the illiteracy rate and of course, more poverty — these dynamically reinforce each other.

Accordingly, when a young man is poor, illiterate and unemployed, he becomes a clean slate for any kind of brainwashing which, according to Marx, is more potent when it comes from religion and aided by culture. The reason is very simple. First, this category of persons lacks the intellectual power to logically question or critique what they are told. They live in the world of myths. Secondly, the activity component of the brainwashing given to them provides a quasi-equivalent of employment and thus they feel engaged in acting out what they have been brainwashed about. Is this not the kind of situation we find with the Boko Haram phenomenon?

To understand this clearly is to closely examine the coordinates of Boko Haram and that of poverty in Nigeria. Boko Haram at the outset appeared to have had its operational bases located in the poorest parts of Northern Nigeria. It is in such places where people have been denied the opportunity to go to school as well as have meaningful economic sources of livelihood that recruitment is the easiest. Boko Haram leaders are aware of it and of course are maximising the advantages of that obvious truth. It is not any different from the situation that prevailed during the pre-amnesty militancy periods in the Niger Delta. The long and short of it is that with entrenched poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, we cannot eliminate the menace of Boko Haram or similar security threats.

Awoyemi, FCA, ACIT is the CEO of Proshare Nigeria.


by Olufemi Awoyemi.

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