CHANGE IS HERE

CHANGE IS HERE

Thursday, November 29, 2012

We shouldn’t be welcoming Tony Blair in Nigeria


By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
“If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth?….On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go to the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers’ circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush’s chief supporter, Mr Blair confessed…but in order to get rid of  Saddam Hussein….
If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without any acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children? – Bishop Desmond Tutu
LAST week Friday, many Nigerian newspapers carried on their front pages, the picture of Tony B-LIAR, former British Prime Minister, surrounded by the Sultan of Sokoto, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and other religious leaders.
It was from the launch, the previous day, of an effort to “encourage reconciliation between Christian and Moslem (SIC) communities”, by the Tony Blair Foundation. It was, on the surface of it, a good initiative. But it comes from a man who ordinarily should have been arrested and handed over for trial at the International Criminal Court.
Tony B-LAIR comes into Nigeria so regularly, that most people seem to have forgotten that he does not even command much respect in his home country anymore and is unable to walk around in London, with same spring in his step that we see during his regular, and obviously lucrative, Nigerian visits.
Prior to 1999, Nigerian leaders took very serious, anti-imperialist positions. Even the Tafawa Balewa administration, often described as ‘conservative”, broke diplomatic relations with
France, following an atomic weapons test in the
Sahara, during the 1960s.
We all remember Murtala Muhammed’s role in supporting the progressive movement for Angolan Independence in 1975. The same regime refused a visit by Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to protest
America’s anti-African posture. The military nationalised British Petroleum, as part of Nigerian commitment to Africa’s liberation. Those were the halcyon days of Nigerian foreign policy activism!
Leaders kow-towing to imperialism
When Obasanjo returned in 1999, a lot changed; for the worst! We suddenly became a nation ruled by leaders with entrenched inferiority complexes who readily kow-towed to imperialism.
The old despot, Obasanjo sacked General Victor Malu, for objecting to an indecent and groveling surrender to American military diktat; just as patriotic Nigerian intellectuals in virtually all fields of life were ignored for imperialist-trained “experts” with more loyalty to the Bretton Woods Institutions than toNigeria!
That trend led the late President Yar’adua to describe a few minutes inside George Bush’s White House, as the greatest moment of his life! Inferiority complex cannot come any worse! But the trend deepened and Tony B-LAIR’s regular reception inside Aso Villa and other Nigerian events, merely underscores this trend. But it triggers my patriotic indignation that we are ruled by those with the consciousness of slaves!
Tony B-LIAR, described as George Bush’s poodle, is reviled around the world for the role he played in the American invasion ofIraqin 2003. He told lies aboutIraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, as justification for the invasion.
Last September, Nobel Laureate and anti-apartheid hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the ICC for the “physical and moral devastation caused by the war inIraq”.
THE OBSERVER newspaper ofLondon, on September 2nd, reported the call as part of a statement Tutu released, withdrawing from a leadership conference inSouth Africa, for which Tony B-LIAR was paid 150,000 British pounds.
The INDEPENDENT of London of August 29th, quoted Tutu that it was “morally indefensible” to share a platform with B-LIAR. “The Discovery Invest Summit has leadership as its theme. Morality and leadership are indivisible.
In this context, it would be inappropriate for the Archbishop Tutu to share a platform with Mr. Blair”. Bush and B-LIAR, Archbishop Tutu argued “fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand”.
A war of aggression
The commentator George Monbiot, in the London Guardian of 3rd September, said Tutu’s call “broke the protocol of power- the implicit accord of those who flit from one grand meeting to another- and named his crime” He added further that “the crime of aggression and a crime against peace.
It is defined by the Nurember principles as the ‘planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression’.
This means a war fought for a purpose other than self-defence: in other words out with articles 33 and 51 of the UN Charter. That the invasion ofIraqfalls into this category looks indisputable”….
Without legal justification, the attack onIraqwas an act of mass murder. It caused the death of between 100,000 and a million people, and ranks among the greatest crimes the world has ever seen.
That Blair and his ministers still saunter among us, gathering money where ever they go, is a withering indictment of a one-sided system of international justice: a system whose hypocrisy Tutu has exposed”.
Arrest Blair campaign
Monbiot is the founder of www.arrestblair.org. to promote a peaceful citizens’ arrest of Tony B-LIAR; citizens contribute to a fund that has so far disbursed more than ten thousand pounds.
“Our aim is the same as Tutu’s: to de-normalise an act of mass murder, to keep it in the public mind and to maintain the pressure for prosecution. That looked (until Tutu’s recent call), like an almost impossible prospect.
But when the masonry begins to crack, impossible hopes can become first plausible, then inexorable. Blair will now find himself shut out of places where he was once welcome. One day he may find himself shut in”. B-LIAR should no longer be made welcome in Nigeria. His regular visits here assault our human decency!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Evil Spirit Behind Nigeria’s Darkness, Power Minister Tells S/A Investors




The Minister of State for Power, Hajiya Zainab Kuchi, yesterday told South African investors that evil spirit were behind Nigeria’s darkness preventing the country from taking her pride of place in the comity of Nations.
While addressing members of the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Ruling Party, which led a team of investors to her office in Abuja, the minister said, “We must resolve to jointly exorcise the evil spirit behind this darkness and allow this nation take its pride of peace in the comity of Nations.”
The minister in a statement by the Deputy Director/Head of Press of the ministry, Greyne Anosike, said, “Nigeria needs help, any nation that loves Nigeria must collaborate with it now to resolve her energy crisis...We are getting irritatingly slow.”
She told the delegation that Nigeria has a structured response to her power challenges with a Roadmap it is implementing with care and diligence and asked them to study the power sector roadmap and come up with their specific area of interest, assuring that there were a lot of gaps to be filed in the sector.
The Minister said that work had reached various stages of completion in rehabilitating some of the moribund power stations littering the landscape pointing out that, the revival of the abandoned power projects was critical in lifting the sector as billions of funds had been sunk into them.
“It would amount to lavish diseconomy to embark on new project and abandon the old ones in which huge tax payers resources had been sunk,” she said, and added that she was confident that the present Administration is determined to make a difference in this sector and break the jinx.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Katsina Crowd Cheer As Atiku Stoops To Greet Obasanjo At Customs Conference




The crowd at the venue of the 2012 Comptroller-General of Customs' conference in Katsina, burst into cheers and applause when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar knelt down to greet his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku and Obasanjo, who served as vice president and president of Nigeria respectively between 1999-2007, had an estranged relationship during the last lap of their second term in office.
Both men were among a retinue of VIPs invited to the opening of the week long Comptroller-Generals' conference held at the newly inaugurated auditorium of Katsina State University.
Obasanjo, who arrived ahead of Atiku, was seated next to second republic President Shehu Shagari and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade.
Atiku, who arrived nearly 40-minutes after his former boss, first greeted the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammad Iliyasu, Emir of Katsina, Dr Abdulmimini Usman, the Ooni and Shagari who were seated at the podium.
When he got to Obasanjo, the former Vice President knelt down and bowed his head to greet his former boss.
The delighted crowd followed the mild drama with a loud applause and cheers.
A man who sat opposite the VIP podium raised his two hands up and shouted ``Alleluia''.
Earlier, Vice President Namadi Sambo who represented President Goodluck Jonathan had inaugurated the 1,500 capacity auditorium of the Katsina State University, venue of the conference.
Two former heads of state, top traditional rulers from different geo-political zones in Nigeria, former Comptroller-Generals of Customs and Customs chiefs from the Africa region attended the opening event.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal delivered a goodwill message, where he challenged the Customs to go beyond its ``statutory role’’ of combating smuggling of goods.
Tambuwal listed other roles of the service to include revenue collection, trade facilitation and border protection.
He urged the service to collaborate with other relevant agencies in the country to improve their services.
He pledged that the National Assembly would support the ongoing review of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) to enable the service discharge its function optimally.
The theme of this year’s annual Comptroller-General’s conference is ``Border Divide, Customs Connects''.


Katsina Crowd Cheer As Atiku Stoops To Greet Obasanjo At Customs Conference | Leadership Newspapers

Sunday, November 25, 2012

N5tn stolen under Jonathan –Investigation



President Goodluck Jonathan
Over N5tn in government funds have been stolen through fraud, embezzlement and theft since President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office on May 6, 2010, a SUNDAY PUNCH investigation has found.

Our correspondents arrived at the stolen sum after poring over the reports of the various committees set up by the President to probe some sectors of the economy, particularly oil and gas. SUNDAY PUNCHalso relied on disclosures by some senior government officials.

Five trillion naira is the summation of government funds said to have been stolen, according to the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Task Force report; the Minister of Trade and Investment’s report on stolen crude; the House of Representatives fuel subsidy report and investigations into the ecological fund, SIM card registration and frequency band spectrum sale.

The Ribadu report on the oil and gas sector put daily crude oil theft at a high 250,000 barrels daily at a cost of $6.3bn (N1.2trn) a year. This puts the total amount lost through oil theft in the two years of Jonathan’s government at over $12.6bn (N2trn).

Oil theft is common in the Nigerian oil and gas sector. In June, a special naval team impounded a French ship, MT Vannessa, at Brass Loading Terminal, Bayelsa State, for allegedly stealing 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the country.

Our sister publication, SATURDAY PUNCH, had reported that the suspects, in their confessional statements, indicted some political office holders, many fuel marketers and some officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Department of Petroleum Resources.

In October, Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, in a letter to the President, said 24 million barrels of oil worth $1.6bn (N252bn) was stolen between July and September.

According to Aganga, his signature was forged on the Export Clearance Permit that was used to export the crude oil from Nigeria.

Confirming that oil theft was depleting Nigeria’s resources, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in May, said the government lost a fifth of its oil revenues to theft in April.

Apart from income lost through oil theft, the Ribadu report also said ministers of Petroleum Resources between 2008 and 2011 handed out seven discretionary oil licences and that government lost $183m (N29bn) in signature bonuses via these deals.

The Ribadu panel discovered that three of the oil licences were awarded under the current petroleum minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who took up her position in 2010. Alison-Madueke, however, denied knowledge of the discretionary awards.

Shortly before the Ribadu report, the House of Representatives had raised the alarm that the N2.6trn the Federal Government paid for oil subsidy in 2011 could not be properly accounted for.

The House said, “Fuel subsidy payments amounted to N261.1bn in 2006, N278.8bn in 2007 and N346.7bn in 2008, but, even after the subsidy on diesel had been removed, the ‘subsidy’ payments jumped to N2.58trn in 2011 — more than 900 per cent of the sum appropriated for the year (N245bn).”

A subsequent report by the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments, led by Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, revealed that in 2011, 197 subsidy transactions worth N232bn were illegitimate.

These frauds are not limited to the oil industry, as similar probes have shown that almost all sectors are involved.
In July, the House of Representatives Committee on Environment discovered a tree seedling fraud worth N2bn awarded by the Ecological Fund office.
Chairman of the committee on environment, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, said this during an investigative hearing on the mismanagement of ecological funds for the development of tree nurseries and seedlings in the 36 states.

According to her, out of the N3bn approved by the Presidency in 2010, N2bn was released to the contractors and consultants without government getting value.

Minister of Environment Hadiza Mailafia, however, said the contract was awarded by her predecessor.
In the telecommunications sector, the House instituted a probe into the sale of the frequency brand spectrum, which was reportedly sold for less than its value.

The 450MHz frequency, which was valued at over $50m, was allegedly sold for less than $6m (a difference of $44m or N6.9bn) by the Nigeria Communications Commission.

In the same sector, the reps, earlier this year, commenced investigations into the N6.1bn SIM card registration project embarked upon by the NCC in 2011.

The investigation followed the delay in completing the exercise and the request by NCC for additional N1bn for the project in its 2012 budget.

The lawmakers insisted that the NCC had no business embarking on the project since various service providers were already registering their subscribers.

Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Communications, Mr. Usman Bawa, had said, “The NCC has no business with SIM card registration. Apart from that, the service providers have done about 80 per cent of the registration because they started before the NCC. To me, for the regulatory body to be involved in the registration is a duplication of effort, a waste of resources and time.

“Even, the manner with which the bill for the N6.1bn was passed during the Sixth Assembly showed that there was more to it than meets the eyes. From our investigations, from which our report was compiled, our interactions with the NCC contractors for the SIM card registration and the service providers, a lot has been exposed and this was part of the reason why we removed the N1bn that was budgeted for the same SIM card registration in the last budget.”

It would be recalled that the then Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili, had, in August, 2010, agreed that the amount budgeted for SIM card registration was exorbitant.
Reacting to the massive frauds that have greeted Jonathan’s tenure, Transparency International, told one of our correspondents that Nigeria would continue to slack in development as long as it keeps paying lip service to the fight against corruption.

It said via electronic mail, “President Jonathan should insist that those accused of corruption are properly investigated and punished if found guilty, irrespective of their positions and connections. The judiciary must be seen as impartial and fair.

“To signal a break with the past, the government should set up an independent investigatory panel to review charges of corruption within government and the private sector. President Jonathan should endorse the panel and commit to ensure it has both the scope and the power to investigate and prosecute.

“This is not just a matter of justice; fighting corruption can affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The current culture of corruption hurts the majority of Nigerians while the inequality gap widens.”

Also speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH, the Director, Centre for Applied Economics, Lagos Business School, Prof. Pat Utomi, said the spate of corruption in the country was unprecedented.

The political economist argued that prosecution and jail terms for corrupt individuals would not be as effective as building a societal institution that would prevent corruption.

A former Vice Chancellor, Crescent University, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, also warned that corruption would spell doom for the country if the trend continued.

He said, “It is unfortunate that the country will not be able to meet the Millennium Development Goals. There is a need for the masses to hold a three-day protest against corruption to force government to prosecute those indicted for corruption.”

Similarly, Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said, “For Jonathan to fight corruption, he must start with his cabinet. The way Jonathan is going about his campaign against corruption is not the best way to go about it.”

A global audit and financial advisory firm, KPMG, had on Thursday stated that Nigeria accounted for the highest number of fraud cases in Africa in the first half of 2012.
The cost of fraud in the country during the period was put at $1.5bn (N225bn).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Pastors With Private Jets An Embarrassment To Christianity", Says Bishop Kukah-The Nation



Bishop Hassan Kukah
By Sunday Oguntola
The acquisition of private jets by Christian leaders diminishes the moral voice of the church in the fight against corruption, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev Matthew Kukah, declared yesterday.
He spoke against the backdrop of the presentation of a private jet to the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, by members of his church during the celebration of his 40th anniversary in the ministry penultimate Saturday.

Kukah, who was guest speaker at the annual Founder’s Day Anniversary lecture of Providence Baptist Church in Lagos, described exhibition of such opulence by church leaders as embarrassing.
The fiery cleric who spoke on ‘Church and the state in the pursuit of the common good’, said: “The stories of corrupt men and women being given recognition by their churches or mosques as gallant sons and daughters and the embarrassing stories of pastors displaying conspicuous wealth as we hear from the purchases of private jets and so on clearly diminish our moral voice.”

Kukah, who was represented by the Administrator of Holy Cross Cathedral Lagos, Rev. Monsignor Pascal Nwaezeapu, also expressed displeasure with the perceived closeness of the CAN leadership to the corridors of powers.
He said such alliance will weaken the ability of the church to speak the truth to elected public office holders.
According to him: “CAN has become more visible in relation to national prayer sessions, pilgrimages, alliances with state power and so on.

“Unless we distance ourselves, we cannot speak the truth to power. We cannot hear the wails of the poor and the weak. We should not be seen as playing the praying wing of the party in power.”
He challenged the church to speak against corruption in low and high places, saying such responsibility must never be jettisoned for any reason.
Apart from Orisejafor, other church leaders who own private jets include Founder of Living Faith Ministries, Bishop David Oyedepo; General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye; Founder of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Bishop Mike Okonkwo and Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy Church.
 

REV. FATHER MATHEW HASSAN KUKAH on Buhari

REV. FATHER MATHEW HASSAN KUKAH on Buhari

November 14th, 2010


"When I saw the screaming headline claiming that General Buhari had called on Muslims to vote only for fellow Muslims in the next elections, I could almost tell what the national reaction would be. My brethren within Christianity would react like wounded lions. There would be name calling, bashing, brick bat throwing, Sabre rattling and so on. 

The nature of the accusations would be predictable. I also knew that politicians from both sides, anxious for capital and advantage, would throw in their lot in any direction that favours them. My suspicion was that General Buhari would not respond. He will remain his typical Self, taciturn and philosophical. He would be hurting and wondering when it would all end. Interestingly, I was not disappointed, as the reactions in the last two weeks have shown. 



The General has been called all kinds of names. Christian leaders have threatened to call out their followers to vote only Christians, some have given the General a date line for retraction, while others are calling for his removal from the Council of State and seem to regret over having the man as a Head of State. Just like all debates about such sore points in our polity as ethnicity, we have ended up generating so much heat and have absolutely no light to show for it. Typical Nigerians love talking more than thinking. My purpose in this article is two fold. First of all, to clarify if possible, what exactly General Buhari said and secondly, to use the debate as an opportunity to look more closely at the finer points of the role of religion in politics. We must move from talking to thinking in this country.


In dealing with the first point, I have shied away from commenting on the allegation despite prodding from the media because I have learnt that there are always two sides to every story and unless the evidence of both sides are in, all attempts at judgment are not only dangerous, they will always naturally be based on prejudice and bias. They can either only exacerbate the problem, deepen agony, reinforce prejudice and increase tension and misunderstanding. Since the story broke, I have tried to reach the General without success. Now that I have managed to speak with him (Saturday 23rd June), I feel morally in a position to make judgment on the issues base on my nearly twenty Minutes chat with the retired General. This does not in any way mean that all I say will be correct nor do I attempt any iota of self-righteousness. I believe that whatever the world says, every individual is not only entitled to an opinion, he or she is entitled to be heard. We can register our disagreement based on knowledge of the facts. Facts may be sacred as they say, but facts are not truths.


When I finally called the General's Kaduna home, he sounded like he was in a very good mood. After dispensing with pleasantries, I informed him that I had tried to reach him but had not been successful. He apologized to me saying: Well, whenever it rains, my phone normally has to recover from the effect of the rain. It was a good note on which to start our conversation. So Your Excellency, I asked, what exactly did you say? I have read the reactions to the statement credited to you and wanted to find out what exactly it was you said. He seemed and sounded pleased that he had a chance to state his case. 



He also did sound anxious to explain himself as I listened. He proceeded to speak on about ten minutes and I listened and made some notes. This is his side of the story as he told me. I can only attempt to paraphrase him: Sheikh Sidi Attahiru Ibrahim is a Nigerian Islamic Scholar and he had been in Saudi Arabia for 13 years. He traveled to see me in Daura and informed me that he had written a book, which Dan Fodio University had published, and he now wanted to launch it, would I kindly oblige him by accepting to chair the event? Considering his age and the fact that he traveled all the way to Daura to see me, I obliged. Although a book reviewer had been invited, I had been asked to make my comments, as the chairman of the event, I spoke without a prepared text and in the course of my comments, I drew attention to the fact that the introduction of Sharia had become one of the main issues in this new dispensation. 



I explained that Sharia, however, has been with us well before the British colonized Nigeria. Now, Sharia has been introduced in many Northern states and Sokoto is one of the states that has already adopted Sharia. It must be pointed out however that Sharia is applicable only to Muslims. 



Those elements that have taken the law into their hands and use the opportunity to molest other non-Muslims are not helping the cause. What is more, they are like bad policemen or judges who are making the enforcement of justice so difficult in Nigeria. Their shortcoming does not do the police force or the judiciary any good, but these acts do not detract from the imperative of both institutions. Midway through our democracy, we have time now to assess the situation on ground in terms of making our choice in the next elections. Vote for good men whether they are in Borno, Katsina, Sokoto or wherever. Vote for those who will protect your interest. This, Rev. Father, is the summary of every thing I said and the tapes are there.



I did not record our interview because I did not have the General's permission and in any case, it would have been wrong for me to do so. I have only tried to paraphrase what the General said to me base on quick notes I made and I hope I got him right on the essential thrust of what it was that he said. May be I have made my own mistakes in reading him. However, he was categorical that he did not say that Muslims should vote for only Muslims. After all, as he said again, even during the time of the Holy Prophet, there were non-Muslims just as there were unbelievers even in the time of Jesus Christ. He referred me to an Arewa House Lecture delivered by Alhaji Liman Ciroma, which raise the point that justice is more acceptable than a Muslim who governs unjustly! On the whole, it would seem that the General felt hurt by the comments and reactions to what he considered to be an innocent comment. But that is the way the cookie crumbles.




I believe that I can make what I consider to be my own honest comments now that I have spoken to the General and heard his own story. The important thing to my mind is not so much a question of whether the General was telling me the truth or if with hindsight, he was presenting a revised version of his comments in the light predicament. I personally have no reason to believe that the General was reacting like a man trapped and therefore seeking discussions, but the tape recording of what I said is all there for anyone who wishes to watch it. I also imagine that anyone remotely familiar with the General would make two concessions. One that he would not doctor a comment base on what the public might think so as to receive acceptance. Secondly that General Buhari would consider it beneath him to come our defending himself. Anyone remotely familiar with the mind of a Northern Muslim would concede that the General would remain calm and philosophical, believing in the judgment of his conscience on the one had and that of Allah on the other. It might help to pose the question: did the General warrant the attack that was heaped on him by very senior statesmen and women? Why did our tribe of elder statesmen from whichever calling not find it fit to consult with one of their own before going to town? 



The inability of his critics to seek his own side of the story would seem to have bothered the General, as I understood him. What this issue raises for me is the way Nigerians generally react in the face of the public discourse on very sore but deeply important issues, especially religion. We all retreat into our cocoons of prejudice and from that comfort, we continue to throw stones at the centre, defending our own but also raising the tensions. The result is that we fail to realize the extent of the damage done to our institutions, causes and integrity. 



I know that many readers who have rather made up their minds and would rather remain in their laagers will accuse me of blindly supporting the General, pandering to the North, or even trivializing what they consider to be a serious issue. It might also be said that the General may have settled me, as is common with us whenever anyone dares to beat a track away from the popular and wide road tarred with prejudice. They will wonder why I have broken ranks with my own tribe when all good Christians ought to have stood on one side. Well, those who may be familiar with me would already know my antecedes, namely, I love a good fight and do not bow to blackmail or intimidation. I bow to truth as I see it until someone, no matter how small, shows me that there is a superior viewpoint. Indeed, as far I am concerned, Buhari issue could offer us another chance to contest and iron out some more serious national issues.



I am familiar with the wider implication of religion and politics in other lands and this has been my area of research and discourse in the last few years. We are not the first to experience these tensions regarding the implications of religion in political choice. What makes these choices turn into weapons of destruction is the hostile environment with its attendant characteristics: poverty, squalor, illiteracy, hunger and want.



A nation with these characteristics sees its population weakened and reduced to servitude and indignity. The citizens gradually fall back on patrons who then use the condition of their so-called constituency to engineer discontentment by raising the volume of the people's condition. The Patron (he is usually male, a chief, a fake appellation of Dr and a fake Sir, all titles he garners to compensate for his semi literate and modest credentials) is not so much concerned about the welfare of his people, for he requires that existing condition as a grazing field to satisfy his personal ambition and hold on to power. He uses this condition to negotiate with the state, which being largely uncaring about the general condition co-opts this patrons as one of its fellow negotiators (s party member, an office-holder in the dispensation or of a member of the ruling council as the case may be). 



The patron then invents an identity for his people and builds a brick wall to stop them from both realizing their conditions and negotiating with others in the larger society who may share their depressing conditions. The people are told that they are Hausas, Northerners, Muslims, Yorubas, Igbos, Urhobos or whatever. Their imagined ancestry, with no historical or anthropological basis, becomes the fig leaf for covering the nakedness of the patron's greed. When the people begin to experience the pain and it seems that they are likely to listen to the voice of reason (based on the sermon of those who have seen through this deceit), the people are told by their patron that they cannot contaminate the purity of their linage. 



We, the descendants of so and so must remain united and stand together. If this identity has been hammered on the anvil of religion, the people are told that the new elite challenging the status quo is betraying the cause. The patron charges anyone exposing this hypocrisy with unbelief or at best those who have abandoned the true religion as ordained by God. This has been the philosophy driving the idea of we, the Northerners, we the descendants of Oduduwa, we the Ndigbo and so on. Although these exclusivist identities make national integration impossible, these characters continue to make noise about the need for patriotism, national unity and peace. But they are a danger to both peace and justice. Unknown to those they claim to represent, they only have the interests of both themselves and their children in mind. 



The people fail to see that they have time now because all their children have been ferried to the best schools. You can see it when a chance presents itself at the center: it is their children that they put forward when these men of little honour sit down to gamble away our commonwealth. Yet there is the tendency of setting one group against the other when the conditions of poverty are explained away on the claims that our conditions are miserable because the North/Muslims have cornered power, the Yorubas have cornered the economy or the Ndigbo have cornered the bureaucracy. The minorities of course are holding the can marked for the militias because there, life is nasty, it is also brutish and short. 



They constitute the fighting force and they are doing enough of that as we can see from the internal destructions within both the Northern and Southern minorities. The best of them in the militia tribe, sensing the threat of all this to national survival, have tended to take up arms. Historically, these coups, unless they install one who will sustain the tiny interests of the ruling classes across the board, do not succeed. When the coups threaten to take power from the ruling classes in order to address the issues of equity and create a home for all citizens, they are called failed coups and a chance is provided to eliminate the best from the tribe of the militia minorities. Then, the circle returns as the nation is call upon to spit on the grave of the unpatriotic lot. 



This has been the history of this nation. Even without arms, when the minorities have tired to raise public awareness to injustice, they have been found to be trying to sing outside the choir and their voices have been shut. The Ogonis are classic representation of this cause. The ferment in the Niger Delta is the best expression of these contradictions…



The reaction to the Buhari saga shows in many respects the fact that we are still not out of the woods. Indeed, those who have argued with no supporting evidence that June 12th showed that we have overcome the politics of ethnic differences and regionalism have overstated their case. We still have a long way to go. For those who have resorted to Sharia to buy time and legitimacy, it is not clear yet whether the worst is still to come. 



But I have it on good authority from at least two highly placed Muslims from Katsina and Funtua that since the introduction of Sharia, the cost of alcohol has gone up by over two hundred per cent, in some places, much higher. I also hear that the price of kettles has gone up because the elite need at least two, one for real ablution and the other for storing alcohol. At the beginning of the 21st century, at a time when there is no nation in the world that is practicing Sharia at the level we crave for, the ruling elite in Northern Nigeria seemed determined to take a road that will lead to a cul-de-sac. 



This is not a judgment on the application of Sharia per se. I know that any and every honest Muslim knows that the Laws of God are written in our hearts. We do not need promulgations, proclamations or declarations to implement he love of God. The Iranians tried this road under ayatollah Khomeini. Today, many of the solders of the revolution have changed track and are in a quest for modernization. 



President Khatami is leading Iranians on the road of modernization. It is nonsense to argue that modernization undermines faith. It is the inability of the elite to respond to the challenges of modernization that create the problems. Modernization is not responsible for the greed and selfishness that face us. It is not responsible for the dubious claims that we make to religion while leaving a lie in realizing the ideals of religion, the liberation of the human person as God's creature…"



CONCLUSION, BMM


In the Holy Bible, it is written that "Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall save thee." Having presented the truth on General Buhari's position on religion and votes, it is hoped that the readers of this pamphlet will help to pass it on.


Finally, I will quote from Proverbs in the Holy Book.

15.1.           "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir anger…"
15.4.           "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit…"
15.6.           "In the house of the righteous is much treasure; but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble…"
15.33.         "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility."
Amen.