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2019: The era of vote fraud is gone - Buhari

The era when votes were awarded to favourites of the authorities and the shortchanged told to go to court is gone, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday.

“I emphasise free and fair elections at all times,’’ he said.

The President spoke along the same line at two events at the State House in Abuja yesterday.

He received members of the Joint United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS Good Offices Mission on Elections as well as Mrs Julie Payette, Canada’s governor-general.

Speaking on free and fair elections, Buhari said: “I am highly qualified to talk on this, having ended in Supreme Court three times, after participating in elections with disputed results.

“Where will a man looking for where his next meal would come from have money to hire lawyers, particularly senior advocates?” the President said.

He reassured all that the 2019 polls would be free and fair.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018
CUPP: What the Coalition Portends for Nigerian Politics

There is no other place where the popular saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," comes into effect more than the treacherous and murky Nigerian political scene. So the announcement of the formation of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on Monday, 9 July, did not shock anyone. 

If anything, it was a most welcome development. Social engineering that produced the CUPP is a sign that democracy, however imperfect it is, is here to stay in Nigeria. 

Aggrieved politicians in Nigeria have accepted inviting the military through the backdoor to settle their political scores has been buried on May 29, 1999, never to be resurrected no more. 

For such maturity, the mantra of democracy has been imbibed by Nigerian politicians, and to a large extent, their military apologists.

The coalition between the PDP and the 39 other parties involved in the power arrangement, however, is not entirely new to observers of the Nigerian political scene. Such alliance brought the ruling APC into power four years ago when the ACN, CPC and other parties gave birth to the ticket President Muhammadu Buhari rode into Aso Rock. 

However, there is a big difference. Ideology. The APC came into being on the mantra of change, change in style of leadership and service delivery from the government to the general electorate. 

The masses could identify with the Change mantra because it represented a departure from what the predecessor administration had brought into Nigerian politics. 

The socio-political engineering that produced the APC was a merger that became a registered political party which was fielded candidates for every office in the land in 2014. What about the CUPP alliance?

Besides being the brainchild of the PDP, the Coalition of United Political Parties reeks of a desperate ploy to oust the Muhammadu Buhari administration from office. 

A communique read at the endorsement of the MoU by one of the conveners, Chief Tom Ikimi, said the CUPP's objective was to vote out the government of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and rebuild and redirect the nation’s economy and security. 

Does the CUPP alliance have a manifesto? No. Does it have an ideology or guidance principle? No. 

All the public hear from the component members of the CUPP alliance is how they intend wrench power from the Buhari administration for the alleged intimidation, frame-ups, arrests and witch-hunting of its members.

Ironically, almost all the leading members of the CUPP have a court case bordering on corruption charges. 

The coalition agreed to zone all political offices to the six geopolitical zones of the country with the membership of the coalition directed to vote for only its candidates across all levels of elections. 

It is an open secret that consensus candidature harbours feelings of discontent among Nigerian politician because it arguably is an arrangement which favours the highest bidder. 

The CUPP alliance will throw up problems of its own because some people will express feelings of unfair representation and disenfranchisement by those on the losing end of the arrangement. 

It is a most shoddy arrangement and how 36 candidates will step down without rancour for one to battle the APC's anointed candidate remains to be seen.

What does the declaration of the CUPP coalition portend for Nigerian democracy? 

Desperate politicians will always change to rules in the middle of the game to gain undue advantage in the race to win political contests in the country. 

The consideration behind this particular arrangement was not people-oriented, it is a struggle to capture power from a president who would not entertain business as usual in his style of leadership. 

Muhammadu Buhari's uncompromising stance about his anti-corruption war and economic policies hit the political elite harder than the masses. That is why the clamour to effect a change in government is more among the political elite than the masses. 

What are the antecedents of the political actors involved in the CUPP alliance?

Therein lies the fear for the electorate heading into the 2019 general elections.

Will the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) produce a government that would provide free education, fix the dilapidated infrastructure, provide affordable health and create the jobs that will lift the Nigerian economy? 

Only time will tell. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Lai Mohammed: Buhari is Working

Lai Mohammed

The greatest investment is the investment in people. It would be told years after one is long gone. This explains the words of Lai Muhammed while delivering the keynote address at the 2018 Africa Together Conference at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

He said by focusing on education and skills acquisition, the administration is addressing the need to create opportunities for the country’s teeming youth population.

He, however, explained that one of the challenges in the education sector is malnutrition of school-age children which he says the government has made major efforts to combat.
“In my country, school enrolment is a challenge we face and one of the main culprits is malnutrition. The government has stepped in. 8.2 million are being fed daily free meals in 45,000 schools.

“Not only does this increase attendance, it enhances learning efficacy in class and boosts cognitive development over the long term,” Mr. Mohammed said.

According to him, the Home-Grown School Feeding programme has yielded other results, including the employment of 80,000 cooks and a ready-made market for food crop farmers.

Furthermore, He said the Buhari’s administration is also changing the business environment for good, focusing especially on removing the formalities that make it difficult for business and suffocates innovation.

The administration has made the environment enticing for foreign investors and even for indigenes. For example,  In Nigeria, registering a business used to take months. Now it takes 24-48 hours.

Lai Mohammed listed power supply and transportation are the major challenges businesses face in Nigeria, adding that measures have been put in place to tackle the challenges.

“For instance, Nigeria earmarks 30% of its annual national budgets for capital expenditure. That means 2.7 trillion Naira has gone towards our infrastructure in the last 2 years -unprecedented in our history. Power generation has climbed to 7000MW (from just over 2500MW), to which we hope to add another 2000MW by the end of the year. We have also laid down thousands of kilometers of road.

”Also, the Government has now signed a concession agreement with an International Consortium led by General Electric. This will breathe new life into the tracks, increasing capacity and speed. Not only will this allow for goods and services to be moved around cost-effectively, it will allow the prosperity of the nation to be more equitably spread through increased connectivity,” he added.

Unwrapping the bureaucracy and streamlining processes encourage an uptick in new official enterprises.

He noted that the challenge of access to credit is also being frontally addressed by making it possible for MSMEs to register their movable assets, such as vehicles and equipment, and use them as collateral to raise loans and finance, thus removing the need for traditional assets (such as real estate, offices, and factories).

It is safe to say that the Buhari’s administration has been that the hard work is paying off and in due time, it would be evident enough for all to see.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Prolonged Tenure: The Problem of Democracy
Former President, Goodluck Jonathan
All of these continue to play its part in keeping Africa perpetually behind in the scheme of things, and a people desperately trying to meet up. But I remain convinced that of all these factors, the one condition capable of delivering the most gain in the shortest time, in terms of our developmental paradigm, remains leadership. We need honest leaders.
 The problem with Africa and the rest of the world lie in its long developmental backwardness. Take a superficial look at all the catalogs used to measure development and you will find that you will encounter losses as you apply such limitations in Africa. The reason for these problems include corruption, very weak institutions, and leadership woes
The very moment a leader begins to have selfish aims, a part of democracy sinks and with it, as far as the experience in Africa has shown, the development push suffers a setback. Visionary leaders, but certainly not ‘messianic’ leaders intent on self-succession.
To further plug Africa’s developmental deficits and lack of efficient leaders, the continent now agitates for tenure elongation.  
Despite our flawed idea of democracy is in Africa, there is a relieving assurance that comes from the tiny flicker of hope of democratic rejuvenation at the expiration of a tenure limit.
While a counter-argument may well be advanced that countries like South Korea rode into developmental reckoning through a system of authoritarian democratic free market principles, Africa’s experience with a majority of her scheming ‘democratic’ dictators exposes such sentiments for what they are mere dreams.  
Some years back, former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo embarked in a disastrous mission for a third term which would have extended his presidential tenure from 8 years to 12 years or more.  
After 8 years in office, he started seeing himself as indispensable to Nigerian progress and peaceful co-existence. 
President Goodluck Jonathan also set out to embark on another ill-conceived and ill-timed adventure. This time he wants to change the constitution and increase president and governor’s tenure from 4-year to 6-year single term.
Ebele Goodluck was Vice president for 3 years under President Yaradua’s tenure, he was elected as President for the next 4 years. He was also re-elected, which makes it a total of 11 years.

This process is the major reason for the feeling of entitlement leaders have over the office they occur, seeing that they have occupied the seats for so long. Furthermore, prolonged tenures might surprisingly be the background of Godfatherism.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Buhari Visits Morocco

Diplomatic relations is a necessity in building bridges between states. This is for the obvious reason of maintaining a peaceful world environment based on the interconnections of states. Friendly visits of this nature is always a welcomed development.
President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Abuja after a two-day official visit to Morocco where he was received and by the Moroccan leader, King Mohammed VI. In December 2016, the Moroccan President visited Nigeria and signed a collaboration to revive the Nigerian fertilizer blending plants. This has led to 14 fertiliser plant under the president fertilizer initiative with a capacity of 2-3 million metric tonnes of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
At the meeting in Rabat, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to stronger bilateral relations between Nigeria and Morocco, with the signing of an agreement on gas transportation to the North African kingdom along the Atlantic coast.
King Mohammed applauded President Buhari performing his role as the African Union anti-corruption champion through his efforts in tackling corruption in his country.
President Buhari was accompanied on the trip by the governors of Ebonyi and Jigawa states, David Umahi and Badaru Abubakar, as well as other senior government.
King Mohammed and President Buhari noted with satisfaction the milestones achieved and underscored their commitment to the Regional Gas Pipeline, which will connect Nigeria’s gas resources, those of some West African countries and Morocco, thereby fostering integration and development of countries in the West African region.
The two Heads of State also noted the progress made in other areas of the bilateral cooperation, as evidenced by the Memorandum of Understanding between OCP and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority on the establishment of a Basic Chemicals Platform, specifically to develop a significant Ammonia Production Plant.
His Majesty King Mohammed VI and His Excellency President Buhari confirmed their readiness to consult and coordinate the positions of the two countries in regional and international organizations, including the African Union.” The two Heads of State, in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan, underscored their commitment to moderation, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, as taught by Islam.

Buhari and the King Mohammed VI of Morocco finalized on the Atlantic project, a pipeline which is set to link Nigeria and Morocco and may extend up towards Europe.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Fashion Style on a Budget

Fashion is not about the Price of the item but how you style it. This is a very strong case for supporters of thrift fashion. I personally believe in a mix of both worlds. As groovy thrifts sounds, it is called Okrika in Nigeria.

Picking thrifted fashion pieces is a skill in itself; secondhand clothes do not have to be outdated, faded, boring or slacked. In other not give up your secret, you should have an eye for selecting quality pieces. With the way trends fade out WHICH IS A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT BY Innovative fashion business owners to remain in business, consider using a huge sum to buy currently trending fashion items when you can get similar items for less and still be trendy and desirable. (MAKES SENSE!)

In Nigeria, there is a stigma around thrifting and people who buy thrifted items are often regarded as less-privileged. But truthfully, there is a story around those who patronize thrifts stores. 

The way the Nigerian economy is set up does not allow for anything extravagant. Despite the ongoing hassle, the current national minimum wage is 18,500 which is the exact amount for an inexpensive Zara bag.

If you are on a budget, then thrift finds should be your go-to shopping centers especially with the hiked price of brand new fashion items as a result of the exchange rate. There are a few tips for thrifting –

1. It’s cheap, so you probably want to buy without clarifying size, fit, color. These are valid questions that should inform your buying decision. So take a minute and do the needful.

2. Bargain. As cheap as it is, you are on a budget so a little discount so a little discount would help you save more.

3. Here are a few items you should avoid: Damaged goods, Clothes with heavy embellishment Stained clothes.

4. Launder properly – We know that thrift clothes in Nigeria have typical ordour, so not laundering is not an option. Do well to separate the delicate fabrics and give extra attention to armpits and neck area.

5. Guess what? Thrift is a new way to make fast money. It is not news that some women have clothes in their closet that they have not worn in the last 2- 3 years. How about you sell and make some extra cash.

Eventually, the clothes you wear must not look the way your bank account looks because that is how the world would address you. The dress.

Thursday, June 7, 2018
Nigeria: The Road to Restoration

When Nigeria is the subject of any discourse, brace yourself up for an unending session. It has been 58 years of the pillar to post movements with no well-founded reason for Nigeria’s present predicaments.

Some discussants have often attributed the problem to Nigeria’s premature independence; others have credited the issue to our leadership structure. Anyway, we chose, admitting that there are (are) problems is the first step in the right direction.

Although the aforementioned issues are two sides of a coin, they do not lay comprehensive emphasis on the subject of nationhood. The groundwork dates back to the era of colonialism, where northern Nigeria was given preferential treatment by giving more representation than eastern and western regions put together. The excuse for this was the fact that the Northerners were easier to rule as they rely solely on the instructions of the emirs, who were used as tools by the colonial masters.

Unlike the eastern and western regions that were more educated and had a structured and decentralized government respectively.

More than anything else, Nationhood is having a psychological bond created by sharing the same language, culture, origin, territory, and even goals. In this light, Nigeria has fallen short as we still co-tenants. It, therefore, means that subjecting Nigeria to the idea of Neo-colonialism under the umbrella of Commonwealth of Nations and the likes should critically analyze.

Nigeria is rightly and divinely positioned to be the giant of Africa, but if your house is on fire how then do you quench the fire in another’s house are we kind or just plain foolish? 

Nigeria has funded several peacekeeping initiatives around the world, yet we struggle with terrorist groups like Boko Haram, Baddo Cult, Niger Delta groups et al. We have lofty dreams and it includes a Nigeria that is secured but definitely not a country that lacks a defined ideology and strategy.

In a bid to solve the fundamental issues, our minds have to be conditioned aright. For a country with over 250 ethnic groups and over 500 indigenous languages to achieve Nationhood, parallel identities must be sacrificed on the altar of restoration.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
John Ogu Or Ogenyi Onazi: Who Does The Super Eagles Need More To Solidify The Midfield?

John Ogu – Super Eagles Midfielder

Did you catch the eyesore the Super Eagles put up in their last game against England?

The first half felt like digesting a dirt sandwich in the mouth of Super Eagles’ fans.

They have a chance of fixing up at 2pm this afternoon against the Czech Republic though.

This final game might determine who solves the leaking fielding problems and gets to stamp his place in the all-important starting XI.

Coach Gernot Rohr characteristically favors a safe tactical approach to his games, whether he's fielding a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1, Rohr will pick 2 powerful holding midfielders and allow Mikel Obi to be the lynchpin.

Wilfred Ndidi has proven his ability through the qualifiers and appears to have confirmed his place in the starting XI, the fear among Eagles' followers is who would be the final member of the starting midfield triumvirate?

The 2 players being touted to play in the starting XI alongside Mikel and Ndidi seem to be Trabzonspor's Ogenyi Onazi and Maccabi Tel-Aviv's John Ogu. Both players are workhorses but thanks to recent performances, Onazi's stock seems to be falling in the eyes of the fans while Ogu's has been on the upward rise.

Going by their last individual performances in the Wembley defeat, Onazi looked pedestrian and out of sorts, losing possession for fun in the shambolic first half of the game while Ogu seemed to restore calm to frayed nerves in the winning second half.

Based on his virtuoso showing against England, Ogu might have been rewarded with a starting place as the Eagles file out in their final preparatory game against the Czech Republic at the Rudolf-Tonn-Stadion Stadium in Austria.

Do you think Ogenyi Onazi has a chance of reclaiming his place in the Eagles' starting XI? 

Which of the dynamic midfield dynamos between John Ogu and Ogenyi Onazi do you think would serve the interest of the Super Eagles the most in Russia2018? Please drop your thoughts.