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kunledurojaiye has written 47 posts for kunledurojaiye

A President on leave: AWOL or ALLOWED ?

Buhari-11It’s no longer news that Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, left the shores of the country on January 19, 2017, to commence a 10 day vacation in the United Kingdom.   There is nothing wrong with this as the President is entitled to annual vacation. The 2008 Public Service Rules specify a 30 day annual vacation for the highest grade level. These rules apply to the President as far as there is no inconsistency with the constitution. As is expected, President Buhari wrote the National Assembly, following due diligence, to hand over power to the Vice President in his absence. During his 10 days off, he planned to ‘undergo routine medical check ups’… almost typical of the average upper middle class Nigerian… leveraging their vacation abroad to conduct health checks. No prizes for guessing why this happens. He was due to resume February 6, 2017.

On the eve of the tenth day of his leave, the President communicated again to the National Assembly, extending his vacation “in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors”. He did not specify how long this extension would last. Again, nothing particularly wrong here. Due process was followed and his vacation duration has not exceeded the annual allowance.

Let’s work this backward a little bit. To resume on Monday February 6, after 10 working days off-work, means the first day of vacation should be Monday January 23. His letter to the National Assembly also corroborates this. However, what was the effective start date of his 10 day vacation?

A quick look at section 145 of the constitution which was referenced in his communication to the National Assembly – Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation… until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

When did he transmit to the National Assembly? January 19. Has he issued a written declaration to the contrary? No. So may we infer that according to law, the President’s functions were transferred to the Vice President on January 19, hence his vacation commenced same day and by same inference, his original vacation duration was 12 working days and not 10 days as widely publicized? Did our incorruptible President tell an inadvertent lie?

The interesting thing is that this is not the first time Nigeria is being thrown into a moment of uncertainty regarding the whereabouts and state of the President.

In the early hours of January 15, 1966, Nigeria’s Prime Minister, was abducted from his residence by coup plotters and led away to an unknown destination. For 5 days, no one knew the state or location of the Prime Minister. Within this period, the coup attempt had fallen through with Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi taking over leadership after some form of ‘agreement’ with the Council of Ministers, so there really was no lacuna at the top administratively… but the whereabouts of the Prime Minister remained uncertain. Unfortunately, he was discovered dead in some bush along the Lagos – Abeokuta road.

Similarly, in July of the same year, Nigeria witnessed the infamous 1966 counter coup. The plotters arrested the then Head of State, and led him away similar to the January occurrence. Several days after, the state and location of the Head of State was unknown, despite the fact that a semblance of leadership had assumed the seat of power. You may argue again that there was no real vacuum in leadership but there was uncertainty about the erstwhile leader.

Fast forward to November 2009 when the serving President was flown out of country urgently for medical treatment. This case is peculiar as it presented both public uncertainty and a lacuna in leadership. For over 2 months, his status was shrouded in some form of secrecy leaving Nigeria to drift in stormy waters like a rudderless ship. His omission to formally write the National Assembly and transfer the duties of leadership left Nigeria in the hands of a corrupt and treasury looting cabal. Unfortunately, it took his death for uncertainty to give way. With the eventual intervention of the Nigeria Bar Association, Supreme Court and the Senate’s ‘doctrine of necessity’, power was transferred to the Vice President in a bid to set the nation on the right path.

Today, there are still similarities. With the President transferring power legally to his Vice, he commendably averted a leadership void. However, there are quite a few uncertainties. What is the true status of our President, beyond being ‘hale and hearty’? Besides being located at Abuja house in London, where is his true location? Is he more in the hospital, taking pictures only at convenient moments or are those just rumors and imaginations? Did he request and announce a 10 day vacation when it was actually 12 working days? Is he entitled to 30 calendar days or 30 working days of leave or an unlimited duration? 30 calendar days was exhausted February 19. 30 working days will be exhausted March 1.  So.. is this really ‘annual leave’ or  ‘sick leave’? How long is a serving President allowed to be away from duties before we are forced to ask whether he remains capable of resuming work to discharge his duties?

The clock is ticking, the opposition is raging, the world is watching. Will the political class join hands to intervene (like the doctrine of necessity) or insist on strict observance to extant laws regulating how long a public servant can be away from work? Time will tell and history may just be the best guide to answering these questions.

The Nigerian Dilemma – Keeping it Simple!

It is no longer news that Nigeria is currently in an economic dilemma. So much has been written and discussed, yet, the person on the street still wonders what the problems, and more importantly, the solutions are.  This post provides a simplified summary of the economic issues affecting Nigeria, and offers some near and long term solutions to improve the state of the economy.

  • Nigeria is an exporter of crude oil and produced an average of 2.1 million barrels per day in 2015.
  • Nigeria’s oil (Bonny Light for example) sold for about $98/barrel (January 2014), $48/barrel (January 2015) and $33/barrel (January 2016).
  • In January 2014, Nigeria had an earning potential of $205.8m per day from selling 2.1mbpd of crude at $98/barrel. That potential, by estimate, dropped to $100.8m per day in January 2015, and $69.3m per day in January 2016(2.1mbpd, $33/barrel).
  • Nigeria exports a number of things (crude oil being the main item) but is also significantly dependent on imports for industrial use and local consumption.
  • Local businesses that require foreign exchange (dollars) to buy imported equipment, building materials, automobiles, fabrics and food products are currently in trouble. Why? Foreign exchange is not readily available to them, and where available, it is sold at a premium, as high as N390 to a dollar recently.
  • Nigeria’s current monthly dollar demand is said to be approximately 3.5bn if media reports are to be believed. Compare that with an estimated monthly oil export earning of ~$2bn (2.1mbpd, 30 days, $33/barrel). Demand obviously exceeds supply and the rate on the dollar goes all the way up.

     

  • In 2 years, Nigeria has lost ~65% (about $25bn average annual loss) of its foreign exchange revenue potential due to falling crude prices. In other words, the amount of dollars available to run the economy has dropped significantly. Recall that crude oil sale accounts for about 95% of our foreign exchange earnings.
  • In the 3rd quarter of 2015, PMS accounted for 44% of our imports, the highest single import item. Similarly, PMS was 39% and 35% of imports in 1Q and 2Q 2015 respectively. Obviously, petroleum products dominate our import bill.

 3Q2015 Imports.jpg

  • What have we spent the bulk of our foreign exchange revenue on? PMS imports! What is draining our earned dollars? PMS imports!
  • One of CBN’s initial responses involved drawing down on our foreign reserves to sustain the import bill. This resulted in a steady decline of foreign reserves — currently down to about $27.8bn. Consequently, other measures were put in place to manage demand for the dollar.
  • One of these was the exclusion of importers of 38 goods from accessing dollars from the Nigerian foreign exchange market. The goods (rice, cement, poultry, etc.) were however not banned from being imported!
  • The sale of (our few available) dollars is now targeted at local producers at the official rate, N199.5: $1, to stimulate local production (Buy Naija, Grow the Naira). All others who need dollars are left with no option than to buy from the parallel market at whatever rate meets the day.
  • CBN also halted the regular sale of foreign exchange to the parallel market (Bureau de Change), leaving ‘black market’ vendors to source the dollar by alternative means. The result? Further scarcity, leading to exchange rates as high as N400 to a dollar.
  • This has created an unhealthy spread between the official and parallel market: N199.5 versus N390+ to a dollar. If a Nigerian business man gets $4,000 at the official rate, is there not sufficient incentive to simply sell off at the parallel market and make an instant gain of at least N760,000 without engaging in any value-adding activity?

Obviously, Nigeria needs to increase foreign exchange revenue to be able to sustain her economy and reverse these early signs of a declining trade surplus. How can we grow forex earnings though?

Diversify our export base and focus on other locally produced, non-oil items.

Focus on agro-products like cocoa where Nigeria already has some leverage. The International Cocoa Organization estimated that Africa will lead global cocoa exports in 2015, with Nigeria being 4th largest producer in Africa, 9th in the World (2015 estimates). More so, in April 2012, at the Conservation Alliance, agriculture experts predicted Nigeria will be the largest global producer of cocoa within 10 years. Wishful thinking? Or worth government policy focus backed by private sector funding? According to the NBS’ Foreign Trade Statistics Report, apart from oil and gas, cocoa was Nigeria’s highest foreign exchange earner in Q3 2015. Some State Governors (Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Taraba) need to evolve action plans to achieve quick wins here and spend less time engaging in boisterous political tirades in the media.

Other items that earned Nigeria significant foreign exchange in Q3 2015 are rubber, cigarettes, aluminum alloys and leather.

According to the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, rubber is produced in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo. Rivers, Ondo, Ogun, Taraba, Oyo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Osun, Ekiti, and Kaduna. What are these States doing to increase capacity?

Growing capacity in these areas will not only diversify our export base in the medium term, it will also increase employment in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Government policies must lean in this direction, to attract and encourage private sector funding. States Governors should evolve action plans to achieve quick wins and spend less time engaging in boisterous political tirades in the media.

The other significant option is glaring. Develop an action to stop importing PMS. What have we spent the bulk of our foreign exchange revenue on? PMS imports. Grow in-country capacity to refine crude into petroleum products and watch the dollar burden on imports drop significantly.

Our 4 refineries have continued to perform subpar in spite of repeated turnaround efforts. Capacity utilization in 2015 was dismal.

Nigeria Refineries 2015 Cap Util.jpg

These refineries need to be commercialized and then privatized to restore business efficiency. While this is in process, an emergency cause needs to be invoked to fast-track the construction new refineries to support local demand for PMS (realistically about 25 million liters per day, excluding border smuggling) and export to neighboring countries. Licenses were granted in 2015 for the construction of 65 modular refineries. What is the progress status on these? Dead on arrival? The current management of the NNPC has done an admirable job in promoting and actualizing PMS price modulation in spite of the President’s leanings. This already encourages private refineries to build, produce and sell profitably. Oh but guess what? They will require substantial forex to support fast-tracked construction. The refinery modules will be imported!

These options will however require time to actualize and may not be any immediate benefits. What is most critical is the assurance that our leaders are crystal clear on the issues and publicly committed (in word and deed) on a dogged resolution plan…. Grow Nigeria, Save Nigeria!

Be All You Can Be!

Life has become quite a predictable path for many nowadays. It starts at birth, progresses through early education up till university and then plunges into the labor market. A number of people get corporate jobs while others tow the entrepreneurial line. We start to gradually ascend the corporate ladder from the lowest rungs. The rat race sucks us in so deep that we do not realize that all our desires in life are now directed at getting to the top of the ladder. Nothing else matters. Is there really anything wrong with that? Maybe not. In recent times, a few questions have come to the fore: “Is this all there is to you?” “Are you all you can be right now?” “Is there more to you than what you do (as a job)?” “Does your innate capability exceed your current displayed ability?”

It is evident that corporate/formal jobs may end up tailoring your career to fit a particular path without fully exploiting your innate abilities. The truth though is that the capitalist world we live in was strictly designed to employ resources to maximize profit for the owners…. nothing more. While people get all buried in work with grandiose desires to rise to the top, they need to realize that their skills and capabilities are only utilized while they fulfil their organizational goals of profit maximization.  For example, a foreman at a construction firm who is also a skilled saxophonist is not likely to be able to use his musical skill to enhance his company’s profit. This always holds true except in a rare case in which his music is used to boost the productivity of his peers.

Similarly, a basketball enthusiast who works as a bank manager will not use his sport skill to enhance the bank’s bottom-line except perhaps at the State or National Banker’s Games where a win may boost the bank’s brand.

After a while, the basketballer’s mind becomes filled with thoughts of what could have been- “Ah! I used to play basketball a lot”. He watches helplessly as the rat race takes over at the detriment of all his inbuilt skills, talents and capabilities. While he might enjoy tremendous career success and rapid promotion, somewhere in him lies untapped and unexpressed potential.

This is the dilemma which many young people find themselves in today.  They work at full time jobs that offer considerable career growth and pay the bills to the detriment of the expression of their full potential.

What other options of self-expression are available to people considering the demanding nature of their regular jobs?

The most common option is for such is to take advantage of annual vacation. Let me ask – How do you spend your vacation? Or hol’ up! Do you even take vacation? The few days or weeks away from work offer an excellent opportunity to work on your other skills and capabilities. The saxophonist may want to spend days rehearsing with an ad hoc band or even play with an existing band.  This might provide him an opportunity to meet others who share his musical interests. Many interesting collaborations have been birthed at “strange” places. The basketballer may find herself providing coaching assistance to young ones at a stadium or nearby sports facility.   One can only wonder how many sports academies are ‘locked up’ in the hearts of many corporate executives whose lives only revolve around their formal job.

What happens to those who rarely get time off work all year round? While it is not healthy for individuals to work without sufficient rest, the reality suggests that this is not uncommon.   After some time, diminishing returns set in, morale wanes and such an individual ends up in the coping zone.

What to do? Consider maximizing public/bank holidays and weekends.  A typical example is that of a medical doctor who is IT savvy but whose time is taken up at the hospital attending to patients while preparing for career examinations by the side.  There are quite a lot of routine processes within hospitals that are in dire need of automation. As a subject matter expert, the doctor is in the best position to solve such problems. Any spare time could be used by the doctor to build applications that would help optimize medical processes and make work easier. As with most ventures, the most important part is taking the first step.   Generally, one should focus on using every free time to hone skills that are not necessarily used on your job.

The options listed are by no means exhaustive. We must consciously ensure that we are living our lives to the fullest, using all our capabilities to positively impact our world. A wise man once noted “The graveyard is the richest place on the surface of the earth because there you will see the books that were not published, ideas that were not harnessed, songs that were not sung, and drama pieces that were never acted”.  Maximize your capabilities and be all you can be!

President Buhari’s Independence Day Speech – Nigeria at 55

nigeriaOctober 1st is a day for joy and celebrations for us Nigerians, whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in because it is the day, 55 years ago; we liberated ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and began our long march to nationhood and to greatness.

No temporary problems or passing challenges should stop us from honouring this day. Let us remind ourselves of the gifts God has given us. Our Creator has bequeathed to us Numbers – Nigeria is the ninth most populated country on the planet. We have in addition arable land; water; forests; oil and gas; coastline; and solid minerals

We have all the attributes of a great nation. We are not there yet because the one commodity we have been unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose. This would have enabled us to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but also continuity and economic progress.

Countries far less endowed have made greater economic progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose.
Nonetheless, that we have remained together is an achievement we should all appreciate and try to consolidate. We have witnessed this year a change in our democratic development.

The fact that an opposition party replaced an entrenched government in a free and fair election is indicative of the deeper roots of our democratic system. Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences.

As I said in my inaugural speech, I bear no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view to join me in working for the nation.

My countrymen and women, every new government inherits problems. Ours was no different. But what Nigerians want are solutions, quick solutions not a recitation of problems inherited.

Accordingly, after consultations with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I quickly got down to work on the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems which we must solve if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.

As you know, I toured the neighbouring countries, marshalled a coalition of armed forces of the five nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram. I met also the G-7 leaders and other friendly presidents in an effort to build an international coalition against Boko Haram.

Our gallant armed forces under new leadership have taken the battle to the insurgents, and severely weakened their logistical and infrastructural capabilities. Boko Haram are being scattered and are on the run.

That they are resorting to shameless attacks on soft targets such as I.D.P. camps is indicative of their cowardice and desperation. I have instructed security and local authorities to tighten vigilance in vulnerable places.

On power, government officials have held a series of long sessions over several weeks about the best way to improve the nation’s power supply in the safest and most cost-effective way.

In the meantime, improvement in the power supply is moderately encouraging. By the same token, supply of petrol and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country. All the early signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better.

Preliminary steps have been taken to sanitize NNPC and improve its operations so that the inefficiency and corruption could be reduced to a minimum.

Those of our refineries which can be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished products in dubious transactions could be stopped.

In addition to NNPC, I have ordered a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN, FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation. Prudent house-keeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in world market oil prices. It is a challenge we have to face squarely. But what counts is not so much what accrues but how we manage our resources.

We have seen in the last few years how huge resources were mismanaged, squandered and wasted. The new APC government is embarking on a clean up, introducing prudence and probity in public financing.

At an early stage, the federal government addressed the issue of salary arrears in many states, a situation capable of degenerating into social unrest. The APC government stepped in to provide short-term support to the debtor states and enabled them to pay off the backlog and restore the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.

Fellow Nigerians, there have been a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in announcement of ministers. There is no cause to be anxious. Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its Report on the reorganization of Federal Government structure after studying the hand over notes. It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.

Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course. Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country is what the APC government for CHANGE is all about.

I would like to end my address this morning on our agenda for CHANGE. Change does not just happen. You and I and all of us must appreciate that we all have our part to play if we want to bring change about. We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust. We must change our unruly behaviour in schools, hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices. To bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.

Happy Independence Celebrations. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Petrol and Nigeria’s Unanswered Questions

We live in a time where information is readily available to help both businesses and individuals plan and make good decisions. Yet, in 2015, Nigeria still struggles with primary data and statistics to enable proper national planning. Almost 3 decades since oil was first discovered, the opacity within the industry is appalling. Nobody seems to know how much oil is produced per day at each wellhead, the volume of oil stocked at each refinery on a daily basis or the inventory is held at the refineries hold on a going basis. It is not surprising that a popular joke around suggests the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) does not even know how many bank accounts it operates!

How Much Petrol Do We Consume?

In its November 2011 report on “The real cost of subsidy and tax implications, PWC estimated our daily consumption as 32 million liters. According to Punch in October 2012, demand was 40.32 million liters per day. The Journal of Petroleum and Gas Engineering in November 2013 puts this figure at 30 million liters per day. In the same month, November 2013, an online news platform, published national daily consumption as 39.66 million liters, quoting the immediate past Minister of Petroleum. September 2014, another online news platform reported daily consumption as 40 million liters per day. February 2015, The Nigerian Guardian reported same national metric as 40 million liters per day. This is probably why the current public impression is somewhere between 30 and 40 million liters per day. What is the basis for these figures? Is there any clear statistical method to support this? If we are unable to accurately estimate daily demand, how do we know what quantity of petrol to import? It seems Nigeria does not know how much petrol it consumes, but like our former President once said, maybe America will know… or perchance the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics might help. In May 2015, the NBS initiated plans to conduct a survey on domestic supply and demand for petroleum products. Hopefully, when this survey is completed, we will have clarity on how much petrol Nigeria consumes. While we anticipate, let’s see whether the NNPC can help a bit.

The NNPC actually logs some data on supply and distribution of petroleum products but the reports are often delayed (most recent is March 2015, published July 2015) and carry a huge disclaimer: “Although NNPC endeavors to ensure accuracy of information in these documents, it cannot guarantee 100% accuracy nor can it be held liable for errors that may occur. Users are to note that use of any information herein is purely at their discretion.”

A review of 2014 product distribution data shows that 4,375.7 million liters of PMS were distributed across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory by the NNPC, Major marketers and Independent Marketers. “Disclaimer: Product distribution data was not received from majors like Forte Oil, MRS Etc. at the time of the report”. 544.2 million liters of Household Kerosene (HHK) and 416. 3 million liters of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) were distributed nationwide through the year. This puts the average monthly distribution for 2014 at 364.6 million, 45.3 million and 34.6 million liters of PMS, HHK and AGO respectively. 2014 daily distribution extracted from same data yields 12.2 million, 1.5 million and 1.2 million liters of PMS, HHK and AGO respectively.

2014 distribution summary

In 2014, the FCT, Delta and Lagos States received the largest volume supplies of PMS from NNPC distribution. 2014 volumes distributed by Independent and Major Marketers are not broken down by State.

2015 daily distribution (January through March) as extracted was 12.6 million, 1.0 million and 0.6 million liters of PMS, HHK and AGO respectively.

2015 distribution summary

Source: NNPC CP & S MPI Extracted Data Tables

A consistent trend observed from the NNPC reports is the average daily distribution of PMS. From 2014 through 2015 March, the data shows an average of 12.3 million liters of PMS distributed for consumption per day. If we double this to cater for disclaimers (non-available data from some oil majors) and unknowns, it results in a worst case estimate in the range of 25 million liters of PMS per day.

This raises some important questions around the difference in consumption. Does Nigeria consume 25 million liters per day or 40 million liters? How much of this is consumed locally and what percentage is smuggled to neighboring countries where petrol sells for at least N140 per liter? In a period where fuel subsidy costs exceed our capital expenditure, it is important to understand how much wastage can be cut from budgets. For this to happen, the NBS needs to be properly funded to undertake the necessary research and data gathering needed to capture local information and aid national planning.

Inaugural Speech by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015

I am immensely grateful to God who has preserved us to witness this day and this occasion. Today marks a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate her freedom and cherish her democracy. Nigerians have shown their commitment to democracy and are determined to entrench its culture. Our journey has not been easy but thanks to the determination of our people and strong support from friends abroad we have today a truly democratically elected government in place.

I would like to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his display of statesmanship in setting a precedent for us that has now made our people proud to be Nigerians wherever they are. With the support and cooperation he has given to the transition process, he has made it possible for us to show the world that despite the perceived tension in the land we can be a united people capable of doing what is right for our nation. Together we co-operated to surprise the world that had come to expect only the worst from Nigeria. I hope this act of graciously accepting defeat by the outgoing President will become the standard of political conduct in the country.

I would like to thank the millions of our supporters who believed in us even when the cause seemed hopeless. I salute their resolve in waiting long hours in rain and hot sunshine to register and cast their votes and stay all night if necessary to protect and ensure their votes count and were counted.  I thank those who tirelessly carried the campaign on the social media. At the same time, I thank our other countrymen and women who did not vote for us but contributed to make our democratic culture truly competitive, strong and definitive.

I thank all of you.

Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians.

I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.

A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.

Our neighbours in the Sub-region and our African brethenen should rest assured that Nigeria under our administration will be ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it. Here I would like to thank the governments and people of Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria.

I also wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.

At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.

In recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers, Mr Herbert Macauley, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house.

Furthermore, we as Nigerians must remind ourselves that we are heirs to great civilizations: Shehu Othman Dan fodio’s caliphate, the Kanem Borno Empire, the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire and King Jaja’s formidable domain. The blood of those great ancestors flow in our veins. What is now required is to build on these legacies, to modernize and uplift Nigeria.

Daunting as the task may be it is by no means insurmountable. There is now a national consensus that our chosen route to national development is democracy. To achieve our objectives we must consciously work the democratic system. The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. The law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution. We shall rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and more serviceable. We shall charge them to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system.

For their part the legislative arm must keep to their brief of making laws, carrying out over-sight functions and doing so expeditiously. The judicial system needs reform to cleanse itself from its immediate past. The country now expects the judiciary to act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes or abuse of office. It is only when the three arms act constitutionally that government will be enabled to serve the country optimally and avoid the confusion all too often bedeviling governance today.

Elsewhere relations between Abuja and the States have to be clarified if we are to serve the country better. Constitutionally there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. While the Federal Government can not interfere in the details of its operations it will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked. As far as the constitution allows me I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch.

However, no matter how well organized the governments of the federation are they can not succeed without the support, understanding and cooperation of labour unions, organized private sector, the press and civil society organizations. I appeal to employers and workers alike to unite in raising productivity so that everybody will have the opportunity to share in increased prosperity. The Nigerian press is the most vibrant in Africa. My appeal to the media today – and this includes the social media – is to exercise its considerable powers with responsibility and patriotism.

My appeal for unity is predicated on the seriousness of the legacy we are getting into. With depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble and will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely; Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment especially among young people. For the longer term we have to improve the standards of our education. We have to look at the whole field of medicare. We have to upgrade our dilapidated physical infrastructure.

The most immediate is Boko Haram’s insurgency. Progress has been made in recent weeks by our security forces but victory can not be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued. But we can not claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.

This government will do all it can to rescue them alive. Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires. An eccentric and unorthodox preacher with a tiny following was given posthumous fame and following by his extra judicial murder at the hands of the police. Since then through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.

Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of. At the end of the hostilities when the group is subdued the Government intends to commission a sociological study to determine its origins, remote and immediate causes of the movement, its sponsors, the international connexions to ensure that measures are taken to prevent a reccurrence of this evil. For now the Armed Forces will be fully charged with prosecuting the fight against Boko haram. We shall overhaul the rules of engagement to avoid human rights violations in operations. We shall improve operational and legal mechanisms so that disciplinary steps are taken against proven human right violations by the Armed Forces.

Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling our country. The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land. We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well – compensated security forces within an over – all security architecture.

The amnesty programme in the Niger Delta is due to end in December, but the Government intends to invest heavily in the projects, and programmes currently in place. I call on the leadership and people in these areas to cooperate with the State and Federal Government in the rehabilitation programmes which will be streamlined and made more effective. As ever, I am ready to listen to grievances of my fellow Nigerians. I extend my hand of fellowship to them so that we can bring peace and build prosperity for our people.

No single cause can be identified to explain Nigerian’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation. It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000MW, and distributes even less. Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close on $20b expanded since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation among Nigerians. We will not allow this to go on. Careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.

Unemployment, notably youth un-employment features strongly in our Party’s Manifesto. We intend to attack the problem frontally through revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining as well as credits to small and medium size businesses to kick – start these enterprises. We shall quickly examine the best way to revive major industries and accelerate the revival and development of our railways, roads and general infrastructure.

Your Excellencies, My fellow Nigerians I can not recall when Nigeria enjoyed so much goodwill abroad as now. The messages I received from East and West, from powerful and small countries are indicative of international expectations on us. At home the newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations. Nigeria therefore has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long – standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realizing our mission as a great nation.

Our situation somehow reminds one of a passage in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar

There is a tide in the affairs of men which,

taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life,

Is bound in shallows and miseries.

We have an opportunity. Let us take it.

Thank you

Muhammadu Buhari

President Federal Republic of NIGERIA

and

Commander in-chief-of the Armed forces

Nigeria’s 2015 Elections – A Forecast

Nigeria’s 2015 presidential elections are due to hold in a couple of days, barring any last minute changes to the rescheduled date, March 28. The poll was initially scheduled for February 14 but deferred due to ‘security concerns’, as stated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The postponement was not a welcome development to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the country’s strongest opposition political party, considering the massive momentum and traction gathered ahead of the planned February 14 date. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the other hand appeared to be in sync with the decision to reschedule. Popular public opinion holds that if the elections had been held as initially planned, the APC would have come out victorious, perhaps inching towards a landslide. This impression was further alluded to by the likes of Dr. Frederick Fasehun, leader of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), in a speech delivered at a post-national conference forum on March 20.

The six weeks of postponement have afforded the ruling party a little more time to ramp up its campaign efforts, with a reported unrestricted flow of cash incentives to party loyalists and the public at large in a bid to secure sufficient votes to return the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to power. Public impression was that APC momentum had burned out, its campaign funds exhausted, to the extent that even campaign jingles via traditional media were few and far between compared with the PDP’s which appeared to have been heightened. Town hall meetings also became a major channel employed by both parties, reaching out to multiple voting segments.

Several conspiracy theories characterized the six week waiting period, chief of which was the alleged plan of the PDP to ensure that Prof Jega, the electoral body chairman, was removed from office via terminal leave on or before March 28. Three days to the elections, Prof Jega still remains the INEC chairman. Likewise, there was the war against the use of PVC’s and card readers, considering that INEC only decided to run a public sample test post February 14. The tenacity and commitment of INEC and its stakeholders met this opposition effectively, restoring public confidence in the use of PVC’s and Card readers as part of anti-electoral fraud initiatives. INEC continued to progress distribution of PVC’s to eligible voters and to date has recorded an approximate 82% PVC collection rate. This assumes that out of 68.8 million registered voters per 2015 Voters Register, 56.4 million have received their permanent voter cards.

The success of the military in its onslaught against insurgency in the North East has told its own story so far. Regardless, there are still major concerns surrounding the seeming ‘strategic’ timing of this recent wave – “why wait to do in 6 weeks what should have been done over 6 years?”

With the 6 week waiting period almost exhausted, it is natural to expect to see a shift in focus from conspiracy theories to election result forecasting on several bases and assumptions. Leveraging data from INEC’s Voter Register per geopolitical zone, assuming historic voting patterns adjusted to reflect current political sway, an average of 65% voter turnout in each State, admitting the influence of incumbent governors on their states, ongoing public response to party campaigns, and intuitive subjectivity, the table below presents an individual forecast of what may be expected. It is by no means the final result and cannot be so interpreted. Rather, it is a prediction anticipating several cross comparisons. This forecast predicts a majority victory for the APC in the presidential elections with 18.4 million over PDP 17.0 million votes.

For cross comparisons, share your forecast here

The Buhari Question

Don’t give up! This phrase has become the mantra of motivational speakers, spoken regularly to millions the world over. Many at their wits end have found life in it.

If there is anyone who has become a living example of this message, it is none other than the retired General, Muhammad Buhari.

Buhari won the ticket to run as presidential aspirant for the Buhari-11All Nigeria People’s Party. He lost to his ex-military colleague, General Olusegun Obasanjo, polling 32% of votes.

Buhari was presidential aspirant on the platform of ANPP. Polling 19% of votes, he lost to PDP’s Umar Musa Yar’Adua.

Buhari contested the same number one position as flag bearer for CPC. He lost to PDP’s Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the incumbent Nigerian president.

Again, Buhari is listed as one of the the key aspirants ‎contesting for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket.

Buhari started contesting for the presidency when he was 61 years old. At 72 years of age, 11 years and 3 tries later, he is still running – for the same position.

The question that lingers in the minds of many Nigerians is: ‘why?’ Why is Buhari running for the same position over and over again? Does this reveal a quest for ultimate power by any means? Did he forget something in the State House? Is he suffering withdrawal symptoms?

Recall however that this same man has ‎led the country as Military Head of State (Dec 1983 – Aug 1985). Prior to that had served as Military Governor for the North-East, Federal Commissioner for Petroleum and Chairman NNPC and Chairman PTF. Buhari is not new to Federal power! Been there, done that, with a much talked about record of integrity.

From the foregoing, it seems unlikely that the retired General is power-craving.

So is he bored? ‎Or does he still feel shortchanged, having been sacked barely two years into his sojourn as Head of State in 1985?

Is there something the retired General knows that we do not? Does he hold the magic wand to the peculiar art of governance in Nigeria, ready to wave it on being voted in?

On assuming power via a military coup on the last day of December 1983, his speech commenced with what could be considered a mandate: “In pursuance of the primary objective of saving our great nation from total collapse…” He referenced Nigeria’s dwindling economy, national insecurity, legislative largesse, financial indiscipline, economic mismanagement, and a corrupt, inept and insensitive leadership. Is today’s Buhari driven by the same urgent call of duty to ‘intervene’ and save the nation from imminent collapse? An analysis of Nigeria today reveals a country unchanged from 1983. Politics is still a life or death game, legislative largesse goes without saying, financial indiscipline is still rife, corruption has escalated to sophisticated dimensions.

Is Buhari joining the race, again, because he thinks he has the capability and experience to fix Nigeria? What did he fix 1983 – 85?

The reality of that first stint in the presidency, thirty years ago, is worth exploring. It was tainted by public perception of his initiatives as being extreme and authoritarian. His ‘War Against Indiscipline’ (WAI) program, though noble in its intent, was brutish in experience. Nigerians were forced by whip-brandishing soldiers to queue up at bus stops; tardy civil servants were subjected to ‘frog jump’ punishment, and press freedom restricted.

In a bid to grow the economy, import bans were put in place, causing a rise in commodity prices, ultimately resulting in inflation.

Subsequently however, his stint as chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) between March 1995 and May 1999 demonstrated a level of prudence, and strength in financial management.

The general perception is that Buhari managed the excess oil revenue fund with transparency and efficiency, successfully executing projects nationwide, regardless of the impression that they may have been skewed towards the Northern region.

It ultimately remains unclear what exactly underpins General Buhari’s determination to return to power, what fuels his passion for dusting himself off again and again.

Why is Buhari running… again? Perhaps the weeks ahead will make that clear beyond doubt…

A Jet of Dollars

This post was first published via YNaija under the title Our government has made things worse for us

Our government has done it again! It is tough enough already for Nigerians who travel frequently to different corners of the world… the numerous cases of profiling, stereotyping and undue suspicion that meet any individual carrying that green passport, leave many wondering why they were born in such a country. The age-old stigma of being 419ers’ and intrinsically corrupt humans remains an every moment battle for those in the diaspora. Despite these prevailing circumstances, the Nigerian government has plunged the nation into an embarrassing scandal. On the 5th day of September, 2014, 9.3 million dollars was transported from Nigeria to South Africa in cash via a private jet.  Thankfully, the booty was intercepted at a South African airport by Customs officials who were vigilant enough to observe ‘irregularities’ perhaps while scanning the luggage. A total of three bags were intercepted and cash, laid out in 90 packs, worth $100, 000 each, confiscated by the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The three passengers on the aircraft alleged that they transported the cash to procure arms in favor of Nigerian security services. $9.3 million is the equivalent of N1.5 billion, the worth of 40 four bedroom duplexes in Lekki axis.

Why was the cash seized? South African laws stipulate a maximum amount of cash allowed to be brought in country by an individual. According to the SARS, “Currency brought into or taken from South Africa is monitored by law. Should you have more than $10 000… this must be declared”. These three passengers transported over 900 times the limit… it does not take a prophet to guess that they did not attempt to declare same.

Was this cash movement, now deemed illegal by South Africa law, truly in favor of the Nigeria government? A known Nigerian newspaper details its findings from a ‘top intelligence official’ as follows “The security chiefs took time to explain that urgent security issues warranted the direct purchase of the arms”. There we have it. A government at the peak of the rollout of a cashless initiative, decides to procure arms via the movement of raw cash to the point of contravening the laws of another country. Fail! As if that were not embarrassing enough, worse still is the report that the security chiefs had to take time to explain to the President why this line of action was undertaken. For a country whose President is also named the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces, it is shocking that such a decision seems to have been taken with urgent action implemented, oblivious to the C-in-C. Fail!

Where was the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through this process? What happened to wire transfers? Where was the cash withdrawn? The CBN? Or from wardrobes in a house as typified by one-time Governor of Delta State?

It is clear that there was no plan for transparency and financial accountability in the execution of this transaction, rather an obvious attempt to avert process and procedure to the point of illegality. The entirety of the story is clandestine.

There is also the issue around the ownership of the private jet involved. It is owned by a firm, Eagle Air Company, in which Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has vested interest. Pastor Ayo is currently the president of Christian Association of Nigeria. However, the company has issued a statement indicating that the aircraft was leased commercially by a certain John Ishyaku for a Lagos – Johannesburg – Lagos flight. Was Eagle Air and/or Pastor Ayo aware of the purpose for which the aircraft was hired or not? Are there any guiding regulations by the NCAA requiring full disclosure of intent for aircraft hire? Is there a valid case of aiding and abetting or rather pure happenstance? In the country which we live in, the default mindset on such occurrences is that there is some form of collusion, no matter how passive it may be. It is pretty much a form of guilty until proven innocent. There is hardly any reason to alter this paradigm as yet. As usual, the country expects to hear that investigations are underway… but until one case of corruption is seen to completion, with the guilty charged and punished, the hope for justice remains just that, hope!

Here again, we are confronted with a leadership gaffe. True leadership ensures that urgent decisions with far reaching impacts, are taken at upper echelons, with full alignment of stakeholders and at least due notification to other affected parties. Actions are implemented in conformance with laid down guiding principles. Processes are put in place for efficient execution. For example, a procedure exists for transacting urgent huge sums of forex to foreign recipients, in favor of government purchase. Someone, somewhere in the chain of command, breached management procedure or as it is popularly dubbed, due process, and has plunged the country into an embarrassing scandal.

In the final analysis, the only thing to worry about is whether strong action will be taken against this leadership blunder. Yay or nay? Do the nays have it?

 

Nigeria’s Democracy Day Speech by President G.E Jonathan

In case you missed it, the President’s May 29 speech is as below:

“Fellow Nigerians,

I  greet and felicitate with you all, today, as we mark 15 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in our beloved country.

Our dear nation, Nigeria, has certainly come a long way and made notable progress since our first Democracy Day on May 29, 1999 when the military finally relinquished power and handed over to a democratically-elected government, marking the true beginning of a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Although I have ordered a low-key commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day in deference to the current mood of the nation, there can be no doubt that the past 15 years, the longest period of sustained democratic governance in our country, have been a blessing to us, as a people.

As we commemorate 15 years of our Fourth Republic today therefore, I believe that it is fitting that we pay tribute once again to all those who played a part in restoring our nation to the true path of democratic governance, built on the foundations of rule of law and freedom of expression.

As a result of our collective efforts since 1999, democratic governance is now entrenched in our nation and institutions. I wholeheartedly believe that our people are the better for it. The scope of fundamental rights and liberties enjoyed by our people over the past 15 years has been expanded beyond measure.

On my watch, we have witnessed high national economic growth rates, steady improvements and expansion of national infrastructure including airports and roads, the restoration of rail transportation, the efficient implementation of a roadmap for improved power supply, a revolutionary approach to agricultural production, as well as advances in education, sports, youth development, healthcare delivery, housing, water supply and other social services.

In the oil and gas sector, our promotion of a sustainable local content policy, continues to guarantee equity and better opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs and skilled personnel.

Significant increase in mobile telephone and national broadband penetration, making Information and Communications Technology (ICT) one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy. We have also developed strong financial markets and regulatory institutions. Our banks now have regional and global footprints.

Nigeria has also gained recognition as the largest economy in Africa, the most preferred investment destination in the continent and in terms of returns on investment, the fourth in the world. We are pleased that the world has noticed, as global leaders converged in Abuja early this month for the World Economic Forum in Africa.

The event not only witnessed a record attendance, it brought the prospect of an additional flow of investment into the Nigerian economy estimated at over $68 billion over the next few years.

In foreign relations, our country has equally done well within this period, by establishing and strengthening strong partnerships with all ECOWAS countries and the rest of the world. This has helped to deepen Nigeria’s leadership role in multilateral institutions including the United Nations.

Furthermore, under this administration, we have made consistent progress in improving the standard of elections in our country to ensure that they are ever more credible and truly representative of the people’s free choice. The National Conference we initiated to deliberate and make recommendations on the best ways of resolving our current political and socio-economic challenges is on-going. It is our expectation that its outcomes will help to further consolidate the gains we have made from democracy in the past 15 years, and place our dear nation even more firmly on the path to greatness.

Dear Compatriots,

It is a sad fact that as I address you today, all the gains of the past 15 years of democratic governance in our country are threatened by the presence of international terrorism on our shores. Our dear country, Nigeria is facing a new challenge. A war has been unleashed on us. Extremist foreign elements, collaborating with some of our misguided citizens, are focused on an attempt to bring down our country and the democracy and freedom we cherish and celebrate today.

The despicable abduction of school girls from Chibok in Borno State has brought to the awareness of the entire world, the heartless brutality of these terrorists who want to instigate a descent into anarchy and balkanize our nation.

In recent years, terrorist attacks have claimed the lives of several of our compatriots, many have been injured or maimed, whole villages and communities have been destroyed and the economy of some of our states is in jeopardy.

There can be no doubt that what we are witnessing in Nigeria today is a manifestation of the same warped and ferocious world view that brought down the Twin Towers in New York, killed innocent persons in Boston and led to the murder of defenceless people in the Southern Russian city of Volgograd. Terrorist activities have brought war and pains to Mali, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These agents of evil continue to brainwash and incite ignorant young men and women to attack the innocent. We cannot allow this to continue.

I welcome the statements of solidarity from patriotic citizens and the global community in support of our efforts to stamp out terrorism. I applaud the understanding that in a democracy, such as we are building, people can have differences while sharing worthy values and standing together in opposition to the scourge of terrorism. Nigeria is the only country we have and we must all work to preserve it for present and future generations.

Despite the challenges we face, we must commend our security forces. We must not forget their gallantry and successes in liberating nations and in peacekeeping, from Liberia to Sierra Leone, Congo, Sudan, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and many places in Africa and beyond. Our forces have paid the supreme price in several places at several times.

Today, they face a different challenge, an unconventional war by terrorists. They are adjusting and are being equipped to tackle the new menace of terrorism. We must show confidence in their ability. I have no doubt that, with the support of Nigerians, our neighbours and the international community, we will reinforce our defence, free our girls and rid Nigeria of terrorists.

It is now 45 days since the horrifying abduction of the college girls of Chibok. I share the deep pain and anxiety of their parents and guardians and I assure them once again that government will continue to do everything possible to bring our daughters home.

I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism. The unity and stability of our country, and the protection of lives and property are non-negotiable. I have instructed our security forces to launch a full-scale operation to put an end to the impunity of terrorists on our soil.

I have also authorized the security forces to use any means necessary under the law to ensure that this is done. I assure you that Nigeria will be safe again, and that these thugs will be driven away – it will not happen overnight, but we will spare no effort to achieve this goal.

For our citizens who have joined hands with Al Qaeda and international terrorists in the misguided belief that violence can possibly solve their problems, our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace.

My government, while pursuing security measures, will explore all options, including readiness to accept unconditional renunciation of violence by insurgents, and to ensure their de-radicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration into the broader society.

Dear Compatriots,

We must remain united to win the war against terrorism. Christians, Moslems, farmers, fishermen, herdsmen, teachers, lawyers, clergy or clerics, the rich, the poor and Nigerians from all sections of the country must work together with our security agencies and armed forces to overcome the terrorists who now threaten all that we hold dear.

The war against terror may be difficult, but the days of peace will come again. Terror is evil; nowhere in history has evil endured forever. The menace of Boko Haram will surely come to an end. I believe that because of your prayers, your courage, hardwork, faith and sacrifice,  we will ultimately prevail over the terrorists and all other evil forces.

We are a strong, resilient and courageous people. We will continue to partner with the civilized world, to confront international terrorism and every other challenge that comes our way with patriotic zeal and determination.

Fellow Nigerians,

Yes, we have challenges but we will surely overcome. Nigeria is our country. Nigeria is blessed. We will all collectively protect, defend and develop this country for ourselves, and our children.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you and God bless Nigeria.”

 

Credit: www.reubenabati.com.ng

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