It is no news that Nigerians will head to the polls tomorrow, February 16, 2019, to vote in their candidates for the posts of president, vice president and federal representatives at the national assembly.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier in January 2019 published the final voters register for the 2019 elections, ending with 84,004,084 voters, indicating a 25% growth from 2015 ( 67,422,00) in number of registered voters. The SS, NC and SW zones showed the largest gains in registered voter numbers.
Just before the polls, a final vote forecast is projected on the following:
This projection is by no means the final result and cannot be interpreted as such.
Forecast Verdict: A majority victory for APC in the presidential elections with 16.3 million over PDP 14.8 million votes. Total win in 24 (of 37, including FCT) States with >25% win in 27 States.
Source analysis sheet available here for your cross comparisons and counter projections
It was a day of joy and relief for the camp of the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday June 14, as the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) ruled in his favor, discharging and acquitting him of any charges. The office of the Attorney General (AG) of Nigeria had in September 2015, filed an 18-count charge against Saraki before the CCT, accusing him of false and anticipatory declaration of assets and operating foreign bank accounts as a public servant.
The Code of Conduct Bureau is empowered by the CCB Act to “establish and maintain a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business and to ensure that the actions and behavior of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability”. The functions of the CCB include “receiving, examining and taking custody” of asset declarations by Nigerian public officials.
As such, where there are issues around asset declaration by public officials, the CCB is empowered accordingly and the AG’s office was not out of line in filing this case.
First, a timeline of events…
May 29, 2003 Bukola Saraki sworn in as Executive Governor, Kwara State
Assets declared in compliance with CCB First Schedule, Section 15
May 29, 2007 Re-elected and sworn in as Executive Governor, Kwara State
May 29, 2011 Elected to the National Assembly as Senator representing Kwara Central
May 29, 2015 Re-elected to National Assembly
Jun 9, 2015 Elected President of the Nigerian Senate
Sept 11, 2015 Office of Attorney General of FGN files 13 count charge before CCT
Saraki challenges jurisdiction of the CCT, files for stay of proceedings and termination of trial at High Court (filed thrice), Court of Appeal, Supreme Court
Oct 30, 2015 Court of Appeal affirms jurisdiction of CCT to conduct trial
Feb 5, 2016 Supreme Court upholds Court of Appeal ruling
Apr 27, 2016 FGN amends charge. Files 16 count charge against Saraki before CCT
Feb 8, 2017 FGN amends charge. Files 18 count charge before CCT
Jun 14, 2017 CCT concludes trial. Rules that Saraki has no case to answer over charges
The facts we know
All Progressives Congress (APC) is the ruling political party in Nigeria, having won the 2015 elections, putting an end to 16 years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the helm of affairs. The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is a card-carrying member of the APC.
An APC led government filed a corruption case against a top APC official, within 4 months of assuming power.
In September 2015, there was no Attorney General of the Federation as President Buhari was yet to appoint cabinet members. Ministers (including the current Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami) were officially appointed/assigned in November 2015, six long months after the President assumed office.
The initial 13-count charge filed from the office of the Attorney General was prepared by the Deputy Director, M.S Hassan.
Saraki declared assets worth N10 billion to the CCB when elected executive Governor of Kwara State in 2003. His assets then included cash, real estate and stocks. He also declared his assets to the CCB in 2007 and 2011.
Questions for the gods
Why on earth will an APC led Federal Government file a criminal case against one of its high-ranking office holders, barely 4 months into their tenure? Typically, would this not have been treated as a “family affair” as is common with internal party squabbles? What was different?
Why did the office of the Attorney General (suddenly) decide in 2015 to revisit asset declarations that were done between 2003 and 2011, about 4 to 12 years after the fact? There is no publicly known query to the asset declarations done by Saraki in 2003, 2007, 2011. What was different about 2015 that triggered dusting up old papers?
Recall that Saraki became President of the 8th Senate in June 2015, after being voted in unanimously by 57 senators, in the absence of most APC senators. Nigerians will vividly remember the political drama that ensued that day. 51 APC senators had left the chambers of the National Assembly to attend a truce meeting allegedly set up by the party leadership at the International Conference Center, Abuja. The party preferred candidate at the time was Senator Ahmed Lawan representing Yobe South district. It was easy to conclude that Saraki might have played Maradona on his party leaders! Was this the trigger?
Who instructed the DD, CCB to file charges? Was it an action item from years of review and investigation or was there external political influence?
Did Saraki falsely declare assets before he got them? Did he operate foreign bank accounts while serving the nation? We know from the ruling of the Supreme Court that there was no proven truth beyond reasonable doubt. Regardless, what are the unproven truths? For example, what is the truth about when Saraki acquired the Ikoyi property (No. 15A & B, Macdonald road)? Were they bought in 2000 as declared or in 2006 when sold by the Implementation Committee on FG landed property?
As has become the norm with several occurrences within the Nigerian political sphere, we are witnessing another story with a beginning but without a definite end. For Saraki, it ended with the CCB’s ruling and acquittal. For Nigerians, it’s probably not so. How is it possible for the nation’s foremost anti-corruption agency (in the public service) to end up with a ‘no case’ ruling? Was it deliberately sabotaged? The Federal Government was represented in court by Senior Advocates of Nigeria but they ended up with ‘no case’. Surely there is more to this than meets the eye.
Our questions will continue to linger, rumors and theories will loiter the political space, and one common saying will unfortunately prevail… the more you look, the less you see!
The Nigerian Experience. We’ve all attempted, at some point in our colorful lives, to fully define what this phrase means to each of us, how it shapes our decision making, how it defines our perception and reaction to everyday situations, and above all, how it uniquely qualifies our experience in this dear parchment of land we call home. That’s all I’ve done here really. Now, walk with me through a few of those moments that make you exclaim every now and then “Why are Nigerians like this?”.
When you drive…
Imagine driving your car on a cool Sunday evening (best day to drive around Lagos really), negotiating a roundabout somewhere in the metropolis… don’t be caught thinking that vehicles approaching will give way to traffic at the roundabout. They rarely will. It’s left to you to know when to stop, inch forward, stop, jerk forward, give way and then move ahead.
At other times you’re driving behind a commercial bus or taxi on the highway… you’re a good and smart driver so you maintain a safe distance… a bus stop is just a few seconds ahead of you. To your utmost shock, the commercial vehicle driver does not ease off the highway into the bus lane… he stops right there in front of your car, while you watch the conductor jump out, hollering at potential commuters. You make the mistake of honking as expected… the conductor throws you a glance that implies to you that you must be crazy for expecting them to pull over in the bus lane … which is actually the right thing!
“If I’m not compelled or forced, I won’t obey rules!”
Ah! The other very typical scenario… it’s a hot afternoon and you’re just trying to drive down for lunch. You have been tailing this car for a few minutes and notice the driver starts to slow down and his indicator comes on, telling you he’s about to make a left turn. So, likewise, you hit the brakes and slow down, to allow him make his turn before you move on. But wait… the car behind you will have none of that… as far as that dude is concerned, you are slow and daft… no be so we dey drive for here, he thinks. So yea, he swerves out to your right and overtakes you and the left turning vehicle… not forgetting to give you that “Yo! You stupid?” look. The worst part? He’s probably a chauffeur and his ‘oga’ is seated behind giving him thumbs up because oga is late for a business meeting with a bank MD!
If doing it right will take longer, do not wait! Who waiting ‘epp?
Swerve your way till you get ‘there’! The end justifies the means!
When you’re trying to chill…
It’s Thursday night and Ade just got off work super stressed. So he choose to drive to the cinema to see a movie… something cool and calm… he really just wanted to relax. He gets to the mall and the car park is filled to the brim, so he drives out to park outside by some company building. Ade is barely done parking and some guy in a security uniform walks up to his side, taps on the window… “oga, no parking here sir”! Ade opens the door, attempting to alight and then asks him what the issue is. He replies “no parking here sir. It’s not allowed”. But you see… Ade is a ‘sharp guy’ and so he smiles and looks the security guard straight in the eye, and with a mastery of Pidgin English, he says “cool dahn! I go sort you!” The guard retreats while grinning ear to ear… then wait for it… he salutes Ade!
Money first… every other thing follows!
At the bank….
Jude misplaced his debit card and needed to do some urgent transactions. So he hopped out at lunch time aiming to dash in and out of the bank. After all, all he needed was a replacement debit card. To his surprise, he met a queue, some sitting, others standing, waiting in turn to be attended to by two customer service personnel who did not look excited about life in any way. Jude joins the queue. After about ten minutes of waiting, he notices a sleek range rover drive up close to the bank entrance, a young man steps out, clad in his sparkling white fitted traditional attire, his leather slippers all shiny brown, sunglasses on ‘fleek’, and wrist chains flashing in the bright sun. He walks in, approaches the customer service section, sweeps his gaze across the line of customers waiting and then beckons to the bank staff. One immediately stands up to greet him “welcome sir, please come this way sir”. Jude almost fainted. He had been there all these minutes, yet this ‘big boy walks in and gets premium service, not needing to join the queue!
“Queues are for mere men! Big boys don’t line up!”
Those annoying questions…
It’s another Monday morning and Fola just got to work. She’s still tired from the weekend but the bills have to be paid. So she parks her car at the office designated spot, does a brief ‘facebeat’ session, picks her bags and walks into the office building, hoping to avoid any trouble makers or work horses. She barely takes a seat at her desk when one of those office madams (who must always talk) stops in front of her. “How was the night?” she asks! Fola smiles in return but says nothing… but madam won’t stop. “You look stressed. Didn’t you sleep well?” Not waiting for a response, she continues “You need to take it easy o! All you these single girls… always attending parties abi… you better go and marry!” At that moment, Fola’s manager calls her phone. She was too glad to take the call.
“Your problem… is our problem! Your business is everyone’s business”
Every now and then, there’s the warm, welcoming Nigerian nature that meets you from the least expected, like having a road traffic officer assist you when your car breaks down in the middle of the highway, without asking for a dime! Or the occasional driver that stops at a zebra crossing for you and other pedestrians to walk across! It’s all part of the Nigerian experience. What are your experiences?
It’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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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…
In case you missed it, the President’s May 29 speech is as below:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Over the last few weeks, Nigerians have again been faced with an age old occurrence, commonly dubbed fuel scarcity. This is a national phenomenon that has recurred over and again. There are numerous and quite memorable accounts of people taking turns to spend days and nights at petrol stations, on endless queues, in the attempt to buy fuel for use. Many have honed additional driving skills learning to maneuver their cars into the smallest available spaces, outsmarting sleeping drivers, all in a bid to buy tens of liters of premium motor spirit, petrol. It is appalling, having this particular problem persist over the years, same manner, similar process, typical triggers, without a true solution. Daily national demand for PMS continues to be an educated guess and has consistently ranged between 35 – 40 million liters in the recent past. In basic economics, scarcity arises from a limited availability or supply of resources compared with the attendant demand for the same. So what suddenly truncated national PMS supply? For a country whose citizens depend squarely on petrol (Premium Motor Spirit) as fuel to power their vehicles and household generators, why is the supply chain periodically challenged?
It will be odd to hear a crop farmer complain of hunger when his harvest is obviously full, except his produce is being constantly pilfered under his very eyes, or the infrastructure required to process the crops into valuable food is unavailable, dilapidated or out dated. However, this is a clear picture of the national situation. Sitting on such massive hydrocarbon reserves, we have been unable to effectively operate and manage the infrastructure to harness value accordingly. The four refineries with a total refining capacity of 445,000bpd operated at an average capacity utilization of approx. 28% YTD Oct 2013 – processing 124,600bpd of crude able to yield approx. 10 million liters PMS/day.
Comparing this local supply to the anticipated demand of 40m liters, there is a significant volume left to supply. Where an organic solution to production fails, an inorganic intervention may suffice. As such, the nation constantly needs to import the shortfall of products to satisfy demand. When importation is impaired, delayed or truncated for the slightest reason, scarcity results. According to the head of NUPENG’s tanker drivers, “importers got their permits for the first quarter only last week and this has created a shortfall in supply“. Why should import permits for 1Q14 be issued at the end of February, when two-thirds of the quarter is already gone? Consequently, fuel depots across the country have been emptying on the go, and most ran out of product supplies by mid-February, according to the union head. As at January, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had shortlisted 32 marketing companies for importing petroleum products including NNPC (with the highest import allocation) and other major marketers. Yet, there is a shortfall supply spanning February to March.
What kind of planning results in this? Who is responsible to issue import permits? Were import permits really delayed? Why were they delayed? What happened to the principles of demand forecasting and fulfillment? Is there some unseen angle to the story? The solution to this scarcity is not seen in the reactive measure of inspecting petrol stations to apprehend those selling above the stipulated pump price. Such opportunistic behavior is only typical of the market, where price goes up in the face of rising demand and dwindling supply, with businesses attempting to maximize an economic rent while they can. The root cause is a supply side issue. Cause and effect – Eliminate the cause, eradicate the effect. Supply! Supply! Supply!
Again, one of the core concepts of change management within any industry is communication and involvement. In the execution of projects and/or daily operations, changes are bound to occur to typical routine processes, whether anticipated or not. What makes the difference for the manager or leader is the ability, skill and will to proactively communicate change effectively to the workforce and affected stakeholders, keeping them abreast of the what, the why, the how and when of changes. Sometimes, our government agencies need to take a cue from this. Be upfront about situations irrespective of causes. Is it such an arduous task to make an unambiguous statement on national news, clearly keeping the nation abreast of when and why there is fuel scarcity, what exactly the mitigation interventions are in the short term, and what the long term solutions to prevent its further recurrence are? Unfortunately, this is a country where information asymmetry is pretty much the norm.
Is the leadership of the nation pleased to have its workforce wake up early Monday morning, with worries of how to get fuel to drive to work instead of applying same ‘gray matter’ to develop breakthrough ideas that can foster economic growth? Will we grow our GDP (leave rebasing aside for a bit) when majority of the labor force spends most of their productive time running up and about town searching for petrol stations selling fuel? Or commuters stranded at bus stops for hours because even the commercial transport system is paralyzed due to the same situation? Or researchers and technocrats spending their time at fuel queues when they should be churning out solutions and formulating policies?
Someone, somewhere, needs to fix this recurring issue once and for all! Yet, given the foregoing, one wonders when import permits for the second quarter will be granted! Scarcity continua?