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OPINION

A vision and flyers to fly with: A case study of Mallam Isa Pantami and Kashifu Inuwa

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By Hashim Suleiman

 

Let me start this piece from the year 2014 when me and my bosom friend Babukar Tanko through our always interactive and progressive discussions devoid of gossips and unrealistic dream birthed an idea about how we must encourage our young men especially those from the Northern part of Nigeria to imbibe the basics of how leadership comes by through capacity building and integrity. We basically wanted to encourage the government, private sector and political institutions to engage worthy young men as they were capable of injecting faster and most recent innovations in achieving their goals, many articles related to these have also been written by me and published in several media fora.

This entire idea birthed One Heart Initiative for Equity and Good Leadership which in-turn championed #30PercentOrNothing affirmative action and was coordinated nationally by my humble self. It was a non partisan effort aimed at speaking to both youths and institutions to harness one another, the entire aims and objectives is story for another day.

In the course of the above stated activities inter alia, we were also very interested in attending preaching classes and motivational speaking events and I remember vividly when Sheikh Zakir Naik came to Nigeria and was at the Ansarudeen Mosque at Maitama, Abuja, we were there at one of the days and his preaching about how the northern Muslims of Nigeria must embrace people of other faiths in the country with the aim of getting them attracted to the faith was aptly in tune with the aims and objectives of our vision and goals.

Subsequently that year was the Ramadan fast and all roads in Abuja led to Annur Mosque where there was a quintessential Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who had come to liberate Nigerian Muslims with a preaching that was very easy to decipher, we attended all of it and in the course we heard it was a young Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who was also  a PhD holder and was coming to contribute to the much needed awareness regarding Islam and  the general progress of the society as no society can grow without commensurate knowledge and awareness. At the end of the entire Tafsir session for the year 2014, I and Babukar were not the same people again and our vision for youth liberation and involvement in progressive activities got richer by no small means.

Thereafter, we moved on with our campaign for youth involvement and was always also echoing how the youth must behave appropriately to deserve such honors while the institutions must also select appropriately if they wanted to truly harness the ingenuity were highlighting in young people. Remember, the 2015 general election campaigns were also on at that moment and we visited all political parties, support groups, select private sector organizations and esteemed individuals. The entire idea was well received and the lot of it also afforded us an opportunity to understand better the complexity of the problems associated with young people and progress in Nigeria even though some appreciable number of them have done great things in personal capacity e.g Adebola Williams and Jaafar Jaafar etc.

In all of the above however, it was clear to me that if you have vision, then the most potent ingredient you need for it’s coming to fruition is people who will believe in it and fly with, we were blessed to have some of those in our movement and they were always ready to contribute their energy and resources to the success of the vision simply because they were convinced by the idea that the message was carrying.

Considering that it was a deliberate effort and self sponsored coupled with the complexity of the problems and lack of commensurate number of flyers to carry the vision, our activities retracted and we resorted to social media activism and motivational talks. The last major event we attended was the maiden dinner organized by Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari where we categorically told the young men there that they had to switch their social media handles from mockery to advertising government policies as some of those policies could be complex for those at the downtrodden to decipher and participate.

So now we are in change and there are lots of expectations, promises and the need to do things differently. We watched and observed and made comments where necessary then boom came an announcement about the appointment of Mallam Isa Ali Pantami as the DG of NITDA and the first thing I did was to reach to my phone and called Babukar Tanko, I said my friend change has come and he replied he was also about calling me. Change had come in the sense that the person we heard his preaching the other time about the sort of ideals that were essential for a new society had joined the team of a change government and again he fits into ideals and vision of our wanting to see excellent young men join the team of the management of the country. Everyone then moved on and there was a new perception from our side regarding the change movement. Further to that again, there was the coming in of people like Tolu Ogunlesi, Mallam Bashir Ahmad, Ismail Ahmed, Ife Adebayo, Abdulrahman Baffa Yola and others numerous to mention. It was generally not bad for us at One Heart Initiative.

Going forward, we began to hear about NITDA taking over major headlines over quintessential performance that was associated with capacity building, saving money related to execution of IT projects by the Federal Government as well as major efforts aimed at ensuring Digital compliance by the nation. These news never stopped coming and Mr. President himself had to attend the e-Nigeria summit for 2017 and because of the content he followed it up with attendance at the 2018 version. There was general acceptance by the public that NITDA had been transformed into an unusual government organization in Nigeria. These achievements and more catapulted Dr Isa Ali Pantami to become the Minister of Communications in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the general acceptance of all Nigerians as square peg in square hole.

Almost immediately after the appointment, there was the filling up of the vacancy at NITDA with Mr. Kashifu Inuwa and a look at his resume revealed him to be the one who has been flying with the vision of his predecessor. This further revealed the wisdom and the secret behind the successes NITDA had experienced all along. More fascinating is how both have formed uncommon synergy to consolidate their already started efforts at rejuvenating the ICT industry in Nigeria which will now spread to the associated communications industries.

Messages like these are essential to be brought to the fore for purposes of enlightening the public in relation to loyalty and belief in credible  visions including mentorship and patriotism. Also very importantly to note is how criticism of policies of government must not be based on partisan considerations and bandwagon information. A closer look into events and activities could reveal information enough to make you form an objective assessment of ventures.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Hashim Suleiman wrote from FCT, Abuja. oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

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OPINION

No to escalating Nigeria’s debt profile, By Abba Dukawa

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In January 1984 Major General Buhari  justified the coup by saying that the civilian government  overthrew was hopelessly corrupt.
 As a result of our inability to cultivate financial discipline and prudent management of the economy, we have come to depend largely on internal and external borrowing to execute government projects with attendant domestic pressure and soaring external debts, thus aggravating the propensity of the outgoing civilian administration to mismanage our financial resources. Nigeria was already condemned perpetually with the twin problem of heavy budget deficits and weak balance of payments position, with the prospect of building a virile and viable economy. However, in the case of Nigeria, its impact was aggravated by mismanagement. We believe the appropriate government agencies have good advice but the leadership disregarded their advice.
The situation could have been avoided if the legislators were alive to their constitutional responsibilities; Instead, the legislators were preoccupied with determining their salary scales, fringe benefit and unnecessary foreign travels, et al, which took no account of the state of the economy and the welfare of the people they represented.
This was what our perceive Messiah said in 1984 accused both  legislators and executive members of not  being  financial discipline and prudent management of the economy.
Nigeria debt has almost doubled since Buhari took over  two months before Buhari took office on 29 May – the country owed a total of N12 trillion. At the end of June 2015, country debt had risen slightly to N12.1 trillion. By the end of June 2018, total public debt had almost doubled to N22.4 trillion. Going by this frightening figures  released by the Debt Management Office, the total debt stock stood at some humongous N24.047tn as of March 31, 2019. As its now the debt risen to  N25 trillion (US$80 billion).
 A gaskiya the recent request by President Buhari  asked National Assembly to approve $30 billion of foreign borrowings after a similar request three years ago was rejected is scaring and Nigerians on the street not wants it. Because poor Nigerians seeing  raised over Nigeria’s ever escalating debt profile is scary economic situation throws up some salient questions, all begging for answers. Nigeria is  using 50% of its revenue to service its debts! this is unsustainable. But this is just part of an economic malaise that has consigned millions of Nigerians to “multidimensional poverty” even as a few favoured ones continue to enjoy the nation’s wealth.
 Surely Nigeria do not need comprehensive mathematics  to understand that the country’s economic growth is undermined by the huge debt stock as well as other obvious factors including sheer profligacy in running government.  Nigeria’s debilitating debt profile” in January 2015. But, the situation has only worsened over the years. Recall that in June 2017, experts,  Prof. Pat Utomi and   Mr. Bismarck Rewane, had expressed a similar worry over the increasing debt burden at both the state and federal levels.
Its seem like most of the financial policies of the administration is not fevour masses that spends hours under the sun to vote the administration. It may be recalled that Nigeria’s Senate on 21 November 2019 passed the Finance Bill, 2019 after the third reading just as the House of Representative is expected to kowtow. The bill, as presented to the National Assembly in October 2019, includes vast changes to the Companies Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, Petroleum Profits Tax Act (PPTA), Personal Income Tax Act, Capital Gains Tax Act (CGTA), Customs and Excise Tariff Etc. (Consolidation) Act and Stamp Duties Act. What really surprising Nigerians is whether our lawmakers understanding the gravity of their actions in causing more hardship because
 contemplating an increase in VAT rate now is bad timing and inconsistent with current economic reality… VAT increase will lead to higher inflation, interest rate hike, more unemployment and generally make people poorer.
One’s current concern, however, is who will pay these huge debts? Will the burden being left by the reckless and frivolous political class not be too weighty for the lean shoulders of our jobless children? Will they not be turned to slaves and beggars in their own country by the creditor nations, just because they want to pay off the debts left by the locusts that have ravaged our common patrimony? But that is not all.One is surprised too about the speed with which governors go for questionable bonds at the end of their tenures. What is the guarantee that the incoming administrations and the subsequent ones would have the capacity to repay without harming the security and welfare of the citizens which are their primary reasons of being in government? The earlier we started having credible answers to these burning questions, the better for us all.
Dukawa can be reach at abbahydukawa@gmail.com
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OPINION

Money Politics: Nigeria’s delicate delicacy, By Abiodun Komolafe

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I have written a few weeks back about the lamentation of the 14th Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi II. However, the critical mass of Nigerians still seems to be going about their daily social activities as if nothing frightening is in the offing. Indeed, something frightening is in the offing! In reality, similar situations that are indeed worse than what Sanusi pointed our attention to are in multiple ways happening all around us. While it may be good enough to pretend as if they are not there, the earlier Nigerians paid attention to them before they snowball into a tornado of unimaginable cataclysms, the better for the health of our country.

In the First Republic, for example, there was the issue of corruption and the influence of money. However, it was not as pervasive as we have it now. And there are reasons for that! First is the phenomenal surge in commitment and political participation. The percentage of the population that was actively involved in politics at the time was not as alarming as it is today. Secondly, people contributed money – as members and co-owners of the party – to finance party activities. Nowadays, reverse is the case! Political parties are formed and people are invited to join. And, the party, through its co-owners, sponsor candidates, finance the day-to-day running of the party and determine what happens in the party. And each ‘party owner’ must be a moneybag. Otherwise, the party will not fly!

From the Second Republic, money politics approached a different, dangerous dimension; and only God knows where Nigeria is now headed. Today, if you ask anybody who is a member of a political party in Nigeria how much he or she has contributed to the purse of his or her party, the response will certainly shock you. That is why carpet-crossing thrives; and why commitment to party ideology and manifestoes is superficial at best. This is a very critical challenge but, unfortunately, it has not been addressed because Nigerians are not paying attention!

When we talk about money politics, we are talking about how money influences and affects our political engagements and participation. To be sure, a robust understanding of the basics of the negative effects of money-politics gives meaning and intelligibility to the greed and Modus Operandi of most governments. When people, who are apathetic to democratic ideals, development and Public Administration, come together as a formidable force, it then becomes problematic for the society. Most political gladiators and public servants are aware of this, but, unrepentantly, always acquiesce. Thus, impunity comes in; accountability becomes a problem; and transparency is a non-issue! There and then, party hierarchies will remain what they are because people will not be responsible to the party but only to their bellies. Once this happens, it goes back to what Sanusi has already addressed because money politics ensures that people begin to have a feeling or belief that “money answereth all things.”

More than just talking, there is a malaise invented by the military; and that is the demystification of the power of the political party in Nigeria. For lack of a better word, it was nothing but a muzzling of the social institutions in the country such that the military now appears as a Leviathan. Of course, this ‘might-is-right’ succession mentality succeeded in crippling that aspect of our social institutions; and all eyes could see it. Sadly, we are yet to recover from it! Not even in this incredibly complicated clime where good is repaid with evil and loyalty is rewarded with abandonment. Anyway, that’s a story for another day!

In 2016, Donald Trump won America’s presidential election because of certain factors which the Democrats didn’t see; which, again, they are yet to figure out! But Leon Trotsky saw it! Marx Weber saw it! Anthonio Gramsci also saw it! These men are majorly conflict theorists whose works revolve around peace in order to have prosperity! Put in concise terms, the common denominator, as we speak, is poverty. That the people are hungry is no doubt a minus for any party that claims to be people-centric in its affairs. Forget the wattages of excuses and messianic propositions that are only worthy of utopian solutions. The frightening truth is that poverty is endemic in Nigeria and Nigerians have existential needs! Although there is an unrestricted free flow of cash in the country, majority of the population are cash-strapped; which explains why politicians move from house-to-house, on the eve of elections, to exact oaths from prospective voters.

All said, can there be an end to money politics in Nigeria or has this debilitating cancer, currently devouring Nigeria’s political firmament, come to stay? Well, when the people wake up in the morning without an assured way of life sustenance, it then means that the real issues have not been addressed. It is the same reason a hungry voter will continue to compromise his or her conscience. Unfortunately, ‘owners of Nigeria’ have refused to listen to the ground with a view to legislating against this oddity of crass materialism and naira-centred politics. Again, that is why the toilers are starving only for the stealers to continue to act as if the people don’t matter in their scheme of things. So, until we have effective equity in the control and distribution of the commonwealth of this country, the balance between life chances and economic prosperity of the majority will remain very thin and threatened. Until issues relating to economic unfreedom are dealt with, there will neither be peace nor prosperity.

Basically, if the critical mass of the society is saying that an election has no meaning, such an election will not only lose credibility, the resulting government will also give life to illegitimacy. Once an election lacks legitimacy, the emerging government automatically lacks authority. And the lack of authority will always be in constant conversation with chaos! If a formed government does not derive its oxygen from the active support and backing of the critical mass of the society, the possibility of that government collapsing is, without doubt, very high. Jokes apart, it is like a suicide mission! Remi Fani Kayode, Adegoke Adelabu and Ladoke Akintola understood that precept. Lamidi Adedibu only came later to expand the horizon of the philosophy! And that’s the danger of what we are discussing here!

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

 

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk

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OPINION

Gov. Mai Mala Buni: Stabilizer of Yobe State @ 52 

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Gov. Buni
Yobe state is Lucky to have a leader with  vision  so a  visionary leader should be celebrated for his valuable contribution to humanity.  Hon Mai Mala Buni’s  nickname “the Stabilizer” ,amongst supporters within and outside the  state as he has also been constant, stabilizing factor in the  state. Governor MMB has a big dossier of state outreach that reflects his close touch with his peoples. He has utilized the mended  given to him through projects executed across the state.
The signs of a beautiful Friday will be noticed from the preceding Wednesday clearly exemplifies the actions taken so far by Governor Mai Mala Buni since  took charge of the affairs of Yobe on May 29, 2019. Like a greyhound after a rabbit, Governor Buni came out of the take-off point with some decisive pronouncements and moves that disabused the minds of some doubting Thomas’s that he is actually prepared and ready for the tasks of administering one of the states with serious economic and societal challenge state in Nigeria.
There  is no doubt that many aspects of development by individuals have been fired and propelled by vision which is regarded as an indispensable ingredient and catalyst in the dynamics of human existence. This is why Woodrow Wilson once emphasized that “no one that does not see vision will ever realize any high hope or undertake any high enterprise”, a pragmatic statement reinforced by that of Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Where there is no vision, a people perish
Truth be told, Governor Mai Mala Buni is an embodiment of a good head, a good heart and of course a foresight in moving Yobeans and the state forward.  The result so far so good has been delivery of democratic dividends and meeting expectations of the teeming population of the State.
 Hon Buni took over the most tasking,  challenging job in the State and one thing that is constant is that his passion, zeal and energy for a greater Yobe remain indubitable.   By the following day by day, month by month Governor made many moves which clearly showed that he was ready to walk the talk.  Another pleasant move by MMB’s government is that of his  developmental  credentials and landmarks speak volumes.  He is truly a people’s leader going by the amount of work he was able to do for the overall benefit of Yobe state .No matter what anyone would say, the amount of dividends of democracy that this people’s leader was able to bring to the door step of the people he is governing is unmatched.
One thing commonly associated with this man is that, he redefines any office he occupies and makes a mark. MMB  is  humanist, a visionary and egalitarian personality, radical, a pragmatist, an exemplary and respected leader in fact He  has not only revolutionised Yobe but turned around the fortunes of the  state  to the extent  that today Yobean in unity have named him ‘ Yobe Stabilizer’
Governor Mai Mala Buni   is doing what he always wanted to do- touch lives positively.  In fact, it worth elucidating    that the Governor was able to touch the lives of the people of whole Yobe state within shortest possible time and prove his devoted serving humanity. So far he has proved to be one of the first termer action governors that have impacted people lives with his ardently active leadership.
 In this piece to marks Governor Buni golden birthday  was not borne out of sheer vain glorious imaginations but I consider this a great opportunity to write about this great achiever of transforming  socioeconomic and infrastructural development of Yobe.
In real sense, it is easy to conclude that some leaders are naturally characterized by ideas, vision and the will to set a pace and to have their name boldly written on the sand of time.
A vivid reference point is the leadership qualities exhibited by this noble man, which qualified him as the political reference of our time. The starting point for this piece naturally fails to align because the achievements would be too numerous to mention.
However, the qualitative leadership acumen and the sense of stewardship which MMB possesses has been established, at least, at the highest level. He goes history lane as a disciplined politician with regard for the rule of law. He is an epitome of discipline, hard work and equity and fairness. His political philosophy has no regard for sentiments. An harbinger of egalitarianism. His affinity with both the high and mighty and the downtrodden is second to none. He leaves no stone unturned in grassroots developments, socio-economic worries and general political affairs.
Toward achieving his socioeconomic blueprints to the state Hon Buni wooing local and international investors toward invest in state deposits natural minerals resources like  the gypsum and limestone deposits. The stabilizer  Yobe governor  recently attended the 4th Istanbul Public Private Partnership [PPP] where the governor and the investor  discussed include the establishment of a cement factory in the state, financing of education and road projects and small business micro finance .He  also Buni met representative Qatari investors from the office of Sheikh Saoud Bin Nasser Bin Khalid al-Thani in Abuja aimed  to exploring an investing partnership to set up a cement company and meat processing factory in Yobe State.
He told the  Qatari representative about the investment opportunities with untapped natural deposits  gypsum and limestone in  Yobe State, as well as the mass availability of small ruminant animals that could support a meat processing factory.  Sheikh al-Hajeri, also  extended an invitation for the governor to visit Qatar so that they could sign an agreement on the proposed partnership, said his investment group is willing and ready to work with Yobe State in the two key areas  and the Qatari  also going to visit the  state so that we can reach a point of agreement about the  partnership and also  to host MMB in Qatar.
The highlights of which were stellar achievements of Buni in the past six months steering the affairs of  the state  of constructing and rehabilitating schools and re-positioning the educational sector in the more definitive ,radically ,progressive and futuristic manner , not to mention the expansive provision of basic welfares amenities for the citizens in water resources ,healthcare. Resettlement, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (R3), for the peoples affected by insurgency to live a life of honor and dignity. Buni’ administration revived mariboud state own   Industries like Yobe Aluminum industry in Potiskum Yobe Flour Mill Industry in Potiskum and  Yobe Polythene and Woven Sack Company Damaturu. Agriculture reforms and the greatly improved living standards for his people in terms of capacity building, empowerment and educational scholarship for his people, all shone brightly for all in respect of party affiliation to access and his monumental achievements continue to ring loud and louder each passed days.
For Governor Mai Mala Buni prevailing interest of the masses should not be sacrificed either on the altar of political expediency or in pursuit of a narrow selfish agenda of those who operate the levers of power.  He has demonstrated his true passion for issues concerning his peoples and state as a whole; he worked passionately to address matters of great concern to the Yobeans and quickly earned a reputation as a true people’s governor, hard-working and brilliant governor.
 Accordingly, his politics, character and vision has been informed and guided by like late Aminu Kano’s this philosophy of emancipation and improving lives of masses.  His many measures as a governor make him not business as usual governor as he had shaking the table by introducing various reforms that will reposition state institutions which will be for the greater good for the people of the state.
The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will that will help others. Described by most people as gentle, generous, humble, trustworthy, extremely loyal and down-to-earth, Mai Mala no doubt, displayed high and esteemed leadership qualities which endeared to the people of the state.
In the lives of many, birthdays are usually periods for sober reflections .The period for stocktaking. Numerous personalities with eyes on the verdict of history use such occasions to reflect on their contributions to the betterment   or otherwise of their societies. Hon MMB is a man of his words and amazingly bold: he means every word he says and goes for it. His statements are never taken for granted as are astonishingly translated into action for the good of the people. He commands a lot of respect from his colleagues and the people of his state largely due to the way he articulates his ideas and thoughts each times he speaks as peoples  listen with rapt attention
The visionary leader should be celebrated by all and sundry as MMB clock 52years of valuable contribution to humanity and He  is a personification of humanity, a selfless leader and an uncommon Nigerian, who thinks more about the other person’s feelings than of his own. wishing  him sound health and wisdom to deliver on the mission #ForAGreaterYobeState.

Dukawa can be reach atabbahydukawa@gmail.com

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