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When A Vice President Becomes A Coordinating Son – By Reno Omokri

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yemi osinbajo

Nigeria is a land of opportunity. And I do not mean this the way Nigerian politicians usually mean it, as a cliched speech for the campaign trail. I mean this from the bottom of my heart because it is true and I have benefited from it and I can prove it.

Nigeria ought to change her educational model. Our educational system is still by and large a colonial model where the occupying colonial power merely trained a select few natives for the purpose of having clerks and translators to run their exploitative government. It was never designed to transfer knowledge that prepares the recipient to add value to Nigeria.Quite on the contrary, it was designed and still remains designed to train Nigerians to take value from Nigeria and give it to the West. This is one of the reasons why we have more Nigerian medical professionals practicing in the West and Saudi Arabia than we have in Nigeria.

Our educational system is also designed to train the bulk of its intake to be nothing more than paper pushers who daily clock watch, while waiting for the end of the month to collect salaries that enables them to their insatiable lust for foreign goods.

Our educational system does not make us productive. It does not teach us to seize initiative. In fact, it kills initiative. Many Nigerian children who show initiative at an early age are made to feel ashamed of their initiative by their teachers themselves who call them ITK (meaning I Too Know). The subliminal message underlying that common label is that it is not our place to be overly intelligent or curious. We ought to leave that to the oyinbo man.

It is for this reason that Nigerian youths feel it is the job of the government to provide jobs for them. Pay attention to what I said. Our youths do not think it is government’s responsibility to provide the enabling environments for jobs to thrive. No. They believe, because of the type of education they have received, that it is the responsibility of government to provide actual jobs for them.

They have been falsely taught that the secret of success is to go to school, get a certificate and that that certificate acts as a receipt that you hand over to government in exchange for a guaranteed life of ease, laziness and entitlement, along with an official car, a driver, official quarters and domestic workers that do everything for you except help you do your business in the toilet.

That is the life their grandparents saw the colonial masters live. When their grandparents came of age, they chose to live that same life forgetting that the colonial masters where little more than an army of occupation whose mindset was to take and not necessarily to build except to the extent of building railways and roads from mines and farms directly to ports for onward transportation of the wealth of Africa to Europe and teaching (perhaps brainwashing is a better term) the natives to accept their particular brand of Christianity (which invariably has their monarch and not Christ as the head of the Church).

This is why a Nigerian youth who lives in Kaduna can complain that the government has not provided him or her with a job. Yet, Kaduna rice sells for almost double in Lagos. The government that he or she complains against has built a railway and train that will take them to Lagos for less than ₦2,000. They do not need a visa to go to Lagos.

Even the Bible says “my people perish from lack of knowledge.” Yes, the Muhammadu Buhari administration is inept, but this clueless government is not your problem. The problem of the Nigerian youth is an educational system that has robbed him of initiative and pumped him full of entitlement to the extent that he or she is expecting manna from heaven. The problem is mental laziness. The problem is YOU!

Probably the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria’s economy and her educational system is the second coming of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and her brilliant imitatives with former President Jonathan, chief of which was the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) initiative.

I just finished writing a book on the Jonathan administration titled Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years (Chibok, 2015 and Other Conspiracies). In it I devoted a whole chapter to YouWIN.

Even though I was somewhat involved in the process, I was nonetheless impressed when I took in the bird’s eye view of the scheme and how successful it was in creating jobs and changing the mindset of Nigeria’s youth.

It was not that YouWIN gave grants, although it did give grants ranging from $12,000 to $100,000 to over 4,000 Nigerian youths. The beauty of the initiative was that it provided business and financial education to tens of thousands of Nigeria’s youth and hopefully changed their outlook from one of entitlement to one of self reliance.

Unknown to many Nigerians, YouWIN is actually the world’s largest business plan competition ever created.

When David Mackenzie, a Senior Economist at the World Bank, did an Independent Impact Evaluation on YouWIN, which he published in 2015, McKenzie found that YouWin was two and half times as efficient as a 2013 management consulting program in Mexico, four and a half times as efficient as a 2014 wage subsidy program in Jordan and almost ten times as efficient as a 2011 vocational training program in Turkey.

That is why it was rather disappointing that President Muhammadu Buhari could not see beyond politics to understand the need to retain the initiative. Rather, his administration reduced Nigeria’s most successful job creation effort to “a weekly print media enterprise education programme designed to assist entrepreneurs start, plan and grow their businesses” which it christened YouWiN!Connect, an aberration and a bastardization of the original idea which has gone the way of other harebrained ideas that the current administration came up with including Change Begins With Me and the N-Power scheme (emphasis on scheme).

It is very sad to see what has happened to initiatives like YouWIN and the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovations and Development, Almajiri Schools etc. Sound policies, patriotic initiatives and powerful ideas that should have been consolidated into Nigeria’s educational system have been either canceled, watered down or left to wither away. And look at the impact such actions have had on the economy.

Speaking of the economy, the last time Nigeria had a Coordinator was in 2011 when President Goodluck Jonathan nominated Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as a minister and upon her confirmation named her the Coordinating Minister of the Economy.

How sad that in 2017, six years after that event, Nigeria has now got her second Coordinator and no, it is not another minister. It is no less a personality than the incumbent Vice President who has been reduced, in the estimation of his boss, from an acting President to a Coordinator.

In his first letter to the Senate on February 10, 2017, before going on medical vacation, President Buhari had used the correct nomenclature to describe the role that would be played by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

In the said letter, the Vice President was to ‘act’ on his behalf.

How very strange that in his second letter to the Senate on May 7, 2017, before going to see his London doctors, President Buhari curiously changed the wordings of his letter and named the Vice President as someone who would “coordinate’ rather than ‘act’!

And to those who are saying that the nomenclature does not matter, go home and call your father ‘my mother’s husband’ and after he has slapped you back into reality come back here and realize that if it is not panadol it is not the same thing as panadol. Vice President Osinbajo did a very good job the last time he was acting President and as such no one who loves Nigeria should hesitate to accord him the respect he has earned even though by reason of his peculiar situation he cannot complain about this shabby treatment meted out on him for fear of playing into the hands of the ‘Cabal’.

I think the President was not too happy with vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s good performance the last time which out-shined him hence this Coordinator of National Affairs business. Where are our constitutional lawyers? Can’t somebody approach the court to stop this nonsense? Coordinator of National Affairs is unknown to our constitution! Our constitution was not made for President Muhammadu Buhari. Rather, President Buhari was made by our constitution and must be subject to it President or not!

Finally, on the recent release of some of the kidnapped girls, let me say that anybody that is not happy that 82 Chibok girls were released must be a monster whose humanity should be called into question. I thank God that these girls have been released and I commend the Federal Government for the feat of ensuring that these girls are reunited with their families. May God bless President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the leadership that enabled this to happen.

Having said that, there are some factual observations I want to raise. What you are about to read is completely devoid of any opinion. I am just stating facts. You may not like the facts. You may not even like me. But one thing you cannot do is ignore the fact.

Why should a Presidential spokesman turn himself to a praise singer for a terrorist group? Read the following quote:

“To be honest, without appearing to speak for Boko Haram, from the outlook of these girls, they appear better in terms of their physical outlook than the 21 we received before.”-Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman.

What can one even say when a Presidential spokesman praises Boko Haram for looking after Chibok girls well! What can I say? I am speechless!

On May 7, 2017, when the girls were ferried over to the Nigerian Presidential Villa at Aso Rock, Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, photographs released showed them looking very well fed and robust. In fact, the next day (May 8) Africa’s top blog, Linda Ikeji’s blog published a photo of the released girls side by side with a picture of a woman and her baby in one of the Internally Displaced Persons camp in Borno state for a side by side comparison and these Chibok girls, who had been living rough inside Sambisa forest looked well fed, well groomed and buxom while the woman in the IDP camp looked haggard and hungry. It leaves you questioning who has been in captivity and who has been free. How is this possible?

This is not the first time Chibok girls have been released. Almost exactly a year ago, just a week before the current Nigerian administration marked its first year in office some Chibok girls were also released. Another batch were released in October 2016. The thing is that when these girls are released there is a media blackout on them. No one is allowed near them to interview them.

I understand that they have gone through an ordeal, but Malala also went through a similar or even worse ordeal and no one shielded her from the press. Malala Yousafzai was shot at age 15 by the taliban and left unconscious. She survived and she was threatened by the taliban who threatened to kill her should they catch her. Her case was one of clear and present danger. Yet she was not sequestered from the public even though, like the Chibok girls, her English was not so good at first. In fact, an international press tour was arranged for her placing her on the world stage and kickstarting the activism that earned her a Nobel Prize making her the youngest person ever to be so awarded.

One would have thought that that is what would have played out for the released girls.

Last October, 21 Chibok girls were release by Boko Haram after negotiations. Till date, these girls have been kept from the press. Even their own parents are not allowed access to them according to a New York Times piece on them published on March 11, 2017. The girls are kept in S safe house according to the New York Times. During the Christmas holidays they were allowed to visit Chibok but were housed in the home of a “top politician”. Their parents were only allowed to ‘visit them’. Soldiers guarded the girls and after some hours asked the parents of the girls to leave.

Let me say again that I am glad that they have been released and I pray that the remaining captives are also released but questions remain and when you attempt to raise them, you are shouted down by suspected members of the Buhari Media Center that Farooq Kperogi warned us about.

Reno’s Nuggets:

And now for my nugget of the week.

A woman who is looking for a perfect husband will never marry, for there are no perfect men, few good men and many regular men. In fact, foolish women fall for men who know how to pleasure them. Wise women go for men who know how to treasure them. A refined girl is better than a fine girl because fineness fades fast with age but refinement improves as you mature. And finally, whether you are a man or a woman, don’t be ashamed of your background. Focus on improving your future. Jesus was born in an animal barn but now lives in heaven #RenosNuggets

Reno Omokri is a Christian TV talk show host and founder of the Mind of Christ Christian Center and the Helen and Bemigho Sanctuary for orphans. He is the author of three books, Shunpiking: No Shortcuts to God, Why Jesus Wept and Apples of Gold: A Book of Godly Wisdom. His book, Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years: Chibok, 2015 and Other Conspiracies, is set for release in June.

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Opinion

COVID-19: Time For Buhari To Replace His Mercedes With Innoson

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By SKC Ogbonnia

The consensus around the world is that the lessons from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) would provoke commonsense among Nigerian leaders to harness the full potential of their local economy, but this dream may never come close, if President Muhammadu Buhari does not lead by example.

A defining theme of my foray into the 2019 presidential race is that Nigeria’s problem is not as complex as commonly imagined. For the problem is neither the lack of natural resources nor human resources. It certainly has nothing to do with good visions or the enabling policies. The Nigerian endemic problem is squarely the failure to influence the efficient implementation of the policies towards the greater good.

It is not surprising, therefore, that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Buhari demonstrated visionary leadership by declaring that Nigeria will henceforth promote and patronize made-in-Nigeria products over foreign goods. Buhari’s vision is laudable and mirrors the case of Asian countries, particularly China and India, which for several decades banned a good number of foreign products to enable their local industries to thrive. Today, both Asian nations have become economic envy of the world.

Interestingly, not long after the made-in-Nigeria policy went public, instead of patronizing Innoson Motors, the sole local auto manufacturing outfit, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) hurriedly approved a whopping sum of N683, 613 million for purchase of 19 Made-In-Japan Toyota vehicles for the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).

According to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the justification for the abrupt breach of the policy is that the need for the foreign vehicles predated the COVID-19 pandemic. As if her logic lacks in folly, the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, followed that the approval became necessary, because “it’s the first time in four years that NPA was buying any vehicle.”

The simple takeaway from both Ahmed and Amaechi is that Nigerian leaders embrace lunacy as legacy. This goes without saying that the rationale behind the choice of the foreign vehicles over local brands has nothing to do with the common good. Instead, it has everything to do with the manic competition for financial profligacy among the different arms of the Nigerian government.

The decision by the Executive arm of government is merely to outdo the wastefulness synonymous with the Nigerian Legislature. The NPA squander dittoed the Senate, which not long ago rejected Innoson only to launder over N5 billion for Toyota brands. The House of Representatives would also double down to sink another N5 billion into Toyota Camry saloon cars in place of moderately priced Innoson jeeps that are specially designed and tested for the Nigerian roads.

This pattern of lavishness by public officials, particularly under the prevailing COVID-19 crisis, is plain cold-blooded. It is impunity going too far.

But President Muhammadu Buhari must own full blame. Though his call to patronize local products is commendable, he is neither able to influence his appointees to implement the policy nor able to lead by example himself. Rather than demonstrate patriotism, by proudly using the Made-in-Nigeria goods that he preaches, Buhari appears to be emulating the ostentatious style of the regime before him.

Mister Buhari should quickly revert to the tenets of his 2016 “Change Begins With Me” slogan. The core principle demands that he declares Innoson as the official brand for all government agencies, beginning with the Presidency. If a General Buhari, as a military head of state, could endear himself to the Nigerian people over 30 years ago, by embracing jagged foreign Peugeot—then assembled in Nigeria—as a badge of honor, it is only patriotic for him to replicate such gesture for wholly made-in-Nigeria vehicles.

It is worth mentioning, however, that the Innoson Motors is on record to have stated that the company has seen more patronage from the Buhari government than the one before it. That is commendable, at base. But the mediocrity of the previous regime can never be substituted as a gold standard for success.

President Buhari is a man widely known as ascetic and who assumed power on the mantra of revolutionary change. He should, therefore, embolden his change vision, as well as the authenticity of his policy on local goods, so that others can follow. The message, if it is not already explicit, is that the Nigerian president should, without further delay, replace his official car, a German-made Mercedes Benz, with a Nigerian-made Innoson brand.

The COVID-19 pandemic has combined to plunge Nigeria into an economic miasma and true change has become inevitable. The leaders can no longer afford to carry on business as usual. In short, besides leading by example, it has become imperative for President Buhari to remind public officials that the country risks a serious mass revolt, if they continue to swim in ocean of affluence while submerging the masses deeper and deeper into abject poverty and despair.

SKC Ogbonnia, a 2019 APC Presidential Aspirant, writes from Ugbo, Awgu, Enugu State. Twitter: @SKCOgbonnia

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Opinion

Let Me Shine!

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Nigeria

By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin

I am a little creature,
created to fulfill a special purpose on earth.
I am a product of human consummation.

I developed first as a foetus, and progressed gradually,
into a living being composed of a spirit, soul, and a body.

I am the long awaited bundle of joy,
A symbol of conjugal completeness,
A magical color that beautifies Marital vows.

I brought joy, happiness, and change of status to the family I was delivered to.
I was the reason behind the bright moon smiles on faces.
I was cherished, loved, and cared for at my arrival.

Now that my parents desire to have me has been granted.
I have just “One wish”.
Just one wish and I’ll be fine.

One wish to express my inert dreams.
One wish to be ‘Me’.
One wish to leave an indelible mark on the sand of time.

One wish to dazzle like Diamond.
One wish to shine forth as Gold.

Please, strengthen me when I’m weak.
Counsel me when I’m discouraged.
Hold my hands often, and affirm your love to me.

Just like houseplants,
Nurture me to grow on the right path.
Do not spare the rod when I’m wrong.

Release me like an Eagle when the time is right.
No matter the heights I’ll reach,
I will forever remain your little child.
Let me Shine!

Dedicated to Children all over the world, in celebration of May 27th, 2020 Children’s Day

HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY!

Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE.

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Opinion

An Open Letter To Governor Ifeanyi Okowa

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Your Excellency Sir,

This open letter is a direct response to the official press statement that was made by the secretary to the state Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie on the 19th of May. In the press release, he announced that the government of Delta State is putting measures in place in other to establish a security organization which will be positioned to combat the rising insecurity in the State. I agree with your decision considering the porous security situation in the country and coupled with the covert moves of the powers that be to export hundreds of Almajiri folks to states that are unconnected to their political and economic misery.

Indeed, your decision is commendable but there is an observable error in it. This error is not telling good about us. Gains will not be made if what was mentioned in that press statement should come to be. People who are fighting for survival must apply common sense when it comes to their security. This letter is simply designed to remind you that the idea to include some Northerners into the yet to be established Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution calls for a serious concern.

Your Excellency Sir, there won’t be any need for me to start schooling you again about insecurity in the country. You are the chief security officer of your state and moreover you duly understand the security situation in the whole of Nigeria. I still don’t understand the rationale behind the planned inclusion of some Northern extraction into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. After examining the decision, I can prognosticate dark days ahead. Things are not done that way. The decision of your government is somewhat misplaced and makes us to look like people who can’t do things on their own.

Dark days are truly ahead. We the Easterners should stop acting to love Nigeria more than others when at the end the people whom we are trying to align ourselves to doesn’t care about our ‘one Nigerianness’. Damning this mentality of ‘let’s do it this way so that nobody will see us as divisive people’ is one necessary thing that must be done. We owe no one apology or explanation on how we can go about our security in as much as it’s done according to the extant laws. Perhaps, it’s a matter of survival and not a cry for political correctness!

There is hisbah police in the North and Amotekun in the Southwest, how many Easterner can we see both in Hisbah and Amotekun security formations or any of their affiliated committees? Can they even conceive such dastardly idea? These people for a minute don’t trust us but we easily trust and unnecessarily engage them into sensitive issues about us. This is a country that thrive on suspicion. No oneness! No trust! So I wonder what your government is planning to achieve by getting these Northerners involved in the so called committee. Don’t quote me wrong. I’m not trying to say that your government shouldn’t engage the stakeholders in consultation when it comes to matters like this. But the main point is that limitations should be defined in sensitive issues like the one at hand. Some people are meant to stand outside while certain problems about us are being discussed.

We know the solution to farmers and herders clashes in the region. Open grazing should be completely banned in the state. A defined space should be made available for grazing of cows. 24 hours surveillance should be mounted in the place. Any herder caught with firearms should be arrested and prosecuted without minding who is infuriated or not. As the chief security of your state, you are constitutionally responsible for the security of your constituents. Adequate security decisions and actions should be made to work in consonance with the present security reality.

On several occasions, the marauding herders have killed and displaced hundreds of farmers in the Eastern region with little or no actions by the governors to arrest the escalating tension. Without minding the damage the activities of the herders have caused on the region, you unfortunately fell to the trick of wanting to involve a total stranger into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. It is unacceptable Sir! That decision can blatantly result to self sabotage.

However, when Hisbah was formed, no Easterner was there. And when Amotekun was constituted, they never invited an Easterner to be a member of any committee so why are we inviting strangers into important issues about us? Remember, he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon. The purported plan of involving some Northern elements into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution is a slap on us. The plan should be revised. There is no benefit in it. It will only complicate matters and magnify the arrogance of these tormentors. Don’t make the mistake of buying a baby lion that will grow and turn around to devour our flesh.

In conclusion Sir, I will suggest you reassemble your security tink tanks. All of you should sit and do a deep brainstorming on your decision. Weigh the future implications and make proper amendments. Let’s avoid the issue of had I known.

Yours sincerely

Kalu Nwokoro Idika

Kalu Nwokoro Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist. He can be reached via email: Kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com

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