SO YOU WANT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT OR GOVERNOR IN 2017..

OSHIOMHOLE VERSUS SOLUDO AT VANGUARD ECONOMIC FORUM.

THE IMF AND THE NIGERIAN ERGP

 

“Urgency is needed in implementing a coherent and credible package of monetary, fiscal and structural policies as the window for bold reforms is closing as the 2019 elections are fast approaching.” Gerry Rice, IMF Spokesman, in Reuters.

The International Monetary Fund, IMF, quite rightly, is concerned about the emergence of a coherent economic policy package which will not only bring an end to the current recession but which will propel the country to sustained economic growth of five to six per cent per annum. Given the nation’s population growth, still estimated at close to three per cent per annum, the minimum Gross Domestic Product, GDP, that will begin to provide hope for the future cannot be less than six per cent. The question is: has such a plan been developed?
The IMF is again right by pointing to the 2019 elections – which some might regard as still too far away. But, in reality, Nigerian elections start a full one a half years before Election Day. By December of 2017, Nigerian politicians would have abandoned governance partly and their time will be increasingly absorbed by politics. Government work eventually takes second place. Any comprehensive economic policy package which will take us through to 2019 had better been put in place before this year ends. Otherwise it will not receive the attention it deserves. At, any rate, the need for urgent economic recovery package is already very critical as the recent protest marches have revealed. Nigerians want improved economic conditions resulting in higher aggregate personal incomes and job creation as a minimum.

Other indices of economic recovery such as improved power supply, infrastructure, education, health services and personal security will also help create the impression of progress. The question, here again, is: has the Federal government started to work on them?
The answer to the two questions is: yes. Now, most readers, quite rightly, would ask the question: where are the signs of progress? It is a legitimate question. But, before providing the answer which hopefully will satisfy the IMF and fellow Nigerians, an observation is required.

The late Arthur Burns, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, under President Nixon, once made the point that if a nation allows a bad economic situation to persist for too long without correction, suddenly, there are no good options left. At the risk of being accused of repetition, it had been pointed out on this page as far back as September 2015, four months after the Buhari administration started its tenure, recession had already been predicted for 2016. But, at the time, Buhari had no cabinet and stubbornly refused to do so until last week of October 2015. Below, read the predictions about 2016 recession which were ignored by the new government.

THE RECESSION NEXT YEAR — 2016.

“Economy could slip into recession, CBN warns.”
PUNCH, September 23, 2015, p 31.

BEING ECONOMICAL WITH THE TRUTH

The report went on to state that “The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday warned that the country’s economy could slip into recession next year if proactive steps are not taken by the Federal Government to revive key sectors”. Ordinarily, people reading that statement, and believing it, would be excused for thinking that the CBN and Governor Emefiele don’t already know the same truths which render their statement more political and self-serving than economic. Unfortunately, the CBN and the Monetary Policy Committee already know that a recession in 2016 is inevitable.

The call for “proactive steps”, meaning vital fiscal policy, betrays their failure to level with Nigerians and the international community – the latter has a vital interest in our economy and its confidence in Nigeria is crucial to our recovery from impending recession.

The CBN knows better than anybody else that as China goes, so goes much of the global economy these days. A most recent survey showed that Chinese factory output had fallen to its lowest level in six and a half years. Big economies on the skid cannot be turned around in a hurry.

The same Central Bank is aware that exports of crude are expected to fall to 56.66 million barrels in November of this year. That is 1.89 million per day instead f the 2.04 million planned. December shipments are not expected to be significantly higher.
What sort of proactive steps can be taken between now and December to avert a total year decline from last year? Economics is not magic. Even if it is, where is the magician now?

THE ECONOMIC FACTS CONFRONTING US NOW.

The CBN and keen watchers of the Nigerian economy are aware that the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, announced that the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of the Nigerian economy grew by 2.35 per cent in the second quarter of this year – which ended in June. It was the second quarter in a row that the economy will record less than budgeted performance. Incidentally, 2.35 per cent growth, when the population continues to grow at close to 2.85 per cent, means that the average Nigerian is getting poorer.

Furthermore, the NBS projects that year-end GDP growth will be about 2.63 per cent. That is still less than half of the budgeted growth. Additionally, the third quarter is over and there was no economic stimulus to accelerate the rate of GDP growth from the abysmal 2.35 per cent recorded in the second quarter. As we enter the fourth quarter, the focus of the Buhari administration has been on fighting corruption and Boko Haram. Economic policy makers are not required for those.

There has been a distinct absence of focus on the economy as evidenced by the fact that neither a Chief Economic Adviser, CEA, nor a Minister of Finance, had been appointed. By contrast one of the first major appointments made by Obasanjo in 1999 was the CEA. Like it or not, a strong economy is the bedrock on which the nation stands. Neither corruption nor Boko Haram can be successfully fought if the economy is in shambles.”

That was in October of 2015 and the recession predicted came on schedule. Latest figures from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, indicate that the economy shrank by 1.5% last year. The bad news is, the economy contracted. The good news is that after a half-year decline of 2.3%, the end year result was better – meaning that the economy had started mending in the second half of 2016. The IMF and other keen observers are aware that total recovery cannot be guaranteed unless the Federal and state governments do more to hasten recovery. Rather than view the IMF’s call as meddlesomeness, Nigerians should regard it as a wake-up call to bring new proposals out that will make the nascent recovery sustainable.

Fortunately, the Federal government is frantically developing such a programme titled ECONOMIC RECOVERY and GROWTH PLAN, ERGP. Details are still sketchy, but, the general outlines are becoming quite clear.  From explanations received from highly reliable official sources, “The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, a Medium Term Plan for 2017-2020, builds on the SIP and is developed for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people – the nation’s most priceless assets. It is also articulated with the understanding that the role of government in the 21st century must evolve from that of being an omnibus provider of citizen’s needs into a force for eliminating the bottlenecks that impede innovations and market based solutions.”
That is a lot of promises which must be redeemed later if the latest attempt at achieving sustainable economic growth is not to end up as an empty trope of nice words based only on good intentions.
To be continued….

TIME TO RELEASE DASUKI, EL-ZAKZAKY AND KANU ON BAIL – 2

 

“I disapprove of what you say, but, I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire, 1694-1788.

The first part of this series called for the release on bail of Mr Kanu the leader of Igbos demanding the creation of Biafra. I stand with the agitators despite not being an Igbo man and with nothing to gain if the demand is actualized. It is a desperate attempt to obtain justice for Igbos in a country which had been unfair to them in many respects. Former President Obasanjo, recently called for Igbo presidency in 2019 and some self-deluded individuals rallied round him. They have forgotten that it was the same Obasanjo who allowed himself to be used by the military to snatch the Presidential ticket from Dr Alex Ekwueme in 1999 – something which would have healed the wounds of the Civil War forever. That was short-sightedness and selfishness combined. Kanu receives support from Igbos because people like Obasanjo failed to integrate them fully into the Republic when the chance occured.

From Kanu to El-Zakzaky is for me an easy step. The two are different in just about every respect – age, religion, ethnicity and the objectives they pursue. While Kanu and the actualization of Biafra will pose no danger to Christians, El-Zakzaky and the Shiite Muslims  portend danger not only to other Muslims but to Christians in particular. Before going into my reasons for asking for his release on bail let me briefly explain the religious component of his detention.

Islam, like Christianity started as one unit – Islam first under Prophet Muhammed, 570-632, and the second was the Catholic Church with the Pope at the head.The protestant movement resulted in the hundreds of sects now in existence. When Prophet Muhammed died Islam broke into tow sects – the Sunis and the Shiites. The details need not delay us here. Just as the emergence of other Christian sects provoked deadly conflict for centuries, the break-up of Islam has – until this day fuelled violence in all Islamic countries and around the world.

The Sunis which are in the majority worldwide regard the Shiites as “non-believers”; the Shiites in return call the Sunis “unIslamic”. Almost as soon as he returned to Iran after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini, called for the overthrow of the rulers of Saudi Arabia. All the murderous conflicts in the Middle East – Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey, and even Pakistan have Suni-Shiite struggle for dominance as their basis. Unfortunately, those conflicts appear set to last for centuries. Nigeria is now getting caught in that struggle for dominance.

Christianity and Islam are two of the religions of the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates river valleys which gained ground in Nigeria. Christians finished their own sectarian blood letting before they arrived here.  Islam is still in the throes of the violence induced by differences in the mode of worship by the two sects. Let me explain how that affects all of us – Christians, Muslims and non-believers.

El-Zakzaky and his small band of followers are Shiites. They are in the minority and they are the more intolerant Muslims. If by a miracle El-Zakzaky or any Shiite should become President tomorrow, they will not hesitate to turn Nigeria into an Islamic country. I am sure of that. Arraigned against them are the majority Sunis. The group includes the Sultan of Sokoto, virtually all the Emirs, President Buhari, the Minister for Justice, the Director of the DSS, virtually all the Muslim Special Advisers, Muslim military leaders, Ministers, Governors etc. El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna state is a Suni. By far the more tolerant of other religions, the majority Sunis reserve their venom for the Shiites – like dogs and cats.

The Nigerian constitution forbids government from adopting a state religion, it also impliedly forbids individuals holding top government positions from using those positions to further the interests of their own religious groups at the expense of justice being done and being seen to be done. President Buhari is a Suni and the Acting (Vice) President belongs to the Redeemed Church. None of them, or their subordinates should place themselves in a position where their neutrality in a matter affecting Muslims or Christians belonging to other sects is in question. At the moment, as a neutral observer and Christian, I find it difficult to see how El-Zakzaky can expect a fair trial and his followers obtain justice when all the most powerful officers of the Federal Government belong to the Suni sect and they are openly defying the courts of law which represent the last hope of all of us.

The only option open to President Buhari, if he is to be seen to uphold the constitution which made him President is to ask that El-Zakzaky be released on bail; to allow the case against him to be tried in an open court, preferably by a non-Muslim Justice, and let the facts speak for themselves. In fact, it is the only way the President can escape charges of persecution of Shiites by Sunis in Nigeria. That charge, if it sticks, will lead inexorably to at least three consequences.

First, it will escalate in Nigeria the global conflict between the two. The leading Shia controlled nations – Iran, Iraq, Syria – are watching closely. They will not allow their sect to be wiped out in Nigeria and they will provide all the funds and “weapons” required to keep the sect alive; and, they will continue to do so long after Buhari has left office – whether in 2019 or 2023. As the great Nelson Mandela had reminded us in the title of his book – “Time is longer than rope.” Buhari has limited “rope”; Shiites have unlimited time. Like the agitation for Biafra, unless handled with care and a desire for justice, even this one will outlast his grip on power.

Second, if pushed to the wall and allowed to believe that the Federal Government of Nigeria is against them, the descent to self-help and self-protection will be rapid. If care is not taken, by refusing to allow the rule of law to flourish, we might finish the Boko Haram conflict only to start another one – right in the heart of the North. That uprising will not only be more extensive, it will destroy a lot more. Kaduna state controls more of the nation’s assets than four northern states combined.

Third, the government and its Suni advisers, inadvertently, are creating the environment for future reprisals. Given Nigeria’s dynamic and unpredictable political terrain, nobody can be certain that a Shiite will not emerge President in the future. Once religious bias is accepted as government policy and a precedent is established, governments in the future will follow the examples set today. The victims are now totally unpredictable. Certainly, the descendants of El-Rufai and El-Zakzaky have become sworn enemies and, given the opportunity, the foundation had been laid for vendetta in the future. Anybody who thinks that the personal aspects of the present face-off will end when Buhari and El-Rufai leave office must be self-deluded. The question is: should he want to leave such a legacy which might come to haunt his descendants – all because he refuses to obey court rulings?

Let me close this part by reminding the reader that defending El-Zakzaky, who I know hate Christians and perhaps even Southerners is easy for me because upholding democratic principles demands that one should stand up for even people one disagrees with on fundamental issues. The “charity” in this case is not complete if it is extended to those we love. Early in 1999, when President Obasanjo authorized the release of N10 billion to Chief Tony Anenih for the Poverty Alleviation Programme, PAP, without approval from the National Assembly, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, called for OBJ’s impeachment. Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State, representing AD, and playing the ethnic card, announced that Nzeribe was “persona non grata in Lagos State”. I replied Tinubu that he had no powers under the constitution to ban any Nigerian from entering Lagos and that Nzeribe was right to ask for impeachment. Years later, Obasanjo repaid Tinubu with his characteristic ingratitude.

Nigeria would have saved trillions stolen from 1999 to 2007 if OBJ had been cautioned by the National Assembly. Yet, I regarded Nzeribe as one of the most despicable politicians of that era. Undoubtedly the Shiites constitute a threat; but far worse than their own is to allow executive lawlessness to flourish in Nigeria.

WHY SHOULD NIGERIA EXTRADITE SEN. KASHAMU TO THE US? – 2.

“The main purpose of [American] foreign policy is to persuade [or coerce] other countries to do what we want.”. Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State.
The statement by Mrs Albright, Secretary of State under President Clinton, slightly modified, represents what all of American Foreign policy seeks to do – to persuade or coerce other nations of the world to accept by force or fraud what America wants done in their country.  Invariably, all they want done is whatever in the best interest of America. All presidents of the US subscribe to this fundamental policy. The differences had only been on the approach.

Most try bribery – foreign aid, soft loans, contributions in time of national disaster, grants etc. When that fails they try aggression starting with economic warfare – trade embargoes, exclusion from markets etc. When that fails they resort to subversion of the country, and when that fails they actually go to war with the country involved.  Hypocritical as they often are, their support for democracy in other countries is strongly situational. A democratically elected government, if it resists their overtures to dictate to his country can be overthrown by the US Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, which readily does business with a dictator who is regarded as “friendly” – meaning a stooge of the US. The history of Iran, which is currently in the black books of America offers a classic example of American duplicity.

Only recently did the CIA finally admit that it undertook the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953. In a document titled “The Battle for Iran”, the CIA in the internal CIA history recorded the following. “The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of the government.” What was Mosaddeq’s sin? He wanted the best deal for Iranian oil from American oil companies which were cheating – just as International Oil Companies, IOCs, have been cheating Nigeria from Oloibiri till today. The de-classified documents revealed that Britain’s MI6 collaborated with the CIA to get rid of Mosaddeq, who was regarded as a threat to their economic interests after the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was nationalized by the government of Iran. Mosaddeq was replaced with the Shah of Iran, an American stooge and a dictator but who was kept in power by the US until 1979 when the Iranian revolution led by the Ayatollas swept off the American stooge. The US has not forgiven Iran till today for standing up to it.

I have gone to great lengths to expose the often peddled propaganda that America believes in democracy and the rule of law. Nothing can be further from the truth. Globally, America allies itself with nations it can manipulate and opposes those that are independent. Those are regarded as enemies.

In its arrogance of morality, the US does not trust any other nation in the world to sit in judgment over an American citizen – irrespective of the charges or the evidence. Once an American lands in the US, no extradition treaty can bring him out to be tried elsewhere in the world.  Consequently, the so-called extradition treaty which the US relies upon to have citizens of other nations returned to the US for trial had been a one-sided affair. America can request for a Kenyan or an Indian to be brought from his country for trial; but, Kenya or India cannot do the same. That, to me is an international insult which Nigeria must resist in the case of Senator Buruji Kashamu.

In fact, recent events have reinforced the feeling that no Nigerian and this Nigerian in particular, will not get justice. The election of Fuhrer Donald Trump as American President and the executive orders he had signed, as well as other utterances of his have revealed America’s hypocrisy more than ever before. Trump hates Africans and other people of colour. Kashamu is an African. He detests Muslims intensely. Buruji is a Muslim. Trumps cabinet is full of those generally described as “red necks”. His Attorney General has a long record of racist utterances. Yet, that is the man who will receive out fellow Nigerian and assign his case to a “hanging judge”. A fat cat dropped into the midst of half a dozen hungry cats has a better chance of surviving the ordeal than Kashamu in Trump’s America.

Finally, the same Madeleine Albright had made the point that the primary duty of every American government is to protect Americans wherever they may be. That is why no US government will give up its own citizen. It is not too much to ask that every Nigerian government and this one in particular, should adopt the same position. What this means is quite clear, Nigeria should not extradite a Nigerian citizen to any nation which does not believe in reciprocity.
To be continued.

P.S. I am grateful to Barrister Biodun Ajao, whose photocopy of a document titled “CIA admits role in 1953 Iranian coup” came in the nick of time for this second part to be written. Egbon, I know you are reading this. Accept my deepest appreciation. With help from people like you Senator Kashamu will not go anywhere near the US. He belongs in the National Assembly serving Nigeria.

GLOBALISATION OF MARKETS AND WESTERN DUPLICITY

 

“In today’s global markets, you don’t have to go abroad to experience international competition. Sooner or later, the world comes to you. The global market place is information based. Knowing how to learn is the central skill that allows a company to move up the value curve. The trick is to protect the past while building the future.”
Harvard Business Review. HBR, March-April 2003.
VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, P 75.

The first tentative ideas about globalization of markets  originated in the US at Harvard Business School, HBS, where people like Professor Theodore Levy were pushing the idea of open markets worldwide. In the beginning it was an idea promoted by the West and Japan, who were dominant in the global economy. They had the lead on everything which could assist them in dominating world trade – computers, ICT networks and human resource development capacities, among others. But, by 1993, even believers from other nations were beginning to buy the idea of globalization.
In 1993, an Indian manager was writing in support of globalization in the same HBR, March-April 1993. In his words, “Think global and act local” goes the saying, but that is only half the truth. International managers must also think local and then apply their local insights on a local scale.” With Americans leading the universal crusade and everybody attending HBS swallowing the pill, it soon became the Holy Grail of economic policy everywhere. To make it more palatable for the world to swallow the dubious medicine, the US generously supplied the funds to nations willing or eager to accept it. And, those nations grew rapidly – especially the nations of South East Asia whose successes were then advertised as the way to go.

The same trick was tried in Africa. But, our leaders being generally unimaginative and selfish did not even realize that they would have had more money to steal by helping their nations to bake bigger cakes. They were contented to steal from the small piece of cake. That was their tragedy and ours – because we never had a chance to experience the inflow of vast amounts of  dollars on the same scale as the Asian Tigers and even tiny Singapore. Today, however, what was a tragedy in the last forty years might now be turning out to be a blessing in disguise. The US, UK and some nations of Western Europe are now getting ready to disclaim the globalization they once actively promoted. The question is: why?

One article will not sufficiently allow us to discuss all the worldwide ramifications of globalization. So readers can expect more articles as events unfold in the future because the turnaround by the West on a policy they once championed will have long term implications for the Nigerian economy. The younger the reader is, the more he is urged to follow the series as it goes on. Even Nigerian economic policy makers are asked to pay attention because failure to prepare Nigeria for a future that is rapidly unfolding will bring another series of disastrous consequences.

Only one country, in the entire world refused to be bullied into accepting totally the principles of globalization as advanced by the West. That nation was China. Its people partially closed their borders; determined their own long term goals and development plans; poured funds into education and research; selectively borrowed ideas from the world – especially the US, Germany and Japan. They then worked on the improvement of those ideas; mixed them with Chinese local innovation and today have emerged the second largest economy racing to be number one.

It is the rise of China to economic leadership, now and in the future, which had thrown Western leaders like “Fuhrer” Donald Trump of the US, “Mussolini” May of the UK and “Copy Cat” Pen of France of France into a frenzy. They can foresee a future in which white people no longer dominate the world and dictate to coloured races; and instead, they will be dominated. For them that future is real and scary. China had risen to global economic leadership by, first, rejecting the dictates of globalization. Then, after China had sufficiently strengthen itself, it had accepted globalization and it is forcing the West to take the poison they forced the poor nations of the world to swallow – for their own benefit.

What China saw right from the start, which escaped the rest of the world, became more apparent to the South East Asian countries later. Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, made two observations in his global best seller, FROM THIRD WORLD TO FIRST. First, he wrote, “None of the leaders [of South East Asia] realized the implications of the globalized financial market of instant communications between the main financial centres of the world – New York, London, Tokyo –and their representatives in the capitals of East Asia. The inflow of funds from the industrial countries brings not only benefits of high growth but also the risk of a sudden outflow of these funds.” [Underlining mine].

Nigeria is currently experiencing the implications of that statement by Yew. When crude oil sold for $110-145 per barrel, there was no scarcity of dollars on account of huge Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, flowing into the oil sector. As crude prices started the slide downwards the International Oil Companies, IOCs, first reduced the inflow of FDI; then they started selling their less profitable oil blocs and repatriating their funds – IN DOLLARS!! Today, the inflow of FDI into the oil sector had stopped almost completely. Outflow is increasing.

Why is Nigeria in this predicament? The answer can partly be found in the diagnosis of the problems of the South East Asian countries when they had their fianacial crisis. As Yew rightly observed, “In a globalized economy, where Americans and Europeans set the rules [underlining mine], through the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and other multilateral organizations, it is wasteful to use capital without regard to market forces.” Until recently, the West set the rules and ensured they were in its favour; they established several global organizations as referees, confident that they will always win the game. They also encouraged wasteful spending in places like Nigeria – NNPC is example. It never occurred to them that any country outside the global “cabal” will rise up, despite the deliberate disadvantages placed in their ways by the West. But, today BRICKS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, Korea (South) and South Africa – had stepped up to challenge the West and they are winning. The temper tantrums of Trump, May, Pen and others wanting to overturn globalization is akin to a cheater at a card game who keeps losing despite his unethical behaviour suddenly getting up and wanting to end the game prematurely or wants the rules changed once again. The West is losing badly in a game they started, and forcefully promoted worldwide. They are poor losers. Mrs May needs to be reminded that Britain originated the beautiful game of football, but, it has only one miserable World Cup to show for it. Sportsmen/women, unlike politicians don’t change the rules of the game when they are losing. Only unethical politicians do that.  Globalisation has failed because it had created a larger pool of “Have-nots” in the world compared to “Haves”. It is partly fuelling global terrorism today by increasing the number of those who have nothing to lose.

TIME TO RELEASE DASUKI, EL-ZAKZAKY ON BAIL.

Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1856-1941.
Justice Brandeis was the first Jew to sit on the US Supreme Court after decades of discrimination by anti-Semitic whites in an America where the Founding Fathers hypocritically pronounced that “all men are created equal”. Brandeis remains one of the most widely quoted justices anywhere in the world – ranking with Felix Frankfurter, 1882-1965. He provides the basis for the request to President Buhari to bow to the rule of law and release the three individuals on the bails granted them by various courts. Rumours have it that the President is acting on the advice of the Directorate of State Services, DSS. But, in no democracy, worthy of being so called, can the security agencies have the power to overrule a court of law. The Nigerian constitution has not established the DSS or the Presidency as a court of last resort to determine the fate of individuals charged with any offence whatsoever. So, bowing to the dictates of the DSS is a violation of the rule of law and Buhari is setting the sort of bad example which Brandeis cautions governments and their leaders against.
A situation like this invariably calls for more background information before examining the issues pertaining to the three individuals concerned. Much earlier than Brandeis in the US Supreme Court, and before the world was led by Presidents and Prime Ministers, kings and queens reigned wielding absolute powers over the lives of the citizens. That changed with time. The details of the Magna Charta, which in 13th century Britain, brought an end to the “divine rights of kings” brought an end to the maximum power of kings and queens.
“The king himself ought not to be subject to man [or men and women], but, subject to God and to the law, because the law makes him king.” Bractor, English philosopher, 13th century. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 120).
Buhari is President, not only because people voted, but, because there is a constitution and a set of laws which led to his proclamation as President. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, God bless him, bowed out gracefully because the same constitution and set of laws say he must. He did not decide to pick and choose which laws to obey; he probably never even asked his National Security Adviser, NSA or the Director of DSS. He subjected himself to God and the law. Had he not, it is quite possible we would be engaged in a civil war now. The truth is, there are some decisions that are private and personal and not subject to the opinions of advisers. Most top officials are self-seeking; they want power and would not allow ethical or legal considerations from getting in the way of their ambitions.
At any rate, on May 29, 2015, it was “I Buhari” alone who took the oath of office. He sought no advice from anyone about agreeing to the terms of holding office. The constitution does not recognize the role of the DSS in whether or not the President will obey the law as laid down by the courts. So, it amounts to passing the buck to point to “security advice” as reason to break the law. During the Watergate case which resulted in the resignation of President Nixon from office, the charge of “Executive lawlessness” was personal to Nixon – not shared with any one else. The President, like any Chief Executive Officer, CEO, takes responsibility for any advice that is offered and implemented by him.
“A precedent embalms a principle.” William Scott, 1745-1816. (VBQ p 198).
Politicians are invariably short-sighted. They think only of the next election. Statesmen are more visionary. Nigeria is in a mess because we have a huge surplus of politicians and no statesman in sight. They establish precedents by their actions which will later boomerang against them. Three examples will prove the point – the 1976 decree promulgated by Obasanjo, defection by elected officials and Federal allocation withheld from a state. The eternally self-righteous but unwise former President was involved in all three and we have all lived to see the boomerang.
The decree General Obasanjo signed in 1976 aimed at nailing Gowon but which got only Dimka and Bissala was later slightly amended by Abacha and it would have sent Obasanjo to the firing squad if the entire world had not begged for his life. In 2001, late Senator Wahab Dosumu became the first member of the newly-elected Senate to defect from the Alliance for Democracy, AD, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP without resigning first and seeking a fresh mandate from the people of Lagos State who elected him. Instead of acting like the Father of the Nation and asking Dosumu to go and do the right thing Obasanjo joined others in welcoming him with open arms. He had since been joined by others. When short-sighted Obasanjo’s Vice President, Atiku, decamped to the Action Congress in 2007, without resigning and still kept his post of VP, it was another example of how immoral and illegal precedents might come to haunt those who promote them.
Third, it was the same Obasanjo who withheld Federal allocations to Lagos State despite Supreme Court order. The PDP applauded the action. Why is Governor Fayose, PDP, of Ekiti State now complaining that the Federal government is withholding N1 billion from the state? A stupid father will sooner or later get his children into trouble by the precedents he sets. The point of all these is to issue a warning to President Buhari about establishing precedents regarding executive lawlessness. You never know who might be the victim of the boomerang.
Let us now turn our attention to the three Nigerians who are now being detained by the government despite court approved bail. The last two are the easiest to deal with. So, we start with Kanu.
“Let my people go” is a demand that had been made, since the dawn of history, by those who in any country or community have felt they were unjustly treated by others. The most famous was the rebellion by the descendants of Abraham against their Egyptian overlords with Moses leading them. Since the Second World War ended, India after gaining independence broke up into India and Pakistan and later East Pakistan went its way and became Bangladesh. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, broke up under President Gorbachev into fourteen separate countries. The skies did not fall.
Nigeria today was not the same Nigeria the British amalgamated in 1914. The original Nigeria included Southern Cameroun. But, on account of incessant agitation by the people to rejoin their kit and kin in the North, a plebiscite was organized. The people were allowed to vote to decide whether to remain in Nigeria or go. They elected to go. Again the sky did not fall.
Right now, in California, USA, signatures are being gathered by people who want the State to get out of the United States and become a separate country. That might happen if they collect enough votes. It might also trigger similar demands by other states. So, it is quite possible that by the end of the century the USA will have less than forty-five states constituting it. There is no need to list all the examples of nations that had been established for a while and had split up to form new nations.
The truth is that the right to self-determination is one that people have always claimed down the ages and will continue to assert despite the usual opposition of those in government to it. Agitators for the creation of Biafra are doing nothing different than all the others in the past and present. At any rate their demand for autonomy is among the rights covered by the United Nations and other international bodies where Nigeria is a member. To deny people within our borders rights we uphold in the UN places us among lawless and hypocritical nations which operate on the principle of might is right. It shouldn’t be.
Buhari is not the first President or Head of State to assert that the “unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable”. From Gowon’s “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” to the present policy of officially authorized massacre of protesters in the South East, Nigerian governments had adopted force as the instrument for resolving an issue which elsewhere had been settled without any head being broken – talk less of somebody dying.
Lest anybody reading this should assume that the support for peaceful resolution and the rights of Biafra people is new, let me quickly point out that when President Obasanjo made the same claim about the indivisibility of Nigeria, I reminded him that neither his father, nor my father, both born before 1900 were born Nigerians. They became Nigerians because Lord Lugard and his girl friend said so. The poser to all of us is this: if an imperialist could tag us Nigerians without our consent, why can’t we freely re-examine the situation and determine whether or not we still want to remain together as Nigerians.
The bloodless way to approach this matter is the referendum giving all the parties the right to decide their fates. Instead of killing innocent Igbos, we should organise a peaceful referendum for all Igbos old enough to vote. We should let them decide if they really want to leave the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Those for and those against should be allowed to campaign freely and there should be none of the tricks we play in other elections. At any rate, this is not a party affair.
But, first the Federal Government should eschew executive lawlessness in this matter. Mr Kanu had been arrested and charged to court. To be quite candid I don’t know what for? If Kanu is a criminal, so were people like Pa Michael Imoudu, the Labor leader who used the weapon of national strike to promote the demand for our independence. So was Musa or Moses who we adore for leading the revolt against constituted authority. Perhaps, it has never occurred to us that nobody rebels against any authority based on justice and fairness. Agitators for Biafra have a solid point. The rest of us have not fully accepted them as equals when political leadership is at stake. The failure of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to field Dr Alex Ekwueme, the leading candidate and the substitution of Obasanjo by the military robbed the nation of a golden chance to actually prove “no victor, no vanquished”. We are paying for it.
Finally, the FG will lose at last. You can’t kill ideas with guns. Another Kanu will rise until we face the truth and let justice reign. The fellow might be an irritant to some, but, that is democracy for you. Holding him is worse and will go down in history as one of the rapes of our democracy.
To be continued…

MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT IS STARTING A QUIET REVOLUTION IN THE SOUTHWEST.

“Lagos-Ibadan rail project to start this month” News Report.

When Buhari announced his cabinet members and granted the Ministers portfolios, nobody could have selected the Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi as the minister most likely to succeed in the first term. Compared with appointees from the Southwest and Southeast who had received rave reviews as governors of their states or prolific National Publicity Secretaries, Amaechi apparently had no chance to top the class of 2015 Ministers. To make matters worse, the controversies over the 2015 budget, the frustration over power supply and crazy bills, exchange rate which seems to be flying higher like a kite, loan requests, security issues, and now officially acknowledged food scarcity have all combined to make Nigerians forget the fact that transport is still one of the three most vital services governments provide and it is the second most powerful glue (money is first) binding all economic activities. It deserves more attention than it is getting from most economic and social commentators. Starting today, transport will receive the attention it deserves.

Fortunately, not all of us have lost focus. When the Buhari administration clocks its second year in office on May 29, 2017, one Minister will be able to beat his chest that his Ministry has made significant progress. More than that Amaechi and Buhari are about to leave one of the longest lasting legacies in the Southwest and South-South corner of Nigeria – starting with the West.

It is quite possible that neither the President nor the Minister is aware of the scope of economic, social and political transformation that will eventually occur as a result of the proposed rail lines. At the moment, the positive changes that will occur over the years are immeasurable because this writer is still grappling with finding the metrics needed to measure the impact of the changes which are inevitable. The conclusions reached in this first article are therefore tentative. More research will have to be conducted to determine the scale and scope of the economic, social and political benefits that Nigerians will enjoy when the rail lines between Ibadan and Lagos and Lagos to Calabar start rolling.

We start with the Lagos-Ibadan line because it is easier for a lot of people to understand the issues here on account of having to live daily with the consequences of having clueless governments in the past.

A train carrying 2100 passengers conveys as many people as 150 standard 14-seater buses or 420 cars fully loaded with five people in greater comfort and safety than any of those buses and cars can. Accidents and losses of life and assets will also be sharply reduced. Again, we will over time determine the benefits in there regards.

It also carries the added advantage that insurance companies can vie for train accident insurance for passengers covering injuries and death – benefits which cannot now be offered to travelers. Every bus taken off the road as a result of more reliable train service reduces the wear and tear on the roads and traffic congestion. All these have enormous economic results which need to be determined as soon as possible for the people to understand what a dramatic transformation is about to take place along that route.

Yet, the basketful of benefits has not been exhausted. The first people to grasp the enormity of this revolutionary idea are people from Ibadan working in Lagos and those along the route of the train line – especially those renting houses in Lagos. Shortly after the Honourable Minister announced the plan to introduce the Lagos-Ibadan rail service, a series of interviews were conducted with people from Ibadan working in Lagos. Unanimously, they are planning to return home to Ibadan and commute everyday to work in Lagos. The same is true of people along the entire route of the rail service. Here again the benefits are numerous but a few will be sufficient for now.

First, week-end mothers and fathers can now spend all week long with their families and still work at their present jobs. Nobody knows at the moment how many people will seize the opportunity to relocate home. But, it is a safe bet that close to half a million will gladly return home to spend more time with their families. Here again a well-organised study will be required to ascertain the likely number of commuters wanting to use the service. Nothing will create monumental problems than for far more people to show up than the trains can accommodate.

Second, the mass transfer of thousands of tenants from Lagos to other places along the route will reduce the pressure on social services in Lagos State in the first instance. And, it might halt the upward spiral of rents in Lagos. At any rate the people who will relocate to places where rents are far lower than in Lagos will have more discretionary income to spend. They will eat better food; spend more on health and the education of their kids. In a few years, living in Lagos will be a luxury which the people along those routes will no longer want to afford.

Will you need a car in Lagos, if you live at Ibadan and commute to Lagos? It is doubtful. Those of us who lived in suburban US communities and went to work with trains knew that we packed the car at a parking lot at the station and went to the city without it. That is likely to be the fate of most people who relocate to other places and come by train to Lagos. Eventually, more vehicles will move out of Lagos and traffic hold-ups will be reduced somewhat. How much is difficult to say at the moment. But, traffic reduction will certainly occur. Even Lagos roads will experience some relief from wear and tear.

People just don’t move. For good or ill they move their habits and lifestyles with them as much as possible. Schools, churches and service providers in Lagos will experience movement of their clients and congregations. But, one community’s loss is another community’s gain. Incomes will be redistributed all over the area and new opportunities will open up. Among them are direct bus services from the train terminal to designated areas of Lagos and return journey. Vendors of various goods and services – newspapers, food and drinks etc, will, under licence have thousands of potential customers delivered to the station all day long instead of having to hunt for them in drenching rains and burning sun.

Mark my words; in ten years time people will be asking why nobody ever thought of this before. May be then they will erect monuments to Buhari and Amaechi.

OPEN LETTER TO MRS AISHA BUHARI ON PRAYERS FOR PRESIDENT.

 

“Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle; every prayer reduces itself to this: Great God grant that twice two not be four.” Ivan Turgenev, 1818-1883.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, P 198).

Madam, I read your appeal in the newspapers on Sunday, February 12, 2017 asking Nigerians that “We should not relent in our prayers and good deed” for President Buhari. As far as I am concerned, the fact that he is your husband is not entirely relevant. Like John Donne, 1571-1631, it is my belief that “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved with mankind.”  I will never pray for your husband’s death – or that of any other man for that matter.

However, I am a leader in a prayer house established in 1939 called the MASSEY MORNING DAILY PRAYING BAND, MMDPB, located at 2, Massey Street, Lagos Island, where every blessed morning people gather at 5.50 am until 6.30 am to pray for themselves as well as others. Permit me to say that, although I don’t wear it on my sleeves and try to make money out of it, I have a gift for occasional prophecy. I will need two or three more pages to list some of the prophecies I have made on these pages. But the one that should be interest to you are the series on “OPEN LETTER TO MRS TURAI YAR”ADUA in 2009. You can request for them from VANGUARD office if you like and determine for yourself whether or not this is another charlatan writing. Mrs Yar’Adua ignored all the warnings in those letters and the consequences have become part of our history.

Massey praying band had already started praying for Buhari, for reasons to be disclosed shortly, but there is a problem which requires your attention and guidance. We strongly believe that people should be careful about their prayer requests; otherwise they might have their prayers answered and regret later. We expect anyone to be clear about what the prayer points will be.

In the case of President Buhari, asking people to pray for him is to us not as advisable as it appears. Different individuals, all over Nigeria, and the world will offer what they regard as the appropriate prayer for Buhari. Surprisingly, most of them might not be the prayers Buhari wants offered to Allah on his behalf. As an incumbent President, it is safe to assume that he wants his health restored so that he can return to office to complete the rest of the term. It can also be safely assumed that he would want to leave a positive legacy, meaning leave Nigeria better than he found it, at the end of the term. Let me stick my neck out and state that it is in the interest of all well-meaning Nigerians that both of those prayers should be answered. The consequences of the failure of our collective prayers on those two prayer points had better not be contemplated. Even his most ardent political opponents must agree that there is no better alternative than Buhari finishing this term on a positive note. I personally have hope and pray everyday for those two to happen despite the difficulties we face at the moment.

Given some similarities in the cases involving Yar’Adua and Buhari some people might take the attitude that Yar’Adua departed without finishing his term and the skies did not fall, so why make a fuss over Buhari completing his own? I totally agree with the first part of the question. Nothing significant occurred when Yar’Adua left us. But, I disagree with the underlying impression that we will have another peaceful transition if Buhari “steps aside”.

The reason is simple. Yar’Adua was not as crucial to the Peoples Democratic Party’s, PDP, victory in 2007 as Buhari was to the All Progressive Congress, APC, in 2015. The PDP could have fielded Makarfi, Attah, Kwakanso etc and the party still would probably have won. The opposition was so weak then. By contrast, the APC was in opposition and nobody would seriously dispute that the party would have lost the 2015 election if anybody else but Buhari was the presidential candidate. Furthermore, Yar’Adua’s departure did not lead immediately to the dis-integration of the PDP; that came latter. Buhari’s departure, for any reason whatsoever, will break the APC into warring camps. So, the nation needs Buhari, at least until 2017, more than he needs us. He, meanwhile, needs Allah. That is why we will pray in our small church for him to last the distance.

Difficulties will arise if the request for prayer covers other matters other than the two listed above. One such possibility is prayer for second term. Constitutionally, Buhari, like any other elected President is entitled to run for a second term. Already, his current term had created a large pool of beneficiaries who want him to continue in order for them to continue to benefit. Given their selfish interest, they are not prepared to contemplate one term for Buhari – even if it means that, like Yar’Adua, he will be carried out feet first. Like vultures, these individuals, feeding on carrion, don’t give a damn if, bowing to medical advice, Buhari like President Mandela decides that one term is enough. Their predecessors, including some of our media colleagues, kept on deceiving Nigerians and perhaps Yar’Adua that he was indispensable long after the man had become a vegetable. They forget that all lies, with respect to human life have expiry dates.

If Yar’Adua had been a Christian, it was quite possible that the cabal holding him could have concealed his death for weeks. Allah was greater than all the liars. Yar’Adua, being Muslim, had to be buried within twenty four hours. End of conspiracy of lies. Are Nigerians also supposed to start praying for the second term when the burden of office is obviously proving too heavy to carry for a man close to 74; who will be close to 76 in 2019 and close to 80 in 2023? One of the lessons I learnt taking a course in Demographics, as an undergraduate in the university, in America, concerned what Omar Khayyam, 1123AD, called “the moving finger” which moves on relentlessly. Such is the life of every human being. Everyone gets older and weaker. There is absolutely no reason to think that a man weakly labouring under a burden at 74 will be better able to shoulder it at 80. So what should be the prayer point? That he should go home and rest at 76 or suffer more until 80?

Let me close this part of what might turn out to be a series. We will pray for Buhari to return to office able to undertake the assignments of the President of Nigeria until 2019 and to finish his term with positive legacies which will for ever constitute his own foot prints on the sands of our time. Nothing else.

WHY SHOULD NIGERIA EXTRADITE KASHAMU TO THE US?

“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”, Dr Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 182).

Apart from the National Drug law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, the only other person eager to ship off Senator Kashamu Buruji to the United States, hoping he will never return, is a former President, self-righteous, hypocritical, and eternally ungrateful to those who ever helped him. When Dimka struck and late Murtala Mohammed was assassinated, his second in command ran away and hid in the house of an Ijesha Chief until more courageous men confronted the coup plotters and defeated them. Then, like professional soldiers they went in search of the cowardly officer who was to take charge of government from 1976 to 1979. As far as I am concerned, they should have left the yellow-belly fellow under the bed where he was hidden. It is this coward who is spear-heading the effort to repatriate Kashamu to the US just because he wants to settle personal scores disguised as patriotism with Kashamu. We should not let him have his way.

Before going further, let me state without any fear of contradiction that I have never met nor have any dealings with the Senator. I doubt if he will be recognizable to me if we meet on the street. But, Kashamu is a Nigerian and he deserves all the support he can get from fellow Nigerians when under siege by foreigners. That is why this defence is being undertaken. In fact, the man’s political affiliation, the PDP, should ordinarily disqualify him from consideration for support from me – given the atrocities the party had perpetrated since 1999 – when the hypocrite took over as President. But, it was the Americans themselves who taught me in their universities that “all politics ends at the border”. When it is Kashamu versus US, I stand by Kashamu or any other Nigerian. Let me give just two reasons.

It is a fact that the US will never repatriate any American citizen to any other country to face charges for crimes however heinous. In their arrogance of morality, the Americans don’t believe in the judicial system of any other nation; neither do they believe that Americans will get justice outside the US. If the US will not send an American citizen to answer to charges in Nigeria, why should Nigeria send Kashamu to the US to answer to dubious charges? Where is the reciprocity here? Are we so enslaved to the US that we must obey their instructions on our citizens?

That was a long-held position of mine until the most recent events in America concretized them. The election of Fuhrer Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States is already revealing to Americans themselves that they have a murderous mental case in the White House. A man with Nazi mentality, who had surrounded himself with racist Attorney Generals, appoints red necks as Supreme Court justices and whose White House is peopled with descendants of the Gestapo is not a President whose country should receive a Nigerian citizen just because they asked for him. If anything, we should henceforth ensure that no Nigeria is sent to the US as long as the “Nazi Party” is in charge.

Lest this article be misunderstood, let me make it clear that I totally detest drug trafficking. I saw in my ten years living in the US and my entire life in Lagos Island how drugs destroy human lives. Drug traffickers remain one of the worst scourges of mankind. The only groups worse are weapon traffickers and human traffickers. At the same time, I am not privy to the charges against Kashamu; neither am I aware of his defence. But, I hold to the eternal principle that a man is not guilty merely on accusation. If Kashamu has a case to answer, it should be here in Nigeria. The Nigerian government should allow him to perform his duties in the National Assembly if it has no case against him. Other countries, notably Russia, have refused to hand over people the US wanted. The sky did not fall.
At any rate, they were stupid to have allowed him to leave the US at all. Why ask us to help them out? The NDLEA should go and work on something else.

REVIVING LAZARUS: THE GRADUAL RECOVERY OF SKYE BANK

 

“Phillips Consulting is committed to helping organizations succeed. Today, it is not enough just to have a website, it is essential that this website is used to facilitate transactions, enhance customer loyalty and facilitate a broader market reach.”
Mr Folusho Phillips, Chairman Phillips Consulting.

The resurrection of Lazarus, dead for four days remains one of the most remarkable miracles of all time. Apparently, it is not only dead souls that are capable of being revived after being given up as dead. The Board and Management of Skye Bank Plc have embarked on a bold programme of bringing the bank back from the brink. They have started in a remarkable way.

Lagos-based but global Phillips Consulting is arguably Nigeria’s leading consulting firm with several Nigerian and global companies as its clients. Highly regarded as a top grade consulting outfit, it had established a reputation for integrity in whatever it undertakes. Its Chairman, Foluso Phillips, an Old Igbobian is one of the finest gentlemen one can ever hope to meet on earth.

Thus when Phillips Consulting started the Web Jurist Award a few years ago, objective observers were certain that it would never degenerate into a “cash and carry” affair like most others going to the highest bidder. This was going to be serious business. It would become in time a process of evaluating the effectiveness of business organizations through their “window of communication”.

In its twelve years, the Web Jurist Award had lived up to its promise. There had been a surprise every year among its top five or six winners. This year would also not have been an exception if not for the emergence of Skye Bank among the top winners. The bank whose Board of Directors and top management was re-organised two years ago and which was be-devilled by so many problems, seemingly unsolvable, has gradually been revived by a strong and determined team of leaders. Its rapid progress in web site creation is symptomatic of the quiet but effective measure being put in place in many other areas of its operations to ensure that the bank lives up to the dreams of its founding fathers.

The bank which was placed No 18 two years ago among all the thousands of companies evaluated had move up to No 8 in 2016. According to available information, the bank bagged three individual awards including: Winner, Performance Category, Winner, Accessibility Category and Third place in the Technical Category of the 2016 Web-Jurist Award – beating such bigger banks like Access Bank, Diamond Bank, FCMB and Union Bank.

Readers who might be wondering what excellent and superior web sites have to do with core banking functions need to understand that banking increasingly is becoming an on-line affair. Banking services will henceforth be provided through impersonal media and the web sites of banks will become the “branches” of the future. Right now, there are individuals who seldom enter any bank these days for transactions. Most of their transactions are conducted on line. Utility bills, school fees, membership annual dues, purchases, insurance, taxes are all paid from the comfort of their homes. The best web sites are those which provide maximum security and trust while minimizing errors and complaints. That is what is summed up as customer satisfaction and that is what Skye Bank is providing better than most Nigerian banks today and it is already paying dividends.

One customer who operates four different accounts – two corporate and two personal – revealed that he was on the verge of closing his account with Skye Bank when all the problems developed. Fortunately, he decided to “wait and see” by leaving some money in his account with the bank. As the web site improved he found himself relying more on Skye Bank than the other banks.  Then other benefits followed. He had since noticed that, even face-to-face, Skye Bank managers are more attentive and they go the extra mile to please their customers. He summarized his own personal experience this way: ”Skye Bank is the only bank in Nigeria today which makes the customer feel like he is king.”

The question now is: what has changed? Certainly not the buildings; they remain the same. The technologies available to Skye Bank are not different from those of other banks. So, why is it steadily digging its way out a hole despite a devastating recession? There are two possible answers – both of which are inextricably linked.

The first is related to the role of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN – which stepped in just in time before the bank collapsed under previous board and management. Had the CBN waited a little longer, there might be no bank to save.

Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, in his world-acclaimed book, FROM THIRD WORLD TO FIRST, made the point repeatedly that “It had taken me some time to see the obvious, that talent is a country’s most precious resource.” But, it is not just countries which need talented and fully dedicated people. Business organizations also need a lot of those people under ordinary circumstances to survive. They need them more when the business faces extra-ordinary challenges. Then they need people with integrity, intelligence, technical know-how and, above all courage. It requires more than an ordinary captain to handle a sinking ship in the middle of a gale.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Managing Director and the other top executives of Skye Bank have demonstrated rare courage and competence to have kept the bank going for so long and from all available evidence, now, they have turned the corner and the performance at the Web Jurist Award might have provided observers with some idea of how hard they are working, with great fortitude to put the unpleasant past behind them.
Mr Nduneche Ezurike, Head of Corporate and Strategic Brand Management of the bank had said that “the industry leadership in digital space is one of Skye Bank’s value proposition to its customers.” The results on that proposition are sufficiently encouraging to leave observers and potential customers waiting eagerly for the rest of the value proposition.

This column cannot end without paying well-deserved tribute to the two gentlemen who symbolize the “never-say-die” spirit of Skye Bank. First is Muhammad K Ahmad, OON, who has had a distinguished experience in public and financial institutions including the National Pension Commission and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Board Director of FBN Holdings Plc with rich intellectual background as a valuable asset. Oxford, Harvard, IMD and INSEAD are some of the global institutions he had attended. He is also an author of the book titled “The Extent and Effectiveness of Bank Supervision in Nigeria.

The second is Group Managing Director, Mr Adetokunbo M Abiru has also had extensive experience in banking including with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and First Bank and for two years was Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State. He is also a Harvard alumnus.  Between them the Chairman and the GMD have close to 75 years experience and a formidable and immeasurable network of potential clients.

HEIL! DONALD TRUMP THE AMERICAN FUHRER.

 

“Power and money do drive people crazy. So why shouldn’t people also gain power and wealth through being crazy.” Saul Bellow. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTES,  p 195.

Americans, since the end of the Second World War, had always wondered how the most advanced people in Europe, the Germans, in the early parts of the last century could produce a monstrous leader like Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945. With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, they now know how in a fit of absent-mindedness bordering on lunacy, nations use their votes  to appoint a crack-port as their leader.  History does not repeat itself; only human beings are so stupid. Each and every time the world faces a series of problems, along comes a leader in one of the more powerful nations offering alluringly simple solutions to complex problems. It was a global recession in early 1900s, as well as the unanswered question of balance of power and an economic depression in 1933 which resulted in two world wars last century. The second war and the role of Adolf Hitler are of more interest to us. He and Donald Trump share a few things in common which could help us to understand the trajectory of Trump’s presidency and how it will affect the world. Eventually, those who had complacently assumed that the world can no longer fight a global war might be proved wrong. They assume that because of the destructive power of nuclear weapons and the Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD, capacities, available in several countries, no leader would dare unleash his own arsenal first. Not stated, but implied in that assumption is another one – that every nation with nuclear weapons will always have a leader who is totally rational and not a single one will lose his marbles. I am not so sure that mankind can perpetually guarantee that sane men and women will always rule all nations of the world.

Donald Trumps’ first few days in office is a pointer to how wrong the optimists might turn out to be about the perpetual sanity of world leaders. Hitler was considered deranged only after he had plunged the world into war and after he had died – but not before taking close to one hundred million souls down with him. Until then, his detractors thought they were dealing with just a difficult person; his supporters regarded him as a god-sent hero. That is the first similarity between Fuhrer Trump and Fuhrer Hitler. Adolf had his hard core followers, the Brown Shirts, who would do anything the Fuhrer ordered with no questions asked. Fuhrer Trump had cultivated his American version of “Brown Shirts” – people who accept anything Trump does or orders to be done as legitimate. Both groups believe only in obeying orders from their leader – to whom they owe total allegiance.

Hitler’s basic principle and Trump’s are also the same. They both believe that MIGHT IS RIGHT. Imagine, if you can, the President of Ukraine telling Russian President Putin that Ukraine is going to construct a wall between the two nations and Russia would pay for it; or Viet Nam saying the same thing to China. The absurdity of those two scenarios is clear to all. Turn the situation around; this time Russia and China planning to build the wall and the smaller nation would be compelled to pay for it. Which nation in the world would be the first to condemn the big nations? You receive no medals for guessing America. Americans would have been the first to condemn the announcement and the attempt at extortion of funds from a weaker nation. They would have told us that it violates international law; that it is banditry raised to the level of statecraft. Yet, before Election Day last year, millions of American “Brown Shirts” clapped at every campaign rally where Trump promised to adopt banditry as government policy in dealing with Mexico.

Fuhrer Trump does not give a damn about the rule of law, the constitution or justice. He favours rule by force or fraud (the man is a proud tax evader). That was why the Acting Attorney General who stated clearly that she would not obey an unconstitutional order was fired. She joins late Elliot Richardson, the Attorney General under President Richard Nixon, who resigned rather than obey an illegal presidential instruction in what in American history was known as Black Friday. Trump had selected people like Hitler’s cabinet who would gladly carry out unconstitutional orders. Most on them are descendants of German and Italian immigrants. They are at home with Fascism – the cult of personality.

So, what stops the same “Brown Shirts” of America from endorsing a war with Mexico to collect the “debt” arising from the construction of the wall? Unless the rest of  the world understand that we are dealing with a clone of another German, of un-blessed memory, nothing would stop Fuhrer Trump and his gang from going to war with Mexico. Hitler did the same thing to the Balkan countries and, like Trump, he actually told the entire world he would do it. Nobody believed any sane person would do such things – until he started doing them. Obviously, the safest thing for the whole world to assume is that Fuhrer Trump, like Fuhrer Hitler, will try to fulfill all he promised in the campaigns and he would not allow legality or justice to stand in the way. So, the world has two choices – submit or resist.

In making that choice, we need to take advice from Hitler who warned that “You don’t fight terror with appeasement; you fight terror with terror”. Every bully is a terrorist; irrespective of whether the bully is an individual or a nation. Trump had shown us the bully’s face of America – which had previously been well-concealed – and the rest of us must deal with that reality and not hope there will be a change.

Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump have German blood running through their veins. Trump’s parents migrated to the US and his mother was reportedly an illegal immigrant allowed to stay by charitable people. Her son is not so generous. He cares not a dime for the down-trodden. For all we know, Trump and Hitler might be distant cousins. But, that thought need not delay us here. America has Trump just as Nazi Germany had Hitler. The world should not make the same mistake twice.

One nation and its current leader appear too eager to repeat the errors of 1936. Hitler’s ascendancy and his first conquests brought in a clown waving the olive branch and promising to support the Germans in their global ambitions. The man was Benito Mussolini, 1883-1945 – the Italian Fascist leader – who was too happy to kiss Hitler’s hand and perhaps his rump as well. Bad history repeated itself two days after Fuhrer Trump was sworn in. Mrs “Mussolini” May, Prime Minister of no so great Britain, was in the US to “kiss” Trump’s hand; and perhaps his rump. Before her meeting with Trump, she  had a speaking engagement with Republicans in Philadelphia. There she proceeded to polish the American and Trump apple.

Among other things “Mussolini” May recollected that it was in that city that the  Founding fathers of America gathered from thirteen states to announce the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. She even recollected that one of the most famous lines in that declaration pronounced that “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all Men are created equal…” As with most white people telling white audiences about American history, Mrs “M” May conveniently forgot that most of the hypocritical Founding fathers were slave owners and women were not allowed to vote. More importantly, she deliberately overlooked the fact that Indians were already there when white men reached America. She did not remind the Republicans that their fore-fathers carried out the worst holocaust known to man by wiping out all the Indians and stealing their land. Mrs “Mussolini” May did not recollect all those facts because they would reveal to the Republicans and the entire world that under the American velvet glove extended to the world is a blood-stained steel claw; that America’s vaunted moral superiority is a sham.

The emergence of Fuhrer Trump was an incident waiting to happen. It has at last revealed to the entire world that America thinks it has bought the world, the way a client has rights to a prostitute. And, the rest of us better behave or there will be hell to pay. Like Benito, Mrs May laid out at Philadelphia her vision of a world led by America (based on the false values mentioned above) ably supported by the British Empire whose sun went behind the clouds more than fifty years ago. From the address, it was obvious that she never considered it necessary to ask the rest of the six billion human beings on earth whether or not we want to follow America and UK with only four hundred million people. Like Benito she was contented to play second fiddle with Trump in the lead. She, of course had failed to recognize that the world is no longer the same as when Britain set out to establish an empire. The master-servant relationship no longer exists. She wants to lead Britain out of Europe and has Trump’s support. Most of the rest of the world want to be left alone by the US and Britain. Several people can “exit” at once – given the changes in the global political leadership with Trump as American Fuhrer!

POLITICISING A SERIOUS NATIONAL PROBLEM
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it
George Santayana, 1863-1952.

In 2009-2010, Nigeria’s elected President on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was gravely ill. But, his closest associates, led by his wife at the time, kept everybody in the dark about his condition. His Senior Special Advisers were full of stories which later proved to be false and ruined their reputations for ever.

I had published a series of articles titled OPEN LETTER TO MRS TURAI YAR’ADUA making some prophetic statements. I won’t republish them now for several reasons. Yar’Adua was from Katsina state and there were people who knew about his losing battle with death long before he finally succumbed. It was in their interest to keep the vital information to themselves. But, not for long.

Seven years after Yar’Adua’s passed on, another President from Katsina state is in the United Kingdom, ill and indefinitely indisposed. Like a repeat of the bad script of the 2009-2010 drama, the inadvertent or deliberate mis-information came first. Nigerians were told he went on holiday; then that changed to medical check-up and he would return in ten days. He did not. That provided the rumour-mongers and those not wishing President Buhari all the excuses they needed to start printing and publishing obituaries – even though the man is very much alive. How do I know that? It is simple. Buhari above all else is a devout Muslim. His wife and grown-up children know that the President would want them to obey Quranic injunctions by burying him within twenty four hours of passing on. So, the report of his death was a colossal lie meant to create political confusion. Buhari is very much alive.

That said, the real problems created by his sudden illness and paucity of information regarding the cause(s) are in reality not personal to Buhari; they cannot even be regarded as “family affairs” either of the Buhari family or the All Progressives Congress, APC. They are non-partisan national problems which will affect all of us – mostly negatively. One issue will illustrate the point.

Nigeria is at the moment going cap-in-hand to international lenders in search of dollars to augment our inadequate receipts of foreign exchange. It is a fact that no lender will advance one dollar until the health status of Buhari is determined. None.
To be continued…