You have heard politicians say before, in every election cycle, that "This election is the most important election of our lifetime". No time rhetoric truer than now in Nigeria. The 2023 election will be the most important and most consequential election of our life time because we are One Election-Not One Generation, away from reclaiming and fixing Nigeria, and setting her on the path to sustainable progress. We cannot afford to fail. The consequences are simply unthinkable and unimaginable.
We won't be able to do so if we allow the old and broken politics of division, self-promotion and self-interest to continue to hold sway in our country We need a new politics anchored on a selfless leader with bold ideas and a proven record of public service to lead and nurture this vision. In my considered opinion, no one fits the bill better than the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; a cool, calm, and steady man who has served as Vice to our dear president in the last seven years. He is cool on the outside but bums on the inside for Nigeria. In the seven years that he has had the honor to serve as VP, he dedicated his life to making Nigeria better a place for all. He is committed to building a country that is mute inclusive and guarantee shared prosperity to all.
President Buhari and VP Osinbajo in 2015, inherited a country that was deeply fractured/divided. The economy was in a tailspin from long term abuses, corruption, and misapplication of public resources. Oil, the dominant source of revenue for the country was facing supply and price challenges, but they rolled-up their sleeves and got to work. They knew things were bad and expected to face challenges, but they couldn't have imagined or expected the strong headwinds that confronted them; but they stayed the course. And today, Nigeria is better for it. But their job is not fully done, hence the need to keep the VP in power to continue from where the president will stop.
We are not where we want to be, but we are not where we used to be. We have made real progress and we need to sustain it. Who is better to build on and sustain the progress we have made better than Yemi Osinbajo who has had a front row seat in the last seven years and has been at the core of ground-breaking efforts at combating poverty in the country? I can’t think of anyone better than Prof. Osinbajo, a man who is heartbeat away from the president and understands what needs to be done urgently. He will hit the ground running in the right direction.
It is possible to hit the ground and run in the wrong direction. The image of a young man running in a school relay team, who received the baton and started running in the wrong direction with vigor, strength and assurance of victory, should remind us that things could go horribly wrong if we make the wrong decision or choice.
Our mission is not going to be easy and it is not supposed to be easy. Nothing great and destiny defining is easy. But with God on our side, all things are possible and we will overcome. We will birth a new Nigeria based on fairness, equality, equity, and empathy. Nigeria will become a rising tide that lifts all boats.
We have heard some say that the VP is contesting against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his leader and the man who appointed him as Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Lagos State between 1999-2007, and may have also recommended him to the president to be vice president. They said he will be betraying his leader if he contested against him. The extremists among them said he is a traitor for even considering the idea.
Well, I have news for them. The VP is not contesting against Tinubu, he will be contesting to be president of Nigeria, a position all Nigerians have equal stake and a say. We will be the last people to minimize the role Tinubu or anyone used of God to play in VP Osinbajo's life, in fact we are grateful to them for allowing themselves to be used of God in fulfilling His plans in VP's life. We pray that God bless them.
But the relationship between them was not one-sided as they want you to believe. It was a mutually beneficial and reinforcing relationship. Tinubu as governor needed a brilliant, courageous and reform-minded attorney to be AG and Commissioner of Justice in his government and VP Osinbajo, an outstanding professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, fitted the bill. We are witnesses to the ground-breaking reforms he carried out in the State Judiciary and the landmark cases he instituted and won during his time as the AG of Lagos State, that helped the government when the then president moved against the state. He was not a nonentity as they want you to believe. That is a bunch of malarkey — apologies to president Joe Biden.
Bob Strauss, one of the greatest chair of the DNC said, “Every politician wants the people to believe he built the log cabin in which his mother gave birth to him”. But we know this is not true. In our life journeys, we will always need help and helpers. That is how God designed life to be. It is a cycle of dependence and inter-dependence, no one is self-sufficient; we all need help.
Every superstar is standing on the shoulders of stars. Osinbajo and others contributed to making Asiwaju the superstar he is today. Osinbajo is also hoping that Asiwaju will somehow and someday allow him to stand on his shoulders and those of others in the coming days to become a superstar in the finest tradition of mentor and mentee.
Prof. Osinbajo is unarguably one of Nigeria's and Africa's finest, sharpest, and brightest legal minds. He is a consummate academic, a loyal and compassionate public servant, a relentless reformer, a devoted husband and father, and a God loving and fearing man. That's the mission and purpose of the New Tribe. We will succeed by the grace of God.
Practitioners of the politics of cynicism and division have asked us: "Are you not afraid of failing considering you have no money and moneybags supporting your causes?". Our answer is: What we lack in money we have in abundance in conviction and broad acceptance of our ideas and aspirant in the country. We are committed to birthing a new Nigeria under the leadership of VP Osinbajo. We are not afraid because we are at a place where the only thing to fear is FEAR itself. We are emboldened and comforted in our pursuit by the words of late Senator John McCain that "we have been taught correctly that courage is not the absence of fear but our capacity to act in spite of our fears". Stand up with me and together, let us call on Osinbajo to run for president of Nigeria.
Sometimes the man chooses the moment. At other times the moment chooses the man. The moment has chosen Osinbajo to be president of Nigeria and he cannot refuse or reject the calls by millions of Nigerians to stand up on their behalf and lead them to a more prosperous and fairer country. If he doesn't, he should be prepared to deal with the consequences. The youths are counting on him to get in the fight on their behalf. We shall win and together; we shall build a new country for ourselves and our children.
Money, the legendary California politician Jess Unruh said "is the mother milk of politics".
I agree, but our experience in Nigeria since our democratic voyage shows that our milk has been juiced with steroids — corrupt funds.
Nigeria is not alone on this but what is different is: other countries have made and are still making deliberate efforts to reform campaign finance whilst we are not doing anything.
In the USA, the bipartisan McCain-Feingold Bill was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.
That law was an honest effort to limit the influence of money in politics.
The law did have some impact until the United States Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United States vs Federal Election Commission, set aside some of its very fundamental provisions and again enthroned money as king of politics in America.
It is important to note that the decision in Citizens United, paved the way for the emergence of many super PACS (Political Action Committees).
In Nigeria, money is the name of the game and has kept out of politics very credible people.
From the moment a politician declares an intention to run for any office, the spending starts with visits to godfathers and party leaders.
He or she is expected to do PR (give money) to them and wherever he or she goes, money is required to soften the ground.
To pick the expression of interest form, he or she needs millions of Naira and as we have come to know, the millions are required to show the person is serious (as if money is the sole determinant of a serious candidate).
The primaries are another money guzzling event.
Delegates are literally bought and usually, the biggest payer gets the ticket.
After the primaries, come the real election and this is the peak of all the activities. Through these processes, there is no limit on what an individual can contribute to the campaign funds of a candidate and this is where the moneybags and patrons come in to hijack the process to the detriment of the people.
In our peculiar situation where there is hardly any clear difference between public funds and that of elected officials such as the president and governors, the influence of money on campaigns is devastating.
The incumbents deploy public funds to their campaigns and even when they pretend to raise funds from friends and colleagues, these are public funds laundered through contracts and other activities.
So, what do we do?
1. Prescribe a limit to the amount of money that an individual can give to the candidate for both primary and general elections and I suggest a maximum limit of #300,000 (three hundred thousand Naira);
2. For the incumbent and the challenger, the government should provide campaign funds and no candidate should be allowed to spend beyond the given amount;
3. In the event that the incumbent declined to take government funds and raise money from the public, the government should give the challenger an equal amount of money raised by the incumbent;
4. The INEC should establish a specialized unit that will monitor campaign funds and how the funds are spent and any candidate in violation of the rules should be disqualified from contesting in the elections;
5. Donations to candidates should be made public and filed with the special unit of INEC.
After all, if a person wants to assume a public trust, he must consider himself as a public property in the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson.
Friends, don't we need to reform campaign finance?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Hatred corrodes the container it is carried in — Senator Alan Simpson.
The first victim of hatred is the hater.
He or she corrodes from inside whilst harbouring and spewing hatred. And it is just a matter of time before visible holes begin to emerge, thereby letting in free radicals into the innermost chambers.
We see this happening now in our nation, Nigeria!
We are seeing daily the unravelling of those who told us that Love was the greatest force on earth.
They told us that “God is Love”, and they are right. God is Love, no controversy about it.
The only controversy is: they said it, but they don’t believe it, and they don’t know the true meaning of it.
God is Love, no matter what they say now, or do.
I see and hear, all over the country, the deprioritization of values in favour of expediency. I see and hear about the moral flipping and somersault because of selfish interests.
I see and hear, highly respected people indulging in certain despicable acts, for the sake of politics. Some of the people are the men and women, that the country should be turning to in times of uncertainty.
But they have become the flame throwers, spewing divisive and incendiary rhetoric. They speak without candour and grace, accentuating rumours, they make demands on the people, and when the demands are unmet, they make definitive pronouncements as if God, is their errand boy.
God is God!
He is the creator of all things; including all the powerful men and women. He cannot be coerced into doing anyone’s biddings.
This is the time for every one of us to take a deep breath and ask: what can I do to make Nigeria, a more peaceful and prosperous Nation for all?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.
I did not hear about you and never met you in your lifetime on earth. The first time I heard about you and your works, was on November 1, 2021, shortly after your 21 story building under construction collapsed in Ikoyi, Lagos, with deadly consequences.
A friend had called from Abuja to inform me that CNN was reporting a building collapse in Lagos and wanted to know if I was safe.
I called a friend, a regulator in the building sector in Lagos, whom I figured will know about it or know people who will know about the building. He confirmed the information and said, “the building belongs to one Ijebu man who came from London. He is from Ikenne, I can’t remember his name now”.
I then checked the social media in search of more information and found a letter allegedly written to you by the Engineering firm you had engaged on the project.
The letter was allegedly written sometime in February 2021.
The firm informed you about their decision to withdraw their services from the project because of some unethical practices that made it impossible for them to continue on and with the project. The letter disassociated the firm from the project and demanded that you remove their name from it.
It was from the letter I got to know your name, your company and the project-360 degrees.
My first impression after reading the letter was that you must be someone who is opposed to rules or due process — a corner cutter.
My impression was solidified by the trending images of you resisting officials of Lagos State Government from sealing the property for some violations; your interviews with TVC and other media organizations where you expressed disdain for professionals in Nigeria citing their over-prescription in respect of a generating set for your first project in Ikoyi; your pronouncement that you know how to do it all having done it yourself in the UK, USA, and SA; and your story of twice being “lucky” about the mistakes by authorities in London in approving an extra floor each in your two projects and how you defeated them at the commission or panel set up to investigate the issue.
Then I heard about you having approval for 15 floors and building 21 floors, and I said “this guy is clearly averse to rules”.
But then, I began to have doubts when the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Femi Hamzat contradicted the General Manager of Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Mr Gbolahan Oki that you had approval for 21 floors and not 15 floors.
I took a second look at the letter and found that there was no indication that you received or acknowledged it. The letter was also not copied to the relevant authorities in Lagos State, and no one in Lagos State has acknowledged receiving a copy of the letter.
A visit to the office address of the Engineering firm listed in the letter by a crew from a TV Station did not find them. So I don’t know if the letter is real or just done and put out to exculpate them. You are the one who can confirm or deny, and you are no more. You can’t speak or hear or respond to us anymore.
Femi, is it true that you were doing the project yourself by using direct labour without the input and skills of relevant professionals in the industry? Is it true that you refused to employ an Engineer because he is a Muslim and because you are a Pastor? Did you cut corners on the project by under-measuring materials and doing sub-standard works to maximize your profits? Did you disregard warnings and cautions from the officials of Lagos State Government not to go beyond 15 floors and resist them through force and connection?
These are questions that we may never get answers to because you have gone to the land of all flesh where you are unable to speak to us no matter how eager you are. We will never get to know what really happened. Your friends and family who should speak on your behalf are not talking because they are still mourning and struggling to come to terms with the tragedy. I hope they speak sometime in the future and state your side of the story and leave the judgment to us, God and men!
You were there with some people — workers, friends, clients, and potential buyers. Many of them died with you.
Your friend, Wale Bob-Oseni, whom you invited to come and see your project, died also.
You may have seen and reconnected with him in your new world and reality! Apart from you and Wale, 42 other persons also lost their lives in the tragic incident.
I’m not happy that you died in the crash or that anyone did, but I can only imagine what the narrative would have been if you had survived!
Some would have said you used the blood of the dead to do a money ritual so you can make more money and become richer.
Others would have accused you of deliberately staying away at the time because you knew what was coming, but you died in the crash and so the story now is that you killed them deliberately by your action in cutting corners.
We may never know the whole story. I also don’t know how you would live any meaningful life after the incident!
I have heard that the dead have residual power in some cultures and traditions and that they can speak to people through dreams and other means while their corpse is yet to be buried especially if they died prematurely and in some tragic circumstances.
I don’t know if the Ijebus have such a tradition, if they do, Femi, please invoke that power and do some things...
Speak to your family to stop fighting over your assets.
It is too early!
The reports of your siblings and wife fighting over your things are heart-rending.
Tell your friends and family who know about the true situation to speak up and separate the lies from the truth.
The truth may not bring you and those lost back to us here, but it will establish what really happened.
They can go to the Panel set up by the Lagos State Government and present your side of the story if they don’t want to talk to the press.
Femi, you lived a life of dreams. You lived a life of constant curiosity. You wanted to do what has not been done before in Nigeria. You poured your heart and resources into it, but it wasn’t to be. It came crashing for reasons we still don’t know.
You lived your life on your terms. You loved life. You danced and celebrated your dreams and realities. You lectured us on limitless possibilities. You died pursuing your dreams. May your soul and the souls of others who died with you in that tragic crash find rest in God.
Is there anyone out there who believe or think that Femi Osibona, the late developer of the tragic Ikoyi property set out to kill himself and others deliberately? From the videos and life interviews I have seen, Femi was a man extremely proud about what he was doing. He was also grateful to God for it.
I have watched videos of him dancing and praising God at the rooftop of the building with Mrs Momodu and some Italians he described as the best in their fields.
Femi was fond of taking celebrities and Royalties to the property. Some weeks ago, he was there with the Oluwo of Iwo. Do you think he will be doing that if he knew there was a distant possibility of the thing collapsing? Do you think that Femi will be anywhere near the property if he thought remotely that the property could collapse and kill him and others?
Femi was a young man extremely confident and proud about what he was doing. He wanted to be the first to offer a property in Ikoyi with 360-degree views. He dreamt about it; lived it; and died with it.
We still don’t know the details of what really happened.
Government officials are talking over themselves and contradicting one another. The suspended GM of LASBCA said he had the approval to build 15 floors and he built 21 floors.
He added that he has been arrested. Now, we know he died in the collapsed building!
The deputy-Governor, Toyin Hamzat said he had approval for 21 floors and not 15 floors; but the approval document trending online has 15 floors. The Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu admitted that mistakes were made and has inaugurated a panel to unravel the circumstances leading to the collapse of the building.
He promised to punish those who are responsible.
As we watch the events unfold, please take thought for the families that have lost loved ones and stop passing judgment until you know the details. The families lost loved ones in excruciating situations. Femi’s family lost a son, husband, breadwinner, and funds he may have borrowed to do the project. Femi’s death and those of others should be both teaching and learning moments for all of us.
May their Souls Rest In Peace and may God comfort their families and loved ones, and the people and Government of Lagos State.
My dear people of Anambra State, this is your moment to move your State forward.
Come out in large numbers and vote for candidates of your choice.
Ignore calls on you to boycott the election. Do not be swayed by financial inducement and interdenominational vibes in voting, look at the character and competence of the person.
All the candidates are your sons and you know them before now. You know what they have done, what they are capable of doing, and how they will do things in the future. Anambra is greater than any individual.
At the State level, the Governor is more important than the President. If you get it wrong in choosing your Governor, you will suffer for the next four years. Shun violence, ignore senseless murder, vote.
May God bless the good people of Anambra and may He uphold their choice and frustrate the activities of evil people.
Many Nigerians want to live abroad.
They fantasize about it. They have heard stories from their friends, family members, and associates about how beautiful and sane it is to live abroad.
Many believe that those living abroad pick money from the streets. You can’t blame them because that is the impression given to them by some people living abroad by their actions and words. But it is not true.
The devil is in the details. The pain is hidden in the pleasure. Don’t be deceived!
I have the privilege of having a leg each in both worlds and I know from experience that for most Nigerians living abroad, it is a constant struggle to make ends meet and keep their heads above waters.
Many are heavily indebted and can’t do anything beyond paying bills with their incomes.
Yes, they have a better environment to live in (depending on where they live); better security, more efficient service delivery, better public schools and others; but they work harder, pay higher taxes, and are confronted with rapid and unforgiving bills that keep pilling up.
They earn more money but their costs of living is higher, too.
Many Nigerians living abroad do more than one job to be able to pay their bills. Even in families with double income-husband and wives working, it is still a challenge to keep up with the bills.
The work environment is not the same. They work per hour and are paid per hour. Back in Nigeria, workers are paid for showing up, and in some cases for not showing up. Once the name is on the workers’ register, he or she is paid at the end of the month.
That cannot happen abroad, you have to put in the hours and earn the money.
A friend relocated to the United States recently. She got a factory job that required her to stand on her feet for hours. After standing for two hours straight, she collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital. She told me ”I never knew it is this difficult to work here, I almost died in the first few weeks here”.
My friend today understand what it means to live abroad. If you earn 75% in Nigeria of what people living in Europe or America are earning, you are likely to live better than them, exchanging rate notwithstanding. The cost of living is not stagnant abroad, neither is the earnings constantly increasing.
In September while I was in the US I bought a bottle of coke for $1.89 plus tax, in Lagos, Nigeria, I bought the same coke for N120. The coke in America at the current exchange rate is almost N1000. They also pay more for fuel, gas, electricity, and others. Very few Nigerians doing back-breaking jobs and playing by the rules are living above water level.
Many are involved in the crimes-credit card, insurance, and romance frauds, as well as Business Email Compromise. The cases of Obinwanne Okeke (Invictus) and Abidemi Rufai, are still fresh in our minds; not to talk of Hushpuppi and his gang!
This week, the FBI indicted another 9 Nigerians for a series of frauds ranging from business email compromise to romance fraud and unemployment insurance fraud.
These are the type of people that come back home to show off and create the impression that living abroad is simple, easy, and trouble-free.
Don’t get me wrong, we have many Nigerians living abroad and doing extremely well. We have doctors, pharmacists, engineers, nurses, software/tech guys that are earning unbelievable salaries and allowances; but they are decent people who will not even show off. They own big houses, drive expensive vehicles, and have kids in Ivy League schools where they are paying hundreds of thousands as school fees.
I have a brother who has been working for over 10 years as a nurse on a permanent night shift. He has no social life. He comes in 10-11 am daily, grabs sleep for a few hours, and heads back to work in the evening for another day at work. He is looking older than his age. I have been teasing him about his old looks and urging him to quit and come home to a new routine.
When politicians want to deceive us, they quote data and statistics from abroad. They tell you about the changes in GDP, Per Capital Income, Happiness indices and others; but they will never tell you about their roles in stagnating our growth. They will not tell you about the sacrifices made and being made by their counterparts in other parts of the world. They won’t open up about how they stole money from Nigeria and stashed them abroad, aiding the growth and expansion of those countries.
In the same way, criminals don’t tell you about what they do to make the money they come home to splash on luxuries and over-the-top lifestyles that has captivated many of our young people. Before he was arrested, Abbas Ramon, Hushpuppi, was the role model (may still be) to many young people. They don’t see anything wrong with his fraudulent activities. A group of young people told me that Hushpuppi was simply ”repatriating wealth” stolen by white people from Nigeria and Africa.
Living abroad is great if you have the way and means to live there, but don’t mislead people about the true state of things. Don’t lie to them about the difficult conditions and don’t give them false hopes about prospects and opportunities. Be real. Many people believe that relocating abroad is the only solution to the economic and political situations in Nigeria. It is not. Countries have their unique challenges and problems.
Running from yours to another may give you relief from the problems and challenges in your country but does not immune you from those in the country you are running to. The country you are running to was built by their citizens who endured pains and overcame hardship.
What happened if they left their countries and ran to others when they had problems and challenges? Living abroad is not the Eldorado they told you. If you can succeed abroad, you can succeed in Nigeria. Change your mindset, Nigeria is a great country loading.
The family is the smallest unit of human interaction and nurturing. It is the most intimate and consequential setting in which children can be raised in love, taught enduring values, and shaped by principles that promote fairness, respect, equality, and commonality of humanity. Family time- either for prayers, eating, chatting, or for other things, was a great time for members to learn new things and share experiences.
The family dining table - real table, cobbled benches, plastic ensemble, or space in the middle of cycle formed by family members, had real foods and soul-nourishing moral nutrients. It was in this setting that the values and principles that shaped me were ingrained in my core.
I was taught by my parents to fear God, respect others, obey authority, be kind to strangers, help the needy, support the weak; do not steal, tell lies, bear false witness, gossip about other people, and don’t hate others because of their religion or tribe or looks.
They taught me to see every human being as God’s creation deserving love, honour, respect and care. My grandparent told me folklores that captured and contained lessons about patience, love, kindness, containment, selflessness, and many other virtues.
They used the trickery of the Tortoise, the weight and strength of the Elephant, the fierceness of the lion, and the height of the giraffe to drive home the lessons and teach wisdom and connected them to events that taught me real-life lessons.
They told me a story about a Tortoise that had challenged a lion to a race. The lion thinking he had a natural advantage asked the tortoise to start two days ahead of him. The tortoise left as agreed but did more: he detailed another tortoise to wait at the finishing line. The lion left two days after and speed past a tortoise on the way, thinking he had won the race, but he met the tortoise waiting at the end.
The lesson they told me is: never underestimate the other person because you don’t know what they are capable of doing.
This was the situation in most homes.
Our schools and religious organizations were moral complementary and reinforcing institutions - reemphasizing the same values and principles taught by parents in families. Teachers were at liberty to discipline and punish students without interference from parents. Things were looking great. We had a country that was striving for progress and greatness.
Then the dam broke.
The economy went into a tailspin in the early ’80s. Families began to struggle to make ends meet. The focus became putting food on the table, paying school fees, and keeping a roof over the head. At the same, the quality of public schools went south because the government couldn’t afford to fund them.
The best teaching hands left to join private schools that were just exploding in number across the country.
The military incursion into government worsened things. Political divisions were magnified and groups began to seek advantages over one another. Family time became a time of lamentations and toxicity. Parents openly blamed others for economic and political woes, thereby inadvertently planting in their children hate for others who don’t look like them, talk like them, practice their religions, and don’t come from their tribes or ethnic groups. Today, different groups hate others because of what they had been told by their parents and grandparents, and what they are handing down to their own children.
In 2018, I travelled to the United States of America to attend my daughter’s graduation. I met other parents from Nigeria whose children were also graduating. We came together to host our kids and we got talking about the country and how the president was trying to turn things around.
One of the parents, a top civil servant from a state in the south-south, started cursing and calling the president names I will not repeat here. He said the North is useless and contribute nothing to the country. My wife immediately nudged and winked at me, indicating that I shouldn’t say anything. I got the message and kept quiet. Others nodded their heads in agreement. I took his number and promised to call him, I never did.
The other time, my 15-year-old daughter came back from school and said ”Daddy my friend told me that President Buhari is brain dead…she said that her dad told her”. The other story happened in Abuja. The father of a 10-year-old boy told him that people from a certain part of the country are cannibals-eaters of human flesh.
The boy told his classmate what his parents told him and he went home crying to his parents. They reported the incident to the school, and the father denied saying such a ‘horrible thing’ but the young boy stood his ground.
This is how we are destroying our country.
Growing up as a child, I operated by a strict code of conduct.
I was not to be seen with anything my parents didn’t give me or that I couldn’t explain how I got it. My mum was always available to confirm or verify things or claims.
Recall the story I told about buying my first car in 1996 and how my mum refused to join others to rejoice because she wasn’t sure about how I got the money to buy the car? I told you that I had to convince her about the source of the money before she rejoiced with me.
This does not happen in most homes today. Money is the name of the game.
Most parents don’t care today what their children do to make money, they just want the money. University students are buying cars and building houses for their parents; unemployed young people are cruising around in expensive automobiles and spending monies they couldn’t have earned legitimately, but the parents don’t care.
These things are described as blessings or hard work.
The end justifies the means.
Our politics has assumed a frightening dimension. Hate and division have become seminal campaign issues. Corruption is now an official policy of state finding justification in large swaths of the country. We have become disrespectful and intolerant of one another, and ready to inflict damages and injuries to others to gain an advantage.
All over the country, we are confronted with centrifugal activities tearing at the fabric of the country. We are like enemies forced to live in a space. The spirit of oneness and togetherness has been replaced by the spirit of self. The country is at a terrible place-being ravaged by industrial-scale insurgency — Boko Haram and Bandits — and other criminal activities like kidnapping, ritual killings, and economic sabotage.
But we can turn things around by going back to the basics — reclaiming the role of the family in nation-building.
Family is the place to practice the art of government in the small sphere within reach. Andrew Cuomo, the former Governor of New York, said in his 1984 address to the Democratic Convention that the nation’s moral purpose could be found in ”the idea of a family” which meant sharing benefits and burdens for the good of all.
We have to believe we are the family of Nigeria, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another and that the problem of a retired school teacher whose pension has been unpaid is our problems. That the future of a child in Benue who is out of school is our future. That the struggle of the poor in Sokoto is our collective struggle. The hunger of the poor in Ekiti is our hunger. We are bound together by almost everything. Winston Churchill said, ”The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see”. If we can look back far enough to see where things began to fall apart, we will be able to travel farther than where we are as a people and nation toward a more perfect union. Government is not and cannot be a replacement for the family.
Go back to the Family.
What roles are you playing currently to ensure you set the right tone in nation-building starting from your family? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.
The Pandora Papers like the Panama Papers, before it is causing ripples and ruffling feathers across the world. From Amman to Moscow; Lagos to Nairobi, it has been tepid and unconvincing denials and rationalizations.
The King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Hussein, has come out to explain that the concealment of properties he acquired in the US and Uk estimated to be over $100m is out of security concern and not out of a desire to cover or conceal a crime.
President Putin, whose baby mama has been mentioned, has kept a stoic silence leaving the rebuttal to aides. Typical of the taciturn henchman.
In Nigeria, names have been mentioned-speculated and bandied around, but one has stood out — Peter Obi.
Obi was the two-term Governor of Anambra state.
He was also the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general election.
He has reputation for being frugal and forthright.
He is also known for reeling out economic statistics from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, and other developing economies with which he measures Nigeria’s growth or lack of growth.
He is an astute businessman and he has large followership.
Obi was contacted by The Premium Times on the Pandora Papers, and he didn’t deny it.
All he said basically was that he didn’t know he should have declared those things because he is not the sole owner of the businesses.
In other words, he is ignorant of the requirements of the law.
My question is: didn’t Obi know that he should have declared his holdings in the Companies? Ignorance of the law we have been told is not an excuse, but in this case, it will be sufficient defence for Saint Obi because of our kind disposition toward corruption.
Obi himself said it will change nothing about how he is perceived by his supporters.
He is right!
Yesterday, rationalizations began to pour in as aspected.
One said, ”there is a difference between tax avoidance and tax denial schemes”.
Another said, ”he doesn’t believe in the concept of 100% good or evil, he believes in the middle”.
In other words, Obi is not expected to be perfect because none is. I agree; just that as someone who has projected himself a clean image in business and governance more was expected from him.
A man who is wearing white attire must make a conscious effort to stay away from stains from palm oil because it will be easily visible.
One thing that struck me from the names on the Pandora Papers, is the absence of the names of the world’s richest men: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett and others. Is it because these men are not public officials in their countries and have no illicit funds to hide in tax heavens, or because they didn’t need to?
Why was the list filled with current and former serving public officials?
Now, imagine for a moment that it was Tinubu, Osinbajo, Fashola, Ameachi, and others in APC, that were mentioned (I deliberately did not mention president Buhari and his family members) because I know what that will mean.
But just imagine that the names listed above had been mentioned. What would PDP, Kola Ologbodiyan, Ayo Fayose, and supporters be saying now?!
We are not serious about corruption.
Too many Nigerians are nostalgic — consumed by the past, and unwilling to move forward. But it is time to move back to the future and leave the past behind. There is nothing we can do about the past, beyond using it as a guide to avoiding making the same mistakes in the future. There is nothing that happened in the past that can be wiped away, but we can break forward from the past.
Before I delve into specifics, let me borrow a method from Robert Zemeckis’s 1985 comedy “Back to the Future” to illustrate.
Near the beginning of the movie, a mad professor combined a giant guitar, amplifier, stolen plutonium, and a DeLorean car to create a time machine. When terrorists killed the professor, the teenage Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) gives chase and the time machine/car catapults him back to 1955.
There he meets his future parents when they were his age. Disaster strikes-instead of falling in love with his father-to-be, Marty’s mother-to-be falls in love with Marty himself. Marty’s dilemma is that unless he can put the past straight before the film ends, he will never be born as his mother would be his wife.
Like Marty in the narration, Nigeria is rooted in the past. The events of the past are holding us and keeping us in the past instead of going back to the future where we need to be and focus all of our energies.
From the narration, a mad professor built a time machine from giant guitar, stolen plutonium, an amplifier, and a DeLorean car.
The first thing that sticks out at you from the story is that there is no relationship among the items used to build the time machine.
They are not compatible.
What has a guitar, plutonium, an amplifier, and a car, got to do with one another?
Guitar and amplifier are used for music and sound; Plutonium is used for making bombs, and car for driving or movement. How can they be harmonized to produce a time machine?
The only thing common to these 4 items is that they are all man-made.
Imagine for a moment that the professor in the story is Lord Lugard, who cobbled unrelated and diametrically opposed groups together to build a country — Nigeria.
Lugard was the one who amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914 to form Nigeria — a dream he envisaged will overcome challenges and lead Africa.
The killing of the professor by terrorists was not part of the original script; so was Marty going back to the past and getting trapped there.
Lord Lugard knew that the country he formed will confront challenges but he never knew and could not have predicted that at some point, some people (terrorists) will kill the leaders of the country and create distrust among the ethnic groups that will force every part to go back and to start to re-examine the basis for unity and togetherness.
Like Marty, we have gone back to the past in search of answers. Why did the Amalgamation happen? Why didn’t we continue with the Regions? Why can’t we go back to Regions now? Why don’t we go back to the 1963 Constitution? Why can’t we go our separate ways after we have built a country together?
These are questions daily agitating the minds of Nigerians. But until we can learn the lessons of the past and move back into the future to build it, we will be stuck in the past like Marty.
For Marty to exist — be born, he has to snap out of the past back to the future where he was before he travelled to the past.
Until Marty can find a way to get his mother and father (in the story, his mother-to-be and his father-to-be) to marry and give birth to him, Marty will never be born and he will have no future to go back to.
This is the challenge confronting Nigeria.
We have travelled back in time and we are stuck there.
Until we can break away from the past and decide to create a country, Nigeria will never move forward and make progress.
There are no natural countries and there are no countries without problems. Some people have done a better job at building their countries in spite of the problems by living for causes greater and bigger than themselves.
Others failed to go past the problems and have continued to move from one crisis to another, thereby holding back progress and unity.
Nigeria belongs to this category of countries.
We are still focused on the past: why we shouldn’t be a country — how the amalgamation was wrong and not needed and so on — instead of focusing on her best to move our country forward by harnessing her potentials and designing a country that is inclusive, fair, and just to all irrespective of tribe, religion, culture, and politics.
America is a super nation made up of different ethnic groups.
America has had problems and is still having problems, but she has not given up her dream to be the greatest nation on earth.
Americans describe their country as an idea. A dream. A city on a hill. A refuge.
Same America has a history of slavery, racial inequality, gender discrimination, and other issues.
The difference between America and Nigeria is that while Americans have aspirations in working to build a more perfect union, Nigerians are working to destroy Nigeria. They describe their country as useless, dead, stupid. A forced contraption that must be destroyed.
We all have to reimagine and remake Nigeria by going back to the future.
Focusing on the past is draining the future of the energies and resources needed to create a better future.