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Passage: Robert Gabriel Mugabe (21/2/1924 – 6/9/2019).

Former Revolutionary. Prime Minister (1980-1987); President(1987 – 2017).

Husband to Sally Hayfron Mugabe (d. 1992) & Grace Marufu Mugabe.

Father to Michael (deceased), Bona & Robert.

As a student ‘revolutionary’ leader in the 1980s, Robert Mugabe WAS one of my African heroes. I voraciously devoured all materials I could find on him and Joshua Nkomo (both were Zimbabwe’s pre-independence heroes, albeit on separate divides of the struggle).

One had other revolutionary heroes (like Kwame Nkurumah, Patrice Emery Lumumba, Nelson Mandela et all) but because my youth situated in the era of his struggle, there was no competition as to who stood out for me!

My rooms in university could be described as a shrine to the guy. My close friends then did not find the ‘infatuation’ funny at all. But I digress.

Robert, but your life turned out to be a disappointment! We are cultured not to speak ill of the dead, but I am only trying to put the record straight, not malign. The western press has taken the cream on that.

At independence the world had so much hope for Zimbabwe, so much so that many established economies were willing to offer great assistance to the nascent democracy. But you had to behave archetypal as an African leader.

First was the needless and divisive competition with Joshua Nkomo that caused so much pain to ordinary Zimbabweans. Then the needless fight with Britain, which could have been better managed. The zenith was the unfair land appropriation that brought the economy of the great Mwene Mutapa (Monomotapa) empire to its knees! All because you couldn’t keep your revolutionary friends in check.

Anyone who had been in Zimbabwe in the 1980s will weep at the Zimbabwe of 2019 that will be organising your funeral rites! All because you had to be the classic African big man! What a waste, what a let down.

You had to be harangued out of office because you kept forgetting writing materials you had to go back for, rather than exit the scene in glory. Boys who once worshipped the ground guy walked on rose up to rubbish your legacy, all because you failed to put your nation before your ego.

Dear Robert, you will be remembered, not as the hero you ought to be but as a despot. And that is the sad commentary of your passing.

Fair thee well, scion of the Shona tribe. I wonder how the Ndebele would remember you? I know how the world would.

©️ Adewale Adeniji. 6th September 2019.

Our Nation_Role of the President’s Chief of Staff.

During the swearing in ceremony of his ministers on Wednesday, 21st August 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari streamlined communication channel to his office from all appointed government officials. He directed that henceforth all communications to, and requests for meetings with him, be routed through the office of his chief of staff. Note that this is only for all appointed officers of the executive branch, meaning from the directive does not affect the Vice President, as some have alleged.

 

This directive has caused a lot of furore in the ever bubbling social media space – ranging from those who know absolutely nothing of the functions of government in a presidential system, to those who are plain mischievous (those who know but always jump on any ‘opportunity’ to trash the president). Even the official opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) thought it another opportunity to criticize the president.

 

[For the PDP, yet again it showed that it is yet to master the major issues that require its comment and/or alternative narrative. PDP is not a party to criticize a policy like this. Why? The office of chief of staff was introduced into our governance system by a PDP president – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo! And the two PDP presidents after him – Yar’ Adua and Jonathan followed suit!] 

 

As a sort of enlightenment, the office of the chief of staff was a presidential innovation of America’s 33rd president, Harry Truman; and all presidents after him have all appointed chiefs of staff. Truman formalized the position in 1946 as Assistant to the President. Today, the formal title is Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff. Occupants of the office are political appointees of the president who do not require confirmation of the Senate; and they all serve at the president’s pleasure. 

 

The responsibilities of the chief of staff to the US president are both managerial and advisory and can include the following:

  • Select key White House staff and supervise them;
  • Structure the White House staff system;
  • Control the flow of people into the Oval Office (president’s office); 
  • Manage the flow of information;
  • Protect the interests of the president;
  • Negotiate with Congress (our own National Assembly), other members of the executive branch, and extra-governmental political groups to implement the president’s agenda; and
  • Advise the president on various issues, including telling the president what they do not want to hear.

 

Now, because Nigerian operates a presidential system of government COPIED from the US, president Obasanjo decided to adopt the system of having a gate keeper in a chief of staff. Fair enough. And this has become a tradition of sorts. State Governors to now have them. Even the Speaker of the 9th House of Reps has appointed one.

 

For history buffs, Nigeria has had 5 chiefs of staff in the presidency since May 1999. There was even a brief interregnum between August 2008 and May 2010 when Nigeria’s presidency had no chief of staff because president Yar’Adua abolished the office. The office was reinstated in May 2010 by president Jonathan. The 5 personalities are: (1) General Abdulahi Mohammed (May 1999 – 2nd June 2008) He served 2 presidents – Obasanjo and Umaru Yar’Adua; (2) Dr. Gbolade Osinowo who had the briefest time in office – June – August 2008; (3) Chief Mike Ogiadomhe May 2010 – February 2014); (4) General Jones Arogbofa (February 2014 – 29th May 2015); and (5) Abba Kyari (August 2015 till date).

 

So please, for Iroko’s sake, the chief of staff is not the creation of this 4th president of this 4th Republic. Even if it were, so long as he has a precedent to follow (as shown above) it cannot be ‘unconstitutional’! 

 

Also, many wonder why ministers must go through the chief of staff, and not have direct access to the president. Real question is why would a minister want direct access to the president in the first place, outside of the administratively laid down avenues of Executive Council meetings and political fora? It is only in these parts that we equate relevance with access to the ‘main oga’. Many of us who have worked in corporate settings, pray how easy is that we have (or had) access to the CEO, without making an appointment? Please!!!!

 

Another fellow even said the president’s directive is unconstitutional ‘because the 1999 constitution does not recognize the office of chief of staff’. Well, we can as well cancel all agencies and parastatals that the constitution does not specifically mention, but which form a cog in the wheel of governance, while we are at it! 

 

Another of these ‘critics’ who claims to be in the know categorically declared that said some newly appointed ministers do not like the restriction of access! If he is right (and I have no way of knowing for sure), I say tough luck! The solution is simple: any minister who does not like the new chain of command should quit. Chikena. I want to wager none will!!! 

 

There is the reasonable fear though that a chief of staff (if not the present incumbent) can abuse the powers attached to the office. That without doubt is possible. Americans still have tales to tell about H.R. Haldeman. However, just like it happened to president Nixon’s Haldeman, the system always has a way of sorting itself out. I remember the Oghiadome, president Jonathan’s first chief of staff was replaced when it appeared his actions (and inactions) were slowing down the president’s pace.

 

My point in all this is that It does not take much to research what you do not know before you put out your views into the public space. By openly stating your views, remember that others who have better information will call you out. Just saying. 

©️ Adewale Adeniji. 23/08/2019

2019 Presidential Elections_Laying An Improper Foundation!

2019-elections

 

It is no longer news that the National Elections in Nigeria will begin in a few days from today, 14 days, if all goes according to INEC’s time-table.

It is also no longer news that the two dominant parties – the ruling APC and the PDP – have been criss-crossing Nigeria, canvassing votes. 

What is no longer news is the hue and cry of the PDP and its managers (elected and self-appointed) with every APC presidential campaign and the humongous crowd it draws! It appears that one political party is running scared! Or how do you account for OBJ’s alarmist comments that APC had perfected plans to rig, hence the large crowds (fresh from a beneficiary of rigging!); or Uche Secondus’s call on INEC to disqualify PMB because 2 Niger Republic governors attended an APC rally in the north (Cheap coming from a party whose default mode is too appeal to “America” and “the EU” to warn PMB against rigging an election that had not taken place!)?

It appears to me that the PDP now acknowledges that the only way out for it from the obvious impending political loss is to try and discredit the process. 

Truth is, in any electoral contest, there is bound to be a winner and a loser; and the Electoral Act has adequate provisions for any one dissatisfied with the outcome of the elections to contest same through the court system; and our recent history shows that this route is effective. Cue the restoration of stolen mandates in Anambra, Ekiti, Osun and Edo states since the beginning of this Republic in 1999!

So, it shows the paucity of ideas, this poor foundation laying tactics of the PDP of the shrinking of its electoral prospects. So, assuming, but not conceding, what happens if the PDP now causes an electoral upset by winning? After discrediting the very same process? PDP should go out with dignity if it loses, not discredit the process. That is the way of democracy. 

Not that you PDP will know this, since one man, one vote was anathema to them in their years of rulership, save in 2015 when they had humane politicians at the top of your party, not desperados! 

My name is Adewale Adeniji. I wrote this message. 2nd February 2019.

Our Nation_Politics of 2019 Presidential Elections_Dying Throes of A Privileged Class.

Take another look at these pictures. A motley crowd eager to gain the approval of former President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ), apparently at the behest of the presidential nominee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (Atiku).

I am also not surprised though with the images showing some ‘clerics’ in the mix. They will try to explain it away that they ‘only facilitated the meeting’. Na so! 🤣. But I digress.

Despite having sworn by his ‘faith’ never to support Atiku’s presidential ambition, OBJ in his presser after the event went on record to officially reverse himself by endorsing Atiku’s candidacy. According to the former president, Atiku, having purged himself of his ‘sins’ is now a fit and proper person to become Nigeria’s No. 1 citizen.

First, all is fair in politics. Every politician has a legitimate right to seek endorsements. Even President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) sought OBJ’s endorsement in 2015. So, I do not agree with anyone who lashes at Atiku for seeking OBJ’s endorsement, or at OBJ for giving it. Truth is, if things had not gone awry between them, I am sure PMB himself would have made that pilgrimage to OBJ. In fact, not that he didn’t try.

Second, OBJ reserves the right to endorse anyone for any elections, just as you and I. It remains his inalienable right. So, I equally disagree with anyone who feels OBJ is dated and irrelevant. That, is beside the point. His lack of worth to some, equals his bag full of worth to others! It is his right. And it is really not about electoral value.

So, what is my point, exactly?

What just happened in Abeokuta is the privileged class of Nigeria’s rent economy banding together to forestall total annihilation that a Buhari 2nd term portends for them. If you do not see this, trust me they do! And they are panicking.

It is an Hail Mary (desperate) move. The possibility of PMB’s continuation in office in 2019 threatens their personal economies, endangers their lifestyles, built on free access to government patronage, which has been slammed shut since June 2015. It is a dire attempt to present a ‘united’ front against one common ‘enemy’. And that exposes their futility of these attempts. Let me explain.

It is really not about the masses of our people. Forget the rhetorics. It is pocket book economics – for those who still mourn the loss of their access, post 2015 presidential polls. Yes, there must be justifications – in comes ‘nepotism of appointment of service chiefs’, ‘herdsmen killings’, ‘illiteracy of the incumbent’ et all.

Yet again, these conglomeration just gave PMB a plausible campaign theme: “THEM (read those who caused the morass of our country with their self-cantered privileges) against US (every common man, the talakawas!)” Now, I‘m sure you just sniggered!

Listen, there is no one who truly knows OBJ who will believe he is not running scared! Trust me! As with the motley crowd. OBJ, for instance, knows that he stepped on the tiger’s tail when he took on PMB. Why? Because of the manner of PMB’s sharp retort, particularly the questions PMB raised thereafter! What else would one make of statements like, “if anyone tries to jail me, I will open my mouth and expose…”?

Of all the things this class has thrown at the incumbent, nothing seem to have given them the assurance that PMB has been dealt the knock-out blow they had hoped for. So, what to do? You got it right – the enemy of my enemy becomes a friend! Band together to save the privilege.

Will it work? Well, it well might, if the incumbent fails to do the needful.

Whether it works or not, I am certain that this will happen:

This camaraderie will ultimately unravel – woefully. If this does not implode now, it surely will if Atiku wins the presidency. Why? Because their interests are at the same time complimentary and contradictory! Recipe for chaos; and because you cannot cage the kind of power the 1999 constitution invests in a sitting president! OBJ ought to know this because it has failed him thrice now – with the Yar’Adua, Goodluck and Buhari presidencies!

Just watch out. For now, it is open season on alliances and realignment of forces, and there is nothing immoral or illegitimate about it. One thing remains constant though – elections cannot be freely rigged as before!!!

I am smiling in Egun language! 🤣😂

©Adewale Adeniji. 11/10/2018.

Our Nation_Politics_2018 PDP Presidential Election Primaries. Winner: Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Total Votes Cast: 3221

Total Void Votes: 68

Candidates & Authentic Scores:

Atiku Abubakar: 1,532

Amin Tambuwal: 693

Bukola Saraki: 317

Rabiu Kwankwaso: 158

Aminu Dankwabo: 111

Sule Lamido: 96

Ahmed Makarfi: 74

Taminu Turaki: 65

Attaihiru Bafarawa: 48

David Mark: 35

Jonah Jang: 19

Datti Ahmed: 5

All eleven (11) other aspirants scored 1621 votes amongst themselves, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar scored 1,532.

His nearest opponent, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State scores 693 votes. Atiku Abubakar’s votes more than doubled Tambuwal’s votes!

Whatever comes out later as to how this result came out this way, none of the aspirants can claim to hold a candle to the acceptance of Atiku Abubakar by the PDP. I watched majority of the voting and counting process. I saw no underhand play in the open.

For avoidance of doubt and with due respect to all the other political parties and personalities, the coming 2018 presidential elections will be between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and it will be a close run thing!

So, barring any unforeseen circumstances the occupant of Aso Rock come 29th May 2019 will be either the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari or the a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. There will be no neophyte in power in Aso Rock come 2019, that is for sure.

One hopes this will be a campaign of issues. Watching Atiku’s speech at the PDP convention and that of President Muhammadu Buhari at the APC convention (also yesterday) where his nomination was confirmed, it may well be. Both outlined their visions. Atiku, what he believes the APC administration has got wrong; and PMB what he believes his administration has achieved in the past 3 and a half years.

We know who the running mate of PMB would be. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, it should be the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibajo. Whoever Atiku chooses, the coming campaign will indeed be mouth watering for political buffs!

For my recent posts on these two Nominees, please read:

Our Nation_Our Politics. WHY PMB SHOULD BE EASILY RE-ELECTED IN 2019 SERIES, Parts 1-5 & Our Nation_Political Permutations for 2019 Presidential Elections Series_Atiku Abubakar_Can He Overcome His Miscalculations? All published in September 2018.

© Adewale Adeniji. 7th October 2018.

Our Politics_ 2018 APC’s Lagos Gubernatorial Primaries.

Ambode et Tinubu
 
APC’s Lagos Nunc Dimitis is being sung by the incumbent. The gloves are off. Even if Ambode loses the primaries tomorrow, Sanwo-Olu has just been dealt a fatal blow!
 
Arrested in the US nite club for spending fake dollars? O wow!
 
A man that is down needs fear no fall! He is going down screaming and kicking. Even if he is now impeached, the damage is done.
 
Oh wow!

Our Nation_Political Permutations for 2019 Presidential Elections Series. Atiku Abubakar_Can He Overcome His Miscalculations?

 

img_2194(Warning: Long Post)

On the back of my series on President Muhammadu Buhari, how I feel the odds favour his re-election if he is a contestant, someone suggested that maybe I should consider some of the other presidential gladiators. I would like to take up that challenge. 

In this series, I shall endeavour to examine some other eminent Nigerians who have indicated their intention to contest in 2019 and share how I see them going into the 2019 Presidential Elections ‘pre-season’, to borrow a sports metaphor. I would like to begin with our former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

I strongly believe that by this election cycle (2019), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should have served out two terms as Nigerian President, but for his miscalculations. Decisions he has taken that will continue to dog his quest for this political Golden Fleece.

That he is still running for office of President is his first major political mis-calculation. I will explain. I used to be in awe of Alhaji Atiku’s political manoeuvres until the run-up to the 2003 Presidential election season.  Remember MKO Abiola and the cancelled June 12 elections? Atiku was one of Abiola’s rivals for the SDP presidential ticket. He slugged it out with Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe in Jos. And what a delight that contest was! 

In this 3rd Republic, Atiku came into the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with a bloc group of the Shehu Musa Yar’adua machine – the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM). So, he did not come alone. He came with many powerful politicians. For example, Chief Tony Anennih (a.k.a the Fixer), who went on to be a powerful pillar of the PDP was of the PDM political family. Atiku was elected Governor of Adamawa State, but before he was sworn in, President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) tapped him as his running mate. Long story short, he was elected Vice President in 1999. 

That the then sitting Vice President had the structure of his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his vice grip (even though he was not the official party leader),  was not in doubt. In his inimitable way, Atiku had successfully out-foxed his boss, OBJ in cornering the support of majority stake holders who will decide who flies the party’s flag in the 2003 presidential election. – the PDP state governors. They were ready to go to the PDP convention and change the headship of their party’s ticket. And with no viable opposition in sight, who ever had got that ticket would have been elected President (as it eventually panned out).

OBJ realised this, and because of what had happened between him and Atiku during their first term (story for another day), he knew Atiku had him over a barrel! And Atiku knew he held the aces! But he made his first, and perhaps brutal mis-calculation of all. Instead of fighting for the ticket within his grasp, he vacillated between OBJ and Alex Ekwueme, who to support. He eventually gave in to OBJ’s ‘begging’ (accounts have it that OBJ in fact knelt down to apologise to Atiku for slights real and imagined during their first term!) instead of seizing the moment for himself!

Now, you do not trade strength for weakness – a truism about power! No matter what Obasanjo may have promised, Atiku, with respect, was naive not to press his advantage! Worst case scenario, both himself and OBJ would have contested for the ticket, and even if OBJ had got the ticket, Atiku would have proved too strong to ignore, too connected to be shafted; and would have still been on that ticket, albeit in a stronger position! By yielding so easily, he lost face with the state governors who had been banking on Atiku to protect them from OBJ’s over bearing sanctimony. That was when OBJ knew he had Atiku. Students of Nigerian political history know that OBJ still has Atiku. Otherwise, how does one explain Atiku’s belief that he has to perennially ‘beg’ OBJ  for support. He, who was once a strong man of PDP politics. The rest, they say is history! 

Not only was he super marginalised during his second term as Vice President, it was made abundantly clear to Atiku he had no future in the party his PDM group co-founded . So, he had to leave the PDP. And then he made his second mis-calculation.

What I regard as Atiku’s second misstep was the party he joined after he was ‘forced’ out of PDP. Now follow me. Atiku had always been a man of immense resources (this piece is not about the source or purity of those resources, please). He had always been a money man. One should wonder then, why with all his resources and immense contacts nationwide, Atiku chose to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which was then a regional party in truth, rather than form a national based party where his word will be final? Now remember that this was the route the present occupant of Aso Rock (President Muhammadu Buhari) took when he was shunted out of old All People’s Party (APP). He simply formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), went on to win a state – Nasarawa – and get his supporters into the National Assembly. You couldn’t ignore Buhari thereafter. One couldn’t therefore but wonder at Atiku’s tactics, post PDP. But I suspect why he chose the APC option, rather than form a party of his own.

Atiku wanted a ready made platform, rather than build one from the ground up. Why? Because that requires time, patience and gritty work. Precious inputs he was impatient to wait upon. Yes, it would have taken time to build a formidable party to drive his ambition and perhaps delay its realisation, but it would have shown Atiku to be a man of conviction, ready to put his money where his mouth is. Rather, many saw an opportunistic politician – only looking for a ready made political vehicle. This makes him one of the motley crowd, not the primus inter pares image he needed to portray! Same is playing out with his full-circle return to the PDP for this presidential election season! *sighs* 

And Atiku’s chosen modus is so strange because that was not Shehu Musa Yar’adua’s play book. For the uninitiated, the late General Shehu Musa Yar’ardua (elder brother of late President Umaru Yar’Adua) is acknowledged as Atiku’s political patron.  In all his years in politics (except for when IBB ‘corraled’ the political class into two groupings of SDP and NRC), Shehu Yar’Adua had always built his political movement from the ground up. Atiku apparently tired of his patron’s playbook.

Atiku’s third mis-calculation is encouraging the senate presidency of Senator Bukola Saraki. Now, before you dispute it, this fact is now so common knowledge that those involved and in the know accept its truth. Having lost out to PMB in the APC presidential primaries in 2014, many thought Atiku would have pulled out of APC to look for another platform. But he did not dare, then. For these reasons: First the primaries were so transparent and his ‘betrayal’ by Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Jagaban) so well planned that it would have been seen as sour grapes. Secondly, it was obvious to the knowledgeable that PMB was the man of the moment, given the bumbling

of the then incumbent. Going against him would have been political suicide. Thirdly, Atiku did not even come second in the APC primaries! He came third behind PMB and Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso of Kano, whose second was even distant! Remember that Atiku lost to two northerners in that primary. So, how could he now go and run as a ‘northern alternative’ to President Goodluck Jonathan? I digress again, sorry.

So, to remain relevant and act as unofficial opposition within the APC, Atiku leveraged on Saraki’s ambition and ‘contributed’ to the emergence of both Senator Saraki and Honourable Yakubu Dogara as presiding officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly, in flagrant disobedience of official party preference. 

So far so good, yes? No! He was blind sided by Saraki’s own grand plan! Take this from me, if Atiku has read Saraki’s play, the latter would not have become senate president! 3rd miscalculation, and the last I would discuss.

In conclusion, Atiku, for me, has not shown enough political deftness, the like that would bring him his desired result – Nigeria’s presidency, when by now he should have become a former President! He had it all laid before him, but wrong political choices continue to deny him. I wish him well in his on-going quest.

© Adewale Adeniji. 20th September 2018.