Pendulum: Will The Donald Dukes of Nigeria Ever Get a Chance? By Dele Momodu

Chief Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, I finally caught up, and had a most productive meeting, with one of my favourite Nigerian leaders, Donald Duke, in Lagos last weekend. I have steadfastly remained his fan long after he left power ten years ago as Governor of Cross River State. Not even his most fastidious and vociferous critic would ever suggest that he did not leave a monumental mark in that fortunate State. It remains a mystery why, and how, Donald Duke, was abandoned, and wasted, by his Party, PDP, and nay Nigeria. I have written endlessly, and campaigned feverishly, that Nigeria desperately, and urgently, needs many leaders in the mould of Donald Duke. So, it was a pleasure not only meeting up with him again but having time to discuss a topic we both fervently and passionately believe in, Nigeria.

I do not know if Donald Duke is a saint, since we seem to be obsessed with seeking, and finding, angels from heaven to lead us, but I’m very certain that Donald Duke would have performed and delivered once more. Successful and progressive nations are not governed by saints but by performers with uncommon vision, zeal and the determination to succeed where others failed. This handsome, charming, charismatic, cosmopolitan, suave, visionary, audacious and cerebral gentleman, has so much to remind us of a Barack Obama. It is one of those cruel ironies that many of those Nigerian youths who shout the loudest about wanting enduring change never remembered to fight for the emergence of the Donald Dukes of this world. They preferred to fight based on ethnicity, religion and raw cash, the very primordial things that have kept us, both, down and extremely backward.

I’m writing this article on a flight from Dubai to London, and there is no better time to get inspired and simultaneously angered about the disgraceful and embarrassing state of things in Nigeria. I have since come to the conclusion that Nigeria is in this peculiar mess because we have consistently and stubbornly continued to do and repeat the same nonsense and rubbish while expecting a miraculous change. Truth be told, a leader can never give or deliver what he does not possess. A leader can only be fired up by the limits of his education, background, worldview, experience and exposure. Age is also a factor, a man who made a mess of important assignments in his prime is not likely to make a success of it when he has become totally weak and dim-witted. It is not his fault but the natural law of diminishing returns. This is the difference between Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe. While Mandela surrounded himself with the brightest whiz-kids to shore up whatever shortcomings he had, having been out of circulation for 27 odd years, Mugabe, on the contrary remained the omnipotent and all-knowing leader even in his twilight years. This Messianic complex is dangerously perfidious.

It was with this background in mind that I was truly elated when Donald Duke accepted the invitation to meet me for a private session. The first thing that struck me on his arrival was his very good looks. Also, his confidence and poise. And, of course, as our conversation progressed, his sharp brains and wits. I had no doubt in my mind that Nigeria has been haemorrhaging to death because of our self-immolating lack of respect for the likes of Donald Duke and our preference for enthroning mediocrity. If we made mistakes in the past, must we continue to wallow in our foolhardiness? This was my starting point with Donald Duke.

“Oga, thank you for honouring my invitation at such short notice Sir. You know I have been your self-appointed Campaign Manager all these years. It is so wonderful to have you here finally, one on one…” I stated. “I cannot thank you enough Dele for keeping faith with me without seeing me. I cannot say we’ve been close friends, yet you mentioned me regularly in your column and I’m always wondering what I have done to deserve this honour from you…” he responded.

I told him how much I was fascinated by his incredible work in Cross River State, especially, how Calabar was fast becoming the Dubai of Nigeria. I was not unaware that his critics often lampooned him as wasting resources on building a beautiful State while his people languished in squalid conditions. But I knew such arguments came from people of limited minds and dreams. The living conditions of a people will never improve unless and until leaders learn to create huge dreams and gigantic activities that would ultimately generate jobs and opportunities. Donald Duke looked a bit pensive. “You won’t believe this; I was totally disappointed to hear supposedly knowledgeable people utter such words like ‘na Dubai we go chop’? It is this sort of warped mentality that has kept us where we have found ourselves… Lack of big dreams… Lack of faith in our abilities to build our own big cities and compete against the greatest nations… Nigerians are naturally brilliant, and we have the population to give us the power and influence of China, but we are not ready to change our ways of doing things…” he said, with sorrow in his eyes.

This dovetailed to my most important question: “Will you run the Presidential race?” He paused for a moment, measuring his thoughts and probably his choice of words. “Dele, do you want to hear the truth? I seriously want to run but my party, PDP, would have to decide on many things… Our party is well-positioned to win the next election if we can change our style a bit and beat APC at its own game. We must take advantage and benefit from our experience since 1999. Despite our apparent mistakes, Nigerians can now compare and contrast us with APC. What do we need to win the next elections? We must go to the field with our best candidates. We must learn from how we select our footballers. No one cares where you come from. Can you play well? Pronto. We must show clearly that we are more democratic. Zoning is good, but it has not worked well in Nigeria. The time has come to unleash the best brains from every part of Nigeria. We must galvanise our youths. They will never follow or support us if we can’t show how we are different and far better than APC…”

I told him how much I detest the idea of zoning and the way we’ve all accepted this unconstitutional act, unquestionably and horribly, like victims of mass hypnotism. I do not mind the principle of Federal Character in certain appointments and promotions, but it has no place whatsoever in elective office. Even Federal Character must be based on sound merit. No one should ever be appointed or promoted only because of tribe or religion. No student should be admitted or promoted if he cannot meet minimum requirements. We have now seen the result of promoting mediocrity, hypocrisy and laziness in Kaduna State where Governor Nasir El Rufai has practically guillotined the teaching careers of about 20,000 hopelessly and ridiculously dull teachers.

Zoning is undoubtedly one of the biggest scams in Nigeria. It was forced on us by some control freaks in order to direct and manipulate the system in perpetuity. If we break it down, we’ll see that it has favoured some states and regions more than the others, while some are at serious disadvantage. Nigeria has been led to date by government heads as follows: Tafawa Balewa (Bauchi, Moslem for 6 years) jointly with Nnamdi Azikiwe (Onitsha, Christian for 6 years), Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi (Umuahia, Christian for 6 months), Yakubu Gowon (Lur, Christian for 9 years), Murtala Muhammed (Kano, Moslem for 6 months), Olusegun Obasanjo (Abeokuta, Christian, two stints, for 3 years and 8 years respectively, totalling 11 years), Shehu Shagari (Sokoto, Moslem for 4 years and a few months), Muhammadu Buhari (Katsina, Moslem (two stints, for 20 months and currently 2 and a half years respectively, totalling over 4 years and counting), Ibrahim Babangida (Minna, Moslem for 8 years) Ernest Shonekan (Abeokuta, Christian for almost 3 months) Sani Abacha (Kano, Moslem for almost 5 years), Abdulsalami Abubakar (Minna, Moslem for about one year), Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (Katsina, Moslem for almost three years) and Goodluck Jonathan (Otuoke, Christian for 5 years). More significantly the North has held power for 34 years and shared power as the stronger of two heads for six years, whilst the South has held power for 17 years and shared power as the weaker of two heads for 6 years. Using religion, Christians have held power with 25 years to the Moslems’ 32 years. So much for zoning!

Furthermore, in reality, if zoning was a sincere and precise formula, Buhari should be seen to be completing Yar’Adua’s, and thus, the North’s, second term. After all, Yar’Adua spent three years in office before he died. If APC or PDP fields another Northerner and either manages to win, is that person going to serve one or two terms? Whichever way you look at it, those insisting the North must produce the next President are thus being clever by half. In fact, the South South has the right to insist Jonathan or someone from his zone should come back to complete their own second term. Just imagine such confusion and conundrum!
What is worse, zoning has never been of immense benefit to Nigeria or its utmost beneficiaries. Katsina has produced two Heads of State on three different occasions (Buhari, Yar’Adua and Buhari again).  Kano has produced two (Murtala Muhammed and Sani Abacha). Minna has produced two (Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar). Abeokuta has produced two, also on three different occasions (Obasanjo, Shonekan and Obasanjo again). Have their sons turned their cities or States into Eldorado? The answer is a resounding No!

Donald Duke agreed with me that Nigeria needs to be reconfigured and repositioned urgently. We are respected globally for our brilliance, intellect, innovativeness and boundless energy, but we parade some of the worst leaders on planet earth and the global community wonders how and why we allow the dregs of our society to represent us. Duke believes things might change for the better if we don’t give up. He said there are times he feels frustrated about the Nigerian situation but wakes up the next day re-energised seeing the potentials instead of the horrendous challenges and difficulties. He said he would appeal to members of his Party not to waste this unique opportunity because history would not forgive them if Nigeria collapses so miserably.

He elaborated extensively on his vision for Nigeria. He said rebuilding Nigeria is not going to take rocket science but vision, passion and total commitment to the ideals of civilisation. According to him, this cannot be achieved if we keep Nigeria perpetually in the hands of those who play Nigeria like Russian Roulette. For such leaders, there is no hurry or any sense of urgency to develop. Theirs is to attain power by crooked means, warm the seats and quit without any tangible achievement. Nigerians seem comfortable in this ‘game of thrones’ that forces them to accept their bizarre existence as if it were God-ordained.  We all complain but still do nothing to correct these foolish anomalies.

How hopeful is he that he, or people of his ilk and pedigree, may emerge in the next dispensation? His response was very calm and sober. “If I can get the ticket of my Party, I’m certain that with the support of our members and the youths of Nigeria yearning for urgent restoration of hope, we shall defeat APC. I’m certain Nigerians are anxiously waiting for a leader with proven record of vigour and excellence. They will come out en masse to vote if they see such a candidate. And I promise to join hands with my Party to free Nigeria permanently from recession, oppression and depression. We know what to do to unlock the potentials of our vibrant youths and we possess the most important gift of all, the trust in our ability to take development to every part of our great country and attract our most fertile minds back home from all over the world. Our international friends are also waiting to support the right leadership when they see one. It would be the dawn of a new era in Nigeria…” I couldn’t help but shout a loud Amen to that, as he stood up to take his exit.

I followed him to his car and I felt proud and privileged knowing that such a leader is available if ever we need him and are ready to avail ourselves of his quality services. The ball is in our court.

Let’s keep the conversation flowing as I search and serve you more leaders soon.

God bless Nigeria.

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14 Year Old Boy Rapes Neighbour’s Chicken To Death.

A 14-year-old boy identified as Mansab Ali has raped his neighbour’s pet chicken to death.

Ali was arrested and questioned by the police after a neighbour accused him of committing the act.

The incident happened in Jalalpur Bhattian, Pakistan.

Ali, who admitted to have committed the crime, told the police he stole the hen from his neighbour’s shop before carrying out the sex attack that eventually killed the chicken.

According to Express Tribune, the teenager confessed to cops he did it because he was feeling “sexually frustrated.”

Police confirmed the incident, saying, “The hen died while being sexually assaulted. Two persons witnessed this act.”

The teen was detained for an “unnatural offence.”

Police chief Sarfraz Anjum said that the suspect was arrested after a medical examination of the hen confirmed the assault.

Anjun added, “He is a 14-year-old boy and did it out of sexual frustration.

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19 Year Old Teenage Model Sells Her Virginity For £2 Million To An Abu Dhabi Businessman. 

A 19-year-old model named Giselle, has spoken of a “dream come true” after selling her virginity for more than £2 million to a businessman from Abu Dhabi. .

The part-time student from the US claimed the highest bidder narrowly beat a Hollywood Actor from Los Angeles and a politician from Russia. Giselle, said she decided to auction herself off so she could pay tuition fees and go travelling.

“I would never have dreamt that the bid would rise so high and we would have reached 2.5 million euros,” she said. “This is a dream come true.” The teenager said it was her idea to sell her virginity.

She said she will meet the buyer in Germany and the hotel is booked. The agency that helped her seal the deal, has said it will provide security to accompany her to the meeting.

A spokesperson for the website said: “We organize the hotel, stay close to the hostel as a contact person in case of problems and the girl can cancel the meeting at any time.

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Pendulum: An Afternoon With Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan By Dele Momodu 

Chief Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, after my chance meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari last week at the Presidential Villa, it was the turn of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, two days ago, on November 9, 2017, to be my host. The only difference is that the meeting with President Jonathan had long been in the offing but had not materialised due to several factors. First, I was considered an enemy of the Jonathans because of my support for President Buhari. No one remembered my audacious support for Jonathan in 2010 when I risked everything to defend Jonathan’s right to become the Acting President in the absence of his boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. President Yar’Adua was then mortally ill and on an interminably long medical sojourn in Saudi Arabia, and some dubious, but influential, clique had chosen to govern by proxy in his absence. Anyway, that was then.

In the 2011 Presidential race, President Buhari and I, and many others, lost the elections to Jonathan. It was a baptism of fire. I was somehow happy though that a quintessential minority candidate won that election. However, I became worried when the Jonathan government started floundering and waltzing from one crisis to the other. The fuel subsidy conundrum, for me, was the height of it. I participated in the demonstrations that nearly incapacitated Jonathan in the early days of 2012. Subsequently, I took it upon myself to be an unofficial, unpaid special adviser and consultant to Jonathan on political matters. I wrote copiously on how the government was frittering away its massive goodwill and equity. Of course, the Jonathan supporters did not want to listen and hearken to my sincere opinion and I was endlessly insulted for speaking out my mind.

By 2014, I was just too sure that the Jonathan government was heading for a cataclysmic fall. I wrote an article, ‘In Search of Mathematicians’, in which I analysed that the opposition Party was going to thrash the ruling Party. Again, I was called names my parents did not give me, but it was only a matter of time before my doomsday prophesy came to pass. One of the greatest tragedies of power is how acolytes often mislead the big boss. I have no doubt that Jonathan is a gentleman who meant well for our country but he was surrounded by several malevolent people who capitalised on his plain humility, abject simplicity and imagined weakness to wreak havoc on the nation.

Since then, I have longed to chat with him and ask a few questions about his tenure as President. My previous approaches had been resoundingly rebuffed. Realistically, I did not expect Jonathan to be too comfortable with vociferous members of the opposition like me. But I did not give up.

As fate would have it, I ran into one of our mutual friends, a very significant member of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet, weeks ago. The man had wondered why I wrote an article predicting the possibility of Jonathan returning to contest the Presidential election in 2019. Most of my readers had said the notion was preposterous and that it was an impossible and unreasonable proposition. The more I watched events unfold the more I felt Jonathan’s second coming was not impossible and unrealisable. His man informed me that his former boss nursed no such ambition and promised to arrange a meeting so I could hear this from the horse’s mouth.

My thesis, though seemingly absurd, is not without reason. Firstly, I do not see the possibility of any Northerner defeating President Buhari in 2019, if he decides to run. Buhari is the most popular personality from the Northern part of Nigeria today. He is, as a matter of unassailable fact, regarded and treated as a cult hero. The North would not want to risk certainty for uncertainty by supporting someone else from outside power. If the PDP chooses to present another Northerner to run against Buhari, the Party would have presented a second term to Buhari on a platter of gold because the South would have nothing to fight for and may present a lukewarm attitude to that election. My view, is that the 2019 Presidential election would be fought principally on the account of ethnicity and religion like most of our previous elections.

Secondly, a Presidential candidate needs to lock down four out of the six geo-political regions in Nigeria. Buhari had always found it tough to do this. On his own, he can boast no more than two regions. Naturally, a strong Southern candidate will give him a run for his money, if he also commands cult followership from his zone. There are few people in this mould and, whether one likes it or not, this includes Jonathan. The Southern candidate would obviously have a decent foray in the North Central and South West zones as well as a few of the battleground States in the North West and North East. Buhari has always found it difficult to replicate a similar decent incursion into the Southern axis apart from the South West.

Thirdly, age and health will be substantial factors in 2019. Buhari would be 76 and has been very ill in the recent past though, thankfully, he is much better now. Jonathan, like most of the other strong Southern candidates, will be under 65 and seems virile. He is one of the few who can draw on his experience and achievement to offer comparative analysis to Buhari, project for project.

It was with this mind-set that I approached former President Jonathan two days ago after he personally phoned to reconfirm our appointment for that day. I was deeply humbled by this simple gesture. By the time I meandered my way to his understated but elegant office, I didn’t know what to actually expect from him. He had some visitors from the Bible Society of Nigeria who had come to present him with the biggest Bible I ever saw, written in five languages English, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo and Efik, all in one holy book. He asked me to give him a few minutes to attend to these visitors and I gladly obliged.. When they left, I was ushered into his personal office. The first thing he said was, “Dele, I must thank you for your level of professionalism. I read your column regularly and must commend your maturity and objectivity. Even when I disagree with you, I still enjoy your style.” “Thank you, sir…” I replied. He was ostensibly excited about the visit from the Bible Society of Nigeria and showed me the massive wooden book that was jealously protected in a beautiful casket. He then lectured me (once a lecturer always a lecturer) on the history of the Holy Bible in Nigeria. That done, we settled down to serious discussions.

I was thinking of how to proceed with the conversation. I decided to start by telling him my mission. I just don’t want to write abstract articles anymore. I want to use the incredible access God has given me to virtually everyone, low or high, to set a roadmap for our dear beloved country. It is my duty to give my readers authoritative information as much as possible. I’ve taken it upon myself to go behind and beyond the regular news to educate and entertain my passionate followers.

I started with harmless, innocuous and easy questions. How has he been coping outside power? He said he was fine because he never expected to be in government forever. He was particularly proud that he left power without any bloodshed. He appreciates the intervention of very influential and well-meaning people who brokered the democratic initiative. He feels good and at peace with himself for honouring his word and his bond.

Does he feel harassed by the Buhari government? He said he expected some of the unfolding events since the government came into being on the platform of anti-corruption mantra. “You do not abandon a winning formula easily…” He said he accepts his foibles and weaknesses and has learnt very useful lessons from those shortcomings. “But we did very well on the whole…” he insisted.. I was touched by his candour. He believed that if he had won his second term in 2015, he would have consolidated on the gains of that “imperfect” first term. But that did not happen. He says his love for Nigeria would never make him wish failure for Buhari or any other future government. “I have had the rare opportunity of leading our country at very critical moments and did my best. I’ve left the rest to posterity to judge,” he said matter-of-factly.

Now to the delicate terrain. “Sir, will you run in 2019?” I fired the shot from the hip. I’m not sure he anticipated this important question at the time it came. “Contest again? No. People come to me every day saying they want me back. I’m always moved to tears whenever I go out and see the huge crowds shouting GEJ, we want you, even in the North. Instead of getting swollen headed, I actually reflect on my achievements and mistakes and feel humbled and feel very sober… I have never been a man of inordinate ambition. I’m a man of very modest means. I hardly travel because of the logistical costs. I’ve played my part and I have moved on.”

“What if your party decides to invite you again?’ I probed deeper. “Are you not aware that our Party has zoned the Presidency to the North, and the Chairmanship to the South?” he queried. I gave him my permutations but he insisted that the two major Parties are highly inclined to produce candidates from the North. “Even Fayose that has declared his interest may face big challenges because of the decision of our party…” he opined.

“So there is no way you can ever contest again?” I fired again and he returned the fire instantaneously, “I’m not God but I sincerely doubt the possibility…” he said with finality. I dropped the subject as it was not my intention to put him on the spot, like that.

“How will you rate the Buhari government so far?” another tricky question, I felt. “What do you think Dele?… You are their friend…” I kept mute “Honestly speaking, they have tried in the area of security and fighting corruption, even if they’ve tilted more towards us… But we did a lot in our time in the area of agriculture, transport, managing the economy, rule of law, free and fair elections… Only Nigerians can judge… It won’t be fair of me to pass verdict so soon on my immediate successor… I knew they would hit brick-walls on some of their promises, especially the school feeding program and the payment of N5,000 to unemployed graduates… We worked on feasibility studies on them in the past and realised Nigeria could not afford it… It is always the job of opposition to over-promise but reality of governance is always different…”, he said, animatedly.

I could see and feel this was his forte. He spoke confidently and eloquently about the art and science of governance. He said the figures are still fresh in his memories. I decided to digress again. What does he think about Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s chances. “He can’t get the APC ticket. If Atiku gets our party ticket, he would compete well. He’s always a passionate politician. But he would have to reach out to our boss, Baba OBJ, the boss of all bosses. We’ve all learnt at different times that you ignore OBJ at your own peril. OBJ has the magic wand, respected at home and abroad…” speaking like a penitent student. Experience, they say, is the best teacher.

If PDP picks a Northern candidate, where does he expect the running mate to come from, I asked. “Strategically, since Professor Osinbajo is already running with Buhari, the South South and South East, remain the most fertile grounds. And there are many brilliant people there waiting for the chance. The Governors control some of the richest states in Nigeria except Lagos…” he posited.

With time far gone, I requested for some pictures with him. He accepted with his usual equanimity. I invited my protégé, Mr Ohimai Godwin Amaize, aka Mr Fix Nigeria, who was a prominent member of the PDP Youth Wing who was really elated to meet Jonathan again, to do the honours. We took several pictures.

As we exchanged goodbyes, I looked back at President Jonathan and wondered what fate might have in store for him in the future …

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Heroes By Charly Boy. 

Fellow frustrated Nigerians,

I have always said that the present and future of Nigeria can only be salvaged by the few exceptional Nigerian youths who are defiantly willing to bell the cat for the freedom of everyone.

In my 66yrs on planet earth as a citizen of  Nigeria, I have been privileged to meet outstanding/exceptional young Nigerians who are wired with immense potentials. Only needing proper guidance and encouragement provided by someone they can connect with, a Big brother or Fada figure leader.

As The AreaFada I believe that my divine role is simply to connect the dots and inspire a generation that a better future is possible – if they dare.

I thank God that my life and struggles through my tenacity, consistency, and sagacity, have inspired millions to chase their dreams.

Today in Nigeria, take it or leave it, those who make up the only moral voice for the masses and all disenchanted peoples of our great nation are the exceptional youths of the OurMumuDonDo movement. Also, the young Nigerians in the diaspora who have clearly distinguished themselves in their different fields of endeavor, have not only proved their mettle to the world but they have also placed Nigeria in a good light before the nations of the world. Time and time again, these youths have shown that indeed, a better Nigeria is possible.

The exceptional youths of the OurMumuDonDo movement have proven to the world that it is not the size of the army that counts but the tenacity of the few.

It is on record that when President Muhammadu Buhari was away in London wasting taxpayers money on an undisclosed ailment, it was the exceptional Nigerian youths of the OurMumuDonDo movement that forced him back to Nigeria to carry out his presidential duties. One hand.

Though the price these exceptional youths paid for their highly commendable feat was too steep. How can I forget the young man who took multiple dagger stabs while shielding me. Their courage I will never forget.

Again, for the past two weeks, these same youths have been asking the president to ActOrQuit; to take decisive action against corruption.

When president Buhari refused to disclose the content of the SGF report directly involving the former SGF Babachir Lawal and former DG NIA Ayodele Oke, both of them yet-to-be dismissed at the time, it was these same exceptional youths who drummed up such loud campaign #BuhariActOrQuit, before the president eventually sacked the rogues. Still, these youths have insisted that the president must disclose the content of the infamous SGF report and also ensure that Lawal and Oke are duly prosecuted according to law.

Judging by the meritorious strides of the OurMumuDonDo youths, therefore, I am under no illusion that Nigeria is beginning to discover the critical mass that will rescue her from the accursed architects of mediocre, impunity and colossal failure in governance.

Whilst the exceptional Nigerian youths of the OurMumuDonDo movement continue to stand up to evil defending the present and future of Nigeria, it is crucial for other Nigerian youths who are still sagging and dulling to rise to this call of nationalism and ensure that Nigeria does not perish during their time.

Dear Nigerian youths, the time to organize yourselves into a formidable force is now. There can be no better time to rise and fight for the good of Nigeria. Those who wish to live in a Nigeria that works for everyone without any regard for ethnic, religious, or political slant must identify with the glorious cause the exceptional youths of the OurMumuDonDo movement are fighting.

My people day don break.

The only chains we have to loose is our Fear.

At 66, the only thing I have decided to dedicate the rest of my life to is how Nigerian youths across the globe can reconnect, regroup, reorganize, consolidate and unify to become an indivisible force that will erect a new Nigeria that works for all. For this reason, therefore, I urge all exceptional Nigerian youths to not let this time to make Nigeria great pass them by. Be brave. Be defiant. Be daring. Be inquisitive. Be resilient. Never tolerate injustice.

We must define the mood of our Nation and we must breathe life into our frustration and our shared suffering, so we can jointly fight and find a lasting solution to them. Finally, Never Give Up on our Great country Nigeria!


Areafada CharlyBoy

President of All Frustrated Nigerians

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Pendulum: Who Says President Buhari Isn’t a Politician By Dele Momodu

Chief Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, I had another privilege of meeting President Muhammadu Buhari two nights ago in Abuja. I had accompanied the former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, one of the most expansive and incredibly fortified State Houses on planet Earth. I had not seen the President one on one since I was invited to meet him about two years ago, after I sent him a desperate memo informing him about how his government was losing steam and velocity so early, in its infancy. We had very high hopes, and expectations, in his ability to bring about quick-fire changes in our dear beloved country. Notwithstanding the fact that change has been sporadic, if not epileptic, I still have no doubt that he was the only option available to us then, if we were to be rid of the rot that had become a malignant cancer in our system.  Of course, he will always remain one of the most decent leaders Nigeria has ever had. Our interaction at that 2015 meeting was convivial and I left reasonably assured that everything was going to be alright. 

Unfortunately, the government started on a combative note, perhaps, because of its avowed promise to tackle, fight and exterminate corruption in our nation. The in-fighting within the ruling party was also a matter for serious concern. It appeared the giddiness of defeating an incumbent President in Africa affected the way the All Progressives Congress (APC) managed, or mismanaged its landmark victory. That was how the Party started frittering away its massive goodwill and monumental equity. What was worse, the devil is a liar, the President suddenly became afflicted and badly affected by ill-health whilst he had not even spent two years in office. Those he left behind during his long medical sojourns abroad were too careful not to be labelled disloyal and thus could not operate full throttle. It was a period of confusion and commotion. We tried to warn against starting on such note, but the falcon refused to hear the falconer. 

Eventually, things appear to have returned to normal. Reality has set in as the President has returned back home and settled into government despite the wishes of his vilifiers. The President has survived remarkably well, and we are extremely glad he is back to his home and office. However, even though his desk must be overloaded with files seeking urgent attention, some of his staff are still busy bickering and tearing at each other’s throats. Similarly, his Party, APC, appears to be falling apart and things seem no longer at ease. Yet, his kitchen cabinet would want him to seek a second term. To do this and hope to succeed, he needs the services of some of the experienced politicians who brought him to power in 2015. Many of them seem to be rebelling. You can’t totally blame them. They think and feel they’ve been used, abused, dumped and left in the proverbial lurch. 

From the swift moves made in the Presidential villa this week, it is obvious that the President has bought into the idea of running for a second term. It is his legitimate right if he so wishes. I advised against such move weeks back for several reasons. I believe at 76, by 2019, and 80, by 2023, when and if he completes his second term, age would no longer be on his side. He would have become a Robert Mugabe and Nigeria is too complex and complicated to be governed by a leader without maximum alertness and stamina. Two, I feel the President should kindly attend more to his health from now onwards. There’s much he can still achieve in the next 18 months or so. In seeking a second term, he would have to compromise on a lot of things. He can never win the election without the services of the ubiquitous “bad boys” of Nigerian politics.

The furious and spirited political activities this week suggest that the race for 2019 has begun in earnest and that President Buhari is a prime candidate, as he seeks a second term. He called and chaired a meeting of his Party caucus, apparently, the first of its kind since attaining power at the centre. Baba’s voice was sonorous and his choice of words soothing. The glow and glint he radiated on his face and eyes reflected his innermost joy and pleasure. He mingled freely. He was full of grace and gratitude to Party members. The effusive praise for the National Assembly was extraordinary. This was a radical departure from the brickbats thrown at them from time past. This was certainly a new budding romance and honeymoon. To cement what appears to be the President turning a new leaf, dinner was even hosted in their honour. Baba seems to have learnt his ropes and is now a quintessential politician.

The APC, itself, suddenly appears to have woken up from its deep slumber. A Party meeting was called and held which was well attended. To God be the glory. No one was fooled about its intents and purposes. Elections are fast approaching. The rains are coming. Judgment day is near. New promises must be made. Frayed nerves must be soothed, massaged or even cajoled. Among the promises, there would soon be a bazaar of appointments. Even some Ministers may be fired to give way and room to bring in some new ones for deft political purposes and moves. I pray, that in any reshuffle, the good ones would not be fired while the bad ones would be retained due to interventions from the godfathers. We are expecting a deluge of appointments into parastatals. The President in the spirit of jollification says since the economy has improved, he’s ready to declare some surplus. So, we are likely to be back to the good days of merriment. Why not? Politics is a game of interests and whosoever supplies the whiff of cash is likely to laugh last and longest.

At the very best, this would guarantee another four-year term, but it would not last an eternity. A demystification may occur inadvertently or inevitably, if care is not taken and Baba loses the election. Electoral victories are never cast in stone. No one can predict the outcome of the 2019 elections no matter the enormous powers the President wields, ask President Goodluck Jonathan. Is it really worth the risk, wasting time, energy and resources on mere vain-glorification? If I were the President, I would spend a fruitful single term, like Nelson Mandela, quit when the ovation is loudest, and work hard to leave an enduring legacy. I know how tough it is to quit power, especially in a country like Nigeria where the President wields such humongous power of life and death. But the greatest achievement is never in doing and repeating what others have done before but in treading the roads less travelled by most people. It was, for me, a sort of poignant reminder,  of what can happen, that I had gone to see Baba with a younger, hardworking charismatic leader, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, who had sought a second term in his country, but who had lost gallantly. The days are gone when the power of incumbency ensured that a sitting President won elections, almost effortlessly. Elections are also more difficult to manipulate these days. And an anti-corruption government, such as ours, should not even contemplate such fraudulent act.

For me, and despite my love for and enchantment with President Buhari, I believe that the way forward is for him to step aside after having ensured that he leaves the country in the hands of an astute, much younger leaders who will protect his anti-corruption, economic and security legacies. There are more than enough young, cosmopolitan, visionary, well-educated and very vibrant people who can still be groomed even now to take over power in whatever combination. Only a strong man like President Buhari can have the courage to change how we’ve been doing things repeatedly in the past. Fortunately, he has now had the time and opportunity to study most of his lieutenants.  He is in a good position to provide full support to those he knows will valiantly carry the flag and assume the mantle that he will be relinquishing.

If the President fails, whether in his second term ambition or in leaving us with a worthwhile, creditable and veritable leadership, all hope would have evaporated. Baba can help us kill zoning and cronyism permanently by assembling a star-studded team of leaders. The world would applaud. Nigeria is so richly endowed with human and material resources. We are not able to harness this gift of God because Nigerian politics hardly throws up the best. More often than not, it throws up the worst. This must stop in order for Nigeria to make any meaningful progress. We all know what is wrong with us and also know the solution, but lack the willpower and pre-requisite sacrifices needed to turn our situation around.

Seeing the President two nights ago, I was extremely proud for the miracle God has performed in his life. He looked as handsome as ever. His handshake was firm. His sense of humour was on point. “Dele, have you added weight?” he thundered at me. We all bursted out laughing. There is always this childlike innocence about him that mesmerises and hypnotises those who come in contact with him. He is of course not the demon his detractors had tried to paint him to be. Former President Mahama never stopped admiring and appreciating him. There was a warmth they shared which I had noticed since the President visited Aburi, Ghana, in September 2015. Theirs is a relationship infused with great respect, a truly mutual admiration between the two! President Buhari is that likeable and admired. However, his taciturnity may be his biggest undoing. A man of few words is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. The Buhari you meet is clearly different from the one you see from afar, read about or watch on television. Such is the irony of life. 

I’m not sure President Buhari needs to worry too much about how long he stays in power. He should worry more about what he will bequeath to humanity. I’m genuinely troubled about APC wasting this golden opportunity. I can see the way PDP is repackaging itself slowly but surely. Let no one underrate or write them off. If they decide to learn and borrow lessons from the misadventure and misfortune of their recent past, history may actually repeat itself. All they have to do is build a broad coalition like APC did and attract the most electable candidates from everywhere. APC must not make the mistake PDP made when it allowed some of its greatest assets to saunter away to another party. This may happen again from the look of things.

The President has so much to do if he truly wants to run again, despite the advice of well-meaning Nigerians, like me. We sincerely mean well and want him to succeed where others have failed. His biggest burden would be how to keep his Party intact and together. It would surely take more than a few meetings with Party members to smoothen and straighten things out. He would have to use all the persuasive powers in the world, and may even have to mortgage Nigeria in advance, so as to reassure some foxy and ruthless politicians that he would not run them out of town after winning the next election. Sometimes being mortally scared makes strange bedfellows. We have seen this in the recent past.

Whichever way the President chooses to turn, he has a herculean task ahead of him. It is a huge mission that must be achieved. Leaving Nigeria with a heritage of integrity, incorruptibility, good security and remarkable economy is not Mission Impossible! That should be President Buhari’s ultimate aim and agenda.

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Labour Party National Chairman, Dr. Mike Omotosho commiserates with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Dr. Mike Omotosho, Labour Party National Chairman.

The National Chairman of Labour party, Dr. Mike Omotosho has expressed his condolences to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the sudden death of his son, Jide.

“I received with shock the demise of Jide, the son of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. My thoughts are with you. May Almighty Allah grant the departed eternal rest, forgive his sins and grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.”

He further prayed and shared thoughts with the Tinubu family. 

“I commiserate with the entire family and also pray that untimely death will no longer be heard in the family, In Sha Allah.”

Dr. Mike Omotosho is the
National Chairman, Labour party.

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