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DARK DAYS AHEAD Kingsley Omose 1

DARK DAYS AHEAD

Kingsley Omose

PROLOGUE
PROLOGUE

After the death of his first wife Helen, Saul Alinsky the foremost American community organizer, fell into depression and drank heavily, and took to visiting his wife's grave daily.

For several months, he thought he had been visiting his wife's grave; then he discovered he'd been visiting the wrong grave! "What the hell am I doing?" he roared.

That realization propelled him back into action, back into the organizer's greatest joy- creativity, which he lived until his death.

The valuable lesson he learned from that experience was that he was not going to live forever and that he was going to die someday.

This gut wrenching revelation was life changing for Saul Alinsky resulting in his confronting the question, 'What is the meaning of my life, since I am here just so long a period of time?

Although he was never able to fully answer that question, he got to the point of accepting his own death, at which point he no longer cared whether he was important or not.

A few months before his death in 1972 he was asked by Playboy Magazine about whether he thought much about death.

He responded, "Once you accept your own mortality on the deepest level, your life can take on a whole new meaning.

If you have learned anything about life, you won't care any more about how much money you have got or what people think of you, or whether you are successful or unsuccessful, important or insignificant.

You just care about living every day to the full, drinking in every new experience and sensation as eagerly as a child, and with the same sense of wonder".

On whether he believed in any kind of afterlife, Alinsky said, "Sometimes it seems to me that the question people should ask is not "Is their life after death?" but "Is there life after birth?"

Man's obsession with that question he added comes out of the stubborn refusal of man to face up to his own mortality. (Quotes courtesy of Rev. John E. Gibbons - 1995 and Playboy Magazine - 1972)

CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER 1

The recent fall in the price of crude oil to $63 per barrel from a high of $147 less than two months ago portends grave danger for the Nigerian state.

Only last week, Chukwuma Soludo, the Central Bank Governor identified a drastic fall in crude oil prices as one factor likely to torpedo the Nigerian economy going forward.

OPEC's recent reduction of daily crude oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day has not improved prices.

Now the Iranian oil minister is warning that further cuts in crude oil production may be required to shore up prices.

But this is unlikely to boost crude oil prices to the levels required by OPEC member countries, i.e. between $75 and $80.

Crude oil prices are driven by supply and demand and in recent years growing demands by the US, China and India drove crude oil prices to an all time high of $147 per barrel.

This has translated into billions of USD for oil producing countries especially Nigeria which depends 95% on crude oil proceeds to run its economy.

For Nigeria, this massive infusion of USD into its local economy has not necessarily translated into value for money improvements.

The ongoing economic tsunami that has hit developed western nations and thrown global trade into crisis is slowing production and buying of goods and services worldwide.

Once booming economies have gone burst (Iceland, Hungary) others are in recession (UK, USA) while some are slowing down and cutting growth forecasts (China, India).

Bottom-line, demand for crude oil has fallen resulting in a more than 100% fall in the price of crude oil.

In the light of these developments, the Nigerian government has already cut the crude oil benchmark for 2009 budget from $69 to $45.

This may or may not result in a drastic scale back of its grand plans for developing its 7 point agenda as it can always dip into crude oil excess savings or resort to borrowing.

For instance, the same FGN has admitted running up a N1.2 trillion deficit for the 2008 budget while States and Local Governments are yet to release their own figures

By refusing to host the FIFA Under -17 World Cup 2009 which had a price

By refusing to host the FIFA Under -17 World Cup 2009 which had a price tag of N39 billion, the FGN wants to paint a picture of being frugal and priority conscious.

However, spending at all 3 tiers of government, their MDAs and others indicate that spending with little or no value added is going on at full speed.

It would appear that those in high places are oblivious of the impending massive short fall in crude oil earnings.

With no effective mechanism in place to stop or curtail spending excesses at all levels dark clouds are gathering over the nation.

We have a situation in which not for value spending is increasing against the background of falling crude oil earnings and depletion of our crude oil excess savings.

Recall that this was how the Shehu Shagari government despite inheriting over $3 billion foreign reserves in 1979 went on a spending binge quickly depleted the savings.

Unfortunately crude oil prices fell to $10 per barrel, throwing the nation into an economic crisis and a resort to borrowing to make up for the shortfall in earnings.

Even the money borrowed by all tiers of government went into the business as usual no value for money spending resulting in a high debt burden.

It was not until 2003 or 2004 that that crushing debt burden and yoke was finally removed from the neck of Nigerians.

The trauma and hardship Nigerians underwent from 1979 to 1999 are well documented and need not be repeated here.

But the indicators appear to be that no lessons have been learnt by those who assert that they are destined to rule Nigeria for 60 years.

There appears to be no moral authority able to clamp down on the excesses in government especially in the area of spending with little or no value added.

Those charged to court for corrupt practices seem to be able to hold the system to a stand still while claims are rife that corruption case files have grown wings.

Are we heading back to the late 70s and early 80s when the life of the ordinary Nigerian was worth nothing while those in high places lived lives that kings and queens envied?

CHAPTER 2
CHAPTER 2

Having failed in his 2003 effort to upturn the arranged reelection of Obasanjo at both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively, Mr. Buhari was expected to take his loss in the 2007 non-election lying low.

No not Mr. Buhari, who once more is challenging the ordination of Mr. Yar'Adua as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the Court of Appeal, the justices used a supposed legal technicality to avoid considering the abundant evidence of non-election adduced by Mr. Buhari.

Should the justices of the Supreme Court decide to lift the lid on the can of worms regarding the 2007 non-election then Nigerians may be faced with fresh presidential elections sometime in 2009.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal was shocking to Mr. Buhari and many felt that he was not going to appeal the decision especially as his party, the ANPP, was now part of the unity government.

The ANPP had earlier tried to frustrate the case by withdrawing from the hearing at the Court of Appeal. Again, true to his steadfast nature, Mr. Buhari battled through the betrayal of the ANPP until he was undone by a legal technicality.

He also had to battle through considerable pressure mounted by traditional rulers and elites from the northern part of Nigeria who wanted the legal challenge against a fellow Northerner, i.e. Mr. Yar Adua, dropped to protect northern interest.

Since filing the appeal at the Supreme Court, the pressure on Mr. Buhari to abandon the case has grown considerably, while the attacks on him by the ANPP have become more vehement.

That Mr. Buhari has resisted the pressures mounted on him to sell out and not mortgaged his principles and values for a bowl of porridge speak volumes in a country where almost everything has a price.

This comes close but not closes enough to the refusal of MKO Abiola to abandon his mandate after the 1993 elections where he was overwhelmingly elected as president of Nigeria, a stance that probably caused him his life.

Now that hearing of Mr. Buhari's appeal has been concluded at the Supreme Court and judgment has been adjourned until a date to be announced) Nigerians ought to be vigilant and not let the opportunities likely to be presented by a Mr. Buhari victory slip away.

If we truly believe that there were n o real elections in 2007 and Mr.

If we truly believe that there were no real elections in 2007 and Mr. Buhari through personal sacrifices and a successful challenge of the election process presents Nigerians with another opportunity to actually elect a president, what should Nigerians do?

Should Nigerians adopt the usual sit down and look approach and leave the playing field to the biggest political party in Africa to present us with a fiat accompili? Or should Nigerians take their destinies into their own hands as they did in June 12 1993?

Are Nigerians not engrossed and captivated by the unfolding drama in the US Presidential Elections, where a minority candidate and a black man for that matter stands but inches away from the White House?

Senator Barack Obama's bid for the American Presidency has been made possible by the collective participation of ordinary Americans in the processes of financing and supporting his campaign.

This is why the middle class and ordinary Nigerians should consider Mr. Buhari should fresh elections be ordered by the Supreme Court come 2009. He has established his democratic credentials and proven beyond doubt that he is principled and qualified to hold the highest office in Nigeria.

Just like Mr. Buhari did in 1984 but this time in a more humane way, he may have what it takes to restore discipline and order, and reposition Nigeria on an upward trajectory as an economic downturn envelopes the entire globe.

CHAPTER 3
CHAPTER 3

The Supreme Court has now concluded hearings in the consolidated appeals of Messer s. Buhari and Atiku regarding the presidential elections and reserved judgment.

The Justices of the Supreme Court have adjourned to consider the arguments of all the parties for or against the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal.

Recall that the Court of Appeal had dismissed the petitions of Messer s Buhari and Atiku against the election of Mr. Yar Adua as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Court of Appeal held that the petitioners had failed to adduce evidence in support of allegations of malpractices and irregularities during the conduct of the 2007 presidential polls.

According to the Court of Appeal, the failure of the petitioners to call witnesses to testify in support of these allegations materially damaged the cases of the petitioners.

The petitioners asserted that in compliance to an earlier directive of the same Court of Appeal they had gotten these witnesses to make depositions on oath.

Bottom-line according to them was that evidence regarding the proper or improper conduct of the 2007 Presidential polls was never considered by the Court of Appeal.

This has been the main kernel of the appeals argued by Messer s Buhari and Atiku before the Supreme Court and opposed by Mr. Yar Adua, PDP and INEC.

In the days leading to the hearing of the appeals and during the hearings, newspaper reports were rife with stories of pressures being brought to bear on the apex court.

In the absence of any tangible evidence of attempts to influence the Supreme Court one way or the other, these reports would have to be dismissed as lacking credibility.

More important is the need for a decisive decision from the Supreme Court one way or the other regarding the weighty issues canvassed by the appellants during the hearing.

No judgment of the Supreme Court is ever rendered in an empty context, and the context surrounding the decision in the appeals of Messer s Buhari and Atiku is complex.

Firstly is the fact that Mr. Yar Adua has been president of Nigeria for over a year and six months, and what the implications of an annulment will be to a sitting government.

Secondly some are afraid of what may happen in the three months period between an annulment and the conduct of fresh presidential polls.

With the Senate President, Senator D avid Mark likely to act as president during such

With the Senate President, Senator David Mark likely to act as president during such a period, are there likely to be jacks in many boxes?

Thirdly, there have been speculations in the past regarding who the biggest party in Africa will field were fresh polls to be ordered by the Supreme Court.

News paper reports would seem to suggest that Mr. Kingibe, the former secretary to the Federal Government was axed for pursuing such an agenda.

Fourthly, fears that northern interests may not be served by the conduct of fresh polls had resulted in intense pressures on Messer s Buhari and Atiku to withdraw their appeals.

Fifthly, who is to say that Messer s Buhari and Atiku will not join forces with other opposition parties and present a united challenge to the alleged biggest party in Africa?

The above complexities notwithstanding, the need for a decisive judgment of the Supreme Court is all the more imperative.

To be avoided is a middle of the road decision similar to the earlier judgment of the Supreme Court in the case by Lagos State on creation of Local Governments.

A situation in which both the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government went

away claiming victory on the rights of States to create new Local Governments is not

helpful.

In one breadth, the Supreme Court affirmed that the creation of new Local Governments

by States was incomplete until the consequential amendment of the Constitution by the

National Assembly.

.

In

another breadth, the Supreme Court also held that the decision of the Federal

Government to withhold statutory funds due to Local Governments in Lagos State was

wrong.

If the status quo with regards to the existence of Local Governments has been altered

from 20 to 57, which of these local governments were entitled to the statutory funds?

Of course an appreciation of the proper context about the political implications of the steps taken by the Lagos State Government was more at play than the legal issues.

But then justice is supposed to be blind to the complexities surrounding issues brought for adjudication before the law courts.

This is why section 6 of the Constitution reserves for only courts of laws the right to adjudicate in respect of disputes between governments, individuals and organizations.

However, the case on who was the r ightful gubernatorial candidate for the PDP in

However, the case on who was the rightful gubernatorial candidate for the PDP in the Rivers State election in May 2007 elections is a clear example of judicial decisiveness.

There, the Supreme Court upheld the clear provisions of the PDP guidelines on party primaries to ultimately determine the outcome of the main elections with other political parties.

Strange as that judgment was to many outside legal circles, it showed the Supreme Court acting decisively to uphold the law while damning the implications of doing so.

This is the type of judicial decisiveness that is expected of the Supreme Court as it tackles the legal issues presented by all parties while shunning the surrounding complexities.

What is required is not a decision that hangs on a legal technicality or that throws up more questions than answers but a straight forward consideration of the facts before it.

It is said that the law follows the facts and in the case at hand what are the facts, and do the facts merit an annulment of the election of Mr. Yar Adua?

CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 4

According to Saul Alinsky, the foremost American community organizer, Power is the physical, mental or moral power to act

Last week, two different but related news items were reported in most national dailies and electronic media that show our increasing powerlessness as Nigerians.

Both news items came forth at public hearings being conducted by committees in the Senate of the National Assembly.

At the Senate ad-hoc committee investigating the Transport Sector it was revealed that the Nigerian Ports Authority could not account for over N537 billion.

Of the N548 billion NPA internally generated revenue from 1999 to date only N11 billion was paid into the Federation Account and the balance spent without due approval.

This revelation was made by Prince John Emeka, Honorable Minister of State for Water Transport and confirmed by NPA Managing Director, Abdusalam Mohammed.

Other than admitting that the actions of NPA were irresponsible, the managing director had no other plausible explanation for this N64 billion average yearly spending binge.

Considering that no new infrastructure had been built by the NPA in the period under review when most of its facilities had been concessioned, this was mind boggling.

The second was even more stupefying and had to do with the escalation in the construction cost of the Escravos Gas to Liquid Project from $1.7 billion to $5.9 billion.

This revelation was made before the Senate Committee on Gas Resources following admissions by Chevron Nigeria Limited that it acted unilaterally in this regard.

The gas to be processed into diesel by EGTL belongs to Nigeria, who through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation holds a 25% share in the project.

More shocking was that a similar project in Qatar had been executed at under $1 billion and that NNPC had only approved an increase of the contract sum to $2.72 billion.

Unlike the NPA managing director who could not explain what had happened to N537 billion, Chevron at least attempted to explain why the cost had shoot up by over 300%.

According to Chevron, the increment was necessitated by the volatile situation in the Niger Delta, the depreciating value of the US Dollar and the need to beef up security.

Others reasons were changes in logi stics, training of staff and the construction of fence

Others reasons were changes in logistics, training of staff and the construction of fence as well as designs at the site.

It was alleged that following threats by the contractors to abandon the EGTL project, Chevron unilaterally converted the contract from lump sum to reimbursable.

This in effect meant that the contract costs were being determined by the contractors and the fear is that the final bill for the EGTL may be in the region of $11 billion.

The reactions of members of committees, the government officials and management of the relevant agencies would seem to indicate that these incidents are normal.

Likewise the way that these incidents were reported by the news media and the response of Nigerians including those who know the inner workings of the oil and gas sector.

Come to think of it, the sky has not fallen over revelations that came out during the House Power Committee probe on the $16 billion invested in reaping darkness.

Rather it was members of the committee that were taken to task for allegedly collecting N100 million bribe from faceless complainants.

The lesson for members of the Senate committees would be to learn from the experiences of their House committee counterparts in knowing how to package their reports.

I am at a loss on how to proceed further with this write up. What is the point when the revelations of today are buried by the ones of tomorrow with no lessons learnt?

CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 5

I love Saul Alinsky's definition of power as the mental, moral or physical ability to act. The alternative to power is of course powerlessness at the root of which you have fear.

This really is the bane of Nigerians and initially characterized my own response to recent revelations on the EGTL.

Before the Gas Resources Committee of the Senate it was revealed that the EGTL project cost had increased by over 300%.

Why I had expressed my outrage at this development, I had also decried the powerlessness of Nigerians to act.

Truth is that I was also decrying my own powerlessness due to fear because I know a thing or two about the EGTL.

The Escravos Gas to Liquid Project was conceived by Chevron Nigeria Limited to covert some of the abundant gas being flared in the Niger Delta into diesel.

GTL is not a new technology and has been operated in South Africa for many years as well as Qatar among other countries.

Why the concept was never contemplated by our own authorities despite the prolonged agitation to end gas flaring is a question for another day.

Although the gas being flared belonged to Nigeria, NNPC became a 25% owner in the EGTL designed to added value to gas and produced high grade diesel, naphtha, LPG etc.

If this were the only loss suffered by Nigeria my pain and anger would probably have been assuaged but there was more to come.

There was a company, i.e. Delta Ports Services Limited, with facilities in Warri Ports interested in providing logistics support to the EGTL project using the Warri ports.

With the proximity of Warri to Escravos, a distance of about 60 nautical miles, the expectation was that Warri was the right port to handle EGTL project cargo.

On the other hand were those who wanted the EGTL project cargo handled in Onne Port about 400 nautical miles from Escravos.

This would entail barging the EGTL project cargo through some of the most hostile territories in the Niger Delta with severe security and financial implications.

The battle was fierce and furious bu t eventually reason prevailed and Warri Ports was

The battle was fierce and furious but eventually reason prevailed and Warri Ports was chosen to provide material storage and support for the EGTL project.

Only two companies had facilities in Warri Ports to meet the requirements of the EGTL project and they were both invited to bid by KBR\Southern Gas the main contractors.

This was probably the first time that an oil and gas logistics contract of this magnitude was being subjected to competitive tender.

In 1999, Intels Nigeria Limited had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Ports Authority for exclusive rights to use its facilities for oil and gas logistics.

The 20% share of NPA in the MOU was further reduced to 10% in April 2001 and this granted Intels exclusive monopoly in the handling of oil and gas logistics.

This enable Intels to sign MOUs with the major oil and gas companies to handle their oil and gas logistics using tariffs drafted by Intels and approved by NAPIMS.

Rejoicing that the ports concession exercise handled by BPE and NPA would break the monopoly of Intels over ports in NPA Eastern Zone was soon cut short.

Contrary to BPE guidelines that no company would be allowed to have more than one port concession, Intels ended up with five (5) concessions thus reaffirming its monopoly.

The facilities of DPS in Warri Ports were only secured through the intervention of President Obasanjo who in May 2006 approved the report of an investigations committee.

Notwithstanding this, NPA deliberately refused to provide DPS with the copy of its lease agreement to the said facilities proposed for the EGTL project.

This resulted in the disqualification of the N40 billion bids of DPS and the award of the EGTL Warri Material and Storage Support to Intels Nigeria Limited.

Incidentally, DPS with the support of the Delta State Government was the local company that had spearheaded the push for the use of Warri Ports for the EGTL project.

At the stage of DPS disqualification in April 2008, the total contract cost of the EGTL as approved by President Obasanjo was USD2.7 billion to cover construction, logistics and security.

Between April and September 2008, it is now being asserted by CNL that the contract cost of the EGTL project has risen to USD5.9 billion.

The contract for which DPS was bidding to handle the logistics for N40 billion is now being handled on a reimbursable basis rather than on a lump sum basis.

Citing the security challenges of the Niger Delta among others, CNL and its contractors would

Citing the security challenges of the Niger Delta among others, CNL and its contractors would want us to believe that the 300% cost escalation in the EGTL project is justified.

NNPC claims that CNL acted unilaterally in converting the contract to a reimbursable one which has resulted in cost escalations by over 300%.

NNPC also claims that the cost escalations were only discovered in the course of an internal audit it conducted on the EGTL project.

CNL on the other hand claims that it wrote NNPC on two occasions on the said issue but got no response before deciding to ignore its junior partner.

Strangely a report prepared by KBR on its expectations regarding the EGTL for 2008 did not mention any of the challenges now being touted by CNL as justifications for the cost escalations.

It will be a miracle if anything comes out of the deliberations of the Gas Resources Committee regarding the EGTL.

The Siemens and Halliburton scandals are history already. Yesterday it was the power probe revelations and the intrigues regarding its implementation.

Today it is the purchase of Peugeot cars by the House of Representatives and the alleged loss of over N400 billion. So there is nothing new under the sun.

But let no one tell me that the Niger Delta crisis is today about agitating for the development of that region and improving the conditions of its peoples.

It is about businesses and the opportunities provided for spending billions of Naira and USD to address conditions which increasingly appear to profit many.

But who knows, the Senate Committee on Gas Resources may decide to conduct a forensic audit to unravel the truth regarding the USD3.2 billion EGTL cost escalation.

It may decide to call relevant officials of NNPC, NPA, CNL, KBR and Intels to find out those behind this monumental loss to the Nigerian state.

But then who cares what really happens?

CHAPTER 6
CHAPTER 6

MDAs stands for ministries, departments and agencies of Federal and State Governments and in some cases Local governments.

Before the Senate Adhoc-Commiittee on Transportation it was revealed that between 1999 and 2007 the Nigerian Ports Authority generated revenues of N548 billion.

Of this amount only N11 billion was transferred to the Federation account and the balance of N537 billion was spent by the management of NPA without due process.

While admitting that the actions of the authority were irresponsible, its managing director Mr. Abubakar was unable to provide explanation of how N65 billion was spent yearly.

Other than chiding Mr. Abubakar it does not appear that a forensic audit would be ordered by the committee to unravel how NPA spent these monumental sums of money.

This becomes more distressing when there is nothing on record to show the capital projects executed by the NPA during the period in question.

Recall that during the Obasanjo administration most of NPA facilities were under concession.

It turns out that part of the NPA strategy was to appoint third party organizations to collect and warehouse revenues on its behalf.

This way these revenues never officially entered the accounts of NPA although these were moneys standing to its credit in the account of third parties.

These third party organizations were then able to raise job orders regarding various port facilities of NPA implying that the authority was indebted to them.

NPA then approved these job orders directing these third party organizations to utilize the monies standing to the use of the authority to execute the job orders.

Amortization as the process is called entails the collection and expending of public funds through third party private organizations with the monies probably disappearing into a black hole.

This leaves government revenues severely short changed by Amortization process while management of the MDAs and collaborating third party private organizations smile to their banks.

At the receiving end of the Amortiza tion process are ordinary Nigerians who wallow away

At the receiving end of the Amortization process are ordinary Nigerians who wallow away in abject poverty in the midst of billions of Naira expended for the benefit of the privileged few in government and their collaborators.

Government ministries, departments and agencies at both the Federal, State and Local Government levels are engaged in the use of third party organizations in the collection of revenues.

Even more bizarre is the continued use of third party organizations in the collection of taxes by some States and Local Governments although the Federal Government has stopped doing this.

What is clear is that MDAs the majority of who still receive subventions from government, are having a field day in how they generate and disburse internally generated revenues.

The problem is probably more pronounced at the Federal level which has cornered to itself the choicest responsibilities with more revenue generating opportunities.

Thus MDAs such as NNPC, DPR, NPA, NIMASA, FAAN, NAMA, ETF, Customs, BPE, FRSC, JAMB Immigration, NTA etc have the latitude to generate and expend obscene amounts of money without being accountable.

If these MDAs spending were backed by value, the situation would even be pardonable but that is often not the situation.

From airports, to roads, ports, maritime facilities, and the oil sector infrastructure are dilapidated and aging.

Public services are virtually non-existent and where available are only rendered to those who are prepared to enter through the eye of the needle.

It bears repeating that governments exist for the benefit and wellbeing of the people but in Nigeria the reverse is and has always been the norm for decades.

That many Nigerians still die from preventable and treatable ailments while MDAs launder public funds using the Amortization process is a tragedy.

That the public power sector is comatose plunging ordinary Nigerians into darkness and unemployment while MDAs are awash with billions of Naira is pathetic.

That private education has become the norm creating generational disparities between the children of the rich and poor while MDAs intelligently recycle public funds into private funds is barbaric.

That the Niger Delta is starved of m uch needed funds for development while MDAs

That the Niger Delta is starved of much needed funds for development while MDAs develop private interests through the Amortization of public funds is disastrous.

That public infrastructure in Nigeria is designed for 18th century reality while MDAs utilize public funds for developing the infrastructure of private interests is criminal.

Hopefully a continuing fall in the price of crude oil may force a reluctant government to shift its attention from its usual cash cow to harnessing the other cash cows that we know as MDAs.

It is not as if this shift will ordinarily benefit the average Nigerian or improve the quality of our collective existence.

When government succeeds in channeling public revenues generated by MDAs into public accounts, this will be a step in the right direction towards public accountability of MDAs.

At least we will be able to ascertain how much money is available to government from internally generated sources and revenues earned from sale of crude oil.

When next we want to ascertain the level of corruption prevalent in government we will at least have a broader picture to look since the pie has increased in size.

CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER 7

I recall visiting three (3) polling stations around Akinshemonyi/Iponri area of Surulere,

Lagos State in a frantic search for my polling center during the 2007 general elections.

This was during the elections for gubernatorial candidates and members of State Houses of Assembly that was conducted on April 14, 2007.

In each of the polling stations I visited, voters with similar challenges such as mine were on a Mongo Park like journey through the streets of Lagos searching for polling centers.

Activities at the polling stations were rancorous and characterized by confusion as prospective voters battled to locate their names on the voters register.

Tired of a four hour wandering in the wilderness, I decided to call it a day at the third polling station I had visited and ended up not voting.

I did not even trouble myself to go out and vote during the Presidential and National Assembly elections that took place on April 21, 2007.

Unlike the voters registration exercise which had a semblance of order and recorded a mass turn out of eligible voters, the general elections were an exercise in organized confusion.

The organized confusion started with the failure by INEC to display the lists of eligible voters 120 days before the elections as required by electoral rules.

This ensured that eligible voters were not able to check their names on the voter s register or know their polling stations 60 days before the conduct of the elections.

Next, INEC advised registered voters to go to the locations where they had registered with their voter registration slips to vote.

On getting to these locations, prospective voters were informed by INEC officials that each polling center (120, 000) only had 500 allocated numbers of voters.

Without any guidance as to the polling centers that prospective voters were allocated to, they were left to their fate in a frantic search from one polling station to another.

Eligible voters were required to queue on a long line before an INEC official, whose job was to ascertain from two or more registers whether you could vote at that center.

The process required giving your voter registration slip to an INEC official who flipped through the voters register trying to match names.

At the last polling stations I visited i n Iponri Housing Estate, it suddenly dawned

At the last polling stations I visited in Iponri Housing Estate, it suddenly dawned on me that this was probably an organized effort to prevent many eligible voters from voting.

News reports of voter experiences across other states in Nigeria were not much different and as the elections progressed many eligible voters decided to stay away from the polls.

For a nation with a population of 140 million people, and with over 60 million registered voters, only 35 million people allegedly cast their votes during the presidential elections.

Since the conduct of the April 2007 General Elections, no effort has been made by INEC to address the many short fallings of the said elections.

This will amount to INEC admitting that the general elections were flawed while many election petitions are still pending in court especially the presidential elections.

The implication is that should the Supreme Court annul the election of Mr. Yar Adua as the president of Nigeria, fresh polls must be conducted within 3 months by INEC.

This would mean that INEC that conducted the flawed April 2007 general Elections will again be saddled with conducting the fresh polls within a shorter time frame.

If the apathy already exhibited by voters in all elections conducted by INEC after May 2007 is anything to go by, Nigerians may probably stay at home.

The problem with staying away from a repeat presidential poll is that there will be an outcome which will substantially affect the fortunes and well being of Nigerians.

As it were, eligible voters will have to choose between the supposed largest party in Africa having its way or the deep blue sea.

Seeing that I can not encourage any Nigerian to choose the deep blue sea, eligible voters and registered political parties would have to find a way to confront and overcome the PDP.

MKO Abiola is probably one of the few Nigerians who was able to confront and overwhelm constituted political authority at the polls.

But alas his electoral victory was truncated by the powers that be and he died while trying to actualize that mandate.

However, MKO Abiola s triumph on June 12, 1993 was not just the product of his dexterity, financial prowess and organizing ability.

On June 12, 1993, Nigerians rose up with one voice and declared to the political establishment that enough was enough.

For the first time in the history of N igeria, people in the North and

For the first time in the history of Nigeria, people in the North and South rose above artificial divisions to declare their freedom from decades of political oppression.

This drove fear deep into the hearts of the political status quo resulting in the savage response of annulment, throwing Nigerians into the dark ages of 18 th century politics.

Nigerians are yet to fully recover from the psychological damage of the June 12 election annulment which is characterized by their I don t care attitude towards elections.

However, our collective helplessness and despair regarding the jungle like existence in Nigeria has the potential to serve as a galvanizing factor.

All through history, it has been in the midst of the deepest despair that the most shattering victories have also been accomplished.

The victory of Jesus Christ was accomplished on the Cross of Calvary although he was crucified between 2 thieves in what was supposed to be the period of his humiliation.

Also the victory of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) who came back to conquer Mecca after initially being defeated and fleeing the city speaks volume.

If Nigerians were able to rise up against one of the greatest dribblers of our generation on June 12 1993, we can take on the alleged biggest party in Africa.

We can turn our despair and helplessness into one of hope and change and take our destinies into our hands should the Supreme Court present us with such an opportunity.

Success they say is opportunity catching up with preparation. Let us not wait until the Supreme Court judgment ordering fresh presidential polls to begin preparation.

We can resurrect the spirit of June 12 once again and change our destinies for good.

CHAPTER 8
CHAPTER 8

Reading Mr. Adeniyi s article in the Guardian, Shooting an Elephant: Public Service in Nigeria , I shook my head in sheer wonderment.

For those who do not know, Mr. Adeniyi is presently the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.

Prior to that, he was the editor of THISDAY Newspaper and the writer of a weekly column in the same newspaper called the the Verdict .

A verdict is a decision on an issue of fact in a civil or criminal case or an inquest, and also means an opinion or judgment.

Scanning the private domains and government affairs for untoward happenings, Mr. Adeniyi regularly passed verdicts after analyzing facts on what was good or bad.

His verdicts although sometimes hard and brash where delivered with a sincerity of heart and a clarity that made his column in THISDAY Newspaper a must read.

This also helped to propel his popularity as a voice that was trusted upon by those outside the corridors of power to call the powers that be to order.

Considering this was the period when Nigeria s maximum president was in power, many regarded Mr. Adeniyi as being quite bold for taking on the excesses of government.

Sent by THISDAY Newspaper to conduct an interview with the incoming president, Mr. Yar Adua, Mr. Adeniyi must have impressed with his usual decisiveness and candor.

Before we could shout Jack Robinson, Mr. Adeniyi had been offered the position of Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.

The issue of whether or not Mr. Adeniyi should accept the appointment was publicly debated and pointed to the high esteem with which he was regarded.

There were those who felt that his service in the government of Mr. Yar Adua would cloak the election which was regarded as massively flawed, with some legitimacy.

Incidentally, Mr. Adeniyi was also a fierce critique of the electoral process that had produced the same president for whom he is now chief spokesman.

Others felt this was a once in a life time opportunity and offered Mr. Adeniyi the opportunity to work for change from the inside.

But to those who saw Mr. Adeniyi s as a voice that decisively pointed out

But to those who saw Mr. Adeniyi s as a voice that decisively pointed out the excesses of government, his decision to take up the appointment would be a sad loss of the Verdict.

Now that Mr. Adeniyi resides in high places his vantage position of being able to see both sides of the divided has evidently turned the Verdict into shades of grey.

The issue taken up by Mr. Abati his Sunday Guardian column of October 19, Crossroads , was to draw attention to the insatiable nature of those in public service.

That people in public service loot the resources of the State for their private benefit is common knowledge in Nigeria.

In his days on the wrong side of the divide, Mr. Adeniyi passed countless verdicts condemning lootocracy at all levels of public service.

Now that Mr. Adeniyi is on the right side of the divide, his Verdict is that there may be more as to why for instance, NPA spent N549 billion in 7 years with nothing to show for it.

Why over N3 trillion has been pumped into the development of the Niger Delta but that region is still embroiled in crises over allegations of lack of development.

Why we are still bewildered over what happened to the $16 billion that was supposed to be expended on the power sector.

His Verdict is that public servants are under pressure to deliver the dividends of public service to family members, friends, village members, club associates and others.

These demands on our esteemed public servants include payment of school fees, medical bills, feeding allowance, business financing etc.

Since the salaries of public servants cannot meet all these pressing demands, there is a seeming license to plunder for good cause, like Robin Hood, from the treasury.

Impliedly, this Robin Hood like type of plundering of the treasury is more acceptable than those who enter into public service for the single purpose of enriching themselves.

Considering that government is failing in meeting its responsibilities and obligations to Nigerians, these Robin Hood like public servants are happily filling the void.

For those Nigerians (and they are in the majority) who are unfortunate not to have access to the Mr. Adeniyi s they can at least cry out to God and hope for divine intervention.

Better yet, they should accept their fate and pray that fortune will smile on them one day when a public servant they know can have access to the treasury for their benefit.

But if only these Nigerians would le arn to suffer in silence and stop pressuring

But if only these Nigerians would learn to suffer in silence and stop pressuring the Mr. Adeniyi s, may be there will be a substantial reduction in lootocracy.

The final verdict: Nigerians are guilty for acts of complicity in encouraging primitive accumulation by public servants ultimately for their indirect benefit.

Surely the Verdict has undergone a radical transformation and now lives in shades of grey.

CHAPTER 9
CHAPTER 9

Following the election of Barack Obama through the presidential primaries and general elections has been a rewarding experience.

Beyond the symbolism of a black man becoming the number one citizen of the world is how this feat was actually accomplished.

Up against a Clinton political establishment that had been on ground for over 20 years, Barack Obama still prevailed in the Democratic primaries.

Against the Republican attack machine and despite fielding the ultimate American war hero as its candidate, Barack Obama won by a land slide.

He not only won in traditional Democratic states, but also in Republican states that had not voted for a democrat in over 40 years including votes from every demographic group.

The euphoria that greeted his election victory was sweeping not only in the US but right across the nations of the earth and the messages of support have been pouring in.

In the midst of all this, it is important to appreciate that Barack Obama's victory did not come on a platter of gold but was a hard fought victory.

Over a period of two years he crisscrossed all the 50 states of America, engaged in countless debates, went on an international tour and shook millions of hands.

How was a freshman senator and a black man for that matter able to accomplish this feat which for generations to come will be spoken of as a historical fact?

We can talk about his decision to forgo public financing and raising over USD600 million to finance his campaign, more than any other presidential candidate in the history iof the US.

We can also talk about his oratorical eloquence and communication skills which carried his message of hope and changed to billions around the earth.

Many refer to his cool, calm and collected manner which in the midst of a global economic tsunami that had particularly hit the US hard showed him as a capable leader.

What about his debate performances and his ability to address concerns of the middle class and poor or the zeal with which young people embraced him?

I could go on reeling off reasons why Barack Obama won the presidential polls, but what has most intrigued me was his ground game.

During the Democratic primaries, I had registered my e-mail address with the Barack Obama campaign

During the Democratic primaries, I had registered my e-mail address with the Barack Obama campaign and was privileged to receive a steady stream of information and regular communication.

If I was an American citizen, not even an earthquake would have prevented me from voting, that was how mobilized I was.

The Barack Obama campaign succeeded in making it a contest between McCain\Bush\Republican party on one hand and the people on the other hand.

They were able to tap into the frustrations and anger of the middle class and blue collar Americans and channel that into a flood of release to sweep to victory at the polls.

They were also able to resurrect from the voting dead millions who had never voted in the past and millions who were registering to vote for the first time.

Their field operations were outstanding with field campaign offices numbering 100s in almost each state and manned by volunteers many participating for the first time.

Barack Obama's volunteers made more phone calls and knocked on more doors than on behalf of any other candidate in US voting history.

His dominance also extended to the internet where his supporters utilized all available web tools to campaign on his behalf.

The result was that against every conceivable prejudice and falsehood, a black man with an African father and Islamic names is today the president elect of the most powerful nation on the earth.

Similarly, it was said of MKO Abiola that a Muslim Muslim ticket would not work, and that those in the north would not vote for a Yoruba southerner.

That remembering the alleged betrayal of Ibos by Yoruba's during the Nigerian civil war that no Ibo man or woman would vote for MKO Abiola.

That with IBB the dribbler in charge at Aso Rock that there would be no free and fair elections, leaving the way clear for an ordained candidate.

Yet MKO Abiola with his HOPE 93 campaign swept to a resounding presidential election victory in Nigeria which was eventually undone by an annulment.

MKO Abiola's ground game may not have been as extensive as that of Barack Obama's but his ground operations were just as impressive.

Mention the fact that he almost visited all towns and cities in Nigeria using a helicopter

including the small town where I co me from in Edo state. MKO Abiola had

MKO Abiola had representatives in all polling stations monitoring the elections across Nigeria, and it was said that they all had radios with which they instantaneously communicated poll results

He was also able to tap into the frustrations and anger of Nigerians towards IBB the dribbler and turned the election into one between the people and the government of the day and itd collaborators.

On June 12 1993, the aged, infirmed, able, young, old, male, female came out en-mass to unleash a flood that almost swept MKO Abiola into power and caused immense crisis that re-vibrated until 1999.

This is the reality and backgrounds of which transformational electoral victories are accomplished.

Today in Nigeria that same frustration and anger is boiling against the monster that says it wants to rule Nigeria for 60 years and that prides itself as the biggest party in Africa.

Short of believing for the intervention of "Fellow Nigerians" which will not serve our collective interests, the only viable alternative is to go the Barack Obama and MKO Abiola route.

In this day and age when over 60 million Nigerians have mobile phones, and some private television stations have national coverage.

In this day and age when millions of Nigerians have access to the internet and communicate through e-mail.

In this day and age when private radio stations and newspapers abound and the news circle in Nigeria works on a 24 hours basis.

In this day and age when we have viable and vibrant labor sector and professional organisations and civil society organizations abound in large numbers.

In this day and age when our Khaki brothers repeated assure us that their days of intervention in government are effectively over.

Surely we can free ourselves from the tyranny and oppression of those who want to keep us enslaved in perpetuity.

CHAPTER 10
CHAPTER 10

For many years I did not understand the difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States of America.

I was also struggling to distinguish between the terms 'liberals' and 'conservatives' used repeatedly to describe politicians in America.

However, the global interest generated in the just concluded presidential elections has served to educate the world on the intricacies of American politics and the issues at stake.

It turns out that business owners and management largely populate the Republican Party while the ranks of the Democratic Party are largely populated by working class people.

The Republican Party favors policies that encourage businesses to thrive while allowing free market forces to have full sway which means less government intervention and spending (conservatism).

Democrats on the other hand also believe in free markets but have nothing against government interventions coupled with huge government spending (liberalism) for the benefit usually of the working class.

This explains why the ranks of the Republican Party are filled with lobbyists who act as middlemen between businesses and the US Congress and Government.

The campaign team of John McCain was saturated with lobbyists while that of Barack Obama tried to distance itself from the influence of lobbyists.

In addition to influencing government policies and laws for the benefit of the business sector, the presence of lobbyists in a campaign also serves to channel campaign donations from the business sector.

This is why Barack Obama's decision to forgo public financing in favor of raising contributions from the American people was quite decisive in helping him achieve victory.

One of the out comes of the George Bush presidency and the earlier dominance of Congress by the Republican Party was the near absence of government regulations for certain aspects of the financial sector.

Businesses operating hedge funds and other financial derivates were given a free hand to set their own rules resulting in trillion USDs growth that spanned the entire globe.

of the earth rich and poor ones alike . When the bottom fell out of

of

When the bottom fell out of this sector, the effect was felt both on Wall Street (the financial sector) and Main Street (the American people) and also right across the nations

In the last few months almost all the investment banks in the US have collapsed while

most commercial banks have either been acquired or merged with other less viable ones.

There has also been a credit crunch that has affected businesses which has turned the American labor market on a downward slide in terms of job losses.

Lack of credit has also affected the American people whose consumption is financed by credit throwing production of goods and services almost to a screeching halt.

The initial response of the George Bush government was to arrange a USD700 billion bail out for the finance sector to be paid for by American people.

Counting the earlier interventions to rescue AIG, Bear Sterns etc, the financial bail out is probably over a trillion USD while the American people who are hurting the most have largely been on their own.

With a record number of Americans loosing their homes and jobs, and many in the middle class sliding towards poverty, the Bush administration is unwilling to support a stimulus package or bail out for the American people.

During the campaigns, Barack Obama pitched his campaign promises and policies towards the middle class and the poor.

John McCain on the other hand tried to couch his campaign promises and policies in populist terms although they favored the business sector.

This explains why Barack Obama repeatedly sought to link John McCain to the failed policies of George Bush asking the people to vote for change that would be in their own self interest.

A lot has been said about the significance of a black man becoming the president elect of

the US and why Barack Obama received over 90% of the black vote.

Mention must also be made of the record breaking amounts he raised as campaign contributions and the once in a life time effective campaign that he ran.

But for majority of Americans the economy was the number one issue and they were prepared to vote for anyone including a black man with Islamic names if he had the solutions to their economic problems.

As the saying goes, a drowning man does not care about the color of skin

As the saying goes, a drowning man does not care about the color of skin of his rescuer as his only challenge is to stretch out his hand to grasp the already out stretched arm of his rescuer.

This was what middle class and poor Americans did in large numbers for Barack Obama by registering to vote in large numbers and also coming out to vote in large numbers.

Millions voted in early voting exercises, cueing for hours while many more voted by absentee ballot.

Millions also participated directly in campaigning for Barack Obama either through voter mobilization or through using phones to contact other voters.

Many were precinct captains, i.e. neighborhood voter organizers and many voters held house parties to woo other voters.

Many also traveled from their homes to other states to help the Barack Obama campaign in states were they need reinforcement.

Of particular importance were the roles played by young people in supporting and volunteering for the Barack Obama campaign.

All these people were fighting for their lives and the need to preserve a future for their posterity by voting and volunteering.

Their financial contributions propelled the total haul of the Barack Obama campaign to USD600 million, the highest ever in the US.

They took to heart the saying of Saul Alinsky that it is better to die standing on your feet than to live begging on your knees.

Today the American people have had their way because they fought for what they believed in, a position which does not seem to apply to Nigerians.

Here we love life and the popular saying is that 'God de' meaning that tomorrow will be better than today of its own accord.

In reality, Nigerians don't have life but existence except of course they live in high places far away in the corridors of power.

Those who live in high places and are intent in preserving the status quo (conservatives) know that Nigerians do not believe in fighting for their collective destinies.

It is every man for him, God for us all, thus allowing our conservatives to play a divide and rule game from the 1960s to date.

So the Nigerian lives on his knees p erpetually begging others for what is rightfully

So the Nigerian lives on his knees perpetually begging others for what is rightfully his, whether it is government and its MDAs.

They also beg educational institutions, employers, security agencies, landlords, service providers, financial institutions, justice, etc.

Truly a beggar has no choice.

CHAPTER 11
CHAPTER 11

Between Yar Adua and Shagari

News that the Federal Government intends to borrow N700 billion to meet up the short fall in projected revenues earnings for 2009 are disturbing.

Add that to the World Bank s offer of another $3 billion loan towards infrastructure development due to the same expected revenue short fall and you begin to wonder.

However, the opposition of State Governors to the pegging of the price of a barrel of crude oil for budget purposes at $45 instead of their preferred price of $50 is troubling.

In the last two months crude oil prices have fallen from an all time high of $147 to $59 as at date and this is causing earth tremors within the Nigerian economy.

For a nation that depends over 95% on crude oil earnings to fuel the spending binge that has possessed government at all levels, the signs are not too good.

With massive short falls in expected revenues for 2009, it appears that governments at all levels are prepared to resort to borrowing or feasting on the remaining crude oil excess savings.

While the Federal Government pretends to peg the budget spending for 2009 using $45 per barrel of crude oil thus saving the excess State Governments want it pegged at $50.

No one is asking what will happen should the price of a barrel of crude oil fall to ridiculously lower levels since all steps taken by OPEC to boost prices have failed.

The bailouts announced by the USA ($700 billion) and the Chinese (over $500 billion) including those of other developed nations have failed to boost economic growth.

It does appear that our leaders do not understand the full impact of the global recession that has overwhelmed the nations of the earth and reversed the economic gains of the last few decades.

All indications point to a government as usual approach in spite of warnings by the Central Bank Governor that continuing fall in crude oil prices can torpedo the Nigerian economy. Other than the payment of debts rolled over since the 1980s using gains from the rising price of crude oil from 1999 to 2005, we can hardly account for the gains of the last few years.

Rather we have had a whirlwind of corruption scandals as evidence of the judicious use of these earnings while development has taken a leave of absence from Nigeria.

What Nigerians should resist are att empts to take this nation light year back by

What Nigerians should resist are attempts to take this nation light year back by government borrowing to finance imaginary budget short falls that end up in the abyss.

This was what happened during the years of the Shagari government from 1979 to 1983 that left Nigeria so indebted that poverty reigned supreme over the land.

Recall that Mr. Shagari inherited foreign reserves of over $3 billion in 1979 but in a few years had eaten through the money with little or nothing to show for it.

About that time crude oil prices fell to ridiculous rates, i.e. $10 or less, drastically reducing government earnings.

Rather than cut costs the Shagari governments resorted to borrowing from home and abroad in order to continue with their profligate spending.

Mr. Shagari made no real efforts to call his political bed fellows to order or reign in government spending and by late 1983 Nigerians were literally begging "Fellow Nigerians to intervene.

They did but efforts of the stern looking Khaki government that replaced Mr. Shagari to adjust our coat to fit our size were regarded as too draconian.

The gap toothed general aptly described as the dribbler took advantage of the discontent and replaced the government pf Mr. Buhari.

Knowing the love of Nigerians for wanting to enjoy without picking up the tab, the dribbler dribbled us with all manners of high sounding policies while business as usual continued on all fronts.

Not even the wind fall from high crude oil earning during the Gulf war was able to bring succor to Nigerians.

The dark goggled one was even worse although his brazen desire to have the entire resources of the state to himself ensure that some monies were still left behind for others who came after to also squander.

I have taken the pains to recall some of what happened in the past to show that history appears ready to repeat itself unless our political leaders call themselves to order. However, evidence of this possibility is scant especially as the ruling party appears to lack a soul and the discipline to reign in its marauding members in high places.

Professing its desire to rule for 60 years, the strategy of the alleged biggest party in Africa is to swallow up the opposition while holding on to political power through vote capturing.

Mr. Yar'Adua has also not done muc h to reign in marauding political office holders

Mr. Yar'Adua has also not done much to reign in marauding political office holders as can be seen by the weakening influence of the anti-corruption agencies and the daily corruption scandals that abound.

One has to question the effectiveness of his government as seen in the handling of the proposed power emergency and the reshuffling of the Federal Executive Council which have both dragged on.

I cannot keep out of my mind similarities between Mr. Shagari and Mr. Yar'Adua in terms of governance styles and the drifting nature of the country and the near loss of influence Nigeria has suffered in Africa and the world since 2007.

But what is certain is that continuous government spending with little or no value is not sustainable against the background of dwindling crude oil earnings and increased government borrowing.

What no one is prepared for and wants is the return of "Fellow Nigerians" who keep assuring us but leave the state worse off than they meet it.

What then are our other options?

CHAPTER 12
CHAPTER 12

I recall reading a funny account about Adam and Eve after they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden that captures accurately the state of Nigeria today.

It is about Adam pointing from afar to the Garden of Eden and telling his son, That is where we used to live until your mother ate us out of it .

This is exactly how our politicians especially those in the Peoples Democratic Party have from 1999 to date eaten Nigerians out of their inheritance.

From 1999 to mid 2008, the price of crude oil has sky-rocketed from as low as US$20 per barrel of crude oil to US$147.

During the period in question, crude oil production also quadrupled approaching at some point almost 2.5 million barrels per day.

Billions of US Dollars have poured into the coffers of government from 1999 to date that has been religiously shared among the three tiers of government.

There is no arm of government today that is not getting at least 300% more in revenue allocations than they did prior to 1999.

Thanks to the Obasanjo administration and the efforts of the National Assembly, all revenue receipts were mostly channeled into the Federation Account.

But for the payment of Nigeria s external debts during this period, what else do we have to show for the billions in US Dollars that is our collective inheritance?

Is it that our national, state and local government roads networks are now motor able allowing for movement of people and goods across the length and breadth of Nigeria?

Or that education at all levels in Nigeria is no longer an issue of the depth of your pocket thus resulting in an ever widening gap between children of the rich and poor?

What about a public health care system that is really private in nature thereby driving many to the hands of naturalists and quacks or self-medication?

Should I include the general insecurity in the land that leaves only the rich and well connected protected?

Do I refer to the Niger Delta which has defied all pretenses of development notwithstanding the trillions of Naira thrown at it?

What about the human contrived lac k of power that makes nonsense of the billions

What about the human contrived lack of power that makes nonsense of the billions of US Dollars expended on power projects in the last few years?

The main development in the midst of thick darkness that has enveloped Nigeria has been the growth in phone usage by over 60 million Nigerians, thanks to GSM companies.

May be we can also add the emergence of mega banks and the boom in the stock exchange which has not in any way benefited the average Nigeria.

But we can point to the emergence of billionaires and millionaires among the ruling elites and their collaborators from 1999 to date.

Most of them are upstarts with nothing in their pedigrees or business accomplishments to support their new found status other than being in high places.

While these ruling elites and their collaborators live the life, Nigerians are stuck in grinding poverty and dying like chickens.

Now the bubble is finally about to burst as crude oil prices come crashing to earth from their once stratospheric levels.

Unfortunately our ruling elites and their collaborators do no seem to appreciate this simple reality as many are rolling out budgets that cannot be sustained in 2009.

My take is that Nigeria has missed its season of transition to progress to the next level of development like our neighbor Ghana.

We tried but woefully failed to move to the next level by doing things better the same way without changing our operating paradigms.

We had more states and local governments, more MDAs were created, more commissions and panels of inquiry were set up, but nothing happened.

We had more legislators, passed more billion and trillion Naira budgets, disbursed more public funds than at any other time in Nigerian history, and yet nothing happened.

We had more seminars, conferences, workshops and retreats conducted by both the public and private sectors but nothing happened.

We even ended up with more newspapers, private radio and television stations and yet it was business as usual.

But we retained our basic animalistic trait that makes only for the survival of the fittest and leaves everyman watching out only for his own interest.

The funny thing is that other than th e ruling elites and their collaborators no

The funny thing is that other than the ruling elites and their collaborators no one can really tell what vision is guiding Nigeria at this point in time.

The so called 7 Point Agenda of the Yar Adua government is not even a vision and at that no one except probably Mr. Yar Adua can tell what its outcome will be like.

So the gradual descent into the abyss has begun for Nigeria and Nigerians and from the look of things, our experiences between 1980s and 1990s will be child s play.

With dwindling crude oil receipts, a population of 140 million Nigerians added to ruling elites who only know how to chop in the billions of Naira interesting times are ahead.

CHAPTER 13
CHAPTER 13

Mr. Moore and the Essence of Government

Hilmar Moore is the longest-serving elected official in the United States, having remained in office since he was elected mayor of the town of Richmond, Texas in 1949.

The townspeople of Richmond have kept faith with Mr. Moore as their mayor, especially as he is reputed to be a frugal guardian of the public purse.

Unlike other towns and cities in the United States that have term limits for those who occupy the position of mayor, the townspeople of Richmond are not worried.

Barack Obama will be the twelfth president whose inauguration will be taking place during the almost 60 year period that Mr. Moore has remained in office as mayor.

And from every indication, the townspeople of Richmond have no intention of ever voting out Mr. Moore as mayor in the foreseeable future.

In appreciation of Mr. Moore, the townspeople of Richmond recently paid for a bronze likeness of their mayor which stands a short distance from the front door of his office.

The key to the love the townspeople of Richmond have for their mayor may not be unconnected with Mr. Moore s understanding of what role government should play.

To Mr. Moore, the essence of government is: Do the most good you can for the most people, with the money you have

This according to Mr. Moore is the most essential and most vital function of government, as it were, the heart and soul of what government is about.

The likes of Mr. Moore as government officials, are concerned with making decisions and actions that are useful in practice, not just theory

They are concerned with practical matters and adopt a matter-of-fact (or pragmatic) approach to problems.

They are also guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory and engage not in ideological but pragmatic politics.

They give a matter-of-fact account of the state of affairs and are guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory.

So, though Mr. Moore is an independent in the largely Republican state of Texas, the townspeople of Richmond would rather have practical solutions to their problems.

This probably explains why the Am erican people opted for Barack Obama as opposed to

This probably explains why the American people opted for Barack Obama as opposed to John McCain to become their 44 th president in the midst of an economic recession.

There are valuable lessons for leaders of countries of the earth especially those in Africa and our own country Nigeria in Mr. Moore s simple and straightforward distillation of government.

The first is that they should stop wasting time in their various machinations and maneuverings to become sit tight leaders.

All these leaders need is to tow the line of Mr. Moore and address in practical ways the various challenges facing most of their citizens.

It will then be up to the people to jettison term limits contained in constitutions and insist on having as leaders those who understand the essence of government.

The second is that arrangements such as power shifts or rotation between ethnic or other groups in a country are not necessary if the leaders understand the essence of government.

People of different ethnic stocks within a country usually have the same problems whether or not power is rotated or shifted.

The implication is that the group with political power at the material time stands to benefit more from government leaving the other groups waiting for their turn.

The third is that most people are at heart not ideological, tribal, or prejudiced especially where they have a government that uses its resources for the best interest of the majority.

The fourth is that divisions along ethnic, tribal, religious and racial lines are usually engineered by leaders who want to corner the resources of the state for their own benefit.

The fifth is that the main preoccupation of those in government should be how to use the resources of government for the most good of most of the people.

This calls for a people centric government as opposed to a government and its institutions centric government.

The sixth is that government is supposed to be simple and straightforward as opposed to being complex and confusing.

Finally, it also means that government should be structured in such a way as to deliver on its essence which is to use its resources for maximum good to the most of the people.

The establishment of government st ructures that have their own life and serve only the

The establishment of government structures that have their own life and serve only the interest of those in government should be avoided.

This way, tons of obscene amounts of money that are voted annually for maintaining these government structures can be channeled into other useful purposes.

CHAPTER 14
CHAPTER 14

News of the outbreak of violent protests in parts of Jos following the conduct of local government elections is distressing.

According to the BBC, over 300 people have died with many others either maimed or injured while many properties have been destroyed.

The violence pitted supporters of the ruling PDP in Plateau State against those of the ANPP over the outcome of the chairmanship of the Jos North Local Government.

It is alleged that the genesis of the problem is the fight over control of the Jos North Local Government between so called "settlers" and "indigenes".

In the early years of the Fourth Republic, a similar crisis in Plateau state had resulted in the death of over 1000.

The latest crises clearly indicate that no lessons have been learnt or measures put in place to prevent a reoccurrence.

The extent of the loss of human lives and destruction of properties again calls to question the undue importance attached to the control of local, state and the Federal government.

Across Nigeria, the strong desire to control government machinery runs deep and has been responsible for numerous crises that have caused much loss of lives and destruction of properties.

The 1999 Constitution only recognizes the Federal, State and Local Government and their ministries, agencies and departments as entitled to partake in the sharing of revenue.

The sad reality is that these arms of government are not only artificial but arbitrary creations of past military governments and self-serving politicians.

Grouped in these artificial creations are villages, towns, cities, communities and kingdoms that all predate the amalgamation of the North and South in 1914.

With money for development channeled through these artificial entities, their control becomes a means to an end.

This throws up competition among various interests who will do and say anything to achieve their objective.

They will play the tribal or ethnic card, the religious and non-religious card, and the settler and indigene card if that will bring them closer to the control of state resources.

There is almost no town, village, co mmunity, city or kingdom in Nigeria whose peoples

There is almost no town, village, community, city or kingdom in Nigeria whose peoples are developed because a son or daughter of theirs was in control of state resources.

What we have is overwhelming evidence that only family members, friends, collaborators and bootlickers have profited repeatedly from such arrangements.

Meanwhile the suffering masses are used as sacrificial lambs in the time of crises thus resulting in double jeopardy.

Again the children of these politicians are never caught in the crossfire resulting from the high stakes politics played by their parents but the poor.

I am heartened by the recent election of a minority and a black man for that matter as the president elect of the United States of America.

It is proof that people can rise above narrow considerations to looking at the content of a man's character as a basis for deciding eligibility for handling political power.

It has taken the United States of America hundreds of years and the sacrifices of many lives both white and black to arrive at this historic junction.

Nigeria does not have the luxury of time but what we do have are the lives of millions of its people who have been cut down before their time and through no fault of theirs.

The collective bloods of these Nigerians flows like a river reminding us those immense sacrifices have been made to cleanse this nation of these deep rooted prejudices.

The spirits of these Nigerians roam the land lamenting their fate and crying out for justice and solutions to these 21st century blights on our collective destinies.

We must not despair but must individually and collectively do our utmost best to address these structural defects in the foundation of Nigeria.

I commensurate with the families of those who have lost loved ones and encourage those whose properties have been lost or destroyed to take heart.

Your collective losses and sacrifices will not be in vain.

CHAPTER 15
CHAPTER 15

As I looked at a photograph of some of the dead, victims of the recent riots in Jos following the Local Government Elections, a chill went down my spine.

Could this be a fore taste of what to expect should the General Elections in 2011 produce results that are not acceptable to the generality of Nigerians?

The results of the Local Government Elections in Plateau State which were completely swept by the PDP had not even been released before the carnage started.

Also the swiftness and ease with which people were killed or maimed and properties destroyed would seem to indicate that there was more to the issue than meets the eye.

The elections were conducted against the context of the 2001 crises in Plateau State between so called settlers and indigenes that resulted in over 1, 000 deaths.

It was therefore evident those conditions were not normal in Plateau State and that there were enough kegs of gun powder in place waiting to be ignited.

But the question remains whether the carnage in Jos could have been avoided and my emphatic response is yes.

The solution could only have been by the conduct of free and fair elections done in a satisfactory manner and with results duly announced.

What measures were taken by the Plateau State Electoral Commission to guarantee the conduct of free and fair elections against the context of existing tensions?

Did the PSEC choose to rely on the disputed voters register and polling centers utilized by the Independent Electoral Commission for the disputed 2007 General Elections?

What extra security measures were put in place by the Plateau State Government, the Nigerian Police and the State Security Service in the light of the combustible context?

Were a potential crisis anticipated and the Nigerian military put on alert to act swiftly and to avert the carnage recently witnessed in Jos?

The answers to these and many other questions may shed more light on the processes that resulted in an avoidable carnage with lessons for all with regard to 2011.

I write with a sense of foreboding regarding the 2011 General Elections because the context for 2007 will be completely different from that of 2011.

I know the PDP has boasted that it w ill remain in power for 60

I know the PDP has boasted that it will remain in power for 60 years seeing it has perfected the act of capturing power from the elections in 1999, 2003 and 2007.

My warning is that the context for 2011 General Elections will only permit for the conduct of free and fair elections and nothing else.

First by 2011, Nigerians would have been without regular power supply for over 12 years, and will be on the look out for those who can genuinely address this problem.

Second, the increased insecurity in Nigeria is directly traceable to rising levels of poverty and unemployment as a result of government policies.

Third, the continued fall in the price of crude oil and reduced revenue earnings may by

2011 have thrown the Nigerian economy into dire straits.

Fourth, the increasing ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption agencies in the midst of escalating corruption scandals has Nigerians looking onto 2011 for deliverance.

Five opposition political parties that have been outside the corridors of power since 1999 will also be planning towards the 2011 elections.

Six, the increased awareness created amongst Nigerians by the election of Barack Obama as the first black president of America will be looking forward to 2011 for expression.

Finally, with the slow pace and mixed results of judicial resolution of petitions over the conduct of 2007 elections, the patience of Nigerians would have worn thin by 2011.

Seeing that the government in power has a preference to preserve the status quo come

2011 now is the time to act and begin the mobilization towards free and fair elections.

CHAPTER 16
CHAPTER 16

After two deferments Mr. Yar Adua finally presented the 2009 Federal Budget to the joint session of the National Assembly.

The delay in presenting the 2009 budget could probably be justified by the drastic fall in the price of crude oil that made nonsense of earlier budget projections.

With crude oil prices now about $50 per barrel from a high of $147, there was need for the Federal Government to go back to the drawing board to tinker with the budget.

However, there is little to indicate from the N2.8 trillion budgets now presented by Mr. Yar Adua that any advantage has been taken of the period of delay.

Although Mr. Yar Adua has said the right things about appreciating how the reduced earnings will affect the Nigerian economy, the 2009 budget points otherwise.

First the 2009 budget is at least N500 billion more than the 2008 budget of N2.748 trillion, notwithstanding those earnings in 2009 will be substantially less.

And this will be in spite of Mr. Yar Adua s own admission that the performance of the 2008 Budget was less than satisfactory although 100% of capital vote had been released.

Second, Mr. Yar Adua says that in the 2009 fiscal year, more emphasis will be placed on increasing remittances from public corporations, parastatals and agencies.

He anticipates N306 billion to be generated from these sources but the reality is that these organizations have perfected the act of amortizing internally generated revenue.

Third, N1.649 trillion has been budgeted for Recurrent Expenditure in 2009 as against N796.7 billion for Capital Expenditure.

The difference is about N853 billion, implying the Federal Government will spend double on personnel costs that will deliver on capital development projects.

Fourth, there is a proposed deficit of N1.09 trillion in the 2009 Budget to be financed from varied sources including borrowing.

Will the Federal Government reduce Recurrent or Capital Expenditure where it faces challenges in financing the proposed deficit?

Five, and following from the above, the record of the Federal Government when it comes to getting value for money spent has been abysmal.

It will amount to double jeopardy to engage in valueless spending using borrowed money especially

It will amount to double jeopardy to engage in valueless spending using borrowed money especially when no one can predict when the current global recession will end.

Six, Mr. Yar Adua expects that in 2009, MDAs will implement their projects and programs with responsibility and with regard to due process in budget implementation.

Is Mr. Yar Adua implying that MDAs like NPA, FAAN, NIMASA, NNPC, and others will undergo miraculous transformations in 2009?

Seven, the predications on which the 2009 Budget are based are impliedly casts as absolutes since other scenarios are not offered.

Again, the implication is that where oil production falls below 2.292 mbpd and benchmark oil price below $45, the proposed deficit may balloon beyond N1.09 trillion.

Many other observations will be made by economic and finance experts once the Finance Ministry present the actual breakdown of the figures in the 2009 budget.

But from my layman s position, there is nothing to be cheerful about especially as the unfolding scenario reminds me so erringly of what happened in Nigerian in the early 80s.

The present state of affairs is even worse because in the 80s there was nothing like the Niger Delta crises with the proven ability to wreck crude oil production.

So crude oil prices are falling, the global economy is in a recession, the Niger Delta militants are still on rampage, and revenue earnings from crude oil are falling.

The response of the Federal Government is to increase the 2009 budget, increase borrowing while praying that its MDAs will give value for money spent.

Revenue generating MDAs will also be expected to increase on their revenue generation and remit moneys back to the Federal Government.

.According to Dr. Noel Woodroffe of Congress-WBN, your destination is determined by your process.

In other words, Mr. Yar Adua has expressed his wishes and desires for the 2009 Budget but can they be sustained by the processes in place in the MDAs?

CHAPTER 17
CHAPTER 17

I heard a view point about the problems of Nigeria and how long it will take to address them from a lady with a unique perspective.

Born in Nigeria, the lady was sent to the UK by her parents at an early age where she was educated.

She only returned to Nigeria after working for years in the UK and is now employed in the administration department of a private school in Lagos.

Recalling her experiences since she relocated to Nigeria, she has found it difficult to reconcile the quality of life in the UK and Nigeria.

Describing her experiences in Lagos as harrowing but challenging, the grueling nature of life in Lagos has pushed her to the brink.

And when compared to the ordered existence of life in the UK she wonders at times why she came back to Nigeria.

But then again Lagos is home and she would rather be here than in the UK where she sometimes felt like an outsider looking in.

She did opine though that it would take Nigeria more than 50 years to get things right and for a semblance of order to be injected into the status quo.

Taken aback I asked what could have informed such a position considering I am one who wants urgent solutions to our numerous problems.

Her response set me thinking and could be paraphrased as follows: Consider the millions of children in Nigeria today who are not being educated or are being undereducated.

Also consider the millions more who are being raised in poverty in the midst of ostentatious display of wealth by a few in the society.

20 to 30 years from now they will have come of age and will constitute the majority in an environment where the few educated ones must interact with them.

Until such a time when minimum standards are put in place and there is a leveling of sorts between the rich and the poor then Nigeria will continue to struggle.

I was intrigued by her view point which was probably enhanced by her involvement in the education sector.

In the 70s when the military nationa lized all schools, public schools were the norm

In the 70s when the military nationalized all schools, public schools were the norm and it took sitting for entrance examinations to gain admission.

Today, private schools are the norm with admissions based on a pay as you can basis while the poor are left to attend public schools that barely qualify to be called schools.

The same applies to universities where the children of the rich attend private universities and millions are left to struggle yearly for about 100000 spaces in public universities.

The result is that millions drop out of school yearly while even those who manage to graduate from the public universities cannot find jobs.

While the children of top government officials and the rich are schooling abroad and in the best schools locally, the children of the middle class are struggling to enter public universities.

As for the children of the poor, they are completely left to their fate and constitute the artisans, street traders, house helps and drivers.

I was in Orile-Iganmu for the passing out event of over 1500 students that had attended a computer training program conducted by Orile-Iganmu Progressive Association.

In an age described as the technology era, many of them were coming in contact with the computer for the first time.

In a subsequent seminar that was conducted for the students many were looking for financial assistance in order to further their education.

There I knew that these children would never be able to compete with my own children who are in a private school in Lagos.

That realization was gutting but the lady has helped me to put things in proper perspective by projecting what the future would look like.

What is clear is that things will have to get worse before they get better in Nigeria otherwise we cannot progress in this country.

I am reminded of the writings of Leo Tolstoy who says that human progress is only

possible after the realization that a present state of existence is no longer sustainable.

It is only at that point that the search for a better state of life or existence can truly commence.

We are like a people caught in a vice where all recognize the existence of the vice and the burden of living in that state but continue in it all the same.

Those who diverted the $16 billion m eant for the power sector knew that it

Those who diverted the $16 billion meant for the power sector knew that it further threw Nigeria into darkness and yet that did not stop them.

Those who yearly engage in the ritual of budgeting know that the trillions being budgeted will disappear into private pockets yet the ritual continues.

Those who for years have profited from the crises in the Niger Delta and the subjugation of its peoples will not stop for one minute to consider the implications of their evil deeds.

And those who deliberately pursue policies that under educate or noneducate the vast majority of Nigerian children know the outcome of their actions but they persist anyway.

Educated youths would have thought twice before engaging in maiming, killings and destruction of properties like what we witnessed in Jos, Plateau state last week.

The principle is that whatever we sow that is what will be reaped and this is why I left that lady's office in a somber mood.

CHAPTER 18
CHAPTER 18

The longest serving elected public official in the world is Hilmar Moore, the mayor of Richmond, Texas.

He was first elected to office in 1949 and since then has been reelected repeatedly by the townspeople of Richmond where he still serves to date.

Barack Obama's inauguration as president will be the 12th inauguration that Hilmar Moore will be witnessing.

To Mr. Moore who will be spending his 60 th year as mayor, the essence of government is:

Do the most good you can for the most people, with the money you have

This according to Mr. Moore is the most essential and vital function of government, as it were, the heart and soul of what government is about.

Governments in Nigeria have a different essence from that stated by Mr. Moore and the 2009 Budget recently presented by Mr. Yar'Adua proves this beyond reasonable doubt.

Of the N2.748 trillion budgeted for 2009, N1.649 trillion has been budgeted for Recurrent Expenditure against N796.7 billion for Capital Expenditure.

The difference is about N853 billion, implying the Federal Government will spend double on personnel costs to deliver on capital development projects.

Capital expenditure represents spending on projects that are supposed to benefit the vast majority of 140 million Nigerians.

Recurrent expenditure on the other hand is spending on recurring expenses and overheads of public officers and servants.

These are people who can be found in the three tiers of government and include elected officials in the executive and legislature.

Although no one seems to know their exact number especially as many ghost workers still exist in the government, their number at the Federal level cannot exceed 500, 000.

As things stand these 500, 000 servants in 2009 are going to consume almost double of what will be expended on capital projects for the benefit of 140 million Nigerians.

Capital projects would include spending on the power sector, construction of new roads, and other infrastructure.

To add insult to injury, these 500, 00 0 servants will also be the ones

To add insult to injury, these 500, 000 servants will also be the ones to disburse the capital expenditure come 2009.

Recall for instance how in 2006, non-existent companies were awarded contracts and paid out of the $16 billion earmarked for power projects.

In 2009, another N84 billion is proposed by the Federal Government for spending in the power sector.

As Nigerians these servants will also enjoy the benefits of those capital projects that they graciously allow to be completed.

Unlike Mr. Moore, the essence of government in Nigeria is to do the most good for its members and little if any good for Nigerians, with the money available.

No wonder government in Nigeria has been defined as being for the benefit of those in power and their collaborators.

Talk about having you cake after eating it, which is the only way to describe the two ways chopping that is going on in high places.

Imagine a situation where servants get to legitimately and annually preside over the sharing of resources belonging to the commonwealth.

Meanwhile the owners of the commonwealth who are onlookers in the entire sharing process are then told that the servants will spend this vote on their behalf.

And the servants will also spend what they have allocated to themselves without having to account to the owners of the commonwealth.

Again, these servants now pretend to seek the endorsement of other servants who use the opportunity to batter for their own share of the commonwealth.

Multiply this process across 774 Local Government Councils, 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory and then the Federal Government and you shudder.

Then add what goes on in ministries, departments and agencies of government and it is apparent that Nigeria is one huge government bureaucracy.

It is government by the government, for the government, to the government.

CHAPTER 19
CHAPTER 19

Our Destiny Lies in our Hands

I heard the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment on Ray Power FM News by 1.00pm, and a strange calm descended on me.

The report which did not give much detail only stated that that the Supreme Court had dismissed the appeals of Messrs Buhari and Atiku against the election of Mr. Yar Adua.

On getting to the office, I went online where I found a report by the BBC providing more information as to the basis of the Supreme Court decision.

To quote the BBC report But the Supreme Court has upheld the findings of lower courts that lawyers had not provided strong enough evidence to overturn the official result .

According to the Supreme Court, it did not matter that the conduct of the 2007 elections had been so brazen and condemned by many.

What mattered was that Messrs Buhari and Atiku had been unable to provide strong evidence of the atrocities that had transpired at the polls in the elections of 2007.

I am certain that the Supreme Court judgment will come in for some harsh criticisms especially from some who only yesterday were hailing the judiciary.

But then when the Supreme Court declared Rotimi Amechi as the (un)elected governor of Rivers State, many praised the judiciary as the last hope of the people.

And in the recent affirmation of the election of Adams Oshiomole as the elected governor of Edo State, the Court of Appeal came in for high praises.

What I am driving at is that with the judiciary, one cannot be too certain which way the pendulum is going to swing in election petitions.

The judgment of the Supreme Court affirming the election of Mr. Yar Adua should prove to Nigerians that salvation will not come from the judiciary.

At the point in which an election petition has to go to court, matters are no longer completely in the hands of the petitioner or the electorate.

There are many other intervening factors, both inside and outside the court room that can affect or influence the outcome of these petitions.

Elections are mainly won or lost by what is done or not done prior to the conduct of the polls and on the day of polling itself.

What is evident is that the majority o f the voting public has been absenting

What is evident is that the majority of the voting public has been absenting themselves from voting and turning a blind eye to the electoral process.

The enthusiasm which greeted the return to civil rule in 1999 has been declining progressively with every subsequent election conducted in Nigeria.

The waning enthusiasm has seen Nigerian participation in the electoral process reducing drastically that one political party now talks only of capturing power.

That same political party is now found of declaring that they are going to hold on to political power in Nigeria for the next 60 years.

Now whether that is a mere boast or is something that can be achieved, I am sure that is something Nigerians want to be determined by their legitimate votes.

In the just concluded general elections in Ghana, voter turn out was well over 85% of registered eligible voters.

Also the election of Barack Obama as the president of the United States of America witnessed unprecedented voters turn out driven by the important issues at stake.

The last time we witnessed such high levels of voter enthusiasm in Nigeria was during the June 12 1993 elections.

The outcome of that election although subsequently annulled was made possible by the enthusiastic participation of Nigerians in the electoral process especially on polls day.

That enthusiasm was partly fueled by rising frustration among Nigerians against the meandering and dribbling rule of Mr. Babangida.

However, the colorful campaign of Mr. Abiola and the grass root mobilizations that he embarked on were quite unprecedented in Nigeria.

Mr. Yar Adua and the Peoples Democratic Party are massively supplying the frustration element by their (mis)rule.

Baring any sudden transformation in the nature and character in the governments across all tiers of government, frustration among Nigerians will be at boiling point by 2011.

The only other ingredient to spark that frustration into a raging fire for change in Nigeria at the polls come 2011 will be the enthusiasm factor amongst Nigerians.

It will take an all hands on deck approach to build up enthusiasm amongst Nigerians to make for a June 12 poll shaking reality to occur in 2011.

This time around, we have all partak en of the spirit of June 12 and

This time around, we have all partaken of the spirit of June 12 and imbibed the mobilizing traits of Messrs Abiola and Obama.

Let charity begin at home and each person mobilize another. As Barack Obama says, change comes from below and not the top.

He only tapped into the ground swell of discontent against George Bush and the Republican Party and rode that wave to the White house.

This is the time for that ground swell of enthusiasm of change through the ballot to begin to gather pace and build up. It is a task for all well meaning Nigerians of voting age.

CHAPTER 20
CHAPTER 20

Reports that Ladipo Market has again been closed on the order of Muzi Banire, the. Honorable Commissioner of Environment should not come as a surprise to those who have visited the market of recent.

The closure which was approved by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, is due among others to the unsanitary condition of the market and the repeated failures of the traders to adhere to the terms of an MOU signed with LSG in 2006.

The MOU was signed after the LSG who had closed the market under similar circumstances hearkened to pleas from well meaning Nigerians and after the traders undertook to address the complaints of government.

I recall Peter Obi, the Governor of Anambra state coming all the way to Lagos to add his voice to those who pleaded with LSG to reopen the market in 2006, but LSG is now asserting that the traders never adhered to the terms of the MOU.

I have not read the terms of the MOU signed between the traders at Ladipo market and

LSG, and as such I am not in a position to know the exact responsibilities and obligations

of the traders under the terms of the MOU.

What is clear is that between the last closure of the market in 2006, and the recent one, not much lessons have been learnt by the traders with regards to the unsanitary condition of the market.

But then Ladipo market is not just an ordinary market as it is the biggest market for old and new automobile parts along the West Coast, probably excluding Onitsha market although some will debate this fact.

It also provides direct and indirect employment to thousands if not millions of people who throng the market in their daily search for sustenance, or who finance the goods that are available for sale in the market.

Apart from those who are fortunate to have shops in and around the market, there are many others acting as middle men who intercept customers too stressed to navigate the market in search of the best deals.

There are also emergency mechanics and other parts fitters hanging around the market that for an express fee can fit or fix or repair cars with parts bought in the market, a service needed in an environment where trust is in short supply.

Then there are those that come from all over Lagos, other states in Nigeria and

Then there are those that come from all over Lagos, other states in Nigeria and the West coast nations to buy car parts, and on the supply side are the importers who bring in the parts from Europe and Asia, financed either by banks or the contributions of others.

More important are the Lagosians, both private and commercial car owners who patronize the used parts section of the market and without which their vehicles are more like mobile coffins.

This is the complex context in which the LSG has taken the decision to close the Ladipo market for a yet undeterminable period of time, a decision whose reverberating impact will be felt in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria and West Africa

With many of the young men and women earning their living on a daily basis from the Ladipo market, and in a society with no social safety nets for the majority of hard working Nigerians, how are these people going to survive?

In the last few months reports of violent robberies across Lagos have increased and the closure of the market is likely to aggravate the situation especially as Christmas and New Year celebrations are around the corner.

The timing of the closure may push some of the youths who get their daily sustenance from the market into taking desperate actions as millions will be thrown into temporary unemployment worsening an already bad situation.

This does not mean that I condone the actions or in actions of the traders or that I support the unsanitary state of the market. My take is that if closure of the market 2 years ago yielded no improvements the chances of similar action working in 2008 may be slim.

I am concerned about the human implications of the actions of LSG in closing the market although I respect the right of government to take such steps as may address the environmental challenges presented by the market.

The objective of government is to have a market in Ladipo that is kept clean through the efforts of the traders. The million Naira question is how this can this be achieved without resorting to the intermittent closure of the market with its attendant human challenges?

CHAPTER 21
CHAPTER 21

Yesterday, I heard an intriguing explanation about the PDP umbrella symbol from a source that explains that we are in for a long haul in this country.

According to this source, the umbrella represents benefits and protection for PDP members and those associated with them.

Meaning if you are not in the PDP, you are not covered by the umbrella and the benefits and protection that go with it.

The source also conceded that the protection and benefits do not extend to the generality of Nigerians, but only to Nigerians in the PDP.

And from what I could gather, the benefits have to do with access to state resources and contracts while the protection is about use of the coercive machinery of the state.

This probably explains why the Action Congress has chosen a broom as its symbol, i.e. to sweep away the PDP and what it represents.

But jokes aside, this intriguing explanation captures the reality to which Nigerians have been subjected in the last 9 years of democratic government.

Take the power sector, total funds committed to actualizing power supply since 1999 is probably enough to light up the whole of Africa, yet powerlessness has been the dividend

Both at home and at the office, I have been my own power generating company and this week I have had to take a decision to become my own water company.

Education, health, transportation, housing, et al are already my responsibilities and there is yet no silver lining in the sky.

Meanwhile the budgeting of millions, billions and trillions of Naira as annual budgets by all tiers of government goes on unabated.

It is going to take immense sacrifice to reverse the status quo and the longer the delay the more Zimbabwean that challenge will become.

In Zimbabwe, the ruling establishment is prepared to allow the country to become an economic wasteland and for the people to die of cholera rather than relinquish or share power.

Not surprisingly, our government has not played any role in trying to resolve the shameful situation in Zimbabwe.

That is because they intend to stay in power for 60 years and considering Robert

That is because they intend to stay in power for 60 years and considering Robert Mugabe has only been in power for 28 years, the PDP does not want to ruffle any feathers.

The major problem facing those who are opposed to how the PDP has been ruling the country is an under estimation of the extent to which the PDP will go to hold on to power

Now even the most brazen poll ever conducted in the history of Nigeria has been certified and approved by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

If we were ever under any illusions that we have been enslaved, the judgment of the Supreme Court is proof of our collective enslavement by those in high places.

By 2011 the enslavement will be extended to our children and the generations to come and by then the domination will have become institutional.

According to Saul Alinsky, when injustice is complete and crushing, people seldom rebel, they just give up .

It is this apathy and despair and hopelessness that are the biggest obstacles that we face not just among the poor but especially amongst the professional and middle class.

If you go to communities across Nigerians, at least the poor are looking to be mobilized and energized for positive social change in Nigeria.

Knowing that those in high places do not want a change in the status quo, yet the professional and middle class are living what Thoreau called, lives of quite desperation .

We are alienated from the peoples at the grass roots and from each other, and we have become depersonalized without any feeling of participation in the political process.

Our lives which consist in fighting to keep our heads above water are generally unfulfilling; our jobs are unsatisfying while we drown our anxieties in alcohol.

We fight to keep ourselves distant from the poor while struggling to make it in to the class of those in high places and probably under the cover of the umbrella.

So we are rooted in inertia, conditioned to look for the safe and easy way out, afraid to rock the boat of the illusions of life we have built.

All this while that boat is sinking and taking us under with it, and unless we start bailing fast only two classes of Nigerians will remain, i.e. the poor and those under the umbrella.

CHAPTER 22
CHAPTER 22

The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Vincent Ogbulafor recently led a delegation of some party members to pay a condolence visit to the people and government of Kaduna state on the death of Mallam Yahaya Gausau.

At the government house, an occasion fitting for sober reflection and somber speaking considering the exemplary life lived by the deceased; Mr. Ogbulafor chose to indulge in what had become his favorite past time of boasting and sounding off.

In what could be regarded as impudence of the highest level, Mr. Ogbulafor declared to Governor Sambo that the PDP was going to rule Nigeria in perpetuity whether or not Nigerians wanted it, and for which strategies had been perfected.

Prior to the recent Supreme Court judgment upholding the most brazenly conducted non- election in the history of Nigeria some of us would have mistaken Mr. Ogbulafor for a palace jester entertaining those who had ensured his selection as chairman of PDP.

But in the light of the almost impossible burden now placed by the Supreme Court on those who want to prove the non-conduct of elections though results are announced, it has become apparent that the palace jester's ranting may point to a reality to come.

We are almost 10 years into the non-rule of the PDP and after the conduct of 3 general elections, each one progressively more brazen in its non compliances with the Electoral Act; one has to wonder whether the palace jester has not become a prophet.

Hear Mr. Ogbulafor sounding almost like Barack Obama, the United States president- elect, "We assure you, we will do our best and like I always say the challenge is ours, and the time is now and the place is here". (Guardian Newspaper 19/12/08)

Then waxing prophetic, he declared, " PDP will rule Nigeria whether they like it or not upward and lot less than 60 years". The they he was referring to probably would be Mr. Buhari who resides in Kaduna and who had lost the election petition challenge.

Either way the message to Nigerians is loud and clear that they are in for 60 or more years of PDP non-rule and that they should brace themselves for the challenges ahead or accept the unfolding reality.

The thing about prophesies is that human factors play significant parts in their fulfillment and all things for their necessary fulfillments must be correctly aligned to make for the reality prophesied.

I would expect that as the ruling pol itical power, the PDP can count on

I would expect that as the ruling political power, the PDP can count on the support of INEC and utilize the coercive machinery of the state to achieve the 60 years ruler ship target and subjugation of Nigerians.

The PDP can also continue with its government of national unity arrangement with supposedly opposition parties while offering them some political appointments to buy their allegiance.

After all the ANPP for a bowl of porridge had denounced its own presidential candidate and disassociated itself from the election petition filed by Mr. Buhari and is today part of the government.

The PDP can also count on the veiled support of other nations who will condemn the conduct of polls that are not free and fair but would do nothing to rock the boat like imposing sanctions on Nigeria.

You see our crude oil and gas matters more to them than whether or not Nigerians are enjoying the dividends of democracy as long as they can do business in Nigeria to their hearts delight.

And because of control of the commonwealth, the real reason why the PDP wants to remain in government in perpetuity, some of these resources can always be deployed for settlement and vote capturing purposes.

Now that the judiciary has shown that the task of upturning presidential elections is akin to trying to get a Carmel to pass through the eye of a needle I guess that seemingly leaves the way clear for the PDP to actualize this prophesy.

The only sticking point is in the assumption that the tendency of Nigerians to suffer fools gladly will increase in intensity in the face of the extreme poverty that has devastated the mass of Nigerians and is now accelerating up the ranks of the middle class.

It is true as Saul Alinsky says that when injustice is complete and crushing, people seldom rebel and they just give up, and the PDP may be counting on the inertia of Nigerians to actualize the prophesy.

But it is also true that the justifications for inertia can be broken down and Nigerians challenged not to put up with injustice and oppression and to do something concrete about their proposed prolonged enslavement.

The challenge in this regard will be how to organize Nigerians to stand up against their enslavement while not resorting to the use of violence seeing that the coercive machinery of state are under the control of PDP.

CHAPTER 23
CHAPTER 23

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream and sought its interpretation from Daniel, one of his wise advisers. In the dream, there was a tree, tall and large standing in the middle of the earth with its top touching the sky.

The tree could be seen from anywhere on earth and had beautiful leaves with plenty of good fruit on it, enough for everyone. Wild animals found shelter under the tree, and the birds lived in its branches, while all animals ate from it.

Then a Watcher came from heaven and declared loudly that the tree should be cut down and its branches also. The tree was also to be stripped of its leaves and its fruit scattered so that that the animals and birds would go away.

But the stump of the tree and its roots in the ground would be left while the stump would be bound with iron and bronze around, for it to stay in the field with the grass growing around it.

Daniel was initially scared to tell the king the interpretation of the dream but summoning courage told King Nebuchadnezzar, that he was that tree and had become great and powerful with his power reaching the far parts of the earth.

The declaration of the Watcher was a command from the Most High God that King Nebuchadnezzar will be forced away from people to live among wild animals and feed on grass like an ox.

He was to be made wet by the dew from the sky for a period of seven years until he learned a valuable lesson: That the Most High God is ruler over every kingdom on earth, giving those kingdoms to anyone He chooses.

The simple solution to avoiding this severe judgment was for King Nebuchadnezzar to stop doing what was wrong, stop doing wicked things and be kind to the poor so that he might continue to be successful.

Alas, the king continued in his evil ways and about a year after the dream declared "I have built this great Babylon as my royal home. I built it by my power to show my glory and my majesty".

In that instance, the declaration of the Watcher came to pass and for the next seven years King Nebuchadnezzar wandered in the bushes as a mad man, and only regained his senses and status when he recognized the ruler ship of God and his own fallibility.

Recently there has been talk of turni ng Nigeria, the most populous black nation on

Recently there has been talk of turning Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth, into a one-party state, with the Peoples Democratic Party as the sole political party for all Nigerians. There have also been repeated declarations by the PDP, supposedly the largest political party in Africa that it will rule Nigeria in perpetuity and that strategies to achieve this objective have already been perfected.

According to these declarations, it makes no difference what the wishes of Nigerians are and that the people are groaning under the yoke and burden of oppression and injustice and crying out for deliverance.

It makes no difference that those who have plundered the resources of the state walk in the high places as power brokers or strike deals with justice while their pursuers have become the hunted and endangered species.

It makes no difference that Nigerians are left to their fate in terms of health care while those in high places are flown to the best medical facilities abroad for the best medical care money can buy, paid for from state resources.

It makes no difference that the nation s roads are death traps sending many Nigerians to their untimely deaths while the rich and those in high places fly by airplanes across the Nigerian airspace.

It makes no difference that insecurity; under education and non-education and lack of power supply are the norms as long as the rich and those in high places are living in their own cocoons, sheltered from the realities that Nigerians live in

What matters to the PDP is that it controls the executive and legislature in Nigeria that the coercive machinery of the state is at its beck and call and the judiciary, the supposed last hope of the common man may no loner be counted upon even in the face of injustice.

Like King Nebuchadnezzar, the PDP is now declaring, "We assure you, we will do our best and like I always say the challenge is ours, and the time is now and the place is here. PDP will rule Nigeria whether they like it or not upward and lot less than 60 years ". (Prince Vincent Ogbulafor PDP National Chairman-Guardian Newspaper 19/12/08)

The declaration of Nigerians is that, come April 2011, the Umbrella, the PDP symbol of authority shall be taken from the hands of the PDP whose members will be exposed to the elements just as they have exposed Nigerians to the elements.

Their access to the high places will be blocked until they come to realize that power and authority is given by the Most High God, unless the PDP will heed the cries of Nigerians for deliverance and forthwith cease from its wrong doings.

CHAPTER 24
CHAPTER 24

In 1914 when Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates to form what is today known as Nigeria, he was under no illusions what his real motives were.

Faced with the increasing cost of administering the vast lands of Northern Protectorate, it was to the purse strings of South that he looked to bell the cat.

Lord Lewis Harcourt, is reported to have declared that: We have released Northern Nigeria from the lending strings of the treasury. The promising and well conducted youth is now on an allowance on his own and is about to affect an alliance with a southern lady of means. I have issued the special license and Sir Fredrick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May the union be fruitful and the couple constant

According to F. Nicholson: Instead of developing things and administering service, Lugard had been preoccupied with the wide spread extension of rule over people-an undertaking so unprofitable that it made the amalgamation of the viable South and the bankrupt North both far more urgent from the point of view of the home government and far more difficult than the joining of two viable administrations would have been. The immediate task was to free the home government from the expensive milestones which Lugard had fastened round its neck and to transfer the whole burden to a new amalgamated Nigeria

As soon as the 1914 Amalgamation came into force, the British Government enacted the Minerals Ordinance, 1914, investing all the minerals including oil and gas in Nigeria in the British crown. This was not amended until 1958-two years to our 1960 independence (Richard Akinjide)

At independence in October 1960, the Federal Government took the place of the British Crown and that structure is in tact today under our various Petroleum enactments.

From regional governments to the formation of states by the military government in 1967, the central government has retained control of mineral and oil resources.

Under the brief period of civilian rule between 1979 and 1983 this structure was preserved but was now backed by the constitution and a revenue sharing enactment.

The parties to the revenue sharing were the Federal Government, State Governments and Local Governments which the military had introduced as the third tier of government.

The situation has not changed much since the return to civilian rule again in 1999, the only slight alteration being in tinkering with the revenue sharing formula.

Additional provision has now been m ade for States from which the bulk of oil

Additional provision has now been made for States from which the bulk of oil and gas resources are derived.

Even at that, these allocations do not go directly to the peoples in the communities where there is oil and gas but to their State governments and other statutory formulations.

Copying from the British Crown, successive administrations have perfected the act of forming artificial entities for handling allocations of revenue.

These are the ministries, departments and agencies of governments including committees, commissions, and task forces both statutory and non-statutory.

Yearly they formulate budgets on our behalf but without inputs from Nigerians which they submit to their relevant governments which when approved have the force of law.

In military governments the soldiers were both the requesting and approving authorities and even the executive and legislatures in a democratic government usually belong to the same political party.

Of all Government agencies, departments and agencies, the Revenue Sharing and Allocation Commission is the most efficient.

It ensures that the Federal, States and Local Governments get their share of revenue allocation on or before the 26th of each month.

Having legitimized access to revenues, being part of government became the easiest means of having direct access to these revenues and how they were disbursed.

Under the civilian governments, the procedure for budgeting and approval is pretentiously long but at the end of the day, everyone in the set up gets compensated.

Knowing that all that stands between them and direct access to what now runs into trillions of Naira yearly are elections that they have to plan, organize and conduct.

Our political rulers see no reason why they should not manipulate the electoral process to ensure their perpetual reign

We have men and women, who under some altruistic purpose are actually helping themselves to the resources of the state like the British and the military before them.

To these people, the issue has never been and will probably never be about the Nigerian people but about the sustenance of a structure which dutifully served the British and the military.

Talk of rotation of power among the geopolitical zones and of power shift between the North and the South are but mere variants of the same structure.

Now it is the turn of politicians who claim that they represent the interest of

Now it is the turn of politicians who claim that they represent the interest of the Hausa- Fulani and before that it was the turn of politicians who claimed to represent the interest of the Yoruba s.

Next will be the mother of all battles between politicians who claim to represent the interest of the Ibos and those who claim to represent the interest of the Ijaws and other tribes of the South South.

In the midst of all these alignments and repositioning, the mass of Nigerians have remained poor, unhealthy, uneducated, unemployed, homeless, hungry, destitute and abandoned.

But at the first hint of trouble those with direct access to state resources and those who want direct access will play the ethnic, religious or gender card to achieve the desired result.

This is what the structure of Nigeria is all about, not people but access to state resources as it was under the British colonialists and the military oligarchies.

Meanwhile, the mass of Nigerians across all geo-political zones, religion and ethnic considerations are suffering from the same basic problems

We gained true independence from the British after the Nigerian civil war while we gained independence from the military after the June 12 elections and the death of MKO Abiola.

But we are yet to gain independence from our political overlords who presently rule Nigeria and are prepared to do so in perpetuity.

I cannot pretend to know at what cost that independence will be obtained from the political ruling class but the price will be steep.

If any blood must be spilled then it has to be the blood of Nigerians so that evil men will not size that opportunity to unleash the forces of hell in their attempt to preserve the structure of Nigeria.

CHAPTER 25
CHAPTER 25

Techniques for Achieving 60 years Rulership in Nigeria

A 1957 report headed "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force

Prisoners of War" may point to some of the techniques being adopted by the Peoples Democratic Party to achieve its objective of ruling Nigeria for 60 years.

Mr. Vincent Ogbulafor, the Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, is reported to have recently declared that " PDP will rule Nigeria whether they (Nigerians) like it or not upward and lot less than 60 years". (Guardian Newspaper 19/12/08)

In the light of its abysmal failure to provide Nigerians with the basic necessities of life

and the dividends of democracy in the last nine years of ruling Nigeria, many people are wondering how the PDP intends to actualize this improbable desire.

Notwithstanding earning N31 trillions in the last nine years according to figures released

by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Nigeria is closer to the

19 th century in terms of infrastructure albeit with mobile phone technology.

Any way in an environment rich with the likes of Omar Bongo of Gabon, Paul Biya of Cameroon, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and the doyen of the lot, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the PDP desire may not be out of place.

But a closer look at these countries reveals that they all have something in common, i.e. wide spread poverty among the mass of their peoples that has reduced them to lacking the basic necessities of life.

Zimbabwe is presently being ravaged by cholera due to the absence of drinking water and

at the last count over 20, 000 have been infected and at least 1500 people have died with

the number of deaths expected to rise.

In Nigeria, thousands have died from generator fumes and fires because of the absence of

public power supply and the infant/pregnant women mortality rates probably rank amongst the highest in the world.

Bottom-line is that in these countries, what citizens of developed nations take for granted and are regarded as forming part of their basic human rights are considered luxuries meant only for the rich.

You may be wondering at this point the connection between the report on Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War and these long running pseudo democracies especially the PDP plan to rule Nigeria for 60 years.

Let me explain. Following the 9/11 terrorists attacks in the United States and the war

Let me explain. Following the 9/11 terrorists attacks in the United States and the war to rout out the Taliban from Afghanistan, large numbers of suspected terrorists were captured and sent to Guantanamo Bay, a prison facility run by the US Military. To get into the heads of these terror suspects, the US Military in some cases turned to techniques adopted by the Chinese in the 1950s to obtain confessions from American service men captured during the Korean War.

More specifically, the US Military resurrected a 1957 report by Albert D. Biderman, M.A. detailing various techniques adopted by the Chinese to obtain false confessions from American Air force Prisoners of War.

The first technique was Isolation which was intended to deprive the victim of all social support of his ability to resist which made the victim develop an intense concern with self and to be dependent on the Interrogators.

For isolation substitute that with ethnic and religious politics that ensures the over 400 ethnic groups in Nigeria cannot speak with one voice and so each one concentrates on what is in its best interest while looking up to the government.

The second technique was Monopolization of Perception to force the victim to fix his attention on his immediate predicament there by eliminating thinking competing with those of his captors and frustrating all actions not consistent with compliance.

For Monopolization of Perception substitute the daily challenges of surviving in a Nigeria that is devoid of basic infrastructures making us focus only on surviving today while leaving those in power to make long term plans on how to retain control of power.

The third technique was Induced Debilitation and Exhaustion which weakened mental and physical ability to resist as a result of semi-starvation, exploitation of health situations, and sleep deprivation.

For this technique substitute wide spread hunger in the midst of plenty, public health facilities that facilitate death instead of life, and inability of a large percentage of Nigerians to sleep well at night due to erratic public power supply.

Fifth were Threats to cultivate anxiety and despair, and Occasional Indulgences to provide motivations for compliance thus hindering adjustment to deprivation. This was accomplished by giving occasional favors and promising rewards for partial compliance.

For Threats substitute the fact that we leave under an atmosphere of threats from our government and its agencies (tax, demolitions), the security apparatus (Police, EFCC, Military), and even armed robbers and militants.

When governments finally get around to executing projects the impression is given that a favor is being done to the people either as a reward for voting for the party in government or an inducement to do so (Zamfara State Government whole sale defection to PDP)

The Sixth were Demonstrating Omn ipotence and Omniscience suggesting the futility of resistance through confrontations

The Sixth were Demonstrating Omnipotence and Omniscience suggesting the futility of resistance through confrontations, demonstrating complete control over victim s fate, and pretending confrontation taken for granted.

What better example of this than the PDP Chairman s declaration of inevitability concerning their projected 60 years reign and the fate that befalls the enemies of those in high places (Ribadu, El Rufai).

Finally Degradation by reducing the prisoner to animal level concerns making resistance appear more damaging than capitulation through infested and filthy surroundings, denial of privacy, demeaning punishments and insults/taunts.

The false confession that is elicited from Nigerians as a result of the successful implementation of these techniques is that no matter the level of their deprivations and the level of corruption exhibited by those in high places is e go better tomorrow .

In such an environment, apathy is the order of the day and just may be the 60 year ruler ship objective becomes more realistic.

CHAPTER 27
CHAPTER 27

In a series of lectures delivered in Monrovia, Liberia, Dr. Noel Woodroffe, President of Congress-WBN, addressed the issue of Core Imperative for Successful Nation Development and identified the demand for democracy as one of the tectonic movements or shifts taking place in the relational architecture of the earth.

He noted that democracy as a political requirement carries with it a deeper philosophical impact of human empowerment on a mass scale entailing wider dialogue. This is about increased surfacing of defining opinions from below rather than imposition of narrow views from above, the concept on which Barack Obama built his political campaign.

In a changing world where shifts in human consciousness and human organizations have already occurred, he stated that developments towards the future especially in West African nations, demands that these shifts be deliberately and consciously taken into account and utilized.

He advised that to make appreciable impact, we are to embark on visionary thinking and developmental planning and that radical new possibility for change and development must be created by our own efforts towards local economic stimulation, social change and developments and local political initiatives.

For lectures that were delivered in 2005 in Monrovia, Liberia, Barack Obama s Democratic Party primaries and Democratic Presidential Election campaigns in America which both resulted in resounding victories appears to have been lifted from the said lectures.

It is beyond dispute that the political initiatives developed and implemented by Barack Obama and his campaign team were radical and have resulted in profound changes in the American and global political landscape, and even now the full ramifications of these victories are still unfolding.

How else can we explain that a black man with a father from Kenya, Africa and a while mother from Kansas, one of the heartlands of white America and who is not your classic American male model could overwhelm and eventually dismantle the Clinton political dynasty in the Democratic Party?

How else could the Obama team have taken on the dreaded Republican Party campaign machine and the ultimate American war hero John McCain and his bit bull lipstick wearing running mate' Sarah Palin, and in the process engineer one of the most decisive Congressional victories for the Democratic Party in 2008?

How else could a man named Barack Hussein Obama, all exotics names and sharing a middle name with the most wanted terrorist on the face of planet earth, and who has lived

in demographic group?
in
demographic group?

Indonesia and Hawaii, win such an overwhelming victory with votes from every

Many will claim that this could only have happened in the United States of America with its long history of democracy and public enlightenment and they are probably right, but they will also have to concede that what Barack Obama accomplished is also a first of its kind with a certainty of a place in history.

The challenge is that in Nigeria we can have our own uniquely crafted first of its kind in the political sector, i.e. that we can have elections in Nigeria where the results are determined strictly by the votes of Nigerians cast on election day and accurately collated by electoral officials.

Again, many Nigerians will be quick to point out why an election determined by the

votes of Nigerians is not possible in Nigeria and why any political initiative in that regard

is doomed to fail as they will recall how IBB annulled what is adjudged to be the best

election in the history of Nigeria, i.e. June 12, 1993.

They will point to how the last three general elections held in Nigeria, i.e. 1999, 2003, and 2007, have produced outcomes which did not reflect the will of Nigerians and that the judiciary cannot be counted on at all times to address election petitions even in instances where elections did not take place but results were announced.

We are not in 1993, 1999, 2003 or 2007 but in 2008 and going to 2009, the season in which the White House, the most powerful seat of government on planet earth, will be occupied by the most improbable and audacious man that has walked the land of America, Barack Obama.

A season in which the influence of the mastermind and architect of the 2003 and 2007

general elections Olusegun Obasanjo will have waned and in which we will have more staggered elections due to judicial pronouncements with more states in the South West and South East likely to end up in opposition hands.

A season in which the economy of Nigeria is expected to proceed on a sustained bullish

run due to the global economic downturn and the falling price of crude oil, which will further impoverish Nigerians and add to their frustrations, although the squandering of

state resources by those in high places is not expected to abate.

A season in which the gains of the Nigerian professional and middle class in the last few

years would almost be completely eroded and in which Mr. Yar'Adua will be president of Nigeria and has promised to embark on electoral reforms, the report of which has already being presented to him.

If there ever was an opportune season for Nigerians to take their political destiny into

their own hands and demand democracy in Nigeria, the period between 2009 and 2011

will be that season, where all the for ces of good and justice have been

will be that season, where all the forces of good and justice have been rightly aligned in favor of Nigerians.

What is required are the innovative local political initiatives, some of which are already in existence but requiring more effort, to bring about this radical new possibility. Nigerians, the ball is definitely in our court.

CHAPTER 28
CHAPTER 28

The Rod and the Vote

Moses had just received one of the most shocking directives from God Almighty, which was to go back to Egypt and deliver the people of Israel from bondage.

Considering that it was a task he had tried to effect 40 years earlier and failed resoundingly, Moses had every justification for turning down the directive.

And he did try to get God to look to another person to embark on that dangerous quest citing his youthfulness in case God had forgotten that he had a wife to take care of.

He also reminded God that he stuttered, which would make it extremely difficult to mobilize the Israelites who had a reputation for stubbornness.

Having run out of excuses he tried one last time to corner God by declaring that the Israelites would never believe that he had been sent by God to deliver them.

That the Israelites would believe that Moses had a secret agenda was not out of place considering he had earlier been in line to become Pharaoh in Egypt.

Then God asked Moses, What do you have in your hand? . And he replied A Rod , because Moses was a shepherd and the rod was the tool he used for shepherding sheep.

Through the miracle of turning Moses rod into a snake and other signs that God showed, he returned to Egypt with the rod in his hand to battle Pharaoh.

During the long process of breaking the will of Pharaoh to release the Israelites from their captivity, and the various miracles worked by God, Moses rod was called into play.

And even when the Israelites left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and journeyed through the wilderness for 40 years, the rod had its role to play.

Of course we all know that the prime mover behind the scene engineering all the miracles and breakthroughs was God Almighty.

But the rod represented the point at which the divine power of God fused with the efforts of man to produce outstanding results.

So what if like Moses, Nigerians have in their hands something that God can utilize in the process of ensuring their deliverance from captivity?

Only those in high places will deny that the generality of Nigerians today are not living embittered lives similar to the Israelites in Egypt.

Like Pharaoh, those in high places b elieve that Nigerians are designed for hard living

Like Pharaoh, those in high places believe that Nigerians are designed for hard living and deserve to be afflicted with the burdens of the ruling class.

Unfortunately, the more severe the rigorous conditions under which Nigerians dwell, the more they are multiplying in large numbers.

But at night when they retire to their beds or in discussions they have in private, they sigh and cry because of the heavy burdens of life they have been afflicted with.

What then do Nigerians have in their hands that can become their own tools, their own symbolic point of contact to activate the power of God in the push for liberation?

"The first step toward liberation for any group is to use the power in hand power in hand is the vote." Helen Gahagan Douglas.

And the

The vote is a method for an electorate to make a decision and in Nigeria is a legal right guaranteed by both the Nigerian Constitution and Electoral Act.

The Constitution provides that Nigeria shall only be governed in accordance with its provisions and shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice

Thus sovereignty and all power and authority belong to the people and their participation in government, which is primarily exercised by means of the vote, is ensured.

By the joint provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, every Nigerian who has attained the age of 18 years shall be entitled to vote in all elections.

But it would appear that in General Elections conducted in 1999, 2003 and 2007 and other Local Government Elections, that the right to vote has been ceded by Nigerians.

This has only served to embolden the political class who are now under the false belief that the right to vote never existed in the first place.

They have become like Pharaoh who did not remember that the forefathers of the Israelites had come into Egypt as free men and women but now treated them as slaves.

However the intensifying of Pharaoh s hash treatment of the Israelites was actually the signal for the commencement of the processes that would lead to their liberation.

The burdens of our afflicters have also become too heavy to bear and this is the signal for the commencement of our liberation, and the vote is our rod, the pathway to liberty.