ON BUHARI’S “BAN” ON THE MEDIA

The media has come under scrutiny once more. The most recent is the recent “ban” on the African Independent Television (AIT) a private television station, from covering the activities of Nigerian President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari. Ever since this was made public, our “experts” have begun analysing the issues.

Our question in this matter is: What is new(s) in Buhari’s action. Did Buhari ban the AIT? Did he say they should not operate anymore? Did he withdraw their license? To all these questions the answer is NO. Buhari as a private citizen, being just a president-elect, has the right to his privacy as a private citizen at least till May 29.

Even if Buhari were THE substantive president, I dare ask, “What is wrong in such action?” To me, it is like me organising a party and I told you in specific terms that you are not invited, courtesy demands that an unwanted guest stay back rather than suffer the embarrassment of gate-crashing to an event you are sure to be embarrassed. This is the AIT’s case today!

I still dare to ask, did Buhari break any written law? I know of no law that is broken by “do not cover my event” order. Freedom of the press must be interpreted in the right contest. A lot of people tend to forget that President Barrack Obama “banned” at least two media stations from the White House during his administration. The pro-Republican Fox News and Boston Herald had their fair share of the White House blacklisting for their unprofessional reportage of political news. Many of those condemning Buhari now finds no fault in Obama’s .

This is specifically where AIT fits in. the media station’s role during the election can be classified as ignoble. They were more of a candidate even their principal. They sponsored hate campaigns against General Buhari including broad day lies. They even went as far as insulting Buhari’s family accusing him of been responsible for the death of his first daughter, Zulai who died of sickle cell anemia about two years ago and his late wife. After doing all these, the media station’s owners didn’t even bother to even apologise for their below morally par role during the presidential campaign.

Some have opined, quite intelligently, that the General is on a mission of vengeance. They argue that he is out to take his pound of flesh on those who campaigned against him during the election. I fully agree that a leader must be in reconciliatory mood in peace time. But let us look at it this way. Dr. Reuben Abati, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Media assistant, has since apologised to the General for his abusive remarks on him during the election. The General is on record to have forgiven him even for his lousy statement in his article FOR THE ATTENTION OF GENERAL BUHARI publish in The Guardian in 2011 where he accused him of threatening to make Nigeria ungovernable for president Jonathan. Buhari sued Abati for libel after which President Jonathan prevailed on the General to settle the matter out of court in other not to embarrass the administration. On 12 June, 2012 The Guardian and Reuben Abati issued a public apology to the General. No one has heard any bitterness whatsoever from the General on the matter ever since!

We need to also add that one of those who personally insulted Buhari during the campaign is the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Akinwunmi Adeshina. It is on record today that Buhari has forgotten about all pre-election issues and has become his chief campaigner for the African Development Bank (AfDB) presidency. What more can someone ask for. The two characters above have shown remorse and therefore told to go and sin no more. Has AIT ever shown or even apologized to the General for even insulting his family?

With impunity, the AIT flaunted all known rules in the books, instigating hate campaigns and speeches against him. The station stopped at nothing to discredit the General. For limited economic and political gains, professionalism, ethics, and national security were sold by the station at giveaway prices yet the regulation body the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) looked the other way. He who comes equity, remember, must come with clean hands. AIT did all these and they moved on as though nothing has happened. If this is what some of us call democracy, this must be Democracy-made-in-Nigeria. Apart from this, I know not what to call this!

For me since Obama broke no law in banning some media stations from the White House; since those criticizing Buhari found nothing wrong in President Jonathan ordering the interception of newspapers for their reportage of the military’s fight against Boko Haram; if all these broke no written law, Buhari’s action “banning” AIT from his personal activities is within acceptable limits!

For those who are now crying wolf on the AIT’s ban calling the action draconian. I wish to ask where they when the AIT displayed a broad day madness. Like the Yorubas say when the fly was disturbing the madman’s wound, no one was concerned, but when the mad man began disturbing the fly, everyone became more concerned! When the station was busy demonstrating its madness, no one called them to order, in fact many applauded it. Now just a “don’t-cover-my-activities” order they say that is draconian!

If I were one of General Buhari’s media aides, I would have generally ignored AIT. The unnecessary “popularity” they now have is rather too cheap. It is never good to interfere in a dying man willing to commit suicide.


STILL ON XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Since the violent attacks on blacks in South Africa started about a week ago, several reasons have been attributed to this, many of them a cacophony of emotions. Like I have earlier written in my XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS: LESSONS FROM GHANA I will look at the issue from the point of view of a realist, rather than emotional.

Let us spare the lousy Zulu King for his puerile unrequested “appeal” to non-South African nationals to “leave the country to wherever they came from” which is widely believed to be the immediate cause of the attacks. Let us equally take with the wave of the hand, the tactless statement from South African minister for small business development Ms Lindinwe Zulu who was quoted to have said that foreigners should share their trades secrets with lazy South Africans in other to prevent their shops from been looted. Let us also laugh over the naughty remark from a supposed parliamentarian who noted that foreigner actually take over the wives of South African hence South Africans have remained bachelors. The ruling African National Congress (ANC)’s refusal to condemn the Zulu King’s statement is quite surprising but understandable. Not all silence are golden the ANC’s case is rather political! The deployment of troops when lives have been lost by the Jacob Zuma Government is, to me, just an afterthought. It appears there is opium that everyone has taken in that country. That opium is working wonders more on the masses than no other. This strengthen my belief the present discontent appear more like a psychological trauma for black South Africans than a political issue!

At this point, I fully agree with Frantz Fanon in his wonderful book The Wretched of the Earth where he documented the psychological and psychiatric trauma caused by colonization upon the collective lives of the “Wretched” which can only be healed through a radical process of building a broad social movement for decolonizing the minds of this “wretched”. This typifies the situation in South Africa and many other African countries today.

Most people outside South Africa find it strange that after over twenty years of the end of the racial Apartheid but “national” discrimination still lingers on. Those who have read Frantz Fanon’s book should not be surprised. In the 1980s Nigerians in connivance with their government looted Ghanians sending them back to their country. This was about twenty years after Nigerian Independence from Britain.

This was what made Fanon, writing in 1961, opined: “… the masses of unemployed, the small artisans and the craftsmen on their part line up behind this nationalist attitude… they follow in the steps of their bourgeoisie.”(Fanon, 1961: 125). Can you now see why we noted that it is more of the elites working on the docile minds of the unemployed, the poor and the masses in the country? Is there any variation in the actions of the government, the Party and the traditional leaders on the one hand and those of the masses on the other hand?

If you take a look at those rioting in the Durban and other places, most are in their twenties or early thirties. Invariably, they didn’t really witness the Apartheid oppression in its full regalia. It takes more than mere oratory prowess to convince these people that blacks who are in the same positions with those in South Africa are the cause of their sufferings. I still don’t know what has happened to the whites who stay in the choice areas of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town!

I am still trying to understand the reasons for the black South African inferiority complex even after Apartheid. The jobless school dropout watches the hard working Mozambican with suspicion and blaming him for his joblessness. The poor artisan finds everything wrong in the Namibian physician having a job that he does not have. Even the prostitutes see ladies from other nationals as a potential competitor in the trade. This was the situation of Ghanians in Nigeria. Nigerians wanted Ghanians’ jobs badly in the face of rising unemployment. What jobs? House cleaning, doughnut selling, street food vendors, prostitution, barbing, shoe making and their most honourable profession, Teaching. In parenthesis, when things were going fine, these were jobs Nigerians loathe to do which Ghanaian were doing and sending money back to Accra. They left shamefully with the popular “Ghana Must Go” never to come back again!

There are limited options for blacks in South Africa: to leave or die. If the nationals are increasingly insecure with their presence, my candid advice is for them to vacate the country. The role we all played in helping them during the liberation is well appreciated, but now they are saying we have overstayed our welcome. If your host starts to show you the head of the yam, like the Yorubas in Nigerian say, then it is time to take your leave. Leave for them and let’s see what becomes of the country just as Ghanians left Nigeria and now the difference is clear!

The Nigerian government has recalled the Nigerian Consulate in protest against the attacks. It looks good on the surface but diplomacy has gone beyond just “reciprocity” to “neorealism.” What then happens to Nigerian economic interests in the country? What becomes of the fate of Nigerians in unaffected areas in South Africa? What effect does a mere recalling of the High Commissioner have in the prevailing circumstance?

My unsolicited opinion is that if situations were good back home in Nigeria; if our oil revenues were adequately managed; if jobs were available to our graduates; if the environment were conducive enough for businesses to thrive Nigerians are too big to be classified in the same group with Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Namibians, or Ugandans in South Africa. While I sympathize with those who lost their properties in the unfortunate incident, that Nigerians can be subject to such degree of humiliation is enough to tell us that we are like lions flocking with sheep!

The Fayose I Know

Sometimes in November, 2014 I wrote under the title OUR GOVERNOR HAS GONE MAD AGAIN on my Facebook wall. The title was inspired by Ola Rotimi’s classic OUR HUSBAND HAS GONE MAD AGAIN, whose central character Col. Ladele, an impulsive, irrational soldier-turned politician was. The said article generated much interest from many of my former colleagues, many of whom were pro-Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, back then at Ife University. Thanks to Fayoseites(as I now call them), I received the batching of my life. Some even called me unprintable names. From all their replies to the article, two things I could make sense of for their sordid defense of the Governor.

Fayose’s supporters say it to high heavens that he is a man of the people; loved by the people and because of his notorious “Stomach Infrastructure”, the people can die for him!

This argument only reminds me of the central character in Chinua Achebe’s The Man of the People, Chief Nanga. The Chief is a classic example of a corrupt, selfish and opportunistic politician that characterized the First Republic. For those who have read the novel knew how the Chief ended!

The basis trust of the “Stomach Infrastructure” is that life starts and ends in the stomach. Hence, the people must be hungry or be made so. If not, how can one explain a state where workers are owed for up to four months salaries, and the same workers will protest against the impeachment of their employer(the Governor) if not thanks to the “Stomach Infrastructure”?

Still under this notorious scheme, Ekiti is treated like a conquered territory and its people as hungry refugees who must stay on queue just to collect some cups of rice that will last them a day(s) or weeks at most! How then is this different from Amala and Ewedu politics of late Chief Lamidi Adedibu back then at Ibadan? Truly Fayose is a man of the people!

The second thing I could make meaning of from Fayose’s supporters is that they say that is “the beauty of democracy.” These people boast loudly of his victory at the June 21, 2014 gubernatorial election as an act of love from the Ekiti people. I held this opinion initially until, a tape which revealed how the election was “scientifically rigged.” Not that I agreed the election was conducted properly, but that as a Psephologist, I could not provide any justification for the voting patterns in the state to confirm that result. The rest is now history!

Let us forget about the election for now, the Supreme Court has put that to rest some days ago. The Yorubas have a saying: “Ara ija leyin wa” meaning “Biting is part of the game.” Invariably, rigging is part of the election. The caveat being the strict obedience to the 11th Commandment: “Thou shall not get caught!”

One is left to wonder how the same democratic process (election) that threw up legends like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Margaret Thatcher can also be the same that gave birth to elements like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. One is also left at sea as to how Africa can on the one hand throw up giants like Julius Nyerere(Tanzania) and still at the same time nurture Robert Mogabe(Zimbabwe) even though both operated under a one-party system! More mysterious still is the fact that a system that produced someone like Kayode Fayemi. Fayemi is a renowned academic, astute administrator and strategist, and a perfect honourable gentle man on the one hand and still the same system produces someone like Fayose! Such a system is inherently faulty!

Still on the gubernatorial election, Fayose made everyone believe that he is now “Born again.” Some fell for his new trick, but for those of us who know, a leopard does not change its spots. Almost immediately after his election did he returned to his vomit. He declared war on several fronts, first on the Judiciary. He physically attacked a Judge who was presiding at the case on his eligibility to contest the election. Crises started, the courts were closed, and the State never knew peace ever since. In parenthesis, he was impeached in 2006 and by law he is not expected to hold any public office for ten years.

He launched another round of attacks again this time on the Legislature. It took seven members out of the twenty six member state House of Assembly to approve Fayose’s list of Commissioners and “impeach” its speaker Dr.Adewale Omirin under the protection of the Nigerian Police! In parenthesis, 7 out of 26 does not even constitute the Constitutional requirement of one-third to form a quorum. Only Fayose and his loyal supporters can explain the new formula that makes 7 out of 26 to equal one third!

It would have been alright if Fayose remained a local embarrassment. He took his cause too far when early this year he sponsored front page advertorial in several Nigerian Dailies which was calculated at discrediting the All Progressives Congress(APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, where he listed the General with one of the former Nigerian Heads of State who died in office just because of the General’s age, 72. It took the maturity of Nigerian political leaders particularly those of Northern extraction, for the matter not to degenerate to fracas.

Need we add that his party, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) which he thought he was doing a favour with advert, quickly distanced itself from the advert and Fayose was alone than ever. Even his family rejected him for bringing their name to disrepute.

To all these he insisted he had no apology. Embarrassing himself, his state, his people his family even his mother is not a big deal to our Governor. If this is not madness, then I don’t know the meaning of the word!
I haven’t heard from my old collegues at Ife for a while now to know if they have changed their opinions about Fayose. I was only recently informed that one of them, now openly criticise him since the March 28 presidential election which Buhari won. If this is true, then I take it as a vindication of my earlier stand in my article OUR GOVERNOR HAS GONE MAD AGAIN.

As far as I am concerned, like I have always said, Fayose I know will never bring anything good to Ekiti. He is an embodiment of contradictions and mediocrity. This is the Fayose I know!

XENOPHOBIA ATTACKS: LESSONS FROM GHANA

Though we have won the war against Apartheid in South Africa, it is fast appearing some people still suffer from post-Apartheid traumas. This is the only logical explanation I will give to the recent xenophobic attacks by thugs in some South African cities against nationals of other African countries. But unlike other Africans, I will look at the issues from lesser emotional point of view.

On hearing the news of the wave of attacks on foreigners by some South African thugs, I put a call through to my friend, Nomfundo Zulu to confirm the incident. She told me the attacks were carried out by some “jobless, hopeless thugs who want to take over the business of foreigners.” This quickly took my mind by to the popular “Ghana Must Go” incidence in Nigeria.

The Nigerian economy in the early 1980s was suffering from a major recession as a result of the fall in global oil price. The Sheu Shagari’s regime had to find ways to cope with the unusual problem. A lot of Nigerians were out of jobs; government was downsizing and things were not appearing to take shape soon. This left room for many people to fall gullibly to any explanation of ways out of the challenge. One of such was that it was the foreigners (Ghanaians) that were taking over Nigerian jobs!

In many parts of Lagos, Nigeria where most of the Ghanaians were living, many Nigerians physically assaulted fellow Africans by telling them to go back to their country. They were doing the jobs meant for Nigerians!

I still ask myself: What jobs were Ghanaians doing in Nigeria then? Barbing, shoe making, cleaning, house helps, prostitution, doughnut selling, food stuff selling. The most honourable job they were known with is teaching. Excluding teaching, these were the jobs Nigerians wanted so much for “Ghanaians to leave our country for us.”

On St Valentine’s Day, 1983 the federal government issued an expulsion order for all “illegal immigrants” to leave Nigeria. This was perhaps the most popular decision made by the popularity-bankrupt Shagari’s regime!

We need to add that Ghanaians have since left, never to come back again. They went back to take the pain to develop their country and now are Nigerians wanted in Ghana?

The situation in South Africa, a country with a history of racial discrimination, today is just frightening. Like I said earlier, some people are still suffering from post-Apartheid trauma. If we take the fact that many if not all of these thugs, are in their teens or early or mid-twenties, they may be too young to appreciate the role Nigeria and many other African countries played to liberate their country from the stranglehold of Apartheid. This is just assuming ignorance is an excuse!

The situation Nigerians faced today in South Africa may just be compared to those Ghanaians faced in Nigeria in the 80s. Is there any difference or similarity?

A close look at Nigerians in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and other places in South Africa appears to me no better than Ghanaians in Nigeria in the 80s. I make this note because I doubt how many Nigerians dare live in the country during the Apartheid. The huge number of Nigerians in those places now can only be explained by present condition at home for many of them to stomach such humiliations for years and still be there!

On my part, if South Africans feel that other Africans are inconveniencing them in their country, I submit that like Ghanaians they should go back home and see what becomes of the country. This is exactly what Ghanaians did and today they are better for it!

HOW TO WIN POLITICAL ELECTIONS

Suddenly, everybody became a friend to General Muhammadu Buhari(rtd). The has been taking several shots at the Nigerian Presidency since 2003, very few boldly identified with him. the International Olympic Committee(IOC) recently invited him to its headquarters. Before now, no one has invited Buhari to such function. Everyone identifies with you when you win, but no one reckons with you when you lose!

To win any political election, whether it is just a school Prefect, Street representative, Local Government Councillor, Chairman, Governor or even the President, there are institutions that are decisive. Never leave them to chance!

The Electorate
These are the voters, the electors, the citizens, or in some cases the people who are supposed to be the main stake holders in the election.

Make no mistake about it, like in the United States, you may win the popular vote, but lose the electoral vote. This is because the US adopts the Electoral College system. This was exactly the case with former Vice president Al Gore when he ran for the presidency against George Bush in 2000.

In Nigeria, you must do everything within your powers to appease the voters. They must never be annoyed with you else you ambitions may be in jeopardy!

The Security Agencies
This includes the police, the secret service, and other law enforcement agencies. These institutions are in fact more powerful than the first, the electorate. You heard me right! They in fact influence the decision of the electorate in most cases. They are usually to provide security at the polling stations, but these institutions can be the source or sponsor of violence in the stations. They can write election results in connivance with the parties that are willing to pay their price or worship them. For those who know, the security agencies are perhaps more powerful than the electorate in the power hierarchy.

In some cases a politician can develop his or her own private “army” or thugs just for election purposes. This might be to counter the excesses of the “standing” army. “Professional” politicians do not leave this important institution to chance. Do not get me wrong. Some of these private “armies” are more armed than the so-called professional security outfits!

The Media
The media plays critical roles when it comes to elections. In fact journalists do not have better times than election periods. A politician has either of two options: have the media on your side or get your own side on the media. There is no third way!

Money
Margaret Thatcher British Prime Minister (1979-90) was once quoted to have said that no one would have remembered the Good Samaritan for his good intentions if he were to be a poor man! Even the Holy Bible contains a famous quote: Money answereth all things. The god of Mammon is highly regarded if one is to be successful in politics, at least in Nigeria.

If you look at people like Bush, Clinton, Thatcher, Tinubu, Obasanjo, Butho and the likes I am pretty sure these people will not be your first choice when talking about poor men!

Electoral Commission
This is the supposed unbiased umpire, and the supervisor of the electoral process. All eyes are usually on this all important agency during elections. In the build up to the 2015 elections in Nigeria, as usual the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come under the spotlight of public scrutiny. The rumour of the removal of its Chairman Professor Attaihiru Jega generated heated debate and severally heated up the polity. At some point, there appear to be a “Cold War” between the two main political parties in Nigeria: the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) about the control of INEC as this battle goes a long way in determining the outcome of the election!

The Judiciary
These are the judges, justices, magistrates and the jury. After the voting and declaration of results have been done by the Electoral Commission, aggrieved parties are expected to seek redress in Court. This is where this institution comes in. You just have to be on the good books of the judges for them to either affirm your victory or the prayers of your opponents are granted. Guess what? This may spell doom! These judges can singlehandedly render all the efforts at the long campaigns, seeking for votes, and trying to control the Electoral Commission ineffectual. This institution is one of the most dreaded and highly regarded because they hold the yam and the knife at the same time. You are only to eat only if they give you a piece!

The Godfathers
This Godfather alone may be all that some politicians require for winning elections. These godfathers, usually money bags, will font all election expenses for a candidate, including party primaries. The godfathers usually have a standing army of thugs, his own primary employees, whom he feeds on daily basis. The candidate knows he cannot stand the financial prowess of this godfather hence will keep all his actions within the rules set out by his “god”. Doing what is against the interest of his god may spell doom or disaster for this candidate no matter how popular he thinks he is.

Don’t get it wrong, they are everywhere. The US Democratic Party has the Kennedys and the Clintons. The Republican Party has the Bush fraternity. The British Conservative Party has the Thatchers of this world. These in their own right are Godfathers!

Winning elections takes more than just charisma or vote seeking. It contains a lot of “technical” elements that an ambitious politician can only ignore at his own peril!


HOW TO FIGHT TERRORISM

It is no longer news that terrorism is now an, if not the main, issue in African politics today. The terrorist did their very worst on 2 April, 2015. The Garrissa University terror attacks in Kenya by the notorious al-Shabab terrorist group which left 148 innocent students dead should at least be enough to convince even the most ridiculous doubting Thomas of the reality of the threat pose by these groups on our existence as a continent. The question then is how to fight it!

There have been various suggestions on how to deal with this disturbing trend. One central aspects in all the suggestions is the role of the Military. The perhaps only point of disagreement is methods or mode of its (Military’s) involvement.

Before we go on, we need to make some important clarifications. We have no issue against using the military to tackle terrorism can at best provide mixed results. This is from the fact that the military operates on conventional principles in prosecuting convention wars. National Armies are expected to observe certain laws in war such as treaties governing “Prisoners of War” and the likes. Professional Armies are by law prevented from training under aged as soldiers. Extraterritoriality often extended to friendly or allied militaries, particularly for the purposes of allowing that military to simply pass through some territories during war. All these do or may not apply to unconventional groups like guerrillas or terrorists. It is therefore illogical to fight unconventional elements using conventional means!

It is time for a more pragmatic approach to tackling this issue. The recent successes recorded by local hunters, in Nigerian towns of Mubi, Michika, and Madagali, and the efforts of the local group called Civilian Joint Task Force(JTF) in rolling back the notorious Boko Haram in Nigeria provides a vital clue to kick start the process. The success recorded by these efforts proves that the military may lack the thorough analyses as a result of poor institutional and system processes to really root out this menace.
To curb the menace of terrorists, there is need for a trans-border approach. We say these because terrorists are groups without territories of their own. This is where the African Union(AU) and other sub-regional blocs come in.

Like I argued in my earlier article, AFRICA: THE CHALLENGE OF TERRORISM, the AU needs to do more than just depend on army recruits from member states. It must itself have its own standing High Command for its own specific operations and enforcements of its sanctions. The Union which has a rich history of armed struggle against colonialism, having through it powerful Liberation Committee, trained guerrilla groups against colonial and apartheid regimes, must rise up to its new challenge without much ado. The Union must ignite its historic spirit of struggle, and face this monster of terrorism.

It is on this note that I recommend an Anti-Terror Department (ATD) or any other suitable name under the direct supervision of the African Union(AU) for the specific purpose of combating terrorism. The ATD must be well-funded by member states, voluntary donations from individuals and organisations whose objectives are incidental with those of the African Union. It must have a secretariat of its own, and an effective means of propaganda. You heard us right “Propaganda” in the fight against terror.

We are equally recommending the ATD be trained under the guidance of professional soldiers in the art of conventional warfare. The ATD must be granted the full powers of extraterritoriality throughout the continent. This condition is not negotiable.

In some cases some governments for foreign policy reasons or any other politically-motivated reasons sponsor or harbour terrorist groups. This is where the efficacy of the propaganda machinery of the ATD will be put to test. The AU must do all within its powers: political, economic, social or any other to put pressure on such government by cutting of its arms supplies.

Volunteers for operations for the ATD must be regularly paid from funds available at its disposal. They must all be of African descent. Their camping base must be in strategic places in North, Central East and Southern Africa for effective operations.
The Garrissa University attacks should be seen as early warnings by the AU for further attacks whose next port of call is highly unpredictable.

We are aware some may take our recommendations as too simplistic. We agree. But a quick reminder here is that the United States led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation(NATO) have for more than a decade been in Afghanistan fighting Al-Queada and the Talibans the only mistake has been fighting terror using conventional methods!