The majority of Nigerians are in agreement that President Bola Tinubu made a fantastic speech at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last week. Some sound bites from his speech made many Nigerians proud and projected his speech writer as a candidate eminently qualified for promotion.
Like a motivational speaker, our President intoned, “To keep faith with the tenets of this world body and the theme of this year’s Assembly, the poverty of nations must end. The pillage of one nation’s resources by the overreach of firms and people of stronger nations must end. The will of the people must be respected…” Good talk, Mr President!
But, let us start by respecting the will of the Nigerian people with regard to the February 25, 2023 general election. We cannot continue to pontificate in foreign lands while our home front is worse off. We must avoid being a typical example of the saying that the hood does not make the monk.
Let’s even examine Tinubu’s speech point by point. His first point has to do with economic growth. The President blamed longstanding internal and external factors for Nigeria’s and Africa’s economic structures that had been skewed to impede development, industrial expansion, job creations and the equitable distribution of wealth.
He recalled that he removed what he called the costly and corrupt fuel subsidy and discarded a noxious exchange rate system in his first 100 days in office to foster economic growth and investor confidence in Nigeria. Well, investors are not fools. They are fully abreast of the precarious situation in Nigeria. They know that equity, security and ease of doing business are scarce commodities in the country. A few of them may come only to snatch what they can grab and run with it. The other day, we were almost deceived to believe that the United Arab Emirates has lifted the visa ban it placed on Nigeria. It turned out to be a hoax, at least for now. These advanced countries might have even laughed off our President’s plea for their cooperation in opening their ports to a wide range and larger quantity of African exports and meaningful debt relief as well as direct investment in critical industries.
To further woo them, Tinubu talked about the aftermath of the Second World War and the way nations gathered in an attempt to rebuild their war-torn societies. Nations, he said, saw that it was in their own interests to help others exit the rubble and wasteland of war. He wondered why today and for several decades, Africa had been asking for the same level of political commitment. Mr President, look no further. What has happened to Africa is what also happened to the South-East of Nigeria. After the war, the Federal Government promised three Rs: Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation. These were observed in the breach. The marginalization of the South-East has not abated. Tinubu should first heal the wounds of the war in Nigeria before assuming the victim mentality for Africa.
The President also spoke about democratic governance in Africa. This is where his hypocrisy smiled widely at discerning Nigerians. “Failures in good governance have hindered Africa. But broken promises, unfair treatment and outright exploitation from abroad have also exacted a heavy toll on our ability to progress,” he said. He condemned military coups as well as any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice. Regarding the coup in Niger Republic, he narrated measures he has taken as Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore democratic governance in that tiny country. He noted that the wave of coups crossing parts of Africa did not demonstrate favour towards coups but a demand for solutions to perennial problems.
Obviously, this is a clear demonstration of “teacher, don’t teach me nonsense.” Any good observer will attest to the fact that our democracy is not what it ought to be. The last general election nullified any little gain we may have made in our march to an ideal democracy. Not only is our electoral process greatly flawed, our judiciary has also been highly compromised. Some of the verdicts emanating from the various election petitions tribunals can only be described as queer.
Yes, we can claim to be practising democracy, but what manner of democracy? A democracy where power is snatched at the polling booths and stamped at the courts! A democracy where voters suspected to be opposition supporters are harassed, harangued, and violently violated. Physician, heal thyself!
This brings me to violent extremism which Tinubu also spoke about. According to him, our region is locked in protracted battle against violent extremists who operate with lethal weapons and vile ideologies. Pledging African nations’ readiness to work towards disbanding extremist groups on our turf, Tinubu urged the international community to strengthen its commitment to arrest the flow of arms and violent people into West Africa.
Here again, our President spoke well. Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province are typical examples of these extremists tormenting our people. But, sometimes, bad governance and injustice engender this extremism. It is from fighting real or perceived injustice that the extremists graduate to terrorism. Initially, Boko Haram was not as brutal as it is today. But it turned into a terrorist group when its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in police custody in July 2009. Hitherto, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) only agitated peacefully for self-determination. It was suppressed and declared a terrorist organization. This pushed the group into some form of armed struggle.
If not for the way the late President Umaru Yar’Adua handled the Niger Delta militants, perhaps, they could have been worse than Boko Haram today. He dialogued with them, caused them to surrender their weapons and offered them amnesty. Today, there is relative peace in that region such that militant leaders like Asari Dokubo could pay courtesy visit to President Tinubu in Aso Rock and talk down on our soldiers without qualms. Our President should exploit his friendship with Dokubo by advising him to stop flaunting his weapons anyhow. He should direct him to stop importing thuggish protesters into Abuja in the name of showing solidarity for him and his government.
It is pertinent to note that some of these extremists and militants are just after our rich mineral resources. This formed the fourth point of Tinubu’s speech. Many of these mineral rich areas, our President said, had become catacombs of misery and exploitation. He cited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, among others, as nations that had suffered this exploitation for decades. “Foreign entities abetted by local criminals who aspire to be petty warlords have drafted thousands of people into servitude to illegally mine gold and other resources. Billions of dollars meant to improve the nation now fuel violent enterprises,” he regretted. Quite true!
The fifth point of his speech which dwells on climate change needs support of all and sundry. As he put it, northern Nigeria is hounded by desert encroachment just as the south is pounded by the rising tide of coastal flooding and erosion. African nations, he added, would fight climate change but must do so on their own terms. Good. But do we have the wherewithal?
Finally, the President expressed the wish of Africa not to be appendage or patron, or to replace old shackles with new ones. According to him, Africa is not a problem to be avoided, nor is it to be pitied. Instead, he said, “We hope to walk the rich African soil and live under the magnificent African sky free of the wrongs of the past and clear of their associated encumbrances. We desire a prosperous, vibrant democratic living space for our people.” Fantastic! I can only add that implementation of these sweet ideas must begin at home. Tinubu should return home and sincerely confront the problems of Nigeria with justice and utmost good faith.
Re: Judicial coups: Should we still keep our PVCs?
Anyone who closely watched the body language of Tinubu from the campaign period to the Sept 6 PEPT judgement day and also the conducts of his men including those who gave up senatorial seats to be ministers and ministers who discovered later that Cancer is less cancerous than Malaria, will know that Justice had long been possessed. Closer observations of the defendant’s lawyers mien during the hearing and Olanipekun’s swagger including his impatience clearly showed that Judgement was in their kitty before we were admonished to ‘go to Court’. The only real surprise of the whole chicanery is why a revered family like the Odilis should allow their name and reputation earned over the years to be associated with such perfidy. What was the attraction? Was money the reason? They have made enough. Was position the lure? They reached the epochs. So why? Nigeria is sold, the Judiciary moreso. My neighbour’s nickname is “mkpụrụ onye kụrụ ka ọ ga aghọrọ” (the seed one sows he shall pluck). With the Sept 6, 2023 PEPT ruling, election and its processes in Nigeria are now more like ‘welcome to the Animals Kingdom’, where the vilest dominates. Criteria and qualifications are void, winning and assumption of office are by might. Overall, the outcome of the elections, the dispositions of some of the so called elders/elites of the society and the judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal have affirmed Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s assertion that “Nigeria is unsalvageable”.
-Aloy Uzoekwe, Anambra, 08038503174, email@example.com
Casmir, if some of the aspects of what the tribunal reeled out as verdicts, vis-a-vis, the Feb 25th presidential elections, are the actual position of the law, then, of a truth, the law is an ass (idiot) and the eye of the law is a bachelor! The verdict is that of “the voice of Jacob (judges) with the hand of Esau (APC)”. That the verdict was ‘unanimous’ creates further impression that it was premeditated! Let FCT Abuja be ‘upgraded or downgraded’ to the status of a state and save us from all this brouhaha of it being counted ‘as a state’, hence the 37th state despite the claim that Nigeria has 36 states ‘and’ FCT Abuja. What a ‘confused country’! The college votes enjoy a special status as the decisive votes against the majority votes in America. But, should we because of the present circumstances discard our PVC? Capital No! America’s democracy, that is a model for all today, is more than 200 years old in practice. They had their challenges before they got it right. Ours is just 24 years old! If and when blessed with purposeful and selfless leaders, we won’t have to wait that long to get it right.
-Mike, Mushin, +234 816 111 4572
Dear Casy, the major implication of the judicial coup is that Tinubu may turn out to be the sole presidential candidate in 2027. What’s the point contesting against him in 2027 when he must have appointed the next INEC chairman of his choice, the next Chief Justice of Nigeria of his choice and all the service chiefs? Just like the PDP has been emasculated in Lagos since 1999, so may be the fate of all the political parties in the country henceforth. When a retired Justice whose husband has the sole privilege of having a life immunity against prosecution, made a particular statement a few days to the judgment day, I knew that justice would be difficult to get from the tribunal.
-Ifeanyi, Owerri, +234 806 156 2735
•Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 25, 2023