Connect with us


Femi Fani-Kayode: Seven days in Zamfara – A message to Northern, Southern leaders


I give thanks to God for bringing me back home safely after spending seven wonderful, memorable and historic days in Gusau with my friend and brother, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle of Zamfara State.

I was received in Zamfara with joy, love and kindness wherever I went. I was treated as if I was a son of the soil. The overwhelming majority of the people of Zamfara are warm, humble and kind-hearted and I urge every Nigerian to visit the state.

During the course of my trip, I saw the wonderful things that Matawalle has done since he came to power and how he has restored peace in most parts of the state and brought hope, joy, strength, confidence and prosperity to the people. I learnt about the massive gold and diamond reserves and mines which, once the ban on mining is lifted and after proper development and extraction, will eventually propel Zamfara to be the richest and most prosperous state in Nigeria.

I also visited one of the three massive Ruga settlements that were under construction and discovered how this initiative has resulted in a lasting peace process and healing amongst the various hitherto warring communities. I saw the massive infrastructural development going on and witnessed the strong collaboration that exists between the state and federal government to crush local terrorists; soldiers and police are at strategic locations. I went to every nook and cranny of Zamfara.

During a courtesy call on His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Garba Tambari, the Emir of Maradun, I was warmly received and treated to a sumptuous lunch at the palace – attended by hundreds of people. This was a great honor for me, I was touched. What made it all the more moving was the fact that the Emir had been in the defunct National Party of Nigeria with my father and he knew him well. We had much to talk about!

The following day, His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Muhammad Makwashe, the Emir of Shinkafi, and the Shinkafi Emirate Council conferred me with the ancient and historic title of Sadaukin Shinkafi, “Warrior/Hero” of the Shinkafi Emirate. I was deeply humbled by this great honor because I never expected it. I thank his Royal Highness and the Emirate Council for the confidence and I pledge to live up to their expectations and build bridges of peace, mutual respect and harmony between our various communities and people.

After meeting so many other leaders in the state and exchanging views and ideas with various political groups and NGOs, I spent much of the time resting, thinking and meditating about the importance of peace, bridge-building, unity and understanding in our country which are sentiments that my brother Governor Matawalle also cherishes and holds dear.

We spoke extensively into the early hours of the morning virtually every night and we agreed to build bridges between the north and the south and between members of the Christian and Muslim faith in order to save Nigeria and pull her back from the brink. I might add that this is something that he has been in the forefront of doing well before he became Governor and I am glad to see that he has continued, with even greater zest and zeal, after he became Governor.

It could well be that this is precisely why God removed his predecessor in office and put him power. The Lord never makes mistakes and His timing is always perfect. In my view, the path that Matawalle has chosen proves his quality and worth as a leader and I have a feeling that over the next few years he will play a critical role in the affairs of this country and will be instrumental in keeping her together.

In order to make Nigeria a just, noble, civilised, humane and equitable society that regards every single Nigerian as being equal regardless of tribe or faith we must identify those on both sides of the north/south divide that are moderate, reasonable and rational, that believe in fairness, equity, justice and equality and that understand and appreciate the importance of peace, unity, mutual respect and understanding

MORE READING!  Corona party and a foolish, restless generation BY Fola Ojo

Once we are in a position to identify such people we must then resolve to join forces and work with them in our quest to build a better, greater, fairer and safer Nigeria in which all of our compatriots can live in peace and harmony. It is because Matawalle believes in this that he and I are close and have been so for years.

Thankfully there are many other leaders in the core north that think like him such as Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Governor Bala Mohammed, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi (Wambai Shinkafi), former Governor Ahmed Makarfi, Alhaji Tanimu Kabiru Turaki SAN, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, former Governor Sule Lamido, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), General Aliyu Gusau and Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Imam.

These are reasonable, rational and enlightened men who have a deep knowledge of history, a keen sense of justice and who represent the last hope for Nigerian unity. I say this because, unlike some that are in power in our country today, they do not believe in using violence as a means to an end and neither do they believe in or are part of any hidden religious or ethnic agenda.

They do not believe in hegemony, suppression, subjugation, tyranny or racial and religious domination and persecution and they see themselves as being Nigerians before being anything else. These are the type of people that those of us with like minds from the south can work with, join hands with and build a new Nigeria with. We have a duty to our respective people and an obligation to our God to do no less.

Most importantly, as leaders, we must never be led, moved or motivated by hate or pain but rather by compassion, understanding and a deep appreciation of the virtues of decency, equity and justice. We must give hope and inspire rather than encourage division and endless strife. We must attempt to heal the wounds of the past rather than attempt to inflict new and even more painful ones.

It is leaders that have this mindset, regardless of their faith or where they come from in the country, that can save Nigeria from a frightful and dangerous implosion and total collapse. If we fail to identify and build bridges with such leaders Nigeria is not only doomed but is also destined for a long and terrible war which no sane person wishes for and which will not augur well for our people.

Worst of all is the fact that no-one will ever win such a war; we will all lose and we will all end up shedding tears for many years to come. This is why we must build bridges no matter how difficult it may be and no matter how many hurdles may be put in our way. We must build bridges regardless of the insidious motives and misconceptions that many that know no better and that have been poisoned, embittered and blinded by hate have attributed to those of us that have opted to indulge in such a noble gesture and exercise.

We must build bridges even though a few shallow, undiscerning, feeble-minded, misguided, naive, gullible, ignorant and politically-motivated individuals believe and see our quest as nothing but an exercise in futility and a total capitulation to tyranny and injustice. We must build bridges even though the extremists on both sides of the divide shall hate us and cast aspersions on the character of those of us that seek to do so.

We must build bridges because everything, including the future and very existence of our people, depends on it. The easiest path to tread in any controversy or complex situation is one of conflict, acrimony, confrontation, extremism and ultimately violence and war. We have all trod that path in the past in various degrees but, if pursued to the bitter end, it leads to nothing but mutual annihilation and utter destruction.

MORE READING!  Why we need to calm down BY Femi Adesina

Both Islam and Christianity confirm the wisdom and beauty of dialogue and bridge-building and only the enlightened can appreciate the fact that dialogue does not mean capitulation. An attempt to make peace and engender good relations with those that have like minds and similar values cannot be described as cowardice, betrayal, compromise or weakness.

As a matter of fact the opposite is the case and it is rather those that refuse to seek peace and build bridges and that refuse to even talk to those that they perceive wrongly and erroneously as their adversaries and life-long sworn enemies that are the cowards. Followers can afford to harbour such irresponsible sentiments but leaders cannot do so because it would result in drastic and dire consequences.

I believe that it is appropriate and wise to always extend a handshake where one is offered. Only the mad and blind and those that trade, thrive and derive sadistic pleasure in the shedding of innocent blood and the destruction of lives and property refuse to do so. Such people have no place in a civilised society or at the table of peace and we should not allow their negative rantings and cynical disposition to distract or deter us from making that peace and building that bridge.

On my 6th day in Zamfara, Matawalle and I went to Sokoto state to meet with our mutual friend and brother Governor Aminu Tambuwal where we spent the night. Again we had fruitful and productive discussions about how to move the country forward and I was once again received with nothing but love and understanding.

Contrary to the expectations of many Sokoto is actually a very peaceful and beautiful ancient town and all those I met there treated me with love and respect. Before leaving Sokoto and in the company of the two Governors, I paid a courtesy call on His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV, the Sultan of Sokoto. I was deeply humbled by his kind words, wise counsel, deep knowledge and insight and genuine warmth and I thank him for receiving me.

This was the first time that I had the privilege of meeting with the Sultan and I was very impressed with his deep and profound understanding of the complex issues that our country and people are faced with and his remarkable knowledge and recollection of our history. The Muslim community in Nigeria is blessed with a truly great and wise leader who is worthy of nothing but the greatest respect and the highest honor.

I am convinced that as long as we have political leaders and traditional rulers that are ready to work together and that are prepared to communicate regularly and dialogue frankly and candidly, no matter how hard that might be and no matter what we may have said and done to each other in the past, there is still hope for Nigeria.

We must forgive one another for past hurts and slights and we must attempt to put our differences aside and recognise our common humanity. That ought to be the guiding principle and focus as from today and it shall certainly be mine. There is no gain saying that in all faiths, in all races and in all tribes we have both good and bad. Not one tribe or faith is free of evil men and not one is made up of solely demons or angels.

All tribes and races have both and what is reckless, dangerous, unacceptable and indefensible is for us to demonise a whole race or a whole faith simply because of the actions of a few. And to a large extent many of us have been guilty of doing that in varying degrees over the years. I am committed to continue to resisting all forms of evil and tyranny, to speaking for the voiceless, to defending the defenseless and to stand for the oppressed just as I have been doing, at great risk to my life and liberty, for many years.

MORE READING!  Who is afraid of Sadiya Farooq BY Ernest Attah

That will never change and neither will I ever compromise or prostitute my principles and values. I will never compromise with evil or betray my faith and neither will I ever bow before hegemony or tyranny. I will never be a slave to anyone or allow others to enslave my people and neither will I ever give up on or forsake the struggle for freedom, equality, liberty and equity in our country.

I will continue to resist and speak against all forms of subjugation and injustice in the South and the Middle Belt, but henceforth I will also speak up for the many victims of oppression, mass murder, ethnic cleansing, slaughter, injustice, wickedness and genocide in the core north as well. They are also being butchered and slaughtered like flies by evil souls, bandits and terrorists from mainly outside our shores and not enough of us acknowledge or recognise this. Not enough of us really care.

Not enough of us acknowledge their sufferings or speak against the evil that they have been subjected to by uncaring leaders and vicious and barbaric terrorist organisations. A situation where up until Matawalle came to power in Zamfara just one year ago, 300 to 500 people were being killed every day is unacceptable. This was the case yet the rest of the country said nothing.

Wherever I see injustice and wickedness being unleashed on any Nigerian I will continue to fight it because that is my calling. I will no longer fight for just some of our people but rather for all of them. We cannot just fight for our tribe but we must fight for all tribes. We cannot just fight for our region or zone but we must fight for all regions and all zones. We cannot just fight for our faith but we must fight for all faiths. That is leadership. That is courage. That is righteousness and decency. That is God.

I love the people of the core north as much as I love the people of the south-east, the south-south, the south-west and the Middle Belt. I love the people of Zamfara as much as I love the people of Plateau, Southern Kaduna and my great in-laws in the south-east who have always and will always have a special place in my heart. We must bring peace to all our people and we must fight for all of them, both Christians and Muslims. We are after all, all God’s children.

I thank Matawalle, the man of the moment and the man of peace, for building this bridge and I would encourage other northern and southern leaders to take a cue from him and do the same. We may disagree on many things but there can be no doubt that we all agree on the importance and benefits of peace, unity, love, mutual respect and mutual understanding.

That is the only way to make Nigeria what our forefathers wanted her to be. That is the only way to make us strong and relevant in the wider world and in the international community. That is the only way forward. That is the only way to build and establish a new, promising, inspiring and restructured Nigeria. May God guide us.









Corona party and a foolish, restless generation BY Fola Ojo



My wife and I are very fond of this young white boy in our neighbourhood. He was born about two years after we moved to the city 20 years ago. We have been neighbours for that long. I love the boy. His biological father, whom I learnt was a member of a street gang and shuttling in-and-out-of-jail, has been out of his life since he was born. His step-father is not forthcoming raising his stepson; and I still wonder why. With no father-figure in his life, the young man’s struggles seem to have doubled. For the purpose of this write-up, I’ll call the boy Isaac, and his mum, Sandra. These are not their real names.

Sandra had several times suggested that Isaac is free to go anywhere my family goes, even if we intend to move out of state. She has spoken loftily how much she loves my boys; and wanted Isaac modelled after them. Isaac, now 18, graduated from High School about two weeks ago in the same class with one of my sons. But during the graduation ceremony, Isaac was conspicuously absent. That was when I sent a text to Sandra why her son was not at the event. My heart dropped when she messaged me back about this boy whom I love. Before I relay the contents of the message from Sandra, let me give you a backdrop to the story. My intention sharing this is that some young people out there reading this may learn a lesson from it.

In April, I took Isaac along with my boys for my birthday celebration in our home in Texas. We stayed together for over two months and I got to know him better. He is a very intelligent boy; and just like a typical young man with some peculiar surmountable behavioural challenges. Isaac loves partying, drinking, and ‘chasing’ girls. How many of us in our younger days successfully dealt with this youthful lifestyle? Isaac takes a few wrong steps; but he sincerely doesn’t see them as wrong because he has no guide or guardian. But he will respond to help and guide, especially from a father-figure. I have promised myself to be there for him as he grows. After my birthday celebration in Texas, we returned to Wisconsin in June and I asked Isaac on the airplane if he would stay in my house for the rest of the summer. He agreed. Barely two hours after we got home, he took off. He said he wanted to go pick up his pay-cheque at work. That was around 7.30pm. I waited for him till around 1am to return home. Isaac did not show up. My boys and I had not seen or heard from him since then until about 30 days after when I asked after him from his mother. She sent me this text message in reply: “Thank you for thinking of him. He had got sick with COVID-19…”. Coronavirus? Oh my God! How and where did Isaac get it? What I heard was an earful.

MORE READING!  Investing in Nigeria BY Rosemary O. Enemuo

In this pandemic, young people in America organise parties they call “Corona Party”. They’ll invite two or three people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and shut themselves for hours in a rambunctious house party, dancing, singing, and drinking alcohol with COVID-19 carriers. Their actions are deliberate. The foolish thought behind this is that “Corona Party” is a test of their manliness. It makes them feel like ‘real men’; whatever that is. They believe they are too strong and immune to COVID-19. That was exactly what happened to Isaac. He does not drive, but his friends drove him 40 miles from home to attend a Corona Party in another town. There, he caught the virus! His parents decided to quarantine him in the basement of their house for 10 days after he had tested positive. But on the fourth day, he got sicker and was having problem breathing. He was then taken to the Emergency room.

MORE READING!  Corona party and a foolish, restless generation BY Fola Ojo

Younger people are making up a growing percentage of new coronavirus cases in many cities and states around the world where the virus is surging and not abating. For example, in Arizona, United States, people ages 20 to 44 account for nearly half of all cases. In Florida, which breaks records for new cases nearly every day, the median age is 35. In Texas, young people now account for the majority of new cases in several urban centres. People in their 20s and 30s are also more likely to go out socialising, raising concerns that asymptomatic young people are helping to spread the virus. They restlessly flood bars, beaches and restaurants as if the coronavirus has decided to take a vacation.

“What is clear is that the proportion of people who are younger appears to have dramatically changed,” said Joseph McCormick, a professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health in Brownsville. Now that the US and many nations are contemplating reopening schools in the Fall, the behaviours (or misbehaviours) of young people could easily complicate plans to return to normal classroom settings come next calendar year which begins later this month. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, recently concluded that younger people have helped fuel the increase in known coronavirus infections.

MORE READING!  Who is afraid of Sadiya Farooq BY Ernest Attah

Now, permit me to return to the story of my young man neighbour. What later happened to Isaac? I didn’t get to ask anyone how many young people who participated in the foolish Corona Party had gone for a COVID-19 test. Is it possible that it was only Isaac who fell prey to the ravages of the virus at the party? I doubt it. And those ones who caught the virus would have definitely spread it somewhere especially to their loved ones. My heart goes out to Isaac daily in prayer. So, what happened to the young man who missed his own graduation because of his foolishness? Sandra, Isaac’s mum sent me this text message on Wednesday. “We were worried for him to be around too many people yet and taking the chance of getting sick again. He has fully recovered. He moved up north to his grandparents where there are better job opportunities. He hopes to get back to work soon. Thanks for your prayers and concerns”.

– Follow me on Twitter @Folaojotweet

Continue Reading


Why we need to calm down BY Femi Adesina



Enemy of the state by Femi Adesina

There’s this hilarious video that went viral recently. A boy had offended his mother and was about to get a beating. Tearfully, even before he got whipped, the boy tried to plead his way out.

As the mother told him to stretch forth his palm to be caned, he entreated: “Mummy, it must not be hard beating o…This is my last chance. Last chance in the world.”

Amidst tears, he said he had a question for the mother:

“Will you be going out today? You must rest a little…Mummy, calm down. Don’t be angry. I’m just telling you to be ‘calming’ down. You must rest a little.”

The boy then reclined on a couch, to show how the mother must calm down, and rest.

The boy and his mother became some sort of celebrity. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State asked to meet with him, and said there were fundamental lessons to learn from his tearful admonition to his mum.

Calm down. I’m just telling you to be ‘calming’ down. Hahahahahaaaaaaa.

But if the truth the told, that message from the boy is for the entire country. We need to calm down. We are too uptight, nervy, edgy. We grumble, murmur too much, call the government a lot of names, try to demonize those serving the nation, when it could be “our last chance. Last chance in the world” to really fix things.

If you listen to some people; angry youths, religious leaders, political analysts, newspaper columnists, news reviewers, so-called activists, then nothing positive is happening in the country. It is all about insurgency, banditry, killings, joblessness, corruption, lack and deprivation. True? False!

Those things are there, as they are also in many countries of the world. But they are not the only things happening in Nigeria. Only that we would not see the positive things, except we calmed down. We would never enjoy the rainfall, if we expect rainstorm to carry away our rooftop at any moment. Calm down. “I’m just telling you to be ‘calming’ down.”

MORE READING!  Why we need to calm down BY Femi Adesina

One of my favourite boyhood songs is the one by Jimmy Cliff. ‘Keep Your Eyes on the Sparrow.’

Here I stand with my head down in my hand
Wondering what on earth I have done wrong
There’s a cloud that has overshadowed me
Blocks the light from my eyes, I cannot see
But I know where I wanta be
Right or wrong, I’ve got to face my destiny

Somebody tell me to
Keep your eyes on the sparrow
Keep your eyes on the sparrow
Keep it on, keep it on now
Keep your eyes on the sparrow.

That is a song of hope. It’s a song of encouragement. The Good Book says God keeps His eyes on the sparrow, and none can fall down without His permission. If He watches over a bird, how much more we human beings, created in His image? But man has walked away from that original estate. We sit on the complaint counter. We murmur, curse, cavil. We rail against God, against man, against the government, even against our own selves. We indulge in hate speech, concoct and spread fake news. And it blinds our eyes. It blocks the light from our eyes, and we cannot see. We never see good, even when it surrounds us. We focus only on negative narratives.

Let me give a practical example. Last Sunday, one of the guests on Sunday Politics, hosted by Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television, was one Group Captain Sadeeq Garba (Retd). He was also deputy head of safety and security at the African Union Commission, and now a private security consultant.
The retired Air Force Officer was asked to talk about the worrisome trend of killings in the country. The man said the killings were sad and regrettable, but things were not as completely negative as some people and interest groups would want to make them seem.

MORE READING!  Corona party and a foolish, restless generation BY Fola Ojo

Quoting what he called reliable statistics from the Centre for Research in the United States, he gave these figures of the evil development from 2011, in the number of total killings:
2015- Not available
2020-6195, as of June.

Now, one life lost is already too many. One single life should not be taken wantonly, not to talk of in hundreds and thousands. It is bestial, inhuman. But why do some people want to make it appear as if we hadn’t passed through worse times in this country? Forget about who was in power as President. It is not about individuals now, it is about the descent of a country into the Hobbesian state of nature, where life is nasty, brutish and short. For President Muhammadu Buhari, it’s a solemn pledge that lives and property would be secured. And a lot is being done in that direction, though we are not there yet. Unkind, negative comments can only demoralize those fighting to secure the country.

When the President said recently that things were better in the area of security than what he met in 2015, some people wailed endlessly, as is their wont to. But when the Group Captain came with facts and figures on national television last Sunday, not one word was heard. Not even a whimper! Why do people like to spread negative, rather than positive developments? Killings dropped from 15,600 in 2014 to 4,618 in 2016. But not one positive word. Simply because their eyes are blinded by negative thoughts and sentiments. And they now need to calm down. Rather than upbraid, our security agencies should be challenged and encouraged to rediscover what they did in 2016.

MORE READING!  Investing in Nigeria BY Rosemary O. Enemuo

During the week, the Ministry of Power said electricity generation had returned to over 5,000 megawatts. Not a word from professional complainers. If it had dropped to below 1,000 megawatts, we would not have heard anything else. Calm down. “I’m just telling you to be ‘calming’ down.”
If we calm down, what would we see? Massive infrastructural developments. Roads, rail, airports, bridges, efforts to reverse power deficit of many decades, newly approved Youth Bank to empower the younger generation, strident efforts to secure the country, N2.3 trillion stimulus package to combat the negative effect of COVID-19, and many other positive developments. There are many and many more.

Jesus looked at Jerusalem, and wept over it, saying: “if thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto thy peace. But now, they are hid from thine eyes.” (Luke 19:42).

We will see the things that pertain to the peace of our country, if we would just calm down. As the young boy said, “this is my last chance. Last chance in the world.”
It could well be.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

Continue Reading


Investing in Nigeria BY Rosemary O. Enemuo



Nigeria Foreign Direct Investment in the first quarter of 2020 declined 427.76 USD million from 1,266.824 USD billion in the same quarter the previous year representing a -66.2% change. A 5 year (2015-2019) analysis of Nigeria’s Gross National Income (GNI) shows that the GNI continuously declined from 522.52 USD billion in 2015 to 385.05 USD billion in 2018, but picked up a bit in 2019 at 407.93 USD billion.

Recent events such as the reduction in the value of FDIs in Nigeria and the looming exit of big markets such as ShopRite and Mr Price, alongside previously exited players like Truworths, Woolworths, and Opera subsidiaries; Opay and Oride have contributed to an increase in unemployment, decline in national revenue generation, increased inflation on locally produced goods, loss of revenue from unexplored and undeveloped sectors, and a regression to the informal economy.

MORE READING!  Investing in Nigeria BY Rosemary O. Enemuo

This economic downturn emerged from poor economic policies of the government; the land border closure, a badly designed import-substitution program, poor accessibility of loans by SMEs, an outdated land use act, high-interest rates amid global meltdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, low interests on savings, the CBN’s CRR liquidity control, as well as subsidies and the control of foreign exchange (FX) amongst others.

MORE READING!  Corona party and a foolish, restless generation BY Fola Ojo

Nigeria’s difficult business environment is the main reason for the exit of these foreign investors: an unfriendly tax system, the prohibitive cost and processes of importation, poor transport links, pervasive corruption, social unrest, terrorism and kidnap as well as bureaucracy and sudden changes in government policies without an adjustment window.

Although part of the reality for the ShopRite’s Group exit from the Nigeria market is the increased competition in the Nigeria supermarket space, local investors and SMEs have also suffered stifling regulatory policies that hindered innovation, investment plans and affected business growth.

Measuring investment with the Nigeria stock market as an index, all shares in NSE have reduced by 1984 points or 7.38% since the beginning of 2020; additionally, it is worthy to note that no state in Nigeria attracted any foreign direct investment all year. For a country that intends to diversify away from oil, a harsh economic environment will only take the country further away from growth and economic development, and on this long antiquated roller coaster of oil dependence.

MORE READING!  Why we need to calm down BY Femi Adesina

Therefore to increase revenue generation and participatory economic development of all sectors, the government will have to relax dis-incentive policies that hinder investments in Nigeria.

Continue Reading