Muhammadu Buhari, Sunday 30th May 2020
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dear Mr. President,
MR. PRESIDENT; PLEASE BELONG TO ALL OF US.
“One of the swiftest ways of destroying a Kingdom is to give preference of one particular tribe over another or show favor to one group of people rather than another. And to draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn near” –Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio.
I have been prompted to write you this open letter, Mr. President, by the loud sounds of drums, singing and dancing that erupted within many groups in the last few days on the grounds that you attained the 5th year in office as President of Nigeria. It comes as no surprise that enthusiasm for the celebration is not shared equally by segments of the public. While your admirers and supporters believe you have performed well, many others believe the five years you have been in office as our President has not met the yearnings, expectations and change promised Nigerians.
Mr. President, you know me well enough and my position on issues to realize that I can be neither a rabid supporter nor a fanatical opponent of yours. I believe being a responsible citizen is enough reason to wish you well and to work for your success. As we have seen all too clearly these past few years, your success is ours as is your failure. We swim or sink with you!
You might wish to recall that after the results of the 23rd of February 2019 presidential elections were announced, giving you victory, I addressed a press conference during which I urged the runner-up, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, to concede defeat. The reason was clear: tensions were running high and little missteps by the leaders might ignite violence, as often happened after major elections. Some supporters of Abubakar Atiku disagreed with me and told me off. As it happened, Alhaji Atiku went ahead to mount a legal challenge to the outcome of the elections up to the Supreme Court. Mercifully, his actions did not result in an outbreak of violence as we feared.
At the same occasion, I counselled the declared winner, your good self, to use the opportunity of your second term to redeem your pledge of being a leader and president of all Nigerians.
On the occasion of the first-year anniversary into your second four-year term, I feel there is an urgent need to revisit this subject matter.
Mr. President, you have often expressed the hope that history will be kind to you. It is within your competence to write that history. But you have less than three years in which to do it. You may wish to note that any authentic history must be devoid of myth. It will be a true, factual rendition of the record of your performance.
And truth be told, Mr. President, there are quite a lot of things that speak to your remarkable accomplishments, not least of which is that for the first time in our democratic history, a sitting President was defeated. That feat was achieved by Muhammadu Buhari. The reason was the public belief of you as a man of integrity.
The corollary to this is that at the expiration of your 8-year tenure in 2023, your achievements will not be measured solely by the physical infrastructure your administration built. An enduring legacy would be based on those intangible things like how much you uplifted the spirit and moral tone of the nation. How well have you secured the nation from ourselves and from external enemies?
At this time and in the light of all that have happened since you took office, any conversation with you Mr. President cannot gloss over the chaos that has overtaken appointments into government offices in your administration. All those who wish you and the country well must mince no words in warning you that Nigeria has become dangerously polarized and risk sliding into crisis on account of your administration’s lopsided appointments which continues to give undue preference to some sections of the country over others.
Nowhere is this more glaring than in the leadership cadre of our security services.
Mr. President, I regret that there are no kind or gentle words to tell you that your skewed appointments into the offices of the federal government, favoring some and frustrating others, shall bring ruin and destruction to this nation.
I need not remind you, Mr. President, that our political history is replete with great acts of exemplary leadership which, at critical moments, managed to pull this nation back from the precipice and assured its continued existence.
A few examples will demonstrate this:
In February, 1965, the NPC-led Federal Government was faced with a decision to appoint a successor to the outgoing Nigerian Army General Officer Commanding (GOC), General Welby Everard, a Briton. Four most senior officers were nominated; namely, Brigadiers Aguiyi Ironsi, Ogundipe, Ademulegun and Maimalari. The first three were senior to Maimalari but he was deemed to be more qualified due to his superior commission. He was the first Sandhurst Regular trained officer in the Nigerian Army. His being a Muslim Northerner like the Minister of Defense, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu and the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa granted him added advantage by today’s standards. But to the surprise of even the Igbos, and opposition from some senior NPC members, Minister Ribadu recommended Ironsi, pointing to his seniority. The Prime Minister concurred and Aguiyi Ironsi was confirmed as the first indigenous GOC of the Nigerian Army.
When on 13 February 1976, the Commander-in-Chief, General Murtala Muhammed, was assassinated in a failed Coup de tat, General Olusegun Obasanjo, his deputy and the most senior officer at the time, was sworn in as his successor. The Chief of Army Staff, General T.Y Danjuma, a Northern Christian, was next in line to succeed Obasanjo as the Chief of Staff, SHQ and Deputy Commander in Chief. General Danjuma however waived his right and recommended a much junior officer, Lt. Col. Shehu Musa Yar’adua, for the post. Shehu was promoted two steps up to the rank of Brigadier and appointed Chief of Staff SHQ and Deputy Commander-in-Chief. Lt. Col. Muhammadu Buhari was appointed Minister of Petroleum. This was done to placate Muslim North which was deemed to have lost one of its own, Murtala Muhammed.
Both the chief of staff, Mr. Sunday Awoniyi, and the personal physician Dr Ishaya Audu to the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, a direct descendant of Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio, were Christians.
Barely nine years after the civil war in 1979, the NPN Presidential candidate, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, picked an Igbo, Dr Alex Ekwueme, as his running mate. They enjoyed a truly brotherly relationship as President and Vice President. President Shagari’s political advisor, Dr Chuba Okadigbo and National Assembly Liaison, assistant, Dr K.O Mbadiwe, were both Igbos. His economic advisor, Prof. Emmanuel Edozien and his Chief of Personnel Staff Dr Michael Prest, were of Niger Delta extraction. Remarkably, all his military service chiefs were Christians with the exception of his last Chief Army Staff, General Inuwa Wushishi under whose tenure he was removed in a military coup de tat.
Mr. President, as a witness and beneficiary, it is our expectation that you would emulate these great acts of statesmanship. Which is why we have continued to engage with you.
You may wish to recall that I had cause to appeal to you, to confirm Justice Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria a few days before the expiration of his three months tenure of acting appointment to be replaced by a Muslim Northerner. We were saved that embarrassment when his nomination was sent to the senate by the then acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo. When he was finally confirmed a few days to the end of his tenure, he was removed after a few months and replaced by Justice Muhammed, a Muslim from the North.
May I also invite the attention of Mr. President to the pending matter of appointment of a Chief Judge of the Nigerian Court Appeal which appears to be generating public interest. As it is, the most senior Judge, Justice Monica Dongban Mensem, a northern Christian, is serving out her second three-month term as acting Chief Judge without firm prospects that she will be confirmed substantive head. I do not know Justice Mensem but those who do attest to her competence, honesty and humility. She appears eminently qualified for appointment as the substantive Chief Judge of the Court of Appeal as she is also said to be highly recommended by the National Judicial Council. If she is not and is bypassed in favor of the next in line who happens to be another northern Muslim, that would be truly odd. In which case, even the largest contingent of PR gurus would struggle to rebut the charges that you, Mr. President, is either unwilling or incapable of acting on your pledge to belong to everyone — and to no one. I hope you would see your way into pausing and reflecting on the very grave consequences of such failure not just to your legacy but to the future of our great country.
Thank you for your time, Mr. President.
COL. ABUBAKAR DANGIWA UMAR (RTD)
Covid-19: Buhari expresses fear over increase in poverty
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed fear over the high possibility of the covid-19 pandemic making people poorer.
This statement was uttered by President Muhammadu Buhari while speaking in a recorded video message to a virtual high-level UN meeting on trends, options and strategies in poverty eradication across the world.
President Buhari apprised the UN meeting on steps to revive the nation’s economy in the wake of the pandemic and also warned that COVID-19 pandemic risks reversing decades of progress achieved in the efforts to eradicate poverty globally.
“It is my conviction that devoting our efforts towards human capital development, efficient management of our resources, greater financial inclusion and transformation of the agricultural sector to ensure food security are crucial to poverty eradication.
”In this regard, Nigeria continues to strengthen its existing social safety net initiative by increasing access to enrolees who fit the various programmes in the scheme.
”Nigeria will also continue to provide easier and increased access to financial services for micro and small-scale businesses through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme. But we are determined to do more.
”Nigeria holds the view that education is a critical driver of sustainable development and has an immense capacity to eradicate poverty.
”Educating our children, especially the girl-child, contributes significantly to the fight against poverty, environmental sustainability, and improved health, as well as building peace and resilient societies.”
In a similar statement released by Femi Adesina, the media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday July 1, it was also gathered that the Nigerian leader expressed concern that more than 700 million people or 10% of the world’s population are classified as living in extreme poverty.
He also noted that in Nigeria as in many other countries, the domestic supply chains and trading corridors have come under enormous strain, bringing to fore the health versus economics debate.
‘‘All the while they struggle with the most basic needs like nutrition, shelter, health, education and access to clean water and sanitation.
‘‘In this condition, the number of poor people is estimated to triple as livelihoods across almost all economic sectors have been adversely affected.”
He also disclosed at the meeting that with a population of about 200 million; a large percentage of Nigerians live in various stages of poverty.
According to him, the prospect of the population sliding further into extreme poverty is real and his government is also striving to combat and reverse the trend.
Obiano hails Buhari over Ewelukwa’s NBET appointment
The Governor of Anambra, Chief Willie Obiano, has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa as the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc.
A letter issued on behalf of the governor, signed by Mr C-Don Adinuba, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment on Wednesday in Awka, described Ewelukwa’s appointment as a round peg in a round hole.
“You couldn’t have appointed a more qualified, competent and reform-minded technocrat for the job”, Obiano said in the letter.
Two weeks ago, the Minister of Power, Mr Saleh Mamman, announced that Buhari had approved Ewelukwa as the replacement for Dr Marylyn Amobi.
Amobi, who also hails from Anambra is to complete her five-year tenure on July 24.
“It is self-evident that the president recognises the critical role of NBET in the electricity value-chain in Nigeria and so went for the best to help move the power sector forward,” Obiano said.
Ewelukwa was until his elevation, the NBET General- Counsel.
The incoming NBET boss has been involved in Nigeria’s power sector reforms for more than 10 years, having worked at the Presidential Task Force on Power, headed by Prof. Bart Nnaji before he was appointed the Minister of Power in July, 2011.
The letter further stated that as the pioneer NBET General Counsel and secretary, Ewelukwa led the team which negotiated with independent power producers on power purchase agreements.
He also helped to facilitate huge investments from the private sector into Nigeria’s electricity generation business.
Obiano observed that the new NBET chief played a key role on the team which identified serious legal, regulatory and policy constraints to the development of Nigeria’s electricity.
“Due to the exceedingly impressive work done by such outstanding technocrats as Prof. Nnaji and Dr Ewelukwa, the British and American governments, among others, assisted Nigeria to develop the critical power infrastructure.”
Obiano recalled how such global firms as General Electric of the U.S., Siemens of Germany and Daewoo Heavy Industries of South Korea took an unprecedented interest in Nigeria’s power sector, due to the sterling contributions of the team.
Obiano described Ewelukwa as “infectiously humble and principled, a team player and far-sighted leader with a good international exposure — key leadership requirements in today’s globalized world”.
The governor expressed his optimism that Ewelukwa would bring glory to Nigeria the way a number of Anambra indigenes given critical national assignments discharged their duties.
Ewelukwa has so far authored three books on electricity transactions and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
PDP sweeps Taraba LG polls
The Taraba State Independent Electoral Commission (TSIEC) has declared candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winners of the sixteen local government councils of the state on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, local council polls.
Declaring the results of the local government election which, was conducted on Tuesday, the chairman of the commission, Dr. Philip Duwe, said candidates of the PDP for chairmanship won all seats across the sixteen local government councils of the state.
Duwe said though the results for the 168 councilors in the state were earlier announced at the ward levels immediately after the elections on Tuesday, the commission was yet to compile the accurate results for the councilors, which he said would be announced shortly.
He urged those who lost in the polls to accept defeat and agree that leadership comes from God.
Earlier on Tuesday in Takum, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba state shortly after casting his vote for the council election describe the election process as peaceful, transparent, and impressive.
The governor, who cast his ballots at Kurupanti polling unit Gutu ward Takum alongside his wife, Ann Ishaku, expressed happiness over the peaceful exercise.
“Before coming to my polling unit, I have gone to observe other polling units and I can tell you that the process is peaceful and transparent, I have also heard from my deputy who is voting at Gassol LGA and he said everything is going on peaceful and other places have also reported peaceful conduct of the exercise so I can tell you it is all peaceful.”
Contrary to the insinuation that council executives were imposed on the people against their choice by the government, the governor stressed that the selection process of the party’s flagbearers was transparent and the consensus was reached even at the primaries to avoid the crisis.
“I am the Father of democracy I can never allow the imposition of candidates against the will of the people, that is why right at the primaries we decided to go by consensus so as to avoid crisis and the people decided who should represent them.”
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