OPEN LETTER FROM COL. DANGIWA UMAR (RTD) TO PRESIDENT 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).
DOGARA TO APC: A Homecoming From The Other Home By Adamu Bello
To Dogara and his likes, every political party is a home. PDP and APC are like maternal and paternal grandfather’s Household. To them, like in a perfectly competitive market, there are no barriers for entry or exit.
Rt. Honorable Yakubu Dogara was a PDP stalwart who later crossed over to APC during the merger formation, where he contested and won the 2015 election.
After a serious tug-of-war between the executive and legislative arms of government, while he was the Speaker of the House of Reps coupled with the series of disagreement with the then Bauchi State governor, Dogara dumped APC for the opposition PDP, where he also contested and won the 2019 election.
Not far in the journey, the romance between Dogara and PDP hit the rocks again, owing to the purported disharmony with Kauran Bauchi and 2023 political calculations. Speculations thicken that the ruling APC tempted him with the Vice Presidential slot in the forthcoming election, hence the reason for his defection.
Whatever may be his reason, cross carpeting is not atipycal in Nigerian politics. Professor Jonah Onuoha, aptly described Nigerian politicians as a crop of people, who have no sense of shame and are only out to seek personal gains above serving the people. Our politicians are synonymous to scavengers.
In a country where defection is a norm, Nigerians were not perplexed by Dogara’s decision to stage a homecoming from his other home. Even more so, Nigerians are expecting other self centered politicians to follow suit, because it happens more than one can shake a stick at.
Before 2019 elections for instance, no fewer than 14 senators, 37 members, triplet of Sokoto, Benue and Kwara state governors alongside many APC heavyweights like Atiku, kwankwaso, Saraki, and Dogara himself defected to PDP in pursuit of their selfish interests. Neither for patriotism nor for the compatriots. Masses are always secondary in their equations.
Whether or not Dogara accomplish his mission in this precedented homecoming, Nigerian democracy is further relegated to the ridicule. The practice of free entry and exit into our political parties like a market square not only embarresses Nigeria’s democracy in the international community but also casts a huge shadow of doubt over the country’s future.
I wish Honourable Dogara returned home for good.
Adamu Bello Mai-bödi
Writes from Gidado Bombiyo residence
Social Media: It Has Now Become Attention Media By Yusuf Abba-Kyari
Social media has now become almost the direct opposite of what it used to be. We used to login to a social network to interact, share ideas and find lost acquaintances on social media (remember Yahoo messenger chat rooms?) with people from other parts of the world.
Lately it has become more of attention seeking media. We travel to a nice place, post on social media. Attend an online training, post it on social media. Graduate from school, post it. Any minor detail, post it. It has also turned into an advertisement tool for products and services and big companies are making a fortune on us.
As human beings, we like to show others the little accomplishments we’ve had at any moment just to draw attention to ourselves and the funniest thing (to me) is, we’re hardly who we say we are on social media. While I am in no position to tell people what to post or not to, we should do it (in my opinion) for the right reasons.
According to some psychologist, the more hours we put on social media, the higher our anxieties and insecurities become. So we become lonely and depressed by the day. This is due to the amount of people’s lives we feed ourselves everyday.
My advice; check your phone’s usage of social media apps. If you are active for more than two to three hours a day combined, then you are using too much.
Try to reduce your screen time. It’s good for your eyes, it relaxes your brain, it frees your soul and you will become more focused on the most important things in your life.
If it helps promote you or your business, then convert your account to a business account. That way you don’t have to be checking up on others (unless if they are your competition). You can also work for someone as their social media managers. That way your skills set is put to good use.
Currently, I’m only active on LinkedIn and I connect with my loved ones on WhatsApp. I don’t have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social media account. My screen time is now less than two hours a day and it keeps reducing. On LinkedIn, thanks to A.I. it filters out the posts from my connections that actually post educative or relevant information that relates to my interests.
According to a survey by “We Are Social”, 63% of the global population are not active on social media. There are prominent people who do not use it. This does not affect their lives in any way and they are arguably happier than most of us. Most of the celebrities, public figures do not directly handle their accounts. They hire social media handlers. So if you can afford to, hire a social media handler.
A wise man was asked; “Why are social media platforms free?” He answered; “If you are not paying for a product, then be rest assured that you are the product.”
By Yusuf Abba-Kyari
The Cobra-Effect of Achaba Ban In Bauchi State By Adamu Bello
The Cobra Effect is a term in Economics. It refers to a situation when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse.
The decision to ban Achaba by Bauchi state government in an attempt to improve the security of lives and properties was well-intentioned. As Governor Bala fears, the proliferation of Yan-Achaba who are banned from other states into Bauchi State is a very big threat to our security, hence, the need for governments’ decisive action. No sane government will allow an open security threat to emanate and escalate without taking necessary measures. However, certain unintended consequences that may lead to making the problem worst must be considered before rushing into action to avoid falling into the ditch of Cobra-Effect.
The term Cobra-Effect was coined based on an incident in old colonial India. By some reasons, there were too many venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. People were dying due to snake-bites and it became scary for almost everyone to step out of their houses. The government of the day had to get into action to stop this menace and it offered a silver coin for every dead cobra. The results were great, a large number of snakes were killed for the reward.
Eventually, however, it led to some serious unwanted consequences. After a short-term decrease in cobra population, it started going up again. This was because few people began to breed cobras for the income. When the news reached the government, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the cobra population further increased. The solution for the problem made the situation even worse.
This is exactly what would happen to Bauchi State if the government sticks to its decision on Achaba ban. The Achaba will eventually disappear, but the security situation would be worse in the near future, because most of the Yan-Achaba are youths with no other means to make ends meet than Achaba. They have no certificates for white-collar-job, no capital for investment and no skill for craftsmanship. Taking Achaba away from them makes them completely hopeless and idle. What do they say about idle mine? Many of them will see no option than to join criminal rackets such as stealing, burglary, banditry, kidnapping, fraud, terrorism, kidnapping, and thuggery, etc.
Many businesses such as vulcanizers, mechanics, engine oil vendors, motorcycle and spare-parts suppliers tend to suffer huge loss. When Yan-Achaba lose their jobs, the already skyrocketed unemployment in the state would increase geometrically. The ugly labor market would get fatter and uglier, and the dependency ratio on the inconsistent salary would also multiply, hence, shooting the state’s poverty rate up. This depicts the potential insecurity the state is heading into.
There are also serious unwanted consequences of Achaba ban to the governor politically. The ban is tantamount to hatching thousands of enemies amongst citizens comprising Yan-Achaba and their sympathizers. Especially with the way police officers are maltreating and extorting Yan-achaba financially under his watch. It is a sophisticated political weapon for the oppositions to use against the governor and his political party. Pundits in the state view the decision as an anti-masses and widely unpopular policy. Many are saying government should not block peoples’ source of income without providing alternative.
Talking about alternative, Bauchi state governor promised to provide 500 Keke Napep (tricycles) for Yan-Achaba as substitute to their motorcycles, meanwhile only three-fifty keke Napep are provided, whereas there are more than five thousand Yan-Achaba in the state. This shows that Bauchi state has no resources or the governor has no political-will to provide substitute for even the registered Yan-Achaba talk less of those without register.
I recommend the reversal of this unpopular decision of total ban on Achaba across Bauchi state, because the Cobra-Effect would be devastating. His Excellency should put emphasis on compulsory registration and consistent tax payment by Yan-Achaba. This would secure the state from unwanted proliferation and would create additional income for the state and at the same time keep thousands of youths occupied.
The ban should be successive, starting from the state capital with the provision of enough substitute tricycles at an affordable soft loan. After successful abolishing of the practice in the capital, the ban could then be extended to the remaining parts of the state using similar substitution procedures to avoid unwanted consequences.
This may save Bauchi state from the mysterious Cobra-Effect of Achaba ban.
By Adamu Bello Mai-bödi
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