I first took notice of former Anambra State governor Peter Obi when one of his videos trended on social media earlier this year.
In the video, he described Nigeria as a motionless car with a knocked-out engine. Instead of fitting the immobile car with a new engine, he said, we keep changing the drivers in a forlorn effort to get the car to move.
I thought it was the profoundest metaphor anyone has ever conjured up to explain Nigeria’s problems.
It’s interesting that Obi is now putting himself up as another prospective driver to move a motionless car with a knocked-out engine. Perhaps, he wants to be the driver who’ll tell us that we need to change the engine.
Professor Pat Utomi also told me sometime ago that during a public lecture, Obi was inspired by and cited the widely shared column I wrote on the nexus between political power and brain damage but that Obi wrongly attributed the column to Utomi, as several people have done.
Utomi said he corrected Obi that I was the author of the article titled “How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it,” which was first published in the Nigerian Tribune of July 27, 2019.
That the column inspired Obi, for me, signals that he recognizes the dangers of unchecked political power and sees merit in the article’s suggestion that wielders of enormous political power ensconced in the alternate reality it inspires should periodically get out of the bubbles of power to feel the pulse of everyday people and have “toe-holders” in their inner circle who “can tell them uncomfortable truths without fear of consequences.”
This is not, by any means, an endorsement of Obi’s presidential bid. It’s simply an acknowledgement that Nigeria has a virile option in him.
My Ideal Nigerian President in 2023 By Farooq A. Kperogi
Many readers of this column—and of my social media interventions—have asked me to endorse a candidate for the 2023 presidential election. Although I have my mental archetype of the kind of person that should be president, I won’t endorse a candidate for at least three reasons.
One, I am not important or influential enough for my endorsement to be of any consequence. I am just a common, private, diasporic individual with a limited platform who has never held an appointive or elective political office and who can’t legitimately be considered as belonging to Nigeria’s cultural or intellectual elites. It would be presumptuous for me to think I can influence anyone’s political choices.
Two, as a communication scholar, I know enough to know that persuasion is a complex process, which defies the easy, simplistic, social-syringe effect people tend to think it entails. Persuasion scholarship teaches us that human attitudes toward persuasive messages often fall under one of three latitudes: latitude of acceptance, latitude of rejection, and latitude of noncommitment.
Research has shown that when people judge a new message to be within their latitude of acceptance (such as persuading them to vote for a candidate who comes from their region or religion and who has no obvious political or moral baggage) they’re more apt to accept it.
But if the message is within their latitude of rejection (such as persuading them to vote for someone from a different religion and region who is also a religious, regional, and ethnic bigot that deploys divisive rhetorical tools to galvanize support among his primordial constituents), they are impossible to persuade.
Attempts to persuade them often leads to what social judgment theorists call the boomerang effect, which occurs when individuals are driven away from, rather than drawn to, the positions that their persuaders want them to occupy.
The only set of people who are easily persuadable are people who fall within the persuasional latitude of noncommitment. That is, they have no firm, distinct opinions about candidates, which makes such candidates more or less clean political slates on whom people inscribe whatever they want. Only candidates who have a slim political history and who don’t evoke negative emotions in others get the benefit of this latitude.
In other words, persuasion is often a frustratingly slow, gradual process consisting of small changes at a time. I don’t have the patience for that.
Three, as I told Azubuike “Azu” Ishiekwene in a 2019 interview I had with him, I am almost by instinct wary of everyone in power. Lincoln Steffens, an American journalist, once said, “Power is what men seek, and any group that gets it will abuse it. It is the same story.”
My job is to hold people in power to account. I won’t endorse anyone that I would most certainly clash with as soon as they get on the saddle of the presidency. When that happens, they would say it’s because they didn’t give me a political appointment after my endorsement—or that they offered me one which I rejected because it isn’t “juicy” enough.
I am content being a critical onlooker of people in power. Nonetheless, I have six broad outlines of the kinds of qualities I want to see in a post-Buhari Nigerian president.
One, given the damage that Muhammadu Buhari has done to the fragile threads that hold Nigeria together, the next president must not be another ethno-religious bigot.
It is, of course, impossible to find anyone who is completely free of prejudices since we’re all the products of our cultural socialization, but it’s possible to find someone who is broadminded, tolerant, self-aware of his or her prejudices so they can be transcended, and who regards the whole country as his or her constituency.
Buhari’s politics of exclusion triggered the emergence and popularization of IPOB in the Southeast. If we make another mistake of electing a Southern equivalent of Buhari, there’s no question that there will emerge a northern iteration of IPOB.
We should steer clear of candidates who derive the political basis of their legitimacy by appeals to religion, who see the rest of the country as an enlarged church or mosque, who see their political rise as the fulfillment of the prophecy of some simple-minded religious charlatan, who are so culturally insular that they don’t understand, much less respect, the basic traditions of others, and who are invested in using the symbolic resources of state power to advance sectarian supremacy.
Two, the next president must be one who is prepared to bring back the bar of governance that Buhari has thrown away in the last seven years. It used to be said that Buhari had lowered the bar of governance to the lowest limit imaginable. Then he got angry and threw the whole damn bar away!
The next president should be someone who will not only bring back the bar but who will raise it. That means their cabinet should be ready before inauguration. Boards of government agencies must be filled in the first few months of being in power. The revitalization of our universities should be a top priority. The process for an honest and transparent review of the constitution and of the basis of our union should be started immediately. And so on.
Three, the next president should have youth on his or her side. I know this sounds ageist, but the truth is that Nigeria can’t afford another behind-the-times, continually hospital-bound, geriatric president. In the absence of strong institutions, transitional democracies like Nigeria need ideas-driven, forward-thinking, energetic, transaction-oriented leaders to build institutions and to inspire the next generation of leaders. That means the next president shouldn’t be older than 65 years.
Four, I want a president who is self-critical and who understands the importance of critical democratic citizenship to the sustenance of democracy. Critical democratic citizenship involves calling out people in power. It means a vibrant and critical press and a vigorous social media ecosystem. It entails robust discursive democracy.
It’s fine to be thin-skinned and hypersensitive to criticism, but public office has no place for such people. A president who would terrorize critical voices with the threats of frivolous, meritless lawsuits for pointing out his or her malfeasance would kill our democracy. At least one of the aspirants from a major political party has on more than one occasion threatened to sue everyone who pointed out his putrid corruption.
When absolutist, monocratic military regimes reigned in Nigeria, critical newspapers and magazines used to be seized and burned on a whim— and without recourse to the law— just because they wrote stories that people in power didn’t like. The digital equivalent of seizing and burning “unfriendly” newspapers has quietly returned under Buhari.
It is being led by the National Communication Commission under the direction of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. The most prominent victim of this digital newspaper burning is the Peoples Gazette, a digital-native newspaper headquartered in Abuja, which has written stories that afflicted the comfortable in Nigeria. The newspaper’s URL has been banned by all Nigeria’s telecommunications companies.
The next president must be one who understands the place of dissent and a critical media formation in a democracy.
Five, given our inexorable embeddedness in the matrix of global politics, the next president must demonstrate sufficient understanding of the dynamics of global geopolitics.
Finally, because no president should be a know-it-all, he or she should have the capacity to recognize and recruit talents from every part of Nigeria, not just their cultural or geographic backyard. The transformation of the country can’t come from the president alone.
Fortunately, Nigeria is blessed with enormous, if unused, human capital. It takes skill to recognize the people we need to march to the future. I hope Nigeria will get it right in 2023.
PRP led by Falalu Bello makes progress by Kabiru Gwangwazo
PRP like all political parties and institutions is a creation of the Law. That is what gives it the mandate to lead the mission to Rescue Nigeria from the trap of bad governance. The trap of poverty, insecurity that is a creation of brainlessness in governance especially in the past decade.
It is a moot point that the Law grants that INEC issues and validates Certificates for political parties. INEC is also the monitor of political parties. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the office of record that keeps a register of all 18 registered political parties in Nigeria.
INEC attends state congresses and the national conventions of all political parties to validate the process. All political parties have a given time frame within which they have to inform the INEC of a planned congress or convention. That is to allow the INEC attend and monitor the said congress or national convention for the legal validation required of its monitoring role. This is a proviso of the extant Electoral Act. That is what confirms who is the legit political party and leadership that they claim.
Without that certification, and these processes no political party can issue membership cards and receive payment for such cards. without this no political party can receive contributions, donations or any subscriptions. No political party can also operate a bank account, not even with a micro finance or community bank if it doesn’t have such certification.
Without the backing of such a legal framework, no political party can hold any congress or convention in the eyes of the Nigerian Law. It is the PRP led by Malam Falalu Bello as National Chairman that has all of these lawful bases and supports. It is the Falalu Bello led PRP that has the backing of the Law and the mass of the people to sell nomination forms for elections on the PRP platform.
It is that guarantee that grants this PRP to sell forms for contest at general elections representing PRP as Councillors, as LG Chairmen, as State Governors, as State Assembly members, as National Assembly members or as President.
It is this legit PRP that can permit a contestant to vie for Party Chairman or executive committee member at any level of the PRP. It is the same PRP that superintended a State Congress in Kano on October 30th, 2021 satisfying the provisions of the Electoral Act.
It is that State Congress which had INEC and all agencies of State, election observers and the media in attendance that gave birth to the present Kano PRP leadership. It is the first time such an all-inclusive Congress was held since the last one held at the PRP Kano Headquarters in August 2018, validated at the National Delegates Conference (NDC) of the PRP on September 1st, 2018 that took place in Kaduna.
It is the October 30th 2021 PRP Kano State Congress held at Aminu Kano CDS Mambayya House fulfilling all lawful requirements that elected Engr. Abba Sule Namatazu as State Chairman. It is that congress that saw to the election of Alhaji Balarabe AA Danfulani as State Secretary, Alhaji Bala Datti Abubakar as State Treasurer along with other members of the Kano State executive.
Similarly all 36 States have held congresses with validation of the PRP NEC and INEC as observer along with relevant Agencies of State. It is not surprising that we have some irritants claiming what they are not at this stage of the PRP’s enviable growth and consolidation.
They are sure to show up now that PRP is accepted as the principal alternative platform that all serious and focused Nigerians are looking upto for the 2023 salvage operation PRP promises. In Kano and indeed all over Nigeria.
The PRP is open to all who are ready to join the struggle at whatever stage. Nigeria needs to be Rescued. And PRP has the history, the pedigree, the stainless banner for the rescue mission. It is that credit that marks it out as positively different from all existing political parties.
It is PRP that has what it takes to take on the two enfantes terrible of Nigerian politics, APC and PDP. Their rape of the Nigerian State has led us to the verge of disintegration. So sad that it is under the watch of the APC and PDP that we today have vast swathes of ungoverned spaces left to bandits and terrorists, with the common man left to fend for himself.
No patriotic, genuine PRP man or woman, will be swayed by the baseless claims of those who say they are PRP when they have no single evidence backed by any law or convention to support them. It is the unwary, who have not been educated on the facts as is, who are the target of these non PRP claimants’ propaganda.
For those who have read the Press Statement issued by the PRP NEC alerting the public on a fake national convention that was stage managed in Abuja on February 19th they won’t be deceived. It captures all the facts rehashed here.
Thank God, all reports confirm that the said “convention” was only a jamboree of a minority faction of the rump of the Late Prof Sule Bello committee that some of us set up in consultation with late revered PRP national leader Malam Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, rahimahullah, to address some internal issues to do with adequate consultation within the PRP.
The fake “convention” was held as reported, without any INEC or official of state in attendance as vouchsafed by the Laws of the Land. That INEC and such lawful attendees were not seen even as observers is proof that the whole event was choreographed for a purpose. That jamboree won’t deter the PRP’s progress.
Already the huge interest in PRP makes it the only alternative platform that has the capacity to lead the 2023 Rescue Nigeria mission. This has caused definite agreements now already literally sealed by the PRP with various groups of politicians and political parties soon to be unveiled. The accommodating and visionary PRP is the platform of choice for all who want a difference in 2023, a positive people centered difference.
The Rescue Train is already revving up. It is at the Station rearing to go. It is about to take off. The irritants trying to now distract PRP, and those they waylaid and misled, God willing won’t change anything.
PRP is here to Redeem the promises of the past. It is here as the Humanist, Nationalist, Pan-Africanist hope for all who desire genuine Change and Progress.
PRP is on the homerun.
PRP has come to the Rescue.
– Kabiru M. Gwangwazo is Ag. National Publicity Secretary, PRP National Hqtrs.
Independence Anniversary: 61 Disapproving Years
The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) joins millions of Nigeria to mark the Nigerian 61st Independence Anniversary. On Ist October 1960, Nigeria got independence from Great Britain and received its Freedom Charter from Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Queen’s representative at the Nigeria’s independence ceremonies.
This was a momentous occasion to all Nigerians as it marked the culmination of the struggles and aspirations of our founding fathers towards the independence and survival of our great nation. The hope and aspiration of our founding fathers then was to have a country that would be characterized by prosperity, equity and peace.
Unfortunately, this year’s anniversary comes at a time that the dreams of our past heroes are being squashed and dashed into an abyss as the country is currently mired in the tribulation of insecurity and economic regression perpetuated by the lingering cycle of bad leadership. Since independence in 1960, national development and improved life for the citizenry has hopelessly failed. The failure of successive democratic administrations to deliver basic amenities such as security, welfare and other socio-economic infrastructure is evidenced by the majority of Nigerians wallowing in penury and general despair.
Despite the foregoing, hope is not lost and we are of the belief that things can work out provided the citizens put more determination and work hard to vote out mediocrity and incompetence in governance that have been stagnating our development for long.
The PRP uses this epoch-making occasion to call for peace, tolerance and unity among the citizenry. Peace and unity remain essential for socioeconomic development of our country.
Also, the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) note with great concern the incessant rate of borrowing by the Federal Government of Nigerian and some of its State Counterparts. As at March 2021, Nigeria’s Public Debt (Multilateral, Bilateral and Commercial) stood at N33.1 trillion according to figures from the Debt Management Office (DMO). The figure excludes Ways and Means, AMCON Liabilities and Projected Fiscal Deficits for 2021. When all these are imputed, the figures could potentially rise to N54 trillion in 2021!
For the record, Nigeria’s Public Debt Stock stood at N12,603 trillion in 2015, N17.360 trillion in 2016, and N21.725 trillion in 2017. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, Public Debt Stood at N24.387 trillion, N27.401 trillion, and N32.915 trillion, respectively. Between 2015 and 2020, Nigeria’s Public Debt increased by 161 per cent, showing an annually average accretion of 37.74 per cent.
Despite the Federal Government has incessantly borrowed but the projects on ground and the GDP growth are not proportionate to the debts taken. It is quite disheartening but worthy of note that as it stands now each Nigerian owes about N165,500.00 to Countries, International Organizations and Domestic Creditor as Government Borrowing increased to N35.5 trillion.
Nigeria has pursued a dangerous mono economic agenda precariously predicated upon crude oil output since the inception of crude oil exploitation. With the economy largely dependent on oil revenues, the budget is drafted upon projections of the prices of crude oil at the international market. Any shortfalls in oil revenues crumbles budgetary preparations and expectations for that fiscal year. The reason for the inference on crude oil prices has to do with the fact that the country’s rising debt is serviced from the revenues generated from crude oil sales. Debt servicing obligations gulped a whopping 97% of the Nigerian government’s total revenue in 2020. According to BudgIT, a civic-tech non-profit organisation, N3.34 trillion was expended on debt servicing out of the N3.42 trillion revenue generated in 2020.
Despite aforesaid realities of the Nigerian Debts Profile, and the despair surrounding the rising debt due largely to absence of justifiable expenditures made with these debts in the eyes of the public, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has written to the National Assembly seeking the approval of $4.179 billion ($4.054 billion and $125 million) and £710 million external loans. This, the PRP vehemently opposes inspite of the justification given recently by the Presidency as it is simply wrong for any human being talk less of a nation to increase his borrowing if he spends 90% of his revenue in serving his debts. As the Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR has rightly observed, the increase in borrowing by Nigeria is most likely to become huge problem for successive governments of Nigeria beginning with the one coming in the next 17 months.
The PRP uses this medium to remind the Executive and Legislative Arms of Nigerian Government that history and posterity will never be kind to them if they go on with this harmful borrowing spree that does not only stifle our development currently but mortgaging the future of our nation generally. The National Assembly, as representatives of the people, should immediately block this and immediate future debts requests. In fact the National Assembly should use this opportunity to ask the Executive arm of the Nigerian Government as to what use it had put all its borrowings since it came into power. This is because Nigerians do not see where substantial part of these borrowings have gone into.
Once again, the PRP wishes all Nigerians a solemn, peaceful and prayerful Independece Day anniversary while urging all of us to be more tolerant of our cultural, sectional and political differences while ensuring that we are more discreet in the selection of those we mandate with the responsibility of managing the affairs of state in the forthcoming Elections.
Comrade Muhammed Ishaq,
Media Assistant to PRP National Chairman,
PRP National Headquarters, No. 08, Ogbagi Street, Garki 2, Abuja.