Opening Address by Alhaji Falalu Bello, OFR
National Chairman Peoples Redemption Party (PRP)
at the Second Media Dialogue of the PRP held on the 10th March, 2021
Nigeria today is being buffered by a spate of terrifying developments that threaten to throw our society into unnecessary anarchy and senseless bloodletting, which shall inevitably lead to the erosion of the country’s very existence as a corporate entity.
From the decades-old insurgent violence in the North-East, the irredentist and separatist agitations of the South-West, South-South and South-Eastern flanks of the country; and the perennial farmer/herder conflicts and rural banditry in the North-West and North-Central regions, Nigeria is now graduating into a new and dangerous phase of social anomie. This budding new phase is, in particular, taking two new forms. The first is the universalization, throughout the country, of insecurity in the shape of kidnappings for ransom-usually accompanied by rape and other forms of physical and mental abuses of the victims. The second manifestation of this steady decline and descent into anomie is the increasing tendency towards ethnic cleansings, with certain ethnic nationalities being given quit and marching orders out of sections of the country where they are deemed as either not being indigenous to or autochthonous despite the clear provision of the Nigerian Constitution which allow citizens to stay in any part of the country of their choice. These developments have led to the killing in Ondo and Oyo states of poor Hausa Fulani and other tribes of Northern extraction trading and doing menial jobs in South-Western Nigeria. Also, the same ethnic identities are being killed in South-Eastern Nigeria.
The victims of Boko-Haram in the North-East, Banditry in North West and North Central and the tribal killings in South West and South East are preponderantly the talaka, the poor Nigerians that are being continuously manipulated by the rich to continuously rule and dominate them. The killers under whatever name and guise should realize that it does neither them nor their victims any good for these killings to continue as they are simply being manipulated by the elite to kill the victims. Both the killers and victims need to realise their real enemies, the elite political class that continuously mismanage their public trust and subject them to insecurity, economic woes unemployment and restlessness. We as your Party urge all to stop waging war against each other and begin to lawfully engage your real enemies in PDP and APC. The ruling class in these parties are the sabateurs and your real enemy that you need to dislodge through the political process. Both the Northern talaka in Turunku or Dansadau of North West, Toto and Bokkos of North Central as well as Sasha in Oyo, Orlu in Imo State and Baguma in Rivers State are victims of this ruling and heartless elites putting your heads together so that they continue to rule. Join the PRP, your own Political Party and wrestle power from them and this is doable and you can!!
Failure of Government
However one chooses to look at it, all these developments can only be explained satisfactorily in only one way: They are glaring manifestations of the failure of Government and continued manipulation of the poor by the rich. Successive Nigeria Administrations have over the years failed in their constitutional responsibilities to provide good governance to their country’s hapless citizens. Straddling like bloated conquerors over the country’s political, economic and bureaucratic landscape, these Administrations have tended to be interested in only one thing: Sucking out the life-blood from the national patrimony while the citizenry lie comatose. The resulting frustrations – driven by the increasing pauperization, enervating mass poverty, ubiquitous unemployment and lack of opportunities as well as decaying educational, health, social and physical infrastructure – is what our country is now harvesting in the form of insecurity, criminal banditry and a progressive and dangerous descent into violent ethno-cultural exclusiveness.
The Way Forward
Various commentators have proffered a wide assortment of solutions for the crises which Nigeria has been thrown into. Some of these include ‘Restructuring’ or ‘True Federalism’ (whatever specifically these mean); a return to a ‘Parliamentary’ form of government, and even outright separation or break-up of the country. The PRP however believes that all these touted solutions to our governance predicament and the looming anarchy and anomie that is starring us in the face merely begs the question.
In our humble view, the solution to the challenges facing the country today lie squarely in finding solutions to at least some fundamental political and economic problems. These problems have to do, first, with the manner and mode we employ in recruiting our class of people that are entrusted with the responsibility for managing our political and public institutions. In other words, how is Nigeria’s ruling class recruited? From which class of the society is it drawn? What class interest does it promote and protect? A political recruitment system which is heavily weighted in favour of the money-wielders and plutocrats, can only produce political and public managers who work in the interest of moneyed and propertied classes, both domestic and foreign. This is what the Nigerian talaka must change and change urgently if the nonsense going on in the name of governance must stop. The down trodden must organize themselves to publically take over power of the plutocracy must stop.
This lead us to the second question that need to be addressed namely the transfer of power to the citizenry, in real and not theoretical terms. In other words, how do we go about transferring sovereignty (political power) to the Nigerian citizenry in concrete terms, so that the Nigerian citizen is empowered to exercise that power on a day-to-day basis to promote and protect things that matter most to him? This is where it becomes a matter of utmost necessity that efforts are strenuously made to build and strengthen civil society organizations and institutions throughout the country. The formation of virile and viable cooperative societies, occupational and professional organizations and residential groupings are all central to this strategy of transferring political power, in concrete terms, to the citizenry. These civil society groupings have to be mainstreamed into our country’s political process if we are going to reverse the present descent into anomie in our nation. This institutionalization and mainstreaming of civil society organizations in the country’s political and public management process is consistent with the Programmes and promises made regarding Security and Community Policing by the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in its Manifesto for the 2019 General Elections.
The third question that needs addressing is how to end poverty in the Land, and reduce exploitation of the poor. Agriculture is still the mainstay of the economy and its biggest employer of labour. Making agriculture profitable seems to be the only means of pulling the greatest number of the population out of poverty on a sustainable basis. Successive Governments in addressing this, have toyed with fertilizer subsidy as a solution to this problem. Unfortunately, this has not worked and will never work as the inputs subsidy hardly gets to the peasant farmer (the talaka) it is meant for. It is time we look at the alternative to this. We strongly counsel that the continuous wastage of resources favouring only the middle men should be stopped and replaced with output support as you find in most modern economies. This can be done by the following measures:
Reversal of 36 years of Neoliberal economic policies (at least in the agricultural sector) as they have failed to work, and in their place, we bring back Commodity Companies that will guarantee at least 10%-20% profit on their produce supported by Laws modelled on such initiatives as the Farm Bills of the United States, Basic Agricultural Laws of Japan and Indirect Subsidies of the European Union that will go to the Nigeria farmers;
Improvement of Agricultural yield by the States and Local Governments annually putting at least 5% of their budgets for extension services; transfer of research results from the shelves in our Universities and Research Institutes to the form, as well as the increased use of irrigation in the dry season;
Revival of Cooperative Societies to organize input acquisition and distribution, administrating of subsidies and sale of produce;
Development of ranches in most of the Northern States with adequate landmass as a means of making animal husbandry more profitable and making the herdsmen settle within the ranches, thereby eliminating the farmers/herdsmen conflict;
Making credit available to farmers by Cooperative Financing Agencies and Bank of Agriculture; and certification of peasant farmer holdings as a means of enriching them and enabling them use their assets to access credit.
Making agriculture an economically viable endeavor would not only pull the overwhelming majority of the peasantry out of poverty, but has the added advantage of reducing conflict and enabling the people to have a voice in how they are governed, as could be seen in the ongoing strike in India where the farmers are presently fighting against neoliberal economic policies that have wrecked agricultural enterprises elsewhere in the world.
Whilst working on the institutions and policies to make agriculture an economically viable activity which is a medium term issue of no more than three (3) years, the Governments at all levels are well advised to immediately:
Start a Massive Public Works Programme directed at the renewal and rehabilitation of the country’s collapsed physical and social infrastructure at all levels of Governments as a means of generating employments for the teeming youth population that are ready recruits for all the insecurity happenings in Nigeria. Building and rebuilding and rehabilitation of primary schools and primary health centres by Local Governments whose funds are currently seized by almost all state Governments) for example, will generate employments at Local Government Levels and so could massive Public Works by State and Federal Governments using local contractors, engineers and architects;
Rejig and seriously address the security architecture of the nation to overcome the insecurity that has gripped the country as unless the insecurity is resolved, the crisis the nation is facing will hardly be solved. We have heard Mr. President tell his Service Chiefs that they must solve the insecurity problems of the nation before the rains. This order should be reduced to the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police in writing as clear and written orders against which they will be judged within given periods of time failing which they should be replaced by those that are willing and able to achieve results. Local Policing that has long been accepted by all segments of the population should be brought into being. Until the nation is secured, the citizens right to defend themselves should be supported by liberal licensing of gun possession. The Bandits, the Armed Robbers and the Kidnappers are today carrying AK 47 assault rifles. The citizenry should be licensed to bear guns to protect themselves if they cannot be protected by the State.
The Fight against corruption as one of the mantras of the Buhari Administration should really begin by addressing corruption at structured level of the society. Nigeria today pays highest for its infrastructure contracts despite the due process started during Obasanjo administration. Why do we pay higher than Ghana for example for roads and railway lines? Another example that is current is the report that the Federal Government is to spend N10.6 billion to transport Covid-19 vaccines to States. How can the Government explain this and as they have not, we are asking the question as to what has the Federal Government so far spent on Covid-19 that has killed no more than 5% of those that died of malaria in Nigeria. As a beginning of fighting corruption, the Government should here come clean on what has been spent on Covid-19 fight. Debating these and ensuring that there is value for money in all public sector contracts will help the Nigerian nation save trillions of Naira desperately needed for growth and such a war fought with honesty and commitments will sincerely begin to address corruption in Nigeria.
Above initiatives supported by making agriculture an economically viable activity will begin to take Nigerian youth out of the poverty and unemployment and if we fail to do so, what will happen is better imagined as Boko Haram, Banditry, Armed Robbery, Kidnapping and the killings started will continue. All the recruits for all aforesaid ills have come because of poverty, unemployment and underemployment and they must be addressed before peace will return to Nigeria.
Peter Obi: Applying to Be Driver of a Knocked-Out Car By Farooq Kperogi
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.