Nigeria: Goodluck Jonathan signals support for vote postponement

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan flagged his support on Tuesday for the postponement of January elections to allow more time to prepare.

In the letter to lawmakers, Jonathan said he agrees with the electoral commission “on the validity of the request” to postpone the vote.

“I shall propose an amendment of the relevant laws … which would enable (the electoral commission) to conduct general elections between now and the end of April 2011,” he said in the letter read out in the senate.

“It is my hope that the distinguished senators of the federal republic of Nigeria will consider and pass the amendment in your usual expeditious manner.”

It would mean a second round of changes to the constitution after lawmakers amended it in July to move the presidential, legislative and state elections forward to January.

The electoral chief has since asked to push the election back to April as he and his staff face the monumental task of putting together an entirely new voter list in the country of 150 million people, Africa’s most populous nation.

The commission is under pressure to produce credible elections in Nigeria, a country with a long history of vote violence and fraud.

The 2007 polls that brought former president Umaru Yar’Adua to power were judged deeply flawed by local and international observers.

Jonathan, who took over in May after Yar’Adua’s death, has announced he will run in next year’s election and has pledged a free and fair vote.

The stated reason for having initially moved the vote forward to January was to allow more time for electoral disputes to be resolved in court before the May swearing-in date.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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US walks out on Ahmadinejad’s UN speech

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UNITED NATIONS – The U.S. delegation walked out of the U.N. speech of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday after he said some in the world have speculated that Americans were behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks, staged in an attempt to assure Israel’s survival.

He did not explain the logic of that statement that was made as he attacked the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of Israel and is deeply at odds with the United States and European allies over its nuclear program and suspicions that it is designed to produce an atomic bomb. Iran says it is only working on technology for electricity generation.

The U.S. delegation left the hall after Ahmadinejad said there were three theories about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks:

_That “powerful and complex terrorist group” penetrated U.S. intelligence and defenses.

_”That some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime. The majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians agree with this view.”

The Americans stood and walked out without listening to the third theory, that the attack was the work of “a terrorist group but the American government supported and took advantage of the situation.”

Mark Kornblau, spokesman of the U.S. Mission to the world body, issued a statement within moments of Ahmadinejad’s attack.

“Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people,” he said, “Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable.”

Ahmadinejad, who has in the past cast doubt over the U.S. version of the Sept. 11 attacks, called for establishment of an independent fact-finding U.N. body to probe the attacks and stop it from turning into another sacred issue where “expressing opinion about it won’t be banned”.

He said the U.S. used the attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq that led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, saying the U.S. should have “designed a logical plan” to punish the perpetrators while not sheding so much blood.

Ahmadinejad boasted of the capture in February of Abdulmalik Rigi, the leader of an armed Sunni group whose insurgency in the southeast of Iran has destabilized the border region with Pakistan. He said authorities did not resort to violence, but captured the suspect after trailing his movements in an operation by Iranian secret agents. Rigi was later hanged.

The Iranian leader spoke of threats to burn the Quran by a small American church in Florida to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Although that church backed down, several copycat burnings were posted on the Internet and broadcast in the Muslim world.

“Very recently the world witnessed the ugly and inhumane act of burning the holy Quran,” Ahmadinejad said.

He briefly touch on the four sets of sanctions imposed on his country by the United Nations over Tehran’s refusal stop enriching uranium and to prove Iran is not trying to build an atomic bomb.

Some members of the Security Council have “equated nuclear energy with nuclear bombs,” Ahmadinejad said.

He accused the United States of building up its nuclear arsenal instead of dismantling it and reiterated his call for a nuclear-free world.

“The nuclear bomb is the worst inhumane weapon which must totally be eliminated. The NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty) prohibits its development and stockpiling and calls for nuclear disarmament,” the Iranian president said.

Ahmadinejad hinted that Iran is ready for talks on its nuclear program provided they are based on “justice and respect”, suggesting that the U.S. and its allies must stop pressuring Iran through sanctions before Tehran will sit at the negotiating table.

He again rejected the U.N. Security Council sanctions as “illegal,” blaming the U.S. as the power behind the measures.

“Those who have used intimidation and sanctions in response to the clear logic of the Iranian nation are in real terms destroying the remaining credibility of the Security Council,” Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad has in the past called the Security Council a “satanic tool” and has called its anti-Iran resolutions “not worth a cent.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Where Are The Nation Builders?

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Read Time:70 Minute, 9 Second

“Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English’,  ‘Welsh’ or ‘French.’ The word ‘Nigerian’ is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not.” (Path to Nigerian Freedom by Chief Obafemi Awolowo)

Nation-building refers to the process of constructing or structuring a national identity using the power of the state. This process aims at the unification of the people or peoples within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable in the long run. Nation-building can involve the use of propaganda or major infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth (Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia)

Originally, nation-building referred to the efforts of newly-independent nations, notably the nations of Africa, to reshape colonial territories that had been carved out by colonial powers without regard to ethnic or other boundaries. These reformed states would then become viable and coherent national entities.

Nation-building included the creation of superficial national paraphernalia such as flags, anthems, national days, national stadiums, national airlines, national languages, and national myths. At a deeper level, national identity needed to be deliberately constructed by moulding different groups into a nation, especially since colonialism had used divide and rule tactics to maintain its domination.

However, many new states were plagued by “tribalism”, rivalry between ethnic groups within the nation. This sometimes resulted in their near-disintegration, such as the attempt by Biafra to secede from Nigeria in 1970, or the continuing demand of the Somali people in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia for complete independence.

To understand the notion of nation-building, one needs to have some definition of what a nation is. According to Carolyn Stephenson (2005), early conceptions of nation defined it as a group or race of people who shared history, traditions, and culture, sometimes religion, and usually language. Thus the United Kingdom comprises four nations, the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. The people of a nation generally share a common national identity, and part of nation-building is the building of that common identity.

Today the word nation is often used synonymously with state, as in the United Nations. But a state is more properly the governmental apparatus by which a nation rules itself.

For the evolution of nation-building, Almond and Coleman (1960) defined input functions as:

  • Political socialisation and recruitment.
  • Interest articulation.
  • Interest aggregation.
  • Political communication.

 Output functions were:

Rule-making.
Rule application.
Rule adjudication

Lucian Pye identified multiple meanings of political development with, among them:

  • as prerequisite to economic development,
  • as politics typical of industrial societies,
  • as political modernization,
  • as administrative and legal development,
  • as mass mobilization and participation,
  • as the building of democracy, and
  • as stability and orderly change.

He identified equality as one of the basic themes running through all of these. While nation-building after 9/11 still incorporates many of these meanings of political development, equality does not seem to play a major role in practice.

Nation-building that will likely contribute to stable international peace will need to emphasize the democratic participation of people within the nation to demand rights. It will need to build the society, economy, and polity which will meet the basic needs of the people, so that they are not driven by poverty, inequality and unemployment, on the one hand, or by a desire to compete for resources and power either internally or in the international system. This does means not only producing the formal institutions of democracy, but the underlying culture which recognizes respect for the identities and needs of others both within and outside. It means development of human rights– political, civil, economic and social, and the rule of law. But it also means development of sewer systems, and roads, and jobs. Perhaps most important, it means the development of education. Nation-building must allow the participation of civil society, and develop democratic state institutions that promote welfare. Democratic state-building is an important part of that. This is a multi-faceted process that will proceed differently in each local context.

Many commentators on Nigeria’s history and development are always fond of saying Nigeria that is, the country, is an artificial creation of a colonial power, Britain. Let us agree this is true. But is Nigeria the only artificial creation in Africa, or indeed the whole world? Many countries in the world as we have them today are artificial creations. Even the greatest country in the world, The United States of America was not created by God naturally. It was the ability of men of vision and wisdom and sufferings. Most African counties fall into this artificial creation phenomenon.

So, why is Nigeria deemed as unique?  Is it because we have 250 or so tribes?  Is this an insurmountable problem, if indeed it is a problem?

It all began with our past heroes and leaders. Look at the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s statement above and you will understand the problem.  The late sage, as much as we venerated and adored and believed in him, never believed in one Nigeria, it would appear, from the very beginning, but he tagged along with the other then regional leaders and the colonial masters, Britain to form the country, Nigeria, even though his heart and instinct were against the idea. It seems rather unfortunate. But it was this singular statement and action – and perhaps many more – that has, till the end of time, labelled him as a “tribal leader” and which as we know, denied him from ever leading Nigeria.

Please, do not get me wrong. I am an unrepentant Awoist, and proud of it too. And I know what I committed to the late sage’s UPN in 1979 when I was just graduating from the university. But with the benefit of hind-sight and truth, we now know why Awolowo never ruled this country, to our eternal regret. Even his political foes have acknowledged that after his death. That was his mistake and he should rue it, even in death. Yet, many of us are sure that the whole of Nigeria would have been better off under his Presidency or leadership.

So who builds a nation? Past notable examples of nation builders include Otto von Bismarck (the Iron Chancellor), who united Germany; Kemal Attaturk, who defeated the Ottoman Empire and founded and united present day Turkey. Even, there are the Kwame Nkrumahs, Leopold Senghors, Jomo Kenyattas, Julius Nyereres, Fidel Castros, Mahatma Ghandis of this world.  What can be done about nation-building is the question (if it should be done) or who should do it, and who CAN effectively do it. The literature is divided over these issues:

Individual statesmen and women: Where are they in Nigeria? Over the past 50 years, what we have seen are nation-destroyers, not nation-builders. We have been extremely unlucky with our leaders, as well as the followers, at any rate. So, the blame does not lay wholly on the type of leaders our society threw up.

In Nigeria, it has been very difficult to name even one of those people we love to refer to as our Founding Fathers (like the American Pilgrim Fathers) as nation building statesmen. It is really difficult, and this is simply because their mission then was not to build a nation but rather to build power bases and usurp power by whatever means; and mostly serving sectional or tribal interests, if not their pockets.

Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), States or Nongovernmental organisations, (NGOs): Here, the issue is not so much which agency, but how the agency functions. Does it simply throw money at the problem? Does it exacerbate tensions by providing money or projects unevenly across ethnic groups or regions in such a way as to generate competition or, worse, security fears? Is its presence so big that it overwhelms the local or national governing structures it is trying to nurture? Is it culturally knowledgeable and sensitive?

Military or Civilian: The military must prepare leaders for nation building, by providing training in “culture; basic law and civics; city planning and public administration; economics; and ethics,” as well as language, and “how a free, democratic government is supposed to work”. Has this happened in Nigeria? The military incursion into government set Nigeria back a hundred years. They have no vision, no purpose, are largely opportunistic and corrupt, and hence had no idea what nation-building is. In fact, the military further polarised an already fractious Nigerians.

Thus, the civilians have not fared better either. Catch-22 situation, isn’t it? And unfortunately for us, it is same set of people, under a democratic dispensation, who are supposed to build the nation better, under peaceful, free and relaxed atmosphere, than under usually draconian military rules.

“The democratic approach to nation building refers to cases in which elected governments operate under inclusive institutions and the leaders behave in ways that strengthen democracy. This approach has the greatest potential for creating a stable multiethnic nation. Unfortunately, Nigerians have not yet successfully pursued this path” (Abu Bakarr, 2004)

Indigenous or exogenous actors: Nation-building is an evolutionary process. It takes a long time. One of the problems with outside actors is that they come and they go, but they are still necessary; arguing for the importance of indigenous nation-building does not mean that outside actors should ignore the process.

Role of youth in nation building: The saying goes that “youths are not only leaders of tomorrow, but partners of today” Maybe its time to start planting in them for tomorrow’s harvest. During this past US election, The Republicans underestimated the role of youth in politics, something the Democrats used to their advantage. The government and society at large have equal responsibility to provide the youth with an environment that is conducive to bringing about a mature and responsible youth population for the coming generation to lead a better life.

As nation builders, let us focus on brain drain of the thousands of graduates leaving the country for greener pastures. This issue of migration has a negative impact on our nation. Nations are build out of human intellect, migration of our many graduates has a serious implication on us.This means that a nation cannot be built without the recognition and the collective efforts of such graduates. (Abiola Saba)

Professor Ibrahim Gambari, in 2006, said “Today, as a nation, we face more challenges than we have known hitherto.  Our population has ballooned from 55 million at independence to nearly 130 million.  Yet, in our country, children still go to bed hungry and most families subsist on less than one dollar a day.  It will, therefore, not be glib to state that in every household, community and state in this nation, where the top hierarchies of human needs are not being met, we certainly have a problem.  In a world awash with affluence, yet mired in poverty and hunger we cannot escape our culpability. This is more so in Nigeria, which once boasted of having agriculture as its primary industry.

Most Nigerians will readily admit that what affects us the most, is poverty and underdevelopment, which are now buffeted by perennial bad governance and debilitating corruption.  Likewise, those who are outside Nigeria looking in, will say the same thing, albeit, with a qualifier; to them Nigeria’s myriad of problems is self-induced.  This often the argument advanced by those who were opposed to any debt forgiveness for Nigeria.  They refuse to accept that a nation with so much wealth could be so indigent.  To them, our country and the challenges it faces, presents a unique paradox”.

A key challenge, therefore, is the way we manage our affairs. The question for Nigerians is how to realize the principles outlined in the constitutions and thereby promote a stable multi-ethnic nation. Ehiedu Iweriebor (1990) identified six criteria for measuring the progress of the nation building process. These are: leadership, transportation and communication networks, economic development, national education, pedagogical nationalism, and civil society. Though his study outlines the successes and failures of the various Nigerian governments, it fails to explain why a particular type of government might fail or succeed in promoting nation building.

As stated in Article 14 of the 1979 Constitution: “The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or a few ethnic or other sectional groups in the government or in any of its agencies.” Furthermore, “the composition of the government of a state, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognize the diversity of the peoples within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the peoples of the federation.”

A democratic approach is the best path to nation building in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria. As we have seen in the Nigerian experience with nation building, it is difficult to pursue a non-democratic means of reform without aggravating internal unrest and international censure. Sadly, the lack of a democratic mandate, poor institutional design, and bad leadership has all made it nearly impossible for successive Nigerian governments to pursue a democratic approach. Many Nigerians are not satisfied with the 1999 Constitution because it failed to address the structural imbalance of the federation (Abu Bakarr, 2004).

Even of more concern is the lack of accountability, the massive corruption scandals of successive governments, the poor state of the economy, and the fraud that characterized both the 2003 and 2007 elections. “If we continue to have these same levels of corruption and the economy is mismanaged, then the sustainability of democracy will be reduced. The country’s survival will be endangered.” (Suberu, 1999) Even though the emerging domestic and international political environment has minimized the possibility of a return to military rule, there is a real danger of democratic decay in Nigeria. As we have seen over the past decades, democratic decay is a recipe for chaos and military intervention.

All in all, I will posit, successful nation building is no mean task. The problem with our pseudo-leaders is that they have never taken nation-building, management of resources and people, leadership, seriously. In fact they do not know what it means to be leaders. They are essentially ignorant though educated (even this is questionable)

Nation-building and the associated developmental issues require men and women of deep vision; sincerity of purpose; selflessness; genuine love for their country and their people; hardworking; of conscience, integrity, credibility, trustworthiness, honesty, reliable and able; people who do not think of stealing or embezzling; people who do not misuse the authority and power conferred on them, by God or Man; people who do not think that getting to positions of authority is a “do-or-die” affair; people who understand the meaning of nation building, leadership, good governance, rule of law, political emancipation, equality, human and civic rights, civility, freedom of speech, rule of law, diversity and religious tolerance,; people who will shun and will not tolerate tribalism, corruption and nepotism.

These are the people who can build nations.

To my people, how are we building this nation? It is time for all Nigerians to collectively do their part in being nation builders and stop being nation destroyers.

References:

Almond, Gabriel A. and James S. Coleman (eds.) The Politics of the Developing Areas. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960.

Bah, Abu Bakarr “Approaches To Nation Building In Post-Colonial Nigeria“. Journal of Political and Military Sociology. . 2004.

Caroline Stephenson, “Nation Building”, 2005,

Iweriebor, Ehiedu, 1990 “Nigerian Nation Building Since Independence.” Nigerian Journal of Policy and Strategy, Volume 5, Numbers 1 & 2. JACON.

Ibrahim A. Gambari, “Nigeria – The challenge of nation building and external relations” The Ado Bayero Lecture Series, Centre For Democratic Research ad Training, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, 8 February 2006

Pye, Lucian W. Aspects of Political Development. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1966

Suberu, R T. 1999 “Public Policy and National Unity in Nigeria”. Ibadan: Development Policy Center

Wikipedia, “Nation building”.

Thanks to my erudite sister, Abiola Saba (Timeless Impact) of Mantua, NJ who contributed in no small measure to this article.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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I am Running For President Now -Nuhu Ribadu

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Read Time:6 Minute, 34 Second

Former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, has declared in a meeting with some media chiefs today in Abuja that he does not plan to wait till 2015 before remaking a new Nigeria. He shot back at political pundits who said he lacks the ” experience”  to govern Nigeria. This is a raw transcript of the encounter.

Which platform will you use to contest for 2011 poll?

I will rather ask that you give me time please.

Are you still consulting?

Yes, I am still consulting but it is going to be very soon because there is no time. It is going to be very, very soon that we are going to make a decision on that. Like I said, my believe is that the possibility of all of us coming together must be exhausted full blast to see the chance for us to move a way in which we will give our country a platform that is going to be national.

Is the platform PDP or not?

Just wait.

Have you ever had any offer from PDP?

Never, never.

But which party?

It is not the time to make this thing out yet. There will be a lot of time to talk and so much to talk about PDP. We will educate Nigeria about PDP and what I consider the future of our country. I have a dream of a new Nigeria; I have the dream of a changed Nigeria. I want to see if there is a possibility of opening a new chapter, for the country. And those who are in charge somehow certainly need to give chance for the country to move forward.

As a former EFCC chairman, won’t those corrupt elements fight you back and prevent you from becoming the nation’s President?

I have always been fighting in my life. When I was in the Police Force, I fought armed robbers, I survived. I fought gangsters, I fought 419 fraudsters, big time corrupt people and I have survived. I am still standing as Nuhu Ribadu; I believe I will also survive this.

Can you confirm or deny that you have written to the Labour Party to be its presidential candidate?

No.

Are you carrying any party card now?

Not yet.

Are you planning to be President in 2011 or 2015?

For God’s sake, what is the issue about 2015? Are we yet there? Have we conducted the 2011 elections? How can you talk about 2015? You think the country should continue sleeping till 2015. You think that you are comfortable with the situation today. I love my country; Nigeria has no time to wait anymore.

Are you saying the old brigade politicians should give way?

My coming is going to be like the best Nigerian should come forward whether you are old or new or woman or man. It has to be all of us and I want to be part of that team that would certainly save our country and give it a new lease of life.

I won’t want to categorize it as a generational thing. But certainly, you know what I am now, and if you want to judge it on the basis of that.

I want to see the possibility of capturing the vision of majority of Nigerians who today are the young ones. And I certainly belong to that.

Aren’t you afraid of political Goliaths like President Goodluck Jonathan, ex-President Ibrahim Babangida, ex-Head of State Muhammadu Buhari and ex-VP Atiku Abubakar?

But David won goliath eventually. Pray that I will be the David.

Can you be more forthcoming on the elective post you are vying for in 2011?

Ribadu: What do you think I am fit for? I have always been a Federal person. I have experience in public service. I had put 25 years of my life into the service of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the Executive capacity. After that, of course, I served outside Nigeria. I have worked and acquired international experience. It is for you to decide where I fit in best.

Is it presidency?

Of course. What else because I have served 25 years of my life, I have given it to the nation. I had the chance to set up an agency (EFCC); I ran it for five years. I was in an Economic Team. I was a Federal Prosecutor, probably more than any other person in that capacity. I was a police officer, a community worker, I put all my life into public service at the Federal Government level. It is only natural for you to really put that into where the experience can best count.

What will be your number one priority if you become the President? Or, what are your priorities?

I want to remake Nigeria.

How?

I want to remake Nigeria. The point is: Remake means a new thing, a fresh thing, a fresh hub, a chance for us to love ourselves to build a nation out of our own country. I want to immediately, instantly provide those basic things. They are so important to us. I must insist that we must have security immediately, instantly there is no time to waste on that. I want to see that we can immediately solve the problem of power.

How can you address power problem?

I will do it; I will come out with my programme and policy. It is not something you can give in one word. I want to make a full stop to corruption finally. I want to ensure from now on that Nigerians are going to enjoy free and fair Education. I want to ensure that we will have good and decent hospitals. We will have hospitals, we don’t have to go out of the country and spend our money to build others like in India, Egypt and Ghana. Time has come for us to build our own. I want to make sure that this money that goes out as school fees that we go to pay in the UK, Ghana, and everywhere is going to stop immediately. We must have the schools that will give us the best in our own country. I want to see that Nigeria will be able to give jobs to its young ones. I want to see a Nigeria that probably will have the chance to industrialize. I want to see a Nigeria that will give justice to its own people; justice across; justice that can give a chance to us to have peace and stability for us to grow. I want to see the possibility of giving our country opportunity of equal treatment, fairness, respect to people. I want to see if it is possible for us to give a leadership that can listen; leadership that can take advice; leadership that is going to be collective.

In other words, I want a new Nigeria. A new Nigeria is possible and there is no time to waste at all. Like I said the detailed programmes will come out. We are going to be precise and very clear programmes and policies on how to go about it.

But the intention is there. Something is burning in all of us to save our own country. We love our country, we must fight for our country, we must work for our country. We want to bring out the energy in all of us and see if we can make a country that all of us will be proud of, a Nigeria that will be respected by the world, a Nigeria that will have a voice, a Nigeria that will play its own role assigned to it by God and destiny.

What of Nigerians in the Diaspora?

They must come in and participate fully because they constitute some of our best. Nigeria educated them, spent money on them.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Goodluck Jonathan declaration of Intent For The 2011 Presidential Race

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Read Time:5 Minute, 6 Second

(Codewit)The Nigerian president, Jonathan Goodluck declared his intention via Facebook  to run for 2011 presidential election and here is the except of his declaraton.

Dear compatriots, four months ago, providence placed me at the leadership of our dear country, following the untimely death of our dear former President, my brother and leader, President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. It was a very solemn and trying moment for me personally and for the country as a whole. My immediate task and priority was and still remains to give the nation purposeful leadership and to focus on the priorities of our administration in order to maintain national peace and stability and pursue our key development priorities. In these few months as leader of the country, I have concentrated on managing the affairs of the nation, and resisted all efforts to respond to the drums of partisan politics which have been sounding very loud across the land. As President and leader of government, I decided not to place partisan politics above the immediate needs and priorities of our people. I came under intense pressure to make a declaration concerning my political future, but declined to do so because that would have immediately distracted us from all the development initiatives we have accomplished so far. I therefore told Nigerians to give me time to concentrate on my work and that at the appropriate time I would make a public statement on my political future after due consultations with all the segments and leaders of our nation.

Today, I confirm that after wide and thorough consultations spanning the six geo-political zones that make up Nigeria, with members of my family, my party, the opposition, civil society, the Private Sector, members of the Labour Unions, religious leaders, youths and student groups and our revered traditional institutions, I Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the grace of God hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of President in the forth coming 2011 elections. In presenting myself for service, I make no pretense that I have a magic wand that will solve all of Nigeria’s problems or that I am the most intelligent Nigerian. Far from it. What I do promise is this – If I am elected President in 2011, I will make a covenant with you the Nigerian people to always do right by you, to tell you the truth at all times, to carry you along and most importantly to listen to you, fellow citizens in our communities and also those of you on this page. I do not want to win your affections by giving you promises of things I would do in the future which others before me have given and which have largely been unfulfilled. Rather, I would want you to judge me by my records. Since God Almighty and yourselves permitted me to serve you in the present capacity, I have busied myself with setting Nigeria on the path of peace and progress.

My team and I made no promises on adequate fuel supply in Nigeria. We simply did what was expected of those who govern, we delivered it, and you are living witnesses to that. We made no promise to revamp the textile industry. We delivered a bailout package worth 150 billion naira that is being dispensed as I write. We made no promises of securing the highest U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation clearance, the Category 1 Certificate which enables Nigerian registered airlines to fly to ANY U.S city. We delivered. We made no promise to give Nigeria a brand new INEC under a proven God-fearing and incorruptible leader. We placed Nigeria first and delivered. We made no promises of protecting your loans, deposits and investments in the banking industry over and beyond what is covered under the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Scheme. We delivered it via AMCON. Rather than tell you what we could do to improve power, this administration demonstrated it by initiating a brand new national Super Grid as well as launching a concrete Road Map to the Power Sector with realistic goals tied to realistic dates. I understand from some of your mails that there has been some small improvements in electricity supply in some communities. We met an economy that was beginning to slow due to the global recession. Today, the economy has verifiably grown by 7% this half year ending in June.

I know you are tired of empty promises, so I will make only one promise to you today. The only promise I make to you my friends, fellow citizens and Nigeria, is to promise LESS and deliver MORE if I am elected. I call on you to join me to work together in harmony and synergy to forge a nation where we understand our differences instead of pretending they do not exist and work towards a perfect union founded on transparency, equity and justice. A nation that is on her way to repairing her International reputation and project to the world that things have changed and the people of Nigeria have now taken Nigeria back from a few into the hands of her people who are eager, very eager to pull her weight in the forward movement of the African continent and the world in the pursuit of peace, prosperity and happiness.

I will by the special grace of God be making a formal declaration to this effect at the Eagle’s Square, Abuja, on Saturday 18 September 2011.

I call on you my friends on this page and all Nigerians to give me your support and prayers so that together we can liberate our country from the confines and self –inflicted wounds and limitations of the past. My dear friends and fellow citizens, to borrow an often used slogan by our youths, please join me in proclaiming: Forward Ever, Backward Never! Please let us all unite across tongue and creed to move our long suffering nation forward together. I thank you and may God bless our country Nigeria.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Why Zoning-Rotational Presidency Should Be In the Constitution

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Read Time:6 Minute, 23 Second
In the last few months,   I have followed   the debate and power struggle centred on the issue of rotational presidency or zoning.  The intensity of the debate and the many intrigues it has generated is at best laughable.  The only reason there is such a debate is because Nigeria is a nation where we love to thrive in chaos. Musa Yar’adua came into power as a very sick man whose demise remained   a real possibility. He had on many occasions been hospitalised and on one of those occasions, the intrigues surrounding his hospitalisation and rumours of death had led to the sacking of the erstwhile secretary to the federal government,   Alhaji  Babagana  Kingibe  on his  return from the hospital.

The intrigues of Yar’Adua’s hospitalisation had therefore given sufficient indications that his demise would   lead to a protracted power struggle in the absence of a clear constitutional method of succession under the zoning arrangement. But because Nigeria is a nation in love of chaos, the members  of  the national assembly, house of representatives and other opinion leaders  rather than seek a constitutional  solution to the impending predicament  choose to ignore it. The result of that negligence and irresponsibility remains with us today, as the power struggle rages on. In a September 2009 article titled “If   Yar’adua dies: how to avert a power struggle” see link: . I   predicted quite accurately, the power struggle saga that is presently unfolding and made proposals to avert it.

The present quagmire has at best, guaranteed that whatever the outcome of the 2011 elections, there will be groups that will continue to feel aggrieved as a result of  the  lacuna that existed in the constitution.  If  the national assembly had urgently resolved the  zoning and succession issue by enshrining it in the constitution, we would have avoided the current brick-bats  from different parts of the divide which has overtaken the needed debate on key issues such as unemployment, infrastructure, security, education, healthcare and  social protection.  It is quite unfortunate that Nigeria’s so called leaders are yet to learn how to do things properly.

As I have said previously, Nigeria’s peculiar post-independence  history of  long years of Northern domination, marginalisation and injustice requires a  rotational system based on the subsisting six zones that would serve as a strategy for nation building. A quick look at Nigeria’s history would  reveal  that minorities  and Southerners with the exception of  Olusegun Obasanjo’s 2nd coming have only ruled Nigeria by accident. General  Aguiyi  Ironsi from the East became the first to emerge through such a system after the assassination of the then prime minister Tafawa Balewa in the Jan 1966 coup.  General Yakubu Gowon a Northern minority from  the middle belt became the 2nd beneficiary after the assassination of General Aguiyi Ironsi in the July 1966 counter-coup. General Olusegun Obasanjo from the West also became a military head of state after the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed in 1976 and lastly President Goodluck Jonathan who ascended the throne in 2010 after Yar’adua’s death.  

Indeed, it is also noteworthy that Olusegun Obasanjo’s 2nd coming in 1999 as a civilian president, which is the only exception was nonetheless facilitated  by the accident of General Sanni  Abacha’s sudden death. Nigeria’s chequered history thus lends credence to the fact that political power has overwhelmingly concentrated in the Muslim North and only moved to minorities or non-Northerners by accident. A   heterogeneous nation with such a peculiar history rightly deserves to have a specially designated and structured rotational system that would be a strategy for nation building and inter-ethnic cohesion.

The rotational system itself is not a new concept as many diverse nations and institutions around the world already practice variants derived from it. In Switzerland, the presidency rotates among the various ethnic groups and in the European Union; the presidency rotates among the member states. The rotational system is quite remarkable in Switzerland where the German ethnic group with 65% of  the population constitute an absolute majority capable of perpetual political dominance, but yet subscribed to the rotational system in order to accommodate  the minority ethnic groups. Switzerland is consequently one of the world’s most stable, democratic, harmonious and prosperous nations just as the European Union is one of the most functional and prosperous institutions in the world. Together, Switzerland and the European Union are notable examples in the successful application of  the principle of rotation along ethnic and national lines, all designed to suit the peculiarities of their geo-political realities.

Moving forward, the national assembly should convene an urgent constitutional review to midwife a well structured and successful rotational system which could in time be a model for other heterogeneous nations in Africa and around the globe struggling with the challenges of nationhood.  I hereby propose 2 options as listed hereunder that can be applied in resolving the rotation and succession issue.

Constitutional Review Options Of Power Rotation And Succession
(1) The present structure of six zones with three each in the North and South presents a perfect match for the purposes of rotation. In a practical and common sense way, the presidency could be rotated in alternation between the North/South and among the zones in alphabetical order preferably for a 6 year single term or alternatively for an 8 year double term as the case maybe. In the case of an 8 year double term, all political parties will also be obliged to field candidates only from the designated zone for the subsequent election of  the remaining 4 year tenure. In the event of another political party and candidate winning the subsequent election, he or she can only serve the remaining 4 year tenure for the designated zone. The introduction of rotation in alphabetical order will remove every confusion, make it possible for all existing political parties to field candidates from the same zone and prevent acrimonious power struggles between different zones.

In case of death and succession, there is the option of a constitutional review to introduce the office of a deputy president in addition to the already existing office of the vice president. The vice president should continue to be from other zones as is presently the case, but the new office of the deputy president should be occupied by someone from the same zone as the president for the sole purpose of  completing  the presidents tenure in case of  incapacitation, impeachment,  resignation or death.

(2) Another option is to have a constitutional provision that stipulates the organization of another election within three months in case of incapacitation, resignation, impeachment or death to elect someone from the same zone as the president to complete the constitutional tenure of the exited president.

Conclusions:
The national assembly should endeavour to leave a lasting legacy by urgently engaging in common sense provisions like this and ultimately enshrining it in the constitution. As has been the case in Switzerland and elsewhere, a well structured rotational system amongst a cocktail of other measures will prevent protracted and acrimonious power struggles in future  and potentially usher in a more harmonious, stable, democratic and prosperous nation.

Lawrence Chinedu  Nwobu
Email: lawrencenwobu@yahoo.com

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Goodluck Jonathan Cleans House

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Read Time:3 Minute, 18 Second
ABUJA (Codewit) – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan replaced the heads of the military and security services on Wednesday, consolidating his hold on power months before elections in Africa’s most populous country.

Jonathan promoted former air force chief Air Marshal Oluseyi Peterin to Chief of Defence Staff and named new heads of the air force, army and navy. He also removed the Inspector General of Police and head of the State Security Service.

“Mr president thanked them for their dedication to the service of the nation and wished them well in their future endeavours,” presidency spokesman Ima Niboro told reporters in the presidential villa in Abuja.

He said the tenures of the outgoing service chiefs had expired at the end of August and that the new appointments would take immediate effect, but gave no further details.

Jonathan has not yet said whether he will stand in the January polls but recent announcements, including a major blueprint to end chronic power shortages, have looked more like campaign promises and most Nigerians expect he will.

Nigeria emerged from decades of coups and military rule 11 years ago but the military remains a potent background force, with retired generals reinventing themselves as politicians and businessmen, and still pulling the strings of power.

The last military shake-up in Nigeria was just over two years ago, when then President Umaru Yar’Adua named new service chiefs in a bid to assert his authority and shake off the influence of his predecessor Olusegun Obasanjo.

Similarly, the latest reshuffle suggests Jonathan is asserting his authority four months after Yar’Adua died in office, and ensuring he is in control of the military in the run-up to the presidential, parliamentary and state polls.

“Goodluck Jonathan is roaring like a lion,” said one security analyst in Nigeria, asking not to be named.

TURBULENT TIMES AHEAD?

Nigeria is roughly equally divided between Christians and Muslims and spread across more than 200 ethnic groups.

An election bid by Jonathan, who is from the southern Niger Delta, could be divisive due to a ruling party pact that power rotates between the Muslim north and Christian south every two terms, meaning the next president should be a northerner.

Sensitivities about the distribution of senior military and civilian positions run deep in Africa’s top energy producer.

Jonathan named Major General O.A. Ihejirika as his new chief of army staff, the first time since Nigeria’s 1967-70 civil war that anyone from the southeastern Igbo ethnic group has held the top post in the most powerful branch of the armed forces.

“The appointment of an Igbo as army chief is of symbolic value and a gesture towards those in the east who complain of marginalisation,” said Antony Goldman, London-based head of PM Consulting and a Nigeria expert.

“In the short term, attention is more likely to focus on the new police chief, who will play a significant role in shaping the security environment during the forthcoming elections.”

Jonathan named northerner Uba Ringim as acting Inspector General of Police, but has yet to name a permanent chief.

Previous elections in Nigeria have been marred by widespread voter intimidation, ballot-stuffing and outbreaks of violence in flashpoints including the oil-producing Niger Delta and the Middle Belt between the Muslim north and Christian south.

Hundreds of people died earlier this year in clashes around the central city of Jos, violence which was ostensibly religious and ethnic but had roots in economic and political rivalry.

There have been isolated acts of election-related violence in some northern states including Bauchi, where several people have been killed in disputes over the display of campaign posters, local politicians have said.

There are fears the radical Islamic Boko Haram sect, which wants sharia (Islamic law) more widely imposed across the country, is trying to stage a comeback after gunmen freed as many as 800 prisoners including some sect members from a jail in the city of Bauchi late on Tuesday.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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John Campbell Got It Wrong On Nigeria

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Read Time:10 Minute, 30 Second

Anyone who read a preview of John Campbell’s (former US Ambassador) soon-to-be published book, ‘Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink,’ would begin to entertain serious anxieties over the future of Nigeria, due to the doomsday scenario he painted of what to expect during and after the 2011 elections. His prophesy of chaos rests on three legs; one, that there is no consensus amongst Nigeria’s power elite on who to support for the position of President; two, that there is no “Obasanjo-like figure strong enough to impose one”. And three, that even though the North believes it is still it’s turn to rule, there is no clear consensus amongst them as to who would be their candidate.

I believe that Mr Campbell is wrong in his predictions of doom and that he is not basing his prognosis on any experiential knowledge of what is on the ground. Rather, he has come to his conclusion from projections and analysis based on media reports that are deliberately exaggerated by interested parties in the Nigerian project to manipulate foreign governments and by his now stale experience when he was ambassador to Nigeria between 2004 and 2007.

He says that unlike in every election since 1999, there has been no consensus amongst Nigeria’s political power elite on a candidate to support for 2011 and this portends doom. How true is this? It actually depends on who Mr Campbell refers to as Nigeria’s political power elite. In 1999, there was a consensus, but that consensus was not amongst Nigeria’s political elite. It was a consensus amongst the military administration in power and those retired military officers who had participated in bringing the current regime into power. At the Oputa Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission, Hamza Al Mustapha (late Sani Abacha’s Chief Security Officer) gave testimony on the role played by Ibrahim Babangida in ensuring that his friend and kinsman Abdulsalami Abubakar emerged as Head of State after the demise of Mr Abacha in controversial circumstances.

Having played this role as king maker, Mr Babangida who had been forced to “step aside” in 1993, began to scheme his way back to power. He knew that Nigeria could not have a return to civil rule without first compensating the people of the Southwest from where MKO Abiola, whose election he had annulled in 1993, came from. Thus, with his own ambition to return to power being the end he had in mind, Mr Babangida influenced the government of Mr Abdulsalami to come up with an exit strategy for a transition to civil rule and handover to someone from Mr Abiola’s southwest whom the North felt comfortable with.

Military consensus

Mr Babangida was able to convince the powerful group of retired military generals from the North, who had facilitated Mr Abdulsalami’s emergence, that the only person who would fit this bill was Olusegun Obasanjo, who was then in jail. He began to float this idea in the Nigerian media and the international community, especially the Western countries, were sold on this idea. I know this because in July of 1998, I met with the Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria, Bastian Korner, in Lagos and he spent time trying to convince me as to why Nigeria needed Mr Obasanjo. The suspicion amongst some in the civil rights community, which I belonged to then, was that the idea of having an Obasanjo presidency may have in fact not emanated from Babangida but from outside the shores of Nigeria; but that is a story for another day.

However, working with what we know, we can safely say that Mr Babangida was able to forge a consensus amongst Aliyu Gusau (the National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan), T.Y. Danjuma (who became Mr Obasanjo’s minister of defence and who famously vowed to go on exile if Mr Obasanjo did not win the 1999 presidential elections) and Abdulsalami Abubakar, the then Head of state. Other than this military power elite, it is on record that every other political elite in Nigeria, including the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) of the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua, the Afenifere (the council of elders in the Southwest) who controlled the Southwest as at 1998-99, the Ohaneze Ndigbo (council of elders in the Southeast), the Northern Elders Forum (who were the predecessors of today’s Arewa Consultative Forum) and the G-34 who were the group of politicians who stood up to challenge Mr Abacha’s self-succession plot and who would later be the nucleus of the PDP, all resisted the emergence of Mr Obasanjo in 1998-99 and only relented when it was obvious that the deck was stacked in favour of Mr Obasanjo and there was not much else they could do to resist it without prolonging military rule.

So what Mr Campbell considers as a consensus of Nigeria’s political elite in the 1999 election was not so much a consensus as the fact that a few oligarchic clique of serving and retired military officers had made up their minds to back Mr Obasanjo. And even within that clique, there was resistance to him. Again, testimony from Mr Al Mustapha at the ‘Oputa Panel’ showed that the then Chief of Army Staff, Ishaya Bamaiyi (whom I personally met in kirikiri prison in January of 2000) resisted the imposition of Mr Obasanjo.

Now moving on to the 2003 elections. It is on record that Mr Obasanjo had alienated much of the military clique that ensured his rise to power. He had fallen out with Mr Babangida, who was indifferent to his reelection bid and had even been reported to have asked him to consider the Mandela option. Also, his relationship with Mr Danjuma was strained and the former General would later leave the government and publicly accuse Mr Obasanjo of running a government that was a “cult”. But despite the above and despite the fact that he had alienated most of the governors of his own party, who had queued up behind his Vice, Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo was STILL able to win his party’s presidential primary as well as getting reelected in the general elections of 2003.

The Obasanjo consensus

Now coming to the 2007 elections. Even Mr Campbell himself must know that other than a consensus that the presidency should be zoned to the North, just as today, there was no elite consensus as to who the Northern candidate would be.

In fact, a strong member of Mr Obasanjo’s second term kitchen cabinet, Nasir El Rufai, had told me and also said same in public that Mr Obasanjo encouraged every Northern governor to vie for the Presidency. In addition to the Northern governors, several Southern governors who had finished their constitutionally allowed two terms threw their hats into the ring. Mr Babangida and Mr Gusau also joined the fray . And what is more, Mr Atiku Abubakar, himself a formidable politician, joined the race for President.

However, when in November 2006 Obasanjo showed his hands and openly supported a reluctant governor, Umaru Musa Yar’adua, all those who had previously indicated interest began to withdraw except those who had moved out of the PDP. The elections came, and very predictably the PDP candidate won and the opposition went to court and nothing came out of it after a 24 month long legal battle.

So what does this all prove?

It proves that rather than a consensus of the political elite being responsible for picking the country’s leader and avoiding post-election conflict since 1999, as Ambassador Campbell posits, it is the support of the incumbent and the machinery of government that determines who wins an election in Nigeria.

And why is this? It is because even though Nigeria operates in name a federal system of government, in practice she operates a massively unitary system of government with almost all executive powers concentrated in the person of the President. The person controls almost all the funds accruing to the country from oil and therefore has an enormous ability to dish out patronage – the carrot. The President also controls the law enforcement bodies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which in Nigeria is very potent in fighting governmental corruption and can unleash them on whomever he so desires – the stick.

An example may suffice on how this works. In June of 2005, the Obasanjo administration found Mustapha Jokolo, the then emir of Gwandu, to be a thorn in its flesh. A decision was made to dethrone him and this decision was supported by his home state government of Kebbi which effected his dethronement and sent him on exile. However, after his exile, no emir or traditional ruler was willing to accept him. And then the government made it known that they had budgeted a juicy sum of money to be given as upkeep allowance for whoever agreed to take Mr Jokolo into his domain. Well, the rest is now history but my point is made.

Also, one of Mr Campbell’s reasons for predicting post-election doom for Nigeria is the fact that there is no “Obasanjo-like” figure to impose a consensus candidate on Nigeria. This leads me to doubt that Mr Campbell is still up to date with Nigeria’s current affairs. There is no absence of an Obasanjo like character for the simple reason that Mr Obasanjo still exists and is in many ways as powerful (some say even more powerful) as when he was in office as president.

Even more telling is the fact that in the drama that held Nigeria captive, when Nigerians did not know the state of Mr Yar’adua or his physical location, the political elite were fiddling like Emperor Nero while Rome burnt. Yes, the G-57 (of which I was a signatory) wrote open letters giving ultimatum to the Federal Executive Council and the Save Nigeria Group took to the streets. But it was not until Obasanjo gave his now famous speech at the Daily Trust Lecture in January 2010, calling on Yar’adua to follow the ‘path of morality’ and ‘honour,’ that the political elite swung into action and voila, the Doctrine of Necessity came into being! Mr Obasanjo’s utterances were the catalyst that brought about that action.

New northern leaders

The truth is that the Obasanjo-like figure referred to by Mr Campbell still dey kampe (a slang popularly used by the former president to indicate that he was still standing) in Obasanjo, the ex-President. The final reason given by Mr Campbell to justify his doomsday scenario is that there is no clear consensus in the North as to who will be their candidate. If Mr Campbell knows Nigeria as he claims to do, he would know that rather than this being a source for worry, it is actually a good thing because if the North is to rally behind a candidate, it would lead to a bipolar race which is not good for Nigeria. It is better that the North have a multiplicity of candidates for the simple reason that competition amongst Northern power brokers would weaken the old guard and would strengthen the young Turks such as former FCT minister, Nasir El Rufai and former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu – both of whom are wildly popular in the South (almost to the point of being cult heroes) and place them in good stead to run and win in 2015 and completely consign the old Northern guard (who many blame for Nigeria’s underdevelopment) to history.

I would advise the international community to take Mr Campbell’s thesis with a pinch of salt and consult more with Robin Sanders, who is fresh from the Nigerian fields and who was very hands on as U.S Ambassador to Nigeria and who very recently gave a very optimistic report about the readiness and ability of Nigeria to conduct an even better election than any she has had since 1999.

Miss Sanders is of course in tune with the current mood in Nigeria and of Nigerians and is more competent than Mr Campbell to give an informed analysis and expectation of what 2011 holds for Nigeria and Nigerians.

 

Mr Omokri is Vice President, Africa, at Joe Trippi and Associates, the Washington DC political consultancy.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Inside Sarah Palin’s Life in Alaska

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Read Time:12 Minute, 21 Second

NEW YORK “ Could Sarah Palin’s glamorous new life in Wasilla derail a presidential run? Shushannah Walshe spoke exclusively to Palin’s parents; friends who recount her nasty streak; and explores how life has dramatically changed for her.

Talks to Sarah Palin’s parents, Chuck and Sally Heath about their daughter’s life in Alaska and her mom’s opinion that a possible run for the White House would be difficult.

Gets exclusive on-the-record interviews with family, friends, and foes with insight on how her life has changed from a mom-about-town to rarely seen Republican rock star”and friends explain why she gave up the governorship for the lure of money.

Looks inside her life in Wasilla now that she’s so famous and how she’s adjusted her lifestyle, from the Jetta she drives around town to who actually does the household shopping.

Speaks to the victim of the Troopergate investigation who recounts how Palin ruined his life–and to her former close aide, who accuses her of taking a nuclear bomb when a fly swatter would have dealt with the issue.

Hears from friends on her early ambitions for the White House and how she was looking towards Pennsylvania Avenue in her early Wasilla days”even before she McCain’s VP.

Reveals new information on her upcoming reality show on TLC, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Family and friends tells stories of caribou hunting, gold-mining, and dog-mushing for the show.

The first thing you notice, upon pulling up to Chuck and Sally Heath’s house in Wasilla, Alaska, is the Christmas tree of moose antlers piled up next to the driveway. Step inside the ranch-style home, and you get another unmistakable sign that you ‘re not in blue-state America anymore: Chuck’s prized collection of skinned and stuffed animals, the spoils of his many hunting trips”a cougar, a mountain goat, foxes, birds, and snake skins spilling over the banister. Outside, a picnic table offers dramatic views of the Chugach Mountain range. It was in this setting that the Heaths, putting aside their natural wariness of press from the Lower 48, agreed to meet a reporter, feed her fresh snap peas from their garden”and share their thoughts about their world-famous daughter,

Should she run for president in 2012? Sarah’s mom, Sally, doesn’t hesitate. It would be a tough thing to do, she starts to say, until Chuck interrupts: Its up to her, whatever she wants to do. Sally, dressed in a green zip-up sweatshirt, continues. I love what she’s doing now: scouting around for who would be good candidates. Who honestly could stand up and speak and not be afraid to tell it like it is?

They don’t know her plans, the Heaths are quick to add, in their first national interview in over a year. But it would be fun to find out some day, Sally says, with a contagious laugh.

In other words, Sarahs parents seem to feel the way a lot of Alaskans feel about the state best-known export, next to oil and salmon: torn over the wisdom of her trying to make the White House her home.

Some friends expressed caution about Palins future. A former adviser in DC who remains friends with Palin said he doesn’t want to see her run. I think she’s got a great life. She’s got the world by the tail right now,this friend says. I mean, she’s earning a lot of money, which she never had before. She is speaking to adoring crowds wherever she goes. She’s greatly appreciated by those she supports and she doesn’t have to take all the grief that you have to take when you are either running for or holding office.

Others who are less favorably disposed point out that Palin’s aborted tenure as governor left a lot of bad blood in Alaska; they worry that her baggage would be dragged back onstage in another national campaign, and hurt the state.

But fans and foes alike warn against the dangers of selling Palin short.

Four years ago, right after she was elected, I was quoted as saying, ˜The graveyards of Alaska are covered with the bones of people crossed by Sarah Palin.’ While I said crossed, what I meant was underestimated,said Alaska Republican pollster David Dittman. And that’s still true. Consistently, whether it’s the local city council in Wasilla, no matter where she’s gone”say, on the cusp of achieving something”there’ve always been detractors that say it can’t happen, it won’t happen, this is why she won’t be successful. That’s why I will say, to this day, the political graveyards of Alaska”and other places”are filled with the bones of people who underestimated Sarah. And it’s still happening.

Adele Morgan, one of Palin’s oldest friends in Alaska, can attest to that. She recalls approaching Palin in 2005, when she first heard that her childhood pal and basketball buddy was running for governor.

I had heard that just from the grapevine so I went and asked her,Morgan recalls. I thought that was quite the feat at the time. And I said, ˜What are your plans?’ I was just kidding around and I said, ˜So do you want to be president?’ And that was way back then and she said, ˜Well maybe.’ And I was like, ˜Wow you got some goals there, girl!

If I was advising her on one thing: Never forget your roots, never forget where you come from,says Eddie Burke, a Palin family friend.

The ambition doesn’t always sit well with Alaskans, who have a saying: We don’t care how they do it on the Outside.But they clearly care when the Outside suddenly lands on their doorstep. Wasilla Mayor Verne Rupright refers to the town as Hollywood Northbecause of the media focus and the parade of tourists from the Lower 48 that now visits hoping to get a glimpse of Sarah’s backyard.

She doesn’t spend nearly as much time there as she used to amid her speaking engagements, book tours, and appearances for midterm candidates across the country. (Indeed, until her endorsement of insurgent candidate Joe Miller in the state’s GOP Senate primary, who nosed out incumbent Lisa Murkowski, Palin’s influence had not been felt much at all since she resigned the governorship in 2009.)

Friends in Wasilla say she doesn’t drive the family’s Escalade SUV anymore and instead has gone back to the VW Jetta she used when governor to avoid being spotted.

Every time I drive it, people know who it is and I can just drive the Jetta and nobody pays any attention,Palin told friend and Wasilla neighbor Bev Perdew.

When she is in-state, she spends most of her time secluded in her Wasilla home on Lake Lucille. She’s alleviated the need to pop out to do TV, having recently added a studio as an extension to her house. In the past, she was often spotted shopping at Target and Walmart; these days, she sends Bristol to the store, to avoid being mobbed by friends and well-wishers.

On one hand, you can’t do anything because everybody’s watching when you go to the bathroom,says Eddie Burke, a Palin family friend who says he lost his job as a radio talk-show host after skirmishing with a Palin critic who worked at the same station. On the other, Burke says, she’s facing the allure of big-money book deals. So did she leave for money? Probably so.

Burke says he still chats with Todd about snow machining (Alaskan for snowmobiling) and was even involved in preparations with Palin for her rally with Glenn Beck. If I was advising her on one thing: Never forget your roots, never forget where you come from. I think there was a part of her that kind of got caught up. If I was to advise her, she should not forget where she came from.

He says he told this to Todd, creating some friction.

Walt Monegan knows what it’s like to have friction with the Palins on the grand scale. His firing as Palin’s public safety commissioner led to the Troopergate investigation. Monegan is still struggling with the fallout years later. The former Anchorage police chief still breaks down in tears when reminiscing about his time on the beat. If Palin does make a bid for the presidency, Monegan is sure to be held up by opponents as a case study in how she can wield power vindictively. He strongly cautioned against a future President Palin.

I think it’d be a train wreck. You need to have a thick skin in public service, especially if you’re going to be a boss of any sort. People are very opinionated; they will go up and tell you what they think about you, where you’ve gone wrong. You have to listen to them. You don’t shut them off, you don’t turn your back on them, and you certainly don’t attack,Monegan said. In her case, she is not mature enough or doesn’t understand that or she has such a large goal that she feels she knows what’s best for everybody, doesn’t really need any other input.

Palin’s foray this summer into the Alaska Senate race left similarly bruised feelings, exacerbating a long-running feud with the Murkowski family, which has divided the state’s Republican ranks. It all started when former Sen. Frank Murkowski bypassed Palin when, upon election as governor, he decided to appoint his daughter to fill out the remainder of his term in Congress. Palin returned the favor by ousting Murkowski in the GOP 2006 gubernatorial primary. The fighting continued this summer, when Palin’s decision to back Joe Miller helped propel him past Lisa Murkowski for the GOP Senate nomination.

Murkowski and her allies thought the move was personal. But SarahPAC staffer Rebecca Mansour (perhaps the aide closest to Palin) said she did not endorse Miller to get back at the family. “She did not endorse Joe Miller to get back at Lisa. Endorsing someone everyone thought would lose would not be a way to get back at Lisa. Her endorsement of Joe Miller was about principles, not personalities, Mansour said. It was about Alaska and her belief that Alaska should have the freedom to develop its natural resources under federal control so that it can become more of a giver to the nation through resource development instead of a taker of federal pork.”

Murkowski’s campaign manager was John Bitney, who, until recently, was a Palin ally. A high-school friend who ran her 2006 campaign for governor, Bitney had a falling out with Palin when she discovered Bitney was having an affair with a family friend, a woman to whom he is now married. Bitney is skewered in Palin’s book, Going Rogue, and says she sometimes uses her power to intimidate”taking a nuclear bomb when a fly swatter would have dealt with the issue, as he puts it.

If you are perceived having been someone who has criticized her or been on the other side of her or someone that she’s gone after, [there’s a feeling] that somehow she can hurt you,Bitney says. [People] are scared of her.Bitney said. That would really concern me to have that kind of power.Bitney today says I would love to have peace. I’m asking for a truce.(Says Mansour: I’ve worked for her for over a year, and I have not seen any mean side to her. She’s not mean like that. I don’t get that criticism. She’s always been very kind and considerate with me.)

In smoothing over some of these rifts, Palin’s parents are a great asset. Monegan, the ex-public safety commissioner, says he hasn’t had any contact with Palin or her inner circle. But last winter, he ran into Chuck Heath at a dinner celebrating Alaskan seafood. Heath ran over to Monegan and gave him a handshake and hug, telling him, That’s just politics. I still like you. Heath even went over to Monegan’s table to meet his family and regale them with stories of his daughter’s book tour.

Nobody knows the kind of sacrifices a new national campaign would entail quite like Palin’s parents, who hit the trail from time to time in 2008. The night before the balloting, Chuck told an audience in Nevada that he was one who taught Sarah how to field-dress a moose; on Election Day, he joked, she was going to field-dress a donkey, much to the crowd’s delight. These days, Sally often accompanies her daughter on trips outside Alaska, helping out with the grandkids, traveling to Washington for the Glenn Beck rally last month. (Chuck, for the time being, stays put: I don’t like to go during hunting season, he says).

Has their daughter’s fame affected them? I still run with the same derelicts I did 30, 40 years ago and buy whatever beer’s on sale, says Chuck with a smirk. Hasn’t changed me a bit.

They both said they don’t see their daughter much (Chuck saying he keeps track of where she travels by watching Fox News) because she is on the road so often, but when they do they don’t talk with their daughter about work.

We don’t talk politics. We talk hunting, fishing, sports, and family. Just normal family, none of the political stuff,her father said. She hears enough advice from everyone and criticism from everyone and she doesn’t need to hear my bad advice. We hunt together, fish together, travel together and we don’t socialize out in the limelight anymore because she’s mobbed. She can’t walk into a store anymore. We go to a lot of gatherings together, but she has to sneak in.

Chuck Heath says his daughter has been busy this summer working on her show for TLC, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, and gave a glimpse into what it will look like. He went caribou hunting with Palin and the TLC team and his favorite episode was their gold-mining adventure, The people in Nome treated us so well and we found not a lot of gold. But enough gold to make it interesting.

Shushannah Walshe is the co-author of Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar. She was a reporter and producer at the Fox News Channel from August 2001 until the end of the 2008 presidential campaign.

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria for sale:The Insult Of Babangida/Odili And Saraki Presidential Ambitions

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Read Time:12 Minute, 30 Second

In the opening paragraph of my article, “We Really Must Be Really Scared Now!” written in June 2009  I wrote “I am scared for myself, my family, my people (all Nigerians), Nigeria itself. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not going to let Nigeria kill me. I am just sad and scared because idiots are getting away with murder, literarily. I am scared because I might die outside Nigeria, with my family scattered all over the world, not wanting to have anything to do with their fatherland. Lord, am I scared?”

It is the morning of 14 September 2010, and I am still as scared as ever about events in our country, Nigeria. I woke up to disturbing (at least for me, because in Nigeria, such sentiments depends on which side of the fence you are or which side your bread is buttered) news, namely:

1.      Former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, is in advanced talks with Peter Odili, former Governor of Rivers State, as he closes in on a running mate for the 2011 Presidential Elections, and secondly,

2.      Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki, on Monday informed President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice-President Namadi Sambo of his desire to contest the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party.

These two pieces of news sent me into a depression. Of course it has been in the news a long time that Babangida wants to contest to come an pick up what he forgot in Aso Rock, the depressing news (and incidentally, became good news, after settling down a bit and letting my brains work and get the better of me) is that of Odili being considered for his running mate.

Odilii was said to have been recommended by no less a person than the irrepressible Raymond Dokpesi, chairman of DAAR Communications, and director general of Mr. Babangida’s presidential campaign. The two men (Odili and Dokpesi) had reputedly beneficial business dealings which, in our dear country, translate into stealing state funds, bribery, embezzlement and other fraudulent uses of state funds. Also, Dokpesi was the director general of Odili’s campaign when he tried to run for president in 2007. At the time, Odili was alleged to have invested N400 million of funds taken from the Rivers State treasury, into Dokpesi’s company. The EFCC, under Farida Waziri, quizzed Mr. Dokpesi over the money, but no charges were ever brought against this sacred Nigerian cow.

Odili, a medical doctor by training, was governor of Rivers State from 1999 to 2007, completing two terms. His tenure was marred by human rights violations, insecurity, violence and widespread fraud. He was the alleged “godfather” of some of the now notorious Niger Delta militants, who he used as political thugs to rig and win elections or do his other nefarious bidding and then dumped them, causing them to act on their own because their source of funding had been withdrawn by their Godfather.

During his governorship, Rivers State was, in theory, one of the wealthiest states in the country owing to its enormous oil revenue, but Mr. Odili instituted relatively few improvements. Instead, the former governor is on record for acquiring a South Africa-based hospital, and two Brazilian jets.

In November 2006, Peter Odili announced that he would run for president in the 2007 election under the ruling PDP. However, a day before the PDP’s presidential primaries, Odili stepped down from the contest, paving the way for fellow governor, Umaru Yar’Adua, to emerge as the party’s flag bearer. Reports say Mr. Odili (who was initially, President Obasanjo’s choice for President) was forced out of that contest when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by Nuhu Ribadu,  barged into then President Obasanjo’s office  and slapped down thick files containing reports implicating Odili in fraud, mismanagement of state funds, money laundering, and abuse of office. Obasanjo had to call Odili and told him to look at the files and asked him politely to step down. It was also said that Odili was made to return over 30 billion Naira he was alleged to have stolen or he would go to prison. I heard that on the eve of the PDP primaries, Odili had booked every hotel room in Abuja. It was said that he salted away over 250 billion Naira during his tenure as Governor of Rivers State. I will believe that, if you dont.

Odili filed a suit challenging the powers of the EFCC to probe his administration. The court, in his home state of Rivers, granted him an indefinite injunction stopping any investigations into his finances, describing it as a breach of his civil rights. (Only in Nigeria)

Till today, Odili is still walking round in Abuja a free man, looking up his ill-gotten investments in South Africa, probably flying in his jets just around Nigeria on ego-trips but barely going to Port Harcourt because he has been declared persona non grata by his people. He could only sneak in under the cover of darkness without the usual fanfare and then sneak back out the following morning or lay low until darkness comes again.

So my take on this? Please forgive my bias, but as a CORE anti-Babangida’s return to Aso Rock, this is indeed positive news. At the beginning of this article, I said I was depressed by the news; but as I write this article and let my brain wake up from the lethargy generated by this news. I also recollect Abraham Lincoln’s words: “A statesman is he who thinks in the future generations, and a politician is he who thinks in the upcoming elections” Odili and IBB are both politicians, corrupt ones at that and they cannot think in the future. It is impossible. The bank balance of these two rogues is probably enough to provide uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria; two treasury looters united by ambition. As thick as thieves, they say. Of course they have every right as Nigerians to contest for any position they so desire, but the good news is that, their coming together is going to do more damage to their ambition. Babangida apologists, who have always challenged Nigerians to bring out any evidence of Babangida’s corruption and other allegations, are even now squirming in their seats at his choice of running mate, who was easily and unquestionably one of the biggest treasury-looter in Nigeria under the tenure of Obasanjo.

Again, Nigerians need not fear an IBB/Odili ticket; they have had it before they even started. Their combination has confirmed the fears of Nigerians that they are going there to loot again. Also, we should rejoice that Babangida has again played into Obasanjo’s hands, who it was who terminated his Presidential ambition in 2007 when he (Obasanjo) sent a plane all the way from Abuja to Minna and presented him some hard evidence which compelled him to withdraw from the Presidential race, saving face by saying the late President Yar ‘Adua was his “brother”.

Problem is they have money and if we let them get there, Nigeria’s treasury will be emptied in no time, there will be genocide. We will be taken back to the 70’s when there was no visible infrastructure, and by time they finish with us, or the treasury, we will be grateful for the few ones we have now. I am not crying “wolf” here. Look at my previous articles on several issues.

A digression: On an interview on the highly condescending Alistair Soyode’s show on BEN Tv, there was one of of IBB’s apologists, in his fifties. How did he defend Babangida’s qualification to come back and be President of Nigeria? This man said IBB qualifies to be Nigeria’s next President because he (IBB) married a woman from the East and speaks the 3 major languages in Nigeria…what does one say about such thinking?

Now, Dr Bukola Saraki, incidentally another trained medical doctor (like Peter Odili), who was never known to have practised his medical profession anywhere before. He simply went straight to his father’s (another medical doctor who hardly practiced medicine to fulfil the Hippocratic Oath of  doing good for mankind) then- thriving banking business immediately he came out of university entering the bank first as a director and later the vice chairman, second only to his father. That bank, Societe Generale (SGBN), collapsed some years ago, and along with it went the money of innocent depositors. But it was not an ordinary collapse, because the Directors of the bank, that is, the Sarakis’ personal fortune went up shortly after the collapse. Obviously, the depositors’ money went into the Sarakis’ pockets.

According to SaharaReporters “It was that their family owned bank – Societe General Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) – whose fortunes had been on the downturn since 1995 while the personal fortunes of the  Saraki’s, particularly, Bukola was on the rise, had gone completely under. According to a copy of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Assets Declaration forms obtained by Saharareporters – filed and signed by Bukola Saraki on every page- Bukola’s personal fortunes only sky-rocketed while depositors lost huge investments in the SGBN which eventually went out of business in 2003 shortly after the Sarakis won the controversial elections into the senate and governorship seat in April 2003 and were sworn-in as the Governor of Kwara State and Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria respectively”.

Yet despite this obvious lack of business acumen and poor financial or fiscal management, the younger Saraki went into politics and was elected, or rather, selected as the Governor of Kwara State.in 1999. Of course it was the visible hands of his powerful father, who had, and still has a very strong grip on Kwara politics. He had been dictating who will be the Governor of Kwara State for the past 20 years or so, if not more.

But the news of his interest in becoming the next president of Nigeria is my concern here. According to Olurotimi Adeola in Transparency For Nigeria (www.transparencyng.com ) “What is he (Bukola Saraki) bringing to the presidency that he couldn’t showcase in Kwara where he has spent the last seven years administering? Or maybe he believes his father who is the great political oracle of Kwara state have extended his sphere of influence to the entire country this time around. It’s an open secret, that Dr. Olusola Saraki, the father of Governor Bukola has manacled the people of Kwara state politically in the last three decades. He alone determines the ‘soul’ of the state; in spite of this, one cannot point at any tangible benefits to the malnourished masses of that state in his over thirty years of control. Governor Bukola Saraki is a beneficiary of his father’s conquered political sphere no doubt; without the elder Saraki, Governor Bukola would never have won a councillorship seat in his state. Little wonder his sister Senator Gbemisola too is gunning to replace him……What would be Bukola Saraki’s leadership credentials if he finally enter the race for presidency? Is he going to show us, how he has created employment opportunities in Kwara and prove that most Kwarans are now gainfully employed as a result of his pragmatic stewardship in the last seven years? Is he going to showcase to Nigerians, how lives and properties are now so secured and safe in Kwara State, and that all residents go to bed with their two eyes closed? Or present to Nigerians, a Kwara State where water supply and electricity run for twenty four hours without interruption;  where public hospitals are well equipped and manned by qualified and satisfied staff; where public schools meet required standards; where there are good network of roads, good public transport, standard markets etc; and finally a grateful and appreciative citizenry? If these are not the credentials Bukola Saraki is bringing to the race for president, then he has no business seeking the presidency of Nigeria”.

According to some reports, Bukola Saraki bought 15 luxurious cars including a Ferrari,  all of which were worth N240 million between 1997-2003, a period described as most critical in the life of the SGBN while he was the Executive Vice Chairman of the SBGN. (I saw that Ferrari in Ilorin – Imagine driving a Ferrari on Nigerian roads, madness)  I also heard that the Sarakis physically went into the vaults of the bank and carted away every penny they could find to finance the 2003 elections that gave them double victory in Kwara State as well as another victory of constitutional immunity from prosecution by the relevant agencies of government

My advice is that now is the time for depositors and investors who were cheated of their life savings by the Saraki dynasty to take necessary and appropriate legal actions to retrieve their investments with accrued interests. The resulting bad publicity and outcry should be enough to put a permanent stop to this inordinate ambition by a so-called aristocratic dynasty to foist themselves on Nigerians and continue the treasury (and indeed, bank vault) looting they started in their state.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Bukola Saraki is above the laws of the land. Obasanjo refused to commit himself to a probe of how SGBN failed, because Saraki Senior himself was bigger than Obasanjo, and Obasanjo dared not probe him and his family. Saraki is now one of the most powerful Governors in Nigeria. Incidentally, he’s hardly in his home state of Kwara. He’s always swaggering around in Abuja and ruling Kwara State as an absentee landlord. He has got a lot of people in government – via political appointments, civil service, Foreign Service, police, immigration, henchmen and hatchet men, etc – who are very loyal to him.

The politics of powerful connections and father/family towering influences should be exorcised forthwith in Nigeria politics.

Please let us not allow Babangida/Odili and Bukola Saraki to even get their names on the ballot paper, and if they do, LET US REJECT THEM OUTRIGHT.

This is the time to sensitise the Nigerian electorate to the risks in electing Babangida-Odili to even act as road-diggers or dog-catchers for Nigeria. Open your eyes; use your ears and use your brains!

This is the more reason why we need to embark on public enlightenment and education campaigns to ensure that the voters know competent candidates with track records this time around, not just opportunists, charlatans, pretenders, the corrupt and the corrupters and people who think ruling Nigeria is their birthright.

The TRUTH has to be said always.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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