Nigeria News

NIGERIA: Chief E.K. Clark, the oldman, governors and the PDP

Chief E.K. Clark“The Governors Forum is now acting as an opposition to the federal government. It deliberately breaches the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the constitution of the PDP without any challenges. The forum has now become a threat to the peace and stability of Nigeria”Chief E.K. Clark

THE struggle for factional hegemony within the PDP got messier last week, when Chief E.K. Clark, the grand Mandarin of Ijaw nationalism and “honorary godfather” to President Goodluck Jonathan, frontally took on the president’s most formidable ‘in-house’ opponents: The PDP governors and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.

We must thank the venerable old man, for revealing in its naked nastiness, the internecine fight for supremacy within the party. 2015 is really the name of the game and the president has not won the battle against his foes in a war of attrition, where no one can afford to take prisoners.

It is a fight to the finish, which explains the entrance of the “bunker-busting bomb (BBB)” that Chief E.K. Clark represents on the presidential side.

Chief Clark openly told the nation that PDP governors and the old despot, Olusegun Obasanjo are conspiring against President Jonathan; but “they will fail”, he assured.

The redoubt from which the governors are cooking up their conspiracy is the Nigerian Governors Forum. Clark traced the history of the body, saying that “Nigerians hardly took notice of their existence”, but “a change came when Dr. Bukola Saraki used the platform to achieve his presidential ambition”.

Today, the PDP has lost control of its various organs and “the over-bearing influence of the Governors Forum in the polity has become a matter of serious concern”.

For Chief Clark, it is the “conspiracy” against Jonathan, which led to the outcry. The old man should have given himself the pause to note the evolution of the party system under contemporary capitalist democracy. Parties are no longer what they used to be.

In the 21st Century they evolved into opportunistic levers of power, because the central assumption today, is that this is the age of Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history”. Parties have no ideological positions that members subscribe to. The Nigerian experience since 1999, has thrown up the worst expression of this international trend.

The old man might also remind himself how the party was manipulated by President Jonathan to reach the height he now occupies.

There were no principles involved; nor fidelity to purposes beyond securing power. And with that access, Nigerians have seen the worst of prebendalism!

It was a context of systematic heist at the highest levels of the Nigerian state, which explained ObyEzekwesili’s  accusation last weekend, that over $60Billion was frittered away by the administration in power.

Chief E.K. Clark is not exactly worried for Nigeria; he is not even thinking about the health of the “vote capturing” contraption called the PDP. Chief Clark is stridently condemning adversaries on the other side, from his place in the battle for hegemony.

If President Jonathan achieves victory over adversaries: the governors and Obasanjo, the old man will go back to the status quo ante: A PDP that is a vehicle of raw power and heist.

The boat is listing dangerously at the moment and there are not many life jackets to go around, while pretty few of the passengers have swimming skills. The next few weeks will see fiercer exchanges of missiles on all sides of this PDP family war.

Kano’s Achaba ban

IN the wake of the assassination  attempt on the Emir of Kano, last week the Kano state government banned the operations of motorcycle taxis, known as ACHABA, in Kano. It was a ban that was long coming; in fact, there was story that government had been set to effect the ban but was worried about a backlash.

And given the central place of those motorcycles in movement in Kano, a very violent backlash was very likely! Kano has the highest number of motorcycles in Nigeria, numbered at over two million. Jibrin Ibrahim’s instructive article for DAILY TRUST this week, located the phenomenon of motorcycle taxis in the collapse of an organised urban transportation system in much of West Africa, from the 1980s.

The crisis of urban transportation coincided with the increased population of people in our urban cities; and in the case of Kano, was related to the crisis of rural life and the pull of thousands of people into the bourgeoning city.

In 1994, I did a package for the BBC’s NETWORK AFRICA about the ACHABA phenomenon. I rode on the back of one these motorcycles; interviewed operators as well as their union’s leadership; I went into the Murtala Muhammed Hospital’s “ACHABA Ward”, which was receiving about 35 ACHABA accidents’ victims each day of the week.

Many of those who operated these motorcycles were urban lumpens in the main, while others came from rural areas around Kano. They were often on drugs; had a  nihilistic outlook to life and seemed unfazed about the danger they faced each day or the danger they constituted to their passengers and other road users.

They had certain cryptic descriptions of their attitudes to life: “Mutuwa dole kokafarkatako (death or a broken limb)” and “Shekara da lafiya, kauyanci ne (an accident-free existence is a sign of backwardness)”!
The ACHABA phenomenon was to spread like veldt fire with the return to civil rule in 1999, when governors in many states turned motorcycle taxis into “poverty alleviation” projects and a direct effort at building a base of thugs and toughies used for political purposes.

The more entrenched they became, the more lawless in practically every city. A minor tiff with the ACHABA rider guarantees the convergence of dozens of their colleagues with a consequent disruption of traffic.

This went with heavy urban pollution especially in Kano, which became increasingly dysfunctional in the past decade. All around Northern Nigeria, the dysfunctional existence was reflected in the dominance of ACHABA in transportation. In truth, there were few real jobs for the young people who turned to ACHABA for livelihood.

Historical events often have unforeseen outcomes and so it was with ACHABA. The marginal groups left out of our peculiar form of neo-colonial, neoliberal, corrupt and uncaring capitalism, began to fight back, employing terrorist methods in the insurgency in the North.

The motorcycle taxi became a choice weapon of the terrorism of the past four years. From Borno through to Bauchi, Kaduna and Kano, the motorcycle has been used to carry out all kinds of crime, including assassinations. It reached a head two weeks ago, with the attack on the Emir of Kano.

The ban was therefore an effort to solve many problems in one fell swoop: Curtail the use of motorcycles for terror and sundry crimes; control traffic chaos and hopefully reduce the frightening levels of pollution. But how will the Kano state government deal with the sudden loss of two million jobs?

What are the alternatives? How does the state bridge the transportation deficit opening up with the removal of ACHABA? The questions are legion, but as we have seen in the FCT during El-Rufai’s administration and in Lagos under Fashola and now in Kano, we must address the crisis of urban transportation; find more civilised ways to transport people around our expanding cities and embrace economic policies that create jobs for the millions of young people drawn to ACHABA and in the extreme, use these motorcycles for terrorism and other crimes.

What worries me is that for as long as our ruling class remains wedded to the unproductive neoliberal capitalism, there won’t be light out of our tunnel!

Nigerian ruling class justice: Steal N23bn, pay N750,000 fine and enjoy the loot

JOHN YakubuYusufu is a thief; confirmed! He was one of the eight civil  servants who stole N40billion from the Nigeria Police Pension Funds. His share of the loot was “a mere N23Billion”.

He was taken to court and was sentenced to two years imprisonment with an option of N750, 000 fine.

The thief paid up the ridiculous “change” and was let off, well…to enjoy the loot! Scandalised Nigerians forgot the nature of Nigerian ruling class “justice”.

Those given custody of national resources are bandits, worse than common criminals; but there is a protective racket for this clan of thieves.

Didn’t Lucky Igbinedion get a tap on the wrist for looting Edo state? What about thebandits caught up in the fuel subsidy scandal? Forgotten the Power sector scam?

There are those who looted states and are now re-opening banks they initially looted to win states they re-looted? The “fight against corruption” is a joke! The anti-corruption bodies are a burlesque. Our bandit ruling class rule a bandit state!


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