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Column / Opinion

Is Buhari presiding over the last United Nigeria?, by Akin Fadeyi




There are no good tribes or good ethnicities. There are good people and there are bad people. I have close friends all across the nation and still wrote my experience of a beautiful, memorable Nigeria in a memoir recently. It actually went viral, titled, THE NIGERIA THAT I KNEW. Infact, the Fulani I knew as a child were good neighbors who who sell fresh congealed milk we call “wara”.

I also volunteer within an organization that partners with institutions as patriots. We founded the Corruption Not In My Country to unlock the capacity of Nigerians to identify corruption and shun it, FlagIt App to enable Nigerians report corruption and Covid-19 messages recently to spread the awareness of a deadly pandemic. Working with the police to identify culpable officers and uncovering cyberbully gangs in Nigerian Universities. We do not therefore constitute ourselves into superior opinion shapers of how the nation should move forward. We align with strategies and tactics premised on constructive engagement and strengthening the capacity of institutions for effective performance. This is what makes us patriots.

But patriotism must be clearly defined within a noble premise and enthusiasm to critically interrogate issues when our sailing ship is seeming to become rudderless. It is recognizing that we do not owe allegiance to a leader, but to the country…Not only to the country but also to justice and humanity.

It is on this note that I feel compelled to address us all on the ongoing crisis between the Fulani Herdsmen and other tribes in the country, including the Yorubas. I am not speaking as a tribalized Yoruba man, I am speaking as a Nigerian, born here, who made friends here across the divide and still believes in the beauty of our diversity. Truth be spoken, if we situate Nigeria within the concept of Thomas Hobbes Theory of a nasty, brutish and short life, then it is safe to say Nigeria is already headed in the direction of total chaos and of course, anarchy.

This anarchy and seeming oppression of a people by another set of people within the same nation, in a country already besieged by hunger, unequal distribution of wealth and impoverishment, threw up the symbolism of resistance that Sunday Igboho represents. Sunday Igboho is a systemic creation of anger against the gruesome murder of Mrs. Olakunri, the daughter of Yoruba leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the gunning down of a first class monarch in Yoruba land, the Olufon of Ifon and of late, Dr. Fatai Aborode, an accomplished Yoruba man who relocated to Nigeria to create employment for his people in Igangan, Ibarapa local government, all from the hands of Fulani Herdsmen.

But we are also not unaware that all across the federation, many families have lost loved ones to this same domestic terrorism from supposed fellow countrymen. Many families will never recover from the emotional turmoil of untimely death, rape or financial setbacks of those who paid heavy ransom to rescue loved ones. Many families will not recover from the agonizing shock of paying ransom to a relative that will never come home, because the Herdsmen took the money and still slaughtered the victim. I speak as someone who has participated in the contribution of ransom before, for two kidnapped victims.

So, how did the crime of kidnapping by herdsmen become a notoriously enduring industry in Nigeria? Each time we hear ransoms have been paid. Shouldn’t we ask “paid to who?”. People have paid multi-millions for ransom. Into whose bank accounts do these ransoms flow? Is it these same ragtag –looking kidnappers that are paraded that own the kidnapping empire? Why has it been a challenge for security agencies to FOLLOW THE MONEY? These are begging questions requiring urgent answers.

And in all of these, where is the leadership?
On the 23rd of October, 2001, after ethnic clashes that led to the death of 27 people in Lagos in Nigeria, the INDEPENDENT Daily, United Kingdom and our local newspapers reported that the then President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo ordered rioters to be shot at sight. Obasanjo was literally ordering the shooting at sight of his own tribesmen, the Oodua People’s Congress who were alleged to be stimulating the riots.

Obasanjo was actually quoted as saying “The Police have instructions that anyone who calls himself OPC should be arrested and if he doesn’t agree, he will be shot on sight. We cannot allow this country to be overtaken by hoodlums and criminals”. THAT WAS LEADERSHIP!

November 26, 2020 after the Olufon of Ifon in Ondo state was kidnapped and eventually murdered, this after Chief Olu Falae, a prominent national and Yoruba leader had suffered in the hands of kidnappers till he died. The Governor of Ondo State must have been concerned about a possible attack on Ondo state by Herdsmen hiding in the forests, and as the Chief Security Officer of his state, issued a quit order on criminal Herdsmen to vacate Ondo state on the 18th of January.

19th of January, typically, Mallam Garba Shehu, representing the Presidency countered Aketi and rejected the quit order! Are citizens not curious to ask: whose purpose was this Presidency serving? Why is Mallam Garba Shehu combining the job of speaking for the President with speaking for Herdsmen? And as the President did not disown Garba Shehu by saying, “No, I am President for all”, shall we conclude that Garba Shehu was playing the piper of a tune dictated by the President? Does the President feel gracious to dictate a divisive, ethnic tune?

On the 15 of July, 2012, the twitter handle of Mallam Nasir El Rufai, a Fulani leader states as follows: “We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes”. El Rufai, contemptuous as he sounded, stood for something: He sent a signal that he would not cower and watch his people decimated. He spared no words. He was not diplomatic. So, what rights guarantee El Rufai’s words but denies Akeredolu’s frustrated response to the annihilation of his people?

When Miyetti Allah leaders rascally issue threats against their host communities, this Presidency plays deaf. But the moment anyone pokes at the Herdsmen, this Presidency abandons everyone that voted it and embarks on vocal hemorrhage. How suddenly did President Buhari forget that for three consecutive periods, he contested Nigeria’s Presidency through the CPC platform but lost, until he forged an alliance with the South West? Why is the same President now carrying on like a President of the Fulanis instead of President of Nigeria? Why does a President that never speaks to the nation except we literally drag him to do so in moments of national crisis, always find a hasty voice to ward off justified salvos against cow herders who are jeopardizing other races right to existence and he actually does so, characteristically within 24 hours? Are we really citizens of the same country?

This is why Sunday Igboho is a symbolic depiction of leadership failure in a suggestive, and almost deliberate complicit abdication of responsibility! And that is why now, Igboho represents many things, part of which is the emboldening of many other community resisters of oppression. This resistance is building and this government does not seem to be aware, or is aware but stranded within its myopic cocoon of ethnic prejudice. There’s a thick dark cloud of calamity around us but we are also being gaslighted into alternative realities. Perhaps we should ask then, that how many of our government leaders can travel to their villages anytime of the day, unescorted and pass nights there? And while they enjoy state protection, what happens to the poor? The poor who cannot even go to the farm.

In all of these, where are the South west leaders? Apart from the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, and now, Sunday Igboho who is fast becoming a phenomenon of circumstance, many South West leaders have always been reactive than proactive. They must go to the drawing board and work out a strategy of containment, not against Herdsmen alone but also to ensure South west youths are gainfully and meaningfully employed through creative unlocking of technological opportunities. The Youth in the South West are not immune from criminality. During the ENDSARS protest, a notorious group called One Million Boys terrorized Lagos. Those were not Fulani Herdsmen.
What have we done to rein in these ones? Or we are keeping them for the next election? The money we are stockpiling for this election, how much of it are we prepared to invest in the youths who are so resilient, so creative, so docile, that they’ve accommodated leadership failure this much?

South West leaders cannot continue to pretend to be protégés of Awolowo but lack his non-perfect integrity. You cannot claim to be an Awolowo apostle but lack his character and ingenuity. The South west is limping because hijackers of great ideals have become burdensome liabilities of counterfeit morality. SW leaders must recognize that ambition for office must never consume them to such extent they throw this momentum away, because, if on the altar of ambition, they keep mute while their region burns, by 2023, they would have no nation left to govern.

In all of these, where lies genuine and constructive criticism?
As we continue to embrace unity in diversity, candor must never depart the lips of true patriots. There is a distinct line we must never cross out of misguided love for politicians and that includes the President. Certain nations are classified as fragile states with the complexities therein to demand accountability from leadership, or to demand qualitative living, healthcare, infrastructure and especially PEACE. Amongst fragile sates are Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and South Sudan. And with over 400 billion dollars frittered away in oil revenue and poverty staring down citizens and now compounded by clear bias in the management of herdsmen crisis, it is heartbreaking to spot Nigeria amongst the listed fragile states index, occupying the 14th position in the world and 9th position in Africa as far back as 2019 and 2020.

With this grim picture, those who call the President “Baba” and lack the temerity to call him out are not doing him any good. Misguided loyalty is cancerous, because it gradually eats into the consciousness of the self-acclaimed “loyalist” as he keeps imagining himself a patriot. Patriotism is not reckless impudence. It is measured by a heart that loves the nation but that also recognizes its responsibility and that of other citizens, rich or poor, as rights holders within a social contract that binds leadership as duty bearers that must be held to account. If by your standard, everything the leader does is right and you must each time hurl expletives at those who find it insensitive and repugnant, then you are enslaved to primitive patriotism, which is the type that shouts, that glares, that denigrates, that threatens and that calls others names. You are numb to the deaths and pogrom around you, because your political idol must not be hurt. This is a conscious bondage where your indiscreet respect for your chosen leader is the greatest enemy of truth. This is why you seek diversion away from every disorder and would rather shift it to political camp disunion rather than enter a coalition of honour to move the nation forward. This is why, instead of holding government to answer certain questions, some of us have elected to divorce answerable leadership from the leader. When you brand a worship idol out of a nation’s power holder, you have burnt patriotism and embraced servility. What we’re seeing today is the effect of not just bad governance, but also that of enabling AYE-SAYERS.

This is why government’s spin doctors are quick to demonize and incriminate the media and civil societies as “heating up the polity”. Isn’t it sardonic that this same administration that rose to power through a well-orchestrated media machinery and propaganda and that consistently solicited Civil Society’s support to call out bad governance of the past is now tagging the media the enemy of the nation by the duplicitous estimation of an intolerant administration?

This gaslighting is a disingenuous conduct of a government that circumvents the truth, fails to take responsibility for its errors and must attempt to steer you away from questioning facts is completely alien to its mouthed integrity!

The President must face a fact here today: There has been a sweeping and systematic liquidation of other people’s territories by unhinged suspected Fulani Herdsmen. The President’s own people.
The President must ask a question too? How do other nations who lead the pack in global cow-ranching business get on with this business without slaughtering their own people?

On the 13th April, 2011, when you wept over the state of the nation in your quest for power at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, will you say you have turned the country around and made it safer after power was granted you for the past 6 years?
What are you making of your legacy? Are you capable of rising over ethnic sentiments now and protect all Nigerians?

After voting you, and handing over to you, the constitutional mandate to be leader of all, do you recognize that the Presidency you hold is more dignifying and it is beneath you to still carry on with a now hazy perception of you with the people struggling to resist pointing to you as a Fulani Leader?
As a Muslim who is nearer the valedictory stage of your life, I shall step into this faith to remind you, Mr. President, that for each time you know what to do, to rescue Nigerians from Fulani Herdsmen slaughter, but you fail to do so, you will struggle to shake off an inaudible complicity in the murdering of innocent souls all in a bid to fulfill what is beginning to look like a well-orchestrated expansion agenda scheme. Your supporters of today will not stand in judgement with you.

Finally, good leaders take personal responsibility in crisis, no matter how much of these lie outside their control. Good leaders align team focus, and establish periodically evaluated metrics to monitor their own performance. Good leaders create a culture of accountability, and stay alert and aligned on effective dashboard of priorities. A good leader will unite this nation and not divide it. President Buhari should jettison his conscious or unconscious bias and demonstrate leadership now, before he goes into history as the last leader to preside over the affairs of a united Nigeria!


Column / Opinion

My Igbo brothers, before it is too late, by Hassan Gimba




The Igbo are a resilient lot, an egalitarian and industrious people. Defined as a meta-ethnicity native and one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, they are predominant in South Eastern and mid-western Nigeria. Though there is a claim by some of them that they descended from Jews, the World Culture Encyclopaedia has it that the Igbo people have no common traditional story of their origins. It said historians have proposed two major theories of Igbo origins. One claims the existence of a core area, or “nuclear Igboland.” The other claims they descended from waves of immigrants from the north and the west who arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. Three of such immigrant people are the Nri, Nzam and Anam.

I have known the Igbo since I opened my eyes, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. Mrs Nwosu and Ogualili were among my primary school teachers. I went through the hands of Mrs Ogualili in Shehu Garbai Primary School in Maiduguri twice – first in my primary five and then seven when she saw me through my first school leaving certificate examinations.

As a student, I had some of them also in the same class in both my primary and secondary schools. Frank Nweke Jnr, a former minister, was my classmate in primary school. Brilliant chap, he was.

At Government College, Maiduguri, among others, Michael Onyia, Christopher Ononogbu, Boniface Edeh, Joseph Anumudu, Felix Udeh and Peter Achukwu were among my classmates. Michael Onyia, now a PhD and lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was always ahead of the set academically. Peter Achukwu is now a Professor in Medical Laboratory Sciences, specialising in Histopathology/Histochemistry with an LLB, BL to boot. He is also a lecturer at UNN.

People will understand, therefore, when I say I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. The Igbo, on average, can be generous and will do all it takes to build someone into becoming someone responsible. They have the best apprenticeship mentoring system in the world, where the mentor sets up the apprentice after a period of training.

I nearly married one, Uzoamaka, in 1990, but that should be a story for another day. However, I offered my junior sister—same parents—to an Igbo secondary school classmate when I realised he wanted to marry a northerner. He ended up marrying someone from abroad, though.

In the 70s, the civil war was fresh, understandably, but by 1979 and through the 1980s up to 2015, the Igbo had been fully integrated into Nigeria and were (still are) major players.

From 1979 to 1983, they occupied the slot of vice president. Ebitu Ukiwe was President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s deputy before Augustus Aikhomu displaced him. They have had chiefs of staff, especially that of the army, Senate presidents, Senate deputy presidents, deputy Speakers in the House of Representatives, and many more positions. There is no position in Nigeria that the Igbo has not held, including the presidency if Goodluck Ebele Jonathan can be regarded as an Igbo by default.

Therefore, when the Igbo man cries “marginalisation!” I wonder if I knew its meaning.

The North East has not tasted power at the apex since Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, yet they have not cried of being “marginalised” by their North Western brothers who will tell them “One North” but when all come “home”, they always take the larger portion of the cake.

In 1979, the North West knew the North East’s Malam Adamu Ciroma was head and shoulders above all the presidential aspirants of the party that won the presidency that year, but they connived to deny him the ticket. Same with 1992. When they realised he would defeat Umaru Shinkafi at the National Republican Convention’s staggered primary elections, they again conspired to scuttle his journey. After doing him in, they went on and truncated another North Easterner, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe’s presidential drive, denying him victory even as a vice-presidential candidate. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar too has suffered the same fate.

Yet the North East did not lament. They did not threaten to break away. The temptation to blame others for their “woes” did not cross their minds. Cries of marginalisation did not sweep over them. No. They will sit down and re-strategise, then make their brothers an offer they cannot refuse: They will present their best who will hopefully best their best. This is politics. It is what democracy is all about. The business of give-and-take. No hairsplitting or inviting the god of thunder or threatening Armageddon.

Again, if people are backward, unable to witness any development in their areas, as the Igbos cry, they should go to the source and address it. Would it be fair for an Anambra man, for instance, to accuse a Hausa man of under-development in his state? Methinks it will not look nice. Members of the state house of assembly are all Igbos, same for cabinet members and all local government officials. Those representing the state at the national level are all Igbos and the governor who got elected into office by his fellow Igbo is also one of them. Their full allocation comes to them, as well. So, where did someone from another area cause the problem? How did he do them in?

It is too late for Nigeria now to divide into only God knows how many components. Perhaps 1966 was the best time. Yes, maybe. Perchance by now, we would all have been independent nationalities, each with its peculiar problems and prospects. But now? No way, sir! We are all safer in a united Nigeria. None of the six geopolitical zones can survive outside Nigeria. Bandits, insurgents, militants, megalomaniacs, charlatans and all would overwhelm us. Even the Igbo nation cannot stand on its own if left to the whims, arrogance and demagoguery of its self-anointed secessionist leader who Yoweri Museveni will look like a saint when compared to.

But many intelligent Igbo know this. The problem is there is a herd movement towards something that the gullible, used cannon fodder do not even know what it is. To them, it is “freedom”. Sure? Freedom from what? From where? From who? If it happens, which is doubtful, it is then they will recall Nigeria with nostalgia and rue over a Nigerian slang “one chance”. They would realise its real meaning, albeit late in the day. This is assuming various warlords have not emerged to deny everyone peace. And freedom. And therefore I sympathise with my good friends, my brothers across the Niger.

A herd movement like the IPOB has its driving spirit and being populated mainly by society’s dregs with nothing to lose, a certain force with a promise of violence pushes it. The level-headed can easily get intimidated and blackmailed into sheepish silence.

There is nothing the good and visionary can do when demagogues opiate the minds and souls of the gullible herd. Or so it seems. But we should also keep in mind Edmund Burke’s letter to Thomas Mercer, a 19th century Judge. A summary of the letter is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

But sometimes one gets disappointed in how the situation was left to deteriorate to this level. Of course, we know that once there is no fairness or justice in a land, agitations take over. In 1966 when life was snuffed out of some leading northern military and political leaders, the chant in the North was for “Araba” (separation) because the North felt the military regime then was not fair and just to it.

The only way we can slow down and perhaps reverse the impending doom is for all to feel included and carried along in affairs despite scarce resources. We have a lot to learn from how Quebec and Ireland are being handled by the Canadian and British governments, respectively.

Nnamdi Kanu, who Aisha Yesufu described as a ‘made-in-China Shekau’ and his IPOB and ESM always deny what everyone knows were perpetrated by them. This is unlike the Boko Haram insurgents who are eager to own what they did and didn’t do as long as it was sinister. This means there is still hope that they could be persuaded to return from their fatal journey, a journey that will only cause untold pains to all on both sides. We need not go through what we had gone through before. Even animals learn from experience, sometimes referred to as history.

We that are in Nigeria should not heed the calls of those safely ensconced in the safety and comfort of the lands of the Whiteman to put our house ablaze. Let anyone who loves us and wants to fight for us remain within us, as Gandhi and Mandela did for their people. We shouldn’t put our lives and those of our loved ones, our properties and years of labour and sweat on the line for one brigand in disguise, a charlatan living off our sweat in comfort abroad.

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Column / Opinion

Tinubu: standing out in the crowd, by Dan Agbese




The occasion of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 69 birthday last month invited, as such occasions are wont to do, a flood of encomiums, each intent on reminding us what a blessing the man is to our national politics. Tinubu, of course, knew that some of them spoke from both sides of the mouth. He knew that among those who loudly proclaimed his political greatness were men who could not stand his guts, his political sagacity and courage and, of course, his assumed and legitimate political ambition to climb to the top of the totem pole. There is nothing wrong with the king-maker becoming the king. He knew they did no more than stroll down the path of tradition in order to be numbered among those who appreciate him in earnest. Nothing strange there. It is the way the cook stands; it is the way it crumbles.

            Tinubu is in the eyes of the storm; he has been in it for as long as one can remember. People are suspicious of his political moves. If he keeps his lips sealed and refuses to jump into the fray of needless and often puerile controversies, he is said to be doing so because of his presidential ambition. And even if he speaks, he satisfies no one. Whatever he does tends to be clothed in dark and sinister motives of an unbridled personal political ambition by men who fear his principles. It is an unkind cut. But he is a smart man. I believe he is neither fazed by the unkind cuts he receives nor inebriated by the whiffs of panegyrics. It is, as they say, politics in action.

            This piece is not intended to praise Tinubu. This old codger is hardly qualified for that. Its noble intention, even if I say so, is to use the senator’s role in our national politics to assess our increasingly wobbly steps down the garden path of our national politics in the context of our assumed ambition to water, protect and grow our democracy. Tinubu represents for me a more committed approach to that great ambition than we are willing to give him credit for. He has done some very titanic things and helped to effect some critical changes in the direction, if not the tenor, of our national politics and discourse. He is one of a handful of principled men among our politicians who have not been blown off course by the ill wind of naked political ambition and casting about for where the bread is likely to be better buttered in the next circle of general elections, even if it means picking up the crumbs from under the table. 

Tinubu remained firm and loyal to his original political party, AD. It changed its name to CAN and later helped to birth a new political party, APC in 2014, that has cemented the South-West in the mainstream of our national politics; politics at the centre, that is. AD was a child of political circumstances. It did not meet the condition for national spread stipulated in the General Abdulsalami Abubakar transition programme but nevertheless made the grade because the gun of protests over the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election was still belching ominous smoke in the South-West geo-political zone and threatening to blur the path to the birth of the third or fourth republic. 

Tinubu needed no one to tell him that the party was what the South-West needed to bargain with the Nigerian on its fair share of the national cake. He entered the 1999 race for the governorship of Lagos State. He won and began the steady spread of a shift in state-cum regional development paradigm. AD went on to win all the six states in the geo-political zone in 1999. And this, despite the fact that one of its illustrious sons, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a presidential candidate of PDP, was virtually crowned as president by the generals long before the first ballot paper hit the bottom of the ballot box that year.

President Obasanjo, smarting from being treated as a political orphan because he did not enjoy the support of his own people, outsmarted the AD governors in the 2003 general elections. He convinced them to support him for his re-election in return for his support for them for their own re-election. Tinubu was the only man who saw through Obasanjo’s plan and rejected it. The rest of his colleagues took the bait and the umbrella replaced the broom in their government houses. 

Unusual for a Nigerian politician, most of whom are permanently in search of greener pastures, Tinubu remained alone and true to AD and was determined to make Lagos a successful political and economic story and thus an enviable island in the muddied sea of our national failures. I understand he unveiled the local equivalent of a Marshall plan for the old Western region to which all the states in the zone were originally obliged to tap into and make it the new hub in our national development. His infrastructural development has had a tremendous and positive impact on the rest of the zone, even in states that do not quite share in the policy of collective system of regional development. 

We can all see it. Lagos is the only state in the federation that does not wait for the monthly handouts from the federation account. It generates enough revenue internally to take care of itself and oil its developmental ambitions. Internally, the state has more and better roads than the rest of the country. Its economy is said to be fifth largest in Africa. That is something to be immensely proud of – even if out of a reluctance to applaud those who make a difference, we clap for Tinubu, the architect of all that, with one hand. Still, the Asiwaju stands out in the teaming crowd of political jobbers parading themselves as patriots committed to rebuilding Nigeria.

            From what I can see, Tinubu stands out as the kind of political leader we need and urgently so, to help stop us from moving in circles in a vain search for a magical development paradigm that does not exist. We need politicians forged on the anvils of their principles who are not easily swayed by the mere lure of power or of lucre. He is. We need politicians with a larger concept of public service and who bear no allegiance to tribe or religion and can, with some courage, manage our ethnic diversity and political pluralism. The Asiwaju fits the bill.

 Tinubu has consistently opened the doors of Lagos State to politicians from other states to find their berth. He left a legacy of building a state in which every Nigerian has a stake by accommodating non-indigenes in the state cabinet. You can find Yoruba from within and outside the South-West in every Lagos State administration; just as you can find some other tribes there too. Thus, the son of the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, is a member of the Lagos State house of assembly. He is from Kwara State. And from Kogi State comes James Faleke who is a member of the House of Representatives in Lagos State. I know of no other state in the country where people from other states enjoy this degree of political space with the sons and daughters of the soil. I can think of nothing more effective in building a united states of Nigeria than by making every part of Nigeria home to every Nigerian as Tinubu has done.

I confess that I do not quite know the colour of his politics in terms of an ideology but whether he has one or not, he has shown that he is a pragmatic politician with a capacity for hands-on leadership. His succession plan in Lagos has worked and made the state the least atomistic one in the country. This has also ensured consistency in infrastructural and economic development plan from one administration to the next. In no other state is this evident absent of succession plans. Instead a departing state governor anoints a successor with two left hands and leaves the state in the lurch with an unprepared and confused man fumbling in the darkness of his blind ambition. Sure, Tinubu has done well for his state as well as getting a chunk of power at the centre for the South-West geo-political zone. However hard we may try, I think it would be dishonest not to admit that Tinubu and he alone made the birth of APC possible in 2014, and changed for ever the political fortunes of Muhammadu Buhari and that of many others. But his work is not done. Our country is still on the weary trek towards transforming itself from a mere geographical expression into a united and egalitarian nation. Buffeted as it is by unprecedented violence and insecurity, the clouds are beginning to blur our vision – in case the Asiwaju is kept unaware of it.

Email: [email protected]/SMS: 08055001912

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Column / Opinion

Police reforms: Senator Uba Sani’s enduring legacy in view, by Jafaar Bello




Nigeria is bedevilled by lingering insurgency and insecurity in the form of violent crimes such as abductions, farmer-herder conflict, attacks on local communities, revived secessionist movements and much more. Besides retarding the economic progress of the country, the consequences of these conflicts are enormous, to say the least. Farming communities have been sacked by bandits thereby endangering food security.

A few studies have also shown the negative impacts of insecurity on governance and economic growth; it sucks
out investments, reduces direct investments from businesses abroad and increases unemployment and dwindles government revenues.

Security is inextricably linked to our current economic crises and tackling the aforementioned successfully will likely involve resolving this precarious situation — a journey that will no doubt start with reforms of the Police as we know it, and federal (and state) policing laws.

I had the opportunity to work on public engagements for the Police Reform Bill in 2018 and at the time, it struck me that we could start to fix a string of problems we had (and still do) as a country by starting with the Nigerian Police. It is my opinion that we could have done more to capture the immediate need for reforms in police welfare for example, but I digress.

Proponents of state police say it is in line with the principles of true federalism and
decentralisation or devolution of powers, and that such an arrangement would enable our 36 states to effectively maintain law and order, especially during emergencies.

While not discounting counter-arguments of potential abuse of power by state executives, and factoring in the
rising violence across the country, I think it’s time to bring back discussions on state policing
to the fore.

If we are going to achieve everything I’ve mentioned, we’ll have to first look at the National Assembly where Senator Uba Sani has sponsored four bills to secure the decentralisation of policing in Nigeria. The bills have all successfully passed through the first reading at the Senate.

The first Bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to amongst other provisions establish State Police Force in the 36 states of the Federation, change the name of the Police Service Commission to the Federal Police Service Commission, establish the State Police Service Commission and amend the Second and Third Schedules of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

The second one is Police Service Commission Act 2001 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2020 which “seeks to repeal the Police Service Commission Act 2001 and enact the Federal Police Service Commission (Est. Etc) Bill to amongst other provisions establish a Commission which shall be charged with the discipline of all officers except in state police force and to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over any person holding office in the Nigeria Police Force (other than the inspector-general of police).

Third is the Nigerian Police Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, seeking to alter the Nigeria Police Act 2020 to amongst other provisions establish an operational structure for State Police Force in the 36 states of the Federation, change the name of the Police Service Commission to the Federal Police Service Commission, and address new issues that are not covered under the Nigeria Police Act 2020.

Finally is the State Police Service Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2020. Once enacted, the law will among other provisions seeks to establish a Commission which shall be charged with discipline of all officers except in state police force and to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over any person holding office in the State Police Force (other than the Commissioner of police).

Undoubtedly, the state police once established through the senator’s effort, will become one of the enduring legacies of Senator Uba and indeed the Buhari administration.

Uba Sani’s own senatorial district, Kaduna Central has had more than its fair share of insecurity, so it is only sensible that he would champion this cause.

An arduous journey no doubt awaits the Kaduna Senator, so kudos to him for engaging in a battle many would consider a sinking pool or threading on a path many fear to contemplate.

As a people, we should really look into a lot of the discussions brought on by last year’s protests in relation to the Nigerian Police. These include funding, training, equipment, welfare and discipline. In order to fulfil our economic potential and take advantage of the AfCFTA for the benefit of citizens, we have to roll our sleeves and do this dirty work- we the
citizens, and the officials we’ve elected to defend our interests.

As we hope for a successful passage of the bills and accent by President Buhari, I urge us all to be optimistic and rest assured that our elected officials as represented by Senator Uba Sani are doing the needful to ensure our people’s aspirations are met. For Senator Sani, it is indeed a new dawn as he stands up to be counted in this perilous time.

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