The Buhari Administration: Is Patronage Undermining Change?
By Omoshola Deji
As the four year mandate Nigerians offered President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) approaches half time, mix reactions are trailing the performance of his administration and the efficiency of his appointees.
The robust pre-election crusade that the change agenda would transform Nigeria from wilderness to paradise leaves many wondering why Nigerians should still be drowning in poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.
The Buhari apologists opine that the stern hardship is the aftereffect of the treasury looting and mismanagement by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Oppositely, the Jonathan fanatics and opposition parties orates that PMB is incompetent and his cabinet lacks the proficiency needed to revamp the economy, education, health and infrastructure. They further question whether the change PMB promised Nigerians is positive or negative.
Ignite your interest in this piece as it covers the interest of everyone, irrespective of your political opinion, social association, ethnic affiliation, economic estimation and religious devotion. Before proceeding, let’s curtail ambiguity by approving that political patronage (in-two-words-meaning) denotes – conditional support, post-election reward, unconstitutional immunity, countenancing impunity, unjust persecution, selective prosecution, vote buying, cross carpeting, partisan actions and ethno-religious favouritism.
The word ‘change’ in the theme ‘political patronage undermining change’ serves two purposes. Change connotes the PMB ‘change-agenda’ and a ‘change-in-cabinet’.
In broader terms, we are therefore exploring the extent at which political patronage is undermining the implementation of the PMB change-agenda and secondly, if political patronage is undermining a change in cabinet.
Without a doubt, if the All Progressives Congress (APC) change mantra is a saleable product, the producer’s stupendous wealth would be terribly envied by Dangote.
However, because the mantra emerged as a strategic political strategy, millions of Nigerians subscribed to it and installed Buhari; after he had failed on three attempts. These failed attempts, past leadership experience, Spartan discipline and his stance against corruption foster the selection of Buhari by the political gladiators that teamed up to establish the APC. Buhari emerged president and it soon became glaring that the political gladiators are indeed strange bedfellows.
The struggle for party control, conflicting interests and the allotment of political portfolios override the speedy kick-off of the implementation of the change agenda. The president was confused on who to work with. Cries for recognition, whispers of suggestions and songs of recommendations almost deafened his ears.
Six months after inauguration, PMB released the list of ministerial nominees and the political gladiators began to count their losses. Surprisingly, PMB jettisoned party stalwarts and appointed political inactive persons as the Chief-of-Staff and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
One of the most acknowledged election victory determinant, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was least patronized by PMB. It then dawn on the widely acclaimed political genius (Tinubu) that his input to the emergence of PMB might be a destiny-shattering political error.
Rather than select Tinubu’s nominations, PMB awarded juicy ministerial portfolios to his estranging political godsons – Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi. Many wondered why? From observers lens, PMB’s nearest and dearest feels Tinubu is best tamed at the start. They cannot risk him dictating the tunes by planting his mafias in strategic government positions like he did during Fashola’s reign as Lagos governor.
Moreover, PMB’s men most likely feel that his accomplishment, authority and reputation as the former Military Governor of Northeastern State (1975) and Borno (1976), former Federal Commissioner of Petroleum (1976-78) and former Military Head of State (1983-85) would be derided should people conceive his administration is indirectly being piloted by Tinubu, a ‘mere’ elected Senator (1993) and former Lagos State Governor (1999-2007).
Many political pundits are of the opinion that PMB exploited Tinubu and other political gladiators to emerge President. Subsequently, he (PMB) acts his mind that even though Tinubu and most of the political gladiators have never been declared guilty, they are not anti-corrupt. For this reason, PMB resolved that his anti-corruption war and change agenda would be best effected if he does not patronize Tinubu and other political gladiators like Atiku Abubakar, Abubakar Baraje and Bukola Saraki. PMB was determined not to allow patronage undermine change!
Most of the political gladiators either continue lobbying or decide to start strategizing for 2019, but Saraki was distinct. He hauled the party arrangement to emerge as Senate President. One must think twice before blaming Saraki for scoring a political own-goal. Being the son of a prominent businessman and politician, Saraki is among the few who aged seeing governing Nigeria as their birth right, hence, he can only be comfortable when he is leading and not being led.
Just when Saraki thought he has successfully allotted himself Nigeria’s third most powerful position, nemesis came knocking. If political hierarchy be considered, attempts to genuinely prosecute or intentionally sledgehammer Saraki cannot proceed without the nod of PMB. Indeed, change is here! Nigeria’s incumbent Senate President is facing false asset declaration charges in court. Most Nigerians never anticipated such! Saraki is on trial and should he be found guilty, unlike Obasanjo, his own episode would be from power to prison. This clearly points out that PMB is not willing to allow patronage undermines the implementation of his change agenda that focus strongly on fighting corruption.
Let’s now shift focus from PMB’s party men to his cabinet. Just when the war against corruption was earning national applauds and international accolades, the Shehu Sani led Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East indicted the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, for corruption.
Babachir was accused of awarding inflated contracts to firms he has strong stakes in. He was tackled with damning evidence of – awarding N223 million contract for the removal of invasive plant species; receiving deposits totalling N200 million into the account of Rhola Vision Engineering Limited (his firm) from the company that was awarded the contract; his non-resignation from Rhola Vision (RV) upon the assumption of public office and; him still being a signatory to RV’s account after he later resigned.
Lest I forget, whoever coined the term ‘invasive plant species’ as an alternative term for ‘grass’ is indeed a genius whose intellectualism is been devoured by political brigands to rob the displaced and vulnerable. A serious deliverance session is needed to navigate his intellectualism back to the path of compassionate public service.
After failing to honour the Senate’s invitation and the public awareness of the damning evidence, many thought the fear of being crushed by PMB’s anti-corruption sledgehammer would make Babachir recoil and tactfully articulate his defence. Rather, Babachir arrogantly dismissed the accusative report and declared that the Senate is “talking balderdash”. Nigerians were shocked at such display of confidence and were anxiously expecting PMB to fumigate his inner circle by suspending the SGF in order to pave way for a transparent probe and prosecution. Disappointingly, PMB failed the litmus test by skilfully absolving the SGF of any wrong doing.
If truth be told, the last time Nigerians were that disappointed was when Yakubu Aiyegbeni failed to score into an empty net at the 2010 World-Cup and when ex-president Jonathan increased the price of fuel (from N65-87) on 1 January, 2012.
PMB derided the anti-corruption war by writing a flimsy excuse to the Senate that the SGF was not granted fair hearing. Please be mindful that a Senate investigative hearing invitation was sent to Babachir and his name was listed among those invited by the Senate in the 2 December, 2016 publication of Daily Trust. Till date, Babachir is still occupying the SGF position in a government that her main qualification is anticorruption. Logically, the long-term patronage between Buhari and Babachir appears to be restricting the President from being decisive. Is patronage undermining change?
PMB has hesitate to change his corruption-tainted appointee(s) while opposing figures (like Reuben Abati, Olisah Metuh and Musiliu Obanikoro) with similar accusation and evidence are being subject to investigation, media trial, incarceration and prosecution. Before sentiment shroud your judgment, please imagine how Babachir’s case would have been handled if he served as SGF under ex-president Jonathan and such weighty evidence of corruption surfaced against him. Besides, If Femi Fani Kayode did not cross-carpet into the PDP and he successfully pilot PMB’s campaign to victory like he hoped to do for Jonathan, can you in good conscience vow that he would be answering corruption cases by now?
Let’s reason straight and retest this oppositely! Please take a moment to imagine the extent at which Rotimi Ameachi would have languished in anguish if GEJ had won the presidential election. Having imagined how miserable Amaechi’s life would have been, may I advise that you never brand a political cabal as a saint and taint the other? It is unfortunate that patronage-deciding-prosecution cut across boards, irrespective of political party.
The recent purported release of former Adamawa Governor, James Ngilari, after being found guilty of corruption and sentenced to five years imprisonment shows the extent at which patronage is fertilizing anarchy and deriding the war against corruption.
On the claim that Ngilari was terribly sick, his comrades cajoled the prison officials to illegally issue a letter recommending that he be released to seek medical attention abroad. In what appears conspiratorial, Justice Nathan Musa ordered Ngilari’s release without confirming the authenticity of the documents presented before him. Within an eye twinkle, Ngilari regained freedom without prison break, state pardon or a favorable appeal judgment. Sadly, other individuals convicted for lesser offences and awaiting trial inmates are dying of minor ailments daily, while Ngilari is been flown abroad for treatment with the public funds he stole. Is prisoner-Ngilari a special being?
Not many individuals are considering the irreparable damage Ngilari’s sleaze is inflicting on the Adamawa masses. A lot of women would have lost their lives to maternal mortality; lack of healthcare facilities would have made many families lose their loved ones to minor diseases; the non-motor-able roads would have consumed the lives of many and; unemployment would have frustrated many youths into crime. Most of this unemployed youths are not even employable because the educational system is rotten from nursery to tertiary. Imagine this horrible happenings befalling the Adamawa natives, and by extension Nigerians, because people like Ngilari have pocketed the commonwealth.
It is indisputable that Ngilari’s comrade won’t have the effrontery to commit such villainy if they don’t have the backing of prominent Nigerians and individuals within the corridors of power. Is patronage undermining change?
For how long will patronage continue to undermine change? Arise Buhari!
Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Exciting Relationship Between Women and Mobile Money in Africa
By Rashi Gupta
The success of mobile money in Africa is well known. If you’ve paid any attention to the continent’s financial and technology spaces over the past decade or so, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it accounts for around 70% of the world’s $1 trillion mobile money value.
You’d probably also be unsurprised to learn that in Kenya, the country that effectively kick-started Africa’s mobile money revolution, mobile money transactions now account for 56.8% of GDP. What you might not know is that mobile money has long played (and continues to play) an important role in empowering women across Sub-Saharan Africa.
That’s important because, despite gains in representation (in 11 African countries, women hold over a third of parliamentary seats, more than in Europe), gender inequality remains stark across Africa. While there are obviously differences from country to country, women throughout the continent fare worse than their male counterparts in a number of measures, including wages, investment, access to capital, and education.
Of course, mobile money can’t fix all of those issues on its own. That requires serious investment as well as shifts in policy and societal attitudes. But it can play a significant role in making life better for women across the continent, especially when it comes to financial inclusion.
Taking care of business
That’s not just conjecture either. Research conducted on behalf of the World Bank shows just how substantial the impact has been. It notes, for example, that mobile money has enabled Kenyan women to move away from subsistence farming and towards business and retail, helping alleviate poverty in the country.
The research further notes that, for individuals and households, mobile phones can help reduce transaction costs, lower travel costs, improve welfare by smoothing unexpected income shocks, increase security, and facilitate remittances.
Perhaps the most significant impact, however, lies in what mobile money can do for female entrepreneurs.
Using mobile money leads to a 19.8% increase in the likelihood of female-led businesses receiving investments from outside sources. Given that the average capital investment by female-owned firms is more than six times lower than the average for male-owned firms in Africa, that’s especially critical.
That same World Bank research shows that such female-owned businesses are then more likely to invest that money in fixed assets and their business’s expansion, more likely to offer credit to customers, demand credit, and have better relationships with suppliers.
A state of constant evolution
It’s also worth noting that mobile money has evolved considerably since it landed on the African continent, further enhancing its ability to empower women.
Advances in interoperability, for example, mean that it’s easier than ever for people and businesses on different mobile money systems and in different countries to send and receive money. That has massive potential benefits for female entrepreneurs as it allows them to sell their products across borders without having to rely on traditional international e-commerce infrastructure that can be costly, resource intensive, and require business owners to travel away from home on a regular basis using unsafe or unreliable modes of transportation. Unlocking new markets is vital for any business’s ability to scale and grow.
In the coming years, mobile money will continue to evolve in new and innovative ways. And if history is anything to go by, then women will embrace and benefit most from those advancements.
Breaking barriers across borders
That’s because financial inclusion is the most effective way of reducing inequalities. That’s especially true for women. And few technologies have fostered that kind of inclusion as successfully as mobile money has. It has given unbanked communities and people in remote and rural areas the kind of access to financial services that would’ve taken far longer if they’d had to rely on traditional financial institutions. The fact that it’s had such a profound and lasting impact in elevating women across the continent should, therefore, never be underestimated.
Rashi Gupta is the Group Chief Operating Officer at MFS Africa
Nigeria’s Naira Redesign; Avarice Versus Envy
By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
Two neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed to him to grant their hearts’ desires. Now the one was full of avarice, and the other ate up with envy.
So, to punish them both, Jupiter granted that each might have whatever he wished for himself, but only on condition that his neighbour had twice as much.
The Avaricious man prayed to have a room full of gold. No sooner said than done, but all his joy was turned to grief when he found that his neighbour had two rooms full of the precious metal. Then came the turn of the Envious man, who could not bear to think that his neighbour had any joy at all.
So, he prayed that he might have one of his own eyes put out, which meant his companion would become totally blind.
Vices are their own punishment.
How does the above relate to Nigeria—especially in these times? What constitutes a crisis worthy of leadership attention? At what point is enough really enough? I will write a few paragraphs’ gists with us. For better understanding, let me tutor us!
Nigeria has been facing a currency crisis for several years now. The country’s currency, the Naira, has been steadily losing value against major foreign currencies like the US dollar, Euro, and British pound. The following are some of the factors that have contributed to the currency crisis in Nigeria:
- Overdependence on oil exports: Nigeria is a major oil-producing country, and the economy heavily relies on oil exports for revenue. The fall in oil prices in recent years has led to a significant reduction in foreign exchange earnings, thereby putting pressure on the Naira.
- High inflation rate: Nigeria has been experiencing high inflation rates for several years. This has eroded the value of the Naira and made it more expensive to import goods and services.
- Weak economic fundamentals: Nigeria’s economy has been characterized by low productivity, weak infrastructure, and a poor business environment. This has led to a lack of investor confidence, which in turn has contributed to a weak Naira.
- Foreign exchange restrictions: The Nigerian government has put in place several foreign exchange restrictions in an attempt to conserve foreign exchange reserves. However, these restrictions have led to a scarcity of foreign exchange and have further weakened the Naira.
The currency crisis in Nigeria has had several negative impacts on the economy, including rising inflation, high unemployment, and low economic growth. The government has taken several measures to address the crisis, including devaluing the Naira and introducing foreign exchange policies aimed at stabilizing the currency. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of the crisis and put the economy on a sustainable growth path.
In light of these, we decided on a Naira redesign. A currency swap naturally followed it in the Nigerian context. The fact of the matter was, there was no campaign to enlighten the masses. There was no form of advocacy; the ordinary man on the streets did not know what to expect and did not understand the entire process. Who we be sef? And after all, what do we know, it came with a cash crunch… the last time Nigerians experienced this was in the 1980s. Why the naira design, we still don’t have a grasp.
A nation with no sense of emergency; maybe that’s why we don’t have any natural disasters, albeit self-inflicted floods, that can and should be avoided. We are not bothered about the crisis, the Central Bank chief went ahead with his mandatory role of redesigning the Naira notes, he did not tell the minister for finance, the ministry was left in the loop, and those in economic and national planning were not aware. The national assembly was as usual, not beyond an assembly.
We all started the blame game, the apex bank chief feeling like James Bond and others went on the defence. We were told that it was targeted at politicians who wanted to buy votes for the upcoming (now concluded) elections. The politicians played their roles, went to court, government carry government go court. Nigeria is indeed a country. Governors threatened banks, banks punished citizens. And one ponders, if indeed we are 200 million Nigerians, why should we bear the brunt of the thievery of barely 1%? Abi Nigerians politicians pass 1 million?
We are a people that just do anyhow, go anyway and in the end, nothing happens. In the interim, banks were touched in parts of the country, no one was held liable, while other parts just moved on painfully. The old notes disappeared, and the new notes were nowhere to be found. If Venezuela was picturesque, Nigeria is the reality; Nigerians were buying naira with naira, and all the authorities did was, at the best rant and dramatize.
The central bank said they had destroyed the old notes, they said the new notes were not enough or were being printed. Who is printing, and why was the printing not done first? Why reduce the old notes and not make available the new notes? We just dey play! Banks are operating at the lowest capacity; electronic banking is, at best, working in babalawo mood. The more you look, the more your eyes hurt from seeing nothing. We are possibly impossible people. The governors had alleged that contrary to the CBN defence that they had destroyed the old notes, the notes were there, and months after, we know better, the old notes are appearing, after the dance of the naked at the nation’s apex court, the old notes stay till the end of the year.
However, the damage done to small businesses and the fact that Nigerians have painfully learned the difference between cash at hand and cash at the bank cannot be quantified. For a policy that ordinarily should have enhanced the security features of the currency and prevented counterfeiting because the new Naira notes were supposed to feature new designs, images, and colours, which are meant to reflect Nigeria’s diverse cultural heritage. Counterfeiting has been on the rise, with even the ordinary Nigerian not knowing anything about the new notes, as counterfeiters are producing fake notes every day.
Public confidence in our naira is at an all-time low. We are supposed to have witnessed a reduction in transaction costs for businesses that handle cash transactions. But it has rather tripled costs, many argue that the new notes are not more durable than the old ones.
This exercise has killed the economy; all the aims for which the two neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed to him to grant their hearts’ desires, have failed because we are a nation full of avarice, and the other eaten up with envy, nothing works according to the original plan, until some interests are being served, when will it change—only time will tell!
6 Ways Google and YouTube Can Help You Celebrate Ramadan
Ramadan is a holy month that is observed by Muslims all around the world. It is a time for reflection, prayer, and community. With the help of Google and YouTube, celebrating Ramadan has become even easier and more enjoyable.
From Lagos to Nairobi, Accra to Johannesburg, Africans can access a wealth of information and resources to make the most of this special time. Here are 6 ways that Google and YouTube can help you celebrate Ramadan in Africa:
Celebrate Ramadan’s Joy with Colors and Greetings: Simply search for “Ramadan 2023” in your language on Google, and you will have access to all the information related to this month, including prayer times, recipes, and more. You can also find articles on Ramadan etiquette, Ramadan recipes, and Ramadan greetings to help you navigate the holiday with ease. Additionally, you can access greeting cards online to share with your loved ones, and scroll through our Ramadan colouring book on Google Arts & Culture to engage your inner artist and colour beautiful artwork to share with family and friends.
Set Reminders for Prayer Times with Google Assistant: With Google Assistant, you can set reminders for prayer times throughout the day, making it easier to stay on track during Ramadan. Simply ask Google Assistant to set a reminder for the next prayer time, and you’ll receive a notification when it’s time to pray. You can customise the reminders to fit your schedule so you never miss a prayer. Plus, Google Assistant can provide inspirational quotes and spiritual guidance to help you stay focused and connected during the holy month.
Shop What You See with Google Lens: By using the camera on your phone, you can search for a delicious type of dessert you’ve tried at your friend’s house, or find your next favourite decoration item to buy during Ramadan. You can open the Google app on your phone, tap on the camera icon, and use Google Lens to snap a photo or screenshot. With Google Lens, you can easily find exact or similar results to shop from or explore for inspiration.
Watch Ramadan-related videos on YouTube: YouTube is a great resource for learning more about Ramadan. You can find videos on how to prepare traditional foods, tips for fasting, and spiritual practices related to Ramadan. There are also numerous Ramadan vlogs and Ramadan routines videos, where you can follow along with the daily activities and experiences of content creators during the holy month.
Use Google Maps to Find Local Mosques and Halal Restaurants: Google Maps is a valuable tool for finding local mosques and halal restaurants during Ramadan. You can search for mosques in your area or around you and get directions to join in community prayers. You can also search for halal restaurants near you to break your fast with delicious and authentic cuisine. Additionally, Google Maps can help you navigate through unfamiliar areas when you are travelling to different cities or countries during Ramadan. With Google Maps, you can plan your Ramadan activities and explore new places with ease. Plus, you can read reviews and ratings from other users to help you make informed decisions about where to go.
Browse Our Shopping Guide for Inspiration: To help you prepare for Ramadan, Google has created a Ramadan Shopping Guide that collects trending products helpful during the holiday. When we analysed search and shopping trends, we found common themes related to home decoration, like Ramadan lanterns, which grew 20% year over year. You can browse through the guide for inspiration and find new ideas for decorating your home, preparing for Iftar, or giving gifts to your loved ones during the holiday.
We hope this Ramadan brings you and your loved ones joy — and that these tools help you find the information you need to make the most of this special time of the year.
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