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Obaseki’s Edo Citadel Of Rot, Schemes, And Deceit



By Prince Kassim Afegbua

Last weekend, the APC leadership alerted the Edo public of the fraud and underhand dealings of the Edo State government, on issues relating to the finances of the state. The issues raised bordered on corruption, financial malfeasance and the profligacy of the Governor Obaseki-led administration. Of particular mention was the furtive and suspicious acquisition process and method of the Radisson Blue Hotel; the process is thought to be fraught with bogus financial claims and charges in the name of consultancy fees. In his response, the government’s publicist parried the meat of the accusations and segued to explanations of their digital governance, diverting attention from the heist, which they claim was bona fide. It looks though like an effort to digitalise this corruption and promote opaqueness as the new normal in Obaseki’s Peoples’ Party-OPP.

Still in that rebuttal which was esoteric and rarefied, the current government identified itself as an open government buttressed by her so-called digital technology. Nothing can be more dubious and deceptive than such a ludicrous claim from a farrago of missteps who have kept their people in exercebated consternation for eight years. It is clear even to the visual impaired; they are running from pillar to post cooking up documents to explain their prodigal life. They have taken to jejune explanations, for they cannot today, point to any concrete legacy projects that can justify their humongous expenditure over the years, with added salt to our injury of over N539b debt hanging a noose on the neck of Edo state. The level of degeneration to which Governor Obaseki has plunged the state is appalling, to say the least. One wonders whether they think that Edo State citizens are a conquered lot, who have been reduced to simpletons. In its chequered ruination of the lofty heights which Edo state had hitherto attained, Governor Obaseki plundered the finances of Edo state, and is leaving citadels of rot, decay and profligacy in his trail; and we ask, why is it always a matter of “war” everytime the public demands simple accountability, probity and transparency? Is it too much to ask one’s government to make her finances and account of her stewardship open for public scrutiny, considering that the purse is the people’s collective patrimony? The harsh response in itself is curious. They act like children in the dark daunted by every object around them with the thinking that the objects are sentient and will attack them in their sleep. Obaseki and Co., we come in peace!!

Even extent to which the government prides itself of the gains of her MOUs, many of which never saw the light of the day, presents an anachronistic interpretation of a government swamped by subterfuge and cover-ups. They talk about contemporary governance with inbuilt digitalisation of their activities, yet they remain mortally frightened to simply lay the books open for all to see or grant access to them. Do you not smell a rat? Why should a government that prides itself as being in sync with contemporary discourse on open government be hiding figures and contractual obligations if the government does not have something to hide? With all the statutory allocations and palliatives collected on behalf of Edo people, how did our debt profile rise to N539b from an inherited level of N45b? Even as we cannot point at any legacy project from the eight years of the Obaseki-led administration, since when has it become out of order to demand accountability and transparency? Ingredients that are contributory to why a government is called an Open Government. Analysing all the documents at our disposal, we have come to the unassailable conclusion that Governor Obaseki has mismanaged Edo’s resources and is now trying to supplant his godson and business partner, Asuen Ighodalo to cover up his tracks.

Talking about pepping up Edo’s hospitality sector by coming up with the Radisson Blue initiative contradicts the contemporary discourse, that government has no business in business. However, would a government that cries about”paucity” of funds pay a humongous N1.6b to a firm in the name of consultancy fees for the Radisson Blue heist? Then this same firm, parades a candidate that has been globe-trotting telling Edos in the diaspora that he is running for election to salvage the state. It is obvious that the consultancy fees story was just a conduit to provide Asuen with money for elections, with the pretext that they are trying to salvage a state that they hitherto proclaimed is on the super highway of development. Does such contradiction not confirm the very issues that the APC has raised, which has drawn the ire of government and their vuvuzellas? Or is it the Agricultural development the government boasts about where the only item on its menu is her so-called investment in oil palm production; in a state that has huge arable land for rice farming around Agenebode, Anegbette, and Udaba axis? It has huge banana cultivation owned and run by private individuals in Sobe area, as the government did not explore that window to increase the stakes for more productivity. Edo is also fertile for cassava production, but the Obaseki Government chose to pay billions for consultancy with a fake interest in hotel business, where he plans to feed the guests on maybe air or very expensive imported food. As we speak today, Edo boasts of Okomu and Presco oil palm production, which are independently owned by individuals. The Sobe Maize Farm which they campaigned with in 2020 is most unkempt, overgrown with weeds and has become a habitat for kidnappers and armed bandits. Not a single Maize tree is standing on that farm.

To assess governance deficit in Edo state does not require any crystal-gazing. The rains tell it all; Benin City and its environs have come under heavy flooding and erosion. Benin City and major towns and villages in Edo state are coping with the hardship of bad roads. Health facilities are in a state of comatose. The Governor promised to provide one health centre for each local government when he was campaigning for election, I wish he would take us on a tour of these facilities. He also promised one stadium in each of the eighteen local government in the state. Not a single one has been built or commissioned. Ditto for failed Auchi Airport and the six-lane road he promised to build from Gelegele to Okpella. So, each time questions are raised about failed promises and financial profligacy, government publicists and their paymaster should just quietly hide their tails between their legs. These are just cowboys who have come to milk the state. A mere look at their visages tell the state of their hearts. What is diversionary in asking a government to be accountable and transparent in its transactions? It is a material requirement when you are dealing with public funds and the collective patrimony of Edo citizens. Why does the question elicit conflagration every time the issue is raised. Is the government saying Edo people do not deserve to know how their monies have been spent?

Let us even interrogate the government’s bogus claims about e-governance. Is there anything novel about Edo e-governance other than a mere ingenious way of upping corruption and financial malfeasance? If they have nothing to hide, they should open the books for all to see. It is the least the great people of Edo state can ask for. We are happy albeit, that the government appears confused about our tourism potentials across the state, and describes it as “nascent.” Little wonder, it has not been able to deepen and expand tourism with all the tourist sites we have in Ososo, Igarra, Somorika, Agenebode, and many other places of interest scattered all over the state. Their understanding of developing tourism is to develop schemes to rob the state; like the one to reloot the recovered artefacts from Sweden, Germany, UK and Italy, by denying the Benin Palace of being the sole custodian of the recovered artefacts. A serious government would have promoted and enhanced the sanctity of the Benin Palace, and the place of the Benin Kingdom in the historical evolution of Edo state; but Governor Obaseki, is binary- all he knows is money and no money. Every move and initiative of his hovers around monetary value for him and his cronies- the cowboys from Lagos!That is why his company, Afri-Invest has grown in leaps and bounds, while Edo state remains in utter decrepitude.

While Edo people are lamenting the deplorable state of roads, health care and education, government publicists are telling us about nebulous macro-economic intangibles that have pauperised the ordinary folks in the state with underperformance staring us in the face. Edo people are lamenting the floods and erosion, and the government’s response is that the rain will soon stop. What a twisted logic! Truly, we concede to the fact that Governor Obaseki is a “creative genius” when it comes to corruption and profligacy; an era of the more you look, the less you see kind of. But Edo people are no fools and will act decisively on 21st September. They told us Edo state has optic fibres everywhere, and that e-learning is now a new norm in a state with dilapidated school buildings begging for government’s attention. How corrupt can a government possibly be? Optic fibres, where? Governor Obaseki and his cronies should please fear God.

Be that as it may, with gratitude to God that we are akin to seeds, even when we are buried, we grow! Now is the time to insist that our democratically elected Governor
must be someone that is of the people, elected by the people, and FOR THE PEOPLE. Any of the candidates who has not in his trajectory and antecedents showed interest in his people at the local level or state level, we dare say is HIGH RISK. Most of the contestants are just cowboys who can smell money in the hole; but Senator Monday Okpebholo is different. He is the right man for the office. For many years he has showed active interest in Edo development even in his capacity and small place as a private citizen; to the extent of applying his personal resources repeatedly to help develop Edo. It goes to show his ingenuousness, and how altruistic his intentions are. Edo state has been failed and it is obvious for us all to see. The roads are bad, the hospitals have become mere dispensaries, and the people are anxious once the clouds are unfurled; the schools are in bad shape. The anger in the land is palpable. Every other Edo man and woman is praying to God for 21st September to come at the speed of light, so they can get rid of Governor Obaseki and his annointed godson with their thumbs. We are in a hurry to see the exit of Governor Obaseki and his excesses. Senator Monday Okpebholo has more than what is required to retrieve Edo’s lost glory and when it’s down to the wire, we will join hands with him and Edo people, to sing a new song of Edo Rising Again. Come 21st September, VOTE FOR SENATOR MONDAY OKPEBHOLO; YOU WILL BE VOTING FOR PEACE, PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY.



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Why Governors Should Align With President Tinubu On LG Autonomy



By Tunde Rahman

Governors have been acting tongue-in-cheek in their reactions to last Thursday’s verdict of the Supreme Court, which stripped them of their suffocating grip over the money meant for local governments in the country. As a collective, the governors unreservedly endorsed the judgement. Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Kwara State Governor, AbdulRazak AbdulRahman, who spoke on behalf of the governors, said the forum welcomed the apex court’s ruling granting financial autonomy to the councils, describing the verdict as a relief from the burden on the governors. Addressing State House Correspondents on the matter after a meeting with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday, Governor AbdulRazak was flanked by the Chairman of All Progressives Congress Governors’ Forum, Hope Uzodimma, and Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum, Dr Bala Mohammed, suggesting they were all in agreement with Governor AbdulRasak in his pronouncement.

“Our Attorney-General has applied for the enrolment order, which we will study carefully. But by and large, governors are happy with the devolution of power in respect of local government autonomy. It relieves the burden on governors. Our people really don’t know how much states expend in bailing out local governments, and that’s the issue there,” Governor AbdulRasak said, adding that his government in Kwara State had never tampered with local government funds.

However, it was learnt that the governors were not happy with the decision of the federal government to take them to court and are merely playing to the gallery. For instance, a few days after the NGF Chairman spoke, Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, who is of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, described the case as a distraction. He questioned the sustainability of local governments receiving allocations from the federal government. Speaking with members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Ibadan, Oyo State, the governor said: “They said there is a judgment of the Supreme Court on local government autonomy. I think it is just a distraction. We must face the real issue that we have. The issue that we have is that we are not producing enough. We are not productive. Maybe it may be part of the problem, we want to have value for what is being shared but our problem is productivity.”

It may be argued that it is customary in our clime for an opposition governor to toe a different path from that of the President from a different party and this may be correct. However, the opposition of state governors to local council financial autonomy has never been in doubt. It has always been vainly concealed. In a report in The Punch newspaper of January 25, 2023, state houses of assemblies across Nigeria had rejected nine constitutional amendment bills, including the proposed legislation for financial and administrative autonomy for local government councils. The state assemblies were believed to have done so at the promptings of their governors who exert considerable influence over legislative processes at the state level. The rejected bills were part of the bills that the National Assembly transmitted to them for concurrence. The National Assembly had in March 2022, voted on 68 bills aimed at further amending the 1999 Constitution. At the end of the exercise, 44 of the bills were approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and transmitted to the state assemblies for concurrence. A simple majority of votes was required in at least two-thirds of state assemblies (24 out of 36) for the amendments to sail through and the amendments that sail through would then be sent to the President for assent.

The Senate, in a motion by the then Chairman of the Senate ad-hoc committee on Constitution Review, Ovie Omo-Agege, said during plenary that 27 out of the 36 state assemblies had forwarded their resolutions on the constitution amendment bills to the National Assembly. Presenting his committee report, Omo-Agege said 35 bills satisfied constitutional provision, having been approved by not less than 24 state assemblies. Nine bills could not scale through. Prominent among the bills voted against by the state parliaments was the one seeking to grant financial and administrative autonomy to the country’s local governments. Also among the bills that did not sail through are the ones seeking the abrogation of state-local government joint account and establishment of local government as a tier of government, meaning a majority of the state assemblies, and by extension the governors, never wanted local governments to have absolute freedom.

It’s perhaps in realisation of this, and the overarching need for local governments to be financially empowered to cater to the challenges at the grassroots that President Tinubu took upon himself the crusade for financial autonomy for the local governments. He mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, to institute a case against the governors at the Supreme Court. This is with a view to reinforcing democratic principles through full financial powers and effective devolution of power to the councils and ensuring genuine representation at the grassroots through periodic elections.

In the suit, the FG sought the enforcement of full autonomy of local governments in Nigeria and also for an order prohibiting state governors from embarking on unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically-elected local government chairmen, and constituting caretaker committees in their place. It also asked the court to make an order permitting the funds meant for the LGs to be directly channelled to them from the Federation Account in line with the provisions of the constitution as against how the governors take advantage of Section 162 (6) at the detriment of the local governments.

The Supreme Court’s verdict was very emphatic and unequivocal. All the reliefs sought by the FG were granted. The apex court ordered direct payment of council allocations, saying the 774 local councils in the federation should manage their funds without interference or deduction from any quarter. According to the apex court, it is unconstitutional for state governors to retain and utilise LG statutory allocations paid through them. The seven-man panel of the court led by Justice Emmanuel Agim also declared that a state has no power to appoint a caretaker committee, while it is mandatory for a local government council to be democratically governed.
“In this case since paying them through states has not worked, the justice of this case demands that the local government allocations from the Federation Account should henceforth be paid directly to the LG councils,” the apex court ruled. On the dissolution of democratically elected councils and appointments of caretaker committees by governors, Justice Agim held that it is a mandatory duty of the state governments or governors, under Section 7 (1) of the Constitution, to ensure their existence. “A democratically-elected local government is sacrosanct and non-negotiable,” the court added.

This landmark judgment is a critical step forward. It has now become imperative for the governors to file behind President Tinubu in ensuring that local councils become an independent and self-governing tier of government. The governors’ buy-in is important because when the chips are down, the state chief executives will still play an influential role in the election of local government chairmen. The governors must understand that to ensure genuine grassroots development and further strengthen our democracy, the local governments must be empowered financially.
This is part of the democratic re-engineering and restructuring the nation yearns for.

Indeed, not a few Nigerians are looking forward to the restructuring of the country under this president, given his antecedents. Apart from his numerous struggles for the entrenchment of democracy in the land, even as governor (1999-2007), he fought many battles with then President Olusegun Obasanjo on matters bordering on true federalism. Many would recall the issue of creation of 37 additional local governments in Lagos State during which he dragged the Federal Government to Supreme Court when President Obasanjo stopped the federal allocation to the state. In its ruling, the Supreme Court okayed the process leading to the creation of the councils and described the creation of the 37 new councils as legal, but declared them as inchoate because they had not been listed in the constitution as LGAs. Asíwájú Tinubu’s ingenuity came to play with the new councils becoming Local Council Development Areas. Today, these LCDAs have helped to expand the frontiers of development in Lagos.

There is also the matter of ownership of lands and granting of development plans in the states. Asiwaju Tinubu as Lagos governor filed a case at the Supreme Court to determine who had the power to control urban and regional planning in a state. Two of the issues determined were: whether the ownership rights of the federal Government over land in state territories include the power to control and regulate town planning and physical development in relation to such land. And, whether all approvals, permits, and licences granted by the 1st defendant (federal government) or any of its agencies for any construction, building or physical development, or use of land in Lagos without the consent of the plaintiff are not illegal, null, and void. The Supreme Court granted the states power to grant building approvals and other development plans in the states where such federally-acquired lands are domiciled while not denying the federal government the right to also acquire lands in the states.

For President Tinubu, restructuring has indeed begun. The President has been working to reinforce existing laws, promoting their judicial interpretation and, in some cases, outright amendments in a bid to strengthen democracy and engender fiscal federalism. It is a measure of his commitment to restructuring that one of the first bills he signed into law as the country’s President was the Electricity Act 2023, which he signed on June 6, 2023, barely eighth day in office, marking a significant milestone in the sector. The new law focuses on enhancing the regulation and management of the electricity value chain with the active participation of the sub-national governments. This, thus far, has resulted in the process of devolution of regulatory powers to three states – Enugu, Ekiti, and Ondo – to set up their electricity markets.

Importantly, the Nigerian Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform Committee led by Mr. Taiwo Oyedele is still busy working on comprehensive tax reforms, including reforms to the country’s value-added tax (VAT) and other taxes that will restructure the system and further advance fiscal federalism in the end.

Back to the issue of LG autonomy. There is still more work to be done. Like the state governors, the National Assembly must take concrete legislative actions to support the vision. The laws governing local government elections must be reworked to transfer the responsibility of conducting these elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission as opposed to the state independent electoral authorities, which are only independent in name. This legislative initiative is crucial to eliminating the undue influence of state governors over the local government election process and ensuring the integrity of the polls. This change will be a significant move in complementing President Tinubu and Supreme Court’s efforts towards achieving genuine local government autonomy and enhancing democratic governance in Nigeria.

Speaking when he hosted some Yoruba elders on April 16, 2024 at the Presidential Villa, President Tinubu had pointed out that the matter of restructuring would be systematic, saying when the economy is properly on a firm footing, steps would be taken on restructuring so that it will be on a solid footing. “As I said in Akure, our approach to it would be as if a baby is learning how to walk. If the baby is rushed, it will fall,” he had said.

-Rahman is a Senior Presidential Aide


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When The Police Is Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place



By Ahmad Samad

On June 12, Nigeria celebrated the 25th anniversary of her democracy, marking a significant milestone for the world’s most populous black nation. This achievement underscores Nigeria’s consistent commitment to maintaining a democratic system of government over the past two and a half decades.

The robustness of any democracy is reflected in the stability and functionality of its three major branches of government: the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature. In Nigeria, the interplay between these branches of government has not metamorphosised into the expected maturity of a 25-year-old.

Unfortunately, the administration of President Tinubu has faced numerous challenges, highlighting that Nigeria’s democracy still has considerable progress. The ongoing crises in Kano and Rivers states exemplify the difficulties along this path.

Rivers state, in particular, has become a battleground due to the ongoing conflict between Nyesom Wike, the former governor, and Siminalayi Fubara, his handpicked successor. This open war has turned the state into a zone of political turmoil, reflecting the broader struggles within Nigeria’s democratic landscape.

Additionally, the power tussle in Kano, where certain politicians seem intent on exploiting the Emirate case to undermine the judiciary and provoke political crises, exacerbates the situation. The enactment of a new emirate law to dethrone Emir Ado-Bayero and enthrone Emir Sanusi II, along with the numerous court actions that followed, clearly jeopardizes the stability of the nation’s political landscape.

In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Tukur versus the Governor of Gongola state that the federal high court lacked jurisdiction over chieftaincy matters. Given this precedent, concerned Nigerians are questioning how the federal high court in Kano assumed jurisdiction to rule in the current case, raising significant legal and constitutional queries.

Amidst the ongoing turmoil, maintaining law and order must have posed a significant challenge for the police. The Commissioners of Police in Rivers and Kano states find themselves amidst a challenging situation, navigating a landscape fraught with conflicting court rulings and the actions of political supporters and sympathisers of the ruling elites. This situation places them in a precarious position, torn between upholding legal mandates and maintaining public order in a highly charged political environment.

Nigerians frequently criticise the police for perceived ethical lapses and unprofessional conduct in their duties. However, this criticism overlooks the critical lack of essential resources and support systems for effective policing that ensures the safety of lives and property. Despite these challenges, both police commissioners in Kano and Rivers have demonstrated exceptional maturity, maintaining a commendable level of neutrality and professionalism amidst the unrest in both states.

In 2004, I recall the tragic ordeal of the late Raphael Ige, an Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, who became entangled in a fierce political feud that ultimately devastated his career, allegedly leading to his declining health and eventual death. This conflict arose during the intense political battle between Chris Uba, a political godfather, and Chris Ngige, the former governor of Anambra state. The turmoil highlighted the profound challenges faced by law enforcement officials caught in the crossfires of political struggle.

The late AIG Ige obeyed an unlawful “order from above,” allowing himself to be used by political figures in Anambra. According to a report by Vanguard Newspaper, AIG Ige effectively emptied the Zone 9 headquarters of police personnel for the operation to arrest Chris Ngige, a sitting governor.

Former Governor Chris Ngige recounted the chaotic events leading to his arrest. He described how his ADC was pushed out and how he saw Ige and an armed deputy superintendent of police (DSP) in the anteroom. Ige, dressed in civilian clothes, did not offer the customary salute, indicating that something was amiss.

Ige instructed Ngige to stop working, following orders from “high up”. When Ngige questioned the legitimacy of these instructions, Ige insisted he refrain from using the phone, although Ngige managed to take a call from the state director of SSS. Ngige also recounted how he refused to sign the forged resignation letters Ige presented. He stood his ground despite being pressured and threatened, arguing that the letters were not authentic.

I hope that Tunji Disu, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, will remain neutral and professional in performing his duties. Also, the immediate past Commissioner of Police for Kano, Husaini Gumel, recently promoted to AIG, should be applauded for managing the Kano crisis and preventing a total breakdown of law and order in the state.

The newly appointed Commissioner of Police in Kano, Salman Dogo Garba, should also maintain professionalism and neutrality amid the emirate disputes in the ancient city of Kano. Security chiefs in both states should learn from the late AIG Ige’s example, as the judiciary and executive continue to conflict with each other, creating challenging situations for the police force in maintaining peace and order.

Ahmad Samad wrote in from Katsina


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African Growth And Burden Of Identity Crisis



By Wole Olujobi

The two video clips currently trending online featuring the ruins of the presidential palace of the late President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and arms build-up in Burkina Faso (allegedly of Chinese and Russian origins) intrigue me to no end, drawing old memories of misfortunes that Africans had had to endure in the process of searching for political and economic models that best served the development goals of the peoples of Africa.

Unfortunately, decades after military regimes became anachronistic worldwide, some parts of Africa are still plagued with the leaders that are either in full military gear or are in the civilian garbs but with the regimental mentality of combatants that belch orders and speak with their cudgels and horsewhips to exert the force and authority of their offices.

In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, for instance, the musket is laughing to scorn the tranquil essence of the ballot in the northern horn of West Africa where the military fatigue draped and cultured in monologue is drowning the primacy of popular debates that hallmark representative govenance.

For the hapless people forced to accept the terror of the guns as their fate by their leaders who in an unrepresentative capacity determine their destinies, living in fear of the guns is far better than perish in the cross fires by the opportunist competitors in armed conflict for power to serve their fancies.

It is safe to surmise that African socio-economic malaise has always been woven around the quality of leadership that steers the continent’s ship of state, which has often forced a cynicism that the foundational crisis that has caused dislocations in the primary model of survival in Africa seems to be eternal in nature, and this can be located in the crisis of identity after the infiltration of borrowed cultures into the continent.

Egypt’s modernity and superior science lost the innocence of her pyramid technology identity to the armed foreign invaders led by Octavius Augustus of Rome. The Libyans succumbed to the Yankees’ tricks and rebelled against Moaman Ghaddafi; and from their dainty tables at lunch, Libyans today make do with crumbs as scavengers in a country that once turned a desert to the oasis of development and good living. Other sections of the African societies suffered the same fate.

Earliest African elites and critics called the morals of such despicable culture ‘the economic exploitation and cultural enslavement’ that alienated the locals from the exploration, exploitation and domestication of the factors of production for the benefit of the people.

Yet the misguided educated elites of the time seemed not to know their time. They looked at the time, beguiled the time and couldn’t harness the fortunes of the time, ending up in the despoilation of their aspirations for prosperous future.

Buffeted by the harsh and gripping realities of their times marked by slide in the fortunes of African growth and development occasioned by colonialism and its associated evils, African foremost revisionist authors in literary production had sought to contextualise the growth agenda hiccups of the era, blaming the social ills associated with human factor at the heart of the crisis of identity that had plagued the leadership’s vision to drive quality development missions to save African peoples from the pangs of want.

To these authors, African leaders went through education but education never went through them to discover or rediscover themselves; the ailment that compounded the crisis of identity which continued to stalk all Africa’s growth initiatives over the years.

Ghana’s Ayi Kwei Arma in his book ‘Why Are We So Blest’ discovers a disturbing truth: the African educational process is the mechanism for recruiting the neocolonial elite riding high at the expense of the wretched of the earth.

Also in his another book ‘The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, the same author depicts the post-colonial era in Ghana where corruption is the norm.

Kenya’s Ngugi Wa Thiogo’s ‘Petals of Blood’ deals with social and economic problems in East Africa after independence, particularly the continued exploitation of the peasants and workers by foreign business interests and a greedy indigenous bourgeoisie.

Yambo Ouologuem in his book ‘Bound To Violence’ was more violent in his deconstructionist transcription of the realities in his country Mali in West Africa by contextualising the engrossing and tragic tales spanning the thirteenth to the twentieth century in the dynasty of the Saïfs who reigned there as devious masters with the vivid descriptions of the brutality of local rulers and the slave trade.

Ouologuem’s biting satire also paints a universally relevant portraiture of violence and power in human relationships, the reality that still haunts in today’s totalitarian Colonel Assimi Goita’s Mali.

In his reaction to the complex malaise of the time, another Ghanaian writer, Kobina Sekyi, in his book ‘The Blinkards’ paints a picture of an African boy who was brought up to become an aficionado of European mannerisms, while shunning African culture. Following this path and by his hard work he got a scholarship to London where he studied Law. Whilst there, he realised that London was not all that they say it is. Thus, the verdict is that foreign sensibilities are stark nightmares to the African realities. And in the world driven by quest for survival that promotes general good for the people, idealism is one thing, realism the other.

In the struggle for idealistic living in the competing interests that divide the world, we have seen leaders of countries in their ideal for sovereign magnificence turned their countries into servile states to serve their personal interests and that of their overbearing compradors. The sad reality is that nothing has changed in spite of vivid pretensions.

This we have seen in South Africa where former President Jacob Zuma, a foremost freedom fighter, was jailed over allegation of corruption and obstruction of justice.

Though an apostle of non-violence, freedom fighter President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, later turned a dictator. Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and President Idi Amin of Uganda became monsters terrorising their people even as they built astounding fortunes for themselves inland and abroad, so much so that some European countries that were less endowed than these countries now rank the fastest growing countries of the world because their leaders see the destinies of their countries as the collective destinies of their people as against the dictators and corrupt leaders who see their personal destinies as the collective destinies of their people.

For effect, it was estimated that more than three million people were killed; those who survived were left to struggle with homelessness, starvation, and disease when Sese Seko, leveraging the support by the America CIA against Russian influence in Zaire, turned his guns against his own people while mindlessly looting the country dry. Same for several other leaders. Today, Mobutu’s most expensive presidential palace in African history that cost his country fortunes is in ruins and inhabited by rodents and reptiles as revealed in the video.

In the.scrambles for capital and political control, most of other military African freedom fighters have long abandoned military discipline and liberty creed for politics, which, according to Chief Afe Babalola, is the most lucrative business in the continent. And what do they dispense to the people they purport to be their voices in politics if not tokenism?

And so from a humble background of militaty discipline that scorns acquisitive instincts, they become upstarts, abandoning the principles of proletarian pretensions in which they were dubiously cloaked, to build real estates in regional capitals of the world, live in opulence and move around in posh cars while misery is writ large on the faces of the people they purport to fight for and on whose behalf they climb to the positions of authority in government as can be gleaned from Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka’s “A Play of Giants”; the satirical dramatic production that brings together three great dictators of Africa, ruthless in their demonstration of power, boast of their glory and how innocent people lie grovelling at their mercy.

Besides, several other African countries have also lost focus and fortunes over foreign interference in their lives that profited few misguided locals, for instance, Libya; unlike a few other countries, such as Botswana and Rwanda (with 8.2 per cent growth in 2022), that are now building their economies from the alienation of the past to a true capacity founded on patriotism and local needs to build virile nations for their people to make progress.

Conversely in other parts of Africa, contemporary system failures, such as elevation of ethnic nationalism and solidarity over and above merit and standard, including corruption, have all coalesced to mount a road block against development.

In West Africa in particular, the trending regional gun and garrison alliance and solidarity in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic at the risk of economic isolation by the world governed by democratic ethos reminds us of Wole Soyinka’s “A Play of Giants’, which highlights the personal egos of the military rulers, who, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, set for their people the standards they won’t personally embrace, including turning their bayonets on the heads of their people to terrorise them, as citizens become “casualties of freedom”.

In one sorry moment of human tragedy in Africa, Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire) moved from the riches of cocoa to the ruins of Cocody, as Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, while seeking self-glorification, ignited a smouldering cauldron that incinerated the once prosperous, beautiful and sprawling Cocody city, which Prof Adebayo Williams in his sizzling essay described as a metaphor for human tsunami.

Today, Africa’s latest axis of evil (Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso) notoriously famed as the terrorism capital of West Africa allegedly fueled by foreign interest, presents a worrying alliance that threatens to isolate the people of that region of Africa from the economic federalism that drives and shapes the universal welfare agenda of the people of the world.

Their leaders: Colonel Assimi Goïta of Mali, Captain Ibrahim Traore of Burkina Faso and Niger Republic’s General Abdourahamane Tchiani, heavily backed by Russia and China, and evidently African pretenders to the thrones of Otto Von Bismarck and Cyrus the Great, and caricature of Moamar Ghadaffi of Libya, never represent the Africa’s great hopes and aspirations for development.

At best, they represent the grotesque totems of redemption that worship and serve themselves. And this the Burkinabe leader demonstrated recently when he pronounced five more years for himself on the throne before the citizens of Burkina Faso could vote to have a government of their choice, even as poverty ravages the country with the despondent young people braving the ocean in their stowaway bids to escape to Europe.

For Captain Traore of Burkina Faso who is building an unprecedented arms stockpiles as revealed in the trending video, the totalitarianisation of the guns is far better than the democratisation of the ballot! And in him, a Ghadaffi is dead; for while the former Libyan leader had a vision and mission to grow his country according to her needs while sacrificing self-interest, foreign interest drives these new African belligerent states to their isolationist agenda to alienate their people from the world’s universal economic agenda.

Even as the scars of colonialism are still fresh and festering in Africa, for these soldiers of fortunes, self-serving agenda is nobler than universal governance agenda for collective prosperity; all driven by capitulation to foreign interest that holds no promise for their despondent people.

Meanwhile, Niger’s junta has confirmed that rebels damaged an oil pipeline carrying crude oil to neighbouring Benin Republic. The Patriotic Liberation Front, which is fighting for the release of former President Mohamed Bazoum, who was overthrown in a coup last July, said it was behind the attack. The rebels threatened to continue the attacks on the pipelines run by the Chinese companies until China withdraws support for the junta that sacked the democratically elected government of President Bazoum on July 26, 2023.

And in Mali, Col Goita has jailed 10 opponents of the ruling military junta, including leading opposition politicians, for demanding a return to civilian rule. Those in the junta’s gulag include the heads of parties, groups and former Justice Minister Mohamed Ali Bathily, who signed a March declaration urging the restoration of democracy. They were accused of illegal gatherings and plotting against the “legal authorities.

For the Libyans, they don’t need any historian to remind them about their immediate past and their present sordid condition, particularly the misfortunes that have befallen them after a blissful run under Ghadaffi’s benevolent leadership care in Tripoli.

Though a dictator, Ghadaffi was steadfast in his belief in the Libyan identity, which he deployed to make Libya a great nation in Africa before Libyans were misled into their current misfortune by foreign interest, the effects of which have spilled over to some parts of Africa, including Nigeria, where terrorism arising from the proliferation of lethal weapons from Libya’s conflagration now thrives.

Today, the three burdensome African states that can scarcely survive without their neighbours in the West Africa sub-region are seeking expansion of their terrorist bloc by asking other West African countries to join their misery train oiled by foreign interests that thrive on economic exploitation and political slavery to deepen Africa’s identity crisis that has stunted the continent’s growth over the years.

This is a new twist to the misfortunes of the African people in the context whereby individual interests of the ambitious soldiers are cloned to represent the collective aspirations of the generality of the people, all scented in foreign interest to compound the gripping and nightmarish conditions of the 21 century into which Africans have been sentenced.

All this ill-motivated crisis of identity that alienates state’s operators from the sensibilities that drive their people’s agenda for growth only profits the characters driving the agenda against the good of their people!

The question now arises: how long will Africa continue to wallow in this disillusionment arising from the crisis of identity fueled by foreign interests and corrupt lifestyles that have become the Bible of some African leaders and which have plagued the continent’s growth and development over the years?

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the leader of the West Africa bloc, must double his efforts to ensure that the sub-region does not slide into dictatorship again. He must not allow West Africa to become foreign arms dumps for ideological war between colonial masters contesting the control of the world.The relics of dictatorial regimes in Africa are so gripping and scary to be embraced, so much so that the sub-region cannot afford to play the game of chance with the destinies of the people desperately in need of salvation that the world’s democratic governance guarantees. African communal ethos nurtured by representative governance must triumph over gun-point foreign imperial capitalist agenda that serves only its promoters.

* Olujobi, a journalist and Commissioner in Ekiti State Local Government Service Commission, writes from Ado-Ekiti


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