Archive for June, 2015

By Prince Charles Dickson

The crocodile and alligator may look alike but they are not friends either, so also the man who planted banana and expected plantain on the premise they look alike would be disappointed.

I have in the last few weeks watched the drama by our leaders in this new dispensation, listened to my President, Mr. Buhari, and I have legitimate fears that it may well be business as usual.

Encouragingly may be the fact, that we are just starting, but in local parlance, we argue that the weekend is determined by the look of Thursday, whether it will be good, or not.

And so far the drama has not showcased much to cheer about.

And it was with this in mind I watched governors smile in a photo-shoot with the President, after their meeting—whose sole purpose was federal bailout. As many as 18 states were owing salaries of various months, and shamelessly no ex-governor is in jail, or returning governor in detention for gross mismanagement.

So, what we have yet again is the continued reoccurrence and persistence of repression through economic, political, and social-cultural means, one, which has created a nation of, traumatized and dehumanized citizenry.

Repression

Repression

The indicators are obvious that the evil ruling class refuse to see a declining economy, political instability, pervasive and entrenched dictatorial and repressive mode of governance, mass poverty and growing worsening condition of social and personal insecurity and disharmony, widespread opposition against the government, a conglomeration of geo-ethnic and parapoitic associations both sane ones and confused ones.(with emphasis at the state level).

Consequently despite doubts in many quarters about the desirability and continuing existence of Nigeria as an indivisible and dissoluble sovereign nation, we continue to soldier on.

Soldiering on, in the face of a disconnected federal system, one in which many states ate not viable on face value, or are cursed with a leadership bereft of ideas.

It’s the pathetic truth although many would emotionally argue that I am wrong, and insist that I do not have anything good to say of Nigeria, well that’s not true, the truth is that our leaders and the people in concert have decided to enslave themselves as a result of parochial interest.

I would not be party to those that believe that every Nigerian problem was a function of the “Otuekean” disaster, neither will I be party to those that are hailing, the new helmsman in his pursuit of stolen monies and all that hunt, whether witch or real.

However the current recession is one that has again exposed leadership’s confusion over where and how it wants to get to its destination, if at all it has one.

The script is predictable, soon, in our confused state, a prescription called reforms would be required, my fear being that as with previous governments, we may have nothing different from the austerity measures or SAP, which all failed, even if we anticipated success then it could not have been from reforms with no name, no definition, no direction, no duration, and no people orientation.

Already we are being prepared for the hardship in front, when indeed the austere period is with us. Will reforms again not witness a fraudulent and crooks-infested liberalization of trade, petroleum deregulation without petroleum products, and commercialization of social welfare services.

Soon, we will be ‘galaxyed’ with an array of stars called technocrats, experts and whatever in the name of Ministers, and if care is not taken, they will still negate their social contract with the people, abdicate their responsibility to recognize, protect and enhance the welfare, security and rights of the citizens.

Again we would go the road of adopting and the implementing reforms that may as usual simply inflict enormous hardship, human depravation and insecurity on the populace. The nation is progressively steeped in socio-political and economic crises and repression and the the actors at helm of affairs are busy chasing the shadow of past mistakes, while the political class walk through the valley of political permutations.

The Buhari government should avoid, treading, ruling or governing under a climate of political, legal and economic repression, although Nigeria as a nation has been repressed right from the colonial days to the days of neo-colonialism and today “Self-colonialism”, it has simply escalated in the last few months, and if this particular government is to succeed, it must run from the consolidation of economic, of politico-juristic repression to defend exploitation and power inequities.

The present reforms has made it possible for access to critical social welfare goods and service to be restricted to only the rich. The rich that can still afford it from their loot of the so-called national cake take scholarships meant for the poor.

Buhari, and the state governors, will have to run away from the tradition of expectedly finding it difficult to do to simple things, mobilizing the vast national and human resources of the nation, effecting a proper restructuring of its institutions by reorientation and mobilization of citizens towards humanistic values, productivity, efficiency social justice, welfare and open accountability.

For now, we have finished TRANSFORMATION, we are in the CHANGE era, but we still suffer the same brain drain…and Devaluation of our currency such that a mere 10,000Pounds is chasing several million Naira.

Poverty in the midst of plenty; parents now pray for their kids to fail exams because if the child passes there is no money for the next class. Because a family cannot afford good Medicare they preach excessively on the healing powers of tomatoes…forgetting that even the tomatoes have become a luxury food item, pour enough red Palm Oil on the food it would look red who needs the tomatoes, but even the Palm Oil is adulterated.

Buhari, legislators, governors and leaders need to get their act together and get it right; Nigerians cannot afford to blow the new air, and goodwill away again. As it is today we playing a repeat episode of the same old difference—empty treasury, chasing corrupt politicians, owing salaries, at the end will all these translate to CHANGE—Only time will tell

By Prince Charles Dickson

Two things that I know very well: not all smart people play chess, but no dumb person plays chess.

In the last one week, Nigerians in their usual manner has made so much noise, and this time the noise is bout how much Nigerian Legislators earn, while for me, it is not so much about what they earn. For me, it is what they do…

For me, the Nigerian National Assembly has been defined by probes, panels, committee visits and little or no result…It is in this light I admonish the 8th National Assembly.

Lazy loot?

Lazy loot?

A few years ago I questioned the Senate Leadership under David Mark, a fine gentleman and officer, full of his own share of misdemeanor, whether it being that he is a Belize citizen or he has told us that table phones are for only the rich, or he is going to some foreign land to have his tooth removed.

David Mark, is he the same that became an overnight democrat during Abacha’s time, the same Mark that was rumored to own a golf course either in Switzerland, Ireland, Idomaland, one of those lands.

One landmark achievement of his Senate leadership was passing almost half a century bills in some 10 minutes.

Now we have a Bukola Saraki, is he a symbol of Nigeria’s budding legislative process, or a man that will come and play to the gallery or remain a case of political expediency? He has dissatisfied party dictates, executed successfully a coup against Jagaban Tinubu , but will he tow Nigerian dictates?

Is he not Saraki of the Zimbabwe farmers’ fame that nothing became of it, same dude that people perishing at his annual rice sharing festival?

Is Oloye’s son…up to the task of heading Nigeria’s hallowed chambers at this trying times of the Nation? Can Saraki disappoint party at the expense of the Nation, can we point to the positives of Saraki’s career in the last 15 years…Is Saraki’s leadership of the Senate not founded on the falsehood of APC’s failed zoning arrangement or some political miscalcus of godfathers…Okay, is this foundation not a sea sand, subject to crumble?

Have we forgotten that Banana peel which Wabara played with at his own expense, same Banana if time had allowed would have consumed Nnamani, it fell Okadigbo, also Evan or Evans. David Mark lasted, will Saraki last, David Mark was the party loyalist, the systems man? Is Saraki same?

Saraki is not as unintelligent as many want to portray him. He is not unaware of his environment. If many have forgotten he once like his father vied for Presidency of this land, he is not short of sagacity needed to navigate the mud of Nigeria’s bolekaja politics.

He’s emergence as Senate President is with the PDP blessing, one, which many may allude, still has Saraki’s soul. He has been said to have Atiku’s blessing. He has visited the Ota ebora.

I am sure he is aware that Obasanjo’s blessings come with a price. Already some members of the Senate have alerted the public of a plan to rubbish the Senate President…Can an upright man be rubbished without his consent. Heading the Senate is not a task that should be taken lightly. Nigerians believe that the Present Senate has a role to play in stabilizing a polity that is going down the drain. But with the emergence of a Saraki, a lot of people are shaking their heads in concern. Is it possible that Judas won’t betray Jesus given a different scenario; can Saraki be trusted not to disappoint?

This is the eight National Assembly under this dispensation, is there hope that there would be a “SAK” difference, would Saraki and his buddies for once act as agents of progressive change, lift words from paper and translate into action? If Nigeria is to move ahead, and make progress even on a morally faulty foundation, can Saraki and the new kids on the block tighten their seat belts and drive Nigerians following the rules of the constitution, legislating with the common-man as their watch word? With almost a dozen ex-Governors that possess questionable characters, men and women with tainted glasses for images in the National Assembly, will this House under Saraki herald a new improved National Assembly with a virile leadership?

The task before Saraki is ernomous, like Buhari, his emergence again begs for answers as regard the psyche of the Nigerian Polity. Is it possible that this body would work towards the deepening and strengthening of the polity or again here comes another corrupt era? Since 1999 Nigerians cannot really point to a six months period in which we as citizens smiled or had no scandal or thievery to cry to, even our soccer, which hitherto was a source of joy, brought only tears, sorrow and anguish.

The National Assembly was a lame duck, the only conquest till date being the “third term”.

Nigerians have continually had their high hopes dashed…the National Assembly with all the notice it had. First again will embark on a three and two weeks recess respectively for lack of accommodation, the need to sought out logistic problems and again billions are being allotted to them even before they begin the task ahead…Is there hope? As much as I agree that part of Nigeria’s problem is Nigeria and Nigerians, the led and leaders, our impatience, the armchair critic…

I say with avoidance of doubt and with strong conviction that the present era, Executive, Legislative and Judiciary are again at the threshold of history. For Saraki and his National Assembly, it would be marginal success or monumental failure…

Two things that I know very well: not all smart people play chess, but no dumb person plays chess. The yam is yours, farm is yours, you have fertilizer, and best of farm implements…the reason why you would fail is because you all never wanted to succeed, so prove us wrong and please succeed.

So, whether at, Obasanjo’s Ota or Ouagadougou, no dumb person sits in the Senate but not all the smart ones are part of the process. Would Saraki succeed–Only time will tell.

By Prince Charles Dickson

This week, I decided to give my weekly column to my readers, here on this wonderful media and off course on social media.

I looked at an issue that would form the basis of evaluation if eventually this new CHANGE administration succeeds or otherwise, and that issue is corruption.

Let me quickly state that I believe that as a people, we have an adverse governance structure which in itself promotes corruption. For example it is so simple to assume that we operate federalism…but really the truth is that our system of governance is anchored on corruption and since the inception, rather than kill it, it is killing us.

Corruption has and will continue to thrive because we have power concentrated in the hand of few people who are not practically accountable to the people. So each time we fight corruption, it fights back, and it does real hard.

Despite the entire baby crawling efforts at posturing, our anatomy of corruption has continued to be further enshrined into the system because of an illiterate, apathetic and ignorant populace, without adequate public discernment of political choices. So, one minute Saraki is good, until he aspires to the post of Senate President, we recall his crimes, Tinubu is as good as godfather, but his Chicago-gate wont go. Atiku is leader and ambassador plenipotentiary, but won’t go to United States for reasons XYZ.

ghosts change

So I decided to find out what Nigerians felt about corruption, throwing it open with this true experience as narrated by my friend Ojedimi.

“A Road Safety Officer stopped me, collected bribe of N2, 000 and forgot his Blackberry Q10 inside my car. He has been calling and begging me to return his phone. He said he used his last cash to buy it and I also begged him then that the N2, 000 was my last cash but he refused vehemently.

Should I return it?

In typical Nigerian fashion, Eluemunor said that God has just blessed my N2000, while Mickeylaw called it a trade by barter.

Ifeanyi insisted that our Road safety officer should return the N2000 and pick his phone. Max added, “As a man of God, it should be returned”

For Kamal, as long as it was not mine, he asked that I return it. Banire counseled that as long as he returns my N2000, I should return his phone.

Tony felt I should make the officer suffer, allow him to beg, but ultimately return it to him.

Matt says that, as a Christian he will return it, after preaching to him and asking him to sin no more.

Tinuke counseled that I please give him the phone and let his conscience and God avenge for you. Am sure he bought the phone with all the #2000 he has been collecting from people

For Jude Owuamanam “Just give it back to him and let his conscience continue to prick him. I think he will be ashamed all through his life and if he did not pull off that uniform another disgrace awaits him and his ilk.”

Saviour Akpan believed that I give it back to him but let him understand that you are a better person than him even without the so called training and uniform. Be a good person than him.

Ikechukwu Attah reminded me that two wrongs would never make a right. Please give him back the phone and allow him to do what ever he likes. His punishment is awaiting him unless he repents

Senator Umar asked that I show him that I am a better Nigerian by returning it, and deserve to be on his job.

Ahmad expressed fury, “How on earth would he dare think of calling you after the incident.” Ruth blatantly asked that I keep the phone…in the same vein that Teddy asked, “Return what?

Phoebe Kaburuk begged that I return the phone to the ungrateful man, but ensure Boboye (the road safety boos) is there to witness the presentation.

Kuku captures it in local parlance, “No give am jare”. Rabe is even bitter, No! Tell him that he does not deserve human favor

Elyger Agwu reminded me that it was my dividend of a corrupt system. And a response by a man called Light of faith even threatened me, “If you return it, I will ‘unfriend’ you and beg amadioha to strike you.”

And Asiwaju Lanre told me I had paid for the phone now, except he wants to rebuy, and then he buys at my price

In a twist, Joe Nwankwo stated that I ask for my money with interest.

Ibrahim Hamza He should submit himself to nearest EFCC office while you submit yourself to ICPC…and near the same thought, is that of Salisu Abdullah, “You shouldn’t have given him the bribe in the first place sir.”

Hir Joseph was of the opinion that I bought the law with N2000, and had it on my side. “There is no refund. The personnel forgot his phone in your car; you have got to return it to him.”

And finally Yunusa Ya’u asked that I drop the handset at the PMB office and that he can use the N2000 to go to villa to collect it!

And this is my take, I have looked at the responses across faith, creed, and with a few exceptions, we really refuse to see the fact that I gave the Road Safety a bribe…whatever the reasons are, it is a bribe!

How many of us will report ourselves to ICPC, and take up the Road Safety Officer with the appropriate agency, Maybe Nigerians are not corrupt; they are just misunderstood—We have a fight on our hands, are we ready—Only time will tell.

By Prince Charles Dickson

Out of the US1billion dollar I got from the oil block, I have USD500 million left which I do not know what to spend it on”–Gen T.Y Danjuma (rtd).

I once watched bemused, a deaf and dumb boy who caught his mom with a stranger in bed try to narrate his mom’s act of demeanor.

When his father came home, the ‘poor’ young lad was at loss on how to communicate his discovery. After several futile attempts, the boy ceased trying. The father on the other hand patted him, walked into the bedroom and was scolding the wife, he asked her why she was sick, rolling on the bed and could not call for help from the neighbours or the family doctor?

This is a repetition of my admonition to Nigerians in 2011 when we were on the fuel subsidy magic…with the recent fuel scarcity or strike by marketers. Sooner than later we will be forced to face the music again.

What exactly is deregulation, how exactly does these subsidy thing work…I have talked to government officials, petroleum marketers, a few ‘big boys’ in NNPC, and a couple of egg heads.

oil and gas

Truth is that they do not know, or better still they know but cannot really explain it.

Former Nigerian Central Bank chief now Emir of Kano Lamido Sanusi tried, Ngozi Iweala explained, Falana disagreed, Otedola and Farouk dramatized. Nigerians demonstrated in occupational ways…Former president Jonathan reacted in un-SURE manner.

For seven years former president Obasanjo held sway as CEO of the petroleum ministry yet nothing new happened. Diezani’s highpoint remained loads of controversies true, exaggerated and false.

All the grammar whether it was remove subsidy, create SURE-P, pass PIB Bill, green or white refineries, turnaround or upside down maintenance: it all remains an inability of a system to solve a problem because a strong group of persons are benefiting from that problem. It also is an indictment reflective of the faulty planning by those in charge, that’s if they plan at all.

A simple question is how has fellow oil-producing nations successfully dealt with their petroleum needs.

A friend suggested why don’t we go to Angola, Venezuela, or Brazil and just steal their blueprint, its working for them, let’s just stop this subsidies and deregulation grammar and deceit of subsidies and duplicate their success, localize it for the collective good of Nigerians, but off course the term ‘collective good’ is an alien term to us.

No number of essays, commentaries can explain the impact of fuel, cooking oil and diesel to the economy; it’s like explaining the impact of constant electricity to national life. These are terms those in power do not seem to grasp; the reasons are way simple too…one, they have big power generating plants in their homes and offices. Two, some of them cannot really recall when last they were on a fuel queue.

The NLC died a long time ago courtesy of an Obasanjo inspired poisoning, aided by greed of those put at the helm of its activities.

Nineteen fuel price increases since 1978, five times it was reduced minimally but hiked backed almost immediately. From N8.45K in 1978 to N65 in 2009 representing an increase of almost 60,000% and the trend has continued.

In 1978 when the first increase was announced, one of the reasons given was that a majority of petroleum users were using it for pleasure, and there was a need to bring discipline into society.

Strange thinking, another reason was that as at that time, N95M was being spent a year for subsidies.

How much are we spending today on subsidies, where is this money coming from, how does this subsidy thing work, how can you deregulate when your refineries are not working.

The top echelon of the society cannot explain to Nigerians, exactly, the reason why we cannot buy fuel at an affordable price for three years in a stretch without scarcity. Not every Nigerian is a novice to the political, economic or social implications of oil pricing. However the ordinary Nigerian suffers this failure and complacency of leadership.

Just few years back, we lost a comrade in Maiduguri courtesy protesting a fuel hike.

16 years of democracy, and billions in petrol dollars earned, we cannot build a refinery, we cannot even repair or successful do 100% turn around maintenance of the ones we have.

Subsidies and deregulation means the price will ultimately fall or money will be channeled to other areas of the economy, in local parlance…’our leaders like to mumu us’. When the broadcast industry deregulated we saw the instant benefits, same applies to telecoms (although we pay some of the highest tariffs in the world) we saw and are still seeing the benefits. But once you hear same term in the petroleum sector and its sister electricity, it’s like it stands for disappearance of the commodity and when it reappears its price increases.

Who are those responsible for the billions and trillions that disappear in subsidies, who are the few that want to punish the majority? What became of Farouk and that video of dollar stuffed cap…that Dry cleaning firm that was into importing fuel…etc.

Why is it that this policy to a large population of Nigerians is simply a tightening of the screw of poverty, no massive improvement of our colonial rail system, nothing like free education or healthcare, and no social security, or unemployment benefits?
The trend remains high petrol price, weak naira, low minimum wage and increasing poverty, when one man makes a profit of USD500million just like that and questions are not asked, we will remain where we are…

Transportation fare increases, no, gas, no electricity and food prices sky rocket…a nation that has a disconnect between the ruled and its rulers, like the deaf and dumb boy, his mother, the stranger and his father.

The Buhari administration has a big task ahead…Congratulations to the team, welcome on board Nigeriana, the dinner is done, the whining,‎ and complaining won’t be an excuse…whether there are probes or probables…will it be “CHANGI-DOLE” or business as usual–Only time will tell.