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By Femi Adesina

For the second time in the life of this administration, President Muhammadu Buhari visited Ebonyi State last week, commissioned landmark projects, and equally passed the night. Rare, very rare on visits to States.

The President has 36 Governors to relate with, and possibly contend with. Political party would not matter, as he is the father of all. And good fathers, they say, should not like a child more than the other. Even if they do, they should not show it, for the sake of domestic concord and amity.

But I can wager that this President loves Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State. Why and how? We will come to that later.

Landing at Akanu Ibiam International Airport in the Presidential jet Nigerian Air Force 001, we continued the trip to Ebonyi in helicopters. And we entered the State through Osborn La Palm Event Centre, Uburu, in Ohaozara Local Government Area, where the Governor hails from. The man has made sure that development reached his own very community, and copiously too.

From there, we proceeded to the King David University of Medical Sciences, Uburu, built by the State Government. I had last December written on the state of the art university, with ultra-modern facilities. You wonder how a state like Ebonyi, not earning derivation from oil money, could put up such a showpiece. It is one of the wonders of David Umahi in Ebonyi.

Very significant to me was something that happened as our convoy snaked its way towards the university. About five boys, most likely between ages 3 and 5, stood by the roadside, and were waving at us cheerily. Two of them didn’t wear knickers, and you could see their tiny ‘things’ peeping from in between their thighs. They didn’t care a hoot if anybody was looking at them. They were happy to see the motorcade, and nothing else mattered in the whole world. They kept waving delightfully till we went out of their sight.

Childhood. Innocence. No bile, no guile, no malice. Those boys obviously knew nothing called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Nor do they know the Eastern Security Network (ESN). They were just creations of God with pure souls, no murderous inclinations, no corroding thoughts of marginalization, real or imagined.

Oh, that mankind could return to the original way in which we were created. What Heaven this earth would be. Make me like a child again. Make me gentle and trusting. Let little children come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God. The world as God made it is one thing, and the world as man mars it is another thing. May those boys maintain the kind of heart they displayed, for life. Amen.

In that neighborhood, President Buhari commissioned twin flyover bridges, 12 kilometers dualized Federal road from Mbu, Enugu State to Uburu, Ebonyi State. And then the eye-popping university building, facilities and equipment.

Also inaugurated that day were the International Airport at Onueke, including the Airport lounge and five kilometers dualized road. Others were a new Governor’s Lodge, office complex for the Governor’s wife, Margaret Umahi International Market Complex, the wondrous Light Tunnel Flyover, and Ebonyi Shopping Mall, which compares with any other you see in other developed countries of the world.

So delighted was President Buhari with all he saw, that he declared: “It has always been a pleasure coming to Ebonyi State. The last time I came was in 2017 in the 2nd quarter of the first tenure of Governor Umahi’s administration. I witnessed the commencement of mind blowing projects. I saw in Governor Umahi a strong desire to change the narrative of the State, and meet the aspirations of the founding fathers.”

The President, at a State Banquet that night recalled that he was given two traditional titles in 2017. The Enyioha 1 of Ebonyi State, and Ochioha 1 of South East.

On day two of the visit, President Buhari commissioned another befitting edifice, the new Executive Council Chambers, where he also held a meeting with illustrious leaders of the South East.

Now, to the crux of the matter. Why does the President love this Governor, so much so that he has paid two State Visits, and passed the night at both times?

Governor Umahi loves and serves his people, and that is evidenced in how he has changed the face and landscape of the State. Old, rustic Abakaliki has suddenly become like any other modern city of the world. President Buhari loves infrastructural development, as seen in roads, rail, bridges, airports, and many others round the country. He sees Umahi doing the same thing, and he just loves it. At the time Umahi was still in the opposition People’s Democratic Party, it didn’t stop the President loving him.

Umahi is forthright. No beating about the bush. At a time he saw that it was more in the interest of his people and State to be in the party at the center, he joined the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Said the President: “I am honored that in the life of my administration, Ebonyi State Government and her people made the right choice to join our progressive party, APC. I commend the Governor for the courage to join the party at the center, and for all his contributions in moving our nation forward.”

For the courage he displays, the President loves Umahi.

Another reason. For touching the lives of the people through his projects and policies. Hear the President again:

“You have done your people proud. I am particularly amazed by the economic development records of the State under your administration, the wonderful network of roads, critical infrastructure and investment opportunities in the State. ..I commend the State for emerging as the second overall best in fiscal performance in Nigeria and for soaring high in fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability in the use of public resources.”

Touch the lives of the people. Utilize their money and resources to improve their lot, and Buhari would love you. That is why he loves Umahi.

Umahi got nearly everything he requested for. He asked the Federal Government to take over the University of Medical Sciences, the President acceded. He asked for assistance to buy Airport equipment, the President promised to look into it. He named a number of projects after a normally self-effacing President Buhari, whom I’ve seen turn down such requests, but the President said yes to Umahi. Greater love hath no man than this...

At the meeting with leaders of the South East, two requests resonated. The release of leader of the outlawed IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, and the ceding of power to the region, so that there could be a President of South East extraction in 2023.

On the first request, the President maintained a position he had always upheld. The case was before the courts, and the onus was on the judiciary to adjudicate. The second request was purely political, and rested with the political parties, who would decide where their candidates for President came from.

Serve the people selflessly. Touch their lives. Achieve results. Be accountable, transparent, make the best use of resources at your disposal. Be frank, sincere, truthful, having the courage of your conviction. And President Buhari would love you. That’s how it is with Governor Umahi.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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By Femi Adesina

The Yoruba people of South-west Nigeria have a saying: when a child rejects instructions at home, it is from outside that such child is trained.

And that was exactly what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday, this week, when United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres visited Nigeria as part of a three nations African tour. He said it was “a visit of solidarity with all Nigerians, particularly the victims of terrorism.”

The UN Scribe was visiting Nigeria for the first time, and he had probably fallen for the antics of the Western media, and some unpatriotic Nigerians who have nothing good to say about their own country. They even visit the UN and parliaments of leading countries of the world, to de-market Nigeria.

Gutteres had probably thought he was coming to a country where hopelessness and despondency were order of the day. He started from Maiduguri, Borno State, once the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency in the country. When he saw what the Muhammadu Buhari administration, in conjunction with the Babagana Zulum government had done, he had a quick rethink.

At a meeting with President Buhari on Wednesday afternoon in Abuja, he declared: “I was extremely surprised. The image that exists is of a hopeless situation. But what I saw was a Borno of hope.”

I chuckled as the international public servant expressed his consternation. He said he visited a centre where former Boko Haram fighters were being rehabilitated, and also camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“It is necessary to provide a vision of the future for the people. Vision of jobs, schools, health institutions, and the like. And that was what was being done. It is a remarkably wise and well conceived strategy.”

But the naysayers, the wailing wailers, always say President Buhari has not achieved anything in the country. They see roads, rail, bridges, airports, but they say he’s not doing anything. Well, like the contumacious child, who refused to take instructions at home, an outsider has come to tell them the home truth.

They say Nigeria is good for nothing. Gutteres says the country “is a pillar of continental and global cooperation-and a steadfast partner of the United Nations.” He added: “Nigeria is a country where Africa’s promise and potential come to vivid life.”

That is the same country that a clergyman, who should inspire hope and faith, says has been broken, completely destroyed and thrown to the dustbin. Well, when a child refuses to take instructions from home...

The UN scribe said Nigerians were fantastic people, and the country has “solid institutions, and a vibrant private sector.” But that is not what some ever cynical Nigerians say about their country, and that is not the picture they go abroad to paint of their country. Shame, I say again; shame.

President Buhari said Boko Haram was the major security challenge his administration inherited in 2015. “They will kill people, and shout ‘Allah Akbar,’ (meaning God is great). But when you do that it is either you do not know that God, or you are being stupid. God is justice, and you can’t take an innocent soul, and say God is great.

“We began to educate the people, and gradually, they understood that Boko Haram was not about religion. The group is largely decimated today, and government is trying to resettle the people. We are trying to get them back to the land, and things will get better in the near future.”

Yet they say Buhari hasn’t achieved anything. When your adversary sees your robust horse, standing in all its grandeur, he turns up his nose, and says; see this dwarf horse.

They have eyes and see nothing, they have ears and refuse to hear. Well, an outsider will one day come to tell them the truth.

The Secretary-General said the people he saw in Maiduguri “remain hopeful and committed to returning to their communities and resuming their lives.”

Still commending the Buhari administration, he welcomed “the establishment of the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Returns and Resettlement of Displaced Persons in the North-East.”

But to some of our people, the country is broken, destroyed, and nothing is working. Well, when a child refuses to accept instructions given at home, an outsider knocks sense into his head eventually.

Hear Gutteres again: “And I thanked President Buhari for his unwavering support of the Multinational Joint Task Force and the Lake Chad Basin Commission.”

Yet, to the permanent critics, Buhari is not doing anything, and has not achieved anything. I hear.

In 2011, Boko Haram bombed the United Nations building in Abuja, killed many people, and completely wrecked the structure. The Buhari administration undertook the rebuilding of the facility, and got it delivered in good time.

The Secretary-General described it as “an impressive edifice, “ stressing: “I want to thank the Government and people of Nigeria for not only hosting the United Nations, but for rebuilding and reopening the United Nations House in Abuja in 2019 following the terrorist attacks in 2011.”

That’s an outsider appreciating the good works of the Buhari administration, which the willfully blind have refused to see, and the deliberately deaf have refused to hear. If a child stubbornly spurns instructions at home....

Let’s conclude with this very inspiring one from Mr Gutteres.

“My trip to Nigeria is not to visit people in despair, but people filled with hope. When there’s political vision, good things can happen.”

If you have been deluded, brainwashed, hoodwinked into seeing your country as broken, destroyed, good for nothing, then begin to have a rethink. Those who fed you with that narrative have their own sinister agenda. Our country has challenges in security, economy, and other areas, yes, but it is neither broken nor destroyed. “If you don’t say you are, nobody would say thou art.”

President Buhari has worked for this country, and continues to work. Let not an outsider come and tell us the home truth that is right before our eyes.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Rahaman Onike

Since Friday night that Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III joined his ancestors, there have been different write -ups on people’s perceptions of the late Alaafin depending on which sides of the divide each of the assessors stands in judging his actions, decisions on issues and his entire reign. His sudden passage not only brought an end to his 52 years' old illustrious reign on the throne, the Alaafin died at age 83 on the throne at the Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. This is a mark of a new beginning for the people of Oyo and the Yoruba race in general. Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III was the longest - serving Alaafin of Oyo and his reign was eventful and full of intricacies. Having been privileged to know the Kabiyesi and work closely with him over the years, no single piece is sufficient to capture his parental background, ascendancy to the throne, personal accomplishments, challenges that characterized his reign and his contributions to the socio- economic and political developments in Nigeria.

Alaafin Adeyemi could be a perfect example of a gentleman and could, at other times, be brutal depending on the circumstance, his perceptions of the issue before him and other exigencies. To those that succeeded in currying his favours, he was among the best when it came to service to humanity and mankind, but to those who had been unfortunate to step on his toes, he was deadly and brutal. He was feared by both friends and foes for his unpredictability.

There were limitless adjectival phrases and eulogies that people used to describe his aristocratic background and the supernatural powers of the Alaafin, being a phenomenon. That is why the late Alaafin of Oyo was given names such as death, disease, infirmity and other nomenclatures that are associated with calamity. Yet, all these negative attributes were seen as a pride rather than being derogatory by a typical Oyo man.

Alaafin Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III was an excellent performer of oral Yoruba Poetry and as a poet and he was always at home with ijala renditions, panegyrics, ifa divination, liturgical Yoruba which is the language used among the diviners to express transcendent ideas. He was therefore adored by the traditional worshippers for his mastery of ifa divinity, mysticism, Yoruba folktales and folklores with perfect tonal resonance used in the traditional societies to access the powers of the spirits. That explains the reasons why the late Alaafin of Oyo was regarded a deity by some traditional worshippers.

Although, the Alaafin was not an academic scholar by certificate acquisition and academic qualifications, but by his research outputs particularly on Yoruba histories, African philosophy, politics, social development and cultural studies. He was indisputably an erudite scholar and public intellectual. Whoever has had the privilege of being close to him, will attest that he was a philosopher king, a universalist and a polemicist, all in one, having been blessed with an independent critical mind. Of course, Alaafin knew little about everything learnable. Given his love for books, with the volumes of his book collections and his everyday desire to increase his collection of books across disciplines, I can say that he lived his life as a bibliophile. Before Alaafin’s palace was engulfed with inferno in 2013, the palace housed thousands of books across disciplines. The Alaafin was indeed a 'walking library' as he was being described by those that knew his intellectual ability. To some, he was an encyclopedia of knowledge. In a recent tribute written by Dr. Festus Adedayo, he affirmed that “an apt analogy that can explain Oba Adeyemi’s passing is a huge library burnt down”. Similar to that was contained in a post on the social media by Prof. Adenike Akinjobi of the University of Ibadan where he described the Alaafin as “non- inheritable” mammoth knowledge in innumerable book volumes. In one video clip posted on the social media after the passing away of the Alaafin, he claimed boastfully in one of his public engagements that he has read virtually all books written by Prof. Wole Soyinka. One other unique attribute of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III was his deep sense of history particularly the history of the Yorubas. In his leisure hours, Alaafin loved discussing the works of great authors. Of course, he was a book analyst and reviewer. It was his analyses that motivated and prompted my acquisition and reading of books such as: The Prince by Machiavelli, 24 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, The Man Died by Prof Wole Soyinka, Plato’s Republic by Plato, Ayinla Omowura by Dr. Festus Adedayo, History of Yoruba by Samuel Johnson among classics.

He fought many battles to protect the Yoruba interests and hegemony in Nigeria nation-state. In 1975, he wrote a book titled “Yoruba chieftaincy institutions and modernity”. Looking through the contents of the book, Kabiyesi proved to be truly a great historian. By deeds, actions, utterances, dressing habits and ways of life, he successfully showcased the Yoruba culture, values and norms throughout his reign beyond the shores of Nigeria. With his manners of defending the unity of Yoruba and our cultural practices, Alaafin Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III would be remembered to have succeeded in making Oyo the citadel of Yoruba culture and tradition. Again, he exuded opulence and royalty with a blend of Yoruba traditions, modernity and western civilization. Despite the politicization of the affairs of the Council of Obas and Chiefs and the undue government interference in the activities of the Obas in the state, Alaafin was, throughout his reign a dominant force. Even when there were attempts to introduce rotation of chairmanship of Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, Alaafin used his ingenuity, craftiness and power of diplomacy to retain permanent chairmanship of the council till he died. Looking at his official headings, public references and palace protocols, it is evident that late Alaafin of Oyo took delight in defending the royal paramountcy by paying high premium to his position as the Permanent Chairman, Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs despite the contrary fiat and government proclamation on the matter. When modernity and modernization seemed to have usurped the hitherto absolute powers and authority of the traditional rulers, the Alaafin of Oyo stayed afloat using Yoruba diplomacy. What he could no longer achieve using power of cohesion and brutal force he asserted during the primitive age, Alaafin was able to sustain his social relevance against all odds. Most times, he deployed power of diplomacy, sphere of influence and circles of friends across the global geo political and cultural boundaries to fight his wars and to protect his hegemony. What often endeared the late Iku Baba Yeye to anyone included resourcefulness, knowledge, skills and wealth. Once you were identified by Alaafin to have possessed any of the enumerated values, you automatically become his friend. Among the traditional rulers in the country, his understanding of theory of elitism and power politics is second to none. For the purpose of insight, my closeness to him was accidental because we never shared the same ideology and political interest until 2012 when I delivered a lecture as a guest speaker during the Annual Oyo day held at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomoso during the tenure of Prof. Niyi Gbadegesin, the then Vice- Chancellor. After my presentation on the topic " Yoruba traditional institution, Yoruba Leadership Questions and the Alaafin as the custodian of Yoruba culture, Alaafin being the father of the day pat my back and appreciated my presentation. Since then, we became close and intimate. Sequel to the development, Kabiyesi gave me access to the palace. Whenever I visited his palace, it was always like attending a seminar on Yoruba history, culture and tradition. Each time I had the privilege of being with the Kabiyesi in his study, what often dominated our discussions were most times the works of great anthors, analyses of speeches of the great leaders in history and issues of national development. Other distinguishing attributes of the Alaafin were his rhetorical communication and writing skills. Whenever he delivered public speeches, they were often enriched by philosophical quotes, apt referenced to historical events with dates and copious citations from great classics. No doubts, the late Alaafin of Oyo was an orator, a prolific writer, a political strategist and a tactician. I must not pretend that the Alaafin is unerring, being a human being, Glaringly, he was not infallible. He has his flaws like everyone of us. Like his forebears, he lived the life of a polygamist having had eighteen (18) wives and more than twenty (20) children and grandchildren. One other notable attribute of the late king was his love for sport particularly boxing - a skill he had dramatically displayed several times in public. He was said to be a boxer before ascending the throne. To some people, he was a controversial figure with several disposed, pending and ongoing cases in courts of different jurisdictions particularly on land matters and chieftaincy disputes. When Athe Alaafin was reigning as the Imperial Majesty of Oyo, he won many legal battles, while he lost several others. A popular social media influencer under the pseudonym " Odulaye Baa Waki Aremu " admitted recently in a post that “though I never did like the Iku and I never for once loved his sugar-coated mouth too. But I have fully accepted it long ago that he was a necessary evil and from that standpoint- I thus declare that the departed Alaafin shall be sorely missed." Suffice to say that- in this one king alone, we ‘ve all lost something tangible and some other things somewhat intangible.The Alaafin was an hero to those that loved him and positively affected by his reign and he was a villain before the people that had suffered and fell prey of his huge powers. May his soul rest in peace.

Rahaman Onike
Writes from Oyo town,
Oyo State.
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By Femi Adesina

Anytime he traverses the land, air or sea like a troubadour, he must bring good tidings. Each time the Nigerian President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) comes to see President Muhammadu Buhari, he never comes empty handed. He must bring goodies and goodies for his home country.

Tuesday this week was not different. Dr Akinwumi Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture, came on a proactive rescue mission. Something was severely threatening food security in Africa, and Nigeria particularly. It calls for urgent action.

Each time the two gentlemen meet, they start with banters. So comfortable are they in each other’s company.

The jokes and bonhomie over, the AfDB President burst the speaker: “Urgent actions are needed to prevent a food crisis in Africa.”

Why? How? When? What can be done? The questions came tumbling out, like water cascading from a burst dam.

Dr Adesina provided all the answers.

“I am here Mr President to brief you on the impacts of the Russian-Ukraine war and its implications for food security in Africa, and Nigeria; and to intimate you with decisive actions being taken by the African Development Bank to avert what is a looming food crisis.”

“Russia and Ukraine dominate export of wheat and maize to Africa. With the disruption of supplies arising from the war, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food imports from Russia and Ukraine, especially for wheat, maize, and soybeans.”

As the man spoke, suddenly Russia and Ukraine were not so faraway again. They were right there in the Diplomatic Room of the Presidential Villa.

More statistics: “Price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45% since the war. Prices of fertilizers have gone up by 300%, and the continent faces a fertilizer shortage of 2 million metric tons. If unmet rapidly, food production in Africa will decline by 20%, and the continent would lose over $11 billion in value of food production.”

Holy Moses!

The AfDB boss quoted the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who had said: “We are now facing a perfect storm that threatens the economies of developing countries.”

If there’s anything President Buhari is concerned about, it is that Nigerians should be able to feed themselves, without recourse to massive food importation. That was why he encouraged us to return to the land, put his money where his mouth is by funding agriculture massively, and today, we have a lot to be thankful for. Food security is almost a reality in the country.

But because the world is now a global village, and no nation is an island, the Russian-Ukraine war could still affect some fundamentals of our food security. So, what to do? Fortunately, we have our own ‘export’ to the world at the AfDB. He unfolded what he has in store for Africa, and for Nigeria, our own dear native land.

“Mr President, I know that you are also worried about the effects on Nigeria...The African Development Bank, under my leadership, is fully prepared to meet this new challenge head on. The Bank has developed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Production Plan to support countries to produce food rapidly, to mitigate the effects of the war on food prices.

“The plan will support countries to produce 38 million metric tons of food. This will include 11 million metric tons of wheat; 18 million metric tons of maize; 6 million metric tons of rice; and 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans.

“The total value of the additional food production is $12 billion. This plan, which is before the Board of Directors of the Bank for its approval, will be rolled out by the end of May and will cover all countries of the Bank.”

What is in it for me, that is the question people often ask. What’s in it specifically for Nigeria?

“Nigeria is top priority under the emergency food production plan. For the wet season of 2022, the plan will support 5 million smallholder farmers in Nigeria. They will cultivate 2.5 million hectares: one million hectares for maize; one million hectares for rice; 250,000 hectares for soybeans; and 250,000 hectares for sorghum.

“For the dry season of 2022/2023, the plan will support one million farmers across 10 northern states. We expect that this will support 500,000 hectares of wheat. Overall, the Emergency Food Production Plan for Nigeria will produce 9.5 million metric tons of food.”

Call this being proactive, or preparing adequately for the rainy day, and you are right on the money. Since 2015, President Buhari had seen into the future, repositioned the agriculture sector in the country, and he is now receiving viable support from outside. Support that won’t end up in private pockets. God bless leaders who care for their people, particularly the weak and vulnerable.

Dr Adesina said the AfDB will also support Nigeria to develop Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones.

“We have helped to mobilize $540 million for the program. The African Development Bank has approved a total of $210 million. The Islamic Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have approved $170 million, and $160 million respectively, towards the program.”

The Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones will be initially rolled out in 7 States: Kano, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Kwara, Imo, Cross River, and the Federal Capital Territory.

Dr Adesina ended on a note of hope. “Dear Mr President, you are passionate about agriculture. Your passion is shared by me and the colleagues at the African Development Bank. What is needful now is rapid action by Nigeria to implement the program to further boost food production, reduce food price inflation, and transform the agriculture sector, while assuring food security, and creating jobs. Your leadership will be critical for success. Failure is not an option. The farmers are waiting.”

A delighted President Buhari thanked Dr Adesina profusely, encouraging him to work with the right Ministers back here, adding that Nigerian borders were closed for about two years to protect local farmers, and curb smuggling. “We made some progress,” he added.

For those who look at only the downsides of things, under President Buhari, we can be thankful to God that we can feed ourselves, and not crossing the borders to look for food. All other things shall soon be added to us.

Amen, somebody!

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Muhammadu Buhari

Why should our 54 countries not lend weight to each other in international bodies, compounding our influence as the EU does?

25 April 2022

Muhammadu Buhari

What becomes of the Commonwealth should one of its 15 members that is not a republic join those 39 others which are? With Jamaica considering such a move, this question is being asked. But it is misplaced: the modern Commonwealth was constituted in 1949 specifically to accommodate a republic – newly independent India – precisely after such constitutional change.

Still, it is right to debate the Commonwealth’s future. Though perfectly sustainable in its current form, it would be a disservice to its members should current levels of co-operation be the limit of our aspirations.

For a start, we should strive to reduce trade barriers, given the unity nearly all of us hold through the English language, jurisprudence and education systems. We might explore grouping more readily together at intergovernmental forums such as the United Nations to deliver outcomes for one member individually or all collectively. We should work closer on defence interoperability and mutual support in the fight against global terrorism – now centred on Africa, and which threatens new waves of refugees into the West.

Some will point to factors such as Commonwealth countries’ membership of regional trade blocs, UN ballots with members voting in opposite ways and a lack of military compatibility as proof that closer cooperation cannot be achieved. It is possible to prove these people wrong – but only if we attempt to do so.

The forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this June should be a moment when the potential for our club is reimagined. This bi-annual senior decision-making body is being hosted by Rwanda: a republic no less, and prescient, when the largest contingent of Commonwealth countries is African.

Not far from the official agenda will be the question of how Brexit will continue to affect us all.

Already the U.K. Global Tariff (UKGT) has reduced, removed or simplified tax on thousands of imported goods, which is an important step in reconfiguring Commonwealth trade. When the club’s largest economy was unable to practice the free trade it long preached, others had little incentive to lower barriers. Association within their own trade blocs is not prohibitive. There is still much more that members can do inside their respective frameworks.

A number of the Commonwealth’s African members have now signed product-based trade agreements with the UK. But a potential deal with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), set to become the world’s largest free trade area, heralds the greatest opportunity.

The UK signed the world’s first memorandum of understanding with the nascent bloc last year, with a future deal securing free trade simultaneously with nineteen African Commonwealth members, collectively representing the majority of Africa’s GDP. It would likely presage further agreements between AfCFTA and other members, further opening intra-Commonwealth trade.

With trade could come greater defence cooperation. African Commonwealth members are active in many theatres across the continent, whether battling ISIS-affiliated militants across the Sahel region in the West, the Horn of Africa in the East, or Mozambique in the South. Arms and defensive equipment are part of the solution.

There is no reason why one of the world’s foremost military manufacturers should not sell more widely to our association when it is a group of allies. When Britain does not, they must look elsewhere. Today we have a mosaic of incompatible systems. But particularly in Africa, where members find themselves on the same missions, interoperability would make a material impact on the ground.

And in diplomacy, when trade and defence ties are drawn closer, so too do geopolitical interests. The EU’s 27 members tend to have each other’s backs in, for instance, UN votes. Why should the 54 Commonwealth partners not similarly organise, lending weight to each other in such bodies and wielding more influence?

At CHOGM, these new opportunities can be grasped. What holds us back is only the limit of our ambition. For those who say this cannot be done, I say we will never know until we try.

Muhammadu Buhari is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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By Femi Adesina

Last week on this platform, focus was on the fact that adversaries of the Muhammadu Buhari administration were hiding behind the smokescreen of insecurity to vent their spleen.

We stressed that security was everything, and noted that while robustly confronting the monster of insecurity, President Buhari was equally taking giant strides on many other fronts, which the caterwauling crowd deliberately ignores.

Today, let’s dwell on something they have deliberately refused to see, hear, and chose not to talk about. But whether they see it or not, talk about it or ignore, it is there, as conspicuous as a tiger in a tea shop.

A fortnight ago, members of the Fertilizers Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) visited the President at State House, Abuja. And among others, this information came out from Mr Thomas Etuh, President of the body:

“Mr President, before you created the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative in 2016, Nigeria’s fertilizer production base was almost zero. We had less than 7 companies producing at 100% of their installed capacity. Nigeria’s Urea output was reported at less than 300,000 tons.

“Today, Nigeria can boast of having some 70 NPK blending plants. 95% of this investment is from the private sector. This is a clear sign of the confidence investors have in Mr President’s policies and programs.”

From 7 to 70 blending plants just under Buhari! But why are they not talking about it? Because it doesn’t fit into the narrative they want Nigerians to buy and imbibe. The country is broken under Buhari. It is divided. He has made a poor job of leading the country. That is what the poor salesmen sell.

I hear! When you hate a baby, you claim that the midwife that begat him is a witch. What has that got to do with the innocent tot? Their snouts have been yanked from the honeypot, so they are throwing tantrums. Politicians, so-called civil rights activists, priests, talk show hosts, and many others. All they want is to have the illicit bread back. So they must create the impression that Buhari did nothing.

From 7 to 70. Why are they not talking about it? No, it doesn’t serve their interests, so they would pretend it didn’t happen.

The FEPSAN boss had many other things to say:

“In the past 2 months alone, you officially commissioned the Barbados NPK blending plant in Kaduna and the Dangote Urea plant in Lagos. ..Such an honour in a very short period clearly shows the love you have for us and your desire for FEPSAN to succeed. For many of us, we still cannot believe that a President would honour the invitation of not one, but two of our members within a short period of time. It is such open support that encourages our members to continue investing.”

But they said Nigeria was broken, and that the only thing happening was insecurity. How then did the 63 new blending plants spring up? If the investors didn’t believe in the country, would they invest such humongous resources? Would you put several millions of naira in a polity that could go up in smoke at the next minute? No, you wouldn’t. So, the fact that investors continue to put their funds here belie their narrative that Nigeria was broken, and nothing was working. They lie through their teeth just because of the lust for power, and filthy lucre. They pine and hanker after those days that you did nothing, and government just brought bags of money to you at home. Buhari wouldn’t do that, so they must badmouth him, paint him black, and run him out of town, if possible.

From 7 to 70 fertilizer blending plants in 7 years. Why are they not talking about it? No, they wouldn’t, because they want a return of those days when the country earns billions of dollars from oil, and it is used to oil their pockets. The rich get richer, and the poor gets prison. The new order pains them like mad.

Hear how Etuh described what used to happen in the country: “The low base reflects the adverse impact of historical Government policies that promoted the dumping of all sorts of imported fertilizer blends in Nigeria. Our farmers were forced to use imported fertilizers which in most cases are not compatible with the nutritional needs of our land.

“All this is now past. By the special grace of God...Nigerian farmers will never go back to those dark days.”

A resounding amen, somebody! Whether they acknowledge the good things going on or not, this country won’t return to the rent seeking era, where you sit idly, and because you are a priest, critic, social activist, media personality, politician, or what, they just bring loads of cash to your house to curry favor. Buhari hasn’t done it, he won’t do it, and we shouldn’t do it as a country.

From 7 blending plants to 70 under Buhari. Why are they not talking about it? It doesn’t favor their selfish intentions. It is said that in over 12 years, Nigeria has seen its highest consumption of fertilizers at 1.8 million tons per annum in 2021. But does it interest them? Never! They don’t care, and can’t be bothered.

“Today, many nations who rely on fertilizer imports are facing acute shortages as a result of the events in Eastern Europe. However, Nigeria remains one of the few countries in Africa and indeed the world, where fertilizer availability is not an issue,” Thomas Etuh said.

Truly, President Buhari is a man who saw tomorrow. He focused on agriculture, funded it massively, encouraged people to go back to the land, and we have a lot to be thankful for today.

In the wake of COVID-19 and the attendant global lockdown and food supply challenges, how would 200 million people have survived, if we were not producing what we eat locally, as encouraged by the President? But they won’t talk about it, because it doesn’t fit into their narrative. They only allege that the country is broken, divided, not recognizing that they were the very people breaking and dividing it with their mouths.

Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed at the FEPSAN meeting with the President that cumulatively, a total of N114.09 billion has been disbursed to support the fertilizer industry in the last five years. The interventions are long-term loans at concessionary interest rates. That’s what you call putting your money where your mouth is. In the past, such funds would have ended in the pockets of government officials, and in those of some priests, critics, and other jobbers. From 7 to 70 blending plants under Buhari. That’s why they are not talking about it.

Hear this information that came as I was concluding this piece. According to acting Comptroller of the Federal Fire Service, Dr Karebo Samson, in 2015, when Buhari came to office, there were only 3 functioning fire trucks in the country, two in Lagos, one in Abuja. But today, there are 189 brand new fire trucks in the Service, apart from new ambulances, water tankers, etc. Why are they not talking about it? It doesn’t serve their interest in portraying Nigeria as broken and divided.

They live their lives perpetually on the complaint counter. But with the realization of the progress being made by patriotic Nigerians, they will be soused and marooned in that inglorious place for a long time to come. The people are not ready to return to the dark past, whether those tiny but vocal minority talk about the good things happening or not. Forward we move.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Little by little, the haze on the political landscape is clearing and thawing. The race for the apex and most coveted political office in Nigeria, the largest democracy in Africa, is gathering momentum. With regards to the primary contest within the fold of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the emerging picture of what to expect has now gone beyond the domain of speculation.

It is by now, crystal clear that the APC, as the ruling party, is leaving nothing to chance in its efforts to secure another round of four years in the aftermath of the 2023 polls. This much is evident in the frenzy and horse trading that preceded its just concluded national convention at the end of which, Senator Abdullahi Adamu emerged victorious from the lot of heavy weights that had jostled for the post of National Chairman.

The decision of the APC strategists to settle for the two-term governor of Nasarawa state is telling. Politically an old war horse, Abdullahi Adamu at seventy-five, however, remains a sturdy political warrior with the muscles and pedigrees required by the party to wade through the turbulent waters that lay ahead. Known for his focus and single-minded commitment in the political arena,  not a few in the opposition camps and, even within the APC would have been rattled with the coming of a man reputed to suffer no fools in  political duels.

From the  array of the aspirants angling to fly its presidential flag in 2023, another obvious indication on the direction the APC is headed is that the party has settled the question of zoning its ticket in favour of the south of the country. It is conclusive therefore, that the ultimate winner and candidate of the party will be one from among those that have declared their intentions from any of the zones in that region. Beyond the geopolitical zone from where the flag bearer comes from, the APC also looks ardently focused on the choice of a wining horse in the historic contest. The overriding interest in success at the polls surpasses all other considerations.

The party will try to put its right foot forward by not just trying to fulfill all righteousness by sticking to the unwritten but solemn article of faith on "power shift". After all, in the presidential election, the battle field will be the entire country and that implies that whoever the candidate is, must be one with a national aura, reach and acceptance. That is, in other words, the game plan must be fashion-aimed at killing two birds with one stone.

Another emerging discernible picture on the APC canvas,  is the spectacle of pretenders, those in  the garbs of grandeur that do not reflect who they truly are. There are the jesters and the gamblers who are, perhaps,  simply prancing the space for the kick and fun of it, in the hope that the pendulum could mystically swing their way. There are also the smart mercantilists, the carpetbaggers,  cleverly jostling for recognition and relevance with the aim of being reckoned with at the end of the day in the sharing of the spoils of victory.

Going into the serious business of the upcoming contest however, are a sprinkling number of top quality materials from the horde on the APC platform currently aspiring to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari. The task before the party leadership and general members is not, of course, made easier by this fact. The options may be few but a lot of dexterity and painstaking calculations must be deployed in ensuring that it is the finest of the best that is thrown up on the long run.  This demands that sentiments, deafening propaganda, intimidation and blackmail by aspirants, groups or enclaves of vested interests are not allowed to blur or distract attention on the ball.

Placed on the template of the exigencies of the nation and the APC's desire for victory, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the present Minister of Transportation has been adjudged by political pundits, within and outside the APC circle, as one of the party's surest  pick of the basket.

Beside meeting the criterion of an outstanding member of the party from the south of the country where the party's presidential flag has been conclusively zoned, he as well, fits the clamour of a cross-section of citizens, including notable Elder Statesmen, for a generational shift in the political leadership of the country. At fifty-six years, he stands as a fitting bridge between the old and younger generation of the nation's crop of front line political actors.

The APC, like any other political party that is seriously hoping to take over the reins of power at the centre in 2023, its standard-bearer in the coming race must be one with an awe-inspiring background as an astute politician and an achiever in public service. His political dexterity is needed as an essential arsenal in the political rigmarole and intrigues that is inevitable in the presidential contest of the magnitude ahead. An impressive record showcasing his capacity in his previous positions in public service are germane in wooing the majority of the electorate who have become despondent, skeptical and weary of flowery rhetorics not backed by concrete and empirical evidence of those asking for their mandate.

Crucially, Nigerians will want to interrogate the panacea and concomitant capacity of the nation's next President in tackling the pervading behemoth of insecurity in the land. For a people so polarized along the divisive lines of religion, region and ethnicity among other primordial fault lines, citizens are most disposed to the candidate known for his honest and remarkable tracks as a pan Nigerian because so much is expected of him on the task of healing and fence mending.

That is just as the past achievements of a prospective national leader next time around, must illustrate convincing records to show his capacities in fixing the nation's cascading economy, the resultant monster of poverty, spiraling youth unemployment, tardiness in the educational system, crises in the power and energy sectors among the other perennial maladies  confronting the country.

A two term Speaker of the River State House of Assembly, an eight year stint as Governor of the same state followed by his present position as the Minister of Transportation, from 1999 to date, Chief Rotimi Amaechi is, literally, a colossus in competition with Lilliputians in the contest for the APC presidential ticket and, against the others so far lining up in the opposition camps for the decisive ultimate race. There is no gainsaying the fact that, his experience garnered as a Spartan soldier that successfully led the battle of the election of President Buhari in 2015 and in 2019, will come handy when, this time, it is his own battle.

Going for Rotimi Amaechi as well, is that, he has a trail of phenomenal milestones and enduring legacies in his sojourn so far in the public and political spheres. While he was superintendent as Chief Executive of Rivers state, not even his most acerbic critics can sincerely deny the fact that he initiated and put in place a galaxy of transformational projects that progressively impacted on the social, economic and infrastructural facets of the state. What indeed has been going on in the state since he exited office can be summed as building on the foundation and roadmap laid by the regime of Amaechi between 2007 and 2015.

The APC and eventually, the rest of Nigerians will reckon and appreciate the go-getter from Diobu by elevating him to higher pedestals on the nation's political ladder to unfold further the bounties from his incisive intelligence, uncommon vision, courage and single-minded pursuit of set goals.

For example, the long overdue railway revolution kick started by Amaechi, is one programme that is direly needed to launch the country on the path of national integration, social and economic advancement and which, must be sacrificed on the altar of individual ego, clannish or ephemeral political expediencies.

Pertinently, the man who will best guarantee that the APC gets the gold laurel in 2023, is certainly the one who has built bridges of friendship and goodwill in all parts of the country. A thoroughly cosmopolitan and detribalized personae, the onetime Chairman of the Nigerian Governors' Forum has, over time,  woven a meshwork of friends and goodwill from which he draws from in all nooks and crannies of the nation as a presidential candidate.

On a final note, though an Ikwerre from the Niger Delta region, Amaechi is, ethnically, an Ndi Igbo whose candidacy has embraced and welcome by the Ohaneize Ndi Igbo as meeting the craving for a Nigerian President of Ndi Igbo extraction in the aftermath of the next general elections. And what about his status of being the Dan Amana of Daura, which translates to mean, "the confidant and trusted One of the Daura Emirate", the historical cradle of the Hausa people? What a dizzying mix, an amazing and scintillating political potpourri. Few can compare with a man of wide reach in a nationwide electoral contest.

Written by Dahiru Maishanu, a political analyst and commentator can be reached via
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By Femi Adesina

Security is everything, nobody can dispute that. You have to be alive to enjoy every other thing government is providing; roads, rail, bridges, airports, food security, in fact, everything.

That is why whenever you hear President Muhammadu Buhari talk of the priorities of his administration for the country, he starts with security, stressing that before you can efficiently manage an organization, town, city, or country, you first have to secure it. He then proceeds to talk about reviving the economy, and fighting corruption. But security is always number one.

Does Nigeria have security challenges? Severe ones. I’ve always said it, while adding that the government was taking up the gauntlet.

Two weeks ago, after the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train by terrorists, I wrote that Nigeria was actually at war. It was, however, silly and idiotic to see a newspaper twist that piece in a news story, writing; ‘Femi Adesina finally admits that Nigeria is at war.’ Otiose. Witless. Illiterate. Who does not know that our country had been at war against insurgency since 2009, when Boko Haram manifested in the Northeast?

But we leave those who twist every word to continue to contort themselves, till they completely get out of shape, tying themselves up in a labyrinth. It will serve them right.

The point of interest today is the hackneyed calls on President Buhari to resign over the country’s security challenges, the latest coming from a so-called Northern Elders Forum (NEF), a group I’d once described as “Generals without troops.”

The Forum is largely made of angry, bitter, self-seeking individuals, who had thought they would be leading President Buhari by the nose when he emerged in 2015. In fact, key personalities in the group made strenuous efforts to be part of the administration. When they didn’t succeed, they became adversaries.

It is on record that NEF had always opposed the Buhari administration since its gambit failed, and before the 2019 presidential election, it openly endorsed Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as next President. And that completely vitiates whatever position the Forum adopts today. It is partisan, bilious, by no means neutral. It is from a self-serving standpoint.

Between 2009 and 2022, there were at least 271 mass shootings in United States of America, resulting in 1,518 people killed, and 980 wounded. Just this week, there has been the Brooklyn Subway Shooting, in which at least 23 people were critically injured. In all these, did you hear calls for the resignation of any American President? It is on record that last year was the deadliest in a decade, in terms of mass shootings. Have you heard of calls for the resignation of President Joe Biden by a caterwauling band? No.

Every life is important. No single life should be taken wantonly. Not in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and definitely not in Nigeria. And when challenges occur, as we currently have, it should not be turned to a leaky political umbrella, from under which you hide to express hatred and malice. That is what is happening in Nigeria today. Individuals, groups, organizations, political parties, who had been against President Muhammadu Buhari, and who had been given bloody noses at the polls, are now using the smokescreen of insecurity to vent their spleen. We failed to oust him through the ballot box, let’s run him out of town by another means. Let’s instigate the country against him. But majority of Nigerians know better.

There was a story that made the rounds over the weekend. A former military leader, who also became a democratically elected President for two terms, has been reportedly mobilizing all living former leaders to pass a vote of no confidence in President Buhari, due to the county’s security challenges. It was reported that only Gen Yakubu Gowon baulked at the idea, and opted out.

I have been waiting for the story to be debunked, but it hasn’t happened. Let’s then assume that it is true. The agent provocateur has been known as an antagonist of Buhari for a number of years. In fact, he publicly wrote a letter in 2018, commanding the President to “dismount from the horse,” and allow another rider to mount. The incumbent demurred. Is it not democracy? Let’s test our strength at the polls.

The former leader mobilized against Buhari, publicly endorsing his former deputy in office, whom he had earlier destroyed and treated like something the cat dragged in. The election came, and they were all beaten black and blue. How does he then think Nigerians will accept his constant haranguing of government as something actuated by positive motives? It is sour grapes, pure and simple.

Do we have security problems? We do, just as many other countries of the world. How then do we solve the problems? That is what we expect to hear, and not playing of petty politics under the umbrella of insecurity.

Some of the issues are historical, transcending almost every administration we have had. They are almost as old as the country. Some others are relatively new; insurgency, banditry, kidnappings for ransom, and have the imprint of foreign backing, particularly in some parts of the North. What is the way out?

For the internecine ones, it is crystal clear that no government can legislate peace. The people themselves must resolve to live together, and accommodate one another. No group can wish the other away under indigene versus settler sentiments. We must resolve for peace. They must not only seek peace, but also pursue it.

As for insurgency, banditry and kidnappings, government is rising to the challenges. Yes, there are successes and reversals at times, but there’s no doubt that the necessary efforts are being made. It is, therefore, unconscionable to make it appear as if nothing is being done. It is a power struggle. A class struggle. An economic struggle. But at last, Nigeria shall win.

It is the sacred duty of government to provide security of lives and property. Our Constitution says it in black and white. No leader will be happy to see his citizens killed. That is why more than any government before it, the Buhari administration has funded our security agencies, trained, equipped and motivated them. They are out there, fighting to keep us safe. The least we can do is pray for them, encourage them, not engaging in petty power play, which amounts to dancing on the graves of the dead.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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By Femmi Adesina

Let’s start with a caveat: free comments are part of democracy, and so this is not an attempt to muzzle anyone. Nobody should come and shout, oh, they don’t want us to say our minds again. They want to padlock our mouths. Not at all. President Muhammadu Buhari is not even the type that would gag anyone, and the polity is today suffused with all kinds of comments, the responsible, and the not so responsible. The inspiring, and the bilious. The encouraging, and the poisonous. The reasonable, and the not so reasonable.

Nobody would deny that Nigeria has very severe security challenges, though the intensity often varies from time to time. There are seasons when our courageous security agencies have the upper hand, clobber the criminals black and blue, and things calm down. At other times, they suffer reversals. That is the fair assessment of developments.

But fair? That word doesn’t seem to exist in the dictionary of some Nigerians who want you to perpetually believe that ‘worsening insecurity’ is the only thing happening in the country. They never talk of the second Niger Bridge. Loko-Oweto Bridge. Bodo-Bonny road. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Airports. Rail revolution. Fertilizer availability. Rice and maize pyramids. And many others.

No, they don’t see those ones. They only talk of how you can’t travel by road, by rail, by air, and how nobody is safe anywhere in the country. How Federal Government is allegedly overwhelmed by security challenges. They trumpet only the things that give the impression of total anarchy. They know what they are doing. It’s all about the struggle for power, for control of the political and economic strings of the country. The allure of power remains sweet to them eternally.

These instigators cut across all class of people. Former leaders, current political actors, pastors, imams, social commentators, talkshow hosts (and hostesses), so-called human rights activists, socio-political groups, and many others. All they want is to give a sense of anomie in the land, and divert attention from whatever is going right. There is a lot going right, but they never talk of those, simply because of the struggle for power.

Who is that Fulani cattle rearer who dare build a second bridge over the River Niger, something we could only dream of in our 16 years in power? He is even covering the national landscape with rail lines. Who is his father? He’s building new airports, massive expressways, gas pipelines, achieving food security. Come, let’s run him down, even run him out of town, lest he become a national hero. Let’s trumpet the insecurity in the land, till our voices are hoarse.

When negative things happen, like the sad and evil attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, they pretend to be sympathizing with the country. But their choice of words gives them out. They are who the Good Book calls “miserable comforters.” They are merely adding petrol to a flaming fire, and salt to injury. Under the umbrella of condolence, they are taking potshots at a government they both fear and hate.

There are comments that exacerbate matters, rather than mollify them. There are words that are meant to incite people against leadership, give them a sense of hopelessness, and encourage them to revolt. That is what these people do. Muhammadu Buhari is their headache, and he must be portrayed as a failure by all means. Give him a bad name, erase his footprints on the sands of time, make him look incompetent, a ne’er do well. That is their motive, and if the country goes up in flames in the process, it doesn’t bother them.

They pretend to be speaking truth to power, but you can see through the facade, if you are discerning. You can tell the truth without inciting or instigating people against leadership. What they want is chaos, disorder, anarchy, all in the name of ‘speaking truth to power.’ Liars. Anarchists. People who have not made successes of their own homes or personal affairs, now attempting to dictate how the country should run.

If a preacher brings down fire seemingly from Heaven, but speaks evil about the leadership of his own country, he impresses me not. Because the Good Book enjoins us to pray for those in authority, for there can be no power, except the one God has ordained. He installs kings, and deposes them. Even as a preacher, Christian, Muslim, God has not ceded that authority to you. He sits in Heaven, and makes the earth His footstool. The clouds of the sky are the dusts of His feet. That is God, and no man should compete with Him. But uncouth language is the stock-in-trade of some preachers today. Words are no longer seasoned with grace.

Most of those who utter incautious, inflammatory words about the state of insecurity in the land, only want power through the back door. Some had never liked Buhari, so he must fail. Others supported him in the past, thinking they would be able to lead him by the nose. When they failed, they said he wouldn’t get a second term in office. Before their very eyes, he coasted to victory. Still they are unrelenting in their opposition. But there’s nothing you can do against a man who God has ordained for certain roles.

It’s funny to hear some others asking the government to quit. And so, what follows? Disorder. Higgledy-piggledy. People running helter-skelter, insurgents and bandits taking over. They don’t care about the country, nor about the people. When things burst, they take the next flight out of the country on first class seats.

The security challenges we have are being tackled. Robustly. President Buhari, more than any other leader in the past, has equipped, trained, and motivated the security agencies, who are rising to the occasion, with many of them even paying the supreme price. To be condemnatory of the entire effort is to be unkind, evil, unappreciative.

Some people merely excoriate without suggesting viable alternatives. What can our security agencies do better? How can they do it? No, that is not in their agenda. All they want to see is that Buhari should fail, and fall. But they are not God.

What the times call for is an encouragement of our security forces, not wanton denouncement or chastisement of their work and sacrifices. ‘May God bless our troops’ should be the singsong, not petty politics and grossness.

Nigeria will win the war against evil. The Buhari government will win the war of tongues unleashed against it. Happily, majority of Nigerians know the truth. They may not have the platform to speak out like the vocal minority, but they know those truly serving them, and those merely interested in sticking their snouts in the nectar of office. The year 2023 will show.

Unguarded comments can further inflame the insecurity in the land, and it surely does. And those shooting off their mouths know what they are doing. They want things to become topsy-turvy, jumbled, so they can come out and say, ‘we told you.’ But they won’t succeed, because God is interested in Nigeria, and in the lot of millions of helpless people. That is why President Buhari will land safely, and soundly, to the glory of the Almighty.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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By Femi Adesina

Haters of God and humanity struck on Monday, bombing the Abuja-Kaduna train. They then proceeded to open fire on passengers of the immobilized coaches. It was premeditated murder from the very bottom of hell.

See the toll of the carnage. Promising lives, cut short. Destinies terminated. Hopes and plans, ruptured. People who committed no sin, no crime, except that they lived in the same space with people who hate God, who loathe humanity, and who despise themselves. Hell awaits them, indeed, the hottest part of that nether region, “where their worms do not die, and the fire is never quenched.”

May God rest the souls of the dead, console their loved ones, cause rescue to come for the kidnapped. And the evildoers? They have their comeuppance awaiting them. “Though hands join to hands, the wicked shall not go unpunished.”

Whoever or whatever they are, terrorists, bandits, it doesn’t matter. They sow evil, and they will reap it. They do not deserve to live. Not in this world, nor the next. They need to be sent to their master, the Devil, and speedily too. They are like the British satanist and occultist, Aleister Crowley, who after a lifetime of evil and repudiation of God, said to himself on his deathbed: “I am perplexed. Sometimes I hate myself.” Yes, they hate God, loathe humanity, and despise themselves.

The rail revolution in the country has been hailed for its safety, comfort, luxury. Now the evil people have come to show that they hate safety, comfort, luxury. They abhor any form of progress or development. They prefer to live in the Stone Age, out there in the wild, visiting sorrow, tears and blood on humanity.

The President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has taken some right steps in response to the tragedy. The President has summoned the Service Chiefs, and the Inspector General of Police, giving the marching orders once again. You know what he once said at a security council meeting? “Wipe out these evil people. Kill them. Eliminate them. Nigerians love me, they trust me. That is why they keep voting for me. Wipe them out. Kill them. Eliminate them.”

Short of personally carrying a gun to confront the troublers of the country (he did that in his younger days), President Buhari has given the necessary support to the different security agencies. He has equipped them, trained them, boosted their morale in different ways. And they, too, have risen to the occasion. Daily, they are dispatching the evil people to meet their principal, the Devil. But those ones keep coming like locusts. You cut their fingers, they are even wearing rings.

However, there’s one thing we are sure of. Evil has never overcome good. Light has never conquered darkness. Nigeria will win. This country will be rid of terrorists, insurgents, bandits, ritual killers, all forms of criminals. As night inexorably follows the day, and dawn comes again, it will happen.

But the role of some Nigerians in perpetuating anomie in the country is worrisome. Through their tongues. They say evil about the country, utter negativity, thinking they are saying it against the government of the day. I mean even bishops, pastors, imams, commentators, talk show hosts, all sorts. They are engaged in war of tongues with Nigeria. They don’t know that the more they say it, the more evil happens. The cup fills up, and runs over. Let’s change our tongues. Change our hearts about our country. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Let’s begin to bless our country, rather than curse, and sow negatives in the hearts of people.

As horrendous as the train bombing is, do you know that some people are playing politics with it? See that statement from the failure called PDP, reducing the development to just leadership by the All Progressives Congress, APC. In such national tragedy? I’ve never seen a more silly, otiose, idiotic statement. All because of power, which if God wills, they may never smell again in their lifetimes? How imprudent, incautious, can some people be!

I remember an interview the then General Muhammadu Buhari granted to The News magazine in its maiden edition. Trying to defend some punishments considered draconian under his leadership as military head of state, he gave the illustration of people who vandalize electricity facilities supplying power to a major hospital. And in the process, all premature babies in the incubators died. He said, why don’t you shoot those kind of evildoers, so that those young babies could live?

I agree. Those who visit evil on society do not deserve to live, no matter what some activists may say. They should be sent to hell, and I join the President to plead with our security agencies: wipe them out. Kill them. Eliminate them. They have declared war against the country and its people. We are at war, yes we are.

They do not deserve to live. They have lost their humanity. Wipe them out. Kill. Eliminate.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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We are producing more plastics than ever

You pick up a piece of plastic litter from the beach, and get a small buzz. You’ve done something for the environment. But then you look around, and see plastic everywhere. It’s much more than you could pick up.

Earlier this month, the United Nations endorsed a new resolution on ending plastic pollution.

While that sounds positive, focusing on pollution is missing the elephant in the room: production. Why is more and more plastic being produced, with some ending up in forests, rivers and oceans near you?

Our research has shown that to actually make a difference to the ever-growing amount of plastics in our oceans, our soils and our bodies, we must focus on why our societies use and throw away ever more single use plastics.

The answer lies in our systems. If you’re a time-poor parent, stressed by juggling kids, work and the mortgage, it can be much easier and faster to reach for heavily packaged ready-made meals, or get dinner delivered in many layers of plastic.

It’s time to stop focusing just on plastic waste
Plastic pollution is out of control, with almost 80 per cent of the 8.3 billion tonnes we have produced thrown away into landfill or the environment.

Why, then, is the UN focused only on the problem of waste, rather than production? We are producing more plastics than ever. Plastics are created from oil, and will account for one-fifth of all oil consumption by 2050. Not only this, but 40 per cent of all the plastics we produce is used for packaging. Just over a third of these plastics are for food packaging.

Our research has shown mainstream approaches such as the UN resolution are ineffective and even counterproductive.

If we want to make a dent in the major problem of plastic pollution, we have to make systemic changes.

Why? Consider recycling and the notion of the circular economy, often held up as an answer to plastic waste. The issue here is that plastic degrades every time it is cycled through. Not only that, but recycling itself is often highly energy-intensive with its own set of environmental impacts.

Recycling only delays the final disposal of plastics. Similarly, the concept of a circular economy is only put into practice when profitable.

Could we switch en masse to alternative disposable materials, like bio-based packaging?

Alas not. This isn’t the solution either, as these products still have significant social and environmental impacts.

Both recycling and switching to bio-based packaging are drawn from the technocratic greenwashing playbook, in which we look to technology to let us keep living in an unsustainable way.

Why do we use and throw away so much plastic?
What we actually need is to consider how we can reduce how much plastic we make and consume, so we have a better chance of living within the planet’s ecological boundaries.

Our current capitalist system gives producers the incentive to make as much plastic as they can sell, and to create new market niches for their products. It’s no surprise the result is an avalanche of plastic.

Take food packaging. The use of plastics to cover food has increased dramatically since the 1960s, alongside the expansion of the globalised food market.

There is a link. As food production has gone global, it has displaced some local food production, manufacturing and consumption. Major corporations have profited from this shift, which requires longer and more complex supply chains. And longer supply chains means more packaging to keep food saleable.

To us, this suggests that the problem of plastic runs much deeper than how we prevent the waste entering our rivers and oceans. We believe the central issue stems from the growth-at-all-costs capitalist system.

Consider: packaged food is sold as “convenient”. Why do we need convenient ready-to-eat meals or those with minimal preparation, like frozen dinners, instant noodles and fast food? Because we are time-poor.

Why are we time-poor? Because in our fast-paced capitalist economies, people need to fit food preparation around their inflexible paid labour, which may often require long hours or fitting into a casualised system.

As a result, many of us get to the end of the day with little time and energy to shop in local stores, cook our meals from scratch using fresh ingredients, or grow our food.

It’s well established that time deprivation has increased how much processed packaged food we eat.

Waste is just a symptom

We do not hold out great hopes for the new UN agreement on plastics, based not only on the failure to address the root causes but also the poor implementation of previous climate commitments and other international environmental agreements such as e-waste management.

Proposals to reduce plastic pollution which skim over the root causes will do very little to reduce our overall use of plastics and alleviate the significant damage they do to our societies and the environment.

If we are serious about reducing the damage, we must look at deeper solutions, One might be transitioning towards a degrowth society, which would help us re-localise food systems.

In a degrowth society, we would gradually shift back to local food production, which would reduce the globalisation of food and shorten supply chains. That, in turn, would slash the need for packaging.

Degrowth would also help us address time poverty by, for example, reducing working hours or introducing a work-sharing mechanism.

There would be more free time in a degrowth society, and local food systems would provide healthy, fresh, seasonal produce requiring minimum packaging.

Supporting local farmers or pursuing more free time for all might well be a more effective solution to the issue of plastic pollution rather than simply pushing for improved recycling schemes.

Is this just blue sky thinking? No. Consider how our society was able to react to the COVID pandemic and get organised differently.

The pandemic showed us we are capable of large-scale change if a problem is taken seriously. If we begin to prioritise our social and ecological well-being over company profits, we will see change.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence
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Femi Adesina

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, became a household name at the then Weekend Concord long before 2002 when he was invited to be part of the formidable team that formed The Sun Newspapers, of which he was pioneer editor. He rose to become the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the company as well as President, Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE). In 2015, he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.

In a chat with Chioma Okezie-Okeh of Saturday Sun, he shares his experience as the presidential spokesman in the last seven years.

How was life like before the presidential appointment?

I was just a typical Nigerian journalist. I had been in journalism since I left school. I graduated in 1986 and entered journalism immediately and I was there till 2015 when I went to work for government. Right from secondary school, my teachers had always said, you will either become a journalist or a lawyer. I don’t know what they saw, maybe journalism because I was good in writing. But lawyer? I don’t know. So eventually, I became a journalist.

Was there any form of opposition from your family when you announced your decision to be a journalist?

In fact my parents appreciated the fact that I became a journalist because they were both educationists. My father was a school principal and my mother was a classroom teacher and they knew the value of journalism.

I grew up around newspapers and books, and fortunately God spared their lives till a time they saw me rise in the profession. I am sure they did not have any regrets seeing me go into journalism.

How was your growing up like compared to what is obtainable in raising a child in this generation?

I grew up in a strict home. My father was a principal who ran the school with iron and steel and he used the method at home. I remember that people who studied in the school over 50 years ago, when they see me now, they will scream as soon as they discover that I am the son of Mr. Adesina, the man who beat the hell out of them when they were in school. They would ask how we survived at home.

He was a very strict man. We were five boys and two girls. You know how a house can be with five boys; uncontrollable, unless the father was strict. We always had a refuge in our mother; she was the softer one. When we got beaten up, we would run to her. It did not mean she spoilt us. She had her own style and we were closer to her in that regards.

We used to say that our father was wicked, but fortunately we grew to appreciate him before he died. We knew that all he did was for our own good.

For me as a parent, there is a paradigm shift in parenthood compared to when we were growing up. You find that children and parents are much closer today. When we were growing up, we couldn’t sit with my father. When you were walking and saw him ahead, you would change your route immediately. You dared not meet him on the way; it didn’t happen in our time.

One thing that I imbibed from my own upbringing was the strictness. I have also been very strict with my children, and today they are the better for it. But they can talk to me. They can sit with me. Me and my children are friends but they are very disciplined. I am happy how they turned out.

How did your journalism career start?

Straight from school, I served at the Lagos State Television at the Current Affairs Department, Mr. Kunle Oloke was the Head of Current Affairs then. He gave me an assignment and when he looked at the script, he looked up and said, you write very well. That was my first assignment out of school and it was also a revelation to me. I didn’t think I would write something that would be so striking. I will say that was where my career began. After that, he gave me more assignments. Then the service year ended and because there was opening at the radio services, I got a job. The then head was Jide Adekusibe of blessed memory.

He was my father’s student. When he saw me, he said, ‘you are Mr. Adesina son. He did not only beat the hell out of me, he expelled me!’ (Laughs)

When I went home to my father, I told him the name of the head of radio services. He said Jide Adekusibe? He was a rascal. His father was a lawyer and the family came to plead for him.

Adekusibe gave me a job which I held for two years. But I wanted more active writing. I was at the current affairs desk, writing news talks and analyses, covering events from the current affairs end. I wanted more active writing experience, so I went to Vanguard Newspapers in 1989. I was employed as a Features Writer, and they put me in supplements unit to write supplements that would go with advertorials and do some reporting like covering International trade fairs in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu. I did that for another two years and from there, I went to Concord Newspapers, Weekend Concord to be precise, where Mr Mike Awoyinfa was the Editor. There, I began to do what I really liked, the reporting in which you can express yourself in writing. I did that from 1991 to 1995 and then I was made the Features Editor of the daily newspaper. I became the deputy editor, and eventually the editor. That was what I did till the Concord went down in 2001.

The publisher was in military detention and there was not enough money to run the company. After that, I went to Nigerian Tribune as a visiting member of the Editorial Board. I was there for 18 months when Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe sent for me. They asked if I was still interested in full time journalism and I said why not? They said, ‘we are setting up The Sun Newspapers for Orji Uzor Kalu.’ So I joined the team. That was how we started The Sun in 2003 and I was the founding Editor of Daily Sun. We started with the Saturday paper, added the Sunday paper and by June that year, we started Daily Sun.

I edited that for five years and to the glory of God, Daily Sun became the highest selling newspaper in the country. At a point it was printing 100,000 copies. I did that for five years and became Executive Director, Publications, became Deputy Managing Director and Managing Director in 2013.

In 2015, I was invited by President Muhammadu Buhari to be his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.

What was your experience like as a journalist during the military era?

We were fairly junior under the military. Those who suffered under the military were the editors. We were just like senior writers and senior correspondents. If they were going to grab anybody, we were not the ones.

The only thing I recall was the day they came to close Concord Press, after the 1993 presidential election was annulled. You needed to see the number of armed men who stormed Concord Press that night. We were producing. They came, chased all of us out. They searched our drawers and ordered everyone out. And Concord was locked for several months before it was eventually reopened.

In terms of being the target of bad treatment individually, it did not happen to me till 1999 when the military left. By then, I was Deputy Editor of the National Concord.

What went through your mind when you got that call to become the presidential spokesman?

I had always loved President Buhari, right from when he was the military Head of State because he was strict. I told you I grew up under a very strict father. When I see discipline, I appreciate it.

The way he and Babatunde Idiagbon, his deputy, were leading the country, I knew it would be good for Nigeria, so I loved him. The day he was overthrown in August 1985 was possibly the worst day of my life. I knew it was bad for Nigeria, I knew Nigeria was being set backwards, IBB regime lasted for eight years. If it was Buhari that lasted half of that time, Nigeria would have been a lot better. I knew the overthrow was a big mistake, a national blunder.

When he entered partisan politics in 2002, I began to support him. I was writing a column in The Sun and I would write about him. Somewhere along the line, he began to call me. Our phone numbers were there on the column. It was one Saturday; I had written an article about him and my phone rang and he said, this is Muhammadu Buhari. I was so excited. We discussed the article and we laughed and had a good time. This was how he started calling me regularly and the relationship grew.

He ran in 2003, I supported him. He ran in 2007, I supported him. He also tried in 2011 and I supported him. He was said not to have won all those years. You know in 2011, he said that he would not run again, I was one of those who wrote that he was not bound by that promise. I said he could run if he wanted. I am glad that he came back and finally won.

He is almost ending his second tenure in office. You know that election was on March 29, 2015 and on March 31 which was the day the last results came, it was apparent that he had won, but not declared by INEC yet.

Then I was MD of The Sun and I was in the office till about 10pm. I closed, got home and followed the rest of the result. At exactly 10 minutes after 12 midnight, my phone rang.

The voice said please hold on for the President-Elect. He came on the line, and said ‘Adesina, I want to say thank you for all your support since 2003. There are many that would have paid you millions of naira for your support but you did not follow them. You did not get a bottle of coke from me, but you followed me.’

I thanked and congratulated him. I told my wife that since the man was calling me at such time, I hoped he was not going to tell me to come and work for him.

I was the MD of The Sun and President, Nigerian Guild of Editors. I was enjoying what I was doing. I was at the peak of my profession and I felt I could do it for a number of years more before going to do something else. I had never worked in government and did not think that I wanted to.

From that March 31 to May 29, when he was inaugurated, I deliberately didn’t get in touch with him, thinking maybe he would forget me.

But on the evening of May 31, a call came and said that “we are announcing you as Special Adviser to the President tonight. Should we go ahead?” I said please go ahead. I agreed because I had had enough time to evaluate it. If I had supported him all these years and if he asked me to come and work for him and I said no, then I would be a hypocrite.

The next day June 1, I flew to Abuja to see him. He was still at the Defence House; he hadn’t moved to the Villa. I thanked him for the appointment, but because I had a job, I asked for a week to disengage.

I met the publisher and he said ‘President Buhari will not know the sacrifice I am making by letting you go, because you have run my business honestly. This company has never made the kind of profit that it has made under you, since it was established.’ And he said he would give me a leave of absence to go and serve in government.

What changed in your family, social and personal life after the appointment?

The Femi Adesina that you knew before, and now, is the same person. In terms of sacrifice, serving in government is a heavy one. By the time I came to serve in 2015, I had been married for about 25 years, I had never lived apart from my family. As a journalist, I could travel, but I would come back. I couldn’t move the family because my son was already a pilot and my daughter was in the third year in the university. I couldn’t then move the family to Abuja.

I used to visit them every month, sometimes two weekends in a month, till COVID 19 came. From January 2020 to about September of that year, I did not visit my family in Lagos because the entire country was on lockdown. Imagine being separated from your family for that long. It’s a big sacrifice and if not for the man I came to serve. I would not have made that kind of sacrifice.

My private life is still the same; you will rarely see me outside. My life used to be work, church, the house and that was what I’ve maintained in Abuja.

How do you manage to remain sane after reading so many verbal attacks especially on social media?

I ignore most of them. During ENDSARS, they put my mobile phone numbers online and I couldn’t use my phone for three days until somebody now told me about an application that would shut out all lines that are not registered on one’s phone. I took all calls before then. So, if your number is not registered on my phone now, you will not get me except you send me a text message. That is the price the public has had to pay for what they did to me during ENDSARS.

I am not too much of an outdoor person. I watch football. I watch all EPL (English Premier League) matches.

I don’t read all those things that they write about me. People that I thought were friends have written negative things about me. They will think they have hurt me, but I don’t read them. Once I see the headline, read the opening paragraph and see the bile, I discontinue. Some do it out of ignorance, others mischief, others envy and malice. It’s a combination of factors.

What are your plans after 2023?

I will never contest for any position, even if it is as councillor. In 2013 when Mr Gbenga Adefaye of Vanguard was finishing his tenure as Nigerian Guild of Editors president, there were some people in the guild who came to meet me. They said you would be a good president; we would support you. I told my son and he said he couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘daddy, you running for anything? I can’t believe it.’ Those were his words. But I was encouraged by my colleagues, and won by a wide margin. For me to occupy any political position again, they will have to come and carry me from the house. But I will always be in the media. It’s my first passion.

*Published by Saturday Sun, March 26, 2022