Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Photo: Reuters
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) began the last lap in the four year term given to him by the people of Nigeria to lead the Nation. Though PMB has expressed a wish to have his mandate renewed, no one can be sure if this request will be granted, until after the Presidential elections in February or March next year (depending on which schedule will rule- INEC or NASS) and hoping that all things remain equal. You may ask me what I mean by "all things remain equal" I have read resolutions by some Ethnic nationality groups insisting that Nigeria must be restructured or there may be no elections. In view of the fact that no one knows if the restructuring will take place on one hand and the fact that nobody knows whether the ethnic nationalities can carry out their threat on the other hand, that's what I mean by "all things being equal"
Nevertheless, the chances of granting PMB's request will certainly depend on what he does or what he does not do in this last lap. Watching recent heightened level of activities within the polity, I get the sense that PMB and his team have realized that if the elections were held this moment, his chances are not as bright as they were in 2015. Never mind the huge political crowds in Kano or Yobe. Every Nigerian knows that political crowd is commodity in Nigeria,in addition to the fact that it will require votes from both the North and South, East and West for the mandate to be renewed. And it does not matter if one region gives 97%, we will still need the 5% to make up 100% (ala PMB's arithmetical formula)

In the last few weeks, Lai Mohammed, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and some of the other ministers in PMB's cabinet have been crisscrossing the Nation inspecting road and rail projects and drawing attention to the infrastructural exploits of this administration. Press conferences were being held in Abuja and in Lagos and on the democracy day, 29th May, PMB took time to list the achievements of his administration in the last 3 years and was kind of beating his chest and expecting the applause of Nigerians. Of course, some members of APC who have benefitted from the administration applauded, while some other segments like the nPDP were busy complaining that they have not received any "return" on their "huge investments" in the party and PMB's victory in 2015. Many other Nigerians comprising the growing army of the unemployed, the bereaved from the unmitigated onslaught from the militant Fulani herdsmen and sundry marauders, the traumatized  & dispossessed farmers, internal refugees in the IDP camps and many hungry could not applaud.
PMB has asked Nigerians to judge him on three issues: the economy, security and anti-corruption. Certainly on the three key issues, we are not where we should be, based on the promises made to the people of Nigeria. Though the Economy is in the recovery mode (1.9% GDP growth in QI), it is still performing below the May 29, 2015 levels in all ramifications. What is most frightening is that Unemployment has doubled over the period from about 9% to 18% as at end of Q1 2018. And we are not talking of making the Nigerian Naira equal to one US dollar. I have long convinced my wife not to hold this against PMB, which is one of the promises she has eagerly awaited its fulfillment. Nigeria today is the 6th most economically miserable country in the World. On security, the success achieved against Bokoharam insurgency in the North East has been fully eroded by the Militant herdsmen onslaught mostly in the Middle Belt. Nigeria is currently rated one of the most unsafe places on the planet Earth  .
On anti-corruption, PMB seems frustrated that despite all the noise, dance and drama, Nigeria' position on the transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has worsened in the latest ranking. What is worse, not much convictions have been obtained on those charged to court regarding PDP's 2015 campaign funding. It therefore looks to me that PMB has mounted a renewed offensive in this area putting pressure on both EFCC & the Judiciary. The decision of Justice Abang to go ahead with the case against Olisa Metuh, whether he is alive or dead sign posts the present desperation to get convictions by all means. In one week alone, several former office holders who belong to the PDP were arraigned in courts in what looked like a major joint campaign by the EFCC and the judiciary. Former Governor of Kano State and former Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, Ambassador Aminu Wali and the campaign director of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mansur Ahmad, former deputy governor of Sokoto State and Minister of Water Resources,Mukhtari Shagari, Ibrahim Gidado, a former commissioner, PDP State chairman, Ibrahim Milgoma, PDP Treasurer, Nasiru Dalhatu as well as the State PDP governorship candidate in the state in the 2015 election, Abdallah Wali were all charged to court in an unprecedented blitz of arraignments. Others were former governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu, state party chairman, Chief Dan Orbih; former deputy governor, Lucky Imaseun, a member representing Esan South East and Esan North East in the House of Representatives, Tony Azegbemi, and Mr Efe Anthony. 

Meanwhile, former Governor of Plateau State and a serving Senator, Jonah Jang was recently arraigned in Jos and former governor of Kaduna State-Mukhtar Ramalan Yero is set to be arraigned soon on corruption charges. One would have applauded this renewed onslaught if not that it is patently one sided and absolutely partisan. No member of APC is on the list including members of the nPDP or politicians who have decamped from PDP to APC. Therefore many people including international observers see this as essentially a political strategy to discomfiture the opposition, to keep them distracted and occupied with defending themselves in court and thereby whittling down their energy and resources to oppose APC in the forthcoming elections. I am personally saddened by this apparent clampdown and harassment of the opposition which actually makes a mockery of the anti-corruption fight.
Whether this strategy will work in improving Nigeria's ranking on the CPI is yet to be seen and whether it will help to make Nigeria less corrupt may be determined perhaps after PMB's tenure or when another Party comes to power and follows in this footstep of covering own sins and exposing the opposition's sins. Whatever may be the case, it is clear that what actions PMB takes in this last lap will either make or mar his chances in 2019. It is essentially up to him.

Mazi Sam I. Ohuabunwa OFR


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THE GROWING MISERY INDEX OF NIGERIANS AND THE SEARCH FOR GOVERNMENT Nigerians readily point out what Governments ought to do which they are not doing. Indeed, virtually every problem in Nigeria is blamed on the government. And for many Nigerians, the government to be blamed often is the Federal government. Many are oblivious of the other tiers of government, especially the local governments. It is as if the local governments have no responsibilities or may be the people have come to expect little from them. The many years of over centralization fostered on the Nation by the military now makes most Nigerians think and act as if the Federal government is the only government in Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution sustains this misnomer by granting the Federal government a long exclusive list and the freedom to dabble into every other matter, some of which should better be left with the traditional councils in the states. This has led many Nigerians to allow the local and State governments get away with With 'blue murder' while holding only the federal government to account,even if feebly. While it is justifiable to blame government for poor infrastructure, poor education, poor healthcare, high unemployment, high insecurity, and even for hunger, corruption and traffic hold ups, it is beginning to look to me that this is an orchestrated ploy by some Nigerians to take a permanent flight from being held responsible for our individual and group conducts. In the first place, the governments we blame so frequently for failing us are run by Nigerians. Indeed the irony is that some of those who blame government for everything are in government themselves! Sometimes, it looks like that there is a mystery man called 'government'. But no, government is no mystery man, but a collection of persons who are first citizens and who run the government on behalf of and for the good of all the citizens. For convenience, they are grouped into the EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY. And that includes politicians, civil servants, public servants, professionals and non professionals of all cadres and categories; from cleaners,security men and permanent secretaries to ministers; from legislative aids to the House Speaker and Senate President; from the court bailiff to the Policeman, to the Registrar and to the Supreme Court Judge; from the gatemen to the Director Generals of Parastatals and Agencies, they are all constituent parts of the government, agents of the State. And that's why they are paid from the tax payers money.Every action, each one of them takes or omits to take reflects on the effectiveness or in effectiveness of the government they are part of. But it looks to me that this realization does not exist sufficiently. Some how, you get the impression that the President or the State Governor alone is the government and everybody else is either the governed, observer, bystander, supporter,complainant or critic. Perhaps this may explain why there is a woeful failure of the"government " to satisfy the expectations of Nigerians. It is practically impossible for only the President to satisfy the 170 million Nigerians or the Governor to satisfy all the over 12 million people in Lagos for example. Everywhere you go,you meet people who work in the government institutions who act as if they care very little about the success or citizen perception of the government they serve in. When you complain about the poor service you are getting,the same people who are part or agents of the government turn around to blame the 'government', absolving themselves of any blame and often the complaining citizen seems to either agree or empathize with the government employee that the problem is with the mystery ' Mr Government ' Early this year, I wanted to make a trip to the United Kingdom and applied for the UK Visa. Few days after submitting my visa application, I received a call from the British Embassy that there was no space left in my passport to affix the visa. I quickly collected my passport and ran to the passport office in Ikoyi Lagos to get a new one. It took me six visits to the passport office over a period of six weeks to collect a new passport.Reasons ranged from missing file to long queues, mismatch of finger prints, the absence of the engineer and late approval from Abuja. It was an ordeal. Mean while I missed the trip to the Uk and was almost missing a trip to the USA because my subsisting US visa was in my old passport which had been 'quarantined' in the passport office. At the end of this rigmarole I was still expected to show 'gratitude' In August last year, I went to renew my driving license and I was told to fill out forms and make payments. Thereafter I was asked to come back one year after in July this year at the FRSC camp in Ojodu, Lagos for what they called 'capture'. I wondered why it would take a year to come for the 'capture'. I was told that many people were on the queue and their 'capture' equipments were few. I was told that a photocopy of my form on which the July date had been written would serve as my temporary driving license until that date. I shook my head and left. On the assigned date and at the stipulated time of 7am, I arrived. First, it took a lot of pleading to let me drive in through the gate. With one year scheduling, I had expected few people but was shocked by the large crowd milling around the place. I moved from place to place and after several hours when I arrived in front of the 'capture' machine, I was told that my name had not dropped. 'From where ?' I asked. I made three other visits over a period of five weeks, because either, my name was still traveling from wherever to the 'capture' machine, or because there was no 'network' to capture me. I finally got another temporary driving license. And so I will have to return to Ojodu in 60 days when it expires or wait to be called to come and collect the permanent driving license when it is ready and who knows how many more trips that will take, because I saw People who had been called to come and collect, and they came, only to be told that the license was not yet ready. I do not know of any other country in the World where citizens are subjected to this kind of torture just to obtain a driving license. When my son-in-law heard my story, he sympathized with me because he went through an 'agent' and got his with ease! I suffered the same fate in trying to renew my plate numbers as demanded by FRSC. I have completed my registration for the National Identity card at a special unit set up by the National Identity Commission at an interaction in Lagos. I was given a temporary National Identity card. I do not know when I will get the permanent one. Now I have been asked by the Central bank to go to my bank and obtain another Universal identity card. I do not know how many trips I will have to make to obtain a temporary card before I struggle to get the permanent one. I will still go for my voters card and do biometrics and for my Pension, another set of biometrics and identity card. How many Identity cards is a normal law-abiding Nigerian expected to carry?.Why the National identity card can not suffice for all these is what I am asking. I am searching for Mr Government to ask him, because that is what I am asked to do. Can't these government agencies and officers who are asking for these many identity cards share information ? Or is it the fault of Mr government ? Why do we relish in making life difficult for fellow Nigerian citizens and then blame government. Any where Nigerians are to receive service from a government agency, the story of misery and denigration of human dignity is repeated. Who is government? What can be the problem? Is it a matter of lack of a compelling vision, or lack of motivation, or lack of empowerment or plain lack of commitment. What ever it is, I believe that something must be done urgently and in a holistic manner to remedy this anomaly which is creating a lot of problem for the citizens in Nigeria. The unnecessary suffering to which Nigerians are subjected to at every point can not continue this way. What is worse is that the pains intensify when people are doing their best to obey the laws and be responsible citizens. This backlash may seem to promote deviant behavior or corner cutting. Some are 'compelled' to 'settle' police on the highway than go through the torture of trying to get a driving license. All those who are part of government at all levels will need to undergo a fresh orientation to make them understand that point, that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. That Government is not about a single person but a chain of persons who deliver service to the Citizens and that the best President or best Governor will achieve little if all other parties are not playing their roles with the same efficiency and consistency. The leaders of our Governments must therefore take appropriate initiatives on building this consciousness in all persons in government. For empowerment and motivation, the leaders must ensure proper skilling up and motivation of all those involved in the governance process. The right persons must be put in the right positions to ensure the integrity of the chain.For commitment,the leaders must demand evidence of performance down the line. This must be measured and rewarded so that the unskilled for the assignment, the unprepared and the indolent are weeded from the system, so that the impact of good governance can be felt by citizens leading to improved quality of life and the reduction of the misery index. It seems this is perhaps the most critical responsibility of the leaders of the different tiers and arms of government and may actually be the differentiating characteristic of the effective government leaders. Sitting at the capital and hoping that all the 'beautiful' policies, projects and programmes are yielding the desired result will not do. If those who are part of government are blaming the government,one can then understand why some other Nigerians make a past time of blaming government for every problem. If the gutter overflows, it is the government that must be blamed and nothing to do with the citizens who throw pure water satchets and sundry rubbish into the gutter. When the road is blocked, it is the government and nothing to do with the indiscipline of citizen drivers who refuse to give way to each other. In those Countries that we admire and aspire to be like, most Citizens regulate themselves and accept responsibilities for the good order of the society, thus allowing the regulatory enforcement agencies to effectively contain the few deviants. If everybody is a deviant, no government can effectively manage public order. That is my point and it does not in any way absolve the government in power from its statutory responsibilities. There is a role for the government and there is a role for the citizen. Any dereliction on either side will create problems for the society, just as we are having,Period. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

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