Thursday, September 30, 2010

A fool at 50 or just misunderstood?

For any that haven't heard Nigeria celebrates its independence anniversary tomorrow. Its been 50 years since the British handed over power and the country's development was left to the people. Or that was the idea.
The debate rages on in the country this week as to what it means to be 50 years old and where the country has come to. Many have called for a period of reflection at this time and the hope I mentioned in a previous post is strong within people that the next 50 years will be better. That phrase itself perhaps suggests the last 50 have been somewhat disappointing.
I'm not going to dwell on the history of Nigeria and the causes of its distress. If you want to read more click here or here.
I have touched on the talents this country has to offer in previous posts and its inherent problems previously and will do both again I am sure.

But for this post, lets look at just some of the headlines in the country's newspapers today:
Of course one should remember the majority of the papers themselves have political leanings and allegiances they will uphold. Expect another post soon referring to some of the papers I havn't mentioned here.

From the Punch the most widely read Nigerian paper comes news of Students of the five state owned universities in the South East declaring October 1st as a day of mourning for the state of education within the country. The students have argued that the education system has collapsed. This comes on the back of strikes by lecturers over pay.

In Next comes a story that doesn't particularly bring surprises; The long running 'Haliburton scandal' has thrown up a number of names and companies that have alleged involvement in the bribery case. One such company is Julius Berger the long standing construction company that has been operating in Nigeria since time immemorial and is responsible for numerous state and federal buildings, roads and other infrastructure projects in the country both now and in the past. According to the paper the company has entered into an agreement with the Federal government and while there is no admission of liability in the settlement the will make an "ex/gratia payment". The agreement will of course remain confidential.

PM News highlights the scuffles and 'commotion' that broke out in Abuja today as bags of rice were distributed to a crowd on behalf of Patience Jonathan, the First Lady of Nigeria. The paper delights in providing photographs of the scuffle and the resulting victors. As the papaer points out you may notice the victors happen to be wearing uniforms. It should be noted that Compass Newspaper alledges that 3 died in the struggle.

The Daily Trust leads with mention that the President is requesting changes to the Electoral Act to allow political appointees to vote as delegates during political party conventions. Perhaps a sign of GEJ shoring up his personal support before the primaries?

I'll leave you with a couple of final articles here and here that caught my attention. This first story has made big news here and there is a disgust in the eyes of a nation that almost revers their children. We await to see how the story pans out but it gives a hint as to what many Nigerians go through in this country, where kidnapping and robbery on the roads is a relatively common occurrence in some parts of the country. The other story is from the North and of particular concern due to the location of the extended family in that area.

I alongside many many people wish Nigeria Happy Independence.
Thankyou for allowing my stay here.
May the country grow from the toddler to the adult soon. May the adult be well balanced and responsible.
May Nigerians take lessons from the last 50 both the good and bad and move forward with responsibility and respect...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have we all declared our intentions?

Jonathan, Babangida, Atiku, Ribadu and Saraki have all now formally declared their intention to run- who is next?

One name that the rumour mill churned out on Sunday was that of Aliyu Gusau, who resigned his position as head of Nigerian Intelligence Agency on the Monday. Though he has not declared formally as yet, rumours have it, this powerful yet publicity shy man may either run or support a single Northern candidate that may yet emerge from the pack. Gusau alongside Atiku and IBB all went through the Primaries in the last election but failed to get the ticket or election.
Time will tell as to how the PDP primaries fair. There are games afoot yet.

Saraki who formally declared Monday did so without the fanfare of Goodluck or IBB. The incumbent Kwara state Governor said " We are about to create a generational change. After 50 years of Independence, we are about to start another 50 years." He went on to state that he was the man to deliver on this change.
Though commentators are questioning the mans real intentions and chances, he is the current head of the Nigerian Governors Forum and as such may have some persuasion over those that may deliver the Presidency in 2011. (After all Nigeria for all its claims still has a rudimentary democracy in place, often controlled by those directly in power)
Finally Nihu Ribadu the darling of the intelligensia and diasporan Nigeria declared his intention to run under ACN. And will formalise his campaign in the coming weeks and months. The former EFCC head returned from self imposed Exile a couple of months ago after clearing his name and has been on the cards to run under an anti corruption banner ever since.
The one problem I foresee in this strategy is his funding; To run for President in this country as in all countries costs money, but it also costs you in allegiance. Political Godfatherism is rife and often the Godfathers are not altogether 'clean'. Ribadu must ensure his are whiter than white in order to maintain his strategy.
The race is warming up in other areas with suggestions that Goodlucks speech or part of it was plagiarised from Atikus in 2006. Next carries a story on this and refers to a similair event that unfolded in the US campaign last year.
Atikus campaign manager played down interest but it must have been a smug feeling to be told the major player in the race 'borrowed' the odd paragraph from an old speech.
It is a minor blow to the Goodluck camp in what had been billed both here on this blog and elsewhere as an impressive speech.

The support that Goodluck received at his declaration was initially impressive but questions remain as to the loyalty of the Governors. With the PDP primaries for them occurring before that of the Presidency, there are thoughts that once each has secured their position, the professed loyalty may change...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Goodluck by name; will it be by nature?

Those who understand Nigerian politics can see beyond the circus for the politiking that is going on. After all, it is pretty much certain that the results of the PDP primaries due towards the end of October, will give the country their president.

This week Nigeria came a step closer to knowing who will rule them for four years.
In a week that has seen the 'old guard' represented by Babangida declare it was now time for Goodluck. The man seemingly born with it on his side.

After 4 hours of standard PDP jamboree filled with musical dedication, medium to long speeches from the 'big boys' of nigerian politics in support of GEJ slogans a plenty from "we no want badluck O, we want Goodluck O" to "goodluck for you, Goodluck for me, Goodluck for Nigeria" and a flourish of short crowd rousing speeches by PDP governors (not all of whom were fully supportive of GEJ: for the uninitiated you can tell by the hats, though in reality there was outright support from the Delta region; Goodlucks area, cautious support from the North and some that wanted to sound a note that even after the primaries they would need tending to) from all areas of Nigeria it came to GEJ himself.

His speech sounded more like a campaign speech than just a declaration and re-reading it now it is obvious that some good writers have tailoured it to represent his strategy moving forward. Commentators have suggested it is different to that which has gone before and not since the speeches at immediately post independence has a man delivered such a robust case for transformation.

And it has to be said that people are yearning for change here in Nigeria.

The hope they have in this country is something that is relied on heavily: hope for something better, hope for a noticeable change in their lifestyle and hope for something different. While politicians worldwide play on hope and often use rhetoric to enforce it, nowhere else I have seen, has hope been so ingrained in people that any change is welcome. A faith that "e go betta" is strong yet time and time again there is bitter disappointment..
Any single improvement of quality of life will engender a warmth in the people. And from todays carnival some would say circus it was a message that hope will turn to reality.
I hope that Nigerians can discard their hope for something more solid...with PDP primaries running till end of October, and INEC registration in November time will tell..