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Beauty and environment, governors and power (2)

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AbdulAziz Yari, Chairman Nigeria Governors' Forum

AbdulAziz Yari, Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum

IT is now getting confusing to know what job next a Governor should have. There are for example 16 senators who have been Governors. Is being a senator a promotion or merely a lateral strategic movement to remain in power? In our order of protocol, the Governors come before senators and ministers but that is no longer the case. Of the new ministers created by President Buhari, five were state Governors. It was never like that. Are the Governors as frightened of President Buhari as their own commissioners use to be frightened of the Govenors?

What is really intriguing about what Governors are doing – taking ministerial jobs and going to the Senate where they may be picked for ministerial jobs – is that a convention that has grown up where the President asks for the nomination of ministers from the Governors. (The President is not bound to take the nomination) but if you are nominating someone for a job you already covet, how genuine is your nomination? I seem to remember one constitutional crisis where the ministers refused to resign even after the party had informed the Prime Minister that the party no longer had faith in those ministers and they no longer represented the party in the coalition Government: the ministers were known as “Sit Tight ministers.”

But the appointment of Governors as ministers and special advisers (Honorary) cannot be good for Nigeria and the political parties. The Governor is now the most versatile man in the State and the Nation. While he was Governor, he controlled the party in his State, approving and supporting all political appointments. Since he held the purse strings, he was also the defacto ruler of the political party in the state. If he did so, then all councillors, Local Government Chairmen, members of the State Houses of Assemblies, members of the National Assembly, all political benefits came from him. While he was Governor he set out generous retirement benefits for himself, including vehicles, security details, and houses in his hometown, State capital and Abuja. He has immunity for his actions while Governor. On top of that he is now a minister or senator. Something is not right. I do not know of any other country where preferment is that restrictive and secluded. Can someone enjoying a pensionable office seek another pensionable office?

On the face of it, no one who is not the choice of the Governor can get preferment now both when he is in office as Governor and when he goes to Abuja as minister or senator. It is a kind of in breeding and we all know that if this continues that line soon becomes mad, mongoloid or extinct. How can internal democracy be maintained in the political parties? What chances does an aspirant have who is not a protégée of the Governor? Is it realistic, as I am suggesting, to ask the Governors to give up their power? Can power not be wrestled away from them? Tony Blair left Gordon Brown with less power and he lost the election to conservatives in the United Kingdom. We now face a pressing question? Where will our wealth come from? Productivity or solid minerals or both? Who are those in charge of the economy?

Should the President not have taken up the post of minister of solid minerals? We need new thinking, new parameters, new policies, strategies and tactics. It is urgent to do it now or else mission creep will start and by then it will be too late. The President cannot bring anything new to our oil policies because the external influence on oil production will always overwhelm our efforts. If the solution is removal of subsidies – where are the studies? But we have nothing about solid minerals – which now seem tainted with politics.

The West keeps devising ways of demeaning and degrading us. It is as if a seed has been planted: we then take up the cudgel to beat ourselves to death. The latest is something called corruption index. Nigeria is 136th in a table of 176. What follow below is not defence of corruption but, a call to that old Warri pidgin – shine your eye. The West took over 40 million able bodied Africans as slaves to the United States and Caribbean.

Was the West to pay reparations, I am told, the bill will be over US$700 trillion? Up till a few years ago all bribes paid in Africa were tax deductable in Europe and the U.S. (I did not say that the companies may have inflated what they paid). It is right to say that Africa is the richest and most exploited continent containing the poorest people in the world. It is not corruption that is keeping us poor. The Glencoe’s, Belington’s, International Oil Mining Companies keep us poor.

The President of Niger said that the amount paid by France for its Uranium was less than the onions he produced. These oil and mining companies are scooping the very life out of Africa – mountains have become valleys, streams are thick and stagnant with the affluence made of goey oil. Who will rebuild our mountains and clean our waters? In 2008, the world witnessed the cyclical banking collapse. It forced on the West a policy of quantitative easing via print money and reduced interest rate to 1% or less and inflation also of 1%. They are still doing it. Our banks lend at nearly 30% and pay interest to its depositors at 7% or 8%. Now who is being corrupt? Foreign companies bring in hard currency to our under valued currency (in 1974 – N1 =US$2. Today N125, in 2015 = US $1.

Let me leave you with this thought. A Caucasian wearing a julabi over his cassock. He has planned to commit suicide on a Friday in the mosque in Jeddah. He gets up, removes his julabi, screams the Pope is the successor of Peter, Jesus is great, and detonates himself killing about 200 people in the mosque.

Some fundamental evangelists gather 1000 Korans which they pour petrol on and burn. Can the Pope dissociate himself from either of these atrocities and would the Muslim world believe him?
Think about it. I thank you.

• Concluded

• Ambassador Patrick Dele Cole, OFR, delivered this speech to the old Boys Association, Government College, Ughelli, on Sunday December 6, 2015 at Eko Hotel, Lagos.


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