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Monday, 23 February 2015


  I have found myself often defending Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's Performance while in office as the President of Nigeria for eight years (1999-2007). I have done so on three grounds. The first is that I like to base my criticism or commendation for any political office holder, or I dare say any individual based on objective criteria. I am never one to join the crowd to shout "crucify him, crucify him" for someone I shouted "Hosanna, Hosanna" for yesterday. Many People are swayed by mass media to denounce a man they praised yesterday based on hearsay. Many swing with public opinion and so would like to be on the side of the gallery to lampoon a man who has done them no evil, just because some people with loud voices or access to the media brand such a man as evil. Some do not even as much as ask what evil the man did, not to talk of the evidence before joining in the condemnation band wagon. They want to be 'politically' correct and would not like to offend the crowd or be seen to be going against popular opinion. So they acquiesce to the murder of the innocent. No, not me.
 Secondly and more importantly is that I fear God and would not bear false witness against my neighbour. When I deny the good that a man has done, I am bearing false witness; same when I join others to accuse a man falsely. I believe that my God will hold me accountable for everything I think, say and do; I try to be fair to all I encounter in my journey of life. And because of this, I am always drawn to defending the disadvantaged and the maligned. Many suffer unjustly, because of false accusation or because they do not know how to speak or how  to defend themselves. I personally have been a victim of false accusation and I know what it is to be falsely accused especially by those who have the means to stir up the crowd against you. So I always empathize with such lambs or victims. I also believe that it is wrong to do a wholesale condemnation of any leader. I am a strong believer that for every bad thing that a leader is said to have done, there are at least two good things he has done. But it is the way of the World to often ignore the good and focus on the bad.
  The third reason I have had to defend Obasanjo was that I believed and still believe that he did a great job as the President of Nigeria on many fronts. Though he did not like the cover of the Vision 2010 document which we had prepared before his arrival(because of the picture of the man on the cover wearing dark glasses),he eventually accepted an adaptation of it called NEEDS 1 prepared under the supervision of Prof Chukwuma Soludo and that enabled his government to stimulate the economy in the 2nd term( 2003-2007), after what was a lackluster first term. Obasanjo pursued a novel anti corruption campaign that used drama to full effect. Nigerians love drama! He used maximum impunity to good effect, especially after the reign of the military (of which he had been part). He launched a major effort to deregulate and privatize the Nigerian Economy and many of us in the private sector supported his several battles with Adams Oshiomhole and the Nigerian Labour Council (NLC). I was a member of the Political Reform Conference which Obasanjo called, in some effort to respond to the strident call for Sovereign National conference. Obasanjo meant well for the Country and showed enviable Patriotic zeal.
  And so, when People especially those who now call him "messiah” said that Obasanjo did nothing, I opposed it and presented evidence of what he did. When they said that Obasanjo ran the most corrupt government, I opposed it vehemently, and provided evidence of what he did to fight corruption. In deed when they wanted to 'roast' him for trying to perpetuate himself in power through the third term project, I took it upon myself to assert that Obasanjo was not the original author of the ' third term' idea. I believed that he accepted the idea in the strategic interest of the Nation. Nigerians know what the Country goes through and indeed what it Is going through now because of second term elections. In my understanding, the 'third term' was just an additional two years to enable him launch the new single term of Six years, so that the Country will be saved from the convulsions it goes through each time a sitting President wants to get a second term. Nigerians especially the so called 'progressives' with whom he is now hobnobbing, did all they could  to denigrate all that Obasanjo achieved for trying this "third term' project. But I stood firm and empathized with President Obasanjo and defended his achievements and felt that he was unfairly criticized and maligned by the opposition party.
   And this is why I am thoroughly shocked and disappointed by the serial undignified attacks he has unleashed on President Goodluck Jonathan since the last two years. After some side snippets and shots at the President, he went full blast with an open letter to the President, widely published in the media, where he accused the President of everything he, Obasanjo was accused of when he was in office including series of state-mediated murders. This most repulsive method chosen by an ex-President to communicate to a sitting President saddened me and many right thinking Nigerians. It was most unpresidential. How could a two-time President be indulging in wicked rumors that could destabilize the Nation? In response to this , many reactions appeared in the media which out rightly insulted the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a two-time head of State of our Country, an icon that should otherwise receive the highest Honour and respect. When I read the open letters written by his son Gbenga and his daughter Iyabo I wept. I first refused to believe that the letters were true until the authors re confirmed that they wrote the letters or granted the interviews. I could not believe that a man who had ruled our country twice had those kind of serious character flaws and that his character would be so repugnant that even his own biological Children would rebuke him in Public. It was unheard of and unafrican. I had thought that such vicious attacks on his personality would indicate to Chief Obasanjo that his open attack on the sitting President was offensive to many including his own direct family. As Past President, past Chairman of the Board of Trustees( BOT) of PDP, and a statutory member of the Council of State, he had ample opportunity to advise or even rebuke the President in private.
  But lo and behold, Chief Obasanjo has continued to demystify and denigrate the status of the office of the President of Nigeria. He has remained unrelenting in his daily attack on the sitting President, badly damaging his own prestige in the eyes of many in an effort to damage the prestige of the current President. How would he have taken such attacks especially from his predecessors in office when he was the sitting President? I have been trying to find out what really Jonathan has done to him to merit the intense hate he has displayed in his daily vituperations. Is it about the management of the Economy? My records show that Jonathan has essentially followed his footsteps including reappointing Dr (Mrs.) Okonjo- Iweala as Minister of Finance. He has followed the deregulation and Privatization route started by Obasanjo. He has hired professionals like Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, Dr Omobola Johnson, Professor Chinedu Nebo and Dr Olusegun Aganga to run the Ministries unhindered. Is it just because of declining reserves and drop in excess crude account? Is he not in a position to know that both the National Assembly and many of the opposition governors did not want any excess crude account to accumulate? Can't he find out from the president why the Reserves declined after he left office, if he forgot that between 2008-2010, there was a global economic crisis that led to the shrinking of the Global economy and that prices of oil fell from 140 dollars per barrel to 40 dollars (Close to what is happening in the economy now) and that these massive swings in global oil prices were not caused by Goodluck Jonathan or Diezani Madueke. Yes Jonathan's anti corruption battles have not been as dramatic as Obasanjo's, but transparency International rankings indicate that Nigeria's Perception as a corrupt Nation has improved under Jonathan than it was under Obasanjo. Is it about the integrity of elections?, Nigeria's Worst election ever was in 2007 under Obasanjo whereas Nigeria's best elections so far was in 2011 under Jonathan. 
   In which area has Obasanjo done much better than Jonathan? Is it in healthcare? Where Life expectancy has climbed from 48 years in 2010 to 52 years in 2014 and both Maternal Mortality and infant mortality have  improved by over 30% since 2011. Is it in Education where new schools and Universities have been built both in the public and private sectors and the rate of success in the West African School certificate Examination has shown consistent improvement ( especially in the critical subjects of English Language and Mathematics). What about the novelty of the almajiri schools, a first in our educational history. Is it in infrastructure- Power, roads, bridges, railways and airports? Anyone who was an adult in 2007 and can see, must see the significant improvement in these areas. Many of the lingering projects started many years ago have been faithfully completed by Jonathan, abandoning none. What really has Jonathan done so badly to merit the sort of hatred and disdain he has received from a past President? Is it in civility and democratic culture? No President has been tolerant of the democratic processes and procedures as Jonathan. How many Senate Presidents or House Speakers have been forced out since Jonathan became President? Is it in impunity? Obasanjo holds an unbroken record in impunity, disobeying the laws he caused to be made, including ignoring court judgments and using extra-judicial methods to change or remove State governors? 
  What unforgivable crime against the People of Nigeria or against Obasanjo, has Jonathan really committed  that Obasanjo has been most unrelenting and implacable in denigrating a sitting President and doing everything possible to destroy the house he participated in building ?Is it just because of the refusal of Jonathan to respect an alleged promise not to seek a second term? Is this such a heinous crime? How does that match his own effort to seek a third term (even if only for two extra years!). Did anybody send him to jail for that attempt?. What of his 'epitome of integrity' General Muhammad Buhari who swore in the presence of all Nigerians that the 2011 elections would be his last. I have not heard anybody ask him why he reneged on that solemn declaration. Perhaps, it is the way of Politicians that they do not always keep their promises. So why would a man be so oblivious of the planks in his own eyes while he threatens to commit suicide because of the speck in another fellow's eyes. God please save us from  the Pharisees and the Sadducees ( Hypocrites!)
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Sunday, 15 February 2015


I have been thoroughly benumbed by the furore and the hullabaloo being raised by a couple of Nigerians and 'interested' Foreigners following INEC's postponement of the Elections by Six weeks. I am yet to fully understand how this really hurts anybody too badly and how it creates undeserved advantage for one party and deserved disadvantage for another Party. Yes some inconvenience with rescheduling of activities and perhaps additional funding to keep the campaigns running for another six weeks by the contestants and their Parties. But that pales in the face of the huge benefits that will accrue to the Nation by the postponement or rescheduling .I must say upfront that I congratulate INEC for taking this decision. If it is true as is being alleged that President Goodluck Jonathan or His Government persuaded or pressurized INEC to take this most reasonable decision in the prevailing circumstances then I will like to congratulate him for showing exceptional pragmatic leadership. He has shown the type of leadership sagacity that rattles many of His critics who deliberately underrate him. A good leader must see ahead of his people and do everything possible to avert looming dangers. For me, INEC and the Federal Government have helped Nigeria to jump over a bobby trap. There was a trap and those who desperately want power at all costs were pushing and goading the Nation along with their trade mark media blitz and blackmail- 'If you postpone, hell will be let loose'. Thank God, Nigerians seem to be tired of these threats. I believe that most Nigerians will want to go to heaven and a couple of others actually want to experience Heaven on Earth. Today in Nigeria, it looks to me, that only the People of Bokoharam, their sponsors and supporters seem comfortable to experience hell here or are working furiously to go to hell. All these talk about baboons and monkeys being soaked in blood no longer cut ice with most Nigerians. Every animal learns how to resist the predator. Sometimes the hunter ends up being hunted. And no body has the exclusive Patent on Violence! Nigerians must learn to talk, argue, debate and agree and when they disagree, they can go to court for adjudication. That is the way civilized societies run and Nigeria of the 21st Century must be run that way!
  Now it must be stated that this is not the first time that INEC or previous electoral bodies have postponed elections. It happened in 2007 and in 2011 for example and happened during the Anambra elections recently when elections had to be rescheduled in some sections of the State and hell was not let loose. We have an imperfect electoral body that operates in a very imperfect Political environment and so hitches and glitches may occur that can lead to rescheduling of elections as it can happen in any other human activity. Secondly, it was clear to all those who could see without partisan colorations that INEC was not fully ready for the elections to hold on the 14th of February. Despite the desperate actions and the irregular emergency methods INEC adopted  in the last couple of weeks( including passing the PVCs through some traditional rulers and village heads) to improve the distribution, only 66% of the printed cards have been collected. And please note that this level of achievement includes those that have been stolen! So two days to the original date for the election, over 30% of registered voters, numbering more than 20 million Nigerians do not have their voter cards. And yet some 'self respecting' Nigerians accept INEC's boast that it was ready for the elections! That could not be totally true. And I have not factored the claims that all  the PVC card readers have not been received and the adhoc INEC staff not all trained on how to operate them. If we lived in a Country where Politicians were Nationalists, they are the ones who should be persuading INEC not to attempt 'suicide'  rather than goading it to fall into the hole. Let me correct my self and limit that statement. There are indeed Politicians who are Nationalists in Nigeria. A coalition of parties, mainly the minor parties actually were the ones who began this quest for rescheduling of the elections. What ever may have been their motivations, I salute them for helping to save our country from premeditated crisis .
  If any Presidential candidate loses an election where 30% of the registered electorate could not vote, not because they did not want to vote but because, INEC could not given them their voter cards, would that not be a basis for legal contestation . Some of those who lose elections in Nigeria go to the tribunal, because their governors or leaders were turned back at check points or because there were too many Policemen and Soldiers at their pooling booth. So what will happen,when evidence can be adduced that many of their 'supporters' could not vote for them because INEC 'refused, failed or neglected ' to release the PVCs. Plenty of business for our lawyers and the tribunals.
  Thirdly, how fair can such an election be in the eyes of the World and even in the eyes of Nigerians. There was already talk in my geopolitical zone that INEC was deliberately withholding cards because the zone is presumed to favor a particular Presidential candidate. How was INEC going to deal with that if it insisted on going ahead with the original dates. Even when the cards are distributed 100%, not everybody  will come out to vote on the election days . So what credibility will an election have with low voter participation blamable on INEC and not on individual choice?. How many legal cases will INEC handle if all those who have not gotten their cards before the election go to court to enforce their fundamental human rights?More so for those whose preferred candidates lose. Does it therefore not make sense that we allow more time for every or most registered voters to collect their cards. Will it not reduce the possibility of all the legal scenarios painted above and create greater acceptability of the results of the elections by allowing more time for INEC to put its act together.
 Fourthly, a significant portion of Nigerian territory is under siege with many of the residents killed, maimed or internally displaced. I have personally been agonizing what will happen in the troubled parts of Adamawa,Yobe and Borno States where some local government areas(LGAs) have been seized by Boko Haram. I have wondered how those who have been displaced will vote. How will they even get their PVCs? We have not planned Well for the living, I am wondering how we can plan for the dead? Will National elections that exclude these LGAs and these internally displaced persons(IDPs) be regarded as credible? I come from Arochukwu LGA in Abia State. How will I regard a National Elections that excluded my LGA? Can I in good conscience regard a President that emerges from such an election as my President. Would I therefore not be pleased to support any move by the  military to liberate my LGA, so that I can join the rest of the Country to exercise my fundamental national right. Yes, I was not happy that the Military did not prevent my LGA from falling into the hands of the insurgents in the first place and I had been sad that they had not recovered my LGA till now. But would I not jump at the prospect of finally returning to my home?. If the military asked for more time to guarantee me these rights will I not oblige?. Yes, there may be this question 'how are they sure that they achieve it?'. Well the military says they are better armed now and they are receiving the cooperation of a multinational force( including Cameron, Chad & Niger). Even if I had doubts, what do I lose by giving them the benefit of the doubt. In the desperation to capture power and the programmed mass hysteria, it is easy to see my argument as pedantic but anybody who puts himself in the shoes of our fellow Nigerians from those 14 local governments or so who are currently under satanic occupation, will more readily see my point.
  Fifthly, I am really amazed that it is the APC which is reported to have more support from the North East and Lagos that seems not to worry if elections are not held in these North East LGAs or if the majority of voters in Lagos do not collect their PVCs before the elections are held. Ordinarily, one would have thought that they would be the first to support any move to guarantee that more of the LGAs are liberated from Boko Haram. Or is there something they know that we don't. Or could it be a ploy to dispute the result of the Presidential elections, to brand it not free, fair or credible,should they lose? One may never know. But in my simple mind, I would have thought that anything that will strengthen my support base, giving my supporters the best chance to vote will receive my unsolicited support.
 Sixthly, if our Military says that they can not guarantee security at a particular time and place and recommend another course of action which is not unconstitutional, should we not listen and pay heed? One of our criticisms against our military is poor intelligence. They could not stop the kidnapping of the CHIBOK girls, they could not preempt the attack on Baga and so forth and so on. Now they plan to preempt planned attacks by the insurgents or other criminal gangs on the election dates and we say 'no, we must have the elections. Let them come and kill our People, as long as we grab the power!'Haba! What of the security implications of possible disenfranchisement of a large number of voters( at the last check, over 50% of voters had not collected their PVCs in LAGOS STATE!). President Jonathan has repeatedly said that his ambition to remain in power is not worth the blood of a single Nigerian. Have we heard other Presidential candidates say the same? Rather we are being told not to believe what the Military says, not to trust data and statistics on the economy from the National Bureau of statistics, not to trust  the ministry of Finance figures, not to trust NNPC records,not to trust any National Institution and not even to trust any group of Nigerians or media organizations to conduct a credible debate between Presidential candidates! Who are we to trust then or whom should we believe? Perhaps everybody should fabricate his own story, concoct his own economic data and statistics or believe only that issued by them or spewed in the social media ? What a Country and what a genre of Politics? Perhaps we need to remind our selves of the eternal truth- 'that whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap'.
  Seventhly and lastly, this rescheduling of elections gives the kind of relief, players in a football match get at half time. After slugging it out for forty five minutes with adrenaline pumping, especially in a goal-less match, the players become tired, many irritated, tempers rising and the frequency of fouling rising, the referee blows the whistle to indicate half time and there is immediate relief. Calm is restored and the players and coaches March off the field to the dressing room, to rest, debrief and restrategise for the 2nd half. I really thank God for this shift in date. The tempo of the campaigns was in a crescendo, tension was rising everyday and it looked as if we were heading to cataclysm. Many Nigerians had relocated their families( some abroad) and many had stockpiled food. It was as if a war was imminent! This break for me is a welcome release, a blessing indeed and I believe it must be for many Nigerians who wish and pray that these elections will be free, fair, credible and violence free and that on May 29th 2015,only those chosen by the majority of the voting constituents according to the constitution and by the will of the Almighty God will be inaugurated into the different political offices in the States and at the centre. So help us God.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

Sunday, 8 February 2015


  In a couple of days, we shall be required to make choices concerning Nigerian Political leadership at the Presidential, Gubernatorial, Senatorial, National and State Representative levels. It is going to be a major exercise that will affect the destiny of our Country, States and legislative constituences. For me it is a sacred duty that must not be treated with levity.
Right now, there is a lot of misinformation in the air and too much emotion being let loose. Let me reiterate that choosing our Political leaders at all levels of governance must be based on verifiable and measurable criteria not on sentiments.
 That we have had poor political leadership for most of our post-independence years across all strata of governance is evident and it is clear that if we have the right leadership with the appropriate competences, our lot will continue to improve. Whereas good manifestos are important in helping guide our choices, the more critical matter is the leadership competences or skills that our political leaders possess. That was why I identified 22 key Leadership competences that any one aspiring to political leadership must have in my 2010 book- NIGERIA @ 50: TIME FOR THE EVOLUTION OF A NEW NATION which was revised in 2013 with some amendment to its title.
My contention then and which remains valid today is that before we make our choices, we must measure the competing candidates against these competences and be certain to choose the candidates which best approximates the ideal.
Education opens the mind of the individual and gives him the tools to seek for solutions. It enables us to learn how to ask questions and how to process information and interpret data. Education cultures the man and makes him more amenable to tolerating differences and disagreements. To provide effective leadership at any level, we must know how to seek, collate and interpret data, which are always needed to take informed decisions. In the 21st Century Nigeria, there should not be any place for illiterate and uninformed leadership. Those who say that Education is not important in political leadership must be seriously mistaken or they are supporters of Boko haram terrorists who have declared openly that 'Book is evil'
Every Leader that will inspire must be visionary. Any man or woman who cannot dream of a desirable future for his or her constituency, State or Nation is not worthy to lead a people. Leadership essentially involves taking followers to a desired destination. Visioning is required to anticipate the future and allows the leader to see the end from the beginning. The importance of visionary leadership is emphasized by the biblical saying that 'without Vision, the People perish'.We need leaders who look forward and not back wards.
A taciturn can not lead effectively. If we develop a vision, we need to effectively communicate the vision in a way to elicit 'buy in'. Political leadership involves representing and leading a people and therefore ability to communicate effectively is critical for carrying the People along and ensuring that their views and desires are harnessed in the contemplation, design and articulation of policies and programmes. Here, sound education becomes helpful as well.
The pain of current democratic experience is that we have democracy with few democrats. For many Nigerian political leaders, democracy is expressing your view and insisting that it is the only valid viewpoint. Tolerance for opposing or counter views is very limited. So we need genuine democrats who must insist on free and fair elections and who must adopt the attitude of learned hospitality to opposing views and understand that they are subordinates of the electorate and not masters and must not ride roughshod on the people.
There must be few valid reasons one would leave the comfort of his private life and move to the public domain to take on leadership role and in the process, abridge his personal liberties and assume the burden for the common good. The overriding reason must be love for the People and so he can not be a sadist. He must be one who is genuinely concerned about the welfare, happiness and the comfort of the people. He can not be a terror or terrorist. 
Leadership is about people and more so in the political arena. A deep understanding of the diversity of human Behaviour and the factors that motivate Behaviour is critical in leadership. Development of a positive interpersonal relationship with associates and constituents is necessary for the establishment of a productive relationship. An abrasive or coercive leader will often cause the development of friction and resistance amongst the followers,both of which will slow down the achievement of lasting goals as much valuable time will be spent resolving quarrels. We need a team player and not a Lone Ranger or a hermit as a leader.
Leadership is a tasking Responsibility. In political leadership, every word and every action of the leader is brought to judgement , both by admirers and more so by the opposition. Many times, the leader is confronted with complex problems and the followers always expect him to provide answers and solutions swiftly. A high dose of intelligence is therefore called for in the political leader we must choose.
Political leaders unlike corporate leaders are appointed by the People. Therefore the voters are the bosses and deserve  the respect of their appointees. Any political leader who feels superior to the people who elected him, looks down or talks down on the electorate would soon lose their love and loyalty. Political leadership is about service and what is called for is SERVANT Leadership, a leadership that recognizes that it is a privilege and not a right to be elected or appointed to a political office.
It is not often realized that another word for leadership is sacrifice. That is why true leaders do not rush into positions of leadership, nor do they see winning elections as do or die pursuit, because they realize that it will involve so much sacrifice. Sacrifice of personal liberty, sacrifice of personal income, sacrifice of family companionship and comfort. They realize that the reward for public service is the Honour of the opportunity and the legacy of accomplishment.
The true essence of leadership is influence. The Political leader we seek is the one that will continuously influence positive outcomes. He must be a role model who walks the talk and brings influence to bear on the regular and efficient discharge of his functions. He can not be laid back or a laggard. He must not be one that shies from taking actions and the responsibility for the outcomes.
All men are expected to live lives of integrity but for the leader, it is imperative if he must win the respect, loyalty and support of followers or constituents. Integrity involves saying a thing and meaning it. It involves being principled and standing for your principles. It incorporates honesty and a life free from deceit and corruption.
Only GOD is infallible. All men are prone to making mistakes. Some mistakes come from ignorance, some from lack of wisdom and tact, some unconscious and some deliberate. Man's knowledge is limited. The leaders we are seeking should be those who understand that they have weaknesses as well as strengths, that they are only human and can make mistakes or misjudge issues.  But they must exude enough self-confidence and humility to accept their failings and mistakes. While leaders must make strenuous efforts to overcome their weaknesses, they should show the required strength by accepting their mistakes and apologizing without waiting to be goaded or compelled. It is even worse when leaders in the face of patent failings, mistakes or misdeamenours, announce gleefully that they have no regrets or apologies to offer. Such is a frank demonstration of arrogance and patently poor leadership.
Political and other public office holders hold office in trust for the people. So it behoves them to be accountable to the people and to those who appointed them into office. The same way subordinates write reports to their superiors in business establishments, the same way, the board of Directors of companies account to the shareholders on a regular basis, must be the same way, that public office holders and leaders need to account to the people on whose behalf they acted. Any leader who disdains any summons to account for his doings as happened at the Oputa Panel for example, has leadership challenges.
 I believe that one reason, this Country has not received the true value for the money she invested in infrastructure development and provision of services over many years is that we do not view Government business as real business . In the Public sector, money is appropriated and disbursed. Some times we measure outcomes but hardly output impact. Time value of money is hardly understood and inefficient utilization is rampant. People who are familiar with Profit and loss statement are focused at creating value that exceeds cost, they evaluate the returns on every investment or expenditure and they realize the opportunity cost of every action. More importantly, the P&L mentality focuses on result and accountability while an ability to interpret the balance sheet shows a focus on growing assets or National Wealth. Another way of looking at this prescribed leadership quality is to find out what businesses our  competing Political leaders have done in the past. If a man has not borrowed money from a bank and paid back with interest, he has not learnt how to manage financial resources. Let us have political leaders who have business sense and can show what they accomplished with their own funds before we commit our State or National income to their charge.
"The fear of a God is the beginning of wisdom". We need leaders with 'Solomonic' wisdom, and this can only come from the Almighty God . It is only the fear of God that can keep leaders in check even when Men apparently can do them nothing or bring their iniquity to public attention.The endemic corruption in our Country is clear evidence that many do not truly fear God. Leaders who incite violence and condone wanton destruction of lives and property can not be God fearing indeed. So we need leaders who fear God and keep His commandments . This is the only constant for successful political leadership in our Country.
Please see the revised edition of my book, NIGERIA: NEED FOR THE EVOLUTION OF A NEW NATION to get the rest of the competences that we need in our political leaders . Then match the candidates against all the competences. Then go and vote for the one that approximates best to the ideal Political leader. That way, I believe we shall be making choices based on verifiable criteria that will result in producing the best Political leaders for the next four years. May God grant us the wisdom.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

Monday, 2 February 2015

   There can never be a perfect Leader. Most leaders do well in certain respects and fail in other respects. Also we may never all agree even on one area the leader has done well or has not done well. It all depends on the criteria for assessment. As example, For some people, a political leader has not done well except he has given them an appointment, a contract or put money in their individual pockets. He can kill himself, but as far as they have received no personal benefit he is no good. For some others, a political leader can only do well if he is from their ethnic enclave or he is from their Political Party. Therefore, he can commit 'harakiri', they will ignore and still commend him because of their narrow and myopic prism of assessment. Of course such assessment can be very biased and injurious. Nevertheless it is their own criterion for assessment.  And yet for the enlightened others, they use specific and objective criteria to assess leadership performance. There may be some colorations and nuances, but that's because they are human. And that's why I am not really surprised by the recent comments on the economy raised by Prof Chukwuma Soludo and a couple of other distinguished Nigerians. On this score, I endorse Oby Ezekwesili's call for a debate. That to me is the civilized way to conduct  a discourse or argument with the objective of presenting the facts, the figures and insights, demolishing falsehood or establishing the truth. I do not subscribe to name calling or demonizing of Professionals or fellow Nigerians just because our views do not agree. Not all Nigerians are gullible. Many have brains that work, processing all the information they receive, agreeing, disagreeing and throwing the rest into the garbage.
  In my many years of Economic advocacy as a leader in the Manufacturer's Association of Nigeria( MAN), the Nigeria Employers's Consultative Association(NECA) and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group( NESG), I have been  schooled by the Professors, the practitioners and economic agents on what shows good Economic Management and Bad Economic Management from the Private Sector Perspective. It is from this standpoint that I want to justify my conviction that when it comes to the Economy Jonathan has done well, better than many.
 In the years that Jonathan has been President , our economy has grown between 6-7%per annum. This is one of the highest growth rates in the World, bettered by China and a few other Countries. This is the compounded growth rate that has driven us to become the Largest Economy in Africa and the 26th in the World. If this is not a consequence of good economic management, please tell me what is. Even if it happened by 'luck', we must still give the credit to Jonathan's Government. Because if the reverse were the case and the economy was in decline or in stagnation as we had many years ago, we will still have blamed it on his poor economic management. If a man can take the flack for failure, why must we deny him the right to take the credit for success.
For 'n' years, where 'n' is not less than 30 years, we had complained that we had a mono economy where oil was everything. But we were "shocked" to see that we now have a fairly diversified economy, led by services at 52%, where oil's 
Contribution to GDP has declined to 14% from over 33% in the hey days! and that even Agriculture had declined from its dominant 42% to 22% because of growth in Manufacturing which has climbed from less than 4% to about 7% and such services as Telecommunications and Entertainment taking up measurable positions on the GDP grid at 8.69% and 1.42% respectively.  It is not yet déjavu as we still depended on Crude oil and Gas for about 70% of National Income until the recent crash of oil prices which has now moved our non oil revenue to about 47% of the 2015 Budget proposals, bringing oil revenue to a healthier 53%. If all this are not as a result of Sound economic policies, some of which were started by the Previous Governments, then tell me what is.
For the last four years, Jonathan's government has sustained Economic policies that had created a stable macroeconomic environment. For the first time in 'n' years, our inflation rate dropped to Single digit. This was a feat previous Governments dreamt about but could never attain .Until very recently, the exchange rate remained very stable, operating within a narrow band. This made naira almost convertible and allowed Industrialists and importers plan inventory commitments with greater ease and less apprehension. Even the Interest rates had been trending down and for once in a long time, Farmers and some industrialists were able to obtain credit at single digit interest rate or very low double digits.
  This has happened, because Jonathan gave free hand to the Professionals in the Central Bank of Nigeria( CBN) and those in the Ministries of Finance, Trade and Industry, National Planning, etc to run with minimum interference. Additionally, he involved the Private Sector in the Economic Management Team where they used real market experience to balance academic economic theories. If this is not good economic management, please tell me what is. Some Presidents in some Countries have been voted out of office because they could not manage inflation!
 It is easy to take things for granted when they are going well, but when they go wrong, we come to realize that certain things are more important than others. People can find time to make an issue of the reduction in our foreign reserves, because we have plenty of food in the market. To be sincere, Nigeria has had an abundance of food. Thanks be to God and thanks be to a revamped Agricultural environment. Iam personally surprised that after the recent devaluation of the currency, and some adjustment in the Monetary Policy Rate( MPR), the prices of food items in the market remain fairly stable, keeping overal inflation much lower than I had predicted which indicates a higher proportion of locally produced food items. Does anybody remember 1984-1986, when we had to queue for food items and other necessities,including soaps and detergents in Leventis Stores and other shops. The days of essential commodities( Essenco) and import licensing when many companies including mine downsized or closed down because they could not bribe to get enough import licence .
   I am sure Nigerians have taken for granted the availability of Petrol and diesel. In the last couple of years, except for occasional hiccups caused by striking workers( NUPENG & PENGASAN), we have had almost hassle -free availability of Petrol and Diesel in virtually every nook and cranny of the Nation selling at controlled and deregulated prices, depending on your distance from Abuja or Lagos. What is more, the price of diesel began to come down, helping to reduce cost of production for industrialists. I have lived in this Country for long, and from the Military to now, we have never had a better supply situation. Many times in the past, we have spent valuable time running around looking for fuel and sometimes ending up with adulterated or foul fuel. I stand to be corrected.
  If all these have not happened because of good economic management, then tell me what is.
  The growing unemployment in Nigeria hit the peak in 2010 following the Global economic crisis which caused a shrinking of the global economy. In 2011unemployment rate in the general population was nearly 24% with Youth Unemployment reaching nearly 50%. But as today overal unemployment has declined to less than 20%( Actually about 15% in the first half of 2014 according to National Bureau of Statistics) and Youth unemployment has gone down to less than 38%. Though these changes may not look as dramatic we would wish, but they have occurred by two pronged approach pursued by Jonathan- Supporting a revival of the Agricultural, industrial, Entertainment, and several other sectors of the economy to provide opportunities for absorbing the youth from the private sector  angle and the various efforts being made to create jobs in the Public sector especially through the Various safety net projects of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program( SURE-P). From the Community, Social Women and Youth Employment ( CSWYE) Program, over 180,000 Youth & Women have been employed, over 10,000 Healthworkers( midwives, Nurses and Community Healthworkers) have been employed, over 5000 Youths have been trained through the Technical Vocational Educational Training in different Skills and vocations and deployed to several industries while 15000 Have been employed by FERMA in road repairs and Vegetation control, nearly 50,000 hitherto Unemployed graduates have been given jobs through the  Graduate Internship Scheme( GIS) across the Nation. The YOUWIN Programme has enabled several Young Nigerians( especially Women) to receive grant from the Federal Ministry of Finance to set up new businesses through which they have employed other youths. The determined implementation of the local content law in the oil and gas and else where in the economy has created more jobs and more wealth for Nigerians. If these efforts to create jobs directly and indirectly that have led to measurable improvement  in the unemployment rate over the last four years do not amount to good economic management, then tell me what is.
      Jonathan's Government has introduced several policies and programs that are supportive of Businesses, especially local Production. The Pro-Agric policies and programs are well advertised, making it possible for a new generation of Agric Entrepreneurs( Nagropreneurs ) to obtain loans at 9%, in addition to unprecedented support to agriculture with a focus on developing the Agriculture  value chain. I already referred to the higher level of local food production which has helped to moderate inflation. There is a new Industrial Revolution policy which is focusing on supporting local industrial output. We have seen unprecedented expansion in the Cement Industry which is taking the Country to the level of self-sufficiency in Cement production with possibility of Exporting the excess in the near future. Have we soon forgotten the Cement armada spectacle where our ports were clogged with cement import from all over the World. Like it or not, the local Auto Industry is coming back to life with the new National Auto Policy which seeks to discourage unbridled importation of all kinds of automobiles from all over the World. Many of the World auto companies have started to invest in local production plants. This industrial revival and upgrade is happening in many Industries including mine-the Pharmaceutical where the federal Government has supported a number of local manufacturers to obtain the WHO GMP certification in the last one year, which hitherto had been practically impossible. Now these companies can compete with International and Multinational companies for global supplies. The Privitization and the Deregulation Policy which Jonathan has been 'forcefully' implementing has virtually transferred power for Electric power to the Private Sector. Though the level of expected improvement has not been attained, we have brought the 15-year story of unbundling NEPA to a closure with reasonable expectation that new investment will flow to truly sort out our Electric Power needs, especially if Goverment finally sells the Transmission infrastructure . I believe the deregulation of the down stream Petroleum sector will be completed soon and the multiplier effect on the economy will be unleashed. For me the fight against corruption will get strong fillip when we remove the power of discretion and patronage from these sectors through Privitisation and deregulation . Since we deregulated Telecommunications, corruption in that sector has died and been buried. That is more effective than sending ten Managing Directors of NITEL to Kirikiri. Not that I am opposed to punishing the guilty. Corruption in Power is in 'coma' now and that in Oil and Gas will soon be gasping for breath when we fully deregulate the sector. When we bury the 'big'corruption in these sectors by these policies that take the power of discretion from Public Servants, we can easily deal with 'smaller' corruption in government bureaucracy and the private sector . The level of Policy inconsistency and flip-flops we used to see in the economy in the past has significantly declined, creating more confidence and attracting more investments into the Country with Nigeria receiving the highest Foreign Direct Investment ( FDI) in Africa in the last two years or so despite slowing down in oil and Gas and the Security scare not withstanding .
     I could go on and on. I have said nothing about the massive investment in rehabilitating major Highways and Rail lines in our  Country. Last December, I travelled to Kwale from Lagos in five and half hours and travelled by rail from Portharcourt to IMO River. The last time I did that was in 1992. The trains are running again and the long delayed major road projects like the East -West Road, the Abuja- Lokoja, Benin-Shagamu, Onitsha-Enugu-PH, Kano-Maiduguri  and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway are all nearing completion  with significant portions now open to traffic. Have I said anything about the miracle of remodeling 18 Nigerian Airports in one season, with most of them fully completed. The impact of good Roads and other modes of transportation to any economy are too obvious for any further elaboration. Some people who are reading this and who may have joined the bandwagon of those who say nothing is happening in the economy or that Jonathan is clueless, may be angry at me and may think that I am campaigning. But these are facts which are verifiable. Yes, these may not be the best possible but we must acknowledge what is the correct situation. Jonathan may have questions to answer concerning Security or on other issues but on the Economy, my verdict is that he has done well, though could do better. My bible says"Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil, ...that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter ". May God have Mercy.
  Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR