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Sunday, 23 August 2015

THE PORTHARCOURT VOLUNTEER :LESSONS FROM THE NIGERIA CIVIL WAR

I have often pondered if the Nigeria Civil war 1967-1970 was inevitable. Could we have done anything to prevent or avert it? Considering the colossal cost of that war in man and materials, arguments have continued to rage as to the inevitability of the war. It is estimated that up to 3 million people died during the war, most of whom were Biafrans and predominantly Igbo .From those killed in the January 15th 1966 coup,the July 1966 counter coup and its aftermath, to those killed in the progrom; from those killed in the battle fields to hapless civilians bombed and strafed in market places, from traumatized and dehumanized civilians murdered in cold blood as happened in Asaba to Children who died from malnutrition, the human cost was enormous. Not to talk of the loss of property by mostly Ndigbo all over Nigeria, some of which became classified as 'Abandoned Property'
  When the war ended, all Biafrans who had accounts in the banks before the war were paid a maximum of Five pounds irrespective of how much money one had in the account. Of course, Biafran currency became worthless and no matter how much you had, you could not get more than five pounds. Some people felt this was a grand design to keep the 'conquered' people of Biafra  perpetually impoverished so as to make them incapable of carrying out any future 'rebellion'.As it turned out there was an unofficial ceiling placed on how much progress any Former 'Rebel' could make in Nigeria- both in the public and private sectors for several years after the war, and may have just been relaxed recently. Only Perhaps. Nevertheless the truth is that it was not only Biafrans that paid the price for the war. Several Nigerian Soldiers died and the National government diverted resources which could have been used in developing the Nation to prosecuting the war. Overal Development of Nigeria was virtually halted in the three years the war lasted and subsequently,  some resources were directed to rebuilding or rehabilitating National institutions and monuments that were destroyed during the war.
  Many of us who saw and experienced the sufferings and pains of Biafra and its aftermath would not wish for another civil war in Nigeria. No body will wish to relive some of the experiences I have recounted in this book. It is only by God's grace that I survived the war and be in a position to put down my experiences in print. In 1993, following the annulment by General Ibrahim Babangida of the Presidential elections generally believed to have been won by  Chief MKO Abiola, Nigeria's unity was fiercely tested and many predicted another civil war. In my opinion, that war did not happen, essentially because the Igbo refused to align with the Yoruba who strongly felt cheated by the annulment. The pains and vestiges of the civil war were still very fresh and the Igbo rejected any attempt to be drawn into another war.  Since then,  at several points in our National History, the foundations of Nigeria's unity have been tested. The "Kaima Declaration" and  the Niger Delta struggle with its militancy threatened our unity. After the 2011 elections, the post election crisis which exacerbated the Bokoharam insurgency has severely threatened the national unity. Even the 2015 elections threatened Nigeria's unity in an aggravated manner were it not for Divine intervention aptly demonstrated through President Goodluck Jonathan's call to General Muhammadu Buhari to concede defeat even before INEC finished collating the result of the Presidential elections. In all these testings, the lessons from the Nigeria civil war seem to have helped us to steer clear of another war. I therefore believe  that the Nigeria-Biafra war, was a war for Nigeria's unity in a sense. 
  But must these testings continue for ever? The long cry for a national sovereign conference had arisen from this instability. Many Nations have gone past the stage where the unity of their nations are brought to question every four years. When can we begin to take the unity of Nigeria for granted? Even in our Region, many countries like Ghana, The Gambia, Ivory Coast  and Benin Republic, have long gone past the point where their national unity is being questioned.  In concluding this story of my recollections of what happened during the Nigerian civil war from the perspective of a young combatant,let me draw out a few lessons and make a few suggestions that in my opinion will not only help to avert another civil war but will help consolidate our unity.
  Firstly, we must create a nation of equal citizenship. There should be no second class citizen. Every Nigerian must be made to feel that he is an equal stakeholder with every other Nigerian( including the high and the mighty). Citizenship must be equal but position on the social ladder can be different. The Fisherman from Okrika in the Rivers State of Nigeria must feel equal citizenship with the son of the emir of Kano. Today some people feel and act like they own Nigeria more or less than others. This is a major destabilizing factor. To achieve this will involve several things. One is that every Nigerian citizen must be granted some basic inalienable rights from birth to death. For example,right of primary healthcare, right of primary education , right of a roof over his head and right of protection from harm. Two is the right of residency. No Nigerian should be made to feel Like a stranger or alien in any part of the Country. We should abolish this archaic and divisive matter of State of   Origin and resort to State of Residency with equal rights for all residents. Charging dis criminatory school fees, having lower cut off marks for admission into schools, etc are recipes for disunity.
  Secondly, we must have a balanced Federation. The country was fairly balanced in structure and practice during the first republic when we had four Regions. Instability was introduced with state creation. And this should not be surprising as the intentment of state creation was to destabilize Eastern Nigeria which later became Biafra. That instability eventually caught up with the whole Country, because 'whatsoever a man sows,that he will also reap'. Since  it looks impracticable to return to the  four regions structure, may be we should adopt the six-Zone structure currently being used for political office sharing at the federal level . Demand for states creation is unending and one day we may end up with one hundred states if we retain States as  federating units.I am not even speaking about the huge cost of administering one hundred states. That will severely constrain funds for development. And yet the demand for more states may never cease.Thirdly, and consequent on the above, we must practise  true federalism in all of its ramifications.  The centralization of authority and command introduced by the military has been a major cause of destabilization. The struggle to control the federal government is the major recurring irritant to National unity. Power should be devolved to the federating units so that we can make the centre less attractive and the struggle for it less acrimonious.
  Fourthly, we should introduce a single National Language outside English. It could be the Wazobia language that was being developed some time ago or one of the current popular Nigerian Languages.Every Country around us has their indigenous national language outside that imposed by the colonial government. It will be a difficult task but it will be worth the effort in the long run. Nothing unites a people more than a common language. Fifthly, this current practice of rotation of public offices must be continued until every zone has held the topmost office in the land and then it can be jettisoned for an arrangement that compels alliances so that no single zone can dominate or go it all alone. Sixthly, the Country must institute a reward system that rewards Hardwork and merit. The subsisting system that seems to promote privileges for the well connected and where reward seems to be inversely related to effort or sacrifice will not promote National unity. Seventhly, we must enthrone a Nation where the rule of law reigns supreme, with no malice or favour to any one and where Justice does not go to the highest bidder.
  There are many other things that can promote national unity, some of which I had previously discussed in my earlier book:NIGERIA: NEED FOR THE EVOLUTION OF A NEW NATION, but I truly believe that if there is a concerted effort among the political and civil society leadership to focus on these seven issues, which may require some constitutional amendments, we should be in a position to consolidate Nigeria's unity in the next ten years. Thereafter a sustained economic and social development of our Nation can proceed without interruption. We must ensure that Nigeria does not fight another civil war nor promote any new regional insurgency, militancy or rebellion. With determination and sincerity of purpose under God, this is attainable. We have had enough!
( Above article is culled from chapter Twelve of my new book: THE PORTHARCOURT VOLUNTEER - Experiences of a young combatant in the Nigeria-Biafra war which was released into the market last week )

Monday, 17 August 2015

You all have waited for this, Now you have it!

Mazi Sam  Ohuabunwa's two latest books are now available on e-copy. You can download them from any of these platforms; Amazon, Apple iBooks, Books on Board, Google, Kobo, Nook






... Books that will transform your thought pattern and shape our lives for the future..,  

Sunday, 16 August 2015

GOOD CORPORATE GOVERNANCE : STRATEGIC TOOL FOR FIGHTING CORRUPTION

   As has been long expected, the gale of sacks and replacements in the public sector organizations and institutions has finally arrived on shore . The boards of all government institutions, corporations and agencies have been dissolved over the media, no time for hand over, no time to say good bye. As it was in the beginning so it is now. As it happened in Obasanjo's time, so it in Buhari's time. The boards were not appointed to achieve anything except as compensation, so they could be dispensed with any how! Then the heads of Agencies are are being fired, one a day, and new ones are being hired almost instantaneously. As it is now, so it was not in the past. As it was in Jonathan's time, so it is not in Buhari's era. Way back, people were fired, then the positions left vacant or people were appointed to act and it took a long time to appoint substantive replacement. But today, people are sacked and are replaced immediately, no time for lobbying, no time to prevaricate. Good change.
   Expectedly there is excitement following these changes. People are excited for different reasons. Some are happy that their own 'people' are being appointed. Now their own 'turn' has come. Some are happy that their 'enemies' are being removed, those who refused or neglected to help them while in office. But many of those excited are happy to see the 'corrupt ' officials go, perhaps hoping that the newly appointed 'saints' will not be corrupt or that they will perform much better. I can understand these emotions and expectations. But this is not the first time, we have witnessed these emotional swings and expressions of high hopes. From the days of the military rule and particularly in the last 16 years of civilian democracy, we have seen several cycles of these sacks and appointments. And if the truth, must be told, after the initial excitement and emotions, we have largely been disappointed with the performance of many of these 'wonderful' appointees, and soon after began to wish for their removal or sack.
 The failure of many of these 'wonder kids' to meet our expectations, both in job performance and in integrity have been due to many factors which range from wrong choice of appointees,many times arising from political bias or nepotism or crass lack of experience or relevant skills for the new assignment. Some times it could be due to character deficit and at other times it could be due to other structural, organizational and environmental challenges, some beyond the control of the new office holders. But, if you ask me I will say that one major cause of the poor performance of many of the public sector agencies and institutions and the generally high corruption perception in these organizations  is poor corporate governance practices.
  Corporate Goverance is concerned with the diligent oversight of the what the management does in any organization. It is involved in setting the strategic direction of an organization, setting out the vision, mission, strategic objectives, processes, systems and the values that define the corporate culture of any organization. It defines the contributions and roles of all the stakeholders in the organization and ensures that each stakeholder's interest is protected. It measures the performance of the senior executives of the organization especially that of the chief executive officer( Director General, Executive secretary or whatever name, he or she is called). It has the responsibility to hire and fire the Chief executive and to plan succession. It ensures that the resources of the institution are applied judiciously to the business of the organization and that Management is not only held accountable, but is prevented from abusing their offices through regular internal audit and external audit and regular reporting to regulatory agencies and to the shareholders.
  This job of ensuring good corporate governance is what the board of directors of the organizations, companies and agencies do. The major job of every board of directors is to ensure good corporate governance. Therefore if truly we want these new appointees to the top jobs in government agencies as we have seen recently in organizations like the NNPC, NCC, NIMASA, NPA etc , to achieve our expectations of them especially with regards to eliminating corruption, then one area we must look at,is the composition and functioning of the Board of Directors or commissioners of these organizations.
  From my experience, having served in some of such boards in the past, many public sector boards pay insufficient attention to good corporate governance. First is that the composition is often inappropriate. Many people are appointed for purely political reasons, no requisite experience on the subject matter, no understanding of what boards do and many never managed any serious businesses or organizations in the past. At one time I was made the Chairman of a state teaching hospital board and on my board were a number of market women, who were being rewarded for being loyal party supporters. They made no contribution to the discussions on the board on any matter, except when it came to the award of contracts or discussion on sitting allowances and such pecuniary matters. In some boards, I met very old people, who slept through the meetings and only woke up to move motions for adjournment. At other times, we had very busy politicians and executives who never read the board papers, always came late to the meetings and were always in a hurry to leave or force the meeting to end prematurely. Such boards could never enthrone good corporate governance to ensure that management was kept accountable.
   But I have also served in at least two public sector boards where corporate governance was at acceptable levels. One was the Nigerian Extractive Industries transparency Initiative( NEITI) and the other was the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme( SURE-P). There were a number of reasons these other boards were more effective in ensuring good corporate governance than the former. First was the leadership of the Boards. The Chairmen of these boards were carefully selected- men of character and conscience who were not only experienced but had reputation to protect. Secondly was that the boards were peopled by People with relevant experience ( Technocrats, Bureaucrats and Party people)in the subject matter and so they could understand the language of the management and the business of the organization. A number of them were politicians but they had fair knowledge of the subject matter. Third was that the board defined its role properly and separated corporate governance from corporate management. The board focused on corporate governance, allowing management to focus on corporate management. Fourthly, the boards developed a board charter or code of conduct that defined how it did its work, what was allowable and what was not. Fifthly, the boards subjected both the management's work and its own work to regular reviews and audits. Sixthly, every effort was made to improve the knowledge of board and management in their assignment through training and experience sharing. Seventh, the board ensured that the performance of the institutions they led presented reports regularly to the appointing authorities and to other third parties including civil society groups. Transparency was promoted as a culture.
   Soon the boards of the several public sector organizations recently dissolved will be re populated. And the politicians are waiting in the wings, since it has become the norm to compensate political party people and other supporters with board appointments, some 'juicy' and some not. It is not my intention to ask that such practice should stop in this treatise, but my request is that we should be more deliberate in choosing and constituting the boards. Let the right people be put in the right boards especially the board chairmen. Second, let these board members go through proper orientation to fully understand what their roles are and what their limitations are. Third, these boards must be subject to both internal and external reviews to ensure they are leaving up to expectations. They must sign up to a board chatter or code of conduct which is peer reviewed. This attitude that they have been appointed as compensation must be disabused and replaced with the attitude that they have been appointed to help the President achieve his programs and objectives.
  No matter how good and well meaning the President may be, he can not wage this war against corruption all alone. And no matter how effective EFCC or the ICPC may be, they can not effectively wipe out corruption in the public sector by acting after the event, because, they only act after the crime has been committed and only after if and when a petition has been written. If this war must be holistic, then we need to focus a lot more on the preventive side of the campaign. If all boards of public sector organizations can be made to enthrone good corporate governance, we would have found a strategic tool to prevent corruption in the institutions and should there be cases of corruption and abuse of office, the regular oversights and audits will readily reveal these for appropriate actions. President Muhammadu Buhari will need to recreate and extend his reach and influence and he could make the boards of the government institutions his ally in promoting performance and integrity.
 Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

THE CHALLENGE OF SUCCESSION PLANNING IN NIGERIA

One of the practices that few companies in Nigeria (other than large corporates) think about is succession planning. Succession planning is the management of your future talent in your company, grooming individuals to take on bigger, more important roles and thinking about the continuity of the company. There is little evidence to show that even leading Nigerian indigenous organizations undertake succession planning. It is even worse with family businesses or sole proprietors.
 Research has shown that many of the world renowned businesses and corporations with the most longevity have their successes rooted in effective succession planning. More often than not, most of the founders and CEOs of these great companies begin planning their exit strategies right at the start of their appointment. Unfortunately, in the case of Nigerian owned companies, many of the founders have difficult time planning their exit or succession. Why? They do not want to give up power to another person or they fear that nobody will do well, not to talk of doing better . As a result, we discover that transitions are marred with bottlenecks, never smooth. In deed many well known Nigerian companies have died because of poor succession.
 The succession problems we have in Nigeria are similar with those in other African Countries. Nigeria is an emerging economy  with a very complex business environment. In my view the following are some of the succession challenges typical in the Nigerian Business  environment 
 . Lack of Succession Planning
 As a matter of fact, lack of effective succession planning has been a world wide challenge. More than half of the companies operating today can not name a successor to the CEO should the need suddenly arise. This lack of planning  could be very problematic for the person leaving as well as the person expected to take over. But in Nigeria, the situation is worse as many of the organizations lack the skills to effect a smooth transition of leadership. If the truth must be told many of the organizations in Nigeria do not have any succession document in place. It is hardly contemplated and only becomes an issue when the current occupant retires, is forced out or suddenly dies.
  . Succession Crisis
 Research has established the fact that the major difference between organizations that manage success  well and those that don't is the understanding that succession is a process, not an event. Transition in leadership is crisis laden in Nigeria mostly because of this. There is no process. Mostly succession is treated adhoc and that partly explains  why many indigenous companies seldom survive two pgenerations as we wait till the forced or sudden exit of the founder before a new one is appointed and often without measurable criteria. Frequently this ends in prolonged crisis that could undermine the survival of the business. The process of succession at all levels of the organizations, but more so at the CEO level must start several years before the founder or current CEO is due to retire. The identified candidates must be systematically chosen and groomed.
  . Polygamous Family
 In the recent past, a typical successful African Entrepreneur will often acquire more wives. Unfortunately, this often creates huge succession problems, especially when he dies. The rivalry between the siblings  and spouses that follows the demise of polygamous entrepreneurs coupled with a variety of cultural laws guiding inheritance in Nigeria, often does not make room for the objective selection of the best material as successor. This creates succession crisis accentuated by the different wives who want their own children to take up the reigns of leadership, without any objective consideration of suitability.
  . Intestate Succession
 The law of nature dictates that everyone must of necessity die some day. But it has been shown that many Nigerian business men are reluctant to make a will. Some think that making a will at mid age is like inviting death. Many therefore postpone taking action until it gets late. Then a succession tussle begins which can last for many years. In the interim, the business suffers and could fail. Examples abound in our country both in manufacturing, service and professional practices. Another variant that has been common in our jurisdiction is the contention of the validity of written wills. We have seen where contending parties go to court to contest what was otherwise a properly written will. This leads to a delay in the execution of the will while the legal dispute persists, often with disastrous consequences to the continuity of such businesses. Therefore, it becomes mandatory that Founders and Business owners should write their wills at the earliest opportunity and ensure that such wills are properly filled to minimize legal disputations at execution.
  .Misfit in choosing successor
 Making the choice of a successor is not generally easy. Often founders or departing CEOs will like to appoint successors who are like them or who would remain loyal. In many instances that leads to wrong choices and the future of the company is compromised. Choice of successors should be based on the future direction of the company or anticipated needs of the company. When the company is innovating, a creative or research inclined successor is appropriate, when the company plans to expand, then a man with marketing skills may be best whereas when the company is consolidating, a successor candidate with finance skills may be considered. It is fully recommended that mundane considerations should never play any role in choosing successors. What must be uppermost in the mind of the company is the survival and  future growth of the organization. But the minimum consideration is that every company must choose a man or woman of integrity. In my opinion, nothing else is more important. 
   Other challenges often encountered in succession planning in Nigeria include the influence of the extended family system where unnecessary interventions of relations in the choice of a successor can precipitate crisis,  founder's children or recommended successor not having adequate interest or passion for the business and the impact of Government policies. It has been shown that Government policies can affect succession and create challenges. The recent bank consolidation for example disrupted succession plans in  the legacy companies. Another critical challenge arises from the corporate governance structure and practice of the organization. Companies that have functioning boards where corporate governance and strategic planning are taken seriously, the issue of succession planning is better handled, as against companies with poor or non existent good corporate governance practices where the choice of successor is made at the whims and caprices of one man.
  In conclusion, it is recommended that Nigerian companies must ensure they introduce succession planning as a matter of deliberate policy and build it into their strategic plan, which must be reviewed regularly.There should be no procrastination, so that the longevity and sustainability of the businesses can be better assured in line with global best practices. To me, no company is too small or too young to plan succession. Of equal importance is that such plans must be implemented in a deliberate and disciplined manner as making plans without implementing them is a waste of time.
   Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa. OFR 

Monday, 3 August 2015

NOW THAT APC HAS BECOME 'SUPREME',CAN THE 8TH ASSEMBLY BEGIN BUSINESS?

When the history of the present political dispensation superintended by the Ruling Party-APC will be written, so many unique developments will be highlighted. One is that the President of the Federal Republic has run this country for the first time as a 'sole administrator'.Never in the history of our a nation have we seen this. Even throughout  the many years of the military rule in our country, including the years of the civil war, no Head of State or President has adopted this style of running Nigeria. As at today, all the Permanent Secretaries of all the ministries and heads of all the several Departments and agencies of government report directly to the President. What a large span of control! Since there are no ministers and no Federal Exective Council (FEC),we have the nearest example of absolute executive power being exercised by one man. 
  This may not be necessarily bad as it allows the President to take decisions without much arguments and delays. The civil servants are not known to argue on anything with their bosses. They always wait to be 'directed' even if the direction leads the wrong way! But if you have an operational FEC, then the President will have to wait for the Ministers to bring memos to the council which will be discussed,argued upon, before approval. Even the President will be required to bring memos to the FEC for review and approval. But as things stand today, the President takes his decisions and approves his ideas and directs the civil servants to implement. If the Nation was at war and the President needed emergency powers, this will be a perfect setting. Or if the President wanted to move with speed with minimum debates and procedural rigmaroles, this setting will also serve that purpose very well.
  The challenge that I see is whether the Constitution foresaw this style of Leading the Federation. Can the President run the Country as a sole administrator? Can he for example decide not to appoint ministers throughout out his 4-year term? If not , how long does the constitution allow him to manage the Country this way? Today, some Nigerians are comfortable with this style and may wish that it continues much longer. Is that the intendment  of the constitution or should this prompt the need for a constitutional amendment in the future? President Buhari currently enjoys a great amount of goodwill and confidence and so, not too many feathers seem ruffled now but can he do this in his second term and shall we allow future Presidents to decide whether or not they would appoint ministers and advisers or how long it would take them to make the appointments?
  The second unique thing for which we shall remember this dispensation is that we hired Members of the National Assembly, who spent the first two months on vacations, arguments  and  fights for positions. And it could even be longer as the formation of committees has not even happened. If it has taken nearly two months to agree on Principal officers of only a few members, I shudder to think of how long it will take to fight for 'juicy' committee leaderships and membership. Because it is only after this has been done,can true legislative work begin.
  When the President started to 'go slow' on his work, many of us thought that it was due to the problem in the National Assembly(NASS). But we have now been told that it is not so. The President is acting  deliberately. He needs time to clean the Augean stable all alone before inviting those who may hinder this process or who may actually create more dirt. In which case even the NASS may not be required at this time. By actually doing nothing in the last two months except to fight and scheme for positions, the NASS has been virtually absent in the governance process. This scenario reminds me of the days of military rule when the NASS was abolished and the Supreme Military Council ruled, excercising both legislative and Executive powers.
   Talking about Supreme, takes me to the reason the NASS has been unable to perform its constitutional roles since inauguration. The Party with the majority in the Assembly-APC wants to be seen as 'Supreme'. The Party wanted to dictate to the NASS who their leaders should be and some of the members had stoutly refused. In the ensuing imbroglio, members of NASS from PDP, APGA and other parties have been prevented from doing the work for which they were elected at great costs to them and the Nation. I have been amused by the constant refrain of 'Party supremacy'. 'The Party is supreme and every member must accept what the party says'. Of course I am one of the proponents of Party discipline and party supremacy. In several of my writings I had deprecated those who disobeyed lawful orders of their parties or who worked against their party interest. I have of course reserved the worst adjective for those who abandoned their parties after being elected in to office without justifiable and convincing reasons. 
    But why am I amused at the party supremacy platitude at this time? Those who play God or who ignore the counsel of God will always pay for it. The Bible says that "whatsoever a man sows that he will reap". Some people think it is a joke. They think they are smart and that they can always manipulate the system to their advantage always. I am amused that those who are mouthing 'party supremacy' most at this time and who seem most pained by the apparent disobedience of Senator Saraki  and Hon Dogara to tow party lines and directives hook,Line and sinker are either the same ones who planned, engineered, motivated or encouraged 
Tambuwal and Ihedioha to go against their own party directives in 2011, or they are the same People who conspired and rejected party directives concerning Governors' forum elections in 2013. Now they are reaping what they had sown and in reaction, they had locked down the NASS for two months. 
  If we want good for our Nation, then we must play principled politics. We can not promote evil when it temporarily works in our favour and then begin to pontificate and sermonize when the repercussions ensue. We must anticipate the consequences of all of our actions and deeds. Now President Buhari in his characteristic candour has announced to the World that he would discriminate in his governance. That those who voted 95% for him would be treated differently from those who voted 5% for him. That seems to explain his lopsided appointments which favour the North and South West while he has completely ignored the South East which voted 5% for him. It can therefore be projected that he will do the same with citing of projects and other governmental programmes. On the surface, this doctrine sounds reasonable and even justifiable.  But let it be known to all, that there will be consequences for this officially declared discriminatory policy. I do not know what those consequences and repercussions would be, but I am certain that there will be consequences. How do I know?
  The Word of God says so and science supports it. One of the laws of Physics as enunciated by Newton says" Every action has an equal and opposite reaction". My point is that each time we take actions, we should always anticipate and prepare for the reaction. Very often, we seem surprised or taken aback by the reactions to our freely chosen course of actions. And this will also go down in history as one of the unique things of this political dispensation. I had heard stories of discriminatory acts by politicians against people in their constituencies who did not vote for them. One popular one was the one credited to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who denied some communities in present day Edo State but then in the old Western Region pipe-borne water because they did not vote for him as the Premier of Western Nigeria. He was said to have literarily dug out the water pipes so that the community would not have water whereas adjourning communities had water. I do not know whether it is true or one of those fairy tales told about our past great political leaders. But often, when accused, political leaders deny any form of discrimination against their constituents. But this time, the President Acknowledged It and rationalized it. That is unique!
  With the assumption of the position of Majority leader in the House of Representatives by Hon Gbajabiamila, giving South West geopolitical zone two key positions( Deputy Speaker and Majority House leader) in the APC house leadership, with none to the South East, APC seems to have enthroned Party Supremacy. My only hope is that the NASS can now begin business unhindered any longer so that the People of Nigeria can take the benefit of the salaries and allowances they are paid. It the NASS that gives democracy credibility and stability in Nigeria.
 Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

NOW THAT APC HAS BECOME 'SUPREME',CAN THE 8TH ASSEMBLY BEGIN BUSINESS?
  When the history of the present political dispensation superintended by the Ruling Party-APC will be written, so many unique developments will be highlighted. One is that the President of the Federal Republic has run this country for the first time as a 'sole administrator'.Never in the history of our a nation have we seen this. Even throughout  the many years of the military rule in our country, including the years of the civil war, no Head of State or President has adopted this style of running Nigeria. As at today, all the Permanent Secretaries of all the ministries and heads of all the several Departments and agencies of government report directly to the President. What a large span of control! Since there are no ministers and no federal Exective Council(FEC),we have the nearest example of absolute executive power being exercised by one man. 
  This may not be necessarily bad as it allows the President to take decisions without much arguments and delays. The civil servants are not known to argue on anything with their bosses. They always wait to be 'directed' even if the direction leads the wrong way! But if you have an operational FEC, then the President will have to wait for the Ministers to bring memos to the council which will be discussed,argued upon, before approval. Even the President will be required to bring memos to the FEC for review and approval. But as things stand today, the President takes his decisions and approves his ideas and directs the civil servants to implement. If the Nation was at war and the President needed emergency powers, this will be a perfect setting. Or if the President wanted to move with speed with minimum debates and procedural rigmaroles, this setting will also serve that purpose very well.
  The challenge that I see is whether the Constitution foresaw this style of Leading the Federation. Can the President run the Country as a sole administrator? Can he for example decide not to appoint ministers throughout out his 4-year term? If not , how long does the constitution allow him to manage the Country this way? Today, some Nigerians are comfortable with this style and may wish that it continues much longer. Is that the intendment  of the constitution or should this prompt the need for a constitutional amendment in the future? President Buhari currently enjoys a great amount of goodwill and confidence and so, not too many feathers seem ruffled now but can he do this in his second term and shall we allow future Presidents to decide whether or not they would appoint ministers and advisers or how long it would take them to make the appointments?
  The second unique thing for which we shall remember this dispensation is that we hired Members of the National Assembly, who spent the first two months on vacations, arguments  and  fights for positions. And it could even be longer as the formation of committees has not even happened. If it has taken nearly two months to agree on Principal officers of only a few members, I shudder to think of how long it will take to fight for 'juicy' committee leaderships and membership. Because it is only after this has been done,can true legislative work begin.
  When the President started to 'go slow' on his work, many of us thought that it was due to the problem in the National Assembly(NASS). But we have now been told that it is not so. The President is acting  deliberately. He needs time to clean the Augean stable all alone before inviting those who may hinder this process or who may actually create more dirt. In which case even the NASS may not be required at this time. By actually doing nothing in the last two months except to fight and scheme for positions, the NASS has been virtually absent in the governance process. This scenario reminds me of the days of military rule when the NASS was abolished and the Supreme Military Council ruled, excercising both legislative and Executive powers.
   Talking about Supreme, takes me to the reason the NASS has been unable to perform its constitutional roles since inauguration. The Party with the majority in the Assembly-APC wants to be seen as 'Supreme'. The Party wanted to dictate to the NASS who their leaders should be and some of the members had stoutly refused. In the ensuing imbroglio, members of NASS from PDP, APGA and other parties have been prevented from doing the work for which they were elected at great costs to them and the Nation. I have been amused by the constant refrain of 'Party supremacy'. 'The Party is supreme and every member must accept what the party says'. Of course I am one of the proponents of Party discipline and party supremacy. In several of my writings I had deprecated those who disobeyed lawful orders of their parties or who worked against their party interest. I have of course reserved the worst adjective for those who abandoned their parties after being elected in to office without justifiable and convincing reasons. 
    But why am I amused at the party supremacy platitude at this time? Those who play God or who ignore the counsel of God will always pay for it. The Bible says that "whatsoever a man sows that he will reap". Some people think it is a joke. They think they are smart and that they can always manipulate the system to their advantage always. I am amused that those who are mouthing 'party supremacy' most at this time and who seem most pained by the apparent disobedience of Senator Saraki  and Hon Dogara to tow party lines and directives hook,Line and sinker are either the same ones who planned, engineered, motivated or encouraged 
Tambuwal and Ihedioha to go against their own party directives in 2011, or they are the same People who conspired and rejected party directives concerning Governors' forum elections in 2013. Now they are reaping what they had sown and in reaction, they had locked down the NASS for two months. 
  If we want good for our Nation, then we must play principled politics. We can not promote evil when it temporarily works in our favour and then begin to pontificate and sermonize when the repercussions ensue. We must anticipate the consequences of all of our actions and deeds. Now President Buhari in his characteristic candour has announced to the World that he would discriminate in his governance. That those who voted 95% for him would be treated differently from those who voted 5% for him. That seems to explain his lopsided appointments which favour the North and South West while he has completely ignored the South East which voted 5% for him. It can therefore be projected that he will do the same with citing of projects and other governmental programmes. On the surface, this doctrine sounds reasonable and even justifiable.  But let it be known to all, that there will be consequences for this officially declared discriminatory policy. I do not know what those consequences and repercussions would be, but I am certain that there will be consequences. How do I know?
  The Word of God says so and science supports it. One of the laws of Physics as enunciated by Newton says" Every action has an equal and opposite reaction". My point is that each time we take actions, we should always anticipate and prepare for the reaction. Very often, we seem surprised or taken aback by the reactions to our freely chosen course of actions. And this will also go down in history as one of the unique things of this political dispensation. I had heard stories of discriminatory acts by politicians against people in their constituencies who did not vote for them. One popular one was the one credited to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who denied some communities in present day Edo State but then in the old Western Region pipe-borne water because they did not vote for him as the Premier of Western Nigeria. He was said to have literarily dug out the water pipes so that the community would not have water whereas adjourning communities had water. I do not know whether it is true or one of those fairy tales told about our past great political leaders. But often, when accused, political leaders deny any form of discrimination against their constituents. But this time, the President Acknowledged It and rationalized it. That is unique!
  With the assumption of the position of Majority leader in the House of Representatives by Hon Gbajabiamila, giving South West geopolitical zone two key positions( Deputy Speaker and Majority House leader) in the APC house leadership, with none to the South East, APC seems to have enthroned Party Supremacy. My only hope is that the NASS can now begin business unhindered any longer so that the People of Nigeria can take the benefit of the salaries and allowances they are paid. It the NASS that gives democracy credibility and stability in Nigeria.
 Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR