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Thursday, 26 January 2017


Last week was soaked in political tension. The dictator Yahya Jammeh that ruled Gambia as a fiefdom in the last 22 years and who lost the last December election first refused to accept the appeal of the ECOWAS leaders to respect the wishes of the Gambian People. The ECOWAS mediation team led by President Muhammadu Buhari visited Jammeh several times but he remained adamant. Rather,he declared a state of emergency all over The Gambia, rebuffed and threatened ECOWAS and the international community. He even got his legislature to grant him a 90-day extension of his term.
 In response ECOWAS amassed an intervention military force to go and force him out. Time ticked and there was apprehension everywhere. Some Gambians took flight as they did not want to become collaterals to the imminent forced eviction of the sit-tight rogue leader. Nigerians began to worry about the fate of Nigerians living in The Gambia and pressure was brought upon the government to plan an ordered evacuation of Nigerians. Meanwhile the African Union ( AU) and subsequently the United Nations( UN) all rose in support of the ECOWAS stand: Jammeh must go! . Then came the 19th of January and Mr Adama Barrow was sworn in as the new President of The Gambia in the Gambian embassy in Dakar Senegal. Jammeh sat tight in the Presidential Palace in the Gambian capital, perhaps trusting in his 900 man-strong army  or in his 'occult' power as a traditional medicine man to keep him in power. He was then given a deadline of 12noon on the 20th. of Jan to step down and run. The military operation seemed inevitable but the consequences were indeterminate. The World worried about collateral damage to civilians and possible refugee fall out.
  When his army Chief and tribesman General Ousman Badjie announced that he would not fight against the ECOWAS troops, Jammeh came to his senses and began to make belated demands through the Leaders of Guinea and Mauritania,which were hitherto offered him on a platter of gold. Those demands which included amnesty against future trials and the leave to go and live in his country home were out rightly rejected by ECOWAS. Eventually the coward stepped down and went into exile, saving himself from suffering the faith of Gbagbo in Cote' De Ivoire, or Sadam Hussein Of Iraq or Muamar Ghadaffi  Of Libya. Gambians, West Africans and indeed the rest of the World breathed down, that at last diplomacy supported by show of power achieved the enthronement of democracy in The Gambia without firing a shot and without the loss of innocent lives. Kudos to ECOWAS & The AU! Another milestone in the maturity of Democracy in Africa has been achieved.
 The tension last week was not limited to West Africa. It extended to the United States of America where the billionaire Businessman, now turned politician, Mr Donald J. Trump who won the last November election was billed to become President. Many Americans( North, Central & South)had apprehensions of what would happen after Donald became President. He himself had promoted the inauguration on 20th of January as a unique event, not seen before. He had promised to do several things on his first day in office. What would he do? Immediate deportation of illegal aliens? Immediate ban on Muslims entering America? Closure of the border with Mexico until the wall was built?,immediate order for the arrest of Hilary Clinton or immediate withdrawal from NATO , or declaration of Trade war with China?Even his supporters were not sure of what he would do or say. Since he claimed that he wrote his inaugural speech, even his fellow Republicans, especially the establishment must have been saying silent prayers that he did not say or do anything on Inauguration Day that would embarrass every person!
  Then the 20th of January came. At 12noon, Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. It was a great milestone. As President Barak Obama, the first black American President took a graceful exit after accomplishing several milestones and leaving America with a great economy, 2.3%GDP growth in the 3rd quarter, an unemployment rate of 4.5%, a completely contrasting Character stepped in. Did he disappoint with his inaugural speech? Certainly there were no such proclamations as had been feared. But his "America First" speech contained all the elements of what we feared. " We are taking back our Country" can be interpreted to mean that all those not 'real Americans' should get ready to be pushed to the background or be shipped out. "We will only buy made in America or hire only Americans"speaks to the looming discrimination and trade wars ahead. He accused the politicians of being selfish and said he was returning power to the ordinary folks! But most of his cabinet nominee are billionaires and the movers and shakers of the economy. The populist appeal sounded like a campaign effort. Indeed at the inauguration ball he still called some of his Country Men enemies. Indeed the speech was a well dressed echo of the campaign slogans, only delivered in a quieter and more measured tone. Did the tensions die with the inauguration? You bet!
   There were protesters on the Inauguration Day, but that was assumed to be just part of the American democracy. But no one truly anticipated the Women's Marches that erupted the next day- President Trump's first full day at work.Mostly women, and many men wearing pink hats gathered in their thousands in many cities in all the 50 States of the USA- Washington, Chicago, New York, Boston, Denver, Utah, Los Angeles, Austin Texas, etc and extending to several cities elsewhere in the World- London, Paris, Bonn, Newzealand, Melbourne & Sydney Australia, Bangkok, etc. I am yet to see a President who starts his presidency with such a low approval rating of 40% both in the Country and internationally, and seems to have no opportunity for a honey moon. What a landmark! At the same time, Barak Obama leaves office with high approval ratings of over 60%. What a milestone!
 One thing is certain, the tensions of last week have generally mellowed. The worst never happened. But democracy was in full bloom last week as the World watched what happened in a tiny West African Country and what happened in the most powerful Country of the World. I believe the days ahead for both the Gambia and the USA will be quite exciting. But if both New Presidents  live up to the expectations of their peoples, yet promoting World peace and Development, humanity will have gained from the tensions of last week. But if they disappoint and end up making the situations of their Countries worse than what they are taking over or making the World a more dangerous place to live in, then history will be hard on them. Our prayer is that they succeed, unite their peoples and make the World a better place!

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


 I have grown up over a long time in Nigeria to understand that if you say anything that runs counter to popular opinion, attempt to defend any one already judged and condemned either by the media or the mob or say what is regarded as not politically correct you are likely to be attacked by those who do not have the intellectual discipline to accommodate differing opinion or view. But because, I always want to stand up for the underdog and maligned, I must stand up and go against popular opinion on certain recent developments in the Nation. I do this  because I know that there are always two or three sides to a coin and I hate to be among those who shout 'crucify him, crucify him' just to please Pilate, even if the man is innocent as the Pharisees did to Jesus.
  Recently, I read the comments of some people who were abusing Bishop Oyedepo of the Winners Chapel because he was said to have said a prayer which was seen as not politically correct. He was reported to have prayed to God to break up this Country if it is His will and if it is the only way peace will reign in this Country. I do not know if the story is indeed true, because in the media, words can be put into peoples' mouths. If it is true, then I can understand his frustration. If we have been praying for the unity of our Country for over 50 years and it seems that we are getting progressively disunited, then it is within human logic to conclude that it may not be actually the will of God. But more importantly, most Nigerians who are religious believe that God is in control of the affairs of Men and many insist that the will of God must be done at all times and that it is always the best for us. So we can not and must not quarrel with that kind of prayer. We want peace in our Country. We want development. But We do not like what is going on in our Country, where lives are being wasted every day around the Country. Why must we kill ourselves everyday and still want to live together? So I fully support whatever It takes to bring peace and stop this carnage going on in this Country. And for me the will of God should be done, whether or not, it agrees with our wish. That I believe is what every religion preaches and we should not abuse any one who prays that the will of God for Nigeria should be done!
  In the last week, the media has been filled with the condemnation of one Mr Jim Osayande Obazee who until last week was the Executive Secretary Of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC).He was said to have issued a code of corporate governance which led to the resignation of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the General Overseer of the RCCG in Nigeria after 32 years. He has been severely  criticized  in the media and it looked like he committed Harakiri. Of course, his immediate sack by the President supports the belief that he did something unpardonable. But his instant replacement, which is uncharacteristic of this government, indicates that his sack was on the offing. I believe that many people had been pushing for his sack, especially since he had a running battle with some corporate organizations last year. This  National  Corporate Governance code must be the last straw that broke the Carmel's back especially when it was said that he refused to obey the directive of the minister to defer the implementation of the code. I do not know this Obazee guy from Adam but I have been fascinated by the way he went about his job. He made the FRC active and worked to introduce several innovations in the mandate of what hitherto, was a mundane and unknown organization. He was the one who saw Nigeria's transition to the International Financial Reporting system in quick and orderly way.  True, many people especially corporate organizations  had complained of his arrogance and high-handedness, which I deprecate, but Mr Obazee looked to me like an unusual public servant, one who had a vision, determined to change the status quo and was un afraid to stand up for his belief . Such characters are rare in our public service and if our Country must change and rise from the 3rd World to the 1st World, which is my passion, we need men like Obazee, who of course must be properly guided through an effective governance to ensure they do not run riot or appropriate public policy to achieve personal goals. Having said that, I do not see what is wrong in setting up certain code of corporate governance for All Non- governmental institutions, religious bodies inclusive. Man by Nature can abuse every privilege if there is no check. And it is clear to all, what  is happening in many of our religious organizations. Some form of governance code, well fashioned out, thoroughly debated and agreed with stakeholders must be pursued even after the exit of Mr Obazee. This is not to interfere with religious activities as envisioned by the Licensing proposal of Kaduna State or legislating the internal affairs of religious organizations. But Leaving Religious organizations by whatever name to go about the way some are going, dehumanizing human beings as one Bishop King did,refusing to recognize the sovereignty of Nigeria as as some Islamic groups or fleecing poor adherents to live luxurious lives is not in the best interest of the true worship of God. 
 I hope that someday, Mr Obazee will find his voice to give his side of this incident. I admire his civility in keeping quiet, taking all the hit even as Jesus Christ did on the cross of Calvary. Hopefully our judgement and wholesome condemnation of his actions may be better balanced when we hear his side of the story and he may yet turn out to be a hero instead of the villain he seems to be right now. That is a lesson I have learnt from history.
  Prof Wole Soyinka said "we must tame religion or religion will kill us" He wondered what the World would be if " Religion was not invented". He actually would like Religion killed. My answer is that religion was not invented just as race or human colour was not invented. What has been invented is false religion. Religion has been with man from creation. No matter the religious sect or what theory of creation that any one believes in, Man has sought God from the Foundation of the Earth. In Africa, before the arrival of Christianity and Islam,the Native Africans worshiped one god or another. It was not invented. They saw the awesomeness of the World and the beauty of creation and knew that there was a force or power greater than they that was responsible for creation. Human beings are spiritual creatures with a longing for God in their hearts. The Bible says that ""only fools say there is no God" Before Christianity & Islam, there were inter-tribal wars. Men ate their fellow human beings or buried the dead with the living, killed twins and used all kinds of poisons-physical and spiritual to destroy their neighbours. So man's inhumanity against his fellow man was not created by religion.
  The truth is that many people are committing heinous crimes because they have filled their spiritual void with false gods. I do not know much about Islam, Hindu or the other World religions but I know something about Christianity. Christianity is classified as a religion, but in essence, it is God seeking Man. And all those who accepted God's invitation have become New creatures. They hate what God hates. God hates murder and the wanton killing of the innocent. Christians can only defend themselves when attacked but can not go out of their way to attack the innocent. That is what Jesus Christ has taught all those who are truly Christians. The kernel of Christian religion is love of God and the love of the neighbour. I suspect this may be true of some other true religions. So it is futile to try and kill religion. 
  What needs to be done is, rather than lament as we have been doing and asking questions as to why offenders in the name of religion are not tried or brought to Justice as the Vice President did last week at a book launch, is to enforce the laws of the Nation strictly, without fear or favour. Offenders must be promptly arrested and put through Justice. Speedy and conclusive justice is possible if the government has the will. The Executive, Legislature and Judiciary are arms of the same Government. With appropriate leadership, Nigeria can faithfully implement its laws in a way that discourages bad behaviour in every form and elicits confidence. The crisis & killings involving Fulani Herdsmen and local farmers in Benue, in Nassarawa, in Plateau, in Kogi, in Enugu, in Ekiti, in Anambra, in Delta, in Abia and now in Southern Kaduna has gone on for so long with little punishment and little deterrence. If Government is helpless, no body should blame anybody else ,not even religion!
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 


Beyond my new year wish expressed on this page last week that Nigeria will get out of recession in 2017, I am of the firm view that Nigeria will indeed come out of recession this year. The stabilizing oil prices in the international market aided by the willingness of Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran to consider supply management options give hope of higher foreign exchange earnings which may ease the persisting dollar crunch. The bullish 7.3 trillion 2017 budget will build on the ongoing implementation of the 2016 budget and push enhanced economic activities, particularly in the infrastructure area and in social support. If the Government pushes the recommended fiscal measures that will incentivize local production and Agric Business; and if the Legislature makes headway with the PIB options that will reenergize investment in Petroleum Industry, our economy should transit from recession and resume growth.
 2016 was definitely a tough year for many businesses. It is therefore critical that Business leaders acquire effective traits that will help them optimize the opportunities inherent in the transition, so as to return to growth or perform better in 2017. Firstly, we need visionary leadership. Leadership that sees Tomorrow. This time calls for environmental scanning and ability to predict and project the future. We must see where the economy is headed, understand where our industry is going and determine our positioning. A lot of research and scenario building will help. Leaders who are reactive and play by hunch, will definitely lag behind and probably miss the early recovery Train.
 Secondly Team building skills will come handy. Most companies suffered the effects of entropy and centrifugal forces in 2016. Employer-Employee relationships were strained.Trust and commitment will have to be rebuilt in companies, so that all can begin to pull in the same direction. Thirdly, in 2017, we need business leaders that are motivators of action and who are passionate. These are leaders that drive performance by setting goals, motivating their teams to action, and then tracking performance, with timely dispensing of rewards and reprimand.
  Fourthly, 2017 will require Leaders that are good models, those who will lead by example. We seek leaders who will never demand from their followers, subordinates or team members what they are incapable or unwilling to offer. Fifthly, these leaders that will lead the imminent business  recovery, must also be Coaches themselves. In which case, they must be on the cutting edge of the information curve of their industry.They must not only know how to communicate their vision, but must be adequately prepared to walk the talk and get the team walking the talk as well. They need to make investment in upgrading their knowledge, skill and competence and then make similar investments on  their team members. In short, they must learn to recreate talents and leaders within their organizations.
   Effective leadership has always demanded Transparent Integrity. Business leaders that will attract loyal follower-ship must be people who say what they mean and mean what they say. They must demonstrate a bundle of strong character traits such as honesty, humility, openness, Fairness, firmness, thoroughness, strong-mindedness and Trustworthiness.
  To chart new courses, discover new trails as the economic snow melts and the high tide recedes, business leaders must display uncanny levels of courage and perseverance. They need to be ready and willing to take calculated risks. The recovery will be slow but it is likely to be sustained and so we must have the long haul mentality. Because the Public sector will require a lot of encouragement to reform and adopt pro-business policies, business leaders in 2017 must find their voices and must remain visible. The truth is that a well- informed, well organized and vocal business sector will be critical in ensuring that the economic space is expanded so that more businesses can thrive. So the advocacy skill will be a critical leadership trait for 2017. And lastly, our Business leaders must Fear God in truth and do the right things always. Righteousness exalts a Nation and Sin is a reproach to any People. The fight against corruption must be fought at the business and corporate levels. If our business leaders  refuse to bribe public officials or refuse to front for them, then the overall level of corruption in Nigeria will decline significantly. And God will be Happy with us, making the envisaged economic recovery sustainable.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR 


 As we start a new year, it is usual to make new year wishes. Some make new year resolutions. In normal circumstances, wishes and resolutions are not often the same thing. Wishes are usually made without much effort, often without much thinking and some times utopian  or unrealistic, whereas resolutions are more serious decisions for a future implementation, usually reached after much thought, reflection and perhaps debate. But at the start of the year,very often and for many people, what goes as new year resolutions are mere wishes. And that is why many new year resolutions are often un realized. For many,some effort is made to implement the resolutions for a few days, few weeks and in exceptional cases, for a few months and then they return to square one or in my own case way back, I usually returned to square zero. But to be sure my wishes for Nigeria for 2017, though optimistic, are realistic and reflect deep thought.
This is one wish, I believe that all my readers will chorus a loud "amen". 2016 was like no other  in recent Nigerian economic history. The last time, we saw a year like that was about 30 years ago. I did not meet any Nigerian who was not affected by the Recession. If you did not lose you job, your salary was many months late in coming for many. If your business did not close down or fold up, your sales and profit declined. Every industry was affected including the religious and the philanthropic. My stress level went up so high, essentially because I could not help as many people as I was won't to. I was willing but severely limited. Not much dividend or consulting income! I was home this Christmas and I was surprised by the number of widows and orphans that turned up at our Christmas party for widows and orphans. In 2015 we had 100 widows but in 2016 December we had 240 widows! What happened? Did we loose more husbands in 2016 or was it that many otherwise well to do widows could not balance their budget in 2016 and had to come out to benefit from the little help that Arochukwu For Christ Movement offered.What ever the case, we do not want another year like 2016 in terms of the economic recession it offered us. Please God Help Nigeria to come out of recession in 2017! But I hope that the Government now understands better how we got here and will be humble to accept the prescriptions fully and freely offered by many knowledgable experts to help us work our way out!
I am certain that 2016 budget will have underperformed. Both in terms of realizing the budgeted income, achieving the expected expenditure and accomplishing the intended outcomes and impact. In 2017, the FGN has sent a budget proposal of 7.7 trillion Naira to the National Assembly before the Christmas vacation. My wish is that the National Assembly will pass this budget before the end of February. So that the budget implementation will start from this Quater one  and be consistently implemented throughout out every quarter in 2017. We thank God that global oil prices have moved up somewhat, allowing us to accrue excess crude income. So we should not have any excuse to delay the budget expenditure especially in the capital area. Planned massive investment in infrastructure and interventionist social sector spending must be pursued to the letter. We are tired of having budgets that are not implemented fully or even significantly. Certainly the budgeted capital expenditure of 30% of total budget for 2016 was not realized as we had to ask for virement from capital to recurrent expenditure. I wish that in 2017, the virement should be from Recurrent to capital, otherwise the oft-repeated claim that millions of ghost workers had been eliminated from the federal pay roll will be only propaganda. 
The cost of the Boko Haram insurgency in human blood, money,communal misery and economic losses may never be fully calculated. The economic loss to the Nation and the cost of environmental degradation arising from the renewed militancy in Niger Delta in 2016 may never be known, but those who bore the brunt know the pain. It is good news that the Nigerian Army captured the Sambisa Forest before the close of the year. But we still read of activities of the terrorists on soft targets. Now that the military operations seem to have accomplished its target, we must find other methods of fully resolving this insurgency if at all possible. Last week, I applauded Dr Ibe Kachikwu for what has been achieved in helping to calm the situation in the Niger Delta. I know that several meetings have been held with the Niger Delta stakeholders. My wish is that all the agreements will be speedily implemented to bring the agitation to a peaceful end. In 2017, we should be praying for a stabilization of global oil prices without worrying about the supply situation. It is in our hands to sort this problem out and I implore the government to maintain its current reconciliatory posture. It is in the overall interest of all of us to pursue this problem to a peaceful conclusion.
Since 2015, Nigeria has been in a state of increased hostility and conflict. The militant Fulani herdsmen from Futa Jalon, Mali or Niger or wherever must be stopped from creating disunity in Nigeria. It is distressing that the Federal Government has not shown any visible determination to confront the problem and the situation deteriorated badly towards the close of 2016 especially in Southern Kaduna. Governor El'Rufai seems to know how to relate to these marauders. Let us work with him and others who understand the motivation of these gun-wielding devil-incarnates and exterminate a major irritant and destabilizing factor to Nigeria's peace and tranquility.
  On the agitation for Biafra, I believe that the South East traditional rulers that visited President Buhari late last year had given him the formula to help deal with the agitation. Central to resolving this and other agitations for self determination in Nigeria is for this government to run an inclusive administration where every one feels a sense of ownership and belonging. For the umpteenth time, one way to begin this resolution is to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National conference. Denying reality or bullying those in pain and asking them not to shout for help or seeking to flee to where they can find refuge will be like kicking the stone. The man who kicks will have injury but the stone will remain in its position .
   Happy New Year Nigerians and may we all rejoice in 2017!
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR


I was dancing on my seat as I read of the new deal recently entered with the International Oil Companies(IOCs) by the Federal Government that would end the perennially problematic Joint venture (JV) cash calls that have dogged the Nigerian Petroleum industry since I was a Cub-economic advocate. From our days at the Enabling Environment Forum (EEF) to the formation of the Nigerian Economic summit Group (NESG) in 1993 until perhaps last week, the problem caused by the inability of the Federal Government of Nigeria to meet its JV cash call obligations has been a recurring decimal, each time the problems of attracting more investment into the upstream oil sector and indeed to the entire economy was being discussed. If you asked any oil major chief, what was his greatest challenge, he would immediately say it was Nigerian Government's chronic inability or should we say unwillingness to meet its Joint Venture cash calls. I say it could be unwillingness because even in the days of oil boom, Nigeria was never on schedule with its payment obligations, so blaming the decline in oil prices and consequent reduction in National income receipts can not be a valid reason for this long anti-investment and I might say, irresponsible behaviour of the Government.
  In essence, Govt received its share of profit from exploration, drilling and exportation of crude oil but delayed or refused to pay its share of the cost. It caused nightmares for the IOCs, delaying new investments. Even before the current problems in the oil industry, the oil majors had long stopped investing in Nigeria and many had been divesting. Those who invested at all, did so only offshore where a different fiscal regime operates. But with this deal pulled off by the dexterity of Dr Ibe Kachikwu and his team, this major irritant and major stumbling block to the growth of the Petroleum sector may have been removed.
  I have also been reading of the progress being made with the Petroleum bill( PIB) in the National Assembly. I understand that the PIB has been broken down to subsets to allow quicker passage into laws. I understand that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill( PIGB), a subset of the PIB may be passed in Q1 next year as legislative work on it has been advanced. This kind of development is what we have been praying and hoping for over seven years but it never came. After the problem with the JV cash calls, the uncertainty with the PIB has been the second most troubling and demoralizing disincentive for investment in Nigeria's Petroleum industry. But Dr Ibe Kachikwu and his team have worked quietly behind the scenes to plot a way out of the PIB imbroglio, effectively motivating the National Assembly to give expedited attention to this very critical bill.
  For several months, crude oil production and export from the Niger Delta was threatened by the activities of the militant group called the Avengers and their several mutants. Nigeria tried to use strong -arm tactics to quell the militancy which at one time brought our national daily production to about 1 million barrels per day. Again Dr Ibe Kachikwu stepped in, first as NNPC GMD,later as Minister of State and has worked with all stakeholders to gradually reduce if not completely eliminate the disruptions to the oil flow. Today Nigeria's oil out put is on the rise again approaching 2.2 million barrels per day. A few days ago, I was very pleased to hear Adio Waziri, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative( NEITI) 'accuse' NNPC of being unusually transparent. NNPC now publishes its production, costs and revenue records without prompting. What a transformation from opacity to openness. It is gratifying to me that what  we pushed for as the pioneer National Stakeholders Working Group( NSWG) of NEITI (2007-2010) has been finally achieved under the superintendency of Dr. Kachikwu and the new NNPC Management Team.
  This is the third article Iam writing on Dr Ibe Kachikwu since President Muhammadu Buhari( PMB) brought him from Chevron to run the troubled National oil company and later made him a minister. The first I wrote a few months after his appointment in 2015, when I was thrilled by his steady and concrete steps in turning NNPC around. In that article I concluded that If Kachikwu was a fore taste of the kind of appointments PMB was going to be making, then the long wait was worth the while. The second was in July this year when he was stripped of the NNPC GMD position and left only as a 'junior' minister. I had then made a plea that PMB should announce him as the substantive Minister of Petroleum because he had shown so much capability. When my unsolicited advice was not taken, I was afraid that Dr Ibe Kachikwu could be demotivated by the apparent 'demotion'.
  How wrong I have been. Because rather than slow down, Ibe has been firing on all barrels, working so hard to bring stability and eventually growth to Nigeria's most important industry. Without sounding over patronizing, I believe Ibe's appointment is one of the best things PMB has done. I pray he does more of such good things especially as we head into 2017.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR