Brain Power: Okonjo-Iweala Made World Thinkers List
Brain Power: Okonjo-Iweala Made World Thinkers List
By Taju Tijani
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has made the 59th position in the 2013 April Edition of Prospect Magazine’s World Thinkers List. It is time to bring the gong out and celebrate the triumph of intellectual excellence. The iconic Ngozi with her retro-chic and elegant look even at 58 is a torchbearer for feminists everywhere. The only difference is that Ngozi is a not a bra burner but a dutiful housewife of Ikemba Iweala. Her simple sartorial elegance of “ankara” and delicately perched alatika-styled “ankara gele” (head gear) has continued to shame the pomp and parade of “Umblela” Patience Jonathan. Of the 15 female thinkers selected, well over half are known for their work in business, economics or politics—traditionally “male” arenas. Almost a third are economists—a higher proportion than the overall list.
After more than 10,000 votes from over 100 countries, the results of Prospect’s world thinkers online poll of 2013 top 10 offers a snapshot of the intellectual trends that dominate our age. Prospect Magazine in its wisdom has nominated Richard Dawkins, the celebrated Oxford evolutionary biologist and demon as its No1 public intellectual. This is followed by Ashraf Ghani, Steven Pinker, Ali Allawi, Paul Krugman, Slavoj Žižek, Amartya Sen, Peter Higgs, Mohamed El-Baradei and Daniel Kahneman. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the only black redeemer in a list of 65 world’s best public intellectuals. There is no black man in this year’s list.
Prospect Magazine in its yearly invasion of other people’s brain power, achievements and contributions to the life of knowledge has come to redress the wrong of the past. The magazine has come to redeem its omission of Ngozi from its annual list of the best and the brightest in the smart category of brain power. Getting this recognition is not easy. Achieving this worldwide mandarin elevation is not through bribery, cronyism or bottom power. To be regarded as a qualified world thinker, Prospect believes that a candidate must fulfil certain criteria. First, you have to be influential. Secondly, you have to be relevant. Thirdly, you have to be current in your field of endeavour.
Then it stands to reason that Ngozi’s inclusion is down to her World Bank pedigree and her current assignment as an adjuster, change maker and transformer of Nigeria’s failed economic theories. One major influence of Ngozi was to secure the debt write-off of over $18billion from Nigeria’s creditors. Call that her first strategic victory of an economic resurgence of the Nigerian nation. Ngozi is also a willing economic technocrat who has proven her blanket patriotism to be genuine. Her love to see Nigeria move from a pariah nation of graft, corruption and poverty to a prosperous, shining light of transparency, progress and equity has never been in doubt. She has never betrayed her traditional ideological root of sound economic policies embedded in her psyche during those tortured years of learning in that iconic institution – World Bank.
Any person with her silver spoon pedigree deserves the highest honour that brain could get. Ngozi’s intellectual foundations started on hope, dedication and optimism. Dad is a professor. Mum is a professor. Ngozi is an Igbo from Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State where her father Professor Chukwuka Okonjo is the reigning Obi (King) from the Umu Obi Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Uku. She was educated at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an A.B. in 1977. She bagged her Ph.D. in regional economic development from the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981.
Prior to her ministerial career in Nigeria, Ngozi was vice-president and corporate secretary of the World Bank Group. In this exigent times, it is more than near impossibility for an African woman to call the shot in a US-centred and conservative institution like the World Bank. She left it in 2003 after she was appointed to President Obasanjo’s cabinet as Finance Minister on 15 July 2003. In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that struck a deal with the Paris Club, a group of bilateral creditors, to pay a portion of Nigeria’s external debt (US $12 billion) in return for an $18 billion debt write-off. Prior to the partial debt payment and write-off, Nigeria spent roughly US $1 billion every year on debt servicing, without making a dent in the principal owed.
In Nigeria, Ngozi is the architect of a new regime of publishing each state’s monthly financial allocation from the federal government in the newspapers. This action went a long way in increasing transparency in governance. She was instrumental in helping Nigeria obtain its first ever sovereign credit rating (of BB minus) from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. Nigeria is considered to have defaulted on its sovereign debt in 1983 (debt rescheduling is considered a type of default by rating agencies).
In 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan reappointed Ngozi as Minister of Finance with the expanded portfolio of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy. During her confirmation as a Minister, she stressed the need to reduce the country’s recurrent expenditure which is presently 74% of the National Budget and embark on capital projects which could improve the 14% unemployment rate in the country. In her role as the Coordinating Minister For the Economy and Minister of Finance, she has extensive influence/exercise to shape the direction of our economic failure and redirects Nigeria to financial probity.
From 2004, Ngozi has been hauling home laurels after laurels. Consider all these: Time Europe Hero 2004, This Day Nigeria Minister of the Year 2004; Financial Times/The Banker African Finance Minister 2005; Euromoney Magazine Global Finance Minister of the year 2005; Nigerian of the Year 2006, Silverbird Woman of the Year 2012 and now Prospect Magazine 59th world thinker. She has been honoured by several world renown instutions of learning. She was honoured with Honorary Doctorate from Brown University, Providence, RI, USA, Honorary Doctorate from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland, Honorary Doctorate from Colby College, Maine, USA, Honorary Doctorate from Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica and Honorary Doctorate from Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA. However, she has suffered her own dose of chaos theory in the past. She was regarded as the witch of Anioma during the subsidy removal palaver on 1st of January 2012. Even President Barack Obama in one mad moment of ignorant bias refused to support Ngozi in her 2007 candidature for the vacant position of World Bank President. Above all, Ngozi is an ongoing symbol of boundless curiosity especially in the bestial jungle of Abuja politics.
Her soaring eloquence of economic transformation of Nigeria is yet to be felt among Nigerians. Her economic intervention has not shift away the irritating paradigm of youth unemployment, armed robbers and immoral destitution of majority of Nigerians. It is a well known truism that our dull-witted politicians alienate and loathe brainy redeemers like Ngozi. But Ngozi may have been bludgeoning every subversive argument with sound, rational and relieving counterarguments which support the liberation of our economy from the hands of cabals. Whether the decision to serve the governments of both Obasanjo and Jonathan – both despoilers – is a product of discretion or not, time will certainly tell. There is a kind of homicidal audacity for a technocratic angel like Ngozi to sup, dine and wine with sinners and thieves. There is a reminder in the Holy Bible in Proverbs 11: 22 that ” As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a woman who lacks discretion.”
I celebrate with Ngozi and rejoice with her nomination as a person who is deserving of an inclusion in that cloistered chamber of world heavyweight public intellectuals. Hers is not the typical high heels in high places through bottom power but God’s divine providence and education have all combined to arm her in her battle to conquer the world. 59 gbosas to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s own iconic superwoman!!!
2013 British Billionaire Rich List: No Black Faces
By Taju Tijani
The Sunday Times recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of listing men and women of class, rank, privilege, substance and excessive money in the UK. As a professional snooper of the life of the rich and well heeled in the UK, April had always been a much awaited month to undertake an annual ritual of “unroofing” the hidden wealth of the fabulously wealthy. The more I glazed my eyes on the glossy pages of the latest 2013 rich list looking for redemption, the more the grim conclusion hit home. It is still a white and brown affair. It has been a chastening and depressing affair year in and year out. Conspicuously delisted are black faces. We are still hewers of wood and drawers of water to the dominant population of white and brown faces all around us. Caviar-fuelled and champagne parties celebrating the arrival of billions are still exclusively the preserve of white and Asian moneybags who live in pampered lifestyles.
Money, influence, privilege and power are still eluding black British in astonishing degree. There is yet no fresh-faced black new comers to give me hope of a better days ahead. Rather I am faced with a hard disbelief. How do I grapple with the fact that businessmen from the Indian subcontinent have become the dominant force at the top of the rich list? Myth, fantasy or plain truth, the Asian money miracle is becoming a folkloric legend. In 1972, many of them were thrown out of Uganda by Idi Amin Dada, the then ruler. Many more will walk away from Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania and faced the West. They were prepared to use their mind to overcome matter. They were prepared to use their mind to demolish obstacles and man-imposed glass ceiling.
Over the space of two decades, this island has moved from a land notorious for resenting the rich to being a nation that is intensely relaxed in accommodating filthy rich neighbours. We have the Belgravia set led by Lakshmi Mittal. We have the Chelsea set led by Roman Abrahamovich. And we have the Surrey set led by Hans Rausing. Year ago when I first began to track the life of the rich and famous, this little island was in the hands of the titular oligarchs. Most of the wealth was concentrated in the soft hands of – lucky ones born with silver spoon – dukes, marquesses, earls and viscounts. Landowners and a procession of the privileged dominated the wealth index. The richest woman then was the Queen.
Today, the rich landscape is painted differently. The enduring legacy of Thatcherism, the deregulation of city businesses and the encouragement of entrepreneurism have all combined to change the distribution of wealth in the United Kingdom. Although two third of the personalities in the 2013 rich list had inherited their wealth, the cheer is in the fact that a whopping 77% of the richest British are self made. Their collective wealth is worth £55.3billion. Among the list of men and women with the deepest pockets, there are rosy-cheeked brown faces but troublingly, no black face.
In the top 100 richest British, 39 are foreign born. These settled foreigners to the UK are collapsing paradigms through sound investment strategies, hardwork, cooperation, deferred instant gratification, risk taking and entrepreneurial hardness to lead this year’s Rich List. The richest British billionaire is not a blue blooded Englishman from the leafy shire but a humble lamb from Russia, Alisher Usmanov, the part owner of Arsenal, the club I support. The second richest is yet another foreigner, Russian-born American tycoon, Len Blavatnik. The third richest immigrants in the list are Sri and Gopi Hinduja brothers. With the displacement of Lakshmi Mittal from the usual number one, the elite Rich List is a witness to its own silent coup this year. Mittal who had perched like a lone eagle on top of the Rich List for eight years is in the fourth position. Roman Abrahamovich, the Chelsea club owner, slips into the fifth richest British billionaire.
What is striking here is that wealth is tilting disproportionately towards Russians, Asians and the Chinese. Zong Qinghuo, the Chinese consumer goods tycoon, was recently named among the 50 internationally acclaimed billionaires. Another new record is the number of women minting money in their chosen professions. Twenty years ago the Queen was the act to follow. She was the iron lady in the list of the rich and wealthy. Today, Kirsty Bertarelli (Pharmaceuticals) ranks the richest in this year’s Rich List. The Queen is demoted to the thirty three position.
In my comment on the 2012 Rich List I had said, “Will my evocative flourish go in vain? I still desire to see new generation of black British groundbreakers and risk takers to stem the shaming feeling I had to contend with each year when I leaf through the Sunday Times Rich List.” I am again confronted with a self-fulfilling fear. Like the Biblical Job, what I fear most has come over me. Why are we conspicuously blacked out in a free-for-all, fair and democratic level playing field of high finance and serious money? Can we blame the iconic compiler Philip Beresford who set the bar of inclusion in the Rich List at £75million? Is there no black British worth that amount? Why do we toil so much for this nation and yet the wheel of big fortune just roll pass us?
Historical amnesia seems to have settled down so hard and fast on black British that we are yet to translate the toil of our suffering into amassing wealth in the UK. More than fifty years after Windrush mass migration from the Caribbean, the epochal 60′s of black African student migration and the 80′s economic migrants from both continents, there is yet no dynamics to better understand our underachievement in the face of the above historical encounters. The pain of early poverty of our pioneers has not formed the basis of our financial success.
The era of rationalising racism as the authentic answer to our collective financial backwardness can now be seen as mantra for the fools. That old default setting has been used by the Asians to build a template to a soaring wealth and influence. And they are thumping our nose for failing and falling behind the wealth race.
Mo Ibrahim, our yearly redeemer, is the only black man in the 2013 Rich List of 1,000 wealthiest British. With a fortune of £520m, he is ranked as the 168 richest man in the UK. This mobile telecom mogul is a sure signpost foretelling us that the gate to opulent lifestyle for black British are not yet shut. We can still dangle the keys to a gleaming Bentley. We can still receive customised massage from the soft palm of angelic but delicate bunnies. We can still eat caviar, drink the fabled Dom Perignon and wake up on a warm futon bed overlooking the Camana Bay in the Cayman. We can still cruise the sky with shiny Gulfstream.
Another year has passed and we are still stuck in the same rut. Now, it is time for the black community to start producing idea rebels. It is time to work with vision and not black-on-black violence. It is time to risk. It is time to develop noble revulsion for poverty. It is time to use our brain and not our bravura. We have spilled our blood in the boxing ring to bring glory to Queen and country. We have ran the race on the tracks to bring medals to Queen and country. We have cleaned dirty bums of rich elites in nursing homes. We have sold cocaine to the upwardly mobile city stock brokers. We have allowed men in grey suit with stiff upper lips to contain and control our destinies.
It is time to guard our minds with a governing philosophy of “YES WE CAN”, an Obama mantra that eventually made him to achieve the impossible. Yes, we can reject and break free from the limiting orthodoxy that continues to regard us as chattels of the old, colonial British empire without hope of breaking into the exclusive zones of industry, retailing, banking, Internet gambling, food, distribution, fashion, high finance, property, investment, steel, diamond trading, supermarkets, construction, aviation, media, pharmaceuticals, horse racing, hotels, packaging, insurance, electrical goods and transport?
Yes, we can reconfigure the demography of wealth, power and privilege. Black colour is missing from the yearly tapestry of billionaire Rich List. It is time to paint the list black.
Jonathan’s Bloody Legacy : The Baga Genocide
By Taju Tijani
Fierce debates and accusations are flying across Abuja’s skyline as I write on what really triggered such a sensational and brutal genocide against the people of Baga, a sleepy village in Borno State. A complicated and dense web of blame game between Jonathan’s government and the decent people of Nigeria is gathering rapid pace. Even Doyin Okupe’s incoherent ranting on the television as to the real figure of the dead provided no perceptive elucidations.
In a rapid fire rebuttal, the Red Cross has accused Okupe and bluntly called him a shameless liar. The Red Cross said that 187 innocent and defenceless villagers which comprised elderly men and women and children were murdered in cold blood. I saw burnt bodies of babies across the killing fields of Baga through the pages of Nigerian newspapers and the Internet. The Red Cross has said that the military prevented their personnel from gaining access to Baga to provide relief to victims most of whom were badly burnt beyond recognition. The spokesman for Red Cross Nwakpa O. Nwakpa said: “Our volunteers were on standby but we were not given clearance” .
Commenting on the genocide, the Commander of the JTF, Brigadier General Austin Edokpaye, put the blame for the mindless killings on the doorstep of Boko Haram jihadists. He accused Boko Haram Islamic separatists – faceless ghosts according to the Aso Rock dotard- of using civilians as shield. Meanwhile, the ACN in reaction through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “No matter what defence the military may put forward, the mass deaths and destruction in Baga during the JTF-insurgents’ clash portray the Nigerian military as having little or no respect for human rights and the sanctity of lives. This is not a flattering portrayal for a military that has made its mark in global peacekeeping.”
It also criticized the Federal Government’s handling of the killings, calling it slow and disrespectful to the sanctity of human lives. It added: “In the first instance, it took the government almost 48 hours to comment on the killings, as the presidency only issued a statement on Monday evening over the clash and the deaths which reports said started on Friday. “Secondly, even the tone of the statement amounted to further victimizing the victims of the clash. Saying that the death toll was ”grossly exaggerated”, as the presidency statement claimed, is simply wrong, because the killing of even one innocent person is one killing too many.”
This genocide has provided the defining moment to the lacklustre and bloody legacy of Jonathan’s tenure. Judging by the long lists of bloody obituaries and sea of tears that are being shed in Baga village and all over Nigeria, we are now saddled with a leader whose bemused emergence is consistently marked by plane crashes, auto accidents, communal clashes and ongoing bloody Boko Haram culling of innocent blood.
Yesterday when Jonathan entered office, it was with a joyous sound of hosannas from party members to plain ordinary Nigerians. Today those hosannas have given way to cries of pain and even horror of his bloody tenure. The harsh realities of his government are reasserting themselves and suddenly our mood is changing to crucify him. Yes, we have to crucify this dotard (oridota) whose government has continued to flounder bloodily on the rock of inaction. The cold, miserable truth is that Goodluck has brought Badluck to the Nigerian space. Millions of Nigerians gave him the rare chance to work out a new salvation for a nation that had become a horrible edifice, but no, he hitched our destiny on the cross roads of bloody killings, impunity and tears.
Not to be outdone, Reuben “Otapiapia”Abati gave absolute poppywash in his official reaction to the Baga genocide. This turncoat is fast becoming a restless junkyard dog in the villa. He has learned all the tricks on how to bark new tunes. He said that Jonathan was interested in knowing if the JTF followed the rules of engagement in the Baga genocide.
Pray, in a civilised nation, what are the rules of engagement between armed soldiers and defenceless civilians.? What are the rules of engagement between notorious Nigerian “godogodo” , “mopol” or “kill and go” and defenceless wretched of the earth of Baga? Who are the animals who draw up these rules of engagement if there are any? Is Baga a theatre of war or a flat, plain desert of ordinary, peaceful nomadic race? Is our bloodlust soldiers trained to incinerate an entire village at the loss of one fallen soldier? Are we to regard Baga merciless massacre as human collateral to winning the war against faceless ghosts, aka, Boko Haram Islamic separatists?
The talk of probe of the genocide is nothing but sentimental guff to stem the tide of widespread charge of genocide against Jonathan and his bloody legacy. Even the most optimistic believers will feel a slight frisson of hopelessness at the outcome of the probe. Any probe against Nigerian military especially in a period of soulless genocide will be dead on arrival. Odi genocidal charge sheet still hangs on Obasanjo’s ugly neck. Baga genocidal charge sheet will also remain as Jonathan’s legacy until he is brought to justice. Odi and Baga have both provided their own social democratic hubris for our lessons. We are now witnessing how a ruler with zero vision can use the military to turn on powerless citizens/voters and in the process encourage a soulful re-interpretation as to whether there is ingrained bestiality in Africa’s brand of democracy.
The awful harvest of unending obituaries, bloody encounters and now genocide under Jonathan’s bloody legacy offer a paralysing quandary as to why we elected a man with demonic foundation as a ruler. He has brought a harvest of bloody badluck on Nigerians in a space of two years. Baga has sealed his Dracula’s desire for more bloody harvest. Baga will not go away.
Jonathan should be framed for genocide in the court of law. The pictures of burnt innocent babies on the plain of Baga is my evidence. They brought tears to my eyes. He is the commander in chief of Nigeria’s military. This nation is sick and tired of his bloody legacy. We should be prepared to escape from his dark, bloody regime into a new dawn. Baga has given us a long awaited pretext to dump a bloody dumb Jonathan for the sake of democracy.
Paedophile Opemipo Jaji
By Taju Tijani
Opemipo Jaji is a sickening victim of today’s noxious climate of crime, immorality, freedom, rage and general fear that have poisoned and fouled the once brilliant air of United Kingdom. As this nation recedes further and further into a soulless island of despair, atheism, single motherism, cant, obscenities, class polarity and hopelessness, finding a way to reclaim our moral obloquy and common decency all become a herculean task. The story of Opemipo Jaji exceeds the outrageous. But before I point an accusing finger and behave like a snobbery judge, it is important to treat OJ with some kind of objectivity.
This young paedophile carries my gene. He is an African. He is a Nigerian. He is a Yoruba man. Permit my going into a realm of parody. But unlike many Nigerian youths, he elected to embrace a shatteringly vulgar, perverted, carnal-fuelled and worthless lifestyle of a sex predator. He elected to live in the fringe of normal society. His view of humanity is just to inflict cruelty, pain, punishment and sadism. From my extensive knowledge of man and his predilections, I know that lust makes the strongest exertion on his self-control.
We have been inundated up to satiating point of the luckless universe of OJ. Network news outlets have competed to broadcast the story of a randy, feared, predating African youth who had lived the life of sexual aberration. Newspapers are brimming with the pictures of a pervert on the loose. I have read mocking, revolting, dreadful and nauseating account of OJ’s nameless horrors. It is sad that within 18 years, OJ has traversed the fringe of every known sexual shame.
He is not the kind of sentry who could guard the gate to a brothel. Opemipo Jaji has a long history of deviant sexual behaviour. First, in 2011, he was convicted of attacking a 12-year-old and was sentenced to be detained at a youth offenders centre for 10 months. Then inMay2011,he appeared before magistrates again accused of having indecent images of children. Alarmingly and worryingly, about 600 pictures of girls were discovered on his phone and electronic devices. He was not classified as a registered sex offender but was dealt with under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa) scheme, which the Ministry of Justice says is “operated by criminal justice and social care agencies that seek to manage and reduce the risk presented by sexual and violent offenders”.
After his release, having served five months, he was convicted in April 2012 by magistrates of failing to comply with the detention and training order. In September 2012 he pleaded guilty to an offence of making/downloading an indecent photograph of a child, and was given a community order which included a ban on going near schools, an 18 month supervision order, 50 hours unpaid work and £85 in costs.
CCTV footage showed Opemipo Jaji board a bus before he went on to attack the girl. This is a picture perfect image of a young apostle of rape in its most vilest form. Each time he projects his sordid fantasies from the bedroom of his Edmonton cage, he has to prowl the streets of North London looking for innocent, young white girls to bear the full repercussions of his demonic desire.
I could go on vomiting the insanity of a young teenager cut away from the norm of decency and social grace as he falls into obscene sexual darkness. Already, we have a restless band of screaming, baying howls from hell demanding his castration. They are demanding that this island should bring back capital punishment. Many openly asked for his immigration status. In all the noises there has been no educated enlightenment as to why Opemipo Jaji traverse this primitive, nasty life.
There is no underplaying the damage of his action to the entire black community. He has supplied, on a platter of gold, new ammunition to racists to recast the old stereotype of black men as gangling sex perverts and rapists who fantasise almost minutely on how to go about molesting white, innocent bunnies. Right wing hacks can now go into that polemical flourish and call us unprintable names. Terrifying edicts will now be issued on how to tame our so called animal energy for sexual insatiety. Happiness will now evaporate naturally each time we meet a young vulnerable white woman on a dark lonely street. The thought of OJ will pull its own uncomfortable gesture on our movements making us look awkward as we show false civilities.
His parents may be regular hustlers who made it to the UK for a better life. They may be educated professionals. They may be illiterate artisans. They are one of us. We do not know the moral muzzle of the Jaji’s family life. The father may be a stentorian headmaster who barks out order in the home. He may be a gentle dove who has been disempowered from any moral ravings. He may have been tenderized by the Holy Spirit. Or the devil may have entwined his soul like poisoned ivy.
The mother may be living on the cusp of that social disaster called single motherism. Work and extensive time away from home may have destroyed the relational harmony between mum and a teenage son. As the mother chooses her own truck, young Jaji is also choosing his own track! Stories of social polarity like these are causing permanent damage to the lives of our children. Life under the western sky is becoming decentred, self-forming, episodic, closed and even privatised.
Probably the ongoing break down of western morality has given OJ the sick pleasure of looking for utopia – bum and boobs – through the Internet. The parents may be ordinary, law abiding and hardworking couples. But OJ may be a rebellious eccentric who wants it his own way. This attitude is more starkly symbolic of the challenges every parent of a teenager faces in the western society. Discipline, respect, obedience and sound moral decency are all regarded as exotic assortment of imported primitive African values. Our culture is branded autocratic, rigid and tacky. A conflation then exists between what is socially permissible and what is not. This social and moral tension have driven many of our children into the arm of local gangs and thugs who then offer violent alternative lifestyle of nihilism. The rude boy, the bling and the hood capture the souls of our teenagers while overbearing parents are made powerless, stupid, tamed and helpless. Then one day like Opemipo Jaji, they become tragic emblem of their own sermon.
Jaji will no longer live to practice as a chef. Paedophile Opemipo Jaji will now live the rest of his natural life as a high risk sexual offender. For sexually molesting and violently raping an 11 year old white girl in Jubilee Park, Enfield, he has brought to an end the life of a malignant, manipulating and murderous existence of a perverted soul.
Reuben Abati: Shut Up For Public Discourse Sake!
By Taju Tijani
Reuben Abati’s polemical sorties on perceived enemies anytime his master’s bell was rung are becoming a cause for concern. His gerrymandering ripostes on pundits and the commentariat communities are shifting beyond the call of duty into a self-flagellating, acidic, vulgarised and attention-driven trivialization of public discourse. In less than two years, this spin doctor has lowered the standard of public engagement to the point where our civilised disagreement with President Goodluck Jonathan register more into the socially taboo category of personal attack. Since his slippage into his role as an attack dog, he has been discharging his brief with a kind of Goebbelian zealousness. He has consistently stood on questionable, received orthodoxy: get abusive with anybody who disagrees with the president and put him/her in arm lock of public ridicule, shouting and mocking.
Abati seems to be hiding under the veneer of a storm trooper ethic that seeks to crush true discussion and healthy dissent. If you challenge official wisdom, this junior mad dog is immediately let loose to craft a barking sermon laced with expletives. And in spite of the sheer volume of his outpourings of verbosity, the contextual fact remains that President Goodluck Jonathan is a moron and totally unfit to govern a nation as complex as Nigeria. Again, the contextual fact remains that one billion naira was allocated for the gluttonous habit of the Jonathans and their predilection for apeteshi. The contextual fact still remains that this nation is in decline – bloody decline – under his watch. The contextual fact remains that public money is being used to fan into flame the excesses of the First Witch (Patience Jonathan) and the Office of the First Witch.
Meanwhile, the set paradigms and social evils we are supposed to be fighting against – presidential ineptitude, profligacy, impunity, corruption and graft – are sucked out of our conversation with the president. What we are left with are rude, shallow and muscular attacks and counterattacks from the duo of doggy gatekeepers in Aso Rock. Abati’s polemically violent style of engaging the public to which we are becoming uncomfortably accustomed to is not permissible in the everyday life of a media adviser. There should be a way for Abati to cut through the big mouthed bully tactics and the fusillade of his polemical gunfire whenever we massage the dumb balls of his paymaster.
In the realm of today’s social media’s highwire traffic, Abati’s coveted coin is sailing close to vituperative inanities, on-your-face uncouth language, half-truths, sophistries and myths. This ongoing lockdown of public opinion is damaging Nigerians’ lifelong love affair with national political discourse. Democratic engagement is much more about entertaining protest than it is about rebutting and forbidding it. It is much more about embracing other viewpoints than it is about agreement.
Last year in his “Jonathan And the Ribadu Report” stentorian Abati hawed thus: “ It is so unfortunate that there has been so much ignorant carping and malicious tittle-tattling about the report of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force chaired by Malam Nuhu Ribadu… I should like to dispel the putrefacious stench of the fart that seems to have overtaken the subject by returning all of us to certain basics that have not changed since President Jonathan approved the setting up of committees to inquire into different aspects of the Petroleum Sector and particularly since the reports were presented and accepted.”
Then in “President Jonathan is not a drunk” he had this to say against Jonathan’s traducers: “the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria, who seem to be in competition among themselves to pull down President Goodluck Jonathan. Some sponsored and self-appointed anarchists” whose majority are ”unintelligent people repeating stupid clichés and too many intelligent persons wasting their talents lending relevance to thoughtless conclusions.” “You say he is a clueless President. You are wrong. He is not clueless,” he said. ”President Jonathan is a clever, methodical and intelligent man, who is very adept at wrong footing all the persons who make an effort to second-guess or under-estimate him.”
In “Hypocrisy of yesterday’s men“, Abati denounced the enemies of his boss thus: “censorious, contrarian and supercilious… navel-gazing, narcissistic and bunch of hypocrites set to unleash themselves with ferocity on an otherwise impressionable public.”Only recently while speaking on Channels television on the State Pardon granted to former Governor of Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha Abati described the 160 million Nigerians who opposed the pardon as sufferers of a new affliction: “sophisticated ignorance.” He noted further that the constitutional procedure of state pardons and how decision is reached is not just by the President alone but with members of the council of state, hence the utmost use of wisdom in reaching the final decision. Finally, he said that the conviction of a Nigerian does not mean that such an individual should be locked out of the society. The state pardon, he claims is to help restore such convicts back in the society.
On the latest hounding and arbitrary arrest of Leadership newspaper journalists, Abati orated thus in “Leadership Newspaper, Media Responsibility and the Police: ” The circulation of a fictitious ‘presidential directive’ that seeks in the main to cause civil strife, engender a breakdown of law and order, and negate the values of our democracy is a very grievous act indeed that should not be ignored. At its core, such a disruptive act erodes the ethos of governance and professionalism and naturally stirs up those entrusted with the protection of law and order; as it should also, every responsible citizen, interest group and the entire media.
In that regard, President Jonathan did not have to issue any orders before those who have as much constitutional responsibility as the media; that is, the police, see the need to act in the public interest. Without holding brief for the law enforcement and security agencies, such a publication, like all others that threaten our democracy and undermine law and order, become the duty of the Police as an institution to investigate. The Leadership newspaper should see this as an opportunity to co-operate with the police as required by the laws of the land. The Police have not done anything outside the law. The trite rule is that nobody is above the laws of the land. It is also within the powers of the Police to invite persons for questioning and to conduct investigations, which is what they have done so far in “The Leadership case”. Or are the editors of the Leadership newspaper insisting that they are above the laws of the land?”
ACN had raised an alarm over alleged plots, what Abati calls “fictitious ‘presidential directive’ ” to destabilise the electoral system ahead of the 2015 elections. Its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, accused the federal government of embarking on a clandestine move because it has “now realised that if indeed the 2015 elections are free and fair, there will be no chance for the party.” Specifically, the ACN accused the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration of planning to throw the South-West into crisis through a pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a leader of a militant group in the zone. To this effect, Mohammed, while addressing a press conference in Lagos last Sunday, said, “What is the way out for the PDP? The party has decided to go for broke: Either there will be no elections in 2015 or the polls will be conducted in an atmosphere of chaos, thereby paving the way for the PDP to do what it does best – rig the elections!” ACN said. Abati once described Chief Lai Mohammed, ACN National Publicity Secretary as ‘lying Lai’.
Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor from The Guardian newspaper were jailed for refusing to disclose the source of a news report that was published by the paper. They were neither jailed for false reporting nor were they jailed for concocting news stories. Abati is upholding the mistreatment of these veterans by his positive affirmation and support for the ongoing arrest saga at the leadership newspaper.
If there were traits embedded in the journalism psyche of Abati in his days at the cauldron of The Guardian Editorial Board, writing galoshes as above was not one of them. This is a vivid portrayal of a mind foreclosed to truth, honesty and integrity. Can Abati ever enjoy inner moral peace or internal sense of rightness with his sociopathic comment that all Nigerians bar the villains of the council of state suffer from what I termed “posh ignoramusis”? Can Abati ever look himself in the mirror now that he has become Aso Rock gatekeeper which demands the lowering of his moral stature?
What can we say of a wayward sycophant who dismisses all opposing views but his own? Of course, Abati has blurred from being a niche interest to comic amusement. His journey to Abuja has dimmed the passion and vaulting moral idealism with which he once wielded his pen. Can his attention-getting cerebral ruts match the social radicalism of social media which has given us the rare cyber opportunity to write from the radical fringe? If Abati is the chief heresy hunter for a president like Jonathan – brainless, lazy, lame, sly, desperado, slumbering, corrupt, dozy, clueless – then it is apt to say that any talent in the service of evil is an evil in itself. It is a pity to watch the catastrophic fall of an exaggerated figure of Nigerian punditocracy as we await for events to reveal that the emperor has no clothes.
Goodluck Jonathan: From Demigod To Mammon
By Taju Tijani
The sentimental ontology of the president’s dirt poor background that worked so proudly on our emotions to the point of fanatical adulation has turned out to be a deliberate mass manipulation. When the wizards and witches of Abuja made that fatal decision to exchange the soul of ex-president Umaru Yar’ Adua for Jonathan’s, little did Nigerians knew that they were entering the galactic realm of outer darkness. Even professional political prophets could neither discern Jonathan’s pathological proclivity to dithering nor foresee his cabalist approach to politics.
In 2011 in the heat of the brouhaha of his political campaign every of his words was holy writ. We embraced the eloquent voices that proclaimed the virtues of his commoner background. In 2011, we were made to believe that he was a man of the people. All his paid artists were creatures of creative imagination. These recreative artists succeeded in delivering up Jonathan, with a touch of folklorist tale, that the president was a demigod!
The first salvo among the shibboleths released to the public realm was that he was a shoeless boy from Otueke. That is, he was born a plebeian. We were also given the image of a humble low lifer whose claim to enjoying life did not go beyond eating gari and more gari. Then for bluff and chutzpah in the evening under the glorious Otueke moonshine, Jonathan and his kinsmen found joy in settling for bottles of ogogoro, paraga and opa eyin! His dietary oscillography was pure carb and apeteshi. The remorseless plebbing of his ghetto origin was enough catalyst to galvanise our collective sympathy. And sure enough we kept the faith. Our 22 million votes – rigged or not – enabled Jonathan to gain an unfettered access to the seat of Nigeria’s most coveted trophy: the presidency.
As a professional contrarian who is proud enough to stick out his head above the parapets of hypocrisy, fawning patronage and flattery, I am raising an accusation against President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan that he has failed Nigeria and Nigerians. I am saying that the deceit and shibboleth of his sainthood has fallen to reveal a dithering, slumbering, clueless, cowardly, ignorant, paralytic and corrupt creature pretending to be the leader of the most populous black nation on earth. The documented pathology of his laziness has stalled Nigeria’s journey to redemption. We should have been forewarned that a lazy, drunken zoologist does not belong to Aso Rock but in the midst of baying cheetahs, lions and crocodiles.
When he rode to power under the shower of our empathy, he made a proclamation. He promised transformation. Under the crisp air of our new hope and his own air of certitude, we embraced his oration of transformation without modulating it with doubt and cynicism.
We trust that Jonathan is not part of those rentier politicians who have destroyed Nigeria soul, mind and body. Even the avowedly pessimistic had to yield to reason. They had to yield to the common song of the time that Jonathan was a blast of fresh air. Today, Nigerians are paying for that strange flirtation with his political rhetoric and choreographed sound bite. Let us test the evidence. First, President Jonathan is yet to declare his worldly asset, a written demand from the constitution of this nation. His official bombast that he would not divulge his asset on pages of newspaper proves his capacity to desecrate and do violence to the constitution he swore to uphold. The price being exerted by his failure to obey the constitution of the land echoes in both the states, senate and the legislature.
Both governors, senators and legislators have carved out their own republics within a republic. At will they disrespect, disrobe and distort the law in the grandest of political impunity not seen anywhere in the world. They take their cue from the dotard in Aso Rock who rules without any oblique hint of concern for the rule of law. We are govern not by law but by the opinionated prejudice and herd mentality of our overpaid politicians. Governors spend state money as a personal fortune. Senators and legislators live lawless lives. They divine immunity clauses in the constitution. They self-award themselves huge salaries which give them lavish access to gracious and opulent living in a land teeming with 60 million jobless Nigerians.
Secondly, Jonathan is living in a cocoon world of political profligacy. He epitomises the lies, chicanery, duplicity, impunity, waste, favouritism and hypocrisy of Africa’s brand of liberal democracy. He has abandoned the folklorist tale of his carefully choreographed background of frugality, moderation and austerity. He has developed a lofty distaste for material prudency and transparent husbandry of national resources and wealth. There are many examples that boggle the mind. He has been a supporter of his wife’s obsessive madness for provocative obscenities. In bedroom arm-twisting, Patience Jonathan has worked her sorcery on the president and succeeded in her inclusion of First Lady Peace Mission Building in the 2013 Federal Capital Territory appropriation budget . Elsewhere, revolution is made of this!
Patience Jonathan’s ghoulish dream of a N4 billion white sepulchre under the skyline of Abuja is a monument to ego and waste. This is a democratic profligacy. Under our bemused watch she appealed to the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass the Wonga (money) budgeted for the project. In a fit of irrationality she explained that the building was not for her but for Nigerians. According to her, when Maryam Babangida and Mariam Abacha built the Women Centre and the National Hospital they did not carry the buildings when they left government. She added that she will not go with the peace mission building when her tenure expires. Explaining further, she said the peace mission project was initiated by late President Yar’Adua, adding that other countries lobbied for the mission to be in their countries but it was given to Nigeria on a platter of gold. She revealed that the United Nations and ECOWAS buildings are being maintained by Federal Capital Territory Administration.
Patience Jonathan’s argument with its illogic is nothing but a homage to lawlessness, impunity and a revelation of the ways prudence and accountability have retreated from the realm of polity in our country. “When my tenure expires”, did I read that right? This statement from Patience Jonathan is absolute poppywash, of course! She is a thief. She has stolen a public space outside the constitution of Nigeria. It is only in Nigeria you will find the wife of a president live a parallel life with her husband in coveting office, usage of presidential jets and private staffers. It is only in Nigeria you will find huge amount of public money allocated for the profligate use of the “Office Of First Lady”. Elsewhere, revolution is made of this!!
Michelle Obama, the self-effacing wife of the president of America has no private fiefdom in the Oval. Only recently, she said that she was a single parent as an endearing deference to the job of staying at home to look after her children and the painful deprivation of missing her husband due to presidential duties. She harbours no competitive space with her man. Samantha Gwendoline Cameron, wife of David Cameron (Kamoru) the British Prime Minister is a businesswoman with no access to prime ministerial jet to fly her to expensive hospitals in Dubai, France and Germany.
Jonathan’s habit of projecting Nigeria as the father Christmas and bank manager to all the weak, tired and the dispossessed of the earth is a felonic behaviour. This desperation to showcase Nigeria as giant of Africa does not stand the test of reality. The revelation that Nigeria (FCT) foots the bill of maintaining both buildings of ECOWAS and United Nations is scandalous. Funds meant for the enjoyment of Nigerians are criminally diverted on daily basis to pay for laundering our bad, soiled and damaged reputation as a nation. As I write, discussion is ongoing to deploy billion of naira to surrendered Boko Haram jihadists under the weepy leniency of amnesty. In less than two years, President Jonathan has transformed himself from a demigod to mammon.
President Jonathan’s dream of transforming the Tower of Babel of our corruption has continued to receive divine retribution. It is still blasphemous to attempt to transform the temple of corruption in Nigeria. And who else to prove that he is incapable of cracking the monolith of our national disgrace than President Jonathan. In a touch of pantomime to his drive to fight corruption at all levels, he gives it a gloss of respectability in the recent announcement of his presidential pardon. Everyday, you reach a frustration point with this Otueke journeyman. He extended kinship loyalty to former excellent thief of Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyesiegha the man who brought Nigeria into international disrepute and gave him pardon for his criminal rape of public funds.
That action or pardon was the clearest assault against corruption and good governance in Nigeria. And to make matter worse, senior mad dog, Dr. Doyin Okupe came up with marijuana-fuelled riposte when he said that Mr. Alamieyeseigha had “impacted positively on the overall economy of the nation”. Another junior mad dog, Dr Reuben Abati, on a TV programme, described those who are criticising Jonathan over Alams pardonable pardon as suffering from “sophisticated ignorance”. These ingratiating comments from Okupe and Abati have an apt epitaph in Proverbs 28:21 “for a piece of bread a man will transgress” .
Before his reinvention President Jonathan was a subject of fascination. Today, he is a subject of intense revulsion. Today, he is surrounded by high-minded sinners, unrepentant thieves, money cannibals, Jezebellian wife, soul-eating ritualists, cabal-driven cabinet, predators, brigands, incompetents and phoneys. Today, we have been forced to admit that this nation is saddled with a brainless drone who has taken Nigeria to the tipping point of social despair, political tension, insecurity, barbaric corruption, hopelessness and a sustaining sense of helplessness. Now peel back his layer, you can see how President Jonathan has morphed from a demigod to mammon.
Maina the Menace: Rogues Chasing A Rogue
By Taju Tijani
Where is Abdulrasheed Maina? Can somebody tell him to swim ashore before a dragnet fishes him out? The drama of his disappearance is astonishing. Maina is a popular figure in the Abuja circuit of elite civil servants. He has his house and office in Abuja. He drives around Abuja. He canoodles his harem of wives in and around Abuja. Yet, this intrepid thief is mesmerising this nation. He is waoing us all with the masterstroke of a classic Houdini disappearing magic. Of course, in the warren of houses in Suleija it is easy to accommodate a rich fugitive. But Maina the absconding rogue is too self-assured to be seen bedding down among the commoners of bustling Suleija.
The menace of Maina has been doing the Nigerian circuit for months. He has been dodging and ducking every move to get him to regurgitate all he knows about the pension scam under his able watch. Anytime the dragnet closes in, Maina has the uncanny ability to develop wings and fly away. We have been watching this charade, this comical road show, this show of baleful disregard for the law of the land and we seem not to have seen the last of vanishing Maina. There was a lull in the search for him until the National Assembly began to develop recurring migraine over Maina’s palaver. Our senators could no longer bear the shame of being perceived as toothless bulldogs. They could not bear the shame of seeing their power derided by an absconding rat like Maina. They could not bear the antic of a manic Maina as he dribbles our senators and dares their wrath.
Who is this modern day Houdini? Remember Houdini? Harry Houdini remains one of the most famous magicians in history. He was most famous for his ability to escape from what seemed like anything and everything, including ropes, handcuffs, straightjackets, jail cells, water-filled milk cans, and even nailed-shut boxes that had been thrown into a river. In other words, he was a disappearing genius. Maina is walking in the footsteps of this giant who could disappear at will. As we celebrate Maina for his Houdini’s stunt, we also have to mention that we can interpret Maina in many other ways. He is an Assistant Director in the federal public service. Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina is the Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT). He is accused of looting N195billion pension funds. He lives an open, opulence lifestyle around Abuja.
He enjoys warm association with the executive and mighty men of power in Nigeria. He moves around the city with two bullet-proof Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs). He is escorted by 27 combined security details. He likes the limelight and addresses press conferences and places syndicated paid advertorials without the consent of his permanent secretary and other superior officers in the service. He has been a wanted man since last year. He failed to appear before the Senate Joint Committee on the Investigation of Pension Funds. On 13th December 2012 a warrant of arrest was issued empowering the Inspector-General of Police to arrest and produce Maina before the Senate Joint Committee on the Investigation of Pension Fund.
“The IGP wishes to appeal to well meaning citizens and the general public with useful information on the where-about of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, to kindly volunteer such information to the nearest Police Station, Formation or email email@example.com, for necessary action.” That was the IGP’s appeal asking us to smoke out Maina. As days turned to weeks and as weeks turned to months, the tension over Maina’s intransigence and wilful disregard for constituted authority would soon reach its most volatile peak. Just this week, knives, clubs and daggers were out on the floor of the National Assembly. The National Assembly was turned into a coliseum where Maina’s head was demanded on a platter. The steamy mass of ancient folklore of Maina’s evasive power gave way to a more robust challenge to the presidency to produce Maina before the sky falls on President Jonathan himself.
Nobody embodied the collective anger of our senators than the fiery personality of Adeyemi Smart. Smart and other angry lawmakers in the Upper Legislative Chamber of the National Assembly expressed disgust that some top notches in the executive are protecting Maina, thereby reinforcing his confidence to continue to ignore the summon of the lawmakers over allegations of misappropriating N195 billion pension funds. The Senators described Maina, as a “liar, rascal and a criminal,” in his display of arrogance and convening press conferences to ridicule the Senators.
Tired and frustrated, the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba and 107 other Senators moved a motion on the abuse of office by Maina. They unanimously resolved that President Jonathan should dismiss Maina from the public service and disengage him from all acts relating to public duty. The Senators also directed anti-graft agencies to immediately commence investigation of Maina and his eventual prosecution for alleged mismanagement and embezzlement of pension funds.
However, Maina was said to have accused the Senate Committee investigating him for pension fraud of demanding and receiving N3 billion from the loot. He was said to have also appealed to the Senate President, David Mark, to dissolve the committee and constitute a new one to guarantee him fair hearing as well as ensuring successful probe of the pension sector. Maina has given us a linear clue that suggests that rogues are chasing a rogue in this saga. Maina crime is obvious. He stole money meant for pensioners. That is, he is a killer. His action has sent many pensioners to their untimely graves. His action is accelerating the demise of many other pensioners as I write. The crowing senators from Adeyemi Smart to the meanest mad dog within our legislative chamber should go bury their heads in shame. Maina mentioned that they (the senators) DEMANDED and RECEIVED N3billion naira from his loot.
Those who are looking for Maina know where he is. Maina’s evasion is a damnation for our police force. The lofty bravura of Mohamed Abubakar, the IGP, is tad inconsistent. Maina has police guards all around him. The Presidency is also shielding this important thief. A transparent President Goodluck Jonathan should have sacked Maina at the merest whiff of his complicity in the massive looting of public money. I want to believe that Maina is working to a script. Those senators who DEMANDED and RECEIVED money from the pension loot are the ones emboldening and hardening the fragile arteries of Maina from Senatorial examination. Any day Maina is arraigned in our rogues gallery, many senators will go down with him. This is what the man is trying to avoid.
Politicians, police officers, influential Nigerians and even journalists who shared the loot with him are waiting jailbirds the moment an absconding Maina open wide his mouth and sing like a caged canary for the rude delight of helpless and defrauded pensioners. Did I say waiting jailbirds? For that to happen, we have to send the case file to the Old Bailey. Nigerians judges are not known to convict political looters! People say that Northerners hardly steal public money but the staistics of their lootocracy is staggering. Farouk Lawan, John Yakubu Yusuf and now Abdulrasheed Maina. Is this the onset of corruption paradigm shift?