July 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

Rumours about Ado Bayero’s ill health circulated round the social media on Monday 9th July 2012 like the ones that went round on the health status of late Umaru Yaradua while he was in power. Some were writing on facebook and twitter that the royal highness was in coma while some were posting his condition was critical with little hope of reviving.  A day after, those rumours turned out to be false, the social media was awashed with the good news that his highness was fine, hale and hearty except for old age. Alhamdulillah.

 Ado Bayero is the 54th traditional ruler of Kano, born in 1930. An octogenarian and the 13th fulani ruler of Kano after the Jihad of Shehu Usman Danfodio. His father was the former Emir of Kano, Abdullahi dan Abbas. He had his Primary education in Kano and proceeded to rumfa college for post primary education.He started a career as dan doka before proceeding to senegal as an Ambassador, he quit his career as a diplomat in 1963 and was turbaned Emir of Kano.

Since then, Ado Bayero has proven to be the most revered and admired traditional ruler in post colonial Nigeria. His subjects, the people of Kano state are hospitable and courageous people who are mostly traders and merchants. They are so proud of Kano and  greatly appreciate everything in and around Kano with dignity. They proudly coined their slogan as Kano ko dame kazo an fi ka, that literally means no visitor can surpass a Kano man in Kano on anything.

Traditional rulership is practiced all over Nigeria. Kingdoms that were conquered by the Usman Danfodio jihadists predominantly in northern Nigeria have emirs in charge and emirates as kingdoms. The jihadists were deciples of Shehu Usman Danfodio who over threw the sitting authorities and established the emirates. The fundamental objective of the jihadist for establishing the emirates was to propagate Islam and to reform the people and their psyche.

The emergence of Shehu Usman Danfodio from Sokoto has made Sokoto the seat of the caliphate by default, that makes the sultan of sokoto the highest ranking emir and all other emirs his subordinates. In spite of the hierarchy, Ado Bayero’s aura and toga are unique and inimitable. He wields power in ways no traditional ruler does. In presence of Ado Bayero, other emirs and traditional rulers are like district heads. His charm and charisma as an emir and a traditional ruler are second to non.

His subjects adore him greatly, they say good things about him that mystify his style of rulership. They adorn their places of business and offices with his portraits. His pictures are their wall papers, screen-savers and bumper stickers. The singers and musicians extol him in their lyrics, the famous and nicest one recently is the one largely used as ring-tone by Aminu Ala.

The influence and credibility of traditional rulers have waned over the years as a result of their cozy relationship with politicians and people of means who are widely perceived as corrupt elements in the society. This has diminished traditional rulership and its operators in the eyes of the people, some see traditional rulers as instruments in the hands of politicians, some see their palaces as extension of government houses. Democracy and civilisation has made traditional rulers mere toothless bulldogs . In Kano the story is different, Ado Bayero is a father to the politicians and a guardian to the elites. He crowned the former Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau as the Sardauanan Kano, at the same time, the father of the present Governor, Mallam Musa Kwankaso is a district head under his watch. He is a symbol of respect and honour for the people of Kano state.

The death of Atta of Igala has now made Ado Bayero the oldest serving traditional ruler in Nigeria. He will be 50 years on throne next year. Stories are going round that there are plans to invite the queen of england for his golden jubilee celebration to add color to the extra ordinary and extravagant anniversary.

Ado Bayero is the only living traditional ruler that brings respect and dignity to the tradtional institution. The influence and respect for the institution are tied to his heart beat. Many people, this writer inclusive, believ the day Ado Bayero’s heart will cease to pumb blood will be the day the final nail on the coffin of traditional rulership will be hammered.


July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

South-Africa, the rainbow nation, went through apartheid for a long period of time before becoming an independent state in 1994. A country with a population of over 50 million people, i.e one-third of Nigeria’s population, south-Africa has made  remarkable achievements in the past 18years as an independent country, the biggest was hosting the 2010 world cup. She was the first country in Africa to host the world class sporting event . Rapid industrialization and fast growing economy are the twin set of reasons that made south Africa capable of hosting the grand event. In spite of the high rate of crime and the wide spread prevalence of  HIV/AIDS and the wide gap between the haves and the-have-nots, south-Africa is the most pronounced country on the continent of Africa in terms of infrastructure, uninterruptible power and good transport network.

South Africa’s diversified economy has put her ahead of most African countries especially in areas of manufacturing and booming businesses. MTN Group and Multichoice, owners and operators of DSTV (DESTINY TV inc), are two multi-national companies owned by south africa with some powerful Nigerians as shareholders. These two companies have dominated the broadcast and telecomms business in Nigeria, they have made and are still making stupendous amount of profits from the unreliable services they render in Nigeria, profits no Nigerian telecomms and broadcast firm has made.

Just like the railway transport system, Nigeria is the first country to start TV broadcasting on the continent of Africa, followed by Egypt. The first TV station in Nigeria was commissioned in Ibadan in 1959 with a slogan first in Africa. In 1977 the federal government created the Nigerian Television Authority under a military decree as a behemoth of broadcasting with a ridiculous slogan, you cant beat the reach. In 1986, twenty seven years after Nigeria started broadcasting, multichoice was incorporated in south Africa and started operations in Nigeria in 1995 three years after the federal government deregulated broadcasting.

Multichoice has approximately 5.6 million subscribers in Nigeria and enjoys a monopoly in programming no one does in broadcasting. Supersports is one of the channels available on DSTV, the only channel that has the license to transmit the widely watched, champions league and premier league, with more than 50 million viewers from Nigeria.

MTN, the giant mobile phone operator is towing the same line with multichoice in operations and ripping benefits from Nigeria. The 2010 financial records of MTN showed that the company’s revenue globally stood at N2.57 trillion while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization stood at N1.67 trillion, with 71% of those revenues coming from Nigeria. MTN is the second mobile network operator to start operations in Nigeria in 2001 after the flash in the pan  Zimbabwean company, ECONET. The wavering competition in telecoms business operations in Nigeria has given MTN a head start over other mobile network operators including the indigenous Globacom. MTN has progressively dominated the business of mobile telecommunications with 45 million subscribers, making Nigeria the company’s biggest cash cow. The daily profits made by these south African multinationals is more than the daily internally generated revenues of some states.

These profits and dividends are made at a time when Nigerians are having a fading  memory of what NITEL used to be. NITEL is Nigeria’s telecoms back bone with assets worth billions of naira, it was killed and buried under the guise of privatisation.  With MTN and multi choice, South-Africa has defeated Nigeria in the war of economic greatness, home and away, just like the football fans call it. This was proven in march this year when south africa deported some nigerians for arriving at johannesburg without their yellow cards.

Nigeria’s  abrasive style of leadership and pervasive corruption have turned out to be an advantage for African countries. Rich Nigerians improve the economy of other African countries mostly by travelling out for medical attention, university education and tourism while rich people and companies from other African countries visit Nigeria in droves to explore the huge investment opportunities and exploit and extort the large population.

Ghana’s disappointing economy made ghanians saw Nigeria as a safe heaven in the seventies, Ghanians migrated massively to Nigeria for greener pastures, they reinvented their lives by picking up the menial jobs they were lucky to have, mostly teaching, nursing and street hawking. The prospects and opportunities at  that time caused an immigration problem for Nigeria and compelled the federal government under the leadership of Shehu Shagari to embark on mass deportation and repatriation of undocumented foreigners, an exercise Nigerians nick-named Ghana must go because most of the deportees were ghanians. 30 years afterward, Nigerians travel to Ghana for excursions, university education and honey moon.

If a visit by the united states president is a mark of achievement for an African country, then Ghana has made it. The US president, Mr. Barrack Obama visited Accra in June 2009. Mr Obama gave a speech that inspired and motivated Ghanians. He said, “the 21st century will be shaped by not what just happened in Rome or Washington, but by what happens in Accra”. Those words sank deep into the heads of Ghanians and made them felt like the true giants of Africa.

Mr. Obamas visit to Ghana put Nigeria in contrast, some saw the visit as grounds for juxtaposing Ghana and Nigeria. The legitimacy of Umaru Yaradua’s presidency, the fraudulent elections of 2007, the massacre in Jos, the militancy and kidnappings in the Niger-delta and the moribund economy all came under a spot light. Two years after Mr. Obama’s visit to Accra, Nigeria witnessed another round of elections that was worse than the one that produced Umaru Yaradua. The 2011 elections was marred not only with irregularities but with backlash, violence and massive bloodshed. It marked the beginning of Bombings and continued  killing of innocent  people, the massacre in Jos continues unabated, the economy continues to dwindle, the central government continues to weaken, the mentality of the people gets cheapened and demeaned by the day. These are the symptoms analyst saw and drew line of comparisons between Nigeria and Somalia.

The discovery of oil in Ghana and Angola has ranked Nigeria low as an oil producing nation. Ghana is a stable country with lots of experience and rich human capital. Angola is a land locked country in central Africa with fresh memories of civil war and a neophyte in oil exportation and has a promising relationship with china.  The world is waiting to see and asking if the duo will emulate or learn from Nigeria’s experience as an oil exporting nation. will they use their petrodollars to build infrastructure and improve their economy like other oil rich nations? Will it be a blessing or a curse on them?.

 Oil is what defines the Angola-China relationship. The Chinese, in their bid to be the world biggest economy have found angola’s oil as one of the last pieces of the puzzle. China is investing her time and resources in exploring angola’s oil, building massive infrastructure and a modern railway system in a quid pro quo relationship. With oil in Angola, Luanda, the country’s capital would continue to look more like Shanghai and Beijing, making Angola a mini-super power in Africa, unless if she chooses to emulate Nigeria.

Nigeria’s oil has brought revenue  as much as it has brought crisis, disasters and scandals. The development in Nigeria has not justified the revenues realised from petrodollars. Massive corruption has stood in the ways of development and revenue generation (Farookgate and the subsidy cabals). Oil exploration and refining in Nigeria are characterised by Illegal oil bunkering, militancy, and kidnapping. 

Nigeria is blessed with mineral and natural resources as much as rich people. Forbes magazine mentioned Alhaji Aliko Dangote as the richest man in Africa. Dangote, a business man from Kano has been the leading manufacturer and importer of domestic consumables. His romance with politicians, especially the ruling peoples democratic party has given him an edge over other business men. Rich Business men and corporations are the sponsors of politics and politicians all over the globe, they teleguide politicians on what policies to formulate. A combination of unpatriotic policy makers and selfish business men is the most dangerous team a society can ever get. In Nigeria, the combination of politicians and business men is the cabal.

Policies made in Nigeria have only favoured the rich business class by killing the economy, those policies have made Nigeria a consumer nation, Nigeria now imports oil from Niger republic. Business men use their companies to import products and commodities that are ought to be produced locally. The cosy relationship between rich men and politicians is what brought Nigeria to where she is today, it is a horrible thing to happen in a country with tremendous potentials, a country that’s supposed to be a beacon of hope for Africa is now a warning and a bad example for countries 


July 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

All over the world, countries have a way of describing their selves with  short phrases and aphorisms to prove their greatness and strength, the United states of America proudly calls herself, God’s own city, man’s own paradise. Israel is land of milk and honey, Australia calls herself the lucky country.  Ireland says she is land of saints, Japan is the land of the rising sun,  South Africa is the rainbow nation, the funniest and sweetest one is what Switzerland calls herself, land of chocolates and cuckoo clock.

Nigeria says she is the giant of Africa because of her endowment with abundant natural resources and rich manpower. Nigeria was created in 1914 started a journey as an independent country on 1st October, 1960 when the British colonialists handed over power to an indigenous government.  Nigeria was left with some home grown enemies, among which are tribalism, regionalism, bigotry and political ineptitude.

Gen Yakubu Gowon, the former military head of state was so eager to prove to the world  that Nigeria is the giant of Africa, he told an international congregation that the problem of Nigeria was not money, but how to spend it and what to do with it. That was believed by many to be the beginning of an era of decadence and decline, and it continues to this day. Some also believe that statement is the genesis of the cosy relationship between Nigerian leaders and some foreign powers.

Gowon was overthrown in a military coup in 1975. Regimes were changed, both through the ballot and through the power of guns and bullets. From military regimes that were not accountable and transparent to unhealthy democracies. Every regime that came on board would roll out programs and policies aimed at fighting corruption and economic recovery. Tragically, those regimes only succeeded in pouring out old wines in new bottles as the standard of living continues to drop in spite of the huge revenues generated from the sale of crude oil.

It is tempting to look back at the achievements made and the pace Nigeria was moving at during the colonial times without petrodollars in areas of industrialisation, education, housing,and infrastructure and draw comparisons to what Nigeria has achieved five decades after independence.

Most Nigerians need not to be reminded of the structures in the first generation Universities, and the houses built in the 40s and 50s by the colonial masters. The Textile industries and factories in Kakuri, Kaduna and bompai in Kano, and other edifices commissioned in the colonial days. The architecture, quality and standard of those structures are probative of the level of seriousness and commitment of the colonial masters and past leaders. Lugard Hall in Kaduna, Gaskiya Publishing house in Zaria are among the many structures erected in the past.

Corruption is Nigeria’s number one enemy, it has defied all practical solutions. Fighting corruption is unwinnable because it rides on the back of political nepotism and sometimes on the back of ethnicity, regionalism and religious bigotry. Corruption has its thumbprints all over government institutions. Railway transport system is one of the victims of corruption.

The railway system is a veritable and reliable means of transportation. Nigeria was the first country to have a railway system in Africa. It was the most reliable and efficient means of transportation in the 1920s up to 1970s. it was constructed by the British in 1901 in Lagos, it reached Zaria in 1911 and Jos in 1927. The rail lines run down from nguru in yobe state to Lagos and from kaura namoda in Zamfara state down to calabar, from malamadori in Jigawa state down to Kano and from Kano down to Zaria. The railway system, to a large extent aided cultural integration, industrialisation and construction.  People could easily move to-and-fro, between the north and the south. Raw materials mostly cotton, groundnut, and cocoa were loaded in a train and transported to the factories where they would be transformed to finished products. Heavy equipments and machines for construction were transported from the sea ports to the hinterland via railways. Cities like Zaria, my hometown,  and some places like the southern part of Kaduna city, and Kafanchan, were enterprising in the 1920s and 1950s.

The railway hub in Zaria now popularly called PZ was a destination and a depot for onward delivery of commodities to the south and vice versa, that  made Zaria an enterprising city and attractive to traders and merchants. Railway provided Nigerians with job opportunities including the father of the present Vice President. Sadly, railway transport system in Nigeria is now history, it can only be described in past tense. The money spent on railways has not been justified. Maybe what justifies it is the increasing number of  trucks and trailers on our high ways.The railway system died quietly without anyone asking why and no one made any noise like it was done when the fuel subsidy on PMS was removed.

Absence of railway transport system has left Nigerians with no option than the deplorable high ways that are mostly dominated by careless and senseless  truck drivers whose egos are so huge, they sometimes think they are laws onto themselves, they threaten to hold down the economy of the entire nation by going on a nation wide strike whenever government takes a decision that is not in their best interest.The billions of naira spent on the maintenance and expansion of highways has only increased the risk of dying more than it has increased comfort and safety in driving.

Institutions of learning are collapsing, from primary education to tertiary. Government has not done enough in providing basic education, especially in far north. The number of school-age Nigerians that are out of school is increasing by the day as leaders continue to play the game of self-deception by launching programs and pet projects that only appear on dailies and  tellies. Most of these programs and projects are initiated by politicians ostensibly to garner support from the general public mostly during election period. A program or a project initiated by a politician only has the same expiry date with the politician that initiates it. Adequate funding and commitment are required by govrnment at all  levels to keep school-age kids off the streets not pet projects.

Citadels of learning are not what they used to be especially the first generation universities. Ahmadu Bello University, my alma mata, was once a world class university with world class structures and faculties producing world class graduates. It is now a shadow of what it used to be. The structures are weak and the apparatus of learning are mostly obsolete. The story is the same for other tertiary institutions.

It seems the spate of bombings and violence Will be final nail on the coffin of Nigerian Universities. Bayero university in Kano recently witnessed a twin-bomb explosion in its new site campus, shivers were sent down the spines of parents and students. University of maiduguri had to suspend academic activities in June 2011 due to the rising tides of violence and bomb blasts. Institutions of learning are now are targets of bomb attacks. People of means will now add violence and bomb blasts on the long list of reasons why their children will study abroad. Those who can not afford studying abroad will be left with no option than to study in horror and terror.

More troubling and frightening in Nigeria today is the widening gap between the ruling class and the followers, the ruling class continues to grow rich and isolated from the realities of the Nigerian state by living in luxury in cities and capitals while more Nigerians continue to wallow in poverty in rural areas.The depleting facilities and absence of basic amenities in the rural areas are feeding the problem of violence, congestion and crimes with high rates of recidivism in urban cities. Unless government provides job opportunities and enabling environment for business to thrive in rural areas, violence and chaos will continue to be the order of the day.

The decaying economy is attributed to the absence of electricity to power the industries that will propel economic growth. Government has spent billion of dollars and has been setting unachievable deadlines and targets. A deadline was set by former minister of power, Chief Bola Ige in 1999, he promised Nigerians uninterrupted power by December 1999. Ten years later, Umaru Musa Yaradua came with his 7 point agenda and promised Nigerians 6 thousand mega watts by December 2009, the situation still remains unchanged. Billions of dollars have gone down the drain in the name generating electricity. The only result government could produce was a live coverage of probes and hearings from the chambers of the National Assembly.

Some argued that economic survival of some Asian countries is tied to Nigeria’s demand for generators. Rumour has it that those generators are imported by companies owned by some people within the corridors of power.

Many analysts see a direct link between corruption, economic retardation and petrodollars. Nigeria abandoned other areas of income generation upon discovery of oil, and focused a hundred and one percent on crude oil. That compounded the problem by fanning the flames of ethnicity and regionalism, it has made the indigence of the oil rich delta see other citizens from other parts of the country as parasites and second class.

Failure of past governments to explore and harness the abundant natural resources in other parts of the country is what brought about the idea that other sections of the country are benefiting from crude oil without making any contribution to revenue generation and have equal participation in deciding  what to do with the revenue generated.  Truth is, there is no region in Nigeria that is poor, every region from up north to down south are endowed with abundant natural resources and manpower that are highly sellable in the global market.

The key to economic recovery is manufacturing and diversification. The  heavy reliance on oil alone has made matters worse. The refineries and other agencies in the oil and gas sector cannot employ the millions of jobless graduate roaming the streets seeking for jobs. Government needs to invest and pay attention to areas like textile manufacturing, agriculture, mining and construction. Diversifying and manufacturing will make the economy grow.Nigeria  will be delisted as a consumer nation. Jobs will be created and exports will be made thereby increasing revenue generation and per capita income.

Its saddening that Nigeria, the once prosperous nation filled with hope and prosperity can no longer boast as the giant of Africa. THE ECONOMIST OF LONDON recently termed Rwanda, a country that was fractured by civil war as the Singapore of Africa, it also described Nigeria as a country where the large population is not an asset in terms oh human capital. At the same time South-Africa is struggling to be in the company of the BRIC states, the world emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South-Africa).

Nigeria is not the giant of Africa anymore, it is now a text book example of how not to run a country.  T.Y Danjuma, a rich man, a politician and a retired General recently drew parallel lines between Nigeria and Somalia, a country torn apart by civil war. He cautioned leaders especially the northern governors to sit up and live up to their responsibilities before everyone gets consumed by violence.

Nigeria has been reduced to a country people compare with Somalia, she is no longer the country where her leader would stand in pride as the leader of the biggest black nation and tell the world money is not the problem but how to spend. She is now in the leagues of not even Rwanda, but Somalia.

The up coming generation are in peril. Unless a miracle happens they may find their selves in Somalia.

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