Thursday 31 January 2019
Speaking during the launch of 'Politics as dashed hopes in Nigeria' by Dr. Auwalu Anwar, his former Special Assistant on FCTA, Abuja on 31st January 2019, former President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) said the world is watching how Nigeria will handle the 2019 elections. He called on Nigerians to guard the nation's democracy ahead of the general elections. According to OBJ, 'if we cherish democracy, we will all guard and protect it. And that, I believe, is the main purpose of the book'.
OBJ continued: 'I am happy most Nigerians are rising up to their duties and responsibilities as regards safeguarding our democracy. Remember that if you stand aloof as evil is being perpetrated, you become an accomplice in the perpetration of the evil'. OBJ was also concerned that prebendalism (money politics) has become an unnecessary but important aspect of Nigeria's politics. He then advised that we should hold on to our nationality which binds us together.
Anwar, the author, said that the book gives an insight into the activities of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). The journey into writing the book started with a newspaper article. He said when the CPC went into crisis, committees were set up where a code of conduct was created because it was believed that the principal problem of the CPC was indiscipline. 'It was not a run of the mill Political Party'.
In his remarks Prof. Bugaje identified three areas where improvement is needed in our polity.
1) The character of our politics: The leadership recruitment process is warped. That's why the process throws up the worst of us as leaders and the competent ones either keep off or are edged out a la violence! Nigeria's politics is 'self-serving, incestuous and leads to sharp divide within the polity'.
2) Absence of elite consensus on germane issues like restructuring, setting targets for Nigeria, how to effectively feed our teeming population, principle of inclusion where no one is left behind, etc.
3) Nigeria is not futuristic: For example, the world has moved away from the use of crude oil refined as petrol in cars! Electric cars are now available in some countries. We are still glued to crude oil price and how it affects our budget! 65% of Nigeria's children are under-nourished. How do their brains develop for the task ahead in the information age and a highly competitive world? The world has moved from hard work to smart work for maximum impact.
The book reviewer said the 614 page text x-rays the inner workings of the CPC. It is also a definitive text of post June 12, 1992 politics in Nigeria. It discusses the altruistic and radical politics of the north, especially Kano. Heroism in many contexts is on display. Players are described as regards their roles in shaping Nigerian politics.
The logical consequences of heroism are self-evident. Attention is called to action and inaction by leaders as a result of their inability/unwillingness to learn from history. The reviewer said that the book is a reference point for political discourse in Nigeria. It is a daring/lucid expose that adds another dimension to our repertoire on landmarks in our political history.
Tuesday 29 January 2019
On the 22nd of January, 2019, the French Cultural Centre in Abuja hosted the exhibition by Premiere Urgence International (PUI) on their work with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri, Borno state, the heartbeat of the Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria. Specifically, it was a photo exhibition that showcased the work of PUI in Maiduguri. The photos were stories of what obtained 'before' & 'after' - what PUI met on ground and the transformational effect of PUI on the IDPs.
Rizwan ul Haq, Head of Mission, PUI in Nigeria answered intricate questions about their operations in IDP camps and with IDPs outside camps. The Moderator was Helois Ellien, Cooperation Attache & Deputy Director of the French Institute in Nigeria. The creative photographer, Clarence Ugbede was on hand to answer questions about his inspiration for each of the photos! From the photos, it was clear that PUI is doing a laudable job in the north-east, especially Maiduguri. PUI needs all the help it can get. On my part, I have elected to use my wealth of experience in the training of their staff for more effective and efficient operations...
L-R: Rizwan ul Haq (Head of Mission, Premiere Urgence Internationale in Nigeria) & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa (Independent Consultant/Conflict Transformation Expert, Abuja).
The 'Social Protection Cross Learning Summit' with sub-theme - Improving the lives of poor & vulnerable Nigerians: Lessons from implementing Social Protection in Nigeria was held in Abuja 22-24th January, 2019. The lead paper titled: Designing & implementing SP in Nigeria to protect programme success was delivered by Dr. Michael Samson, Economic Policy Research Institute (EPR). An overview of human capital development in Nigeria was presented by Director, Macro Analysis Department, Ministry of Budget & National Planning.
I made two strategic interventions on the first and second days of the conference. My first comment was the fact that the SIP National Office needs to do more to publicise the extensive work it is doing in the the field of SP so that more Nigerians would be aware of and appreciate same. Besides, the conference taking place on the eve of the 2019 elections, it is not clear what modalities have been put in place to ensure continuity of some of the laudable programmes on SP which could continue to benefit Nigerians like the N-Power programme which has made it possible for otherwise unemployed Nigerian graduates to quit idleness in germane areas like teaching, agriculture, building, etc.
The SIP Office promised to do more in the area of publicity for their programmes. However, since there is frequent policy somersault in Nigeria, the respondent was not too sure what could become of the programme beyond May 29, 2019. My other statement was on the seeming dichotomy between 'conditional' and 'non-conditional transfer'. My position is that either could be employed depending on the country, context, behaviour of the locals, experience of those 'dispensing' the funds, etc. I am not particularly favourably disposed to either method of transfer. Each country, including Nigeria, should rely heavily on statistics in order to determine which method should be employed.
For me, the high point of the conference was the intellectually tasking debate between Michael Samson of EPRI vs Alexandra Yuster of UNICEF. Michael, as expected, spoke as an economist who has his eyes on the money and recovery of same from beneficiaries. He was for conditional cash transfer. In contrast, Alexandra was for unconditional cash transfer because for her, it is the lives of the people that matter. Life is more important than the money. The economist in Michael puts the recovery of money beyond individual survival.
For me, both viewpoints are valid and relevant in particular climes. The interesting thing about the debate between Michael and Alexandra was the civility of the discourse while marshaling their points. For me, there was no victor, no vanquished. Both of them put their points forward with facts and figures. At the end of the debate, Mrs. Maryam Uwais announced that Nigeria was in the process of transiting from unconditional to conditional transfer. I am curious about the 'conditionalities' which are likely to unfold soon!
The international conference brought together experts on the subject matter from all over the world to deliberate on various aspects of SP all over the world. This discourse elicited comparison between what obtains in Nigeria and other countries. Areas covered included:
*Innovations in SP
*The impact of SP
*Evolution of SP
*The case for SP
*Launch of SP Policy in Nigeria
Kudos to the conference planning team for organising such a stimulating parley. We look forward to how the impending conditional cash transfer programme in Nigeria pans out...
*Gender gaps & the social inclusion movement in ICT https://lnkf.in/ga-NXR3
*Financing gaps in Social Protection: Global estimates & strategies fr developing countries in light of the Covid-10 crisis & beyond https://www.ilo.org/.../WCMS_755475/lang--en/index.htm
Monday 28 January 2019
Above: Cover of book titled 'Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa's Advantage' by Greg Mills, Olusegun Obasanjo, Jeffrey Herbst & Tendai Biti
The book: 'Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa's Advantage' was launched in Abuja on the 23rd of January, 2019. Unlike many other similar events that are 'money-making' exercises, where attendees are cajoled to 'donate generously' to augment the cost of the production of the book and even provide for the publisher and authors' needs/wants, nobody was asked to donate anything. Instead, everyone, including myself got a free copy of the book and an accompanying CD!
I wish subsequent 'launchers' could emulate was transpired at this event and follow suite. 'Democracy Works' explores how we can learn to nurture and deepen democracy in Africa to ensure economic growth and political stability. It identifies a democratic playbook to meet the threats to free and fair elections. But substantive democracy demands more than regular polls.
Democracy is fundamentally about the inner workings of institutions, the rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances, leadership in government and civil society, as much as it is about values and welfare/well-being of its citizens. It also demands that local leadership has a plan for the country beyond simply winning the popular vote' (Quote is from the back cover of the book).
This book launch could not have come at a better time because all the signposts to a viable democratic system seem to be derailing in Nigeria on the eve of the 2019 Presidential elections...Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, and one of the authors of the book chaired the occasion. The foreword was written by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia. Happy reading!
*Why we elect narcissists and sociopaths & how we can stop https://www.amazon.com/why-elect-narcissists-sociopaths...
*What Mediators can do to strengthen democracy by Ken Cloke https://m.dailygood.org/story/2665/what-mediators-strengthen-democracy/
*US Capitol siege a 'wake up call' for all democracies https://www.reuters.com/article/us-election-eu/us-capitol/
*Uganda shuts down access to Facebook ahead of election bbc.co.uk
*Man charged with smashing New Zealand's Parliament doors with axe reut.rs/3oFdot
*Short on strategy: WhatsApp use in Uganda's election democracyinafrica.org
*Uganda's democracy-free election theafricareport.com
*The language of incitement economist.com
*Uganda's Museveni clings to power - But trouble lies ahead crisisgroup.org
*US: Every Presidential Inauguration Poem ever performed https://lithub.com/read-every-presidential-inauguration-poem/
*Senegal shuts down TV stations, internet disrupted amid protests when main opposition leader was arrested bloomberg.com
*Why the US Inauguration Day was moved from Mar 4 to Jan 20 in 1937 with the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1933 https://buff.ly/367ExOR
*Mature democracies should shun political personality cults - Pope reut.rs/3q2BSOn
*US: Our democracy faced near-death experience: Here's how to revive it washingtonpost.com
*The frontiers of digital democracy: Taiwan re-invents consent of the governed noemamag.com
*The farmers' protests are a turning point in India's democracy - and the world can no longer ignore that https://time.com/5938041/india-farmer-protests-democracy/
*Presidentialism should't trump democracy in the DRC issafrica.org
*The futility of elections: Rethinking democracy in East Africa cddwestafrica.org
*Political Vigilante Groups in Ghana: Violence or democracy? https://journals.sagepub.com/.../10.1177/00020397...
*Governance in Africa: Citizen disatisfaction is growing, and Covid-19 is likely to reverse recent gains brrokings.edu
*Benin Republic's largest Opposition Party & first female Presidential candidate, Reckya Madougou, jailed & accused of terrorism africanews.com
*The intersection of technology, power & society newsroom.ucla.edu
*America's battle over election laws: The conflict over democracy has escalated since Trump exit from the White House economist.com
*How tenure elongation and lack of term limits weaken the integrity of elections in Africa mg.co.za