Tuesday, 31 March 2015

MARCH 31ST 2015
17:30 (5:30 PM) Nigerian Time
With all but one State left to be declared and General Muhammadu Buhari and APC leading by over 3 million votes the incumbent President Johnathan concedes defeat and calls to congratulate President elect, General Muhammadu Buhari. The final results clearly show that over-optimistic speculators were not 'over-optimistic" after all but had intuitively deciphered the mood of voting patterns and were speculating based on these intuitions.
By conceding defeat, outgoing President Johnathan has set the mood for a peaceful transition on May 29th 2015, drawing the curtains on an election which has already made history. This is the first time in Nigeria's political history that an opposition party will be declared winners at the Presidential elections. This is also the first time digital technology has been incorporated into the voting process in Nigeria. Also mking history, General Muhammadu Buhari is the most consistent Presidential contestant (4 times in a row) edging out Chief Awolowo (3 times) who was generally regarded as "the best President Nigeria NEVER had. President elect Muhammadu Buhari will also go down in Nigeria's history as the first man to be elected to the office of President only on the fourth time of asking. These facts should indeed set political precedents for the length and breath of Africa.
The impact of Social media on this election is worth a whole lot of study. The vibrant technology driven clan took advantage of the networking capabilities of Facebook and Twitter to massively tip the scales of balance on opinions, perception and ultimately the call to action. This should be another hugh precedent for African countries who are lacking the person to person network to inspire and initiate regime change. Employing the Nigerian Twitter and Facebook examples opposition parties in other African countries can muster the network desired to go out on election day and take the desired action of voting out a non-performing incumbent. The perseverance of voters on election day was outstanding. In some polling units people brought their own generators to light up the environment as polling officers did initial sorting of votes critically reducing all avenues of election mal-practice.
Indeed the lessons that this 2015 Presidential elections presents to Africa are numerous and may require careful study.
In General Buhari's Katsina state and many other States of Nigeria the happiness of the common man is visible in the streets.
The Nation smiles as the collective will of the people triumph. April 11th is the day each State seeks out who will captain the ship of state for the next four years. Again we watch.

22:06 (10:06PM Nigerian Time

The last State Borno, has just been declared won by General Buhari's APC.
INEC has retired till tomorrow to officialy declare the winner of Nigeria's 2015 Presidetial elections.

23:30 (11:30PM )Nigerian Time
Corrigendum: INEC has not vacated the declaration centre. The Independent Electoral Commission is currently verifying all results submitted with a view to making the final declaration immediately it is through with verifications


March 31st 2015
12:45 PM
INEC Chairman Professor Atahiru Jega stated at the declaration centre just before formally receiving the Rivers State Results that the Committee sent to Rivers State returned earlier today . He said waiting for the committe's return contributed partly to the late convening at the declaration centre today.
Prof. Jega said that the mandate given the committee was to determine whether elections did not hold in Rivers State as alleged by the APC and whether there was substantial reason to cancel the elections in Rivers State. Professor Jega reporting to the house stated that within the time frame given the committee their findings indicated that contrary to the allegation by APC, elections did indeed take place in Rivers State. On whether there was substantial grounds to cancel the elections in Rivers State, the committee returned that there was NOT substantial grounds to cancel the elections.
Immediately after reporting to the house Prof Jega asked that the Rivers State results be read. Incidentally, the results read did show that APC won the Rivers State Presidential elections.


March 31st 2015
11:33 AM
Events at the collation /declaration centre rapidly degenerated into a fiercely heated protest as the PDP representative right there at the collation centre declared that the PDP has lost confidence in the proceedings.
In an extremely heated atmosphere the PDP representatives alleged that they have written protests letters on the election results in Kano, Kaduna and INEC did not take action on those protests whereas INEC did take actions on the protest by APC on the results from Rivers State. In reference INEC did actually send a fact finding committee to Rivers State. The heated affair held up proceeding for about 30 minutes.
Exhibiting a high level of statesmanship the INEC chairman camly and professionally addressed the issues raised. The INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega said the petitions from PDP were presented to his PA at collation centre which breaches the protocol of his office. Petitions are to be submitted to his Secretary at the INEC office, and such petition would then be brought forward to him . PDP did not follow procedure.
This development really points to frayed nerves and as vote declaration takes longer it is possible a few more 'burst-ups' may occur.


March 30th 2015:
23:22 (11:23PM) Nigerian Time
Vote counting and declaration of results in Nigeria's 2015 elections is no 'slam-dunk' . Counting of votes is still going on in some states and INEC is forced to retire once again for lack of results to declare. INEC'S Professor Jega says sitting will continue at 10:00 AM (Nigerian Time ) on Tuesday 31st March 2015.
A total of 18 states plus the Federal Capital territory Abuja have been declared so far: APC has succeeded in flipping the script on PDP as at last count,  on both absolute numbers and number of States won.
APC and General Muhammadu Buhari are leading with 8,520,436 votes and 10 States against PDP and President Goodluck Ebele Johnathan's 6,488,210 votes in 8 States plus the Federal Capital Territory. However in relation to the 25% in 2/3 of the States, President Johnathan's PDP has got its nose out in front leading with 25% in 15 States to General Buhari's 25% in 13 States.
Nationwide many have been glued to their TV sets while the dynamic, tech-driven clan are hugging their IPADS and smart phones. Twitter seems to be the 'happening' social media of the moment.
Generally on the ground , over-optimistic speculators who were predicting landslides for their parties are beginning to realize this may be a tight race to the very end. At the moment its anybody's guess -- too close to call may be the chant that takes us to bed tonight. Some analysts are however pointing that with more States from the South South yet to go there may yet be some disquiet in the APC camp.

Monday, 30 March 2015


Monday 20th March 2015
20:22PM (8:22PM) Nigerian time:
INEC a few minutes ago released the following statement :
1) Further to allegation made by @APC Nigeria on the conduct of the Pres/NASS elections in Rivers and its call for cancellation ,
2) INEC has set up a fact finding mission to ascertain the veracity of the claims and allegations and advise the commission
3) The comittee comprises of :
      a)Mrs Thelma Iremiren
      b) Col. M.K Hammanga
      c) Prof. Lai Olurode
                                    END QUOTE
This interesting development is continuation of Governor Rotimi Amaechi's position against the holding of elections in his state. On Saturday when he got to his polling unit the Governor had asked to sight the result sheet. Polling officers at the unit had told him the result sheets were not as yet available. The Governor had thereafter called for a cancellation of the elections in the State. Recently Governor Amaechi, formerly of the ruling PDP before moving over to APC , has been one of the most vocal critics of President Goodluck Johnathan. This development may yet add an attention grabbing perspective to post election dynamics.


Monday 30th March 2015
18:46 (6:46 PM)
Although Social Media has been inundated with unofficial results for over 24hours in what may be amusingly termed "Nigeria's Twitter Voter Count", INEC-- the body with constitutional responsibility to declare results, only commenced the declaration of official results today. In total results declared so far:
Incumbent, President Johnathan leads in terms of absolute numbers while Challenger, General Muhammed Buhari leads in number of States won. A total nine States has been declared so far.
INEC is currently on recess while awaiting results from more States. Declaration of results will re-commence at 20:00 i.e. 8:00PM Nigerian time.
Both parties will be looking to attain the at least 25% in two thirds of the thirty six states which is a requirement for winning the elections.

Saturday, 28 March 2015


13:00 (1.00PM)
Governor Fashola and his wife are accredited in Lagos.
Complaints of faulty card readers increasing as manual accreditation is now being done in many centres across the country. Voters interviewed suggest that INEC may really not have been ready yet for this election.
Some voters from Gbagada said they were going to Kosofe to get accredited as card readers at their units were not working.
13:25 (1:25PM)
Voters say accreditation went on smoothly and all card readers worked perfectly atvthe Alimosho, Ikotun area.
13:30 (1.30PM)
Ondo State: Many voters are happy with the accreditation process. Voting started atvthe IbaraOke Area right on 1:30PM
Ekiti State: Many voters indicated they were accredited manually. Reporter corrected an impression being peddled that the Deputy Governor was attacked. The reporter said voters were only asking why the deputy governor was at a centre where he wasn't registered to vote .
13:40 (1:40 PM)
Rivera State: Complainats of card reader mix ups at various polling centres with wrong card readers being sent to centres. The card readers had to be returned while some centres conducted manual accreditation to avoid wasting time.
Ripples begin to show as word filters out that the major opposition party is threatening to boycottvthe polls.
15:00 (3:00PM)
BAYELSA STATE: President Johnathan just voted. Says he is hopeful of winning.
18:00 (6:00PM)
The delay caused by faulty card readers and inadequate logistics impedes completion of the voting process today. INEC has appealed to Nigerians to continue the voting process tomorrow.


Four different card readers rejected President Johnathan's prints and could not verify his permanent voter's card  (PVC). INEC officials in his polling unit in Bayelsa State,  asked him to come back at 13.00 hours. (1.00 Pm Nigerian time) . Speaking to the media at his polling unit, the President has appealed to Nigerians to remain calm.


[These updates are be based on Radio Reports from across Nigeria]
10:03 AM:
Mixed reactions trail the ongoing accreditation and voting processes going on in Nigeria Saturday 28th March 2015. While in Lagos Areas the card readers have near flawless except for a few areas, in some areas of the North and South South and even in the President's home town Othuke in Bayelsa State, the card readers have been disasterous. The President has reportedly not been accredited yet as the card reader is malfunctioning. This accentuates the fears raised by many critics the past week on the absolute faith rested on applying the card reader technology to this particular elections. It is still early hours yet, and they may yet function perfectly.
On the security arrangements many have commended the calm and orderly manner in which Nigerians are conductingthemselves.


Professor Atahiru Jega, INEC chairman assures Nigerians less than 8 hours to the 2015 elections that the Card Readers have not been breached. Declaring on his twitter handle Prof Jega says: " The card reader does not have a master key, it only has a security code and you can only breach the card reader if you have the source code. "
He continues : " Although there have been allegations, but there is no proof indicating that the security code of the card readers have been breached"
Prof. Jega's assurances will go a long way to allay fears that the card readers have been compromised. Indeed there have been intense speculations on this within the past week and hopefully as the Nation goes to the polls later on today, Saturday 28th March 2015 the card readers will function optimally .

Friday, 27 March 2015

Politics, Poli-tricks and Loyalties

A VIEW FROM MY WINDOW: Nigeria in focus - Politics, Poly-tricks and Loyalties:
My heart goes out to those bold enough to have commented on the heated polity that currently pervades political space within the country and I applaud if not for nothing but for the brazen boldness to speak where others cringe with fear- indeed Soyinka (Nobel Laureate) posits that "The man dies in him who remains silent in the face of tyranny."
Each from his own corner has tried to debunk the pretentious propaganda of powerful prevarications.
There's no other place like Nigeria on the face of the earth. No other race with the zest for life that the Nigerian has. No other race with such acute survival instincts. Long before the world caught on to the 'celebration of a life well spent' on the death of a loved one, Nigerians had been celebrating the transitions to glory and peaceful rest no matter how 'terrible' the deceased's life may have been on earth.
That is why as the Presidential campaigns reach fever pitch, and the sails of the ship of state seem to be succcumbing to the ruthlesness of 'hurricane change' those of us for whom partisan politics mean much more than just the win at any cost game are saddened that once again 'multitudes' have latched onto a buzz word -- 'change' -- (survival instinct) with such ferocious tenacity that it begets the question -- [ se 'nkan wa n'be' -- in Yoruba], which in our assumed English may weakly translate to the rhetorical 'hope there is nothing else behind it ? '.
Euphemistically speaking many are all but ready to immediately transport GMB to the glory of Aso Rock -- a palace he was unlucky not to enjoy in his 'hey' days -- a reason for which I can understand his present desperation to get there even with a final push of subterfuge , innuendos and naked threats to a highly politicised Nigeria. It is heart-warming though that the storms of even those caustic vituperations of contemned conscripts have now subsided somewhat.
Truth is that Nigerians love life-- no matter what anyone says the survival instinct of the Nigerian is his most acutely responsive instinct. Is it any wonder therefore that when In 2011 it was rumored that the General threatened he would make the nation ungovernable for the present government many whispered in shadowed corridors that this Boko Haram 'thing' should be laid squarely at the General's feet. But in public no one dared shout out. Lo and behold, before our very eyes we saw what happened : 2011 to 2015 Nigeria has been embattled and shaken by Boko Haram -- an obviously well funded and heavily militarized organization. The threat of Boko Haram has been so severe that Nigerians feel this is indeed a naked attack on their survival prospects and most are immediately willing to jump into the ' train of change' simply as a means of self preservation.
The 2015 near gutter-side Presidential campaigns that have been going on has witnessed naked and subtle threats and counter-threats sometimes of national annihilation from both sides. And because for us Nigerians survival comes first, mentally and spiritually we have been brow-beaten and many are already willing to give the general free passage to Aso Rock --after all he is THE GENERAL albeit retired.
But enough of this impertinence. I must admit here and now that this is just my singular warped-up view and may not, I repeat, not, have really captured the entire picture with untainted clarity. The thrust of my discourse is actually on the more general theme of 'political options and loyalties'. Is GMB the best option that the opposition can throw at Nigerians? Should GMB even be an option that any political party in Nigeria could adopt? Maybe I should borrow from Soyinka yet again : " Any event is welcome in prison, even the threat of cerebro-spinal Buharism -- sorry -- cerebro-spinal meningitis and unpleasant needle jabs".(Soyinka --the man died).
Should GMB even begin to be considered a viable entity for deployment into the pool of political probabilities? For heaven's sake there are about 180 million Nigerians. Let us assume that a mere 5% of this population are professionals that would be a whopping 9 million. Let us for theoretical purposes also assume that the first assumption has a 50 % margin of error which leaves us with an estimated population of 4.5million true professionals nationwide. My thinking is that if any opposition party worth its salt wants to truly challenge for the Presidency, surely it can find, cultivate and culture an elegantly viable option to throw into the democratic political play field. They had the past four years to do it. But of course we know that really and truly they did not have four years to do anything but seek out avenues to maximize the 'chop I chop' process. I should immediately disclaim here that these are the views from my myopic lens and I have no stature whatsoever to impugn any of the honorable gentlemen traversing the corridors of state and federal power (they were voted in you know!) -- except of course my right to free speech.
So after four years of sleeping and dining with the devil the principal opposition suddenly realized they had no chance of wrestling power for themselves. They were ill prepared and had no viable face to present to the restive masses. They had no viable political ideology or modus operandi to successfully compete at Federal level. Believe me the simple masterstroke of the current ruling party since inception has been the concept of rotational Presidency and not really the alleged rigging. As a people if we believe 'our turn will come soon', we are willing to wait : you chop, I chop. Infact, that was one of the premises on which OBJ emerged as the Presidential candidate in 1999 (there were other concealed deals which surfaced midway into his first tenure and just before the 2003 elections.)
 Sensing that once again defeat is imminent at the presidentials, the principal opposition now realizes it needs a face and demographic to rock the boat of complacency at Abuja. In all honesty, there is no contest in this. The contest here is how can any credible opposition prop up and present to 180 million Nigerians and about 4 million highly educated, vibrant and vocal professionals an option that has been rejected again and again, as the only viable only viable option. It beats my imagination. But of course if we put it in the context of Wole Soyinka's -- "any event is welcome in prison..." then we can begin to understand how much the psyche of Nigerians has been 'compromised'
Although human rights and constitutional rights are intrinsic to a good democratic process, each is essentially mutually independent from the other.
A democratic process as we all know from elementary government derives life and strength from the people. Whereas citizens like GMB have a constitutional right to aspire and indeed muscle desperation to 'gate-crash' into Aso Rock , there should be a moral responsibility for all eligible voters of all generations to consistently prohibit 'non-democratic' coupists who by design or singular misfortune never succeed in steering nations under their watch back to the playfields of democracy, -- eligible voters of all generations should consistently deny such as these the most lucrative benefit of the democratic process in Africa-- being elected to the higest office of the land in whatever guise or 'disguise' they may have come. The few however that do succeed either by design or singular fortunes to steer nations under their watch back to the playfields of democracy should be given a second chance to enjoy those benefits once more because you and I intuitively know that not one single one of them ever go their to better the lot of the masses as a prime objective. The betterment of our lot may indeed come as a by-product of the 'chemical reactions' between greed and grab. Indeed in most cases 'betterment of the masses' only serves as a catalyst in the chemical reaction -- it speeds up the reaction between greed and grab but remains unchanged itself. (Thank God I finally let it out!!!! Now I can breathe better.)
Before the argument drifts into rough waters from which i may not be able to see dry land, let me steer back to the fundamental question: Is General Muhammed Buhari the best option APC can offer Nigerians? How does one answer such a question in a political crucible like Nigeria, where political reactions are reaching fever pitch and one wrong word can draw venom and vitriol from either side and more often than not both sides? May be the best way to search for answers is to look at track records in perspective.
In 1979 OBJ handed Nigeria to a democratically elected government led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari. After winning a second term in 1983 and with corruption at an all time high, the Military in 1984 overthrew the elected government of Nigeria and immediately suspended the constitution, ruling by decrees. The biggest beneficiary of the truncation of that democracy was -- as everyone knows , GMB. Let us for a moment assume the 1983 elections were grossly flawed and corruption was at its zenith , my thinking is that a democratic minded officer would have planned for an election within a yearand set the country back on a democratic path (but history tells us this hardly happens) .
The GMB1983 regime set out on a path of intimidation with the obnoxious decree 4 and a stiffling economic policy: All capital projects were put on hold, State governments were prohibited from borrowing, there was a ban on recruitment of federal public sector workers -- policies that resulted in massive job losses and business closures and strangulated the Nigerian economy and psyche so badly that Nigerians jubilated when he was overthrown . In essence and in reality this evidently implies that GMB'S first stint as Head of State was a clear failure and a total rejection by the good people of Nigeria. In 2003, 2007 and 2011 Nigerians in totality, again categorically rejected the GMB option although presented on a different platform. If Nigerians did indeed unequivocally reject GMB in 1983, 2003, 2007 and 2011 what could have so drastically changed that this option is now being bandied as the only viable option available today despite our massive population of 'egg-heads'? Maybe our sense of discernment has dulled with time or maybe there are greater undercurrents f**king with our collective psyche and our fear for survival instigates us to 'welcome in this our prison even the threat of cerebro-spinal ..... '
I remember as a student at UNILAG, visiting the toilet once in the hostel where I resided, Eni Njoku hall, UNILAG. As with most undergraduate hostel toilets at that time of the day it was criminal dirty. I tip-toed in and closed the door and settled to do my thing when my eyes strayed to the scribblings on the door. One particular item blew my mind. Permit me to assault your sensibilities with this unrefined quote:
      "30 million flies can't be wrong-- eat shit"
It stuck in my mind forever. There comes a time I believe when as human beings we begin to question our own allegiances and the loyalties of those around us who shape our destinies one way or the other. No doubt those who are propping up the septugenarian general love him. Or do they? No doubt those who are offering him to Nigeria love Nigeria unequivocally. Time and circumstances though, have shown us that beneath the facade of smooth unconditional support , are usually strong undercurrents of intense, sometimes vicious wheeling and dealings : [OBJ-ATIKU 1999, OBJ-ATIKU2003, POST YAR'ADUA 2009 at Federal levels and the most comical situation at State level-- the Okija Shrine affair NGIGE-UBA 2003] .
Unfortunately when it all finally pans out the 'poor' Nigerian masses, highly informed, but most times ingeniously traded disinformation (which a few un-initiated call 'poli-tricking' ), and the psychologically bruised middle class and not so middle class, usually end up bearing the brunt of it all.
For purposes of this discourse let us assume that a debatable 30million Nigerians are pitched the change camp. In the overall context of 'poli-tricking' therefore a paramount and vital question that emerges as 30 million Nigerians jump on the change buzzword is : Have we quietly asked what are the deals being made and what loyalties are being peddled? Lagos State stands as a shining example of what governance should be. But some who had their ears close to the ground and eyes wide open were alarmed at how quickly progress can regress as the esteemed Jagaban and the Honourable SAN ( ex and incumbent) veered off the course of compromise and headed for collision. Capital projects suffered. Government shivered. Rumors had it that the Honorable SAN had to go and beg the esteemed Jagaban. From where I come, it is no disgrace to stoop to conquer. I admire the Honourable SAN for his courage to steer past the debacle. Jagaban's quota was refuelled and loyalties were restored. Government functioned again. What we may never know is in which ways does this quota continue impinge on the development of Lagos State. Truth is many don't really care at this point: half bread is better than none. There was a time when there was no bread at all, after all.
Today, the esteemed Jagaban is also on the change 'train'. He is an astute, no nonesense businessman. He takes his pound of flesh whether there be death or not. Indeed he takes his pound of flesh , little be it or much. Rumors have it that 500 Million Naira of his went into the propping up of the change train. I said rumors have it and yes , you guessed right : I WAS NOT THERE.
Factoring that kind of support into the scheme of things we, (all of us my people -- yes you and me) must dare to admit that this amount is by no means 'chicken change'. And if change agents are as concerned about the future of their children as they profess on camera they should be asking by now: What are the deals? What loyalties are being peddled? What stakes of the steak of state have been 'portioned' to the esteemed Jagaban's welfare. After all he is not a small boy that can be pushed around -- he is also Are Onakakanfo remember, and we hear he is not without resources. He is not a without resources, but we all know that. So What are the deals? This man is not without resources so tell us what the deals are. ('Nkan wa n'be abi, ejooo so fun wa!!)
The esteemed Jagaban's brush with the honourable SAN was at State level where the stakes were -- well, moderate if you could say that. Imagine what it could be at Federal level when the stakes are well-- only imaginable. We remember, we heard when the Ekerin Balogun of Egbaland had to adopt the posture of compromise circa 2003 @ Atiku. The rumor was that Baba never prostrated. He never prostrated. I am telling you, what I heard , he never prostrated, or did you see him prostrate? But the venerable Ekerin Balogun had the last laugh. He ran government almost all of his second term without a substantive VP. Reverting to the critical question : What would give, if the Jagaban decided to collect his pound of flesh midway into the GMB'S first term, assuming he wins, and GMB refuses. I shudder at thought.
But, loosely attached to the apron strings of loyalties is the issue of trust. 30 million Nigerians trust that the esteemed Jagaban can deliver to them a leader that will perform. Once again let us consult the 'ifa' called 'track record'. In the 90's he, the esteemed Jagaban, was one of the many fine minds and brave men and women who gave sweat , tears and sometimes blood even against the last sado-masochistic tyrant that tried to murder the Nigerian Spirit. In 1999 he was one of those who actively supported the OBJ presidential bid and, looking back, many do agree that OBJ did perform somewhat. In 2007 the Jagaban himself delivered to Lagos State the honourable SAN who 80% of the people believe actually performed admirably. So at least we have a track record that the Jagaban will deliver a candidate who can perform somewhat. If the chips were down to only the esteemed Jagaban's track record one can simply add Q.E.D to this piece and rest the case.
However with the venerable Ekerin Balogun's foray into the picture supporting GMB , an unsettling question arises. What is his track record on deliverables? In 1979 the venerable Ekerin Balogun of Egbaland delivered to us a Shagari whose government eventually failed and was overthrown. In 2007 he also delivered to us a health compromised Yar'adua the offshoot of which we are still grappling with today and which has sparked off a near national conflagration. In effect the track records of the two gentlemen on the same team have cancelled each other out. In their hey days at the helms of power, State and Federal both gentlemen never saw eye to eye and indeed called each other names. What indeed could have changed in this short period that both are virtually in the same camp (not party as yet even though the venerable Ekerin Balogun of Egbaland has torn his party card), and both are vociferously rooting for a man whom each had near denigrated in a not too distant past? Perhaps they are both much wiser now -------- or perhaps, hmm, there is a bigger soup-pot close by ------ but seriously, what are the deals? What loyalties have been traded? Are we just another 30 million flies eating s**t from a manipulative caucus that's just as greedy for itself as the incumbent who may very well yet, not be trash-can of history bound?
If the General eventually succeeds in crossing this particular Rubicon and sets up camp in Aso Rock,could this portend the trend in years to come, when after every four years political strategists will resurface and rock the ship of State once more, broker deals , rake in profits install new demi-gods and simmer down till the next fourth year comes? Dangerous visions from weakened eyes I admit.
But maybe we should conclude this piece with one of my best loved poets, Mutabarukka:
       Is a long long tyme i sit dung pon de wall
        I watch him a watch me.
        Him checks i'm a foool,
         but i well well cool....

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Johnathan, Buhari sign Peace Accord

As D-day approaches, the incumbent President Goodluck Johnathan and the most vociferous opposition candidate so far General (rtd.) Muhammed Buhari have signed another peace accord behind closed doors today in a deal brokered by former Head Of State, General (rtd.) AbdulSalami Abubakar.



The Progressive Peoples Alliance has thrown the cat among the pigeons. With just under 24 hours to the Presidential elections in Nigeria, the Party PPA has adopted the incumbent, PDP's Goodluck Johnathan as its Presidential candidate, reports The Vanguard Newspaper. How does this tip the scale of balance? We await a spectacular contest.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015



"de drummer dem don cam na cotton tik again,
den dey beat, we dey dance;
den mammy den with den big bafpan
sef dey dance dey cam
de ol pa den sef dey dance dey cam
boy pikin, gial pikin,
all man dey dance dey cam
tiday na tiday
we go was we dorty clos
round cotton tik,
tiday na tiday." (Victor O. Sawyerr)

As at today it is no longer news that the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Honourable Sam-Sumana "fearing for the safety of his life" requested for, either personally or by proxy, asylum from the American Embassy in Freetown. It is also no longer news that the Honourable VP has indeed been relieved of his office. As at today, our politics as Sierra Leoneans is once again in the global public square. Dance indeed we must, ' cause the drums are beating in our native laguage -- calling us in our mother tongues.

But though this call to dance is ours, we can hide behind the velcro that glues the fabric called 'pervasiveness', to a context called 'african'. Then we can thump our chests and say: 'this is not unique to us' .

Really and truly the Vice President's office in a lot of African countries is a precarious office. The unfolding situation in today's Sierra Leone is not much different from other African Countries who have Vice Presidents. Many lawyers and writers have addressed the constitutionality of President Bai Koroma's action, and indeed have pointed out sections of the constitution that empowers him on the actions taken so far, ref: http://slconcordtimes.com/the-security-dynamics-of-apcs-power-politics/

These are all well written pieces and clear enough to address points of law and constitution.

On the other hand, from the rather thick lenses of my spectacles through which I view the world, the issues weigh more into the fabrics of 'political perception', and borders on the myth that the office of the "Vice President" is parallel to, and not necessarily subordinate to the office of the President.

In Nigeria for example, Obasanjo was voted in with Atiku Abubakar as his Vice President in 1999. About midway into the elected term Vice President Atiku Abubakar and President Obasanjo's relationship broke down. There were weighty innuendos alluding to corruption in the office of the Vice President. For most of the term thereafter VP Atiku Abubakar was not even allowed to perform his constitutional duties. This particular reached near boiling point when President Obasanjo in December 2006 declared the office of the Vice President vacant after the VP decamped from the ruling PDP, to the major opposition party at the time. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had informed the Senate and House of Representatives of his intention to send a nominee for their approval. He had withdrawn all the VP's rights and privileges and entitlements. VP Atiku Abubakar went to court.

In a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Friday 20th April 2007, the court declared that the President had no powers to declare the office of the Vice President vacant and granted the VP all reliefs requested in his suit.
Inspite of this declaration however , and although VP Atiku Abubakar kept his office and residence at the Villa after the courts decision, all responsibilities were taken from him and assumed by the President. He was, reportedly only going to his office to sit. The point here is that clearly a VP stands to lose the most in any dispute between him and his principal.

In Zimbabwe, the dispute between President Mugabe and his first VP (now former) Joice Mujuru was also a very messy affair. Accused of corruption and plotting to kill him , Mr. Mugabe first relieved her of her position in the party and then in December 2014 using his executive powers, sacked her. Interestingly Mrs Mujuru had been first VP for about 10years before this dispute and many believe that her travails commenced with the entry of Mr. Mugabe's wife (who incidently was his secretary years ago) into politics in Zimbabwe.

Unfortunately for mrs. Mujuru, Vice Presidents of Zimbabwe are appointed by the President and it is unlikely she could contest the removal in any court under the repressive Mugabe regime since according to the provision of the constitution the VPs are serving at the 'pleasure' of the President. Although a lot of Zimbabweans seem to defer to the age and political stature of President Mugabe there is no doubt that many even within the ZANU-PF are far from satisfied and a new constitution incorporating the idea of a 'running mate' has been signed into law but this can only begin to take effect after a 10 year period.

Kenya. Mwai Kibaki became VP of Kenya in 1978 when Arap Moi succeeded Jomo Kenyatta. In 1988 Kibaki was removed as VP. Again there were tensions between the Vice and his Principal. But Kibaki was a wiser man he took it in his stride and at the time within Kenya many called him 'cowardly'. As history would have it in 2002 Kibaki had his day in the sun. He won a landslide victory and became Kenya's third President.

Kibaki's case typifies the rather subtle pressure that citizens seem to place on the Office of the Vice President. In a rather intriguing way Vice Presidents in Africa also insidiously assume this pressure and before long find themselves in 'dissonance' with their principals. Dotted across Africa are historical situations of conflicts between sitting Presidents and their Vice Presidents.

This provides a background to show that the Sierra Leone 'situation' is not unique. Many have called are are calling for civil action on behalf of the VP. Indeed they have a right to make such call, but hidden within this rather complex prism through which I view the world, I would say it is also the right of civil society to refuse to answer on a matter such as this. Fiercely atavistic reactions to unfolding events within Sierra Leone, may not really enhance or protect democracy as is being canvassed by segments of the highly educated Sierra Leone Society both local and in the diaspora. My reasoning is this: we must at some point begin to test the laws of our land and not simply resort to civil action at the slightest provocation. How else can we know if the laws will work when we do not test them? Learned legal minds from Sierra Leone, no matter where they are based can be hired by the VP to pursue a legal solution. Follow the Nigerian precedent, pursue the matter even to the highest court of the land. Our political 'DNA' will be the better for it. Influential Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora who are savouring the comfort of their adopted homes can muster the resources to hire the best lawyers for the VP if they feel so deeply committed to fight his battles for him but I think to call out Sierra Leoneans at home who are battling the ravages of the Ebola epidemic is a disservice to the nation as a whole. That is my personal view and I stand to be corrected.

Time and again we have seen that popular demonstrations and strikes in developing countries almost always result in the total breakdown of law and order, and ultimately previously unacknowledged elements almost always usurp the process and brutally degrade both government and the society sometimes even far more than the initial advocates of these demonstrations ever imagined. The critical point here is that we Africans have not as yet developed internal mechanisms to shield our popular demonstrations and protests from being hijacked by people with sinister minds and even more sinister motives.

My primordial thinking is that, as our Societies begin to develop into vibrant cerebral entities where our collective minds are able to distinguish between what 'ought' to be and what ought 'never' be, we must also begin to engage ourselves using this intuitively pervasive tool called 'social media' to evolve internal mechanisms to tackle failing governments on all fronts. I believe popular uprisings should only be used as a last resort. I sincerely and truly believe it is time our political vocabulary begins to add a few more words into our lexicon of political disputes. Words such as:
1) Pressure groups
2) Lobby groups
3) Political disputes arbitration panels .
I am sure experts of Law , Politics and Dispute Resolution can add many more. This I believe is the way to go. It should be the way of the future for all of Africa. We have lost too many of our best and brightest in utterly useless conflicts that have not managed to further our development as a people. This also I dare say is my personal opinion and I welcome being corrected.

In the instance of (former) Vice President Sam- Sumana since he is a Kono brother and indeed an 'in-law' to the President, I would have thought galvanizing elders from that region to mediate in the matter at its critical point may have saved the day as it did in the very early days of their misunderstandings, over a year ago. But if indeed the former VP and his advisers are looking for a fight (lawcot de de. Make dem go de but do ya make dem lef salone pipul dem saful make dem fet dis ebola tin don fos) the courts of law available and I dare add awaiting some excitement.

------Victor Omotayo Sawyerr. 25/3/2015
[Kindly feel free to send in your comments, opinions and disgreements.].

The Zimbabwe ZANU-PF party on April 2nd 2015 expelled former Vice President  Dr. Joice Mujuru from the party citing all the reasons adduced in getting her removed from office as Vice President, including this new one of : "sowing divisions in the ruling party".

Friday, 13 March 2015

A VIEW FROM MY WINDOW: Nigeria in Focus : The Card-Reader Dilemma.

A View From My Window: Nigeria in Focus: The 'Card-Reader Dilemma':
The Nigerian experience is a sampling of unique, sometimes humourous and sometimes vehemently passionate inherent contradictions. "Arguments" are our 'thing'. The morning news can make us laugh and argue and sometimes brings us close to fights!! Nothing like football and politics for us.
That is why when the chips are finally down and the votes have been cast in this 2015 elections , the 'card-debate' may yet continue for a while.
 In the heat and passion of any political process in Nigeria, and indeed Africa, it is always too hard for the supporters of any of the major parties to look at the electioneering process objectively and agree as to its results except in the rare circmstances when there is an entire national ethos is engineered and geared to expel not just an out of favour incumbent as in (Fayemi/Fayose 2011) (although even this is highly debatable today in the light of allegations of rigging-- there is a tape flying around somewhere) but more so an out of favour 'concept' or 'archetype' as the case may be : In 1993 Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for the Are Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland and Pillar of Sports in Africa, the late Chief MKO Abiola more or less to end the Hausa/Fulani hegemony. In 1999, Nigerians overwhelmingly voted in OBJ as a compromise, from my point of view ,-- the North giving their support to pacify an increasingly restive South, whose elders and people in government had been recently rubbished in a framed coup plot by the last bastion of military brutality -- the regime of one Sanni Abacha.
In 2007, Nigerians again voted overwhelmingly. This time for Yar'Adua a gentleman from the academia who although was from the North, presented a truly viable option. From my view they voted essentially to put an end to an Obasanjo style democracy that was becoming increasingly militarised and stifling the political space. OBJ's failed third term bid and a deep distrust of the only other challenger of note then, a man who today stands on the brink of history as the most consistent challenger of our times, GMB, who is also from a military background led Nigerians to believe on the Yar'Adua option.
 In 2011 Nigerians voted overwhelmingly for GEJ not really as a result of any major ideological upheavals but more so for the joy of seeing someone who symbolizes their story-- 'from grass to grace'-- occupy the most powerful office in the land. Infact except in the 1950's when political debates were defined by ideologies proferred by men who were larger than life -- the Nnamdi Azikiwes, Obafemi Awolowos, and Ahmadu Bellos of this world, Nigeria has not to my mind had any such intellectually rigorous debates in any recent Presidential campaigns. Indeed as the strongman of Ibadan politics once put it " amala politics' seems to do better for our people" . Nationally, GEJs success (first person from the South-South to be elected President of Nigeria) in the 2011 polls, was regarded by many I spoke with as being in line with global trends-- first African American President, Obama - 2008; the youngest Prime Minister of Britain in 198 years, David Cameron -2010 ; first woman as Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel-2005. So indeed Nigeria in 2011 overwhelmingly found in GEJ, their own 'first'.
Even these seemingly 'overwhelming' electioneering processes [1993, 1999, 2007 and 2011] had their 'hotspots' some of which were engineered by political umpires under pressure. I dare say "Political outcomes of under-pressure processes" is a subject for another day. But this whole scenario presents a real background to highlight the subject of the "Card-Reader" dilemma. With pretty little statistics to support this view, many believe that after South Africa, Nigeria comes a close second in the "cut-over" and use of cutting edge 21st century electronic technology. Our major problem however does not lie with the question of 'how to use technology' but with the quality and functionality of the platform and infrastructure on which that particular technology is supposed to run.
Many I believe can relate to the early days of GSM technology . Time was when someone would burst out of his office in a 100 metres dash, gluing his mobile phone to his ears at some ridiculous angle, sometimes in a near prostrate posture or elevated on some promontory, just to 'catch' the network. It took an age to get the infrastructure right and put the technology on a seamless run. But even today we all know that there are those days when you simply have to 'find' network any which way. We are also well aware of the ways we get scammed out of our hard bought airtime.
Our experience with the ATM technology has not been much different either. Many of us have at sone point in time experienced the anjoying frustration of being caught stranded way off our desired tangent, trying one ATM machine after another for ' jus a likle shuga pan we tea!' For some the experience includes a long walk back home to an expectant 'wifey' and the young ones who are still siting up at 12.00 midnight hoping...
These are the realities of our experiences with technologies introduced by 'highly efficient' private sector. Our experiences also indicate that the public sector is the bane of our under-development. Our experiences paint in our minds pictures of a highly inefficient public sector. And herein lies the real 'card-reader' dilemma: Working at the intense pace of an ongoing voting process and the restive 'kia-kia' (impatient) Nigerian voters, will the card-reader deliver on its duty? That is the question.
In my view, one of the biggest problems will likely come from field connectivity issues. What if the network fails and people get restive and the voting centre becomes uncontrollable, will INEC obey the letter of the law and cancel the process in that centre? If this happens in X amount of centres across the country, and If party X had hopes of winning it in those centres, how could we begin to hope such a party would accept the results of this process ? On the other hand what if the database simply gets overwhelmed on election day by the sheer number of voter turnout? What if the network fails to recognize the finger print of valid card-holders and while it is trying to analyze that, a hundred thousand other card readers are trying to plug into the same database at the same time from different locations around the country?
These are highly possible situations that could trigger valid questions on the credibility of the process itself. Win or lose the card reader situation has provided a real life legal loophole for post election legal actions except and unless all political parties come to the table and agree they will accept the results of the election whether the card readers function perfectly or not. But of course this is Nigeria and we love our arguments!!!
        Written by : Victor O. Sawyerr.13/3/2015
[Pls feel free to air your point of view]

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Now that the deafening cries of war, threats of anarchy and Armageddon, songs of "after u na u" in Sierra Leone have simmered down, I , through the very frosted glass of my windows simply want to look at a bigger picture of why we, Africans distrust sitting Presidents initiating National constitutional review processes simply based on the inherent powers of the presidency.
Issues of constitutional reviews in Africa will always be sensitive. We distrust most constitutional Review processes with good reason: Many African leaders have used the process to keep themselves in office beyond their constitutionally allowed tenures and herein lies our distrust , as Sierra Leoneans, of the on-going constitutional review process by EBK.
Constitutional Review processes are not in themselves negative but its timing and purpose is altogether critical, too critical for the process to be trusted when its timing and purpose coincides with Presidents already running out their full terms of office and having to supervise a 'fresh' election .
We (Africans) have watched, and sometimes listened as a collective people , to the stories of great nationalists, men who championed the struggles for independence -- men whose names and overwhelming shadows bestrode the corridors of our political space -- men who were gods to us mere mortals-- we have watched and listened to the stories of their exploits, and then again we have also watched and listened to the stories of their slide into the abyss of disgrace --we have watched the dance of shame in the market square -- we have seen disenchanted people cast aside their garments and dance nude invoking the wrath of our indigenous gods, baring all to confront and efface our collective corpus simply to squeeze out the pus from the festering wound called tenure elongation. May Sierra Leone never experience such. May we never sink into this abyss.
Before we examine the expediency of starting a constitutional review process initiated by an African government well into its second term in office and preparing for an election two years away let us first of all ask why are Sierra Leoneans so restless about the so-called third term agenda inspite of the fact that spokespeople for the President have come out to say that his Excellency is not interested in any third term bid ?
I believe the answer is simple. First of all we as Africans believe there is no smoke without fire. Infact we believe there is no semblance of a smoke without any semblance of a fire -- somewhere close at least . Second: We have seen these games played out in a lot of countries (Nigeria, Cote d'voire , played out and still playing out in Zimbabwe). We have witnessed situations where a sitting President first says he is not interested in a third term bid and then some so called supporters of his, from seemingly nowhere, emerge and start a campaign on his behalf for a third term. In some cases these supporters go on to print posters, do TV commercials and Radio jingles, all on behalf of a very 'unwilling', 'uninterested ' candidate.
So is it expedient for any sitting President to initiate or engineer the review or amendment of entire constitutions especially when their tenures are near ending? I hardly think so.
How then can a constitutional review process be initiated? From my very layman's window of view, I believe any credible review or amendment of a constitution should derive from the very constitution itself and the process may evolve in one of two ways:
 1) From the very elected members of parliament who "we the people" have elected to represent us. Put very simplistically, the members of parliament should first see the need for a review of the constitution, but since the constitution is of such importance that it must not be left to the hands of only a few people , the members of parliament should then put forward an "optional referendum" in which a specific majority of voters must give assent to the request for an amendment or review of the constitution before the process of amendment can become official and then commence.
2) A second way in which the process can achieve credibility is through a "petition referendum" in which "we the people" have truly found need for the constitution to be amended and a lawful percentage of registered voters have signed up that the need for a review of the constitution be put to vote and a particular majority percentage must vote for the process before it can be validated that a review or amendment of the constitution must go on.
This is the way it happens, I believe, in better climes and from my very lay point of view this I believe is the way it should happen in our African Countries too. I also believe these are fine points that Students of government and students of Law, and most of Africa's vibrant lawyers should take up in their arguments against sitting presidents who by fiat engineer a National constitutional review process.
So the salient questions that should arise in the case of Sierra Leone are these:
1) Is the present conference or review committee established by virtue of any law hitherto fore enacted by Parliament?
2) Is it's convocation, composition, functions, and modus operandi catered for by  law.
I hope some constitutional lawyers in Sierra Leone and indeed the government of Sierra Leone through its minister of Justice can put us out of our misery with answers to these.
From a media practitioner's point of view every action, or inaction sends a message and this should be very important to any Presidential Adviser on political matters. What message is a sitting president sending to his people when he initiates or engineers a constitution review process during his second term in office deriving only from the "the inherent powers of the office of the Presidency"?
Two simple answers immediately spring to fore:
1) He wants to stay on for yet another term by any means possible.
2) He does not believe parliament knows what it is doing and does not trust parliament to ever want to review or amend the constitution as it is.
But for one moment let us play the devil's advocate. The President is indeed a bona fide citizen of the country and may indeed have a very plausible reason to want a review of the constitution. What is he to do?
And once again the answer is simple: Send a bill to parliament. Let parliament vote and then take it to the people. Only if the lawful majority of registered voters give assent to the bill for a constitutional review to commence should parliament begin the review process.
I believe that any sitting President that does not have any hidden agenda will willingly subject himself to this procedure and the way majority of us, less informed people look at this is that any President who is unwilling to subject himself to this procedure , indeed has some hidden agenda.
The honourable thing to do is for President Ernest Bai-Koroma to protect his good name and discard the on-going "abridged" process and follow due, transparent process.
But if His Excellency fails to do the honourable thing, "we the people" should resist the urge to take up arms. "We the people" should mobilize our cream of constitutional lawyers, to challenge not just the outcome of such a process, but the procedure (modus operandi) of the process itself.
The challenges with this option though, would be:
1) "Do we the people really have '' locum standi' to bring such an action to court?
2) Even if we go all the way to the supreme court for ajudication, the supreme court may well declare "rex non potest peccare"[The King can do no wrong].However we must not for fear of losing the war, sit back and refuse to fight the battle.
 This post was written on 9th June 2013 after the heat of the debate on the validity/ value of convening a constitutional conference in Sierra Leone.

Thursday, 5 March 2015



In most of Africa , RAPE is simply regarded as forcing sexual intercourse . I believe the definition of what constitutes an act of Rape and the laws against rape in Africa are hardly if ever derived from our cultures and approaches to tackling this rising anti-social phenomenon are developed invariably without recourse to our own ethnologies.
In most of Africa as boys come of age and young girls transit into womanhood, they are exposed to a subliminal non formal suggestion that when a woman says "NO" she's only playing hard to get and more or less is asking to be dominated. In a subtle way these non formal subliminal suggestions evolve into an entity that becomes part of the African man's consciousness or even character, a character which more often than not defines the directions our actions will take.
I believe that whereas the tendency in Europe and America , people who commit rape are by and large sociopaths, the born and bred African man who commits rape, may indeed feel deep within that he has done something wrong, but he may actually 'believe' also deep within that he has really done nothing wrong but simply exercise a domination which he believes the female companion really needs. In essence I believe that most of the rape incidents occurring in Africa are, (except for a very limited few) due to the African male mindset. The implication of this is that Government and the Media can indeed make giant strides in curtailing the explosive rise of this antisocial phenomenon called rape in Africa, by embarking on concentrated 'mindset change' media campaign with specific recourse to the various ethnologies within the African continent.
Indeed this approach( Concentrated media mindset change campaign ) has been successfully used in the various Family planning campaigns, and also in the campaigns against discrimination of AIDS victims and in the campaign to encourage African men to use condoms for protection and also as a means for family planning.
The average African is a very social animal like or may be even more so than the average European or American. The average African loves the spoken word. He loves and is highly susceptible to the impact of drama and it is indeed common knowledge that attitudinal change arising from media impact is very high within the African context. If we can talk about ' it' and laugh about 'it', the sense in 'it' remains with us.
If content providers for the media are aware of this and commissioned by Government or International donor agencies to create dramas and jingles that focus on the African "Social Identity and Self Esteem" especially with a running, underlying theme that "Real men don't Rape" it will not be long before the impact is felt in terms of real attitudinal change.
Why do I believe this approach will work?
Simple. If governments and media critics can blame media agencies and producers for deteriorating morals in their societies, it means they recognize the power of the impact that media has on people.
The media on their part respond to these criticisms saying :" they merely cater to the interests of their audiences – they give people what they want " [Soliya - MEDIA AND INTERGROUP RELATIONS-- RESEARCH ON MEDIA AND SOCIAL CHANGE - 2009''
Drawing from this response as well, it is evident that media producers and content developers for the media are themselves fully aware of the impact that their works have on different segments of society as a whole.
It makes sense to reason therefore that if given the necessary financial support from government and donor agencies to creatively produce works that examine the mindset of the African male with regards to his perceived 'spiritually endowed dominance' over the African female, and to also creatively address the issue of sexual consent and highlighting the fact that 'losing some' is by no means a 'dent' on his fragile ego , it won't be long before we begin to realize the benefits of this approach.
Dramatic art forms : radio, television and stage dramas, Television commercials and Radio jingles should first of all be employed in creating an awareness of this rising incidences of rape. They should then creatively address the danger signs that a woman should look for in individuals -- aggressive language style, maybe even body language, an aggressive desire to control the female companion and other well researched signs. These art forms should also creatively address the man's perception of a woman and help him realize at what point he is about to cross the line and enter into the territory of rape. The issues of date rape, student rape, sexual harassment in homes, schools and offices , are also important ones to treat creatively. Sexual violence against children however is a totally different territory and must be dealt with in such a way that women are also aware of how to engage their children and creatively describe for them the danger signs to look for and actually encourage their girls to speak out when they enter into potentially dangerous situations and possible ways to deal with it. Another important issue that can be creatively dealt with is : "the stigma of rape". Dramatic art form can be effectively used in dealing with this just as they were used in dealing with the stigma of AIDS.
 But in whatever way we apply the concentrated media mindset change approach, it's success will substantially depend on how much and how well it draws from the ethnologies of the various African Countries to create a new social identity, because social identity theory tells us that an individual's self esteem is influenced by group status and by extension social identity informs our sense of self esteem. [ Steele, 1988; see also Cohen, Garcia, Apfel, & Master, 2006; Sherman & Cohen, 2006]
#Real men don't rape.
   by Victor O. Sawyerr.
[ edited 5th March 2015. This piece was first written on June 6th 2014 and posted on my facebook page. ]

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Je suis Charlie

I am
the laughter
in your heart
when you savor
the skewed views
of our collective
I am
The ink
that tells your shame,
My shame--
The ink
that cartoons your foibles
and mine too
-- harshly,
and sometimes cruelly.
But still,
The ink
that draws your laughter,
may be your dismay
and sometimes your vitriol
when i proclaim
that I am Christian,
Moslem , Jewish , Hindi , Atheist.
I am
the ink
that provokes your ire
when i satirize
your Obatala,
Sopona, and Ogoun.
But again,
I am
the ink
That speaks
for your right to have a right.
I am
the ink
that bathes Generals
in the market place
and beats the drums
to which Presidents dance
on the paved pages
 of my naked tabloids.
I am
the ink
that simply tells a story:
That may provoke
Your anger or tickle your fancy :
The ink that tells :
You can tell your story too,
And you can tell my story too:
I am
the ink
that fears not
to satirize
your guts;
the ink
that fears not
to fear --
because I am
[Words and ideas from the mind of Victor Omotayo Sawyerr.10/1/2014. Pls share and join the : I am Charlie campaign.]

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