Thursday, 17 August 2017


To refresh memories of the past, in her acceptance speech after being sworn-in as a permanent secretary in Bayelsa State Civil Service, Dame Patience Jonathan had the temerity to appeal that First Ladies should be given constitutional role in our political system. If she was ignorant as usual, it was the lack of the constitutional role that catapulted her to being a permanent secretary without function. The week for her swearing-in provided the occasion for the bitter conflict of interest between her and her previous boss, Hajia Turai Yar Adu’a over an already allocated parcel of land in the Central Business District of Abuja for their “pet projects as First Ladies”.
Over 30 years, the First Lady phenomenon has created a dynamic in which political space is being appropriated and used by the wives of men in power, for their personal aggrandizement, rather than furthering the interests of the women folk and the wider society. The First Lady syndrome is a new international political phenomenon that has been traced to the 1992 World Summit for the Economic Advancement of Rural Women hosted in Geneva, Switzerland at the initiative of six First Ladies, three of whom, Maryam Babangida (Nigeria), Elizabeth Diouf (Senegal) and Suzanne Moubarak (Egypt), were Africans. For the first time, wives of Heads of States sought to play an autonomous and coordinated role in international politics in their capacities as wives. The First Lady syndrome, however, first hit the international limelight in the 1995 Beijing Conference when large group of First Ladies met in a context of a major world event and took the limelight. In Africa, the First Ladies Summit was hosted in Younde, Cameroon by Chantal Biya, wife of President Paul Biya during the 1996 OAU Summit. The communiqué of the meeting, which focused on strategies to improve the lives of rural women, was incorporated into the official communiqué of the OAU meeting.
Nana Rawlings was the first great African First Lady. During her husband’s rule, she had no official position in government but was all the same playing a major role in formulating and even implementing policies relating to women. The main organizational that Nana developed was the 31st December Women’s Movement (DWM), named after the second coming to power of her husband in 1981. The DWM was a huge organization with about 30 affiliate organizations with about 2 million members rooted in the countryside. Nana Rawlings was able to appropriate concerns that were current in the international development community about the necessity of focusing on rural and poor women.
While Ghana was the first African country that gave institutional prominence to the First Lady syndrome, Nigeria is the country where it flourishes the most. The late Maryam Babangida was the pioneer when her husband was a military president and she opened a First Lady office for herself in the presidency and became a prominent figure in Nigeria’s public life. This would be the first time that the wife of a Nigerian Head of State would use her spousal position as a basis to play a prominent role in the nation’s public life.
In 1987, Mrs Babangida launched her pet project, Better Life for Rural Women (BLP). The wives of all senior government officials were incorporated into the organization. The wives of military governors in the states automatically became chairpersons of the state chapter of BLP and wives of Local Government Chairmen acted likewise at their levels. A lot of state resources were unofficially channeled to the BLP and major fairs that got a lot of publicity were organized. The BLP claimed to have made a major contribution to improving the lot of rural women. The claims include the organization of 10,000 co-operatives, 1,793 cottage industries, 2, 397 farms, 470 women centres and 233 health centres. Most serious observers are of the view that those figures enumerated were merely concocted in the absence of any tangible result. It was for deceit.
In 1990, the National Commission for Women (NCW) was established as the official state organ charged with handling women’s issues. The establishment of the NCW was in fact first announced in President Babangida’s message to the launching of Maryam’s biography, The Home Front, on September 19, 1988. Maryam Babangida therefore must have had the belief that NCW was created for her. When, however, the NCW under the leadership of Professor Bolanle Awe tried to establish the organization as an autonomous body with full competence in handling all issues relating to women, Maryam got upset. Her baby was trying to become a rival organization. She directed security officials to arrest and bundle our Professor Bolanle Awe from NCW.
Dame Patience Jonathan and Hajia Turai Yar Adu’a  could have recalled what happened subsequently. To establish a permanent place for herself in history, Maryam Babangida obtained public money through her husband whom she used to establish a huge edifice in Abuja which she named The Maryam Babangida Centre for Women and Development. In 1992 when it appeared that they might have to vacate office soon, Maryam applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission to register the centre as a Trust, with her and her eldest son, Muhammed as Trustees for life. The application was queried by the Commission because they had not gone through the due process of advertizing the Trust in at least three National Newspapers and obtaining a security clearance. The centre was registered as she wished anyway as a property of MIB (Maryam Ibrahim Babangida) Foundation.
In 1993, General Sani Abacha took over power and his wife, Mariam Abacha automatically became the First Lady and occupied the office established by her predecessor. Her eldest daughter, Zainab, then had the brilliant idea of also opening her office of the First Daughter in the Presidency. Mariam Abacha was sufficiently confident of her powers to openly declare in a BBC interview that although she was not taking decisions herself, ministers and even foreign diplomats who were seeking for an appointment with her husband trooped to see her and she had the capacity to fix their problems. In their “professional careers” as wives of military officers, Maryam Abacha had developed an apparent rivalry with Maryam Babangida. Having got her turn, she set out to dismantle the works of Mrs Babangida. The BLP was dissolved and a “new” similar organization, The Family Support Programme (FSP) was established in place. A state instrument to implement it, the Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) was also set in motion and significant state resources were devoted to it. State officials were incorporated into the structure, just as Maryam Babangida had done. The Maryam Babangida Centre for Women Development was taken over by the state and renamed the National Women’s Centre. Power is ephemeral. Maryam Abacha for her own posterity, established the Maryam Abacha Hospital for Women which was also taken over and converted into the National Hospital.
There is one positive narrative of a Nigerian First Lady, Justice Fati Abubakar, whose husband was Head of state in the one-year interregnum following the death of Sani abacha. General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s wife, a Federal High Court judge, established Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA). Unlike the two previous First Ladies, she started by formally registering the organization. She also refused to use her husband’s position to make state governors and government departments contribute to WRAPA’s purse or acquire public land by political fiat. WRAPA today is generally recognized as one of the most serious and most effective non-governmental organizations fighting for the advancement of women’s rights in Nigeria.

The syndrome, however, returned after Mrs. Abubakar. On June 24, 2003, the late Stella Obasanjo had the guts to summon wives of state governors to Abuja and publicly declared that: “There is only one First Lady in Nigeria and Period”. She warned them in front of television cameras that there was only one First Lady in the country and her name was Stella Obasanjo. She directed them to henceforth stop using the title First Lady of their husband’s states and revert to their proper title of governor’s wives. That was a typical case of legalizing illegality with authority or best, with BOTTOM POWER. As Turai Yar Adu’a and Patience Jonathan fought over the future legacies, other First Ladies should take their time to reflect on the past. The office of First Lady at the national, state or local government level is unconstitutional, illegal and criminal and a direct pipe of cleverly draining and stealing public funds under different guises. Those so called First Ladies should better look for legitimate sources of income than masquerading as supporters to their husband’s efforts. Most of them were jobless and lacking ideas to source legitimate income. What a pitiful gang of fraud and tricksters under the cover of husband’s position.   

By Sanusi Muhammad

Nigeria And Its Elite Machinations

Since independence in 1960, Nigeria has made little progress in eliminating poverty which has now afflicted over 70% of its population. As world’s sixth largest exporter and the 11th largest producer of crude oil, the nation’s economy,remains overwhelming undiversified with earnings from oil and gas making over 90% of exports and 80% of revenues. Yet the country’s oil wealth has woefully failed to generate sustainable economic growth, better public services or improved living conditions for the majority of the people. Why?
The negativities in public administration that contagiously obscure meaningful socio-economic development are directly traceable to bad leadership of the past. The art of leading according to S.L.A Marshall in Men Against Fire, ‘is the art of dealing with humanity, of working diligently on behalf of men, of being sympathetic with them but equally, of insisting that they make a square facing toward their own problems”.
The depressing economic condition in Nigeria which has been characterized by leadership incompetence, corruption, stereotyping, high level sycophancy, putting square pegs in round holes, poor public financial management, poor institutional development, inept infrastructural facilities, god -fatherism, caged and corrupted judiciary, compromised security agencies, poor democratic credentials of most of the elected or selected public office holders is inimical to the growth and development of the country. The worst hit by the present economic quagmire is the Northern Region. Why?
Northern Nigeria is progressively becoming depressingly impotent in all indices of measurement except that of population and landmass. The Northern masses in most areas of far north are denied education, a basic, fundamental tool for living even in ancient times. Northern political elite who control (for the most part since independence) regional/state/local government affairs, fail to educate their people in western literacy. Instead, chose the simpler opinion of leaving them either stark illiterate, ignorant or expose them only to Islamic and Arabic literacy. Instead of being champions of modernity, development and progress are today regressing. They were denied to facing challenges of science, technology, commerce, telecommunications and internet but resort to escapism and blame logic.
Northern Economic Summit, Northern Education Summit, Northern Political Summit, Chamber of Commerce and several others. Yet, majority of northerners have nothing to show for it. The hitherto flourishing textile industries in Kano and Kaduna are shadows of what they used to be due to draconian government policies by the northern elite.
Decades of clinging to power has produced nothing but chronic poverty, unemployment, insurgency, political thuggery, ethno-religious crises, cattle rustling, de-industrialization and menace of almajiris and able-bodied beggars. Educationally, the north is far behind. Public schools have become a caricature of modern school system in the north. The powerful elite have achieved their aim of killing and burying education and agriculture in the north. A situation where a JSS II student can neither read a simple comprehension nor write a single sentence in English language is to say the least ludicrous. They have left the masses to their own fate. Private schools are beyond the pockets of the down-trodden who, are grappling with the rigours of meeting basic needs.
As for political participation, the northern masses have become increasingly disenchanted due to arbitrariness and deception from the powerful elite. Democracy thrives only where there is freedom of expression and the right of choice, it would be inimical to the political process to continue to impose candidates on the people.
The northern masses have been at the receiving end of elite’s machinations. The power resides with the elite and the masses have for long been turned into robots, remote-controlled by the whims and caprices of domineering elite. The masses have every cause to feel dejected and depressed. There is poverty at high velocity. The future looks less rosy, but the elite live a flamboyant life style with suspected stolen money.
The above situation which came about as a result of bad governance led to a situation where as the late Dr. Mahmud Tukur said: “the wider population though possessed of pristine wisdom – but perhaps due to its material poverty, is forced to be opportunistic; to expect immediate reward in monetary terms and instant gratification; is incapable of demanding for accountability, cannot stand up for its rights, is unable to resist abuse of office, corruption or oppression”.
Most of the violence we witness is the consequences of poverty, unemployment and frustration including hate preaches from day light religious preachers. Securing a viable polity – that is a Nigeria in which there is free movement of people, goods and services and a country in which residency and participation rights are guaranteed wherever one may choose to live is what is urgently needed. This connectivity is important and has to be appreciated by elites, which has the reputation of greed and selfishness.
The relatively smaller number of the elite, as a privilege group, is wont to using the enormous powers at their disposal to champion their narrow causes, at the expenses of the larger but less privilege groups. They drag by force or “favour” the lower classes in that selfish direction that finally produces disenchantment among the masses. The ordinary people are not really involved in the political activities. All along, it has been a game of the elite who only use the masses as tools in fixing up their political machinery; use them as cannon fodder when the push comes to the shove, and then, use money or muscle on them when the masses lose interest in a game that largely is none of their business.
The typical northern elite has forgotten or tends to forget that the responsibility for running the affairs of people has been vested in men not for the purpose of enforcing their own orders or imposing their own will on others, enslaving people, calling them to bow down their heads in submission, enabling them to construct spacious palaces by fleecing the weak and downtrodden; in short for the pursuit of their pleasure and self-glorification. Men who are at the helm of affairs should have a feeling that this is a burden laid on them to administer social justice.
Public office holders, who master the art of treasury looting, should bear in mind that such privileges will not endure. All wealth and resources belong, as a law to the society, and they must return to society willingly or by force of the law or better by jungle justice. Human society stands on justice and justice demands that resources be shared fairly among all members, where this is ignored, society is bound to disintegrate, resulting in the dispossession and routing of the privilege groups.
Why not we think of building a society in pursuit of an economically fuller prosperous life and which balances the material welfare with the spiritual values in which the state and the citizens acquire wealth through fair means without exploiting others or subjecting others to wrong and injustice, but by promoting the good of others from what is earned or accumulated? A Nigerian society in which citizens are brothers and friends, and are bound by bonds of affection, nationalism and patriotism; such that no one group-tribal or religious – shall antagonize any other; but each shall endeavour to understand, appreciate and support the other in a collective effort to enhance and protect the collective heritage of our country.
We need a new Nigeria in which equal opportunities of progress shall be enjoyed by everyone. A Nigeria where no individual or group shall suffer any disability that may in anyway impede the growth of his/her faculties or hamper the development of his/her personality. A society where a way shall be opened for all citizens to make as much progress as possible according to their individual in-born capacity and personal merits without prejudice to similar rights of other people.
Nigerians are ardently looking for a set of leaders who will build a society in which everyone is an equal participant; a society which cannot tolerate class divisions based on distinction of birth, tribe, religion and social position. In his opinion, Hon. Ahmed Idris Maje (representing Wase federal constituency of Plateau state said, “A society where all citizens shall enjoy equal status, the only criterion of superiority in the much needed new Nigeria is personal ability and character. That is, individuals shall be assessed and recognized on the basis of what they do and not who they are or where they hail from”.

By Sanusi Muhammad

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Ahmed Adamu Muazu And Maryam Abbas

The beautiful wedding of Ahmed Muazu, son of former PDP Chairman and Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Muazu and Maryam Abbas was an intricate and gracious three-day spree of traditional events which include Rufi, Dinner, Yini, Fatiha, Kai Amarya, and Budan Kai. The wedding activities were held in kaduna, the wedding fatiha in Zaria and finally the pretty bride was conveyed to her husband’s family house in Bauchi. The excited couple couldn’t hide their happiness and love on their most memorable day. We wish them a happy, blissful and fun filled life. Tozali magazine as always was there to capture the precious moments to bring to you. Enjoy as the pictures are exclusive!