Patrick OdionikhereThursday, April 9, 2009



any had thought when President Yar'Adua admitted to taking power on a flawed mandate that he wanted to close the era of governance for the interest of some special people. His calm, soft and timid personality won the heart of Nigerians to give him the benefit of doubt to repel the mistrust against our political elite. Rightly or wrongly, Nigerians had no choice but to accept Obasanjo's self anointed successor, including the states' governors. Even though, some of them have lost their mandate through judicial decisions. However, despite the farce nature of Yar'Adua's accession to power, his sincere admission of guilt about the conduct of the said election gave him a good standing if the court had ordered a rerun. All the same though, his unknown image at the national political arena became a bonus for him against his opponent, if the court had annulled his election. Even then, the PDP's political network was enough to put anybody in power. Still, it was unexplainable why the perception of Mr Yar'Adua was in a good light in spite of not being the best ex-governor; other than the information provided by those who decide the fate of Nigeria and its people. Ironically, the court spared us the uncertainty. That Yar'Adua was given judgement did not surprise most of us. Since, traditionally, no opposition party has ever had judgement in its favour at the federal level. So, no matter the brilliance of Buhari and Atiku's legal team, they were bound to lose, in addition to the oppressive burden of proof that was placed on the petitioners by the electoral laws.

Nonetheless, irrespective of Buhari's shortcoming, particularly during his military rule, at least, in history, he will be remembered as the man, who could have been able to re-brand Nigeria and its people. Again, Buhari's refusal to join the bandwagon and to succumb to tribal pressure to give up his right to challenge the fraud against our people was not only idealistic but patriotic. He had by his action enriched Nigeria's legal jurisprudence as well as revealed the mess in the judiciary. We could say then that the failure of the court to grant Buhari's order; or the judges' lack of good wisdom has brought Nigeria to the standstill. Because, by upholding a flawed election, Nigerians were disenfranchised from having leaders, who carries their mandate for progressing Nigeria.

That the legitimacy of President Yar'Adua's rule is in doubt should not preclude him from being the man in charge. After all, the judges have dressed him in a borrowed robe for another day, which depends on how he uses it. Unfortunately, in May, it will be two-years that President Yar'Adua came to power and the record is that, we have never had it so bad than now. The only good news is that he is still alive and quickly dismantling what the north held against Obasanjo - compensating the northerners with juicy federal appointment and recycling those, whose policies failed our nation. I think, it in the interest of all of us that the president stays in good health to tackle the problems that face our nation and its people. Regrettably, President Yar'Adua has not been honest about his state of health because of the circumstances of his appointment and its implication. I could have imagined him being pressured to step down by his own ethnic group if the vice president was of a northern extraction. Sadly, tribal sentiment and the poison of power mean that, whether or not, the president is incapable, he must end in pain to complete his term. Even though, it is inconsistent with the interest of our nation. Since, the northern political elite hold others in contempt, as well as pursuing the politics of hegemony that has led to the sorry state of affairs.

Equally, the bane of our nation has been that, there has been too much emphasis on self-interest; parochial dogmatism on ethnicity and the lack of community spirit in our national psyche. Tribal politics is not germane to Nigeria alone; except that in other countries, tribalism has been circumscribed in the notion of citizenship. A kind of internal harmony to enjoy the rights that comes with citizenship, as opposed to internal alignment within the different tribes to pursue only the interest of a particular ethnicity. Consequentially, everyone has a feeling of national belonging than of ethnic belonging to forge a common identity of nationality. This is where Nigeria is a special case, which has accounted for the treachery against the nationhood by the elite class. It is no accident that the political elite transposed the colonial devil's instrument to put the nation in disarray and confusion in securing the benefits of power. That, it is passed from one leader to another has much to do with the poison of power. With all of these, I have my doubt in Yar'Adua's maturity and mission of purpose.

Federal character is underpinned in the constitution of Nigeria in contention that it presupposes our political elites to be tribalist or ethnocentric. Therefore, as an obstacle, it became imperative to have a shocker in the form of legal dressing to make its leader do the right thing - have people in government that take account of Nigeria's multicultural identity and the unity of its people. A good innovation in a democracy since it would mean a government of inclusiveness independent of your relationship to those in governance in receiving the dividends of power in a democracy. As such, any instrument for enforcing inclusion in the form of federal character ought to be applied in any sphere of economic activity that is amenable to public law or has recourse to public money. Imperatively, even registered political parties ought not to be relegating the principles of federal character.

In no doubt, a proper application of federal character comes with enormous administrative workload, complex peculiarities and practical problems. Hence, a commission as its watchdog is put in place to ensure compliance and for providing policy direction. Unfortunately, its members have been receiving free money; yet, each successive government has done as if, it does not know of the existence of the rules of federal character; even though preaches the notion of law of rule. As if rule of law is an abstract legal terminology. As food is to man, so also, is rule of law the life of a constitution. Where it ends, begins the rule of man. A nation dies where the rule of law ends.

Federal character has not produced a satisfactory expectation because of its overt relegation by those who have laid siege on Nigeria. Its abuse has given room to debate its place in modernising Nigeria. It is difficult to say whether replacing it with the notion of citizenship only, should be considered; has its burden. Because, it might not benefit each ethnicity proportionally like federal character formula would do, assuming the latter were to be applied strictly. Since, it could leave some ethnicities disadvantaged. At the moment, in Nigeria, federal character is used for employing people for the sake of proportional representation only. Normally, it ought to be as a system for selecting the best of each ethnicity. Nonetheless, ideally, we ought to be using meritocracy. However, no matter the pros of federal character, it is an impediment to enjoying the full benefit of citizenship. It can also lead to negative discrimination and the adverse effect on competition and national productivity, which are needed for a nation building. The integration of all the people of Nigeria can only be achieved by a policy of citizenship that embodies meritocracy. It is in our national interest to prosper our best people irrespective of the region they come from. Since the productivity of our best people will bring about economic success to be shared by the rest according to the hierarchy of their personal achievement. Federal character as a system for securing ethnic representation is wrong; apart from the constant reminder of our division, ethnic affiliation and the position of citizens' allegiance to the state. This is why, we ought to be looking beyond federal character in choosing a policy that harmonises our people, rather than what reminds us of our historical abnormality.

Even so, irrespective of what replaces the current policy, it is unlikely to work in a state of electoral banditry. Whereby, political leaders buy their votes and forge no root in its people. Until, there is political accountability - one man, one vote; and the leaders are truly the peoples' mandate; governance will continue to be a mortgage for a specific interest. And unless, our people become the decision makers on election matters to keep the political elite in check, they will continue to be taken to the wrong side. Remember, the fear of being punished at the polls could inhibit the politicians from making bad laws or policies. This ought to be the addendum that Nigerians should become electoral foot soldiers even if it means the threat of death as the price for the survival of democracy in Nigeria. Except, this happens, we will continue to pass through divisive government's policies and the power morass. Ironically, we have accepted the self-inflicted captivity because of our level of understanding and poor public enlightenment. It has impacted on our inability to develop independent and critical minds; and to tie our economic progress and liberty to electoral franchise and fraud free elections.

At juncture, it is now important to put President Yar'Adua's rule into proper perspective. One would have expected that Yar'Adua was ready to lead, having accepted his party nomination to be president. As such had a shadow cabinet in waiting to kick-start and drive a new direction for our ailing nation, which was put in mess by corruption from his predecessors' government. Surprisingly, it took his government nearly two-months to have his team of servants. You could be right to assume that because he wasted time in making the right political appointments, he made himself vulnerable to the political hawks. One should have expected from an intellectual as our people are made to think of him, to have an independent and knowledgeable capacity to handle things differently due to the urgency of time and history. Instead, he began first by dismantling Obasanjo's unbiased policies - rewarding juicy federal appointment to mostly people from his ethnic group and the reversing of market informed economic policies. Since, it is a held belief by the northerners that, their interests can only be effectively protected by so doing. Why not; after all, is the federation not sick and artificially sustained for the unknown? Yes, only the southerner won't complain because, its members that are allowed in the slaughter house cannot speak against a fraud in which they are part of. The intellectual and assertive southerners have been forced out to take refuge elsewhere, so as to give those inside some space and ventilation. Yet, the pressure is still coming from outside that those inside are a bit uncomfortable.

Today, nobody is quarrelling with President Yar'Adua for clothing the face of government with mostly the people from his ethnic lining. Nigeria is failing because it has been ruled for special interest and not like an enterprise. You can only be na´ve not to understand the issues or you simply do not care. We agree that oil income remains our pandemic burden since it connects all national policies. Therefore, ethnic factor becomes the only criteria for appointing those that manages the oil resources. We have reasons to be angry and to bemoan the vampires for the harm on our nation and its people. The actions of northern political elite so far could lead to a generalisation that they are incompetent to deliver on anything if you rule-out conspiracy theory. Whether to hold the same against the few southerners, who have served them, is a question of opinion - as they are merely errand boys. Nigeria is among the leading petroleum producer; yet its people are suffering fuel scarcity and its refineries non-functional. In a normal scenario where people think, this ought to generate uproar and a mass action against any government. Lamentably, our people's inaction has led to the 'I don't care' attitude of government and for failing in pursuing our national interests. It is no wonder that governance in Nigeria has been in a vicious cycle and in the hands of the same people - the reason that Nigeria is in distress and the disillusion of its people. It is difficult to understand the rationale for appointing Dr Rilwani Lukman, as the new petroleum minister. I respect his wealth of experience; but has he not being part of the problem that Nigeria does not have sufficient fuel to run its economy? If the senate had taken its responsibility serious during the confirmation hearing, maybe, we could have come close to knowing the recipients of fuel subsidies that are never passed to the consumers.

That our so-called leaders do no evaluate the implication of heavily relying on fuel importation, in spite of being a major producer, leads to conclusion that they are vagabonds. What could be odder than the fact that Nigeria has no single indigenous upstream or downstream oil industry? Yet, Nigeria aspires to join the 20 leading economies of the world: what a self betrayal. In an age of economic conspiracy, that our government has allowed the fate of its people to be determined from outside is a sad national security policy. Let us hope, this time around, the petroleum minister will look inward to designing the policies that will make our industries run and serve our developmental needs.

Again, does anybody remember in the history of Nigeria when a southerner was made a minister of agriculture except perhaps - during the advent of two ministers for one ministry: minister (proper) and minister of state (improper). As said earlier, the ethnicity of any minister should be immaterial as long as they serve us well. Nevertheless, it is only northern ruling class who cannot trust others as a result of its selfish interest. Therefore, they want only juicy offices for its people as a way of making them millionaires by government of self-service. Ideally, if our officeholders have sense of nationalism, their actions would have been anchored on the premise of 'nation first'. I mean putting national interests at the core of any policy. After all, government policies should prosper all regions equitably.

Even then, Agriculture that could have helped our economy and provided food to feed our people has been encumbered by fraud. Irrespective of the fact that nature did not endow all the regions equitably, at least, basing our agricultural policy on the economics of comparative advantage could have liberated all the regions economically. As it would have allowed each region to specialise in the area in which it has an economic comparative advantage. It would have been interesting to know the amount of oil money that has gone into agriculture and yet, our country continues to rely on the importation of food to feed its people. Nobody seems to care about its damage to our economy and its impact on the dollar oil revenue. No northern leader will entrust this ministry to any other ethnic group since it is the main drainage of the national wealth; in addition to public office being used for fostering loyalty and patronage.

To a large extent, ethnic factor has worked against Nigeria's progress. Since people are appointed not based on capacity; rather, for the interest to protect - share national wealth among few people of the same group for the same goal. In view of this, the conspiracy thing, is then of a lesser concern. You know, in Nigeria, the notion of power is about self-interest and the evil of it. Honestly, it is time to ask the northern political elite how long they want to hold on to the deception of its own people and the rest of us? They should understand that the destiny of Nigeria and its people is linked to its politics. So, whatever serves the north right will benefit all the other regions of Nigerian. For Yar'Adua to have committed the billions of Naira for Rice importation from Thailand during the unnecessary alarm about food scarcity, when rice production does not take more than three-months in Nigeria, explains his level of patriotism. I think, we have reached the point for the progressives across the political divide to come together to challenge President Yar'Adua, whose game is going to cause more misery to our people. That Obasanjo, who was rightly demonised, does not become the rejected saviour.

Nigerians need something to keep themselves busy and for perpetually hoping. As such, it has helped Yar'Adua in instigating his own mischievous version of seven-point-agenda, which is more on TV advert than in action. If our people are no fools to be deceived like children, does his agenda differ from Obasanjo's NEEDS' programme, or the likes of past rulers? Who ever understands the essence of governance ought to be calling Yar'Adua and his strategists to order. Because, in reality, they are no agenda but necessities, which any government must provide as a purpose of governance and for progress. Again, the Nigerian factor is in play that Yar'Adua words are final. Furthermore, the president should be able to hand more than one task simultaneously. Unfortunately, his so-called seven-point-agenda is a pastime deception and insincerity. If we are to have functioning public services, then, we must exert pressure on him to work for our progress. For doing nothing, yet, expects our people to be tricked by his wasteful TV propaganda, is itself a reprehensible wrong. At times, you wonder whether our political elite have morality and sense of guilt about the level of poverty and filth in Nigeria.

The notion that government must run everything is the problem of Nigeria. It has remained so because oil has provided free money to be shared by those who are not interested in the progress of Nigeria but themselves only. Otherwise, our economy won't be based on 90 percent government controlled. It is no surprise that there are no serious foreign investors in Nigeria apart from the ones, which are chasing the soft monies and helping the political elite to consolidate their power and corruption. Logically, if our political elite were not barbarians, Nigeria should have been the first stop for most foreign businesses. How can Nigeria be attractive to them in its dismal state of infrastructure, corruption, constant state of religious anarchy and restiveness; and its legal system and laws? The ideal situation should have been to have an economy of 30 percent government and 70 percent private holding for wealth creation. And not the scenario where only Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola controls the entire private sector and no room for basic economic theory to function - oligarchy and the death of antitrust rules. They may represent a Nigeria's success story of a kind. Still, we need to spread State's assisted millionaires not defined by ethnic factor. It is no criticism on these patriotic and honourable citizens. After all, the game of business is to foreclose competition and not facilitate it. Interestingly, if you have the right connection to those in power, you may soon find yourself controlling the half of the nation's wealth even without having a business degree or know-how. If tribalism was not the problem, I guess there are other good businessmen across Nigeria, whom had been undeservedly short-changed.

Nigeria would have been able to create a sustainable economy during the oil boom - a manufacturing and service economy. But missed it; because our political ruling class got crazy with the disease of Afflenza - an excessive crave for vanity and prosperity, which made people hunger for things they did not need (bringing down this house by Patrick Odionikhere). If they were patriotic and had campaigned for buy Nigeria things, our indigenous industries could have overcome some of its shortcoming of producing inferior goods, which rendered them unattractive for overseas products. So, we lost the know-how for industrial development because of government's open-border policy. Although, we have now missed the boom period, still, the political elite have not learnt anything from history. Otherwise, at this moment of truth, President Yar'Adua should have understood that it was a national disgrace and outrage to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia or Abroad. Does he need anyone to remind him that his wife is not a public servant to take on any public duty? Can Nigeria resources sustain his big government that has been underperforming - 40 ministers and many other political appointees?

You just wonder whether Yar'Adua's chief financial officer and the central bank governor know what they are doing. I think the central bank governor have not served Nigeria's interest well; despite being given an undue credit for the consolidation of Nigerian banks. On a critical note, how could Mr Soludo have said that our economy was not going to be affected by global economic crisis? Even though, Nigeria's economy dependents solely on oil, which is determined by global market and politics. A lay man, who has no knowledge of basic economics, ought to know that there will be crisis when a commodity that used to be sold for $140 is now $40 per barrel. Our political elite can afford to be careless, because our people do not take the trouble to them. It is only the ordinary man who is asked to make a sacrifice; while, politicians and their associates are lavishing in wasteful spending and jamboree with looted public money. If Mr Soludo is sensitive to the economic plight of our people, it is unreasonable for him to contemplate releasing the sum of $250 million to support the falling Naira. So that, those who ran public service aground will have subsidised Dollars for meeting their overseas financial obligations - school fees for their children, mortgages and vacation trips. Subsidising the dollar for these politicians of shame is a moral albatross and noxious. Supporting the sick Naira, which was self-inflicted because of greed, should not have public backing. No artificial remedy will reverse the plummeting Naira because of the rules of market. I think committing such kind of money is wasteful. Since investing it on youth empowerment programmes could have yielded better economic returns.

If this government is serious at all, there are a lot of things it can achieve with the less oil money it currently receives. The global meltdown should be a lesson for us to know that our economy is very vulnerable. The fate of our nation is no longer on oil resources but in our ability of developing an industrial economy and a smart tax system. As a beginning, we should try the idea of taxing all the houses in Nigeria in the form of utility tax for waste disposal under a centrally managed agency. The tax should be calculated on basis of the size of house/usable space per square metre - meaning the bigger the house, the higher the chargeable tax. The payable tax obligation should be on the owner of the property and in the cases of commercial properties by the person managing it or its agent. In doing so, we could be developing many industries and job opportunities as well as taking care of the environment through proper sanitation management.

That our political elites are living in a fool's paradise, has given room for its complacency towards our people. Otherwise, the fear of the anger of our people could have made them to rethink and become men of conscience. Moreover, they would have realised that the success of all Nigerians is tied to their own interest. Do they need someone to remind that no children of Ghanaian officials or foreign countries come to attend Nigerian schools, whose dilapidation had been caused by bad policies and greed? I cannot see the prospect of the Nigerian educational system serving our developmental needs; unless, there are laws compelling all public officeholders to send their ward to only public schools and colleges in Nigeria. Since, they have not understood that the privileges, which they enjoy, come with huge burden - legal and moral obligations.

It is still difficult to understand Mr Soludo's rationale for the policy of supporting the falling Naira, which he said, was deliberately weakened against the Dollar in one of his media talk. Anyway, no one would have understood his line of reasoning. Since Nigeria had nothing to export that, a strong Naira became a burden, unless there was an artificial intervention to make export goods attractive. The weak Naira can only benefit the export sector of our economy. So, strategically, Nigeria has nothing to gain from a weak Naira because our economy is too dependent on importation. Even so, how could a sensible government allow the dollar to gain strength against its own currency despite the oil being traded in Dollar, which in turn affects the price? Cheap Naira means cheap oil. In corollary, it will obviously have negative ramification on our economy. Since our economy will not be able to take benefit of the international price as a result of buyers taking advantage of the currency exchange disparity. There is the need to support the falling Naira. Regrettably, Soludo's prescription is fraudulent because it will only benefit those that have held our nation hostage. Assuming we were to agree that, no special interest informed the CBN chief's decision, which resulted in the checks in place for would-be buyers of the Dollar; in practice, they won't work. Knowing the criminals we have as leaders, you can be sure that the system will be hijacked by the politicians and their right-hand men. It is among the reason that the Naira is still going to face more turmoil; apart from the effect of the black market on currency trade. On this ground, we should be contemplating of outlawing the trade of the Naira on the black market by mallams. After all, they are economic rodents, whose sources of money lie in a black hole, which no reasonable government should tolerate. They are depriving the government of huge revenue that could have been realised as taxes on any transaction made on exchange of currencies - tax evasion; in addition to other risks associated to the black market such as: money laundering, counterfeiting, duping, hoarding and so on. Subsequently, in curbing the menace of the black market, it should be proscribed and put laws to punish anyone who violates it with a long jail term.

I have no understanding for Soludo's economic policy. Besides, I think his rating has been overblown by those, whose interests were flourished by him. It is time to hire a new person to head the central bank to map a new economic regulation for Nigeria's market, which has never developed along any logic of economics. Soludo's subsidy regime for the Naira is akin to socialising the financial burden of the political elite; while the ordinary man is left to absorb the hardship of reality. I may not have agreed with all of Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's policies, when she was the minister of finance. But, the likes of her would be most suitable now that the government's income is dwindling as a result of global meltdown. Nigeria cannot afford another risk of appointing the next governor based on the politics of sentiment. Rather, that which is informed by who is best for the job, only.

Every government of Nigeria has always been ingenious in designing an agenda that will keep our people in perpetual occupation with themselves. Otherwise, a tempo would have been given to the seven-point-agenda. However, I am beginning to sense a foul in view of the swift of focus on electoral reforms. All the same, I cannot see why the emphasis on electoral reform should impede the seven-point-agenda; since they are mutually exclusive of each another. Unfortunately, it is easy to divert the attention of our people any time the political elite is on a fraud mission. The game is already working; given that, it has pushed Nigerians into different camps. Even when I hold forth for an electoral reform because of its relevance to Nigeria's economic and developmental renaissance; nevertheless, I can see the process being once again derailed like Obasanjo's reform conference that ended in third term debacle. The signs are already pointing to that direction, following how the president is handling his wise-men's report, which was a panel of his choice. If nothing else is critical of his government's position; one has to worry about the swearing in of any officeholder until the completion of election disputes. It is the only way forward in entrenching and consolidating electoral democracy in Nigeria. The experiences of the post 2007 election disputes and the power of incumbency ought to guide us against the future in ensuring that, nobody takes office until we are sure that they have the people's mandate. That Mr Yar'Adua has a contrary opinion about such wisdom; means that his own version of reform is bad omen. Nigerians should not let him have his way this time around. If not, they should blame themselves. We have been wronged before. This time, we must get it right even if, it might lead to spilling of blood as the price for protecting our nascent democracy. His refusal to back the whole recommendation, which was engineered by his own wise-men, shows that the president has an agenda in offing. Unless, he listens to the yeaning of our people, he might be the last ruler to rule a united Nigeria. As a result of this, one expects him to become a nationalist to fix a nation that is segmented by special and tribal interests at the expense of making Nigeria a welfare state for all its citizens; and not for few and their surrogates.

Yar'Adua is missing his way as a result of his justice minister. If the president is not hypocritical about corruption, by now, his EFCC and ICPC would have long disgraced some of his political allies who have fatted on our nation's resources. Although, we agreed that the corruption did not begin from his government, since, government is continuum, our people expect something different. That is, he is listening by action. I find it odd that the President has not responded to a newspaper report (Poinkblanknews) that Mr Michael Aondokoa, the justice minister has unlawfully taken a $6million bribe from an Indian company to facilitate the reversal of government policy to revoke the Ajaokuta steel sale deal. It is difficult to understand why the President is holding on to a minister that has been failing on his duties to rain in important judicial reformation.

Our justice system is crumbling. We cannot continue to have a situation where suspects and criminals are locked away perpetually. Or, whereby, justice is awarded according to your position in society. We can fast track the dispensation of justice by having a new court structure and time frame for disposing cases. To this end, in addition to the present courts, we should be thinking of establishing specialist courts. Why not courts such as: commercial courts, tax courts, fraud courts - for dealing with public treasury looting and financial crime offences as defined in the 419 penal code. The new courts should be composed of judges who have specialist qualifications. Furthermore, a team of legal advisers should be appointed to help the judges in case management and in legal research. In order to get it right, we should only seek the best applicant, who should hold the minimum of master's of law qualification. In doing this, we could have the bulk of the judges' workload reduced to enhance their reasoning capacity needed for making sound judicial decisions - freed from impaired lapses caused by strains of stress and too many things at a time. Again, by establishing an independent legal information system databank to link the courts via an internet or intranet access will revolutionise our judicial system. The legal information system, apart from being the databank for up-to-date laws, legal decisions and academic commentaries, its proper usage could end the scenario where judges of inferior court at times misapply the laws or violate the doctrines of judicial precedent - an important cardinal of the common law. Currently, the judges are overstressed by being the umpire and stenographers at the same time. By now, we should be modernising our court rooms with new technologies for fast tracking and enhancing the efficiency of the decision making process. Speedy dispensation of justice is good for all of the parties and including the taxpayers.

In any functional judicial system, it should be possible to resolve disputes within a maximum of eight weeks - from first instance to the highest appellate court. This is where I may have to disagree with the president's notion of delayed justice - which is that court battle in terms of election disputes should take up to four years - until the beneficiary of power exhausts his term of office. The fraud must be resisted. The notion that justice delayed is justice denied is well founded. Therefore, eight weeks for resolving any judicial dispute, irrespective of whose interest is affected is a reasonable compromise. The time frame is compatible with the human rights' law, which emphasises on access to fair trial and effective judicial remedy.

Again, it is time to rethink about the overpopulation of our prisons and how to curb the increasing violent crimes. I find it unacceptable that the justice minister is not having sleeplessness about our unsafe streets of criminals; considering its moral, social and economic implications. A good minister should be thinking ahead of us even when his ideas are controversial. Essentially, they should lead public debate. I have been expecting that since we do not know what to do with the huge convicted criminals, who have no value for life, it won't be a bad idea of using them as organ donors. The taxpayers should have no understanding for a system that convicted criminals spend as long as 20 years on death roll. We should be forward thinking in ending the waste of public money on criminals who ought to become organ donors for our honest sick people. I think killing anyone convicted of a capital offence ought to be carried-out immediately after the final appeal; or within a maximum of one month. Normally, punishment should follow only the notion of deterrent especially for cases of serious criminal behaviour. Otherwise, criminals won't have a rethink if the payoffs are higher. Along this direction, also, oil bunkering and economic sabotage offences against the state should become capital punishment by death. Unless, this is done, Mr Yar'Adua is not capable of protecting our national interest, which is now in the hands of foreigners and a few Nigerian saboteurs. There is an urgency to have a new man for the justice department. Since, the functionality of our legal system intertwines the progress and development of Nigeria.

In understanding Mr Yar'Adua, it is important to remind ourselves of the following questions:

  • Is Yar'Adua sincere?
  • promoting an Islamic agenda;
  • having the wisdom to save Nigeria and for reclaiming our dignity as a people, who are still traumatised by its historical past;
  • should he be trusted for the integrity and survival of our nation; or,
  • courageous to abandon ethnic interest to reconcile our people in forging a common identity of nationalism?

We are heading for real trouble in the times ahead. That Mr Yar'Adua is a president by accident is a reason for him to become a transformational leader - the president for all Nigerians and not PDP or an ethnic president. Therefore, if the president wants to overcome the burden of governance, he needs people who do not agree with him all the time to make Nigeria work. He needs people who are innovative and not ethnic demagogue, who have pushed Nigeria to the brink of total collapse. Let him look around for new talent of intellectuals, who have develop and critical minds to reclaim our sinking nation.

His project of re-branding of Nigeria is the highest level of fraud and irresponsibility. It is not going to work in midst of his lieutenants of treasury looters. The monies committed for the propaganda of fraud could have been channelled into youth's empowerment programme to removal them from our unsafe streets of hopelessness, which breed crime and loss of moral values. Equally, if he ends the regime of national merit award based on federal character, then we can say that we are progressing. Similarly, no traditional ruler in Nigeria is worth a national award; as they are institution of shame. We expect a national merit not to become a national honour of patronage. Otherwise, the system will ridicule its holders. For that reason, only people who have distinguished themselves in the highest standard should be decorated with honours. Except this is done, the president's re-branding is fruitless. Inasmuch as, I appreciate the difficulties around him, he should not follow Obasanjo's path of disgrace and self inflicted hostage. Remember what Obasanjo said in 'BBC hardtalk,' by Stephen Sackur on 19 March 2008: that "Yar'Adua is a good person but he himself knows that being a good person alone does not make you an effective, a successful and a great president. You need much more than that."

There is nothing wrong if the president takes clue from the slam on Obasanjo's corrupt regime and the remark on his daughter, Iyabo on BBC hardtalk: As Obasanjo was made to face the moment of truth about Iyabo being accused of corruption - so what, said Obasanjo. Yes, Obasanjo may not be responsible for the behaviour of a 42 years old child. But, he must acknowledge that he failed in his parental duty of inculcating good moral behaviour on his children to understand that privileges come with the responsibility of higher moral standard. I put Obasanjo in context for Yar'Adua to comprehend that, it is time for him to move away from his self serving slogan of rule of law, which is a must; to the idea of rule of morality. If he wants to take Nigeria to the sky, he should put more emphasis on the rule of morality. Nigeria does not need re-branding; because, nobody will buy a rotten product in a new package. Equally, the president should embark on reversing the policy of naming streets and national monument on people while alive - rather, honour posthumous. It is aberration to name our monument and streets on persons who have rubbished Nigeria and its people. The current situation gives the impression that the recipients are good men - in clean slate. In reality, it is in the contrary; and thereby demeaning moral stricture. The risks are too much for Yar'Adua to follow Obasanjo's path of failure and shame. Nigeria's claim to being giant of Africa holds true if we depict exemplary leadership and economic progress. Yes, we can through a new national identity of patriotism.

Mr Yar'Adua, those who are now advising you to sail Nigeria aground will eventually abandon you on the day of reckoning. To secure your right place in history requires you to listen to critics. Now, you have the chance of putting a smile on the faces of the ordinary man before Nigeria comes to a standstill through a people' action.