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Op Ed

The Trouble with Obasanjo’s Wish



Obasanjo: Nigeria Preparing Future For Boko Haram

By Azu Ishiekwene

I’m sure he expected the firestorm. As is his custom, he primed and released it to explode at his own time and season. If the letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo endorsing Labour Party’s Peter Obi had gone unnoticed, uncriticised, and un-replied, then it would not have been Obasanjo’s letter.

The letter had barely landed when the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and, in fact, the Presidency all pounced, with the mildest of them all from the PDP.

Whatever the misgivings of the affected parties, I’m sure most might agree on the central message: that young people who constitute 65 percent of Nigeria’s population and, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 76.5 percent of nine million newly registered voters, would play a significant role in the forthcoming general elections.

Those who were only eleven-years-old when President Muhammadu Buhari, who promised change, was voted in only to witness #Endsars six years later when the President was in the first year of his second term, are now of voting age. And those among them who are registered would be voting for the first time, if they have not joined the massive “japa wave” sweeping the country.

It evokes memories of the “Andrew checking-out” era of the 1980s. Yet, if you have seen the lines at any of the embassies in Lagos or Abuja lately – lines spilling onto the pavements and main roads from behind huge iron gates and turnstiles manned by hefty private embassy security men, set against desperate young faces teeming with frustration – then you will know that what we have on our hands today is worse than the Andrews of the 1980s.

It is Andrew plus the mini-exodus of the post-1993 annulled elections, only more gifted and determined than both combined. These are the ones Obasanjo hopes would pour the anger, rage and frustration of #Endsars and the current economic hardship into an electoral tide that would sweep away the old order.

The affected parties also know that Obasanjo’s target – the registered remnant not yet on the “japa wave”, that curious, largely agnostic, adventurous and irreverent block – might play an important role in this election.

In addition to being the country’s largest vote banks, three regions – the North-West, the South-West, and the South South – currently hold the largest concentration of this youth population. According to records from the National Population Commission (NPC), five states – Kano (3.4m); Lagos (2.7m); Oyo (1.7m); Kaduna (2.1m); and Rivers States (1.8m) – have the highest overall youth population between the ages of 20 and 34 among Nigeria’s top 10.

Another problem which Obasanjo identified correctly is the sheer scale, scope and complexity of the work required to retrieve Nigeria from the brink. With inflation at 23 percent; youth unemployment at 33 percent; foreign exchange scarcity; declining production and receipts from oil sales; and a looming debt crisis, even Obasanjo’s worst critics might agree that Buhari appears to have used up his successor’s honeymoon.

What then, is the problem with Obasanjo’s letter? Surely, he is entitled to his choice and opinion which, however weighty, have not always been consequential in all elections.

Apart from 1979, when his military government foisted Shehu Shagari on the country, MKO Abiola won in 1993; and Buhari in 2019, both in spite of him. And even when he was a candidate, he lost resoundingly in his own state and his South-West backyard in 1999, only to wrest swathes of the region in a do-or-die subterfuge four years later.

The hairsplitting this time is not so much over Obasanjo’s electoral value. What is left has been so depleted by his ego, his meddlesomeness and his lust for power that it is hardly enough to win him decisive votes in his Totoro/Soroki Ward 11, even if he were on the ballot today.

It does appear that what some folks are concerned about is not Obasanjo’s right of choice or advocacy, but what he might have done, early on, to make it much easier to pave the way for an Igbo presidency.

As president for eight years, Obasanjo vehemently rejected any suggestions to help restructure the country, which would have given the regions, especially the South-East, a fairer footing and created a more equitable and inclusive federal system.

An indispensable man, he wanted so much power for himself and spared no cost to acquire it, that Obasanjo invested at least $500 million in a phantom third term project, according to Chidi Odinkalu and Ayisha Osori in their book, Too Good to Die.

It’s a measure of the complexity of the animal called man, that PDP, the party where Obasanjo was alpha and omega for eight years, was – and apparently remains – unable to provide a pathway for Igbo presidency. APC, the Siamese of the PDP, has fared even worse. Ironically, it is the Labour Party, the child of political necessity whose roots and forebears Obasanjo sought to crush, that has produced the cornerstone of his newfound affection.

During his presidency, the South-East suffered significant infrastructural decline, while he raised a small privileged class from there to manage his conjugal realm or stir up one political crisis after another. Not once, not twice, but three times, he instigated the removal of Igbo Senate presidents (including Chuba Okadigbo) who had a mind of their own. Yet, they were lucky.

The chairman of the Onitsha branch of the NBA, Barnabas Igwe and his wife, were killed in what was suspected to have been politically motivated murders – a bloody record, which littered not just the South-East, but up and down the country, claiming in its trail Obasanjo’s supposed friend and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige. The killers are still at large.

If Obasanjo was less lustful of power, less controlling and less obsessed about becoming the only cock in the neighbourhood that must crow, the deadly ferment in Igboland today which is a product of decades of injustice might have been mitigated. Also, the region now locked in the politics of self-mutilation and fratricidal violence to air its grievances, might have had an easier pathway to power.

Obi, first tapped by Obasanjo as Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019, once again deserves Obasanjo’s support and should get it. But what Obasanjo offers is not support; it is nearly five and a half decades of overdue, self-interested atonement disguised as patriotism; it is worse than a Greek gift.

It’s a gift with a history. And the youth to whom he addressed his letter might do well to remember, too. It’s true as he said in his letter that he became military head of state at 39 and General Yakubu Gowon at 33. If you want to know how much Obasanjo loved the youth in his heyday, ask those who witnessed the “Ali-Must-Go” students’ protest in 1978.

That protest by students against increase in school fees at the time, remains one of the most violently repressed in student protest history, a foreshadow of #Endsars. But that was not all.

The year before Ali-Must-Go, “unknown soldiers” burnt down, well, a youth’s haven, Fela’s Kalakuta Republic, and beat residents with rifle butts and iron bars. Fela’s mother, Olufunmilayo, was dragged by the hair and thrown out the window. She survived the fall, but later died from its impact.

And for those too blind to see the repression committed in plain sight, Obasanjo’s military regime shipped some offshore, to an Island 100 km off the coast of Lagos, called Ita-Oko, where critics of the military regime were imprisoned. It was an utterly squalid place which, interestingly, Buhari did not only retain, but also expanded when he seized power in a military coup four years after Obasanjo handed over to a civilian government.

All of this hardly diminishes Obasanjo’s outstanding international record, his appetite for the limelight and, of course, his love of drama. Or indeed his right to suggest who he thinks is best to lead Nigeria. If the leading candidates didn’t think he still matters they would not be fawning over him and feeding his ego for support. They shouldn’t be throwing tantrums now. Obasanjo had them exactly where he wanted.

The young may be fooled, but not the older ones who have seen Obasanjo as a leader, in and out of uniform, on his farm, on the podium, and in his home. If Obi knows Obasanjo as I think he should, my unsolicited advice is that he should read the former president’s letter of endorsement to the end. Somewhere there, in small print, he would find the words: “Buyer Beware!”

Azu Ishiekwene is Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP

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Op Ed

How to plan your relocation overseas



The thought of relocating out of Nigeria to countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Scotland, and others can be a thrilling experience.

This is as relocating outside the country for greener pastures, which is popularly called ‘japa’,  if fast becoming the dream of many of the country’s teeming population of young people.

James Adefemi, a young man in his late twenties is one of many Nigerians who scaled several travel hurdles to start a new life in the United Kingdom.

According to him the decision to relocate to the United Kingdom was both an exciting and adventurous experience that he had looked forward to.

However, nothing prepared him for the financial and emotional challenges that come with migrating to a new country.

While speaking to The PUNCH, Adefemi says, “Relocating out of Nigeria is a very demanding process and I think that’s the part most people don’t get to talk about. It is demanding financially, mentally, emotionally, and time demanding.”

He narrates that his journey started in 2018 after his National Youth service corps. “I decided to travel to the UK for my master’s programme, but money was a major issue so I decided to give my plans one more year so that I could save up some money,” he says.

Adefemi shares that his plans to save did not go as planned, “Considering my monthly salary that year. Anyway, I applied to a few schools and got admission. I also applied for a scholarship that took most of my time because it went from one stage of essay writing to another.

“Thank God for the scholarship because it lifted quite a lot of my financial burden in terms of tuition. It wasn’t a full scholarship so I still had quite some money to pay.”

He laments a major factor that makes relocating out of Nigeria a huge financial burden is the exchange rate. “It’s crazy how you are converting a few pounds or dollars to millions of naira,” he says.

Adefemi’s story replicates the case of many Nigerians looking to leave the country in search of greener pastures and better quality of living

According to a recent by Pew Research survey, an estimated adult population of 45 per cent in Nigeria has plans to relocate to another country within five years.

From the 12 countries surveyed, Nigerians topped the list. A report by the African polling unit in 2021 further revealed that seven out of every 10 Nigerians were making plans to leave the country. But as much as the idea of relocation may be the answer to many problems, preparing adequately is a countermeasure to avoid the strain of leaving the country.

Adefemi explains that, “Apart from the tuition fee, the visa application process was another financial burden., from the visa fee to health insurance even to the flight ticket. At some point, it felt like the expenses couldn’t stop coming. I remember I had to pay for priority visa application because the standard visa application process was taking more time than normal and I needed to be in school as soon as possible.”

 According to him, his family was a major support system during this period and that helped to make the journey easier.

Generally, personal finance experts urge Nigerians to focus on putting up a financial plan for the long and short-term of their migration goals.

Destination country

Former Financial Manager at Wales Bank Asset Management, Racheal Alabi, says that she made research into the cost of relocation.

She says, “I remember a Youtuber mentioning the cost of migrating in pounds and then I hurried to check the equivalent in naira and I was shocked. She spent N12m and this was just on school fees and accommodation, without the cost of other things. And it just dawned on me that people who are relocating have money or had it all planned.”

According to her, the first thing for anyone looking to relocate is to, “research because if I did not do my research, I wouldn’t know that it costs that much to relocate. And that’s where financial planning comes into place.

“For instance, I know someone who is about to relocate and he has been planning for two years now; and that’s because he took the time to calculate the cost of relocating to his destination country.”

Alabi explains that individuals also have to ask crucial questions for relocation to get clarity in order to plan well.

She says,” How much is a flight trip? What am I going there to do? Do I want to study? How much will my tuition cost even if I have a scholarship?”

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It is also important to review one’s current financial status, Alabi reveals. She says, “My friend who has relocated made this decision two years ago but knew at the time that he did not have the financial capacity to embark on such an action. What he started doing was taking on multiple jobs. This is where financial planning comes to play.”

Individuals also need to create a structured budget system to ensure that every relocation goal is met because migrating to a new country largely bothers money.

Alabi says, “You want to have a budget too. For instance, if I know that relocating to the United Kingdom will cost $50,000 and I have only $5,000, so I need $45,000 to go. What should I do? I have to increase my income. But this does not translate into anything if I do not have a budget and massive saving plan.”

Emergency funds

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Alibi says that, “After you leave the country, I emphasise the need for individuals to have emergency funds because you are moving into a new environment. Sometimes it also helps people when they know someone that stays there; it reduces the burden of rent. But the emergency fund will prepare you for any financial shock because anything can happen.”

Emergency funds are stocked-up funds that you can use when you have unplanned expenses.

She adds, “An emergency fund is like money for rainy days. But in Nigeria, some people say it is always raining. On the contrary, emergency funds will sustain you up till the time when you get a stable income and protect you from financial pressure. So, it is advisable to have up to six months of emergency funds saved up.”

Necessary documents: 

Travel Manager, Wayfare Travels, Omoyeni Kolawole, advises that Nigerians who want to relocate should ensure they have all the necessary documents to travel and reside in the destination country.

“This may include a valid passport, visa, work permit, and any other relevant documents,” Kolawole says.


Building a network is a secure way to ensure that you don’t run into any hiccups in the new country.

Kolawole explains, “Other Nigerians in the destination country can help Nigerians who want to relocate to find job opportunities, housing, and other resources. This can be done through social media platforms like LinkedIn, attending networking events, or reaching out to professional associations.”


Kolawole tells The PUNCH that this is one area that is applicable when Nigerians are travelling to a country where English is not the lingua franca.

The travel manager says, “We do not talk about this enough, it is either you are learning the language of the destination country or you are going to an English-speaking country which limits your options.

“Learning a language can help Nigerians who want to relocate to communicate effectively and integrate into the new culture. They can take language classes, practice with native speakers, or use language learning apps.”

Travel consultants

He adds that Nigerians looking to relocate should “Seek professional advice from travel consultants who are vast in relocation

“Nigerians should research the visa and immigration requirements for their destination country to ensure they have the necessary documentation to enter and reside in the country legally,” he says.

He adds that Nigerians looking to relocate should “Seek professional advice from travel consultants who are vast in relocation

“Nigerians should research the visa and immigration requirements for their destination country to ensure they have the necessary documentation to enter and reside in the country legally,” he says.

By following these tips, individuals can be sure to have a seamless relocation process devoid of unnecessary stumble blocks in form of financial constraints. constraints.

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Op Ed

Oladipo Diya (1944 – 2023)



Oladipo Diya

he ex-second-in-command did little to support democracy

He would have died prematurely about 25 years ago, following a death sentence for alleged treason.  The gripping drama of his trial by a military tribunal in 1998 exposed toxic disunity in the Gen. Sani Abacha military regime in which he was second in command. Luckily for him, the commander-in-chief died on the eve of his scheduled execution, leading to his freedom.  

Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya’s death on March 26, at the age of 78, brought back memories of an intensely turbulent period in the country’s history. In 1993, Abacha had ousted the controversial three-month-old Interim National Government (ING), led by a civilian, Chief Ernest Shonekan, installed by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida military regime after the wrongful annulment of the country’s historic June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief M.K.O. Abiola.

Diya was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1993 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994, powerful positions that showed the power he had under Abacha. Indeed, he was quoted as saying, “I would have regretted if I had not served in that government.”

After escaping death by execution under the same government, Diya had his sentence commuted to a 25-year jail term by Abacha’s military successor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, before he was eventually set free.  He was later pardoned in 2013 under the President Goodluck Jonathan civilian administration.   

Even after his hard time under Abacha, he was reported to have countered public criticism of the tyrannical regime, saying it “assembled one of the best cabinets ever in the country.”

His role as a major player in the anti-democratic regime, whether volitional or forced, was ultimately against the people and counter-productive for the country.

Although he became a casualty of power play in the regime, it did not redeem his collaboration with the dictator.  He denied involvement in the alleged coup plot, and maintained that he was framed, but was unable to prove that he had not been part of the plot at any stage.

There were two notable assassination attempts on him, allegedly by Abacha’s loyalists, before his arrest and trial for treason alongside others. His fall reflected the unravelling of military rule in the country caused by internal conflicts within the military.   

In post-humous tributes, President Muhammadu Buhari said as a military officer he “was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills, and discipline,” and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Lucky Irabor said he “made positive impacts on the Armed Forces of Nigeria he served meritoriously for 33 years.” 

Born in Odogbolu, in present-day Ogun State, Diya was trained at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, and the US Army School of Infantry. He also attended the Command and Staff College, Jaji, and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies. He studied Law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, during his years in the military. 

He fought in the Nigerian Civil War (1967 -1970), was military governor of Ogun State (1984 -1985), General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army in 1985, Commandant, National War College (1991–1993) and Chief of Defence Staff.

His political role was a result of military intervention in Nigerian politics. Significantly, Diya and his military co-adventurers unwittingly demonstrated the anomaly of military rule.   

After his years in power, he observed in a 2015 interview: “Now, I’m a grown-up person. I prefer to remain in the backseat and watch events from the sidelines. When it needs correction or need for you to voice out completely, you say it.” This perspective is a lesson for the country’s military. Its members should shun political adventurism, which is usually a path to unexplained wealth at the expense of the people.  

 ”I was saved by the grace of the Almighty God. Life belongs to God. It is His to give and take at a time decided only by Him,” he said in a moment of thankfulness. This is a point to ponder.

Source: Thenationonline

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Op Ed

Tinubu’s Advantage Of Disadvantage



Tinubu: I Won't Disappoint Nigerians

Any person who is a lover of books must endeavour to read a book titled: “David and Goliath” authored by Malcolm Gladwell, the famous author of Tipping Point. David and Goliath is a practical yet philosophical exploration of the Advantage of Disadvantage as well as the Disadvantage of Advantage.

I want to contextualise the recent presidential election bearing this philosophy in mind. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had said before the election that it was his turn to be President. It seemed like a statement of entitlement and that word emilokan has earned a place in our political vocabulary.

But he did not fully know what hurdles had been piled on his path from several angles. It was when he wore his battle gear and went into the field of battle that it dawned on him that he may have underestimated the roadblocks he needed to scale over on his way to Aso Rock Villa.

He may have been aware of the plot to shoehorn the Senate President Dr Ahmed Lawan into the office if all things were equal. But all things were not equal so the plot flopped because the god of fairness was on duty. If anyone deserved to be supported by President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed him it had to be Tinubu.

Tinubu it was who gathered together along with a few other persons, a number of rickety parties, stitched them together to form the all-conquering APC that had the vigour to defeat a sitting President in the presidential election of 2015. And Buhari became President.

And then came the currency issue, which was said to be targeting Tinubu, a kind of Frankenstein’s monster. If the currency matter imposed unbearable hardship of the people it was bound to reflect badly at the poll on whoever was the flagbearer of the ruling party. And in this case Tinubu would receive the anger of the voters at the polling booth.

Besides, the low rating of Buhari’s performance in office was likely to have, even remotely, a negative effect on Tinubu in the eyes of the voters. Well-informed voters would acknowledge that Tinubu held no office and could therefore not be held responsible for the faults of the Buhari government but other voters were likely to lump both the candidate and the government in power together and judge them harshly. That would affect Tinubu negatively.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had shown itself to be a fair organisation when it asked Christians to vote according to their conscience without necessarily bearing a religious bias. This seemed to give Tinubu, a Muslim who had chosen another Muslim, Shettima as his running mate, the all-clear.

Besides, his wife Oluremi is a pastor in one of the Pentecostal Churches, which is an indication that he is an open-minded person in matters of religion. Despite this, the religious hawks still thought that he did not give appropriate recognition to Christianity otherwise he would have chosen a Christian as his running mate.

They piled pressure both discreetly and blatantly for Christians not to vote for Tinubu. That may have had an impact on Tinubu’s defeat in Lagos by the Labour Party candidate Mr Peter Obi.

As the youths were massing up in various rallies for different parties in Lagos it may have crossed Tinubu’s mind that the EndSARS activists had made him a target of their attacks two years ago. They set ablaze some of his assets at his newspaper, The Nation and Television station, TVC. How would they respond to him this time that he is actually a candidate? Would they support or scorn him? That was a question to which there was no immediate answer but the fact that there was a youth revolution with Obi as the exponent posed an immediate danger to his electoral survival in Lagos and elsewhere.
Even the fact that the Igbos had been asking, fairly, for a President of Igbo extraction was a source of likely irritation to non-Igbo candidates. Some persons from Yorubaland including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Afenifere had been campaigning for an Igbo presidency with Peter Obi as the candidate. This viewpoint was likely to catch the attention of fair-minded persons in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos with the virtues of exceptionalism. Is that why Obi did very well in Lagos? Possibly.

As the campaign progressed Tinubu was being dragged to court by various persons for various reasons. In addition, some media, especially social media, were also openly hostile to Tinubu. His inability to appear at the town hall meetings organised by Arise Television was also a problem that expanded into an open confrontation between the news organisation and his campaign organisation. It took the intervention of elders in the media profession for the matter to be resolved but the residue of that conflict remained.

When the presidential election results for Lagos were released Obi of Labour Party stunned everyone by beating Tinubu and the candidate of the PDP Mr Atiku Abubakar. The results: APC 572, 606, LP 582, 454, NNPP 8, 442 and PDP 75, 750. Amazingly the results for the Senate and House of Representatives in Lagos largely favoured the APC. All the three APC senatorial candidates namely Ms Idiat Adebule, Wasiu Eshinlokun Sanni and Tokunbo Abiru won the elections.

Also the APC won 20 of the 24 seats for the House of Representatives. So if the APC was so dominant in the two elections why was that dominance not extended to the presidential so that Tinubu who has been a fixture in Lagos for more than 20 years would win? My explanation is that the god of fairness never wanted him to win in Lagos so that it would not be said that he rigged it. You can only rig elections where you have reasonable control.

Without winning in Lagos the votes earned by Tinubu in other places look valid. Any talk about rigging in other places will look misplaced because if he did not rig in Lagos he would not be expected to rig in other places where he had no control. That is the advantage of disadvantage.

All of these problems were piled up on Tinubu’s path yet he won. That is the lesson from the battle between the giant Goliath and the shepherd boy David. The giant Goliath was six foot nine inches tall, wearing a bronze helmet and full body armour. He carried a javelin, a spear and a sword. An attendant preceded him, carrying a large shield. The giant asked the Israelites to choose one person to come and fight him. The shepherd boy David offered to confront the giant. And he won.

Mr Gladwell has explored several of such conflicts in his book and he believes that the act of facing imponderable odds in lopsided conflicts often produces greatness and beauty. Secondly, he thinks that we often misread such conflicts because the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.

The options are always these: shall I persevere or give up? Should I play by the rules or follow my own instincts? Or should I strike back or forgive? Tinubu did not give up; he followed his own instincts; he struck back with tenacity and doggedness. He did not give up in the midst of the crisis that he faced all through the campaign and election.

The crisis did not unfaze him. John F. Kennedy, the former President of the United States of America said something about the word “crisis” many years ago. He said that when written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. Tinubu saw the danger and ignored it. He also saw the opportunity and embraced it. That was the advantage of disadvantage.

Those who believe that it is God that chooses leaders must inevitably accept that Tinubu would not have been President-elect today if God had not sanctioned it. See the array of roadblocks put on his path yet he triumphed. There must have been three gods in his corner:

(a) The god of compensation that ensured that the man who fought for the actualisation of June 12 elections and who fought Sani Abacha from here and abroad for democracy must be compensated.

(b) The god of fairness – Nigerians from all parts of the country want to have a country that is united and inclusive. That is why they subscribed to the rotation of the presidency as an article of faith. After eight years of Buhari’s presidency it ought to move to the south. Southern Governors said so. Northern Governors said so but some politicians out of greed, said No to the idea. That is why the god of fairness did not favour them in the election.

(c) The god of reciprocity: For the fact that some persons tried to block Tinubu from accessing the presidency when it is actually President Buhari who in obedience to the god of reciprocity should have been the champion of Tinubu’s project, he was bound to be rewarded.

These three gods were in Tinubu’s corner. That is why he won, warts and all. They gave him the advantage of disadvantage, a winning formula.

By Ray Ekpu

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