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OPINION: RE: Playing Politics With Power Sector

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Adetayo Adegbemle

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On the 28th June, 2020, a well respected journalist, Simon Kolawole, in his ThisDay Column “SIMONKOLAWOLELIVE!” wrote a piece titled “Playing Politics With Power Sector”, in which he expressed his opinion on the state of the Power Sector. You can read it here(https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/06/28/playing-politics-with-power-sector/)

In the Column, Simon Kolawole, while establishing the age long known excuses and shenanigans of the Power Sector, cunningly made attempts to defray the major and immediate challenges the sector faces.

In one of the opening paragraphs, Simon Kolawole laid this foundation, and I quote:

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“But why are we still here? We can list a million reasons. When we were awarding contracts for the building of power plants in 2005, we did not think of how gas would get to them. We only remembered we needed to build gas pipelines after the turbines had arrived. Even when the turbines arrived, governors forced work to stop, arguing that the funding of power projects from the excess crude account was illegal. The multi-year tariff order (MYTO), designed to gradually phase out electricity subsidy and make the industry commercially viable, was not implemented for political reasons. The TCN does not have the capacity to “wheel” the power generated by GenCos. And so on.”

He further went on to question the motive behind the AdHoc Committee on Discos Ownership, formed by the National Economic Council(NEC), and headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Elrufai (who was also the Head of BPE while Privatization of the Old NEPA structure was being implemented). The Committee, (whose terms of reference was to determine the Equity Stakes of the 3tiers of governments in Nigeria in the Electricity Distribution Companies,) in its report, had recommended that a forensic audit of the Discos should be carried out, and this was after establishing the simple fact that the 3 tiers of government have not been effectively represented in the Boards of Directors of all the Discos.

READ ALSO: OPINION: The Land Of Shameless Leaders

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Mr. Kolawole waved off this cogent reason, alluding the effort at Audit of the Discos Books. In his words: “But the undertone, as I understand it, is that the government wants to reverse the privatisation of DisCos or dilute the ownership and take control of the entities.”

This is not good enough, as it distracts from the noble intention to ensure transparency in the spending and governance structure of the Discos.

Again, readers should note that the call for the Audit of the Discos Books and Governance Structure is consistent with the Terms of Reference of the Adhoc Committee.

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It would be interesting to know if Mr. Kolawole did submit a Memo containing these views when the Committee asked for a Public Submission in December 2019.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Juju, June 12 And Malami’s Killer-soldiers

Simon Kolawole’s columns have built an enviable reputation for dispassionate reviews of the nation’s politics and contemporary events. In this particular case, it is apparent that his analysis is spiced with pro….. propaganda. It is a no brainer to know whose drum beats Simon was playing to in his audacious write up on his knowledge of the sector. An investigative journalist like Simon Kolawole should have gone further to discover that it is the DisCos that consistently fail to pick up this load; that of the little they pick, they only make settlement for about 20 to 25 percent. How can the supplier of a commodity who never fails to make the supply be the bad guy while the seller who makes a return for just a quarter worth of the commodity delivered to them be the good guy? It is strange that Simon sees nothing wrong with Ikeja DisCo, for instance, entering into an agreement with a segment of its customers, at more than double the prevailing regulated tariff but views NERC’s tariff order as unacceptable.

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To drive home his point of “pointing fingers” at the power generating companies as well, he further went ahead to ask why we did bother to sign PPAs(Power Purchase Agreements) with the Gencos in the first instance. In his words, “Why did we enter into PPAs with GenCos, some of which obligate us to pay millions of dollars monthly to one company, when we knew very well that the TCN did not, does not, and will not, have the capacity to take power from these companies in the life of the contracts? Even if we produce 100,000mw today, TCN can only take 4,000mw, otherwise their system will collapse and the entire country will be in darkness.”

Some history lessons on how the power sector works will be beneficial to the well-respected journalist especially on his call for a forensic and technical audit of the GenCos and TCN. The GenCos generate power after a day ahead declaration to the system operator, who communicates to them how much they can transmit subject to the nomination from the Discos (mind you, power is instantaneous- must be consumed or it is subject to demand). On the day of generation, the generated capacity passes through verifiable check meters measuring the exact megawatts, which is then measured again at the TCN busbar before transmission to the Discos. The invoicing process equally follows a more stringent process with the Discos, GenCos, NBET and TCN verifying before the abysmal remittance is made. Does Simon recall that the Discos lack of performance led the federal government to rescue the sector thrice now? In essence, the 1.8 trillion is payment for discos inability to meet their invoiced amount. Research shows the FGN is subsidizing the Discos by 75% monthly. What has Simon got to do with the fact of financial under-reporting by the DisCos as was discovered during the open-book exercise by NERC prior to TEM?
The writer should be informed that the DisCos utilise multiple payment platforms for energy consumed. This has resulted in the creation of multiple accounting streams for the different payment channels. This presents a loophole for unscrupulous operators to divert and hence under-report revenue inflows. Some of the identified revenue channels operated by most of the DisCos for energy payments are:
1) Analogue meter bill cash payments through the DisCo cash offices

2) Analogue meter bill cash payments through designated banks

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3) Estimated bill cash payment through the Disco cash offices

4) Estimated bill cash payments through designated banks

5) On-line payments for all the categories listed above

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6) Pre-payment meter token cash payments through the DisCo vending stations.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Obasa Allegations Should Worry Buhari, Tinubu

I will like to refer readers to an important piece of Data at this point. This is an historical Power Generation vs Power Uptake by the Discos since privatization in 2013. While available data showed that Average Generation Capability has increased from 4, 214MW in 2013 to 8, 145MW today, Average Power Uptake by the Discos has hovered between 3, 183MW in 2013 and 3, 987MW in 2020 (See attached).

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Impartial and concerned observers would be apt to ask what exactly have the Discos been doing in the last 7years. We have not even asked why the Discos has consistently been paying less than 50% of the Invoice Values from the Gencos. If Mr. Kolawole bothered to ask for these data, it would have been made available to him. At NO POINT has the Gencos received full values for their Market Invoice. This has accounted for the sub-optimal growth, inefficient operation and the current dire situation of the GenCos, which has huge negative impact on the entire power sector.

Allow me to also point out that while the Gencos has consistently been incurring costs for Gas, and in the case of the Hydro Plants like Mainstream Energy Services Limited (Concessionaires of Kainji and Jebba Hydro Power Dams) who has been paying an annual Concession fees of $50m(rate was around N160/$ in 2013 when they took over, now it is N420/$), the Discos has no similar liability on their books. The Story of GencosGenCos like Mainstream will still need to be told. The writer may want to appreciate that, every available capacity, whether dispatched or not, cost a huge amount of money to be maintained by the GenCos. There are massive fixed charges incurred to keep unutilised units available.

Mr. Kolawole went ahead to state the PPA signed with Azura, but what he cleverly omitted is the fact that Azura has NEVER received full value for energy supplied to the Discos. But hey! This agenda must be set.

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READ ALSO: Opinion: What President Buhari, Tinubu should know about Governor Godwin Obaseki, Chief Odigie Oyegun

It is also unfortunate that Mr. Kolawole would conclude that “From 2015 till date, we have paid about N255 billion to five GenCos under the PPAs for power not delivered — principally because TCN does not have the capacity to take it.” First, it would be interesting to know where Mr. Kolawole got this information from, and secondly, why he deliberately pitched the GencosGenCos and TCN together. I can allow our readers to make up their minds on this. It is a fact that GenCos, who are entitled to about 60% of invoiced energy bills, face the greatest risk in the electricity value chain with an outstanding unpaid invoice of over five hundred billion (N500bn) naira. If at all, they deserve pity rather than ridicule and unfounded allegations is not only unfair but misleading to the Nigerian populace.

“If we are sincere about addressing the power issue and stopping our treasury from continuing to service the pot bellies of the buccaneers, let us conduct a wholesale forensic and technical audit of the entire industry. We need to identify whatever is responsible for this shocking state of the sector, re-negotiate the suicidal deals we signed (the coronavirus pandemic will, hopefully, provide a force majeure), align the necessary elements, and take the critical steps to help Buhari’s renewed power initiative achieve the outlined goals and objectives. Renationalising the DisCos through the backdoor does not look like the magic formula to me. Let us not frog-jump from frying pan to fire.”

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To be clear on this, I am not a lawyer, but my little understanding of declaring force majeure is in unforeseen circumstances. Are we now saying that almost 7years down the lane, the Discos are just discovering unforeseen circumstances? And how did Mr. Kolawole arrived at the “Renationalising the DisCos through the backdoor does not look like the magic formula to me” junction?

Yes, readers who are able to read between the line would agree that Mr. Kolawole clearly played his card too openly, and as one of the comments under the publication rightly said, “Mr. Simon, either does not understand, or as usual, would rather obfuscate, what ails Nigeria as is evident in the power sector, as well as other service sectors”. There are other similar comments to the publication.

To my chagrin, Mr. Kolawole ended the piece with these words: “I’d be honest and confess that I am enjoying stable power supply where I live. Our estate has an agreement with Ikeja Electric which is going very well despite a few hitches — caused mostly by you-know-who: the TCN. We are not under MYTO, so we pay double the regulated tariff, and we are guaranteed at least 20 hours of power supply daily”. The mere fact that Mr. Kolawole concede that the Power Purchase Agreement signed with Ikeja Electric is not under the MYTO should have told him that though the regulators might have turned a blind eyes to it, THIS IS ILLEGAL. But because he enjoys an average 20hours power supplies at the detriment of other, and because he could afford it, he could care less about others who might have not been fortunate enough to afford it. I also wonder how many Transformers Ikeja Electric had to install in the PPA zones to make this magic possible.

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To be clear about the illegality of the Premium Power Agreement, which is not in the legal MYTO framework for Billing, I advise that Mr. Kolawole should go check out the daily power uptake of Ikeja Electric, and see IF it has increased, or simply if it is same power that should have been equitably distributed is just being redirected to the rich folks. These data from August 2019 is ready available from TCN and published weekly.

We are all bothered about the situation of the Power Sector, and continuous engagement of all the stakeholders is ongoing, but we should not protect our friends to the detriments of the nation.

Mr. Kolawole at no point mentioned the plights of Customers and the inability of the Discos to Meter customers, replace faulty Transformers, improve quality of service to customers, etc.

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READ ALSO: Opinion: Indabosky And The Emperor Of Rivers

The advent of Service Reflective will expose all these inadequacies, and it is my prayer that we would not have to continue this escapists arguments. And this is in no way advocating for reversal of the Power Sector, in fact, I have covered these issues and offer several recommendations in solving our Power Sector Challenges. You can read here(https://news.powerupng.com/editorials/editorial-reconsidering-our-approach-to-solving-nigerias-power-problems), it is still relevant.

God Bless Nigeria.

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Adetayo Adegbemle is a public opinion commentator/analyst, researcher, and the convener of PowerUpNigeria, an Electric Power Consumer Right Advocacy Group, based in Lagos. (Twitter: @gbemle, @PowerUpNg)

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OPINION: Ekweremadu On The Cross

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Tunde Odesola

Babatunde Raji Fashola, God bless him. When you watch American presidents, past and present, and hear how inspirational words drip with honey from their mouths, you wonder why inspiration is almost non-existent among Nigerian leaders just as black is non-existent among rainbow’s seven colours.

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In an article, “Fashola’s eureka moment at Lekki toll gate,” I criticised Fashola, the incumbent Minister of Works and Housing, when he miraculously discovered a hid-in camcorder, James Bond-like, at the Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, days after the ever inept regime of retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari ordered assassins to kill protesting innocent youths on October 20, 2020.

When in November 2020 Fashola told Nigerians to direct their demand for infrastructural development to state and local governments, and not Buhari, because both governments are closer to the masses, I responded with an article entitled, “Fashola dresses Buhari in borrowed robes.” I also wrote “Fashola and the angels” when Fashola said in November 2019 that Nigerian roads were not as bad as Nigerians portrayed them.

Since 1999 till date, however, no Nigerian politician, living or dead, has uttered a statement as profound as what Fashola said when cornered at the nation’s capitol in Abuja by congressmen who were desperate to set him against his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, while fielding questions in 2015 during a ministerial nomination screening.

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Asked to comment on his taut relationship with Tinubu at the time, Fashola responded, “May our loyalties never be tested.” He continued, “In the course of my work, there was a family that had a parent who had a kidney malfunction, and (the) diagnosis was that the patient needed a transplant, and needed to go overseas. We had a procedure in government where we help indigent people who apply to get a board review and get overseas treatment.

“When we had paid and they were to go, the question was who was going to be the donor? It turned out that the only matching kidneys were those of her two daughters, and none of them was willing to give a kidney for their mother, but that was their supreme test of loyalty.

“So, I alway pray that my loyalty will not be tested because you do not know, you may have to take a bullet for somebody or even your own child.”

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FROM THE AUTHOR:
OPINION: Tinubu’s Karma And Osinbajo’s Ingratitude (2)

Life is, indeed, a rollercoaster of twists and turns. From an enviable life lived on horses, hailed with trumpets and entertained by cymbals, the tide of life suddenly changed for serving senator and immediate past Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who found himself on the back of a furious tiger in faraway UK last week. In Igbo language, ‘Ike’ means power. Surely, the embattled senator needs all the power to save himself and wife, Beatrice, from ending in the belly of the tiger.

A test came the way of the Enugu-West legislator and his wife when their daughter, Sonia, was diagnosed with renal malfunction last year, triggering a search for a donor.

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Last December, what a relieved father and a happy mother thought was an answer to their prayer appeared in the person of Ukpo Nwamini David, a homeless young lad, who lived on the streets of Lagos, and a UK visa was procured for the prospective kidney donor, en route to Royal Free Hospital in the UK, where the transplantation was scheduled.

The tale ostensibly developed a twist after David landed in London and the medical test performed on him to know if his kidney matches Sonia’s came out negative, thus an onward journey back to Nigeria loomed. When the doctor inquired about his age, David said 15, despite his passport saying he’s 21. This prompted the invitation of the police whom David told he was brought into the UK for organ harvest.
But does the Nigerian David look as young as his teenage Israelite namesake who killed Goliath? I’ll say no.

Ekweremadu means: “Human beings are unreliable.” What a name! Some claims by the two parties – the young boy and the Ekweremadus – appear unreliable for now, hence the police have remanded Beatrice and Ike in prison pending investigation outcome.

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The 60-year-old lawmaker was arrested alongside his wife at the Heathrow Airport on their way to Istanbul, where they were purportedly going to continue their search for another kidney. A cash of $20,000 was allegedly found on Ekweremadu, who has denied the allegations of organ harvesting and exploitation, just like his wife. Both husband and wife were represented by separate British lawyers.

Investigation by yours truly shows that the cost of setting up a kidney dialysis centre in Nigeria is a mere N25m, an amount which isn’t up to the sum being spent by the Ekweremadus to perform kidney transplantation on Sonia.

A Nigeria-based consultant physician and nephrologist, Babajide Gbadegesin, described Nigeria’s healthcare system as primitive, stressing that the system had yet to reach the underdeveloped stage, not to talk of reaching the developing or developed state. He noted that subsequent Nigerian governments had engaged in medical tourism instead of developing the sector.

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Gbadegesin said, “Our healthcare system is so primitive that it has remained at the neophyte stage. Sadly, there’s a global upsurge in diabetes and this has led to a consequent upsurge in the incidence of diabetes-related kidney failures in Nigeria.

“Dialysis and renal transplantation are well known medical treatments for patients with renal failure.The three major types of renal replacement therapy are haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and renal transplantation, which is the gold standard.

“To set up a dialysis centre with just one machine will cost about N25m. This will include the cost of the machine which is between N12m and N15m, land, building, a water treatment unit, good water storage system, catheters, and other consumables.”

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Explaining that transplantation was the most preferred option of the three kidney treatments, Gbadegesin said it offered patients good quality of life and is not as time and money consuming as haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis in the long run.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Tinubu’s Karma And Osinbajo’s Ingratitude (1)

“Dialysis costs up to N40,000 per session, and you do this thrice a week. That is N120,000 weekly. Some centres take N50,000 or N60,000 per session,” said the physician, warning that there was a strong link between the use of bleaching creams, toning injections, toning pills, consumption of herbal concoctions, herbal aphrodisiacs and renal malfunction.

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Shedding light on the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 by which the Ekweremadus are being tried, Gbadegesin said, “The UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 frowns on inducement of any form. You can only be in the UK to donate organs to a family member whom you’re genetically related to or to someone you have close personal relationship with. This means that only your siblings, husband, wife, partners, friends can donate organs. And it must be established that there’s no inducement.

“There’s nothing like buying a kidney in the open market in developed countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany etc. When a citizen or legal resident needs a kidney transplantation, it’s the government – through the National Health Insurance Scheme – that’ll get a kidney from the national bank for the patient – if the patient demands it or can’t personally get a donor. Many people in those countries donate their organs to the national organ bank at death.”

When coronavirus commenced mass killing of the rich and poor between 2019 and 2021, a sensible leadership would have embarked on overhauling Nigeria’s health sector. Instead, the Buhari leadership embarked on pervasive corruption and N100m presidential nomination forms.

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To go home free, the Ekweremadus must answer these questions without canting: Did they inform the parent(s) or guardian(s) of David before flying him to London? How did David come to agree to donate his kidney without the promise of a reward? What’s the source of the money in David’s account? If the Ekweremadus answered these questions successfully, they would have proved that David was just a Good Samaritan that strayed into Nigeria. If not, the maximum penalty for contravening MSA 2015 is life imprisonment.

May our loyalties never be tested.

Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, columnist with The PUNCH newspaper and a guest writer at Info Daily.

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Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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OPINION: Nigeria’s Democracy On Life Support

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Suyi Ayodele

In chapter one of their 2018 book, “How Democracies Die”, Steven Levistsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors of Political Science, Harvard University, USA, gave an anecdote of how elected leaders can subvert democracy and increase personal power. The book, which is described as “comparative politics”, narrates how people, all over the world, give out their liberties to tyrants, who disguise themselves as democrats and helpers. The tale, which opens the chapter titled, “Fateful Alliances”, is adapted from an Aesop’s Fable tagged: “The Horse, the Stag and the Hunter”. It goes thus: “A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.” “Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present”. This is exactly what Nigerians did in 2015, when they sold the PDP monkey because it had an uncanny penchant for squatting too much and used the proceeds to buy the APC dog, which has turned out to be the greatest squatter of all animals. 2023 is around the corner and we are asking the APC to get its cancers off our already bedraggled body. The response from the ‘ruining’ party is what the Hunter told the Stag.

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When a diviner tells his client what the oracle reveals about his (client’s) future and the predictions come to pass almost immediately, he beats his chest and says : “a iti ko Ifa nile, Ifa nse” (we have not even packed the divination objects and the prophecies are being fulfilled). A week ago on this page, in a piece titled, “The No-Choice Before Nigerians”, an analysis of the two leading presidential candidates for the 2023 general election, I wrote inter alia: “In the long run, whoever becomes the president between the two candidates will be the one who can outspend the other; and not the one who is more competent, patriotic or loves the masses”. Exactly five days after the piece was published (June 14, 2022), Ekiti State had its governorship election. In the history of political perfidy in Nigeria, never has the nation witnessed the brazen display of vote buying that characterised the June 18, 2022 Ekiti guber election. At the end of the charade, the ruling APC candidate in the election was declared winner with 187, 057 votes, beating the new party, SDP, to a distant second position with 82,211 votes and the self-destroyed PDP to an embarrassing third position with 67,457 votes. What played out in Ekiti is not a case of the most popular candidate or party winning the election but a case of the “richest” candidate or party succeeding in buying the voters. The beauty of it all is that no one among the three leading political parties or their candidates and supporters can swear that they did not offer money for votes while the election lasted.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Wike, Tambuwal And Lessons For Southern Politicians

What happened in Ekiti is a new dimension in our democratic journey as a nation. The event is therefore not only sad for Ekiti people, who hitherto, were regarded as men and women of honour, but for Nigerians in general. Morning, they say, shows the night. Another round of guber election will happen in Osun State in a few weeks’ time. Nobody needs a seer to reveal what should be expected. And without looking at the crystal ball, one can easily predict, off hand, that the 2023 general election will be worse than anything we have hitherto seen. This trend is more troubling given the fact that the bad behaviour is assuming a monstrous dimension under the APC, a party which Nigerians invested their goodwill on in 2015 with the hope that it would bring about decency and hope as opposed to the political roguery the PDP foisted on the nation while in power. The reality confronting all of us now is that the APC-led government of General Muhammadu Buhari has suffocated the very sick baby we asked it to nurse back to health. How unfortunate! But the APC leadership is not to be blamed, totally, for the very mess we find ourselves in today.

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No, APC did not start the idea of vote buying. As a matter of fact, vote buying is not a native of Nigeria. In yet another seminar book, the American author and lawyer, Mark Joseph Green, in “Losing Our Democracy: How Bush, the Far Right and Big Business Are Betraying Americans” (2006), on page 21 writes: “The evidence that money shouts in politics is mountainous: 94 percent of the time, the bigger-spending congregational candidate wins and 98 percent of House incumbents win. The average price of a House seat rose ten-fold from $87,000 in 1976 to $840,000 in 2000. Spending in the last New York and Pennsylvania gubernatorial elections, for example, tripled within one election cycle. It cost Ken Livingstone 80 cents a vote to win the London mayoralty in 2001, compared with Michael Bloomberg’s $100 a vote in New York City that year”. Green, in this analysis sub-titled: “The Evil of Access: Money and Members”, compared what Democratic and the Republican parties do with voters’ conscience on election days. He posits that “money primarily weeds out good candidates”, and that “as more and more multimillionaires run and win…the pressure to hustle special-interest money becomes even more intense”. In all the postulations by Green and the two earlier quoted authors, the American democratic values diminished a great deal when characters like George Bush and Donald Trump were allowed to access power. Levistsky and Ziblatt, after analysing how coups d’état have accounted for nearly three out of every four democratic breakdowns, submit that “Democracies may die at the hands not of generals but of elected leaders- presidents or prime ministers- who subvert the very process that brought them to power. Some of these leaders dismantle democracies quickly as Hitler did in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire in Germany…”.

Could all the three authors have had Buhari’s APC and its corrosive democratic tendencies in mind when they wrote the books above? Which of the vices the PDP was accused of perpetrating before it was shipped out of power has the APC not taken to a more brazen level today? When the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua won the 2007 election, he admitted publicly that the election was marred by many irregularities and immediately began the process of reforming the nation’s electoral process to forestall a repeat of such irregularities. At his passing, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who took over from him, dusted the books and reformed the electoral process such that in 2015, he lost the presidential election to the incumbent General Buhari. Hardly had the opposition APC took over power, it introduced a new lexicon to our political lexicography by declaring, glaringly won elections inconclusive in Kogi, Osun, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau, and Sokoto states at different times. The shameless attitude is such that anywhere where the APC appears to be losing grounds, the election will be declared inconclusive such that at the isolated elections held to “conclude” the polls, its candidates must win. That perfidy has now been perfected and modified to outright purchase of voters and their ballots. Whatever the PDP thought to be its “winning strategy” has now been taken to the next level by the seemingly redeeming APC and the people are worse for it.

For the first time in my life, I felt ashamed to be an Ekiti man after the last Saturday election. I have since made countless calls to relations, friends and some community leaders to find out what happened and how the honour we used to treasure in Ekiti took sudden flight on Saturday. Of all the responses, the one that keeps ringing in my ears is the folksong by an elderly fellow. In response to my question on how our people did not consider the future of their children before collecting money to vote, the elderly fellow sang: “E si umole bi ebi, ebi yoo paniyan ku o” (meaning: there is no deity like hunger, hunger kills a person). In summary, when people are hungry, they do despicable things. If indeed Ekiti people are that hungry such that they would collect as low as N10,000, and in some cases, N3,000 and even N500 to sell their votes to the various political parties, did they ask what brought about the hunger? If a government is accused of impoverishing the masses and the same government puts forward a candidate and backs him up with cash and the people go ahead to sell their votes, who is to blame? That should make an average rational mind to be worried. If Ekiti people with their claims to education, integrity and honour could be so cheap on election day, what happens to the Almajiri population of Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Adamawa and other northern states? What does the Ekiti election portend for the 2023 general elections? What lessons are the candidates for next year’s elections taking home from what happened in Ekiti? If a gubernatorial vote sold for N10, 000 in downtown Ekiti in 2022, how much is the presidential vote going to cost in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Kano, Ilorin, Ibadan, Owerri, Aba and Umuahia in 2023? And you may wish to ask: where is this humongous war chest coming from?

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FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Deborah, Ignorance And The North

The above scenario has far reaching implications for our democracy. Men of honour without money will stay away from our ballots! What happened in Ekiti on Saturday and what will surely happen in Osun State in the next few weeks will ensure that at the end of the day, our democracy will be on oxygen till the 2023 general election when it will suffer an irredeemable cardiac arrest which will eventually hand its cadaver to future generations for scientific studies on how not to run a democracy. Democracy dies when talented people and those with natural administrative ingenuity stop contesting elections because they don’t have the financial wherewithal to compete with moneybags who own mountains of ill-gotten wealth to buy votes. The ‘ruining’ elites are sustaining the poverty conundrum against the citizenry so that they will not be self-sufficient enough to resist the pittances offered them on election days in exchange for what could have been a viable future for them and their innocent offspring who would have nothing to inherit other than their progenitors’ poverty. What the current plague of locusts who call themselves our political leaders have told the masses through massive vote buying is that it is not wrong for their cats to eat pregnant rats. Nothing kills democracy more than that!

Suyi Ayodele is the a senior journalist, South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same newspaper.

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OPINION: Tinubu’s Karma And Osinbajo’s Ingratitude (2)

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Tunde Odesola

Until a combination of punches breaks the jaw and smashes the face into a massive mess, the fleet-footed boxer shuffles on confidence and charisma.

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Like the hyped June 27, 1988 heavyweight superfight in which Iron Mike Tyson demolished Michael Spinks in just 91 seconds, the hyped June 7, 2022 All Progressives Congress presidential primary in Abuja, similarly ended in a humiliating defeat for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Before I proceed any further, I must apologise to my readers for not concluding this two-part article last Monday due to unforeseen circumstances. Gladly, the one-week hiatus has provided me with the opportunity to view the APC delegate primary election through a multidimensional prism of insight, foresight and hindsight.

Armed with the benefit of hindsight, saddened by the failed outcome of the presidential primary, and faced with a gloomy political future, I’m almost certain the vice president would today wish for three things: to turn back the hands of time, remain unblemished and not to have contested against Tinubu.

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Uncle Yemi lulé
At the end of hostilities, Osinbajo, despite an eloquent political speech and the trademark Awo cap on his silvern head, scored a scanty 235 votes against the staggering 1, 271 votes polled by his former boss and godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whose symbolic cap, since 1999, bears broken chains signifying freedom whereas governance in Lagos, nay Nigeria remains perpetually shackled with unbroken chains.

Shockingly, the erudite vice president also fell face-down yakata at the feet of a former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, who got 316 votes just as Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, got 152 votes, trailing Osinbajo with 83 votes.

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Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, says Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Verily, the APC presidential primary has come and gone, but long-lasting scars, suspicion and regrets persist.

Shortly after the vice president contested and crashed at the primary, Dolapo, his wife, tried to assuage the pain of defeat in an Instagram post to her husband, calling him, “Oluyemi, Oluleke, Omoluabi, Omo oko, Oninu re, Oniwa pele, Oniwa tutu, Ologbon, Olododo, Alaanu,” and added, “I’m proud of you.” I’m very proud of ‘Deputy Olule’, too.

The law professor wasn’t only roundly beaten, the senior pastor stands the risk of his name going down in the book of political oblivion for committing the commonest ‘sin’ in Nigerian politics – challenging a godfather, and being politically naive not to throw in the towel when a dirge was being sung for the failed ‘palace coup’.

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And every man is the architect of his own fortune. During my undergraduate days in the late 1980s, I returned home from school one day and quickly headed to a friend’s house nearby. Lanre Akintunde is the name of my friend. He’s currently a lawyer based in Lagos.

Back in the day, the Akintundes’ three-bedroomed flat along the Old Ota Road, Orile Agege, Lagos State, was a rendezvous for boys in the hood to engage in mischievous things when Lanre’s hard-working parent, the late Alhaja Wosilat, a single mother, was away to work.

On that particular day at the Akintundes’ ever bubbly house, I met some friends who were yet to gain admission into tertiary schools. They began to talk in low tones as soon as I walked in, indicative that they were keeping a secret. I left the house soon afterwards and never inquired to know the secret. But I had a hunch the whispers were about the ongoing school certificate examination.

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A few weeks later, the bubble burst and the dam broke. So, they came to my house to tell me what Messiah did. One of them, Laja, (not real name) narrated their ordeal: “A white-garment church prophet in Oko Oba area of Agege has swindled us, Tunde. The prophet, popularly called Messiah, promised us resounding success in our WAEC. He said we didn’t need to read, that we were going to see a hand, which would be invisible to others, writing correct answers on the chalkboard. He gave us white handkerchiefs to wipe our faces during the exams. He also gave us spiritual pens.

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He said if we didn’t see the invisible hand writing on the chalkboard because of our sins, angels would go and fetch our answer scripts from WAEC and write correct answers for us.”

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The narrator, who is a multimillionaire today, scored ‘F9 parallel’ in the exam. ‘F9 parallel’ was a jocular term for undiluted failure when the student couldn’t record an ordinary pass, let alone a credit. Incidentally, however, all the victims of Messiah are today successful family men.

The fate that befell my friends was similar to the fate that befell the vice president, who waited in vain for Buhari to favourably deal his mighty hand in battle, and make the sun stand still at the Eagle Square, but night fell and darkness engulfed Osinbajo, his popcorn and ice cream while victory song broke out in Tinubu’s camp.

While serious students burnt the midnight oil, my friends didn’t. While Tinubu held his destiny in his hands and strategised, Osinbajo, the purported anointed candidate of Buhari, expected the President to announce him as consensus candidate. Even God helps those who help themselves.

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For Osinbajo, the unending human traffic to his office would soon dwindle, calls to his ever-busy lines would reduce, and the charm that power imbues would fade off gradually like the moon disappearing behind the clouds on its way back to the East at dawn. Sadly, Osinbajo’s name, not his backers’, would be mentioned whenever a lesson in godfather-godson tussle is taught in Nigeria. It is what it is.

As the value of Osinbajo’s stocks depreciates in the dusk of Buhari’s administration, those of Tinubu would appreciate as the APC prepares for the 2023 general election. The lionet will take backstage for the lion to roar on centrestage.

Profiting from the power of insight and foresight, I wouldn’t contest the APC presidential ticket with Tinubu, if I were Osinbajo, for the simple reasons that he brought me from classroom to stateroom, from relative obscurity to stardom, from middle class to upper class.

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During the build-up to the primary, Tinubu was called greedy, very well; but I’m yet to see any Nigerian politician whose bank deposit, after their tenure, remained the same it was when they assumed public office. There’s a Tinubu in every Nigerian politician. A certain Baptist politician who allegedly had less than N20,000 in his account before assuming power, retired into a life of opulence.

Osinbajo supporters vehemently pinned corruption on Tinubu, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If someone’s been eating from Tinubu’s largesse in the past 23 years, and never complained about his excesses, you must be unhinged to suddenly wake up and accuse him of corruption because the biggest cake in the land is up for grabs, and you have a stake in it.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Deborah’s Blood Stains APC Presidential Form (1)

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I believe Tinubu never helped those he ever helped for altruistic reasons, but for his own selfish political reasons. That’s not good. However, it’s also sickening for latter-day turncoats of Tinubu empire, who cheered while Jagaban dispensed positions and favours their way, to now cry foul when the Landlord of Lagos decides to spread his prebendal favours elsewhere.

Since the owner of bullion vans, Tinubu, who lives in Bourdillon, laid the issue of who nominated Osinbajo as vice president to rest, nobody has come forward to contradict him. I had wondered how anyone in their right senses would say Osinbajo was picked as vice president without the knowledge of Tinubu.

I also heard the argument that Osinbajo added value to Tinubu, and I agree. But Osinbajo wasn’t the best graduating law student in his undergraduate set, neither was he the professor with the highest ResearchGate score or citation in UNILAG before Tinubu handpicked him in 1999. When Tinubu nominated him above Yemi Cardoso and Wale Edun as vice president, it was for self-preservation, and not to come and topple the applecart.

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Birds of a feather, they say, flock together.

Concluded.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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