Monday, December 14, 2015

Understanding President Buhari’s System Thinking Approach



There are four groups of Nigerians keenly watching President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of governance. The first group is of Nigerians who are familiar with General’s style of doing ‘things’. This group is observing things quietly without being troubled. In fact, this group is very optimistic that the change Nigerians voted for will come with very fruitful results. The second group is of those Nigerians that passionately admire Buhari, but are worried that, after nearly eight months in power, the expected ‘fire-fire’ approach from the retired General is yet to commence. The third group is of the pessimists who are still in doubt whether things will change tremendously. The fourth is of the unconstructive antagonists- they want to see Buhari’s failure in order to justify their past very poor performance.

For first group, they need no explanation on how things would work- because they are very aware of how things will take shape. For the second and third groups, an explanation to them is needed in order to keep their minds at rest. For the fought group; they will always see things from the perspective of their hearts- they will always be unnecessarily antagonistic to the Buhari government.

For those groups of Nigerians who want change- let them be assured that the Buhari government will operate in a style that Operations Research scientists call ‘System Thinking’- a series approach to governance- where each developmental sectors are connected and will influence each other within a well-planned government. President Buhari will use this approach to achieve a realistic development within the first four years of his government.

For instance, improvement in infrastructure will be connected to human capital development, productive job creation and private sector effective participation in development. In addition, development of infrastructure like roads, railways, ports etc will be linked to generation of more revenue for the government to support other sectors of the economy. 

Youth development will be connected to agriculture, solid mineral development and education- for example, government will tie its development strategy in agriculture to encourage youths to participate in agriculture, which will in turn generate more agro-based productive jobs and enhance national food security. President Buhari reiterated this at the recent convocation ceremony of the Kaduna State University, he said: “We must promote and enhance the teaching and learning of entrepreneurial skills in all schools and tertiary institutions, thereby exposing our youths to the basics and rudiments of starting and sustaining their own businesses”. 

The development of the mining sector will be connected to poverty reduction and small scale industries support – those engaged in illegal and unstructured local mining will be assisted by the government to form small mining firms in order to produce sufficient quality minerals for export. This will eliminate illegal mining and create more jobs and revenue for the government. 

The ‘System Thinking’ approach was responsible for President Buhari’s systematic assigning of portfolios to his ministers- the round peg in to the round hole. Equally, most of the President’s foreign trips were meant to link Nigeria’s current development needs with her international relations.

In summary, the layman’s way to understand the Buhari ‘System Thinking approach’ is that, it is designed to tackle Nigeria’s numerous problem in series – a kind of development model, whereby the country simultaneously develops her infrastructure, agricultural sector, education, small scale industries and human capital. That is, putting in place a process through which all sectors of country’s economy are transformed over a defined period, by the reinvigoration and connection of the entire sectors of the economy and placing the country in a position so that her citizens can take advantage of the vast opportunities the Nigeria’s economy offers.


Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

BUHARI AND THE FUEL SCARCITY



Acute scarcity of petroleum products in Nigeria dates back to the early days of oil production in the country. It tends to be frustrating to know that many factors are responsible for the scarcity of petroleum products, however it placates that the solution is always simple- adequate supply of petroleum products to the nation’s fuel service stations.

Nigerians are yet again currently suffering from this problem. Being a former minister of petroleum who understands the complexity of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, President Buhari is in the best position to find a solution to this problem

There are two ways through which Mr. President can tackle this menace- the short term and the long term. With the presentation of a bill to the National Assembly seeking its approval to spend N413 billion for fuel subsidy payment to oil marketers for their outstanding subsidy claims, President Buhari has solved the crisis in the short term.

The long term solution to the recurrent scarcity of petroleum products in Nigeria is what is critically needed. The long term is double-pronged; complete removal of fuel subsidy and bringing Nigeria’s refinery capacity to what oil refining experts call a high Nelson Complexity Index. A Nelson Complexity Index of 10 or above is indicates a refinery has high potential in value addition and high value products.

Complete removal of subsidy means higher prices. President Buhari may not be quick to remove subsidy because of the resultant harsh economic effects that will affect majority of Nigerians. So, President Buhari may be more tilted towards improving Nigeria’s refining capacity.

With the right approach, coupled with the available cheap and easily accessible crude oil; competent manpower and funds, Nigeria’s refineries would operate at near 100 per cent utilization with minimal downtime. What is that right approach? – effective management of Nigeria’s 5,120km pipelines network, efficient management of the nation’s four refineries and building of new refineries.

The biggest problem facing the oil pipelines in Nigeria are: incessant illegal tapping by oil thieves, sabotage, right-of-way incursions, slow detection of leaks and in-line equipment failure due to inaccessible sites, including the old-fashioned method of managing the pipelines. However, there are advanced technologies that can successfully tackle these problems: SCADA- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, Fiber Optic Cable (FOC) and Go-devils /scrapers or Smart pigs (also known as intelligent pigs). SCADA or FOC provide advanced warning in real time which helps pipelines companies to take quick action to protect long-stretch of pipelines network, even if it is located in inaccessible areas where visual inspection might be difficult. The impressive aspect of the SCADA and FOC technologies is that they sense and locate interference before the pipelines damage takes place. Smart pigs are used for detecting anomalies in pipelines or other mechanical damages. As for right of ways incursion, experts argue that the best way to tackle it is via community involvement through sustainable CSR projects and programmes. In addition, a robust standby force is needed to effectively man the security of the pipelines.

Our refineries are not working because of poor management system. Since government will not privatize them, let the government put up effective conditions for their operations: the four refineries should be granted full autonomy to cater for themselves- pay their bills and dividends to the government. When the workers know that the refineries output will determine their take-home pay; things may change.

Buhari being very passionate about reforming the oil and gas sector, he will definitely build more refineries. To increase our refinery capacity, government should go modular, mini and mobile refineries: There are affordable 1,000 bpd – 30,000 bpd Modular refineries whose equipment units are pre-fabricated on skid-mounted structures prior to shipment to any location. If this is done, the only lasting solution to the recurrent scarcity of petroleum would have been found.


Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Buhari, Magu and the New EFCC




President Muhammadu Buhari’s well-known no-nonsense stance on corruption and the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu as the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has signaled the start of the much-expected change in the Commission as well as a new beginning in the war against corruption in Nigeria.

Some observers are of the view that Mr. Magu is very lucky, because President Buhari will always be there for him, but for Magu to truly portray the EFCC in a new light; he must do some ‘big thinking’. 

The ‘new’ EFCC should explore the multilateral technical co-operation on corruption to develop mechanism that will help Nigeria have a system that discourages outright stealing of public fund, and develop an anti-corruption war that relies on forensic evidence, well-trained personnel and free of unnecessary controversies. The EFCC should effectively utilize the provisions in the National Assembly Act 2004, establishing the EFCC. For instance, Part III, section 12, subsection 1(c) and subsection (2), which provides for establishment of Research Unit; and any committee to assist the commission, are good avenues for the commission to explore in order to bring the commission at par with Nigerians’ expectations and global best practices.

Mr. Magu should take the EFCC to a new level- EFCC as an institution responsible for fighting the war against corruption should remodel its strategies for prosecuting accused persons. Situations such as slamming 120 count charges on a person accused of being corrupt while in public office, without being able to establish any of these, should be replaced with a fact-based process of prosecution, where the Commission gets its solid facts before charging accused to court. 

The Commission should be driven by a new approach that is multifaceted, multidisciplinary and knowledge-driven; an approach that would assist all institutions of government in re-establishing norms and standards of governance, assist the public, NGOs and even the legislature in monitoring of compliance with the standards. The core of the ‘new’ EFCC should be centered on restoring social order especially to governance; and promoting advocacy and capacity building among genuine whistleblowers. 

In short, Nigeria’s anti-corruption war should not only be limited to celebrated arrests, arraignment of the accused in courts of law. The EFCC should serve as the change agent in establishing systematic and systemic approaches that will educate the public on the ills of corruption and beauty of doing thing as they ought to be done.

Mr. Magu should also know that public trust is the key in his new job. Anti-corruption czars rarely talk in public, but when they do, they carefully choose their words. Anti-corruption czars do not wine and dine with corrupt politicians, attend their lavish wedding ceremonies, be present at their extravagant traditional title investiture or personal project fund raising ceremony, then expect complete public trust. When one accepts to be the head of an institution like the EFCC, he or she has chosen to be a ‘saint’, and must labour to appear as one, though, as human, we have our weaknesses, but the point is, anti-corruption czars can’t preach fasting in the morning and practice gluttony in the night.

Corruption is one of the most widespread social evils in Nigeria; it is seen as a main threat in the public and private sphere. Corruption undermines fragile democratic systems by fuelling popular disillusionment with politics and politicians; it also undermines trust and confidence, which are necessary for upholding and development of sustainable economic and social order. Corruption is not only peculiar to Nigeria, it is a global phenomenon. However, anti-corruption war in Nigeria is like a gun-war being fought with bows and arrows, it is a war that can turn its fighters into victims and those being fought into heroes, it is a war that both sides manipulate to gain personal and political points, it is a ‘world' of controversies, politics, extensive debates and high public expectations. Nigerians have no second thought on President Muhammadu Buhari’s ability to fight corruption; this is the best stimulant Mr. Ibrahim Magu needs. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Buhari Should Create a Ministry for Rural Development


Buhari should create a Ministry solely dedicated to rural development. Buhari’s government needs this Ministry for three main reasons: the easiest and feasible way to fight poverty, an effortless way to unveil comprehensive and feasible post-war programmes and projects to restore communities in the war torn northeast to their pre-war peaceful and productive statuses as well as tackle the age-long cry for development in the in the Niger Delta creeks.

To a large extent, Nigeria’s rural development strategies have been mainly targeted at the country’s agricultural productivity. Though, majority of Nigeria’s rural dwellers are peasant farmers; rural development should go beyond agricultural productivity. It should also be directed at the development of human and natural resources; rural road, energy, education, culture, social order, and political awareness. The creation of a Ministry solely for rural development will make rural development in Nigeria conform with the global concept of rural development- “quantitative change or uplift in the standard of people in the rural areas, brought about through integrated approach, by both governmental and non-governmental agencies and the people themselves”.

President Buhari’s rural development approach should be systematic as well as systemic. Systematic in the sense of using both reductionism and holism, while systemic in the sense of remodeling the three known rural development strategies (the technocratic, reformist and the radical).

Many countries have tried the three rural development strategies; some countries have recorded some successes while others, colossal failures. The objective of the technocratic strategy is to increase agricultural output within the framework of capitalist ideology. The reformist strategy aims at redistributing income and increasing agricultural output. While the radical approach with socialist outlook is targeted at completing social change, redistributing political power and factors of production.

As earlier suggested, Nigeria’s rural development approach should be systematic -employing reductionism and holism. Using reductionism, this implies rural development programmes and projects would target one, two or a few rural communities in each of the 774 local government council of Nigeria at a given time. And using holism, selected rural communities will be equipped with basic rural infrastructure -school, water supply, electricity, health facility and sanitation, agricultural implement and extension service. This will help communities in the war-torn Northeast and deep creeks in the Niger Delta.

Good facilities and infrastructure can be built in rural areas; but maintenance of such could be a problem. Taking cognizance of the insufficient funds and near absence of government administrative machineries in these areas, the best solution is community involvement. Government facilitates education, culture, social order, and political awareness and provides the basic infrastructure. And it hands over the responsibility of maintenance and care to the community. Considering the peculiarity of most Nigerians when it comes to managing public resources and trust, extra measures will have to be put in place to avoid mismanagement and abuse. These measures could include legislative protection and guidance, governmental checks and balances, occasional inspection and evaluation. Facilities should be provided for manageable units of the community so as to avoid giving excessive control to community heads, who could take advantage by imposing some illegal levies or taxes on such facilities. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Re: What’s wrong with Adamawa’s elite?


The Adamawa state governor, Senator Muhammad Umar Jibrilla and his mouth pieces are angry with and walling the Adamawa ‘elites’. Recently, during an interview with the BBC Hausa in Abuja, the governor was said to have accused some ‘elites’ of sabotaging his government. Equally, on October 17, 2015, his commissioner of information, Ahmed Sajoh wrote a piece in the Daily Trust, accusing these ‘elites’ of spending millions of naira in legal fees and media propaganda just to antagonize Governor Bindow’s government as they did to the previous governments in the state. Sajoh said: “Already, some cases are in court seeking to nullify his (Gov Bindow’s) election through the back door since his fellow contestants in the last election did not go to the tribunal to challenge his victory. The legal war is upon us, just as the impending media war, seen via the sponsorship of false news reports on social and conventional media”

Adamawa people are left with the big question of who ‘these elites’ are, to whom Governor Bindow and his supporters are referring? Most people presently assume that, former vice president Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Murtala Nyako are the A-list ‘elites’ calling the shots in Governor Bindow’s government. Could they also be backstabbing Governor Bindow? Governor Bindow said his commissioners were brought into his government by stakeholders; could these stakeholders be fighting him now? Will court cases and media propaganda stop the governor from performing his duties? Many people believe if there are elites fighting Governor Bindow, then the governor is very lucky, as it will be an opportunity for him to doggedly work for the development of the states, without the task of servicing elites’ thirst for government patronage.

However, while worrying about some fictitious ‘elites’ haunting him, Governor Bindow and his advisers should also watch his own body language. So far, projects siting and appointments have given an impression to the masses that his government is for the ‘elites’. Mr. Governor should note that Adamawa ‘political elites’ are insatiable; they are just few power-hungry politicians and the self-appointed godfathers and kingmakers, who are elites just by nomenclature and not in their contributions to the development of the state.

Governor Bindow should fight back by winning the hearts of the common man through people-oriented development policies. The Governor should wholeheartedly seek to bring real development to the people - development in agriculture, roads, education, electricity, healthcare, water supply, transportation, youth development and good governance.

If Mr. Bindow works for the good of the Adamawa masses, the masses will fight the ‘elites’, if indeed there are elites fighting the governor. With the loud outcry for true change from the masses, governors should know that they cannot hide under the pretense that some people are fighting them, just to justify their underperformance.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Boko Haram War: Between Buhari, Goodluck and the Northeast





Northeast Nigeria - the epicentre of most of Boko Haram’s frightening atrocities, has stories to tell, now and in the future. The stories will be punctuated by the names Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari, Boko Haram and toxic leadership.

The Goodluck Jonathan chapter will be inundated with the sloppy handling of the Boko Haram war by the government at the centre, which led to the painful displacement of a large number of people from their homes, incessant bombing of targets at will by Boko Haram, destruction of schools & worship centers. In addition, most land for subsistent agriculture became inaccessible; fear to send wards to schools was constantly instilled in parents. The Goodluck Jonathan regime did not wake up to its responsibilities until at the eleventh hour- when they wanted to win the 2015 presidential elections. Fortunately for Nigeria, the people of the northeastern states torn by Boko Haram senseless war- Borno, Yobe, Adamawa Gombe and Bauchi rejected Goodluck Jonathan. 

The majority of the people in the northeast have confidence in President Buhari’s political will to win the war against Boko Haram, and they are very happy with the level of successes recorded by the military so far. The people of the northeast are experiencing the difference between the sloppy handling of the war by Goodluck’s regime and the doggedness and commitment being shown by the Buhari government.

Anyone who comes to the northeast now will see the obvious resolve of the present government to win the war- real-time pictures of success by the military; confidence on the faces of the soldiers on ground; the number of war planes and their activities in skies especially from Yola airport will certainly tell any doubting Thomases that Buhari is matching his words with action. When the 2015 presidential election was postponed, a foreign journalist told Buhari that the election was postponed because of Boko Haram. Buhari answered, “What is Boko Haram?” A commonsense definition of that statement by Buhari is that Boko Haram does not have the capacity to dictate to Nigeria. 

Buhari is getting a massive approval from the northeast, because people can now see that the military is in the offensive mode- taking the war to Boko Haram not waiting for Haram to come. Now Boko Haram are being chased out of villages and their camps in bushes, unlike before when they were capturing big towns and annexing local government areas and renaming them.

The people of the northeast are with Buhari, because they now see the Nigerian soldiers are very confident; fully kitted; well-armed and tackling Boko Haram head on. The people of the Northeast are appreciative of Buhari’s approach to the war- because now, the rights of people and their humanity are always protected by the soldiers while the war rages. People now see the military as their shield and protectors unlike before when they feared both Boko Haram and the military.

With Buhari at the helms of affairs, most people in the northeast believe the war will soon be won and most common people now have confidence to give vital information to constituted authorities that will help the government in winning the war.

Buhari is winning the Boko Haram war, the people of the northeast are happy and have strong confidence in the commander-in-chief and the feet on the ground.




Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. 




Friday, October 2, 2015

Buhari’s Government and Kerosene Distribution



Kerosene is one of the most essential commodities in the lives of most Nigerians, especially those living in semi urban and rural areas. Among the most crucial factors that affect Nigerians’ usage of kerosene is not only its availability but also its efficient distribution at the appropriate price.

It is obvious that President Muhammad Buhari attaches great importance and gives priority to effective and inclusive nationwide distribution of petroleum products, especially kerosene, to Nigerians nationwide and at government approved prices. Thus, during his speech on the 55th year Independence anniversary, the president categorically mentioned the success recorded by his government in the improvement of distribution of kerosene. Mr. President said: “By the same token, supply of petrol and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country”.

If the current modest improvement in the supply and distribution of kerosene is sustained, it will produce some fruitful end results- increased public confidence on government programmes and policies and encouraging the managers of the nation’s refineries and NNPC depots to sustain the gains.

Some opposition to Buhari government may question what the relationship between governance and the improvement in the distribution of kerosene is? The answer to this is simple. Buhari has so far exhibited qualities and appeals which inspire enthusiasm in Nigerians with just a wink of an eye. Buhari is an individual with vision for the future, a man who can go the extra mile to get things done, Buhari is one man that can differentiate between reality and smokescreen and also remain positive in the public eye, no matter what the situation may be.

Buhari’s actions and quality leadership have made NNPC personnel and marketers, especially major marketers to enthusiastically key-in to government’s resolve to improve the distribution of kerosene throughout the country. One of the heartwarming examples is the new innovation in the distribution of kerosene introduced by NNPC Kaduna depot management and one of the major oil marketers- they designed a well mapped strategy that ease the distribution of Kerosene to both urban and rural areas at government approved price. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and other stakeholders are also playing a very vital role in improving that strategy. 

President Buhari is indeed making Nigerians happy with the modest improvement in the distribution of Kerosene nationwide. Most Nigerians believe Buhari will revive the nation’s four refineries and the 21 NNPC depots in order to sustain this improvement.



Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Buhari is winning the Boko Haram War; Hence, Governors Have Challenges

  


There are enormous challenges for Governors in the northeastern states torn by Boko Haram senseless war. In Borno, Yobe, Adamawa including some parts of Gombe and Bauchi states, there are widespread human movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs), insecurity, destroyed infrastructure and inaccessible land for subsistent agriculture. These problems have depressed the affected communities in these five states. 

The governors of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe are yet to unveil comprehensive and feasible post-war programmes and projects to restore communities to their pre-war peaceful and productive statuses. As the military is winning the war, communities in the northeast of the country expect the governors of these five states to come together, design programmes and projects to tackle the original factors that facilitated the growth of Boko Haram and helped the group in its recruitments and indoctrinations - abject poverty, illiteracy and the absence of employment opportunities in these states.

The Borno state governor, Kasim Shettima has announced the creation of a ministry charged with reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of communities affected by Boko Haram insurgency. Kasim’s move is a good one, but what this war-torn states need is a strong collaboration between the states governments to create a multifaceted joint commission mainly for the restoration of basic infrastructure, integration of lives and livelihood of thousands of people, the quick rehabilitation of agricultural land; the local economy; places of worship, health-centres, bridges, boreholes, schools including the creation of productive employment for the teeming unemployed citizens and those engaged in unproductive-manual jobs. This will also facilitate the fast healing of the scars of war as well as complement the security restoration and peace building by the military. The creation of a joint commission is necessitated by some basic rationales- a collective approach by affected states, efficiency, and the opportunity to easily mobilize substantial amount of funds. 

The commission should work in this way- affected communities should be identified, then a reductionist approach should be applied to restore the community and also provide it with basic infrastructure that was hitherto not available in the community. For instance, if Gamboro Ngala in Borno state is a community ravaged by the war, the commission should restore the community’s schools, water supply, arable land, market, rural electricity, in fact the entire basic infrastructure. If this is done, the lack of clear direction most war-torn communities suffer will be completely eliminated from Gamboro Ngala. Ten to twenty communities can be restored at once, because most of affected communities are not very large and reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of a community may not be a billion naira project.

The big question is, where will the money to undertake such a ‘dream’ project come from? The five states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe have 96 local government areas (LGAs), there is no LGA in Nigeria that does not receive nearly 100 million naira a month from the federation account. If the 96 LGAs can contribute 5% of their monthly Federal Allocation Committee (FAC) subvention, that will translate into a whopping 5 million naira from each LGA per month. This means 480 million naira per month just from the 96 LGAs. Then, if each of the five states can contribute 50 million naira per month it will translate to 250 million naira. Definitely the federal government and some donor agencies will also contribute some good amount of money. If for instance, a billion naira can be generated every month, the impact can reach many war-torn communities in short time. 

If this approach is employed to reconstruct, rehabilitate and resettle the communities ravaged by Boko Haram senseless war, it will fast track the healing of the scars of war, restore basic infrastructure and local economies, including returning these communities to their pre-war or even better conditions. Though, this approach can only work if a time-frame is set for the commission to conclude its assignment. Projects and programmes to be carried out in each community is identified and specifically stated while rules and procedures are put in place to avoid turning the commission into a vehicle for awarding contracts to friends and cronies. Finally and most importantly, governors of the affected states must show commitment and strong political will to make the scheme work.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.



Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Ministers President Buhari Will Appoint



Nigerians are anxiously waiting for President Buhari’s list of ministers. Buhari’s delay in appointing his ministers have attracted curiosity from most Nigerians on the type of ministers he will appoint. 

Many Nigerians expect Buhari to take a different direction from the previous style of presenting names of ministerial nominees to the Senate without their portfolios. If Buhari can be bold enough to send the names of ministerial nominees with their portfolios attached against their respective names, it will make a great difference and make the screening easier for the Senators while also giving Nigerians a foreknowledge of how each nominee may fare in his/her post. Though, one must admit that being eloquent on stage does not necessarily translate into performing very well in the field. Buhari should also endeavor to include young individuals in his cabinet; it will enliven his cabinet with new ideas and ‘young minds passion’ for adventures. 

This government needs some young adventurers- great thinkers, silicon-valley-like-thinkers; men and women who can move the government with the speed of the imagination of most Nigerians. Buhari needs individuals whose senses of judgment is centered on the challenges of un-locking the future for ordinary Nigerians.

Supporters and admirers of Buhari should not be deceived. Buhari also needs politicians in his cabinet; complete sidelining of politicians may be a political suicide for Buhari. He needs them in some areas- especially to hold the political front for him when the need arises.

There are some ministries that Buhari should hold dear- petroleum, finance, solid minerals, rural development, education, health, and agriculture. These ministries should be manned by professionals. Mr. President should be very strong in this regard. If he finds competent professionals from a village in Bayelsa who can effectively steer these ministries, he should be brave enough to appoint them. When professionals are appointed to man very important ministries, they know what is expected of them. They know they are called to rebuild a system that will shift the governance away from the traditional method of concentrating on only 'off-the-shelves' way of improving our society. They will not only saddle themselves with the responsibilities within their portfolio; but also be team players that will bring new and feasible ideas that will trigger development in all spheres of the society. They will help put in place, systems that will bring dynamism into governance.

Buhari needs to start a yearly continuous assessment of ministers. Each minister should be given realistic and measurable targets to achieve within a year or two. This is will leapfrog development; bring new thinking and fresh approach to governance. This will also make the cabinet an engine-room to provide broad variety of services to Nigerians, ranging from health to industrial development, security, a sound legal system, and the provision of effective infrastructure and education system and human capital development.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. He blogs at www.zayyaddp.blogspot.com







Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Governor Bindow’s 100 days of Good and Faulty Starts


Adamawa state Governor, Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow’s 100 days in office were full of some good starts and quite a number of faulty ones. Political interests, godfathers’ influence and the lack of a well-mapped development strategy were responsible for some of Bindow’s faulty starts.
 If in the next 100 days, Bindow does not take good steps to be more tough, he will find himself in the shoes of his predecessor- a ‘curse’ attached to the politics of governing Adamawa state in the current democracy. For instance, Governor Boni Haruna started very well- had good plans for the civil service, representative government and a well-mapped out strategy to finish uncompleted and abandoned projects, but his government ended in confusion and regrets. Governor Murtala Nyako likewise, started on an excellent track- massive urban roads rehabilitation and construction, enjoyed impressive public goodwill and Nyako promised to fight corruption and poverty. Unfortunately, Nyako’s 7 years were enmeshed in nepotism and politics-overshadowed-policies. Acting Governor Ahmadu Fintiri also had a splendid start- restoration of meaning of government, but he made some costly political slip-ups. Governor Bala James Ngilari was a bit different. He came through confusion, ran a government full of confusion and lacking in many things that defines and gives meaning to a government. 
One of the big mistakes Bindow made was breaking the promise he made to work with less than 10 commissioners to minimize cost of governance- he ended up with 22 commissioners. Adamawa people were disappointed that Governor Bindow did not form a leaner but representative cabinet. People were also irked that Governor Bindow did not appoint a cabinet that is ‘bi-diverse’- policy designers and implementers, and those that would handle the political front.
Furthermore, the governor has not been properly represented as it concerns his publicity. He needs to design a public relations strategy and tame some of his overzealous aides who misrepresent him publicly by announcing government policies just to appear among the governor’s A-list aides.
Governor Bindow made a mistake by letting one of the best hands that could have handled his publicity well; lose out in the commissioner confirmation process.  The man has all the credentials to be a commissioner – both from the professional and political angles. He is worth his salts in his career and participated fully at Bindow's campaign rallies. The man was screened out basically for two reasons- both political. In retrospection, a night to the inauguration of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, a deal was agreed that the Member Representing Gombi constituency – Rufa'i Umar will be elected speaker; but in the morning, the scenario changed- Kabir Mijinyawa of Yola South was elected. The political maneuver that took place between that night and the morning was same scheme that took place in the House that screened out the man.  Governor Bindow played ‘cool’ politics with the man’s nomination- he gave him with the right hand and snatched it with the left hand. In order not to publicly offend Nyako, Bindow nominated the man, but went behind the doors to ask the state assembly members not to clear him. Though, the man has respectfully disputed the claim that Governor Bindow was behind his rejection by the House of Assembly.
On the development aspect, Governor Bindow is so far, doing well. The hope is that the current massive roads constructions and rehabilitation Adamawa state is witnessing will not overwhelm and stop Governor Bindow from the much-needed rehabilitation of schools, reviving of sound healthcare system, youth empowerment and poverty reduction.  All the road projects are concentrated within the Jimeta- Yola axis, while the other 20 LGAs are yet to feel the impact.
Furthermore, Governor Bindow has also committed some avoidable political blunders- the complete sidelining of Nyako’s men who were instrumental to his winning the election; the over concentration of political appointments in the Jimeta-Yola axis- three commissioners, Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff, Head of Service. Some observers had thought the Governor will appoint his SSG from the Numan federation. 
Another instance of Bindow’s faulty start is in the area of youth development.  The Governor seems to have forgotten that the youths are the largest and most complex segment of Adamawa population- youths occupy over 70% of Adamawa population. Adamawa youths expect Governor Bindow to bring a lot of changes to youth development, in regards to education, sport, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and more importantly, human capital development. The Governor is young, so he should understand and share the youth’s expectations from the government and the society at large.
Governor Bindow could fail woefully if he continues to rely heavily on the monthly federation allocation of the easy petro-dollars. He should improve on IGR collection through blocking leakages, taping on taxes and manageable overhead cost. For instance, there is no reason Adamawa state should shoulder the cost of sustaining over a large numbers of Special Advisers, while ordinary people are living in abject poverty. Governor Bindow should take a cue from Governor Nasir El-Rufa'is biometric verification of workers on kaduna   state pay roll.
This will give the state an accurate and reliable database of its workforce, determine the exact amount of money being spent monthly on staff salary, and above all, it will help the state to block leakages and save money for the much-needed infrastructure. Farmers in the state are also unhappy with the Governor- raining season is fully on, yet no fertilizers in the state.
Adamawa people expect Governor Bindow's priorities for the next 100 days to be: education, agriculture, building of basic infrastructure and healing the wounds of Boko Haram devastation. Governor Bindow’s next 100 days should be used to breathe life into Adamawa’s education sector- build new schools, equip old ones and get qualified teachers. Many communities, businesses and individuals have been devastated by Boko Haram senseless war. Governor Bindow should also use the re-development of agricultural land, assisting of artisans, youth empowerment and rebuilding of basic infrastructures as the easiest ways to rehabilitate the communities, restore local economy as well as touch and integrate the lives and livelihood of the thousands of people devastated by the scars of Boko Haram senseless war.
Governor Bindow should consolidate on some of his good starts; but he should first overcome his major obstacles which are the power-hungry politicians; the self-appointed godfathers and kingmakers surrounding him. The state’s huge debts; the dwindling monthly allocation from the easy petro-dollars as well as the peoples’ unrelenting high expectations should also be priority on Mr. Governor’s mind.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

EL-Rufai, Demolition Of Illegal Structures And Politics



The demolition of illegal structures in schools and hospitals in Kaduna by Governor Nasir El-Rufai has generated quite a lot of debates from both the supporters and opponents of the exercise. Even some supporters of the governor and All Progressive Congress (APC) members have been critical of the exercise. A Senator from the state, Comrade Shehu Sani, termed the exercise anti-masses. Although one could say Comrade Sani took advantage of the situation to play politics. Governor El-Rufai can consider himself lucky that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is now incapacitated in Kaduna, else it could have used the issue to make life unbearable for Mallam. 

Governor El-Rufai is one of the most vocal advocates of change, a strong adherent of the movement to dislodge the PDP from the government, so that the masses can be freed from the bondage of suffering. So, because of El-Rufai’s critical stand against the PDP prior to becoming the governor of Kaduna state, some pertinent questions have popped up as regards to the demolition exercise. Is El-Rufai right to carry out such an exercise in the midst of poverty and the long period of travails the masses went through under PDP’s 16 years of misrule? Will such exercise in the early part of El-Rufai’s stewardship not lead to the masses questioning the ‘change’ they voted for? Is the exercise politically right at this material time when real development has not started? 

There is no doubt that converting land belonging to schools and hospitals for commercial and personal uses is an irresponsible action that any reasonable government should try to correct and even punish culprits for. For instance, the level of encroachment at the famous Rimi College saddens. There are speculations that even some federal government agencies are also culprits- JAMB office in Kaduna is occupying some portions of the school. 

Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is very right for retrieving such land, but a ‘non-accidental’ politician would never embark on such exercise at the very early stage of his administration- some good policies sometimes need political consideration to have a smooth sail. El-Rufai should have considered the political implications of carrying out this developmental exercise. El-Rufai should have first commenced his development projects- roads constructions, rehabilitation of health system, civil service reforms and blocking leakages in government finances. Once development projects are ongoing and the entire Kaduna society is gingered and become dependably appreciative of the developmental drive, then El-Rufai can carefully and skillfully say, ‘ahhhha, these illegal structures in schools and hospitals should go, to allow development in such places and conducive atmosphere for users. When these are done, at the end, all right thinking people including El-Rufai’s political foes will have no option but support the exercise in its entirety. Some observers question the timing of the exercise because they are aware that Nigerians are a kind of people that always rate a government by its first steps. And many people are hopeful that El-Rufai would be a model for APC governors, especially in the north. 


The demolition of illegal structures in schools and hospitals in Kaduna is a step in the right direction, but the timing is not right, because of the past suffering the masses went through under the PDP and the high expectations people have from the Change mantra the APC sold to the masses. Furthermore El-Rufai is President Buhari’s ‘baby’, whatever he does, Kaduna people and Nigerians generally by default will see it as having Buhari’s nod. Nevertheless, Governor Nasir El-Rufai is so far one of the best governors in the north. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. He blogs at www.zayyaddp.blogspot.com 


















Monday, August 3, 2015

Opposition within APC: What Buhari Should Do



One of the biggest political challenges that President Muhammadu Buhari is facing is the opposition within his party- the All Progressives Congress (APC), especially at the National Assembly. How Buhari tackles the ‘rebellion’ will determine how smooth he will run his government, the fortunes of his party- the APC, especially in future elections, and how members of the APC will view the supremacy of the party.
Being the President of the nation, Buhari enjoys the support of his party leadership most importantly, that of the party leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and other senior party stalwarts, thus Buhari has upper hands against the opposition within the APC. Having opposition within a political party is natural and healthy for a democracy, however what is happening in the APC is unique- the ‘rebels’ have their calculations linked to future elections and are in close romance with the ousted external opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Buhari has some very strong and reliable weapons to tackle this opposition within his party; first, he must make sure that procedures and laid down processes are followed to the letter in every aspect of government business including in the legislature- especially when it comes public fund expenditure. Secondly, Buhari’s posture of ‘no more business as usual’ should be unfailingly adhered to. These two are strong weapons because a lot of individuals in the National Assembly who are aligning themselves to the ‘opposition within’ are doing so hoping that when the ‘kill’ is ready, they will enjoy the ‘spoil’.
Most crises in the National Assembly have been connected to struggles by the actors to be part of those who will enjoy political spoils. The ‘rebellion’ against the APC leadership by some of its members in the National Assembly cannot also be far from that. A closer look at the APC legislators in the National Assembly whom the public see as major forces behind the rebellion reveal old termers in red and green chambers, who fully understand and have tasted the ‘honey’ that comes with being close to the leadership of the National Assembly. When things are allowed to work as they ought to and the expected ‘spoils’ no longer come, Nigerians will be relieved and most of the actors will sheath their swords.
Some people are suggesting that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC should send for the ‘like mind actors’ and dig into their past. Definitely something can be found out against most of them; however there will be backlash and accusations of political witch-hunting and misuse of security agencies. In fact, using the EFCC to resolve political issues is a wrong and condemnable. Buhari should rather firmly stand on his vow to allow process and procedures to follow laid down rules. Toxic politicians in the National Assembly and even in the executive will come back to their senses when this is done. 
Fourth, Buhari should take the path of reconciliation and employ the spirit of give and take: This is would be the best for all the parties- the APC, its leadership and Buhari would be appeased, while the APC caucus of the National Assembly will be crisis free. But would the gladiators, especially in the Senate submit to party supremacy, which they preached to the masses during election? There are reports that Senate President Bukola Saraki is seeking the blessings of the Emir of Ilorin to intervene between him and Buhari. This means Saraki is now more worried, having seen the Dogora group in the House of Representatives bow to party supremacy. Having seen the writings on the walls and the growing public anger, the group acceded to the party’s decision and announced Femi Gbajabiamila as the house leader. Bukola can also thread the same path.
Some observers are saying Saraki’s strong romance with the PDP, the commitment he has to his like-minded colleagues and the politics of 2019 make this a difficult path for him. One may understand Saraki worries, he traded off the position of the deputy senate president to the minority PDP, and many see that as desperation to be senate president and also a betrayal of his party leadership- no party leadership can condole such act.
Looking at Buhari’s position on the crisis, one can say Buhari has no issues with any of the actors, the President is rather asking them to follow and accept the supremacy of the party which was sold to the masses during the 2015 elections. Anybody the All Progressive Congress (APC) presented was voted for, and most of the actors were beneficiaries of the APC sack.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. 




Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How to Disburse Buhari’s N5000 Social Security Money


Some Nigerians are in support of the promise by the Buhari government to pay N5,000 social security money to poor and unemployed Nigerians, while other Nigerians oppose it. The opponents of the scheme fear that it will lead to laziness and emergence of a welfare state with its attendant consequences, while the supporters of the scheme belief that it will help to lift up the poor, cushion the scourge of poverty and boost the reduction of economic risks and insecurities of life. 

Some opponents of the scheme have even suggested that the chunk of money to be used to fund the scheme should be used to set up industries and support small businesses, while the supporters of the scheme are of the view that the poverty level in the country has reached an alarming level- majority of Nigerians are very poor, thus, they desperately need such stipends. Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo was quoted to have said “we cannot talk about the economy of the future without addressing how we move people out of poverty”

Both the supporters and opponents of the N5,000 social security payment have genuine points. What is most important is the system of implementation. The government needs to design a middle-line approach to implement the scheme. The entire N5,000 social security money should not be 100% welfare scheme where individuals will be given money every month while sitting at home. If a middle-line approach is adopted, it will appease both the opponents and the supporters of the scheme. 

The middle-line approach should be designed in such a way that, the proposed N5,000 social security money will be given to individuals while they are engaged in some productive activities. However, we must admit it will be a herculean task for such scheme to be successful in a society where government patronage, rent seeking and corruption are prevalent. Nevertheless, a government with political will can achieve it, but how?

Almost all government-owned primaries school, primary healthcare centres and ministries and agencies etc do not have adequate manpower, both skilled and unskilled. So, graduates, certificate holders and unskilled individuals who are qualified for the N5,000 social security money can be posted to such places to work while earning the monthly N5000 naira. The educated ones that may someday get permanents jobs will leave and will be replaced by others.

Another way to implement the scheme is that government should continue with the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS). It is a good programme which creates opportunity for graduates to be attached to firms /organizations, where they can work for a year and enjoy a monthly stipend of N30,000. The government can remodel and expand the scheme to take more people apart from graduates.

Establishment of inventions and innovation centres is another way to implement the social security scheme. These centres can work as a ‘silicon valley’ for unemployed computer scientists, operations research, architects, engineers, lawyers etc to form hubs for startups. The centres can be run efficiently from the 5,000 naira that will be given to each participant- for example if a centre has 200 beneficiaries, each will contribute 1000 from his or her 5,000 to run the centre- i.e. a whopping 200,000 naira per month. With such arrangement, these beneficiaries will be using their brains to invent and innovate and at the same time use part of their 5,000 naira to pay salaries of other people. This kind of arrangement can be experimented in farms, small businesses to be setup by the government and run by the beneficiaries of the social security money. 

The 5,000 naira social security scheme is a good idea, but the big question is how will the Buhari government fund this most striking promise of their campaign? There are avenues to get money to fund the scheme, apart from budgetary provisions, the government should also look into bonds issuance, coupon bonds; and proceeds from investment of pension funds. Another interesting area where funds can be tapped is to make laws to allow investing monies from the huge unclaimed dividends. Private sector can also fund the welfare scheme through offering employment to some categories of unemployed persons, but remuneration should be pegged at the 5,000 naira, then the surplus from monies meant for salaries can be used to pay other beneficiaries who are working in other public sectors like schools, hospitals and public works.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. 



Monday, June 8, 2015

Atiku, Nyako, Gov Bindow and Adamawa People




Signals are beginning to emerge that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will have more influence than former Governor Murtala Nyako, in the government of Governor Muhammad Bindow Jibrilla of Adamawa state. Though, it is early to pin point who already holds the ace between Atiku and Nyako in the Jibrilla government, Atiku’s associates have so far cornered more positions in the recent appointments made by Gov Bindow- Dr Umar Bindiri, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Yohanan Mathias, Chief Press Secretary and Barrister Bala Silas, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General. Moreover, Bindow is now a son in-law to Atiku. Nyako’s associates have so far dismissed this impression, saying it is purely speculative, claiming that for example the newly appointed SSG, Dr. Bindir is no political associate of anyone. Atiku or anyone else cannot claim him. He is a technocrat who is determined to remain so.

The worries of the Adamawa people however remain whether the state is on the verge of returning to the era of a government remote-controlled by few power-hungry politicians and the self-appointed godfathers and kingmakers. The pertinent question on the minds of most people in Adamawa is whether Atiku’s influence will be reminiscent of the 8-years of Boni Haruna, which brought regrets. Equally, whether Nyako’s influence in Bindow’s government will be the return of Nyako style of governance- wide disconnect between the government and the ordinary people; governance and policy making centered around ruling family and associates; third-rate politicians and gold diggers making up a greater percentage of Nyako confidants.

There are feelings of uncertainty in the minds of many people in the state. Adamawa people are confused about whether the ‘change’ mantra that brought Bindow to power is mere mouth talk? However, quite a number of people believe that Atiku has learnt a lot of lessons from his 8 years as Vice President, the underdeveloped status of the state and the resultant bashings he received afterwards. The general belief is that Atiku will now use his influence in the Bindow government to give fatherly advice on people oriented programmes and projects. Some pundits are also of the view that Bindow needs Atiku for political protection because of Atiku’s influence in the APC, the good rapport he has with the Buhari government and his political strength in Adamawa- quite a number of Atiku’s associates won elective positions in 2015 elections.

Notwithstanding, most Adamawa people expect Governor Bindow to run a government that is free of over-bearing influence from anybody. For Bindow to balance such complex political settings, he needs to run a representative government and appoint a cabinet that is ‘bi-diverse’ i.e. policy designers/implementers and political strategists to handle the political front.

With the current political, social and economic conditions in the country, especially the dire situation in Adamawa brought about by abject poverty and Boko Haram senseless war, neither Atiku nor Nyako can survive people’s anger if it appears that either has an over-bearing influence on a government that is performing below people expectations. This writer shares the opinion that Atiku is all out to influence the scheme of things in Adamawa in order to rewrite his name in the history of the state’s development.

The only reason many people are giving Atiku this benefit of doubt is because of the unprecedented development he brought to the state after leaving power. Many Adamawa people were critical of Atiku’s 8-years as vice president because of underdevelopment the state witnessed.

On the other hand, Nyako must have learnt his lessons through a bitter way– during his impeachment crisis, the Adamawa masses could have been his saviour, because he had once enjoyed an unprecedented support from them. But he lost their sympathy because of his failure to correct his political blunders- open cronyism, non-representative government and poor resource distribution.

From the way political events are unfolding, one can deduce that the affinity between Nyako and Bindow is not as strong as people thought- for example, after Bindow’s victory at the polls; one expected Nyako to withdraw the two courts cases instituted- one challenging his impeachment and the other his tenure, because both were aimed to return Nyako to power. Secondly, when Nyako returned to Adamawa, neither Gov Bindow nor any top government official nor APC stalwarts were present to receive him. On the other hand, Bindow is showing whoever wants to know that his loyalty to Atiku is unquestionable- whenever Atiku is in the state, Bindow comes to receive him, in fact, at a function to open Madugu Hotels in Jimeta, as a sign of honour, the governor arrived the venue before Atiku. Nevertheless, Gov Bindow is a politician, so, the Adamawa people do not expect him to fight or abandon the fingers that fed him, but he must be smart enough to avoid some of the wrong paths Adamawa had been shepherd through.


Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.