Buhari’s Legacies Devour Buhari’s Legacies
By Abimbola Adelakun
On Sunday, a train plying the Warri-Itakpe route derailed somewhere around Ajaokuta in Kogi State. About 178 passengers were stranded but, thankfully, they came to no harm as the Nigerian Railway Corporation evacuated them. The train service along that route has been shut until they carry out necessary repairs. At the time of writing, there has been no official report on why the train derailed. However, from videos posted on social media, one can attribute the issue to either willful vandalism of the tracks by metal thieves or mechanical failures. Either way, the derailment does not portend well for the country by any reasonable measure. The Warri-Itakpe route started operation in October 2020, a mere 15 months ago. The facilities are supposed to be still too new to experience such mishaps.
The railway is a signature achievement of the Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime. Those trains are the banner the Buhari regime proudly waves in everyone’s faces as proof of their efficacy in the past eight years. They celebrate the railway and credit Buhari’s regime with building “infrastructure.” The Warri-Itakpe line was a project embarked on in 1987. None of the mediocre leaders we have had all through the years could complete it. On that score alone, the present government earned its chest-thumping.
Never mind that the railway is only one form of infrastructure—and which can hardly survive without the concurrent functioning of other categories of infrastructure like education, health, security, urban management, and so on—but they pat their own backs for getting it done. But given the insecurity problem and mechanical failures we have seen recently, I worry whether it will last. The railway project was built through loans that Nigeria has to repay. As things stand, it might just happen that Nigerians would still be paying just the interest on the loans long after the railway project has become moribund.
The Sunday derailment is the latest in the series of disruptions to the railway system since its inauguration recently. The most infamous of the sad events that have happened to those riding those tracks so far remains the Abuja-Kaduna train attack in March 2022 when some gunmen ambushed the train. There is no official figure on the casualties, but about eight people were reportedly killed and another 63 were abducted. The train services were also shut immediately. For months afterward, the families of the victims engaged in a drawn-out negotiation process with the abductors. In a country where some police investigators could spend up to six months lying in wait just so they could arrest a random guy that made a silly comment about the first lady on Twitter, one would expect that the same surveillance system would help the hapless families. In addition to the trauma of their loved one’s abduction, they also had to absorb the pain of haggling with the madmen who committed that heinous crime.
After that Abuja-Kaduna incident, it was only a matter of time before another set of wannabe professional abductors copied the same method. The Abuja-Kaduna abductors walked away with cool cash, and it did not take any soothsaying skills to conclude that kidnapping (and trading) train passengers is lucrative. It was unsurprising that just two weeks ago, another set of gunmen struck again and made off with 30 people from a NRC sub-station in Igueben, Edo State. Thankfully, some of the alleged perpetrators of the recent incident have been arrested. However, every future passenger is potentially vulnerable to copycat attacks.
The security threat and possibilities of metal theft are not the only threat to the railway project. It is also susceptible to internal forces of government corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency. Our corrupt leaders too, who should at least give the project some room to flourish, will award spurious and hyperinflated contracts. For instance, during the exchanges of blame that attended the Abuja-Kaduna abduction incident, we learnt from no less than the transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi, that he had proposed surveillance equipment to the tune of N3.7bn be installed but was turned down. The Federal Executive Council that denied the contract explained that they did so because the proposal smelled like a fraud.
Only Amaechi can explain how the expensive surveillance equipment he proposed to buy would have stopped the bandits. Why invest in such equipment when the entire country is bedeviled by insecurity? What would it have cost the gunmen who stopped the train with explosives from blowing the so-called surveillance equipment up in Amaechi’s face? That exchange revealed another problem with the whole arrangement: the myopic greed of public officials who will not let the project survive because they see it as merely another means of awarding themselves inflated contracts. The railway business can barely pay for its own operating costs, and you still have to spend heavily on security.
Under ordinary circumstances, the railway project is supposed to be the proud legacy of the Buhari regime. Unfortunately for them—and for everyone as well—that legacy is seriously imperiled by his regime’s other legacies of multidimensional poverty, insecurity, and corruption.
The legacies of deepening poverty under Buhari haunt the legacies of the trains he managed to get running. Even if the projects do not suffer from a paucity of funds, they will still confront the proclivities of thieving Nigerians who will steal the railway metal to resell. Similarly, the legacy of insecurity through the activities of bandits, herdsmen, and professional abductors will also contribute their own share of damage to the “infrastructure” they said they have built. These are not simple problems that can be solved by stationing security officers at train stations or committing more money to railway station surveillance. They are fundamental issues of poverty. This is the inevitable fallout of an economy configured to consume—and degenerate—rather than produce—and regenerate.
The legacies of Buhari remind you of Ouroboros, the mythological snake that eats its own tail. The many things that Buhari has left undone will consume the very few things he managed to get done. The problem of human development he never committed himself to properly tackling will wipe off the superficial gains we made under him. You cannot have a country where people fell down the economic ladder so badly and expect people to give a bleep about preserving the railway as their national heritage. Your society cannot be overrun by thousands of children who have dropped out of school and assume they will be enamored by the trains enough to want to see it survive.
At the end of the day, the best legacy a leader can leave is to build people well enough to build their society. That did not happen in the past eight years. This government took everything from us—our time, our resources, and hope—and gave us some tokens in return. Many of them will not outlast him. Buhari will, of course, return to Daura with shoulders hunched up while thinking he at least gave Nigeria a railway system. But if there is something we all know by now, it is that Buhari is not a man given to critical self-reflection and honest self-appraisals. He will never think of the railway project’s failure as his. The best he will do is blame it on the “lazy youths” and go back to picking his teeth. Far be it from him to admit that the children he failed to build are the ones selling off the house of lies he built.
Seeing Beyond Primate Elijah Ayodele’s Prophecies By Ukhueleigbe Zaccheus
Without doubt, when the name Primate Elijah Ayodele is mentioned in Nigeria, with the exception of members of his INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, what comes to mind is an image of a controversial and courageous man of God, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, to speak truth to power without fear. Little wonder he bears the name of Prophet Elijah, who was a constant threat to the evil king, Ahab.
Where others feared to go, Primate Ayodele threads there. Renowned for his prophecies and how often they come to pass, it only takes one sent by God himself to exhibit that boldness.
However, there is more to Primate Ayodele than his prophecies. He is a philanthropist per excellence who has taken it upon himself to bring succour to the lives of people.
As part of activities to mark his birthday, God’s general gave out five cars, five tricycles, five buses and more than ₦25 million naira empowerment package to journalists, widows, the needy, and students.
A cheque of N200,000 was presented each to 11 journalists to empower them for supporting the man of God over the years. Primate Ayodele also promised to pay the sum of N350,000 for one of the empowered journalists who has issues with his sight.
This act was a culmination of the 17-day appreciation and philanthropic activities which Primate Ayodele started on Sunday, January 29, 2023.
As we raise our glasses and chorus a happy birthday to the him, it is high time people see beyond the prophecies to the largess of his heart. Happy birthday, Primate.
Oyetola Political Hopelessness And The Legal Journey To Nowhere
Political Commentary by Sodiq Tade
If you have been following Osun politics in the last 4 years, you will understand that APC in Osun is in its current spot due to Oyetola’s desperation to be politically relevant. While there is nothing bad in trying to be relevant in politics, there is everything bad in trying to be without the goodwill of the people.
Adeleke’s victory, apart from being people’s victory and a major shift of power from a notorious ruling party, it is also a revealer of Oyetola’s desperation and that of his headless sycophants.
Since Oyetola lost the last election, he has become more desperate for power more than ever. He feels entitled to what he doesn’t deserve. Obviously, that stems from the fact that he has always enjoyed the benefit of political godfatherism. What else can explain his uncontrolled and self-centered quest for power even in the face of obvious reality of failure? And I must say he has succeeded in his blind quest, he has succeeded in moving from being an unknown Chief of Staff to an unpopular former Governor trying to rob the people of their hard earned mandate. A downward political journey, if you ask me.
Going by the current situation in Osun State, Oyetola has lost the remaining goodwill he used to enjoy as an ex-Governor due to his desperation to be relevant in the political space. It is not news that since he lost heavily to Adeleke last year, he has embarked on a legal journey heading nowhere just to keep his name up in the media. You don’t need more than basic education to know that Oyetola doesn’t have a case. You don’t need a lawyer to school you about it.
Oyetola and his headless sycophants have built their case on fake figures and the only place they can win with those figures is their WhatsApp groups. If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed a sharp change in narrative from their camp. In the very beginning, they shamelessly claimed they were rigged out through “over-voting”. Beyond the law, the question is now:
Can you rig out the incumbent Governor in today’s Nigeria?
Your guess is as good as mine. It is almost impossible. You can only defeat the incompetent incumbent with the help of the people. The power will always be with the people.
Having realised that they are not going anywhere with the over-voting narrative, they moved to the validity of the winner’s school certificate. The question is now:
Can a lower court overrule the verdict of the higher court?
Again, your guess is as good as mine. This is the reason I said you didn’t even need more than basic education to know that they were not going anywhere with the case. Oyetola and his followers are aware of this fact but they won’t stop the nonsense charade, they must be seen doing something.
The ex-Governor should stop being desperate for power and focus on the survival of his party in the state because, as it is presently, PDP will win all the available seats in the coming election. Having said all, I must however confess that his desperation is good sight to behold because political desperation is the last step before political oblivion.
How Hon Adewale Temitope Is Building For Tomorrow Through Education
On Friday, January 13, Master’s Tutors, the venue of the 1000 free JAMB forms organised by Hon Adewale Temitope Adedeji (ATA), member, Lagos State House of Assembly, Ifako-Ijaiye Constituency 01, was filled to capacity as prospective beneficiaries turned out enmasse for screening.
The Adewale Temitope Adedeji Educational Initiative (ATA-EI) has been a masterstroke and the shinning light of Hon Adewale’s achievements so far.
According to a statement released by the ATA Media, 1886 prospective beneficiaries were screened during the two day exercise and the beneficiaries will be picked solely on merit.
The free JAMB forms initiative started four years ago with 350 beneficiaries. This was followed by three successive editions of 500, 750 and 1000 forms, respectively.
In a nation with about 20 million out of school children, according to Statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in September 2022, every effort counts in ensuring children are educated.
Another worrisome statistics is that of the World Bank that posits that Nigeria is experiencing learning poverty. This means that 70 per cent of 10-year-olds cannot understand a simple sentence or perform basic numeracy tasks. With the alarming rate at which teens are being exposed to crime and other vices, Hon Adewale’s focus on education might be the solid foundation needed for a peaceful and prosperous Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government.
The Need For Monitoring, Evaluation and Transparency
An educational development practitioner, Wande Ojo, argued that for the initiative to achieve its goal of ensuring Ifako-Ijaiye becomes the most educated Local Government in Nigeria, measures must be in place for monitoring the progress of the beneficiaries, evaluating the initiative and transparency in the whole process.
“Initiatives like this are welcome. However, as an educationist, I always tell people to focus more on Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), while not forgetting to be transparent in the selection process. We shouldn’t forget that most of the students will gain admission and that is another phase for them. Is there is monitoring process or this is just about giving them the JAMB forms? When they get stuck academically, who do they turn to? These are some of the things the organisers should focus on, if they are not yet, to ensure the aim of the initiative is achieved.
“We also need to talk about evaluation. Out of the yearly beneficiaries, how many have been admitted? For those not admitted, what is the way forward? Regular evaluation will be a measurement tool to see what else needs to be done and how.
“Lastly, transparency. This will determine the success or otherwise of the initiative. Politicians will circle like hawks, waiting to hijack the process. The negative about this is that most deserving students will be overlooked for the less deserving ones which will defeat the goal of the initiative. If this is allowed, the initiative will lose its credibility and purpose,” he said.
Looking Beyond The Initiative
With free distribution of 405 units of GCE forms, 28 outstanding students in various higher institutions of learning on scholarships, rehabilitation of public schools in Ifako-Ijaiye and donation of education support materials to students, Hon Adewale might have taken a cue from the eternal words of the late South African president, Nelson Mandela, who said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
The ATA-EI, hopefully, in the not-too-distant-future, will metamorphose into an educational Foundation to be headed by Board of Directors to oversee the day-to-day running of it. This will provide access to more funds through collaborations with local and foreign donor organisations. More funds will mean more opportunities for students in Ifako-Ijaiye. The more the educated population of youths within the Local Government, the higher the chances of peace and development within.
However, with the achievements recorded so far, the words of the Coordinator, ATA-EI, Comrade Hassan Ababio, re-echoes the motive behind the initiative.
He said, “At this pace, Ifako Ijaiye Constituency 01 will be the most educated in Lagos state and Nigeria as a whole as projected by Hon. Adewale Temitope Adedeji.”
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