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Opinion: Nigerian Leaders Sowed the Wind

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By Owei Lakemfa

In my first year at the University of Ife (Now OAU) a ‘National Sailing’ by a secret confraternity was scheduled for the campus. On the eve, the local branch held a procession at midnight. The procession stopped an ambulance conveying a student to the hospital asking it to switch off its lights. Tragically, the student later died. A mourning student populace was enraged when news filtered that the confraternity had stopped the ambulance, even though it was for a few seconds.

The Students Union immediately banned not only the national convention of the fraternity, but all such groups on campus. In those days, the Union’s decision, was law amongst students. To further placate the student populace, the university authorities instituted a probe and meted out disciplinary actions on identified members of the confraternity.

Such were the powers of the union, that the Shagari administration, though elected, thought it was better to subvert independent student unionism in the country. It bribed student renegades; some with brand new cars. It also tried to stop the 1980 emergence of a unified national student body; the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) which covered students in all tertiary institutions. Partly to achieve this, the administration sponsored the establishment of a sectarian body; the Nigerian Universities Students’ Association (NUSA) But it was a still birth.

When NANS was eventually established, the government within three months, expelled its leadership under Tanimu Kurfi from the Bayero University, Kano, and tried to impose an illegal “Steering Committee” This failed.
That same period, the Shehu Shagari government expelled 13 student leaders at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and student leaders at the Polytechnics in Akure and Bauchi, Kwara College of Technology and the Schools of Basic/Preliminary Studies in Keffi and Makurdi. It also suspended the student unions in Ibadan and Kaduna polytechnics and the College of Education, Ilesa.

But those were not the most dastardly acts of that government in its efforts to destroy independent student unionism. That 1981, at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) it expelled 30 student leaders and rusticated 165 others.

The government then turned to the University of Ife where it killed seven students during a protest on June 7, 1981. Its follow-up attempt to use the Justice Salihu Moddibo Alfa Belgore Tribunal Report to flush out student leaders, was firmly and successfully resisted by the student populace and lecturers led by Dr. Biodun Jeyifo, the then National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) The Shagari administration also tried to repress freedom of speech by banning and occupying the premises of a number of newspapers.

However, the Shagari adminstration was a ‘saint’ compared to the subsequent military regimes under Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha. The Buhari regime was a cyclone which smashed through national institutions including the judiciary and the media. In the case of the press, it enacted Decree 4 of 1984 which made reporting falsehood and the truth, punishable offences. It enacted Decree 2 of 1984 under which Nigerians were detained without trial. It turned to smashing the campuses; it introduced school fees, abolished the Cafeteria System which subsidized food for students on campuses, and accused lecturers of inciting students against its dictatorship. When students staged a national protest against its draconian policies, the Buhari regime not only went out to smash the protests, but also kidnapped the then NANS President, Lanre Arogundade at the post office in Ile-Ife. All these were concerted attempts to destroy independent student unionism and consciously or unconsciously make way for the emergence of cultists who would not be loyal to students, but take directives from the regime.

But it was the Babangida regime that consciously destroyed the Student Movement; expelling as many student leaders as it could lay hands on, and most infamously, promoting cultists to seize student unions across the country. In 1986, it killed “only” four students of ABU during a protest, and when the NANS called a national protest over this, it shut down many tertiary institutions and banned student unionism across the country. The Babangida regime also in June 1986, occupied the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) premises because labour decided to stage a solidarity protest for the students, and detained a number of Congress leaders. The detention of labour leaders was repeated in December 1987 before the regime banned the NLC in February, 1988.

In its attempts to finally smash independent student unionism, the regime established two Tribunals of Inquiry, one led by retired Major General Emmanuel Abisoye and the second by Justice Mustapha Akanbi.
Perhaps the most devious move by that regime, was the establishment by its security services, of Student Peace Councils or Peace Committees to impose ‘peace’ on campuses. This included the sponsorship of cultists and sleeper agents to infiltrate the student unions, take them over or sabotage them. The arrow head of these councils was based in the University of Ibadan, and it was there an epic battle ensued in which the student populace took him on, flushed him from the campus and burnt his room.
However, it was in the University of Benin, the most vicious battles between students and the Babangida regime were fought. They were so bloody that the regime issued a directive to the police and security forces to “shoot students at sight” Lecturers like then ASUU President, Dr. Festus Iyayi and Professor Itse Sagay were not even given quite quit notices; thugs simply invaded their homes, broke the doors, threw out their families and replaced the doors.
By 1999 when civil administration was restored in the country, cultists, thugs and security agents had taken over some student unions.

Things degenerated so much that when a NANS Convention was held in Abuja, matters were settled with guns, and genuine student leaders loyal to the Student Movement, were overcome. Cultists, security agents, traders and street toughies have taken over some student unions to the extent that a few years ago, when I was invited to speak with a cross section of student leaders, I discovered that the NANS President was not a student! Many of the student leaders knew and whispered it but none was bold enough to table it.

Now, this later generation of student leaders have graduated into political leadership in the country holding executive and legislative positions. Increasingly, elections are being settled not by votes, but bullets; in election after election, the country is drowned in rivers of blood, especially in Rivers State. Youths are said to be ‘the leaders of tomorrow’ The youths produced by our leaders yesterday, are taking over today . Prophet Hosea might have had Nigerian leaders in mind when he proclaimed in Hosea 8:7 “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”

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Food for Living: Handle Your Success with Care

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By Henry Ukazu

Dear Destiny Friends,

Whenever you take delivery of very important and fragile packages, you are bound to see, boldly written at a corner, ‘handle with care’, In the same vein, once you have taken delivery of success in whatever form, there is a sign at a corner of your mind, saying handle with care. Success is very important, and at the same time fragile, and consequently, must be handled with care for preservation.

There is nothing that brings joy to the heart the way success does, and that is why it is imperative we handle each great stride accomplished with great care. According to some schools of thought, success is a journey and not a destination. No one can say they have attained a particular stage of success, and therefore, has nothing worth striving for any more. Even if you have a trillion dollars, there is always a tendency to explore more options to make it double. That’s human nature. Man is insatiable in nature. Even if you feel you have reached the peak of your career or have achieved a feat either in your business, academic or professional life, trust me, as a rational being, you will still have the urge to set another record, except of course, one wishes to remain in his comfort zone.

Success is fragile in nature; you must handle it with delicate care. Never think you have arrived because you have fortune or power, always know that money and power are visitors, and you may not have them forever. The best you can do is to manage them very well when they are with you.

Do you know that just like how you take care of yourself, you also need to take care of your success? You can do this by forgiving yourself if you have ever made a mistake. Don’t be hard on yourself. Each of us has made one mistake or another. Learn to see the positivity and inherent lessons from whatever mistake you may have made in the past. Do you know that just like your mess can turn to a message, your pain can also turn to gain and people will pay you for it because of your experience?

Another way to handle your success is to appreciate anyone who may have helped you in one way or the other. Showing gratitude is priceless. Your appreciation might not only be in monetary terms, but it can also be in the form of a gift or words of appreciation. Most times, uninformed minds think when they achieve success, they don’t need anyone to advise them. They fail to understand that human relationships are priceless.

The interesting thing about success is that it elevates you to another stage or standard in life. Success can influence how people relate with you. That’s why it’s always important to be humble with your achievements by remembering where you are coming from. Success should indeed, humble you as opposed to bloating your ego. Success can come to you in terms of power, authority, cash, academic qualification, or business..

It’s instructive to note that success is truly fragile, and it must be handled with delicate care. As a progressive being, you are expected to manage your success and not your success managing you. To understand how delicate success is, imagine buying a crate of egg, how will you carry the egg? I believe you will handle it with care.

Again, imagine having a tissue in your hand, if you pour water on it, will it be useful again? I guess no; you see the reason you need to handle success with care.

Success is like building a home, a contractor knows fully well that the foundation of a house is the most important part of a building and as such he/she must exhibit the highest level of professionalism if the house is to stand the test of time.

Success is also like a man trying to woo a lady for relationship/marriage purposes. During the process, he will do all that is necessary to make the woman like him. And when he finally gets her, he is expected to continue the act by investing in the relationship; watering and spicing it, as opposed to withdrawing believing he has already achieved. If he does that, the lady might begin to question his initial motive. Moral: See success like a plant which you must continually water, otherwise it will die.

The big question we must ask ourselves is how do we handle success? Managing success is like managing a treasure. Imagine having global leaders listening to you, you may be tempted to boast, and if the emotion is not properly managed, it can lead to disaster.

The journey to authentic success is a process. You are advised to spend at least one or two hours each day on a craft or business you have deep interest in to master it. When you finally succeed, it will be foolhardy to toy with the success.

A major factor which affects success is not believing in their vision. They just engage in any business because they feel they can make quick money. Let me tell you, nobody will believe in your work if you don’t believe in yourself. Investors must see the passion and energy you radiate in your business before they can invest in your business. When you believe in your craft, you can attract other people to believe in it.

In conclusion, as you strive to make global impact with your craft, don’t forget to take care of yourself while taking care of your business and success.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success and President of gloemi.com. He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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Opinion: The Travails of Leadership

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke Ph.D.

“The ultimate assignment of leadership is not to raise followers, but better leaders through greater impacts by living a life of great examples and never to forget to help them with emotional intelligence which is a key factor for leadership inputs and outputs.”

Character is developed by ‘trials’. Testing is the development of ETHICS. Character is built or developed through pressure, temptation (trials) and resolve. The credibility of leadership is character! The force of leadership is character! The trust of leadership is character! The legitimacy of leadership is character! The integrity of leadership is character! The reason why people still celebrate Nelson Mandela, Koffi Annan among others is because he was tested and trusted. The reason why Nelson Mandela had so much credibility all over the world is because, while he was alive he went through a test of 25years in prison, because of a conviction he had, he was just like a ‘statue’ with this notion:

I cannot bend; I am going to jail just like this;

I believe in what I see, I believe in a dream,

I believe in my convictions, because they are right,

I will not compromise; I will not change!

Nelson Mandela stayed faithful, he went through the test and trials, and people trusted him. In prison, he was the same, he was severely tortured, he was the same, when he had to cut the rocks with chisel, he was the same, and when he came out of prison he was still the same, and was eventually made the President of South Africa just because he was the same. People could trust him.

Even the late Dr. Myles Monroe once said: ‘People often look at me as if I was born the way I look, but I have been through a lot of things, pressures, scars on my back, tribulations, criticisms, attacks, but I decided, I believe what I believe! I stay steady! The world reads my books, I have been invited to over a hundred and fifty-two nations across the world and they wondered: who is this young man, but I have developed my character through tough times.’

Anybody could begin something, a few people finish! How many things have you begun? how many things have you started managing? how many of it have you finished? Where is your character? Are you steady under pressure? Can you be faithful under being disappointed? Can you still believe when no one is with you? When you have character, you are ready to go alone! Everybody is evil, not me! Everybody is corrupt, not me! Everybody is failing, not me!

You have to work by yourself to develop character! Your innate gifts are at the mercy of your character! Your character is more important than your gifts, because without character, you can lose your gifts. That is why God gave Man CHARACTER (His IMAGE) before He gave him DOMINION (Control). Most people lose their provisions because they lost their character! That is why it is important for you to protect yourself by your character (IMAGE), and that is why character (IMAGE) is God’s utmost priority! Character is necessary for DOMINION (Control); it guarantees a tamed- freedom.

Character breeds decent followers; it builds them into enviable leaders that can ‘MANage’ the natural resources as given them by God, and then, put them into appropriate and decent usage for the good of all mankind. Leadership is simply service to humanity, it is not selfishness, not greed, not abusive…Only character determines and promotes service. Service is followership, help; it is the authentic exhibition of our innate being. Character builds a nation; it builds kingdoms, Empires, family and the world at large. Character tames freedom so as not to abuse absolute power; it promotes sustainable peace and global development that guarantees the handing over of a better world to coming generation. It is a baton which must be passed on and on forever. Life is a mysterious gift given to man by God Almighty embedded with so many hidden treasures… its usage is up to man, but only the deeds of men pollutes it!

Character therefore, should not be mistaken for REPUTATION. Reputation has become much more important in the world today than character, and that is a tragedy, because, position has become more important than disposition. As a matter of fact, we need leaders with character, not leaders with personality! Some people have well packaged personality but lack character, yet they are the most celebrated in our world today. Many people are well branded as dignified figures vying for leadership positions, unfortunately, ignorant people rush up to them, vote them in, then the economy and political structure of their countries crashes! Instead of voting the man with CHARACTER (i.e the right IMAGE), which compliments leadership to the position of reliable leadership.

Nigeria and other developing nations must first of all confront their domestic problems by consolidating their democracy. Democracy is not just the question of holding periodic elections, Important as this is, it means developing a democratic culture underpinned by the rule of law. We must build an egalitarian society with careers opened to talents. It should be possible for any (Nigerian) talent(s) to rise to any position that these talents entitle him or her. We must face the question of the economy squarely.

Sixty-one years after independence, we still operate a dependent economy based on export of raw materials and industries of import substitution. We must reverse the process by building industries, particularly agro-based industries in which we have comparative advantage. Nigeria can support huge textile and garment industries based on local production of cotton. This is also an industry which the current regime of the World Trade Organization favours for developing countries. The so-called Tiger economies of South East Asia, China and India virtually dominate the textile and garments industry of the world. We ought to be able to compete with Israel and the United States in providing the world with properly packaged tropical fruits. We should cut our tastes for unnecessary luxury goods and use what we can produce. We need to open our market to investments from the outside world. One hopes present policies in this regards would be determinedly pursued.

The economy is a major factor to earning respect in the international system and we must do everything to develop our economy. There is no strategy of economic development better than those that have been tried and that have worked in the Western liberal democracies. Any attempt to graft economic development on an authoritarian regime will fail.

Character is key factor! We need to take a look at the example of Botswana (few years ago), when, where honest and liberal government and proper management of national resources and patrimony have led to development. Character sees people as greatest ASSETS and not properties. Value your fellow man greatly, they are the only tool that can stand by your side anytime any day, they shall be the one to continue your leadership processes in the future for the benefits of all as a result of your tremendous impacts on them.

The ultimate assignment of leadership is not to raise followers, but better leaders through greater impacts by living a life of great examples and never to forget to help them with emotional intelligence which is key factor for leadership inputs and outputs.

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Opinion: Akeredolu on Emefiele: Ignorance Taken Too Far

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The Convener of The Green Alliance, Barr. Wale Fapounda has come out to correct some misconceptions bandied in the public space concerning the presidential ambition of the current Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Godwin Emefiele.

Regarding Dr. Emefiele’s quest to contest election, there have been very disappointing statements credited to so many people especially Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN. The statements are to the effect that Dr. Emefiele is not entitled to seek election into the office of the president while still occupying the office of the governor of the apex Bank.

One wonders where this is coming from as it seems that long absence from the practice of law has made the learned Senior Advocate grow rusty. The truth is that there is no provision of our law stopping Dr. Emefiele from seeking election into the office of the president while in office, provided he has not been disqualified by Section 137 of the 1999 CFRN as amended. Rather, the constitution has more than enough enabled him to do so in the exercise of his constitutional rights. A lot of these ignorance stems from the deliberate misinterpretation of Section 9 of the CBN Act, Trek Africa Newspaper gathered.

Barr. Fapounda noted: ‘Section 9 of the CBN Act provides thus: “The Governor and the Deputy Governor shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part time employment or vocation whether remunerated or not except such personal and charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full time duties…”

‘Clearly from the above provision, the CBN Governor or Deputy Governor cannot be involved in any other employment or vocation while in office. So how do we define employment or vocation? In Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria vs Federal Board of Inland Revenue 1996 8 NWLR Part 466 256, the Supreme Court held that where the words of a statute are plain, precise and unambiguous, then it should be given the ordinary and natural meaning.’

What then is the natural and ordinary meaning of the word employment? And what is the natural and ordinary meaning of the word vocation? Employment means “the state of having paid work”. While vocation means ” a person’s employment or main occupation”.

Based on these definitions above, can it then be said that seeking election into the office of the president of Nigeria is an employment or vocation? The answer must surely be in the negative. Anything other than that will be the most artificial interpretation to suit a sinister purpose.

‘Moreso, the constitution is clear on rights of association, and rights to seek elective positions. And there is no impediment whatsoever on the exercise of such rights except such impediments are contained in the constitution. Contesting for the position of the president is an exercise of constitutional rights, and not an engagement in any employment or vocation,’ the legal luminary told Trek Africa Newspaper.

In conclusion, just as there is no law stopping Governor Akeredolu from appointing his son into sensitive government position in Ondo State when there are numerous other competent people in the state to man such position, there is no law stopping Dr. Emefiele to contest for the office of the president while still in office as the CBN governor.

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