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Buhari’s last Democracy Day speech and unfolding legacies

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We’re counting down to the end of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Last Sunday, June 12, he made his last Democracy Day speech as president. By this time next year, he would have acquired the toga of an ex-president. How time flies! This time in 2023, the seventh general elections would have been held, winners would have been inaugurated and on the next June 12, we would be listening to the first Democracy Day speech by Buhari’s successor. Such is life. Life is in phases; men are in sizes. 10 kings, 10 seasons!

I have had the privilege of reviewing the president’s last Democracy Day speech on several media platforms namely Voice of America, Silverbird Television, Citizens 93.7FM Abuja, TV 360 and WAZOBIA Max TV, where I have to address the viewers in pidgin English. To my own mind, the president was economical with words in his speech. In the 24-paragraph speech, he only gave a brief history of the June 12 struggle, his appraisal of the just concluded political party primaries ahead of the 2023 general election as well as his regime’s efforts at fighting insecurity and terrorism.

In recalling the memory of June 12, the president posited that “On June 12, 1993, Nigerians saw the best in our citizens as we all went out to vote peacefully. By June 24, 1993, we also saw the worst of our leadership as the elections were annulled.” While I agreed with the president that the just concluded party primaries were peaceful and orderly. I, however, disagree that most candidates ran issued-based campaigns. I followed the primaries like the president and did not travel out as the president did on several occasions in the course of that two month’s event, what I saw was not issues-based campaigns but obscene monetisation of the party nomination process.

I am surprised that the president did not as much as utter a whimper on the high Expression of Interest and Nomination fees charged by his All Progressives Congress, which sold the forms at N100m. The president did not condemn the “dollarisation” of the party primaries by his party members as well as those of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, who heavily induced the party delegates with dollars. Did he not receive security reports on this or he simply chooses to ignore the unwholesome act? Under the president’s watch, election has become a brazen bazaar by members of the Billionaire’s Club! Is this a worthy legacy to bequeath to the incoming administration?

The president said another positive that came from the 2022 party primaries for him was the significant increase in women and youth participation, particularly across all parties. I wish the president had compared the statistics from the last party primary in 2018 with that of 2022 to give more insight into the extent of the increase. To my own mind, while many women and youths aspire to be candidates, only a handful won their primaries. This is despite the discount given to them on the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms. The rationale behind this poor performance is due to the high level of bribery and corruption in the entire nomination exercise.

I concur with the president on his charge to the candidates to embark on peaceful and issues-based campaigns. He was also on point when he informed the voters that in the last seven years, his government across all tiers has made significant investments to reform and enhance our electoral laws, systems and processes to safeguard our votes. This is so very true. In 2018, the president signed into law five constitutional amendment bills some of which border on elections namely the popular Not Too Young To Run bill, party deregistration bill (section 225A), financial autonomy for State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary, among others. It would be recalled that on Friday, February 25, 2022, the president made history by signing into law the fifth Electoral Act in this Fourth Republic which started in 1999. This piece of legislation which I have reviewed severally on this page has the capacity to enhance the credibility and inclusiveness of our elections if faithfully implemented. This law will be put to test in Ekiti State on Saturday, June 18 when the electorate in the state will go to poll to choose the successor to the incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi.

On the issue of insecurity, which the president flagged in his 2022 Democracy Day speech, I agree with his submission that to overcome insecurity “…we must all contribute. It is not the job of government alone.” Indeed, we must all cooperate with our security agencies by reporting any suspicious characters and activities to law enforcement agencies. We can only have a safe country if we are able to prevent crime, not after the crime has been committed. Spot on admonition!

It is heart-warming to learn from the president that the security structures of the country have been reformed and that some of the defence assets procured by his regime three years ago have arrived and have been deployed. It’s also soothing news that “Our cyber security and surveillance systems are being upgraded to further enhance our ability to track and trace criminal elements.” I can also testify that Buhari’s regime is recruiting and training new personnel across all our security and intelligence agencies to strengthen the country’s overall security. Just last Saturday, 5,800 soldiers graduated from Army Depot in Zaria while the president gave a standing order to the Nigeria Police to recruit 10,000 constables every year.

Buhari ended his last Democracy Day speech as president with a commitment to a free, fair and transparent electoral process, while also pleading with all citizens to come together and work with government to build a peaceful and prosperous nation. Well, so much said but what is left unsaid gives me cause for worry. Nothing is said about the economy and anti-corruption which are the other canons of his presidency. The economy is comatose with spiralling inflation, high unemployment and grinding poverty. There is unease in business environment as manufacturers and service providers shut down factories and other businesses due to high cost of production, no thanks to the protracted energy crises. Diesel now sells for close to N800 per litre, petrol which is being subsidised with N4 trillion in the 2022 budget remains scarce in many states including Abuja where we have been queuing for the essential commodity since January.

The country’s anti-corruption rating has been low due to grand and petty corruption which has become pervasive in the country. The recent arrest of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, for mega corruption to the tune of about N170 billion is a case in point. This is the same person who purportedly has been helping the government to weed out ghost workers and saving billions of naira through the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System now being caught using bogus consultancies and proxies to siphon billions of naira out of the nation’s treasury.

What will be Buhari’s legacies? Laws, some sunshine laws. For example, the earlier mentioned constitutional amendments and Electoral Act, Petroleum Industrial Act, National Disability Act, Police Equipment Trust Fund Act as well as the revised Police Act 2020, the revised Company and Allied Matters Act as well as the recently signed anti-corruption laws viz. the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, and the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022. To his credit also stands the revival of rail transportation.

Twitter: @jideojong

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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