How South Africa’s constitutional court put Zuma in his place

BY   |  Newsweek/

Jacob Zuma's homestead Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, January 21, 2014. South Africa's highest court has ruled that Zuma should pay back some of the state money spent upgrading his home. MARCO LONGARI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Jacob Zuma’s homestead Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, January 21, 2014. South Africa’s highest court has ruled that Zuma should pay back some of the state money spent upgrading his home.

“The President failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.” With those words, Chief Justice Mogoeng Thomas Reetsang Mogoeng of the South Africa Constitutional Court finally ruled on the biggest of many presidential scandals since Jacob Zuma came to power in 2009.

The court ruling related to the failure of Zuma to adhere to the findings of the public protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, that he breached his ethical responsibility with regards to the excessive expenditure of public money on his private homestead in Nkandla and should repay a portion of it. An amount of 246 million rand ($23 million at the time) was used to enhance security and upgrade Zuma’s residence—which including the installation of a swimming pool and ampitheater—resulted in it becoming one of the most expensive homes in a country where more than half the population lives on 779 rand ($53) per month.

The roots of the saga started in 1999, when Zuma was appointed as deputy president of South Africa. Soon after, he began developing his rural estate near Nkandla in northern KwaZulu Natal, a province on South Africa’s east coast. His financial advisor at the time, Schabir Shaik, assisted with the financing of the project. Shaik was eventually convicted of being in a corrupt relationship with Zuma and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2005.

Fortunately for Zuma, the political winds were changing at the time. Then-President Thabo Mbeki, who was increasingly seen as intolerant and aloof, had become unpopular within the African National Congress (ANC) and its alliance partners South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Fired by Mbeki and facing corruption charges himself, Zuma had little option but to go for broke and challenge Mbeki for presidency of the ANC. He partly achieved this by presenting himself as a “people’s president” and building support from ANC structures such as the Youth League and other political leaders whom Mbeki had alienated.

This strategy succeeded, and he was elected as the ANC president at the party’s five-yearly National Conference in 2007. Shortly before the 2009 national elections, the then-acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority Mokotedi Mpshe withdrew the 783 criminal charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering facing Zuma. Following the ANC’s election win in 2009, Zuma became the president of South Africa.

Zuma quickly used his presidential authority to consolidate his power across the party and the state. He appointed people he believed would owe him allegiance to powerful positions in security and other key state agencies. In this way he was able to dispense patronage to loyalists and target people he perceived as enemies.

Recently, however, Zuma has come under increasing pressure. Various senior ANC party members have publicly alleged that the Guptas—a wealthy business family that are Zuma’s personal friends and benefactors to a number of his immediate family members—have been able to influence presidential decisions, including the appointment of cabinet ministers. This resulted in senior ANC stalwarts calling for Zuma to step down.

Zuma’s term of office as president is due to end in 2019. However, this Constitutional Court ruling has provided fresh impetus to growing calls for Zuma to either step down or be removed by the ANC much earlier. The problem facing the country is that Zuma is still very powerful within the ANC. Despite the court’s ruling, key structures such as the ANC Youth league and Women’s Leaguequickly released public statements after the Constitutional Court ruling expressing their full support for him.

If Zuma threatens to fight against any internal attempts to remove him, it is likely to result in deepening the already severe divisions within the ANC and its alliance partners. Given that highly-contested local government elections will take place later this year, there is unlikely to be the stomach for this type of fight. Moreover, Zuma is in a tight spot. A court ruling on rationality of the withdrawal of the criminal charges against him in 2009 will be out later in 2016, and if he loses they could be reinstated. There is far too much at stake for Zuma, a man who has consistently put his personal interests ahead of his party and the ANC, to leave power prematurely.

It is likely that the ANC will try and manage this internally to prevent additional damage to the party. It will most likely be the outcome of the 2016 local government elections that will determine Zuma’s fate. If the ANC loses substantial support, Zuma’s exit is likely to happen in the relatively near future. If the ANC manages to retain their substantial majority, Zuma is likely to stay until the end of his term of office. Whatever the outcome, South Africa’s Constitutional Court has reaffirmed its supremacy over a rapacious political elite.

Gareth Newham is the head of the Governance, Crime and Justice Division at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), an African security thinktank based in Pretoria. The ISS tweets @issafrica.

One year ago, Buhari promised to change Nigeria

Buhari still has adequate time to turn his fortunes around, but he must be wary of the kind of executive arrogance that undid Jonathan's party and government.
Buhari still has adequate time to turn his fortunes around, but he must be wary of the kind of executive arrogance that undid Jonathan’s party and government.


When Nigerians rouse from sleep on April 1, they will again head for filling stations to join the now de rigueur queues for Premium Motor Spirit.

By Fisayo Soyombo
By Fisayo Soyombo

This is no big news; queueing for hours at petrol stations has been the most recurring item on the itinerary of Nigerians not only for the past month, but also for the third spell in the past three months.

What is news is that when these same people woke up exactly one year ago, the majority of them trooped to the streets in jubilation. Three hours and 47 minutes into that day, opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari was declared president-elect.

But while Nigerians hailed Buhari as a Messiah of sorts, they forgot to remind themselves that no Nigerian leader, democratic or dictatorial, had ever succeeded in delivering socioeconomic prosperity to the masses.

There was something familiar about the sheer joy that was unleashed on the streets of Nigeria on April 1, 2015.

More than five decades ago, on October 1, 1960, when Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa accepted the symbols of Independence from the Queen of England and cheerily declared that he was “opening a new chapter in the history of Nigeria”, it was to the delight of millions of citizens.

Elites clutched at their radios as devout Catholics would the Rosary, listening as the sonorous voice of Emmanuel Omatsola blared from Race Course, Lagos: Nigeria is a free, sovereign nation. Pupils holidayed; and when they returned to school, they were served unusual rounds of sumptuous meals and handed lovingly petite green-white-green flags.

But for all of Balewa’s education and popularity in international circles, his reputation for championing northern interests did little to foster unity and stability in Nigeria’s delicate multiethnic set-up. Both power and life were taken away from him in a coup six years later.

When Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, after decades of torture at the hands of the military, the scenarios were repeated. Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired soldier who was on the throes of death in prison, was suddenly, miraculously handed democratic power.

Obasanjo had admitted that “the entire Nigerian scene is very bleak indeed, so bleak people ask me: where do we begin?” But he also promised to fight corruption, restore public confidence in governance, build infrastructure. Millions of overjoyed Nigerians believed him – the worst civilian government is better than the best military regime was the popular reasoning at the time.

In his book, This House Has Fallen, published a year into Obasanjo’s presidency, British journalist Karl Maier had written: “The government spends up to half its annual budget on salaries of an estimated two million workers… yet the civil service remains paralysed, with connections and corruption still the fastest way to get anything done. Up to 75 percent of the army’s equipment is broken or missing vital spare parts. The Navy’s 52 admirals and commodores outnumber serviceable ships by a ratio of six to one. The Air Force has 10,000 men but fewer than 20 functioning aircraft.”

Sixteen long years later, it is heartbreaking to see that these are still some of the issues dominating Nigerian political discourse.

Gloom of Buhari’s victory

Caveat: this is not an appraisal of Buhari’s reign – not yet. But some of his first words as president-elect back in 2015 were: “You voted for change and now change has come.”

Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency ended with a biting fuel scarcity that suffering masses felt would accompany Jonathan out of office. On the anniversary of Buhari’s victory, that scarcity they so despised is exactly what they’re grappling with. There are no noticeable improvements in erratic power supply, the unhealthy economy, the dearth of jobs. No “change”, really.

Buhari still has adequate time to turn his fortunes around, but he must be wary of the kind of executive arrogance that undid Jonathan’s party and government.

It is the same type of arrogance that made Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, declare in the face of the ongoing petrol scarcity: “One of the trainings I did not receive was that of a magician.” Only to tell prospective protesters days later: “Save your fuel, I am not going to resign” is dangerous.

That Femi Adesina, Buhari’s spokesman, told Nigerians a day earlier that: “If some people are crying that they are in darkness, they should go and hold those who vandalise the installations” betrays Buhari’s administration’s intolerance of criticism and suggests possible abdication of leadership.

Just in case Buhari has forgotten, in May, when he will have completed a quarter of his term in office, Nigerians will not only be carefully assessing the state of his “change” agenda, they will also be wondering if his party deserves to be retained in 2019.

Fisayo Soyombo edits the Nigerian online newspaper TheCable.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


President Buhari: between foreign policy and overseas excursions

Satiric composition of President Buhari’s travelling routes. Buhari has consistently been hooked on his presidential jet, trotting the globe, and making official stopover calls to just about any foreign city that has an airport; and taking photos with any foreign public officer or leader that cared. So what does this mean to a country currently overwhelmed by a burden of economic and political adversities?
By Anthony Obi Ogbo
By Anthony Obi Ogbo

President Buhari’s penchant for flying around, it may be recalled, started when he was a presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Today, as president, Buhari consistently has been hooked on his presidential jet, trotting the globe, and making official stopover calls to just about any foreign city that has an airport; and taking photos with any foreign public officer or leader that cared. So what does this mean to a country currently overwhelmed by a burden of economic and political adversities?

Here is a Commander-in-chief who chooses to remain on the air making rounds of unsubstantiated escapades while his country’s security system  remains in unexplained tatters. In the North where President Buhari hails from, casualties of suicide bombings are a horrific trend, while communal mobility is grounded for scarcity of fuel. Ever since Mr. President made himself the overseer of the Petroleum Minister, the Nigeria’s oil and gas industry has gone in a terrible coma; contractors wander around a blind system whereas motorists struggle in vain to buy petrol.

Within this prevailing devastation, here is Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, responding to his travelling obsession:

Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

“President Muhammadu Buhari came into office under the mantra of change. While Nigerians are yearning for change, you need someone who will set up the infrastructure, both at home and abroad for it. President Buhari is busy doing that. The change is manifest in where he visits and what he does.”

This again is where President Buhari’s handlers got it wrong – an inability to differentiate between effective foreign policy and aimless foreign excursions. Foreign policy is basically a government’s strategy in dealing with other nations. Buhari, since his inauguration had shuttled Islamic countries to show appreciation to foreign Muslim leaders who secretly funded his campaign. He had equally made unreported trips for medical reasons; whereas other trips were aimlessly planned and yielded nothing but photos albums for social media campaign – so how does change manifest from this documentary of unreasonable oversea trips?

Nigerians who initially supported this president expected that his trips would have galvanized foreign assistance and collaboration to defeat the Boko Haram overpowering insurgency. Unfortunately, President Buhari’s trips are unproductive while he exaggerated his military’s success against the terror group, claiming they had long been defeated. But the group are an intractable agony, executing their butcheries with little or no challenge from the government forces. Just a week ago, 24 worshipers were killed and 18 were wounded after two female suicide bombers detonated explosives inside a mosque.

The major question is on how Buhari’s voyage addiction would translate to effective foreign policy. The foreign policy process is very diplomatic and must galvanize power to protect and project Nigeria’s global interests – not create a forum for several trips, executive dinners, and fanfares. President Buhari must seek diplomatic interests with the appropriate countries to strategically create opportunities to solve his country’s surmounting issues on security, economy, and a continued derail of the social system. Consequently, he should collaborate with global leaders passionate about uniting the country rather than his current foreign cronies – some controversial sectarian extremists unconcerned about a peaceful Nigeria.

How PDP and APC Created New Biafran Agitations

87a6d2d8735399c717eea027ef9b47ebBy SKC Ogbonnia….

Socially,  Unlike my father, my mother Esther Oligwe Ogbonnia hardly cares who wins or who loses in presidential politics so far there is peace. Not in 2015!

Full of excitement following Muhammadu Buhari’s victory, I placed a call to my mother in Nigeria, but she was not her usual cheerful self.

SKC (Me): “Mama, why are you sounding strange?”

Mother: “Hmmm…I am okay but not very okay. There is trouble. The problem seems to be your friend—the Hausa man. They say the man has become the president again by force and plans to take away our Bible. They also say he is the same person who caused us harm during the war, and is going to replace all our people in government work with Hausa.”

SKC:  “Who is saying all those things about Buhari? When did you become a politician?

Mother: “Well, I am not a politician. And I may never have crossed River Niger or know how to count 1.2.3, but I can smell counterfeit from a distance. My son, the fear of that man is rearing up everywhere—in the church, our meetings, and the marketplace. Even our ‘who is who’ in the North have already packed back to Enugu. I pray this aura of doom will not be felt where you are in America…”

SKC: “Mama, please do not mind them. I am very happy to have supported the man. As I told you before, he is better than Jonathan by far. He will end corruption and provide jobs for our youths. Kidnapping and armed robbery will go away. Those saying bad things about Buhari are some of the same people who stole the money meant to complete Ugbo road. They are afraid he will put them in prison. That is why”

Mother: “So the Buhari man is truly a good person?  But did you hear that he locked up Jim Nwobodo and one good man from Onitsha area for no just cause? Do you know they also say that he killed one young boy from Udi Agbaja for nothing? Biko, how did you know the man?”

SKC: No, I did not know Buhari before. However, when he was head of state, there was no corruption. Watch…things will change within few months. NEPA will provide light day and night… You will say, I told you so.”

Mother: “Well, I have heard you, my son. So, we should not worry? I am feeling better now, but I don’t know about our people. They see the man as danger…”

Clearly, the general perception of Muhammadu Buhari in the East before the election was that of a jihadist, dictator, and a bigot—all roped in one, thanks to a montage of propaganda orchestrated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The then ruling party did everything humanly possible to cling on to power. And you can’t blame them. Having squandered our common wealth while at the helm, PDP had nothing on the ground for the Igbo masses and thus needed to sustain mass following by deceit.

For example, one infantile lie drummed since 2011 to prevent the restless Igbo youths from revolt had been that “Things will get better once President Goodluck Jonathan zones presidency to the Igbos after his tenure.” It was not surprising, therefore, that Buhari’s victory was readily seen as a coup d’état in the East, particularly among the jobless youths, who thence seem to have nowhere else to perch than clench their angst towards one form of Biafra or another.

The gist, if it is not already manifest, is that these new Biafrans, most of who are under the aegis of PDP Youth Wing, are the byproduct of the party’s gloomy narratives of Buhari. In fact, any careful review of the recent activities of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), leaves no one in doubt that his rebellion was heightened by the defeat of Jonathan and PDP. And it does not take a genius to discern why prominent opposition leaders from the East have continued to tiptoe around the Biafran agitation even when it has widened.

For sure, the rallying cry for the current Biafran movement is the inexplicable marginalization of the Igbos. But we must not ignore one bitter truth: The last 16 years of democratic rule did not take place under Muhammadu Buhari or the All Progressive Congress (APC)—but squarely under PDP where every ethnic group, including the Igbos and their Southern neighbors were well represented.

Yet both President Buhari and APC have not helped matters. Upon assuming office, Buhari’s body language, including lopsided political appointments, began to appear as if the old Eastern Region was an illegal alien. To add salt to an open injury, the president shocked the democratic world by stoking a statement generally interpreted as a plot to marginalize the zones that gave him fewer votes. This gaffe was definitely beyond the pale and had deserved every damage control.

Sadly, instead of telling the president the simple truth, many APC leaders went as far lampooning the Igbos for expressing their right to choose. The ruling party conveniently brushed aside the fact that virtually all Nigerian presidential elections in history were influenced by ethnic sentiments, yet there is no record where a section of the country was denied its share of the national cake on the basis of voting pattern. The whole APC approach on political appointments triggered a nationwide outrage, with many groups charging the new government of ethnic chauvinism. According to a faction of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the development was a clear testament “that Buhari is not seeing Ndigbo as part of Nigeria.”

The presidency reluctantly addressed the dilemma, quipping that, “At the end of the exercise, no part of the country will be left feeling left out.” Unfortunately, recent events suggest otherwise. The much-awaited ministerial allocations have come and gone but failed to reflect the balance needed to allay the fear of Igbo marginalization.

Although it is true that Igbos, particularly Chibuike Amaechi, Kachikwu Ibe, and Godwin Emefiele, occupy powerful positions in the central government, the gesture is wallowed in mistrust. The crème of Igbo intelligentsia as well as leaders of the Biafran agitation perceive the motive as a postwar federal agenda to drive a wedge between the Igbos of the South East and their brothers and sisters of the South-South. Moreover, many are dismayed with the attempt by the Federal Government to isolate the history of Biafran movement solely to the Southeast. After all, not only does the Igbo territory extend beyond the Southeast, the die-hard leaders of the Biafran war included the natives of the South-South zone, such as Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Phillip Effiong, and Joe Achusia, to name a few.

This medley of unforced errors on the part of APC government did nothing but play into the prevailing PDP narratives—those very fears narrated by my mother when I had called from America after Buhari’s victory. Today, the opposition is gaily saying “I told you so.” For the restless Eastern youths, it was the perfect excuse to finally embrace the call for secession from Nigeria—with Nnamdi Kanu as the totemic leader. Kanu has since been arrested and denied bail by the federal authorities. And different pleas for his release have also been rebuffed, leading to mass protests and loss of property as well as innocent lives.

But the quagmire must not continue. Rather than brute force, there is the need for solution through diplomacy.

First, President Buhari should go above the fray and order without further delay the release of Nnamdi Kanu. There is no doubt that Kanu’s rhetoric is hugely offensive, and deserves every condemnation, but keeping him behind bars for expressing his fundamental rights of self-determination does more harm than good. The matter is gradually gaining worldwide sympathy, and Nigeria’s economy must not be exposed to a new wave of ethnic havoc on top of Boko Haram.

Second, the APC government ought to find ways to dialogue with the pro-Biafra groups and reassure them of a genuine desire to carry the Igbos along, with specific attention to youth employment. Such dialogue can help the agitators to realize that the real enemies include their own brothers, faceless politicians, who carted away development funds in the East.

Third, but most ironic, if the war against corruption is a good omen, Buhari must be careful to avoid being mired into another form of Igbo marginalization. Even though the anticorruption war has already visited high profile culprits in every other zone of the federation, notorious politicians in the Southeast are still acting as if Goodluck Jonathan still holds sway. It is time to double up and expose the political merchants who abetted ageless money-spinners, such as Enugu-Onitsha/Enugu-PH Expressways, 2nd River Niger Bridge, Dredging of River Niger, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Constitutional Amendment exercise, the criminal demolition of Eastern Nigeria Secretariat at Enugu and, of course, various abandoned Constituency projects littered across the area.  The president may as well head further south to unmask the incubus choking other vital projects with huge employment opportunities, particularly Calabar and PH ports, PH International Airport, and the East-West Highway. Seeing is believing. Nothing can assuage the feelings of these youths more than prosecuting the crooked politicians who exploited the poor masses for selfish gains.

The view immediately above mirrors a topical goal of the current Biafran movement which, in its own words, strives to hold accountable “all looters, embezzlers, kidnappers, sponsors of terrorism, child traffickers, corrupt judges, crooked university lecturers, murderous Nigerian security forces and all thieving individuals masquerading as public officials who steal public funds thereby preventing developmental projects from impacting positively on the lives of the ordinary people.”  This very idea of the pro-Biafra group is hardly unpopular. In fact, one may think their statement was adapted word-for-word from the campaign book of President Muhammadu Buhari. Said differently, these youths and Buhari share common dreams for a corrupt free society, after all. And they need each other. Sustaining our hard-fought change demands broad participation across the breadth and depth of Nigeria.

Dr.  SKC Ogbonnia, Ph.D., is the current president of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO) – Houston Chapter.

Selective Justice is Injustice

By Anthony Obi Ogbo
By Anthony Obi Ogbo

Fairness is the most abused leadership concept, especially in regions where the judicial system is subjugated by totalitarian headship. Martin Luther King, Jr. was absolutely right, that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. But the current approach of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in cleansing his country of corruption makes a mockery of his designation, and indicates a lack of knowledge in managing moral philosophy in the public sector.

For instance, both President Buhari’s Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the opposition, The People’s Democratic Party ran their respective presidential elections with public funds, improperly diverted and converted them to campaign coffers. Former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki, allegedly diverted and apportioned more than 2.2 billion dollars to politicians and campaign needs. Similarly, former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who headed President Buhari’s campaign fund-drive allegedly stole more than 70 billion Naira from his state to finance his Presidential race. Mr. Dasuki is currently facing trial, whereas Mr. Amaechi is rewarded with a ministerial position.
To make it worse, President Buhari in his dictatorial fashion had defied court’s order that granted bail to Mr. Dasuki, and strong-headedly ordered his re-arrest.  In his own words, here is the reason; “If you see the atrocities these people committed against this country, we can’t allow them to jump bail.” For clarity, this is the President talking – not the prosecutor. In other words,  besides making himself the overseer of Petroleum Resources Ministry, the Buhari has also become the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
At the moment, all judges report to him, and all court rulings or judgements are screened in Aso Rock before delivery.
Yet we must not forget that failure of elected officers to abide by the rule of law is the height of indiscipline and misconduct. So, how could President Buhari fight corruption by abusing the judicial arm – violating court orders, and terrorizing judges? How does crowding  jailhouses with suspects whose rights of legal representation are suppressed create an effective ethical culture? How could an executive team consisting of the most corrupt politicians in the country  influence decency in the public service system?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with fighting corruption in a country where dishonesty in the system is devastating, but hiding behind a so called “war against indiscipline” to profile individuals in the most tyrannical style is reprehensible. Nigeria is a country where every single public officer, including the President has a looting record. Singling out individuals or parties as scapegoats may not fix the structure, but may amorally implant a retaliatory culture in the governance system.

At the moment, all judges report to him, and all court rulings or judgements are screened in Aso Rock before delivery. Yet we must not forget that failure of elected officers to abide by the rule of law is the height of indiscipline and misconduct.
At the moment, all judges report to him, and all court rulings or judgements are screened in Aso Rock before delivery. Yet we must not forget that failure of elected officers to abide by the rule of law is the height of indiscipline and misconduct.

Pragmatically, overhauling massive ethical lapses in the public sector requires relevant legislations to discourage corrupt attitudes and gradually reform the system with effective moral culture. Administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government. Unfortunately, a suppression of the judicial arm in Nigeria leaves a hopelessly corrupt leadership structure.
Take for instance, the 2010 case of a Former United States representative, William Jefferson of Louisiana.  Rep. Jefferson, infamous for having $90,000 in bribe money hidden in his freezer, is serving a 13-year prison sentence after being convicted on a slew of federal corruption charges. However, one of the most puzzling and intriguing aspect of the case is that Jefferson’s partner-in-crime, Atiku Abubakar, the vice president of Nigeria at the time was not prosecuted by his country.  Abubakar remained a hero in Nigeria, still treading on public funds and running elections to become his country’s president.
In the United States, The anti-corruption legacy is embedded in the constitution and enforced appropriately. Various provisions in the Constitution deal squarely with corruption, thereby limiting the opportunities for self-enrichment, and permitting impeachment of any officer of the United States, including the President and Vice President, for “Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes and Misdemeanors.”
I would say again, that my criticisms of Buhari’s fight against corruption is not an attack on implanting moral decency in the system, but a condemnation of tyranny, discriminatory justice, and suppression of the judicial process. What we have evidenced so far is an angry leader, who in shear execution of his animosity, is clamping down on the opposition under the disguise of wiping corruption in the system. In a true democratic setting, chasing public fund lotters with horsewhips and dictating orders to throw individuals in jail, or denying them bail are definitely not the responsibility of this president. Therefore, we must condemn President Buhari’s prevalent approach to ethical management as a primeval jungle justice; a totalitarian show of senselessness and cruelty.
■  Dr. Anthony Ogbo,  is the President of American Journal of Transformational Leadership. Contact:

Nigeria: executive appointees and diversity management

By Anthony Obi Ogbo
By Anthony Obi Ogbo

Nigerians are boiling in controversy over their new leader’s approach to appointment of ministers and other governmental positions. President Muhammadu Buhari, almost 100 days in office, so far has  appointed mostly indigenes of the North where he hails from to occupy key positions in his regime in a manner that generated a widespread uproar, with critics labelling his actions as “lopsided.”

From many threads that pervade the social media about this issue, one commentator, Rhoda Irodia wrote, “No Southerner is looking for handouts from their Southern representatives, rather we simply want all parts of the whole to be equally represented.” Abubakar Tsav identified as a retired police commissioner echoed a similar sentiment labelling the appointments as unequal. According to Tsav, “Nigeria is too big to have majority of the appointees from one section of the country.  We have competent people in every part of Nigeria. For that reason, Buhari should spread the appointments to every part of Nigeria.”

Most of Buhari’s supporters, however saw nothing wrong with his appointments, arguing that choosing a team of his choice is a part his executive mandate. In fact, one Oladimeji Fabiyi, a member APC told the media that Buhari’s appointments are “wonderful and forward looking.” According to Fabiyi, “There is nothing wrong with it because they leader wants to put people who are going to help achieve the promise they made to the people.” To further support the President’s actions, a news blog, Delta Analyst Online reported how   a pastor in Benin backed the President’s actions saying, “If Buhari appoints a ‘monkey’ as one of those to assist him to bring the change he has promised, Nigerians should support him”.

But Buhari’s actions should have been expected based of his own comments  less than six weeks ago. In a forum in his recent visit to the United State, President Buhari had categorically stated that he would not treat people who did not vote for him equally with those who voted for him. In his words, the President had stated, “Going by election results, constituencies that gave me 97% cannot in all honesty be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these are political realities.”

So Buhari’s latest disregard of issues of equity and fairness in his allotment of crucial executive positions should not be a surprise, rather a practical execution a proposal he had already put in place. Attorney and legal analyst, Oshiokpekhai Utu-Orbih cited a possible constitutional lapses of Buhari’s appointment as “a total disregard for due process of law and order,” citing Section 14 (3) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution mandating equity in composition of national government.  Utu-Orbih denounced Buhari’s appointments as a scheme running contrary to the spirit and letters of this constitutional provision, and argued that Buhari’s onslaught on the Nigerian people has surely awaken a new consciousness that could inspire a unity of the Southerners as formidable oppositions.

It may be necessary however, to view President Buhari’s disproportionate executive appointment so far from other perspectives. Besides the provisions of the laws, balancing the workforce in a diverse culture is not just an administrative requirement, but an ethical duty. An uneven work structure amorally leaves an unproductive environment of dichotomy and marginalized populace. Constitution or not, it is ethically erroneous in a population diverse with multiple tribes, cultures, and geographical sectors, to ostracize any group from the leadership or the workforce process.

Demographic trends in contemporary governance leaves three interrelated leadership challenges; cross‐cultural complexities, gender disparities, and diversity management. Without doubt, President Buhari, so far, has failed to recognize the inevitability of these concepts in his stewardship, and repercussions may derail his push for a transformation.   Various studies are a substantiation of the powerful effects of workforce evenness in decision-making effectiveness.  Hence, to progress in his vows to effectively transform his country, President Buhari must embrace a plan that would encompass a judicious composition of the people and relevant demographic arrangements, including; culture, tribes, gender, and geopolitical zones.

In transformation management, especially in a multicultural society, diversity in governmental appointees is a moral mandate not a treat. Using appointment of key public positions to reward campaign supporters, support tribesmen, or punish those considered as “unsupportive” constituents are ethically unjust, spiteful, and may not create the necessary avenues to inspire change.

Furthermore, Buhari’s cohorts must enlighten him on issues of diversity regarding public policy rather than their current self-justifying mentality. A consideration of gender, tribe, age, and geopolitical zones must play a role in structuring the executive workforce to inspire any growth. The electorates or followers who are indeed a core segment of the democratic process are humans who have emotional and psychological needs, and compromising those needs could create resentment and resistance to any transformation agenda. The regime, visibly, is already experiencing such resentments.

Nigeria – Buhari’s 100 days of horror

By Anthony Obi Ogbo
By Anthony Obi Ogbo

It is one thing is to rustle power, but sustaining the challenges require more competencies. Nigerians are still debating the 100-day season of their new regime with critics bashing the presidency for leading a very sluggish start. While supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari are yet to substantially defend his proposals, it could rightly be argued that first 100 Days have never guaranteed the success of an entire tenure, neither have early process complications necessitated failure in governance. However,   every voyage starts with one step – thanks to Franklin D. Roosevelt, a United States President who in 1933, used his first three months in office to lay the foundations of his executive mandate. Ever since this year, the First 100 Days have been seen as a unique moment in predicting proposal efficacy and tenure effectiveness.

President Buhari’s case is strange, because his regime is still confused about governance, and at the worst, waterlogged by the demands of a transformation process it professed.  Supported by his ruling party cohorts, President Buhari has been terribly astounded by his own campaign proposals – grappling with how and where to start, and denying the very promises he made to the masses just a few months ago.

A hundred days or not, the troubling issue is that President Buhari’s accomplishments so far has been a horrendous nightmare. In an authoritarian manner, constitutional measures are swiftly dwindling into unrestrained anarchy. As it was noted in this column a few weeks ago, in the world’s political history, Nigeria stands to become the only country where an elected President ferociously assumed the position of the Vice President, Chief Prosecutor, Prison Director, Chief Judge, Petroleum Chief – then sits down on the constitution with unrestrained supremacy, cold-shouldering the other sectors of the government.

From the very start of his executive directives, President Buhari has gone gaga with the most significant issues in the country’s politics – security, economy, and corruption. Regrettably, an assessment of his handle of these issues so far indicates that the country is once again back to dictatorship. For instance, on security, he had quickly replaced the service chiefs; moved Nigeria’s defense command unit to Maiduguri, claiming the idea was to ease up a counter strategy against the terror group. But critics differ, accusing Buhari of conferring greater political power opportunities to his Northern allies, and restructuring the military system to protect that structure.

To further frustrate a global support of a fight against the Boko Haram, the Buhari regime was scandalously exposed for secretly granting an entry visa to a fleeing ‘ISIS Emir’, and a Lebanese fugitive, Ahmad al-Assir who was later arrested. He was trying to escape to Nigeria through Cairo with fake Palestinian travel document in a scenario that questions the Buhari’s credibility in fighting terror. While a possible collaboration between Assir and the Buhar’s regime was being investigated, Buhari’s advocacy for a Boko Haram amnesty created additional doubts over his request for assistance from the United States in fighting terror, leaving the regime all confused and helpless in meeting its security proposals to defend the country.
In less than a hundred days,  Buhari has thrown the country’s economy into harm’s way, singlehandedly presiding changes that signals a fiscal doom. He had enforced a mass worker retrenchment, sending close to 100, 000 out of jobs. He had banned the recruitment of federal public sector workers, raised interest rates, and halted capital projects at all governmental levels. Without any official protocol, President Buhari had dictatorially suspended the upgrade projects at the Calabar/Onne seaports, ordered a slash in federal allocation to states, and canceled the second Niger bridge project, attributing his action to one single phrase, “War against corruption.”

Foreign investors and major global financial institutions have openly expressed concerns about the direction of the Nigerian economy. Last week, JPMorgan Chase & Co. disqualified Nigeria from its local-currency emerging-market bond indexes, after restrictions on foreign-exchange transactions prompted investor concerns about a shortage of liquidity. But, the defiant president remained untouched about his belt-tightening policy, and in fact announced a proposal to shut down some embassies and foreign mission abroad. Another action that could put additional thousands of federal employees out of their jobs by last quarter of the year.

Just like his handle of the economy and matters of security, the regime’s vows to tackle corruption remain another shocking blow. In sheer irony, Buhari personally has been caught up reconciling issues of fraud directly involving his interests. For instance, the immediate former governor of the oil rich Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is facing accusations of funding Buhari’s Campaign with stolen state funds amounting to more than 70 billion Naira. Amaechi allegedly fraudulently sold state-owned   power plants and made mistrustful transfer of $105 million (N21, 000,000,000) from the Power Asset Sale Proceeds Account to accounts owned by private companies.

Consequently, the General was alleged to have personally pleaded with the former President and one of the targets of his proposed probe, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who vowed to release a dossier of documents linking him (Buhari), his wife, daughter, and key allies in his administration to major fraud related to various affairs of the government. To appease the aged former leader, President Buhari quickly retracted  his threats, announcing publicly that he would not extend his corruption probe beyond the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Today, Buhari’s drive to curb fraud has yielded nothing besides indiscriminate arrests of selected individuals whom he had targeted for retributive reasons.

While President Buhari, a former dictator, flip-flops with official duties in a representative system unfamiliar to his individual capacity, his appointed media activists have been busy showcasing him with falsehood and deception. To substitute for a total lack of responses for his regime catastrophe, the APC media combatants have polluted the social media with fake stories about the Buhari’s accomplishments. Yet, the regime’s major damage remains Buhari’s total disconnection with both his subordinates in the government, party colleagues, and the masses. In his signature tyrannical fashion, Buhari has remained the only arm of the system, whereas his supporters chokingly struggle in the social media to defend  the vagueness of his stewardship. Shamelessly, the Sai-Buhari profile-glorification jingle has totally expired in obscurity, leaving his media handlers redundant and clueless about their a woeful in defending mediocrity.

Nigeria’s new regime – a decree of anarchy

Governmental events in Nigeria is swiftly drawing the country closer to unrestrained anarchy. In world’s political history, Nigeria has now

By Anthony Obi Ogbo
By Anthony Obi Ogbo

becomes the only country where an elected President ferociously assumed the position of the Vice President, Chief Prosecutor, Prison Director, Chief Judge, Petroleum Chief – then sits down on the constitution with unchallenged authority, undermining the powers of other segments of the government.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s  current turbulent marriage with Nigeria is not new, and in fact represents a bizarre homecoming. As an army major general,  Buhari dealt with Nigerians as a dictator from 1983 through 1985 in a nightmarish retributive rule, where he projected himself like a Roman god and ruled like the Taliban.

He  relied heavily on decrees and special tribunals to regulate communal life and chastised a selection of law offenders with a killer- axe.  Subjective orders and decrees were his only governance tools, and as of July 1984, Buhari had promulgated as much as twenty-two decrees, radiating widespread controversies and international condemnation. He subjugated the judiciary with special military tribunals, whereas the state security agency, the National Security Organization, was accorded greater powers. These were in the mid-80s.

Today, over two months in office, Buhari has not changed, and might have even gotten worse.  He has assumed a dictatorship role, and deceitfully claimed to be too busy to name a working team. Yet, he had the time to make multiple trips to countries in Europe, America, and Africa, bringing back no development strategies but stacks of photo albums for image campaign.

Worse, this President while undermining the constitutional process, single handedly made key appointments, including a restructure of  his nation’s intelligence and military system. He had ordered several arrests of presumably past political foes, and commandingly moved detained terror-suspects on trial around different prisons outside their judicial precincts. He has no clue about how to handle a democracy, but sits down in an undisclosed secluded government location and issued orders by the hours.ba40aeb5867d36c9a6c9abd442f5ee21

The worst damage of Buhari’s approach to issues of governance is a total disconnection with both his subordinates in the government, party colleagues, and the masses. Buhari has remained the only arm of the system, whereas his supporters chokingly struggle in the social media to defend  a regime that jumpstarted into action without any platform. Consequently, the Sai-Buhari mantra has totally died in the public domain leaving only a few voices who stood back to save face.

Nigeria is not looking too good at the moment, and the truth is that the regime has been busy celebrating failures and lying to the masses about the disconnection of their Commander-in-Chief with both his subordinates and the masses: his sightlessness to issues of governance, including a total disrespect to the rule of law. The worst failure is a failure before a beginning and Buhari has demonstrated that ineptitude. As a remedy, the new leader may consider, as a beginning, reconciling issues with his first major obstacle – himself.

Nigeria: How does Buhari’s 50% pay cut Crack Terror?

By Anthony Obi Ogbo
By Anthony Obi Ogbo

In the past five weeks, Boko Haram militants have slaughtered villagers and bombed churches and mosques in the northern Nigeria, challenging president Muhammadu Buhari’s vows to clean the region of any terrorist insurgency in the first few months of his administration. To make it worse, the group has boldly overrun Borno State, a region where  President Buhari relocated the country’s armory, with an excuse to defeat them. So what went wrong?

Just last week, frustrated Nigerians took to media outlets to question President Buhari’s nonchalant attitude toward issues of security and economy. He had remained out of touch with realities of the governmental process and had not offered a single plan as to how to begin.   Food prices are on the increase; Fuel pump price has increased from N87/liter to varying prices of between N110 to N130 per liter. Exchange is on a scary increase of $1 = N230 contrary to Buhari’s promise to eliminate differences in exchange rates.

Amidst all these difficulties and of course the regime’s inability to communicate a development outline, the president finally broke his 40-day silence on national issues. It was an announcement meant to positively inspire hope in a system currently lifeless. To his hopeless suffering masses, President Buhari handed down his announcement, that he would only receive half of the salary paid to his predecessor. Who cares? The annual salary of the Nigerian president is currently set at 14,058,820 naira ($70,000), including allowances, and the commonsense question is how a voluntary pay cut by this president could alleviate the current economic woes?

Yet it is worrisome that rather than tackle major issues, the social media warriors of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have continued to feed disappointed masses with some worthless cock-and-bull tales about President Buhari’s acclaimed modesty, cheap maintenance, and low-level lifestyle. Press releases are either how he turned down an official car, or how he flew the economy class.

But observers are very worried about this self-gratifying campaign. In a region overrun by Islamic extremists and terrorists, the major issue should be how a 50% pay-cut could crack terror.  Buhari’s supporters claim that his pay-cut would likely put pressure on members of the parliament and state governors to do the same, but how this attitude addresses a skyrocketing unemployment rates is yet to be ascertained. Furthermore, with continual global slump in the price of crude oil which is Nigeria’s major source of revenue,  the government must render a figurative analysis on how pay-cuts could build the economy.

Challenges in government are inevitable:  addressing them should be a strategic duty, not a punitive labor.  One positive aspect of failure is that success thrives on it. Every country has that moment – a period when challenges engulf growth and possibilities. This is when policy-making effectiveness becomes obligatory, and the Chief Executive takes the lead in coordinating two significant elements of his duties, the general masses and the surrounding situation or context. A leader who neither understands nor speaks this language should back off and become a follower.

President Buhari....Electioneering campaign is over, and by now, the APC must abstain from feeding hungry masses with fake rhetoric and deceits about President Buhari’s sanctimonious lifestyle.
President Buhari….Electioneering campaign is over, and by now, the APC must abstain from feeding hungry masses with fake rhetoric and deceits about President Buhari’s sanctimonious lifestyle.


When president Obama came into office in 2008, the economy of the United States was in shambles. He named his team, presented America with a blue print, and communicated projected timelines. He spoke to the masses regularly through radio/TV speeches, social media chats, emails, and other outlets, expressing the desolations of the tide and his keenness to inspire change and convey hope into the populace. In January 2009 alone, employers cut nearly 800,000 workers. Throughout 2009, the job slashing continued until the unemployment rate hit 10 percent that October. Within four years, the unemployment rate went down to 5.6 percent, and at some point, the private-sector employers added jobs for 58 straight months — the longest streak on record.

One of President Obama’s economic nightmare inherited from his predecessor was the housing catastrophe. The brutal foreclosure crisis knocked millions out of their homes, and by 2010, the “serious” delinquency rate for mortgages hit 4.2 percent, leaving millions of homeowners behind on their payments. Following Obama’s blueprint, the delinquency rate was down to 1.9 percent while the housing prices rebounded.

Back to Nigeria and the  prevalent standoff between them administration and the masses on policymaking blackout, nobody is expecting a miracle from a regime that has barely lasted for two months, but with its customary lack of communication regarding projects’ plans and timelines, the Buhari’s regime may be headed for a process blackout.  Without Ministers; not a single known adviser, and without any working team besides some obsequious cohorts who worship him, President Buhari is already abusing his official duties, making contradictory policy comments, dictating unmanageable strategy undertakings, and flip-flopping with dire issues of national significance. For instance, without senate approval President Buhari had unilaterally granted over N780 billion to States without a signed document from an operational minister of finance.  While the APC bragged about the president turning down official cars and presidential jets, Buhari has unilaterally approved, and have started a construction of a private helipad in Daura Katsina State, his home town.

Electioneering campaign is over, and by now, the APC must abstain from feeding hungry masses with fake rhetoric and deceits about President Buhari’s sanctimonious lifestyle. It is not late for this President to communicate his agenda and acquaint the populace with his plans to proceed. Self-gratifying tales about taking pay cuts, turning down official cars, declining state dinner engagements, and so on are absolutely irrelevant to the current challenges. If his 50% pay cut has any positive impact on this country’s alarming unemployment rates; skyrocketing food and petrol pump prices; and his inability to form a government – he should provide an outline to communicate his claims. The poor masses are saturated with pointless campaign on Buhari’s holier-than-thou personality. This is the time to show his executive skills and so far, he has flunked that test.

Buhari: Executive Stalemate

By Anthony Obi Ogbo
By Anthony Obi Ogbo

Unable to choose his working team,  President Muhammadu Buhari has been struggling to kick-off a regime he bragged so much about. The All Progressives Congress APC, it may be recalled, ran an electioneering race projecting their candidate, now the president, as a fiscally astute conservative who would curb corruption and appropriately manage the country’s economic and financial resources. The masses at this time are getting something entirely different.

While Buhari, a former dictator backflips with official duties in a representative system unfamiliar to his individual aptitude, his camp has been busy showcasing him with falsehood and deceptive fairy tales. To substitute for total lack of answers for his regime catastrophe, the APC social media warriors have been feeding disappointed masses with some worthless cock-and-bull tales of what is now termed the ‘Buhari Wonders.”

The first fake story to justify Buhari’s humility, and considerateness to money matters came during the government transition period, when the APC claimed that predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan presented a billion naira budget for delegates’ lunch, but Buhari the “good money-manager” declined any expenses, saying that his transition team would bring their own lunch. Meanwhile this president was in London at the time on a controversial mission not properly communicated to his constituents.

A similar story yet made it to the network from the Buhari’s camp on how  during the South Africa’s trip, Buhari paid the hotel bills for his staff, and asked the rest of the entourage to pay their own bills. This was a president yet to name a single staff till date. The propaganda continued with another rumor that hundreds of politicians, including the Petroleum Minister, Alison-Madueke had returned billions of Dollars stolen from the government – because they were afraid of Buhari the “respected honest money-keeper” and disciplinarian.

It is despicable that at this crucial time in the regime,  the APC social media ensemble, running out of Buhari praise-worship songs are busy telling self-indulgent stories including comparing Buhari and Jonathan’s cars, use of presidential jets, Buhari’s choice of transportation, and ostensibly his suya flavor. But  how long would they continue to feed the masses with these tommyrots.

As I write, the Buhari’s camp in the social media are still tagging around senseless stories about Buhari opting to fly in the economy class over first class; or choosing Okada over official convoy; or proposing to be eating on the floor instead of an official dining table; or heading to Alhaji Suya bacteria for his inauguration dinner rather than the traditional Aso-Rock in-house executive banquet.

Major questions remain – when would Nigerians start  getting substantial information about the running of the government? Where are the ‘missing girls’? When is this ‘change’ going to start? Where is the unemployment salaries? Where are Buhari’s ministers? Who has been making all decisions so far? Is this still a democracy?BuhariHR convoy

Indeed, Buhari and those who bejeweled him into his current executive predicament have been facing a more complicated political landscape. Even as  Buhari announced as a terror-defense strategy, a relocation of the country’s armory to Borno State, Nigeria has remained under a terrorist attacks.  In fact, last Monday suicide bombing  at a crowded fish market occurred in the northeastern city of Maiduguri – the same region where the regime relocated its arsenal.
Let us be clear then – that a president chose a wheelbarrow as an official car does not make him morally decent and fiscally astute; it only exposes his ignorance to issues of fiscal policies.  Buhari, and indeed his Yahoo drum-beaters should explain their frameworks and preparedness to fiscal reformation. They should tell Nigerians how the regime can sustain in the long run, the existing spending, policies, and tax – without jeopardizing Nigeria’s creditworthiness, obligations or projected expenses.

Without Ministers; not a single known adviser, and without any working team besides obsequious cohorts who worship him, President Buhari is already abusing his official duties, making contradictory policy comments, dictating unmanageable strategy undertakings, and flip-flopping with dire issues of national significance.

As a matter of urgency, the masses are waiting for their new president to at least acquaint them with his plans to proceed. They want to hear about the machinery to translate electoral promises into action, not about limousines, and jets. In a government structure where the President cannot communicate, cannot relate, and worse, cannot corroborate his own policies, there is every reason to worry. It is torturing that under the current regime,   citizens have to rely on repentant party bloggers to know the fate of their current economic woes.

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