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As Delta State gets set for local government elections

When announcing the date oflong-overdue local government elections in Delta State, the chairman of the state’s independent electoral commission, Mr Moses Ogbe, said, in that grating grandiloquence bordering on bombast that Nigerian public servants love so much, as follows: “Having regard to the desire of Deltans for the conduct of a smooth and hitch-free Local Government Election in the state, the commission has resolved that the elections will hold on Saturday, 25th October, 2014.”

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Jonathan’s Non-Negotiator and the moral black hole threatening our govt

IN my last column entitled “Jonathan’s Hostage Negotiator Puts Him in a Tight Corner” (3 September 2014), I argued that Australian hostage negotiator Dr. Stephen Davis did Nigeria a favour by daring to call by name two persons alleged to be sponsors of Boko Haram, and by pointing to an unnamed person alleged to be the evil sect’s banker ensconced in our Central Bank in Abuja.

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Elections as military operations

BY all sober reckoning, Professor Attahiru Jega has done quite well in his last two outings as Nigeria’s chief electoral officer and, so, democracy’s chief midwife in our turbulent country. If Ekiti broke the hearts of progressives, of those who believe that “man does not live alone by bread” — in other words, that the gospel of “Man shall live alone for his stomach,” according to Saints Adedibu and Fayose, is perversion itself — Osun offered them consolation. With the hard-fought but clear victory of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in the August 9 election, Jega gave hope to a nation pining, panting even, for a sign of change in the still uninspiring effort of governing ourselves sensibly. If against the seemingly unstoppable electoral machine of the ruling party, oiled by its ability to dispense power and privilege, a harried governor from a new collation party still getting to know all of its new members could win re-election, then 2015 might not be all the predicted gloom and doom. Electorally speaking, only, I must be quick to add, for the forces that tear at corporate Nigeria are legion!

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For Bamidele Aturu, 1964-2014

He was not a poet, and I doubt that he ever knew of a Welshman by the name of Dylan Thomas who famously enjoined his dying father not to “go gentle into that goodnight” but to “rage, rage against the darkness and the dying of the light.” Physics educationist by first training, lawyer after, and crusader for democracy and justice, he was inclined to think in more prosaic terms.

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Let us end the pretence and declare Nigeria a unitary state!

The Vanguard of Monday, July 14, 2014 carried three full page advertorials on one issue: the impasse at the National Conference over a proper derivation formula. The Committee on Devolution of Powers, whose report was the last to be debated at plenary, had recommended retaining the 13% in General Abacha’s 1999 Constitution against the Northern delegates’ insistence on reducing it to 5%.

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Dr. Abel K. Ubeku, 1936-2014: In memoriam

ON Saturday, June 14, 2014, the remains of Dr Abel Kprogidi Ubeku, former Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria PLC, were returned to Mother Earth. Although better known to Nigerians, especially those for whom alcoholic beverage is synonymous with the dark stout he turned into the most popular beer in the country — “black thing good ooo!” — he was also a sound scholar and notable politician.

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Derivation: How North bullied South to submission

YOU have to hand it to the North. Knowing the extent of the Niger Delta’s sense of injustice through the unconscionable expropriation of its nature-given oil and gas wealth, and knowing that just nine years ago the South-South delegates to General Obasanjo’s constitutional conference walked out of proceedings rather than accept a derivation formula of less than 25%, the Northern delegates to President Jonathan’s National Conference insisted on not only reducing the laughable 13% already entrenched in the 1999 military constitution to 5% (that’s right, FIVE percent) but also on wiping out any other grudging concession. Mounted atop the high horse of power they know how to ride so well, they presented their Southern counterparts a choice: accept 5 % or accept a reinstatement of the onshore-offshore dichotomy in the calibration of oil output,give up the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and the amnesty programme.

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God’s anointed criminals

As the world watched Abuba-kar Shekau’s video declaration of Allah’s instruction to him to sell the nearly 300 girls he kidnapped at midnight from their boarding school beds in Chibok, Borno State, something happened at last that had been long awaited: action, rather than platitudinous words of outrage.

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When a Finance Minister turns money-doubler

I  COULDN’T help it. As soon as the new figures conjured by Dr Okonjo-Iweala out of Nigeria’s “rebased” Gross Domestic Product exercise came out, I shouted abracadabra! Then I chanted, “Come and see Ah-meri-ka wonder! Come and see Ah-meri-ka wonder!” I promptly substituted “Nigerian” for America in that spell-casting ditty of itinerant tricksters that used to haunt the busy bus terminals of our major cities. I completed the expression of my wonder by crying out loud, “The more you look, the less you see!” 

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Praying for Nigeria: A citizen’s secular meditations

IF I were a praying man, I would be on my knees every minute of the day for the next three months. And if I could be sure not to expire from the inhuman sacrifice, I would seek to better God-the-Son by fasting for 90 days and nights, hoping that the 492 wise men and women selected to rescue Nigeria from the precipice of self-annihilation would not need a day beyond June 15, 2014 to complete their task.

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