MONDAY QUARTERBACKING: On The Matter of the Politics of Change and the Rings around the Incoming President

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MONDAY QUARTERBACKING:  On The Matter of the Politics of Change and the Rings around the Incoming President
Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
May 11, 2015


My dear People:

To probe or not to probe past thievery in Nigeria – that is not the main question for President-to-be Buhari at this time.
Change should be more fundamental than that.  It must be within the context of the Citizens of Nigeria as its ultimate beneficiary, and the realization that the President(-cy) in a presidential system, whether he or we the citizens like to admit it or not,  is an elected Dictator(-ship) that must however work cooperatively with the Legislature and the Judiciary at various tiers of Governance.
So I have been thinking, and will share only a little of that thinking will our readers below…much more elsewhere….

Please come with me as we take a look first at this diagram:
Figure 1:  Rings around the President and the Politics of Change

I posit that what the most important issues to the Ultimate Change Beneficiary of Change  – Nigerian Citizens [L] – are Employment, Energy,  Education, Security, Water, Transportation, and the Economy (in roughly that order).  Most other issues are derivative, and the hope for change is in their qualitative delivery.

However, those Dividends of Change can only be achieved through proper Governance, with the Presidency [A]  working cooperatively with Federal, State and Local Government entities [D] as well as the Organized Private Sector OPS [K], within the context of multi-party politicking [B].  Constitutional reforms to yield true cooperative federalism;  electoral process reform to yield truly free, fair, transparent, violence-free and credible elections;   and party-membership re-engineering to eliminate the influence of money bags are key to this proper governance.

But separating the President [A] from the Citizens [L] is a spider-web of groups and issues [B to K] that that must be cut through with an Anti-Corruption laser-beam, for corruption is the bane of Nigeria’s current problems, that reduces the money available to government to perform vital and worthwhile functions, increases inefficiency across the board, and promotes mediocrity and outright incompetence.

In this Anti-Corruption stance, the President must first be the Ultimate Exemplar, who must first keep his family members (wife, children, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunties, etc.), long-time friends (former classmates, etc.) and allies and other hangers-on [all in Groups A] in close check.  This is no time for them to “cash in” and peddle and be paid for influence.   As leader of his party, this un-corrupt presidential stance should be extended to his political associates, executive council members and advisers [Groups B and C].  Particularly in situations where he has a power of choice, he must be able to say “I believe that you are innocent, but please go and settle your corruption charge, and we can talk afterwards.”  Separating Regulatory Agencies [J] such as CBN, NCC, NERC, etc. from incestuous relationships with the Regulated (such as Banks, telecommunication companies, electricity companies, etc.); putting a spotlight on Civil and Public Servants [G] living way beyond their means; as well on agencies that should be investigating corruption itself (EFCC, AuGF, ICPC, Police, Judiciary, etc. –  Groups F and I] that themselves become corrupt will significantly reduce corruption.  Furthermore, a spotlight must be put on money-making MDAs (eg CBN, NNPC, DPR, Customs, NCC, Immigration, etc;   Group E.] with respect to high living and discretionary salaries and allowances allotted to their employees, as well as irrelevant “Corporate Social Responsibility” carried out  indiscriminately with public money much outside their mandate.,   We must forget money-handling entities [ eg banks, Tetfund, UBEC,, etc. Group H] in the spotlight in order to stem the haemorrhaging of money in our system.  It is almost trite to restate here that there is enough money for our needs, but not for our greed.

Finally.  there must be a FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE in our approach to budgeting, which, for the past 30 years, has been plug-and-play.  Pick up the overwhelming majority of our previous budgets.  The speeches are identical, except for some numbers and platitudes here and there. You will also find the simple arithmetics:
 Main Revenue in Dollars R1 =  No of Barrels of Oil Sold NBOS x Expected Dollars Per Barrel EDPB   
     Main Revnue in Naira R2 = R1 x Expected Dollar to Naira Exchange Rate NDEXR 
  Total Revenue in Naira R3  = R2 (1 + Non-oil Percentage NOP)
The result of our oil-revenue-based budgeting with four very uncertain parameters  NBOS, EDPB, NDEXR and NOP is the very uncertain and leaky budget of a badly-managed oil-merchandizing nation-company.  Is the whole country an oil-selling company or what?
This brings us to Figure 2, where we spend so much time looking at  Federal Budget, and yet largely ignore state and local government budgets, as well as severe leaks in the revenues of statutorily money-making Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs),
Figure 2:  Nigeria’s Budget Flows.  
[A is total revenue, with fractions representing typical values of the components shown]






Item Revenue Item Federal (FGN) Item State/LGA
Oil Revenue(Market Price MP) 0.60A Excess Crude(BP = MP.x) 0.60A(1-x) 13% Derivation 0.078Ax
Customs & Excise (C&E) 0.15A NCS(7% ofC&E) 0.0105A State/LG from Federation Account(47.32% of FA) [0.247x+0.1114]A
CIT 0.10A FIRS(4% of CIT+VAT) 0.006A State/LG from VAT Pool[85% of VP] 0.0408A
VAT 0.05A Special Funds(4.18% of FA) [0.02182x+0.009844]A 

Independent Revenue 0.10A Federal Budget [0.2209 + 0.25317x]A

Total 1.00A Total   [0.8472 -0.325x]A Total [0.1522+0.325x]A
Captured in A


Note: Federation Account FA = 0.87*0.60Ax + 0.93*0.15A + 0.96*0.10A =  [0.522x + 0.2355]A

Vat Pool VP = 0.96*0.05A

Federal Budget = 0.485*[0.522x + 0.2355]A + 0.14*0.96*0.05A + 0.10A = [0.2209 + 0.25317x]A

Take for example the Year 2014 Budget executive proposal, and inspect our Budgeted Revenue relative to our Gross Revenue, the Fiscal deficit as a proportion of GDP, as well as the Recurrent Expenditure (and its items) relative to Capital Expenditure.  The estimated gross revenue (oil and non-oil) was N10.453 trillion; the proposed FGN Retained Budget revenue was N3.731 trillion, while the proposed Expenditure was N4.643 trillion, leading to a proposed deficit of N0.912 trillion, more than half of which would be financed by new borrowing (N0.572 trillion).  More than half of the expenditure (N2.43 trillion) would be on recurrent (non-debt) items, while only N1.1 trillion would be on Capital, and the rest (N1.11 trillion) on debt service and statutory transfers.

Figure 3:  2014 Executive Budget Revenue Proposal

Figure 4:  2014 Executive Budget Fiscal Deficit Financing Proposal
Figure 5:  2014 Executive Budget Expenditure Proposal
I posit that part of what a regime of Change must do should be to move the country away from our rote plug-and-play budgeting into a completely Company- , Personal-Income- and Property-TAX-BASED budgeting, coupled with MAXIMUM money recovery from money-making MDAs.  I believe that even with our present low oil sales and low dollar cost of oil,  and by plugging leaks, we can INCREASE by seven- to ten-fold the money available to government to perform, PROVIDED the money is not again leaked.  We certainly must consider instituting a BALANCED (no-deficit) BUDGET regimentation, as well as a budget re-balancing in favour of Capital relative to Recurrent expenditure in the earliest possible time.

I will be expatiating on this elsewhere, but let me end with an extensive quotation which I find  relevant to where Nigeria finds itself at the moment

All organised societies depend on a power system; and politics is the business of power, its acquisition and its use.  Observation of history suggests that there have been three approaches to the use of power.  There are men, perhaps in the majority, who see power as something to be acquired for its own sake. There are there are those who see power as something to be used for the purposes of minor adjustments,  Finally, there are the idealists who seek to arrange fundamental change.
In the first case, men who pursue power for its own sake usually do so, either because it satisfies something in their own egotism or because they want for themselves the fruits of power; and of course, it is in this stream that the greatest tyrants of history are to be found.
The second group does not necessarily want power for its own sake so much as for the achievement of some immediate adjustment in the society.  It sees society as an amoral phenomenon to be accepted in all fundamental respects and adjusted in terms of obvious points of inefficiency or its response to the particular pressures of discontent………..this type of politician is conscious of points of pressure, seeming to require change, that arise from discontent and seeks in response to that pressure, marginal adjustments in the organisation of society for the purpose of relieving the discontent and removing the points of pressure.
Finally, there are the idealists who begin by rejecting existing social relationships and proceed to construct a model of how they think society should be ordered.  They are concerned with the basic changes that are necessary to effect the transformation from the one state to the other.
Our second group are the pragmatists of political history.  They probably spend more time in power than any other kind of politician because, obviously, societies discover in the end that tyrants exercise power at the expense of everybody else.  Sour our first category is liable to sudden and violent eliminations.
On the other hand, idealists, the third category, are vulnerable because they are concerned with change. Change and oppression both breed fear, and therefore, the pragmatic politician who is content to tinker is the one who societies feel most comfortable. Tyranny, as a method has no place….[with me].  On the other hand [Nigerian] society is disfigured by inequities that go too deep for tinkering.  Our concern, therefore, must be with the politics of change.
Idealistic politicians seek first a moral foundation for political action… the root of all idealistic political thinking is the question:  What is the purpose of political organization?  Some answer with the notion of stability…others take the contrary view and see individual freedom as their first order of priorities…Where the first will  make obedience, conformity and “law and order” the dominant consideration, the second group will seek a system that minimizes these considerations and prefers rather to walk as close to the edge of anarchy as social survival will allow…..
The more I have thought, therefore, about social organisation, the more I have concluded that here is only one supreme, moral imperative that cannot be affected by time, by circumstance, by the seasons, by man’s moods or intellectual distractions, by the injunctions of philosophers or the sermons of pastors, and it is the notion that social organization exists to serve EVERYBODY or it has no moral foundation.
That was late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, himself the son of a former Prime Minister of Jamaica, writing in the Introductory section of his book “The Politics of Change: A Jamaican Testament” [Andre Deutsch, 1974.]
And there you have it.
Bolaji Aluko

On Mon, May 11, 2015 at 1:26 AM, ‘Nebukadineze Adiele’ via naijaintellects <> wrote:

  • During the campaigns some of us argued that the biggest problem facing Nigeria was growing the economy while others argued it is fighting corruption. Nigerians have made their choice known. Majority of Nigerian voters voted Buhari to FIGHT CORRUPTION. Not to make plea bargains. Or recover only 50% of stolen monies ‘nicodemously’ or like OBJ be selective about his ‘war against corruption’. The least we expect is that we PROBE Nigeria’s finances since 1999 when we returned to civil rule.(Pastor Joe)

(i) It is oxymoron to talk of growing the economy while corruption overwhelms the economy. The purpose of corruption is to stifle positive growth of anything, including an economy. You can’t cure dwarfism without curing what prevents growth hormones from releasing when expected to so do. The flaw in your argument, pastor Joe, was that you wanted to wipe your rear ends before using the toilet. Nigerians said no to that line of thinking and they were correct and will be proven more correct with Buhari’s expected success as president.
(ii) Buhari’s job is not to probe past administrations — that is not what any serious new administration is expected to do. Buhari has his agendas, in addition to that of his political party, to implement — tackle corruption and profligacy in every facet of the nation’s existence, grow the economy, secure the country, arrest infrastructure decay, elevate the state of education, etc. Probing past governments, up to 1999, is not just stupid and a total waste of time and resources, it may also be statute barred. What president-elect Buhari has said, and which is in line with global intelligent leadership attributes, is never to henceforth condone corruption, spare any identified corrupt person/s, and to pursue corruption whenever and wherever evidence takes his administration. Witch hunts and quintessential fishing expeditions are not the reasons that he ran for president, all these half-baked analysts with parochial hidden agendas should go and sit down somewhere. 
People, especially the Yoroba intelligentsia, are ignoring what Buhari says while attributing their own parochial and sabotaging agendas to him; I cannot stop smelling 1984 all over again. What shocks me is that all these blokes (apology to Ogbuonyeiro) who are dictating what Buhari will and will not do were chronic anti Buharites a couple of years ago. What has made the difference, Osibanjo? Is Yoroba’s fantasy of Osibanjo taking over from a Buhari forced out of office for incompetence and despotism also responsible for Yoroba’s goading of Buhari into irrational and irresponsible policy pursuits?
It is difficult not to see these things in light of the fact that we saw them in 1985, when Yoroba intelligentsia rode on the back of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (then perceived to be a Yoroba of Ogbomosho) to overthrow Buhari’s government — after they had distorted everything that Buhari’s government was doing, did sordid things in the name of that government to garner it bad will, and notwithstanding the fact that Yoroba intelligentsia practically called for the overthrow of the Shagari administration. The similarities are eerie and they should make Buhari more cautious and more aware of possible landmines laid by his frenemies. 
Former Kaduna state governor, Balarabe Musa, just expressed a similar sentiment (he was more cautious, measured, and indirect in not identifying the overzealous culprits in his speech than I have been here) but some ignoramuses have dismissed him as another jobber. But Balarabe Musa is 100 times more honest and clean than Buhari; he is 100 times more frugal and people-oriented in altruism than Buhari; he is 100 times more anti the exploitative establishment and incorruptible than Buhari. Balarabe Musa is a statesman and a man of the talakawa whom the corrupt Nigerian establishment loathes. I do not agree with his call for a government of national unity (I have no idea what that means) but I wholly agree with him that those who will sabotage Buhari are within his party and his inner circle. As Obasanjo told Buhari a couple of months ago, if he has not learned anything from his previous experience, then he must be the most unlearned human being alive. 
We shall continue to watch and speak our minds without minding whose ox is gored.  
Nebukadineze Adiele
Organized religion sired irrationality. 



—–Original Message—–
From: topcrest topcrest [TalkNigeria] <>
To: Bring Your Baseball Bat <>; Nigerian World Forum <>; African GM <>; Politics Naija <>; Okonkwonetworks <>; Omo Oodua <>; Ra’ayi Riga <>; Truth As My Weapon <>; TalkNaija <>; Mgbajala Eziokwu <>; No Guideline In Free for All <>; Matador Forum <>
Sent: Sun, May 10, 2015 10:41 am
Subject: [TalkNigeria] Buhari: To Probe or Not to Probe?

During the campaigns some of us argued that the biggest problem facing Nigeria was growing the economy while others argued it is fighting corruption. Nigerians have made their choice known. Majority of Nigerian voters voted Buhari to FIGHT CORRUPTION. Not to make plea bargains. Or recover only 50% of stolen monies ‘nicodemously’ or like OBJ be selective about his ‘war against corruption’. The least we expect is that we PROBE Nigeria’s finances since 1999 when we returned to civil rule. How much did we earn from crude oil from 1999 to 2015 and what did we do with it? How much have we spent on NEPA/ power projects from 1999 till the assets were sold? An interesting aside under OBJ apart from spending $16 billion dollars on power is that everyone who served OBJ as power minister either died or became a Governor. 
Probe all probe-ables; recover all recoverables; jail all jailables. No selectivity. No half measures. Anything less than that is NOT fighting corruption IMHO.

Buhari: To Probe or Not to Probe?

10 May 2015
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I admire Gen. Muhammadu Buhari but, I’m sorry, I don’t envy him. Expectations are just too high. Nigerians have suffered too much all their lives: they are therefore entitled to lofty expectations from a new president. Refineries must work now. Hospitals must be top-quality now. The schools must be excellent now. Roads must be tarred now. Electricity must be uninterrupted now. As I have argued over the years, no one president is going to change or transform Nigeria in four or eight years. It took time to destroy Nigeria and it will take time to rebuild it. The most important thing is to be sure we are making steady progress and travelling in the right direction.
Nevertheless, Buhari, having come to power with elegant anti-corruption credentials, will face his biggest test in the way he fights graft. I have listened carefully to debates and counter-debates, and I have come to the certain conclusion that Buhari will face his biggest battle in trying to define how he wants to fight corruption. Should he probe the past or not? Should he draw a line or not? Should he accommodate politicians undergoing corruption trials in his team? Should he distance himself from them? Should he go after President Goodluck Jonathan, his ministers and associates? Or should he simply “face front”?
What may pass as his “acid test” would be the $20 billion affair in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The allegation of “missing money” was raised in 2013 by the then Central Bank governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who initially reeled out a series of inconsistent figures. After going back and forth, Sanusi finally settled for $20 billion. The federal government commissioned PwC to do a forensic audit. The report has confirmed that, indeed, $20 billion has not been satisfactorily “accounted for” by the NNPC. You know what that means. The report was submitted to Jonathan, who has now released it to the public.
So what should Buhari do with it? This is where the problem starts. Some want Buhari to pass the report to the anti-graft agencies so that they can do more work and charge the indicted persons to court. Some say he should not do that because it would amount to a “distraction”, that he should just focus on going forward rather than looking backward. Some have taken the argument even further, insisting that if he wants to act on the report, he can as well probe the NNPC further back to 1999, so that it does not appear he is witch-hunting Jonathan. Some say no, let Buhari extend the probe to 1976, when he himself was the minister of petroleum. Nigerians!
But I have bad news for you: there is no action taken by Buhari that will not be questioned and hotly debated. If he probes, he is damned. If he doesn’t probe, he is damned. It is now left for him as a leader to sit back and think through all the possibilities, ruminate over the consequences and consider the benefits of any action he takes — and weigh them against the national interest. It is not as if he is going to be loved by all Nigerians on every decision he takes. For every action, there will be plenty reactions. But I think any leader who seeks to take decisions on the basis of what public response will be is not fit to be a leader, certainly not in Nigeria.
I ask again: what should Buhari do? Going by his pronouncements, he has promised not to probe the past but “draw a line” upon his May 29 inauguration. He would declare: thus far and no more. If he follows this line strictly, that means those who were unable to account for the $20 billion (and many other billions) will go scot-free. The money and energy put into the forensic audit would go to waste. Those who bought private jets, Rolls Royce cars, yachts and mansions all over the world from the booty will continue to enjoy their loot without consequences. How will it feel if a robber snatches your car and is driving it around freely? You won’t like it, would you?
In another pronouncement, Buhari promised to probe the “missing $20 billion”. Indeed, it was after his statement that the auditor-general of the federation quickly flung the PwC report out of the window to the waiting crowd. If Buhari decides to take it further, what are the consequences? Minus cries of “selective justice” that are typical of us in Nigeria, the accused persons can go to court, get injunctions and pervert justice. Except things change, judges and lawyers are very good at making sure justice is delayed or denied. Remember some former governors have been on trial since 2007! The justice system in Nigeria is evidently pro-looting.
Another option will be the “Nicodemus Model”. By this, the looters will quietly come at night to confess their sins and surrender as much loot as they can. No naming, no shaming. They will simply vomit what they have swallowed, assuming they have not digested it or gone to the toilet all these years. Even if it is only $10 billion that can be recovered Nicodemusly, that will be enough to clear arrears of salaries in many states. The way our finances are now, every kobo recovered will count. But you know what? The “Nicodemus Model” will come with serious consequences. Buhari would be accused of treating heavyweight corruption with featherweight punches.
By the way, there are plenty reports awaiting action. The report of the probe into the power sector spending between 1999 and 2007 is hiding somewhere. That one is not up to $20 billion but somewhere near $16 billion. The pension scam probe hardly gets any mention these days. That is why some people say fresh probes will amount to “distraction”. Sure, probes can be difficult and complex but they will only be a distraction if Buhari is the one that will personally investigate and prosecute — or wear the judge’s wig. To avoid “distraction”, Buhari can face the business of government while the anti-graft agencies do their job.
I conclude: no matter the option taken by Buhari on these reports, there will consequences. There will be kudos and knocks. There will be accusations and counter-accusations. There will be venomous debates. It is extremely difficult to fight corruption in Nigeria. While we all like theorising on how corruption is damaging our development, we still do not have a national consensus on how to fight it. We are angry about corruption but we are not angry enough. That is why we politicise our attitude to it. We impute ethnic, religious and political motives rather than ask the all-important question: did you steal or not? Can you now understand why I don’t envy Buhari?
Other Things
In 2011, when PDP leaders were fighting about “zoning”, I told them that what they meant was “power rotation”, not zoning. I said power rotation is an agreement to rotate presidency between geo-political zones, while zoning is used per time to distribute offices in an equitable way. Not many people understood me. In fact, the opposition parties said they had nothing like zoning in their constitutions, that it was entirely a PDP problem. APC is now battling to zone the senate presidency and speakership — and that is NOT power rotation. Zoning is in our DNA, as I argued in 2011. Vindicated.
There is a genuine fear in the south-east that they could be pushed to the margins in the incoming Muhammadu Buhari administration. This is because the zone did not give significant votes to him in the general election. Prominent leaders from the zone have been making representations to Buhari over the matter. I don’t think the south-east needs to fear. By law, every state must produce a minister. By law, appointments at the federal level must reflect the federal character — the much-maligned equitable sharing formula that makes it impossible to ostracise any geo-political zone. Accommodating the south-east is inevitable. Relax.
I am seeing something like an irony in the imminent return of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to power. It is just as if history is repeating itself— and this is no farce, mind you. When he took over power from civilians through a coup in 1983, the states were owing salaries. Some were nine months in arrears. The economic crisis was blamed on corruption and falling oil revenue. Three decades later, Buhari is, again, taking over from “civilians” through the ballot and states are, again, owing salaries. The economic crunch, again, is blamed on corruption and falling oil revenue. Weird.
Watchers of UK politics should be worried by one phenomenon that appeared to have shaped the May 7 general election: the rise of nationalism. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which is marketed on the basis of taking Scotland out of the UK, won 56 out of 59 seats in its territory. The anti-immigration UK Independent Party (UKIP) got 3.9 million popular votes — the third highest — which somehow indicates that more ordinary Britons now favour this xenophobic manifesto. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party is very much anti-immigration, even if more nuanced. Tories’ decisive victory may just be one signal to immigrants. Alarm.



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