On Wednesday, the Kano State Governorship Electoral Petition Tribunal sacked Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples’ Party (NNPP) as governor after deducting 165,663 votes from the total votes he scored during the election. The three-member panel of judges led by Oluyemi Asadebay ruled that the ballots containing the votes were not certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Despite the tribunal’s ruling, Mr. Yusuf will remain in office until the appeal court and possibly the supreme court gives a final ruling on the matter. I have not studied the judgement so I would make no comments on subtractions that go only in one direction but the outcome is concerning to many in Kano.
Browsing: Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim
After some discussions on the encouraging story of a young entrepreneur on our Barewa Old Boys WhatsApp group, a couple of classmates and I decided to visit Mustapha Gajibo to better understand his engagement in renewable energy and project of the design and production of Nigerian electric vehicles. We were all impressed with his vision, drive, ambition and above all his commitment to seeking modern workable solutions to Nigeria’s challenges. From his base in Maiduguri, he has been producing electric cars since 2017. Recall that in 2017, there was no electricity in Maiduguri because the supply line had been blown up by Boko Haram. What audacity to think of producing electric cars in a city that did not even have electricity at the time I asked. His response was that precisely for that reason, it was important to seek solutions and if the city had no electricity it had a lot of sun which could be harnessed to charge the vehicles.
The coup in Gabon this week is most unlikely to be a regime change. Gen Brice Nguema, the head of the junta is a relation of the Bongo family and started his career as body guard to Omar Bongo, the father of the deposed President who had ruled for 42 years. The coup occurred minutes after President Ali Bongo had been declared winner of a rigged election. He had been incapacitated since he suffered from a stroke in 2019 and the optics of a president without the capacity to govern has been an issue since his stroke. The symbolism of someone who is incapable of exercising power rigging election after election posed the question of how much longer can the charade last. When there was an attempted coup in January 2019, the army responded immediately rounding up the culprits. As everyone knows, Gabon is too precious for France to allow regime change. In the coming days, it will become clearer who allowed this coup to succeed.
This week, the controversial Wagner Group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, died when his plane was blown off the sky. He was a man of many talents said the Russian President, Putin, his friend/enemy. Indeed, one of his greatest talents is developing elaborate and sophisticated ways of weaponizing the genuine and deep history of Francafrique terrible maintenance of its colonial grip on the governments and resources of Francophone Africa for its interest while pretending to propose liberation. The purpose has been to introduce in its stead Russian neo-colonial control of the said territories through the instrumentality of installing military dictatorships. His method has been through deliberate and sustained manipulation through the social media.
This week, the innocent sounding term: “All Eyes on the Judiciary” appears to seriously irritate the Tinubu Government, I wonder why? The anger is seen in the decision of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) to remove “All Eyes on the judiciary” billboards sponsored by a group known as the Diaspora’s for Good Governance. The hashtag is an excellent description of the state of mind of ALL Nigerians wondering, fearing, hopeful, frightened of the expected verdict of the judiciary on election cases currently in the tribunals. The main focus is on the presidential election tribunal which will soon deliver its verdict on the petitions challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu in the general election. Is someone afraid?
The ECOWAS emergency summit yesterday started well. Chairman Bola Tinubu in his opening remarks called for a focus on the use of diplomatic channels and negotiations. As I was writing this column to commend the new approach, news broke out that ECOWAS, has ordered its standby force to restore constitutional order in Niger Republic. The President of ECOWAS, Omar Alieu Touray made the declaration while reading the resolutions of the meeting. He also called on the African Union, partner countries and institutions to support the resolution taken by the sub-regional body. ECOWAS said all efforts made to dialogue with Niger Republic military junta have been defiantly rejected by coup leaders as they condemn continuous detention of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family members. They then directed the committee of the Chiefs of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS stand-by force with all its elements immediately to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. The path taken is that of escalation.
This type of threat worked effectively in ousting President Jammeh of the Gambia in 2017 because there was unity of purpose in the entire region and the military threat against such a small country was credible. The situation in Niger and in West Africa today is significantly different after a fourth coup in the region. It is important to think carefully before taking a risky path. I am however confident that it is possible to reverse the current trend of the return of the military.
The Wednesday coup in Niger finally succeeded at midnight with soldiers announcing on national TV the dissolution of the Constitution, Parliament and Government. Sigh…. This makes it the sixth country in the West Africa region to experience a coup since August 2020. Adding Chad makes it the seventh. Early on Wednesday morning, it had been reported that President Mohammed Bazoum had been held in the presidential palace by his own presidential guard. It appeared the guard then had to negotiate with the regular army while shooting in the air to keep anti coup protesters at bay. President Bola Tinubu sent a strong message to the putschists warning them that West Africa was no longer willing to tolerate coups. He also consulted with President Patrice Talon of Benin Republic who is acting as mediator with the military. The US, France, UN, ECOWAS and African Union also condemned the coup calling for a return to status quo.
At the ECOWAS Summit in Bissau on 9th July 2023, President Bola Tinubu was elected Chairman of ECOWAS. In his acceptance speech, he warned that the threat to peace in the region had reached an alarming proportion with terrorism and an emerging pattern of military takeovers that ECOWAS must take concerted action addressing with the urgency the matter demands. Shortly after, he was in Addis for the African Union Summit. His first action point as ECOWAS Chairman was establishing the Presidential Troika + 1 (Talon – Benin, Embalo – Guinea Bissau and Bazoum – Niger + Umar Tourray, President of ECOWAS Commission to develop an immediate action plan to address terrorism and coups d’états in West Africa. The four presidents met in Abuja on 18th July and drew up plans to engage Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea on expeditious return to constitutional rule, credible and inclusive elections. They also proposed a pathway to an expeditious OPERATIONALISATION of ECOWAS Revised Plan of Action for the eradication of terrorism in West Africa. This action-man approach by President Tinubu is raising hopes that Nigeria is now ready to assume once again its traditional leadership role in West Africa, which the country has abandoned for almost two decades.
In these strange times, the story of the Nigerian State is daily written in the crime pages of our newspapers and broadcasts. One set of stories that is emerging repeatedly is the dismantling and theft of the country’s infrastructure. This week, it was reported that thieves have removed and stolen the recently installed airfield ground lighting systems at the domestic runway (18L/36R) of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos. The runway lights are critical because they help pilots to do landing and take-off safely at night, or in low visibility conditions. As these are highly specialized lights with specific use on runways, the thieves must have access to security zones and band have knowledge of where they can sell them. It was only in November 2022 that the runway was reopened for 24 hours flight services after the successful installation of the ground lights.
Last week, some of the road fittings installed on the newly inaugurated Second Niger bridge were vandalized by robbers. Specifically, the metal expansion joints are removed and sold as scrap metals by the robbers. This problem has been on-going in Lagos for years where similar joints and metal reinforcement for bridge safety are regularly removed and sold compromising the integrity and safety of the bridges. Railings and crash barriers from manholes meant to reinforce bridges from vibrating, as well as protect vehicles from falling from the bridge are also removed and sold.