Opinions

OSINBAJO AND A LIKELY DATE WITH DESTINY By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

Asiwaju Tinubu and Osinbajo on a trip

Let me use this yuletide season to shine my torch on Pastor Yemi Osibajo who at the moment is top most Christian official of the country and a person who has never lost sight of such a responsibility by behaving and acting appropriately. Such quality has silently endeared him to the people and due to his nature you can only know that when you personally ask peoples opinion about him or APC and 2023.

Due to his nature that I have described above and his not being the everyday politician, he may not be the favorite for political headlines by media and pundits but people like us who take extra mile to observe and analyze our everyday changing and growing democracy do see so many likely permutations of which Osinbajo appears the most likely for consensus sake all the way.

Let me make a reminder to my earlier article of November 4, 2019 titled ‘Pantami as near perfect fit for 2023 permutations’ https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2019/11/04/isa-ali-pantami-as-near-perfect-fit-for-the-2023-permutations-by-hashim-suleiman/ where I had identified Tinubu’s clear interest in the game but could be stalled by a likely need for pairing with a Muslim like Pantami which is doable but with its attendant challenges and as such a pairing of Pantami with a Christian could be a more perfect fit. Such a Christian is gradually turning out for me to be Osinbajo. 

Events have come and gone after the above article and in fact the race for the 2023 is becoming clearer with so much interests for the presidency in the APC and none of them is likely ready to shift grounds for the other, little wonder why Pastor TundeBakare had to attempt to shut some of those camps who are hell bent on truncating Asiwaju Tinubu’s ambition for the 2023 presidency bid. It is not likely that those camps are going to pull back their ‘shakabula’ guns as a result of Bakare’s sermon and one thing Bakare also forgot is that in politics such guns may not kill but they may be spoilers in a supposed well planned operation. Regardless of all these however, Tinubu has continued his reach out to all parts of the country from Sheikh Bin Usman’s daughter’s wedding in Kano to Maiduguri on a condolence for the incident at Jere local Government. 

Furthermore, it is not longer news that Kayode Fayemi and his crew are nursing their own agenda with him being the presidential candidate or pairing with a northerner as vice. The Goodluck Jonathan card is also flying and a friend just recently whispered another card of Orji Uzor Kalu perhaps to placate the Igbos. The people who fly these cards are mostly those who are vehemently against Tinubu’s candidature and I’m not sure they are ready to support it for whatever reason and I’m also not sure if Asiwaju himself is ready to go ahead with his agenda without all these erring groups in the APC or in other words the APC being intact. 

Make no mistake to think the Asiwaju who is a benefactor of Osinbajo is not fully qualified or does not enjoy my personal support for the presidency owing to my belief in his progressive principle which I had also enumerated in the November 4, 2019 article I made reference to in the third paragraph above but the realistic fact is there are so many land mines which do not appear pleasant for both his party and himself should he insist to go ahead. The first major challenge will be that of the religious pairing unless well insist to have a repeat of the muslim-muslimticket of 1993 and whether such would fly could be left to the further strategy meetings that would be held and such meetings must be made with sincerity of purpose, lucky enough Osinbajohad informed us in one of the Colloquiums that Tinubu holds his meetings with such openness during his governorship days and could give in on superior progressive arguments. The second major hurdle would be those other groups who would back out in the event of the emergence of an Asiwaju candidature. Such would leave the APC very weakened to go into the election and there would also be anti party activities. 

Against the backdrop of all of the above, Osinbajo appears to be the most perfect candidate to mitigate all of the above challenges. He is a Christian of repute who could easily fit into pairing with another Muslim of repute. He fits into the class of the new breed politicians that the Nigerian youths clamor for on a daily. Apart from being a graduate of the Asiwaju School of progressive politics, he is a very close friend and confidant of all the other groups who might be opposing an Asiwajucandidature. Osinbajo had worked as meticulously as bagging enough friends from the opposition PDP.

If all of these are not enough pointers for a likely date with destiny then what could ever be more. Time shall tell however, but it’s instructive for the APC family to look inwards and make appropriate decisions against the 2023 elections which is fast approaching. 

But Osinbajo does appear as the most suitable consensus candidate for the APC.

Hashim Suleiman

@oneheartnaija

PANTAMI AND A REJUVENATED NIGERIA’S GLOBAL DIGITAL IMAGE By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

Group Photograph at the Dubai Silicon Oasis.

The outing at the GITEX, 2020 in Dubai showcased clearly how much Pantami had been much ready for leadership and is simply showcasing it without stress. He looked the part, the show was classy and you had a semblance of a nation that was ready to communicate with the world as far as digital concerns are the matters.

One thing you can give to Pantami and could help you understand his person better is the fact that he understands the importance of media in all his activities. Let me tell you for free that America is as progressive as it is because of the greatness of their media, no one can know about what you’re doing no matter how great if you don’t showcase it to them. This also demonstrates an ability to recognize the importance of all sections of the society which is an important attribute of leadership.

You cannot help but come across the giant strides that are daily becoming realities. Everyone would be proud sharing such stories because they fit for real progressive strides. You would want to beam a searchlight on such a personality and equally disseminate it as a way of contributing to mentorship in the society, a virtue that we possess in the negative.

Some of us have since identified that with the appropriate appointment of capable individuals as well as respect for excellence, the job of fixing Nigeria was a very easy one because Nigeria has more than enough to advertise to the world, the only needed thing was for the people of the world to see seriousness, purpose and capacity. Pantami has used his appearances at international fora to showcase a renewed zeal and capacity for businesses and idea sharing with regards to the development of the digital policies of Nigeria that he superintends.

I watched with interest how the 2020 version of GITEX, Dubai finally gave a reason why every reasonable Nigerian youth would take Pantami and put him right in front for the purpose of future leadership. There was pump in the Nigeria’s stand, there was activities around the Startup Pavilions, there was pageantry that looked the part. It was simply a show of a serious nation that was ready to mingle among the world big players in the ICT Ecosystem.  

Something worthy of note is the fact that Nigeria is the largest black nation on earth and as such every global event they attend, they are simply representing the black race and Nigeria did wonderfully well in blending and looking the part. We engaged, contributed to the topics discussed and by the leader of the delegation himself as well as other speakers.

There was some good investments in dollars that is coming in, there was a powerful meeting with the Dubai Silicon Oasis and there was clear seriousness and respect on the parts of the participants.

Such are the kinds of activities that could attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment that was capable of placing the country on the path of critical growth, one which will provide employment opportunities to countless people. China is what it is today due to the patronage of the world. We need as much as can be attracted. Kudos Dr Pantami.

We have always insisted there must be conversations around our intent for growth and such conversation can only become meaningful with prospects when stories and strategies like those of Pantami are shared as case studies. The work we need does not need magic, it only takes knowledge and strategy. It needs work and more work to be put in and we need sustainability. Pantami has been running since he assumed office as DG, NITDA and even after the accumulation of more work, the energy looks good as ever.

This should encourage us to forge a front with a view to crystallizing to make the country we wish for ourselves. We have to identify the people with the KnowHow and give them responsibilities because it’s sure going to be a progressive outcome.

The discussion about Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence was the catch for me in the 2020 GITEX because they are the bedrock of commercial digitization. It affords nations and ventures to maximize revenue and its money you need to do every other endeavor. Nations and business need more money and money and such can only come through investments that were capable of remotely engaging a high number of individuals who can spend on it. Such investments are ICT, the telecom and data industry can never go broke because even in whatever situation, there would always be need for communication and data.

Kudos to Dr Pantami!

Hashim Suleiman

@oneheartnaija

THE UNSUNG DIVIDENDS OF DEMOCRACY AND ITS DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

Democracy and Participation!

They say in recent times that if you don’t blow your trumpets, no one will on your behalf and this is the case of democracy in Nigeria in terms of the citizenry not being able to count the so many goods it has brought to us as a nation.

I remember vividly in 1999 when this second republic started how easy it was for people to emerge on the leading parties in the different enclaves and once they emerged they were as good as winners even though we had only one party as far as power in the center was concerned. It would only be luck if a society ended up with people of conscience as leaders because of  little or no room for choices. The people also cared less because there was very less awareness about democracy and what it stood to bring to the citizenry. There was also no social media at the time.

One of the first major dividends the democracy brought was the GSM telephone and I wonder why people don’t celebrate such a huge achievement that has afforded us the opportunity to be aware of so many things through the social media and communications with fellow humans across the globe be it business partners, friends, families or acquaintances.

Furthermore, depending on how lucky a state became in terms of the emergence of governors, a lot of the states have changed for good with a lot of them bearing major bridges and improved infrastructure that minimizes congestion as a result of increasing population. In fact just recently, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was in Kano and was toured round the city by the governor to witness tunnels and bridges built by the Kwankwaso-Ganduje administrations. If this is not major contribution of democracy, what could be more?

We should not be quick to also forget the super minister of FCT Nasiru Elrufai who was a product of democracy and who stood to save our nation capital from collapse. He returned it back to the path of international city standard. Such feat went on to make him sellable to become the governor of Kaduna State for two terms and the people of the state are the happier ones about such a decision.

There are also the Okonjo Iweala’s of this clime who came and drafted a robust economic plan for Nigeria that saw the digitization of major financial activities of the government such as payment of salaries and contracts as well as the ramping up revenue collection .

The recent Dr Isa Ali Pantami cannot be left behind as a major contribution of democracy to Nigeria. He has deliberately put the nation on the track for digitization and the lack of it I make bold to say has been one of the major bane of our development. We need improved revenues owing to the explosion in population and other than agriculture which is a slow source of revenue, ICT is the quickest and perhaps the largest revenue earner in the world right now.

Policies like privatization, contributory pensions and different key agencies brought about by acts of parliament have broadened the government and revenue sources as well as providing employment opportunities for the citizenry. They may not be perfect at the moment, but going forward market forces will force them to improve. We never knew a time would come when we’ll be able to pay for our electricity from the comfort of our home. All these are improvements that require only the discerning to take a pause and see a need to celebrate and be optimistic for many more things to come just like them.

Talking about elections, there have been major improvements leading to more and more incumbents loosing elections. There has evidently been increased pressure from the citizenry over the need for improved performances and the leaders daily see a need for them to perform at-least for posterity purposes. The governors of Bauchi and Adamawa lost their elections as incumbents in the 2019 elections while the governor of Kano narrowly escaped. We can’t forget how GEJ lost as incumbent too. The powerful Oshiomole could not mobilize the center to help in defeating Obaseki as governor of Edo State. All these are indicators of the fact that the democracy is improving by the day but can only be appreciated by the optimists.

While all of the above are realities to how much democracy has improved and brought to Nigeria, it was important for me to notify you of why there is less appreciation of it. It simply has to do with lack of awareness and understanding of democratic processes. Democracy is a participatory system of government, if you choose not to participate, you’ll naturally have to expect very less from it. Please do not misconstrue participation to mean contesting for election as the case currently. Activities like picking voters card, voting, participating in debates, activism and patriotism are all part of participation in a democracy. When we all pay attention to the kinds of leaders we vote in and troupe out to vote them and defend our votes, our societies will be the better for it, we have to quit not caring and allowing luck determine emergence of good leaders.

When good leaders emerge, they develop the sectors such as education which will improve the mental capability of the citizenry to understand the principles of democracy and how to benefit from them. Government policies will be there, but when there’s no interest and participation, you may never know and could continue to forever assume the government is not performing.

Democracy is also naturally a slow process of governance owing to the checks and balances between the various compartments making up the entire government. Nobody does anything at their whims and caprices. There has to be adherence to rule of law even if it’s pretense.

Democracy and Politics is about interest and if you have any interest be it the citizenry or politician, you have to choose how to participate as enumerated above. Government spokespersons have to learn to communicate such narratives for the awareness of the citizenry and appropriation of expectations.

Hashim Suleiman

@oneheartnaija.

NO NIGERIAN REGION HAS A REASON TO DESPISE THE OTHER By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

We need love and healing in the land

I have been opportune to have lived in all of the geopolitical zones of my country Nigeria and I have found no reason why any of the regions would feel they are entirely better than any other because

I have found every region to have its own peculiar problem and share of bigotry which is one of the major problem of the nation.

For example, I have lived in the Niger Delta region where it is a norm for a girl of as low as 13 years to be pregnant out of wedlock and give birth. I knew this even more when I was a ‘youth Corp’ and teaching in an SS1 class in a secondary school which has the students being at an average of 13 years but I had at-least 2 of my students get pregnant during that session and it was very normal with the parents. I then get dumbfounded when I see a person from that region despising the northerners on underage marriage, if this is not bigotry, what could be more?

Growing up also in the northern city of Kano, I wondered how a blasphemy issue which happened in a far away country would be responsible for people living their normal lives in the city to pay for it. I also remember the Reinhard Burnke visit to Nigeria which caused people living their normal lives to pay for it. This I considered bigotry of the highest order and I then wonder why a person from such region will despise the Igbo man for choosing to exhibit hatred towards them.

I have also worked in the south west Nigeria where despite showcasing my technical prowess, I was considered not to know anything simply because of the sound of my name which depicted what tribe I was. Someone whom you know you’re practically better than would choose to disrespect you because of your tribe and that I consider an extremely bigoted tendency.

As for the south east, yes they are considered to be business savvy but that has gotten to their head to think they are better than everyone to the extent that they can’t open their minds to respect that the other regions are at-least politically better than them. This has led them into a very dangerous envy which has transformed into hatred. This is definitely another form of bigotry that’s most unfortunate.

In all of the above, I have at some time stopped to associate it with illiteracy in all of  the regions but I was wrong because you would find the most educated of each of these regions exhibiting these attitude and character and I concluded that the issue has become endemic and requires some sort of spiritual intervention or a deliberate attempt at investing heavily in national orientation.

This attempt is just a very brief analysis of some of the issues and are not exhaustive in all of the cases and other micro groups with theirs too. However, I am sure everyone reading this regardless of what group they belong would be able to take a pause and re-examine and make a sense of where theirs falls into that bigoted class that requires fixing for national cohesion.

No region of this country is entirely saintly or better than the other. Each of the region has its peculiar problem that has become a bane of its development and cumulatively that of the nation. City’s like New York and Dubai have become great city’s owing to the acceptability of foreigners who would come in with different progressive tendencies. Lagos has exhibited somewhat that until lately when all these bigoted narratives started to show its head and one can see the result in all the destructions that happened to the city lately.

Any society that doesn’t believe and concentrate on research and improvements will have itself to blame for any eventualities related to retrogression.

Hashim Suleiman

@oneheartnaija

THE SOUTHERN COALITION AND THEIR LONG ATTEMPTS TO CO-OPT MIDDLE BELT AS POLITICAL MIS-STRATEGY? By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

Southern Coalition and Middle Belt at one of their meetings

It is no longer news to any keen observer of the political space that since about 2012 till now, the southern coalition comprising of the PANDEF, OHANEZE AND AFENIFERE have been making attempts at trying to co-opt the middle belt forum to form a part of them with a view to forming some sort of political alliance perhaps to whittle down the influence of the very politically powerful northern Nigeria. However, till date we have obviously not seen or felt the effect of such efforts and could at best be considered a political mis-strategy.

One could have thought the southern Nigeria should by now have learnt enough of politics from the north but it doesn’t seem so. On a generality, Nigerians have become so entangled that it’ll be so difficult to dismember. It is also so with all the regions especially the northern region which is more vast and diverse than the others because the leaders of the region have for a long time enjoyed political power devoid of sentiment. Jeremiah Useni from Plateau state was at some point the most powerful person in the administration of Sani Abacha. Even recently, Boss Mustapha is the Secretary to the Government of the federation. How then is someone going to succeed in truly dividing these elites under such a bond?

The only thing the narratives by these southern leaders could do is to divide the voters to sway some little of them  to their side but such votes would be insignificant to cause any harm to the northern agenda. Every time they hold their meetings, I pay keen attention to the members of the middle belt forum who attend and have never found any political heavy weight that was capable of bringing forth any votes or influence. Honestly, I have hardly recognized any of those that are called to attend such meetings as leaders of the middle belt.

Such kinds of activities leaves one to believe the popular saying that the southern Nigeria has not still learnt from the best despite being together in this union for over 60 years now. Politics is a science that requires research and strategy and one thing the north knows how to do is ensuring high level of inclusion especially for the minorities of the region. One cannot understand this till you look very closely. Do not forget that the secretary of the Sardauna of Sokoto was Sunday Awoniyi from the Kabba area. That’s how far the northern elites have moved to ensure inclusion.

The propaganda could only do so little owing to the realities enumerated above. The chairman of the northern governors forum today is the governor of plateau state who belongs to the class of those that the southern coalition has been working tirelessly to co-opt. Another major identity of the entire coalition is their affiliation to the PDP and that also makes them appear as those people who were then helping Goodluck Jonathan to sway the votes of the northern minorities and it never worked and never will. You could consider them as the major mis-advisers of GEJ who led him to loose Favour with the northern Nigeria and ultimately to his loosing the election. One would even assume they have learnt from this but their recent activities till date proves they are still on same lost cause.

Politics is about numbers and such numbers are not forced or artificially built, there has to be careful bridge building through guarded utterances and sincere reach outs. There has to be deliberate efforts at upholding agreements and trusts coupled with mutual respect. The major attribute that has been affecting the south and its politics is sense of entitlements. There has always been this notion that the northerners are illiterates and can’t pull any stunts and the northerners have been hiding behind such and throwing political punches to the south and such will continue unless there’s a reversal on such notions and replacing them with sound political strategies full of engagements and respect.

The 2023 elections are coming which are perhaps supposed to be the turn of the south but the undoings of all or most of the potential candidates for the presidency from the region is taking a toll on them and their sell-ability to the extent that most feel they’ll still be a reemergence of another northerner for the presidency. Governor Dave Umahi has recently shifted grounds to the APC and the bashing he’s receiving is not small thing when In reality there is a thin line between the PDP and the APC. The criticisms could be seen to have some coloration of hate  and such is very inimical to political progress. What Dave is doing is trying to build that bridge that is essential to succeed in Nigeria’s political space but whether his people will reason along that line and support him with the votes is story for the future to tell.

Nigeria’s political space is a very interesting one and only the smartest and the most inclusive benefit most of it.

May God bless Nigeria.

Hashim Suleiman

@oneheartnaija

THE PEOPLE AS MAJOR ENCOURAGERS OF FINANCIAL CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

A crusade on fight against corruption in Nigeria

Dear fellow Nigerians, I write today to bring some insight into something that has become a sort of a phenomenon in our society which is  financial corruption. I have over 12 years working experience today and it Inter-switched between the private and public sector and then there was the family, friends and acquaintances on another hand. The experience in its entirety afforded me an opportunity to study and understand the major reasons why people crave for extra incomes at all cost because everyday of my life is a research to me.

What my research showcased clearly is how the generality of the Nigerian people and their mindset is corruption focused and that’s why for example even those who voted for Buhari on the mantra of change and anticorruption still bug people working in the civil service or companies for financial assistance, the type that can only come through extra income and not statutory income. Such leaves one wondering if they ever understood what the anti corruption mantra meant or if the rent seeking attitude has simply become an attitude and way of life, whichever one leaves the situation every worrisome to say the least.

When you make visitations or you meet people and there is an introduction, the next question will most likely be where you work in order that you can be appropriately sized into what you can offer or should possess. This sort of inquisition and mind torture is more than enough to pressure someone into thinking of extra incomes at whatever cost. Such kinds of inquisitions have since even become the norm as far as courting a spouse is concerned. The parents require to know which of the government agencies or private companies you work for so they can appropriate their expectations.

To be fair to this topic, you would notice that such attitude or mindset concerns all the classes of the individuals in the society. Even those at the lowest end of the ladder exhibit such like in the case of a driver in the state house having more prestige than a driver of ministry of works even though their civil salary scale is the same. I met a woman who was apparently trying to let me know the suitor of her daughter does commercial motorcycling in Portharcourt and that in her mind means added financial capabilities. But I said in my mind that if the person could understand the viability of agriculture in his own region of the north, he would make much more than he’s getting from Portharcourt riding motorcycle but then the whole rent seeking attitude has become endemic to allow any room for critical thinking and long term planning.

The matter is daily becoming worse where young men who make legitimate earnings now find it hard to enjoy the proceeds simply because people around will perceive that there is so much wealth and demands that are over the incomes begin to pop in and refusal to grant them pitches you against them. You can understand how difficult it can be. You don’t have right to wear a nice shirt or shoes from your legitimate earning without it been related to having so much money that you must give out.

The elites also exhibit such kinds of mentality albeit in a different format. People who have held positions of influence and misused it now become aggrieved when someone else has assumed power and is doing more or less than them. If you check the true anger you’ll find it around loosing out from making proceeds and incomes. Aides, subordinates and political party members put so much pressure that is capable of forcing one into cutting corners to make money to satisfy such requests. Political party positions are sold to highest bidders, sometimes even political appointments. Why would any politician not seek for the maximum amassment they can get.

The average politician has pressures from the system, the public and family. This is what makes them seek for endless power because it’s the only way to sustainability. It is also the reason why they easily get bankrupt when not in power.

At the lower level, the reason I figured out for the exhibition of such rent seeking attitude is simply laziness. They don’t believe they can make it themselves through belief and hard work. This is what makes them feel looking good must mean so much money as against understanding it from the point of it being alright to enjoy the proceeds of hard work. People need to know for example that you need to work very hard in the farm before you could get good harvests and subsequently make money out of. People can’t continue to rely on sitting at home while someone who works hard provides. This is not underplaying the importance of philanthropy, however it should be given at will and to the most vulnerable whose situations are considerably demanding for help.

Furthermore, there was a need for everyone to appreciate the saying that ‘fingers are not equal’ and appreciate their level per time. We are good at making comparisons with developed lands and even in those places there are poor or less privileged people. It is not crime to own up to your level and fall in love with it. There has to be passion and love for what we do be it security man or cleaner, genuine  diligence could attract progression.

As for the elites, it’s understandably  a difficult one for them owing to these mentalities and pressures but they have to summon the courage to see how to formulate policies that could bridge the gap between rent seeking and pride in hard work and contentment. This looks more like a mental reorientation and we must take it very seriously.

All is well that ends well, they say.

God bless Nigeria.

Hashim Suleiman

@oneheartnaija

THE DIGITAL AGENDA AS A MIRROR IMAGE OF THE IDEAL POLITICAL IDEOLOGY FOR 2023 AND BEYOND By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

Dr Isa Ali Pantami Commissioning several projects in Gombe State amidst fanfare.

The recent events of the country have showcased clearly how the digital age is a pretty difficult one to manage. Many thanks to the very much information that is out there and can be assessed by a simple sign up. This has also indicated how much challenging the task before  President Buhari has been and how his successor must be a proven digital savvy individual in order that there can be a transition between war against indiscipline and corruption and a need to get the buy-in of the young Nigerians and their quick and digital expectations. This I’m sure resonates with what any reasonable youths wants to see going forward.

It has not been a secret especially for those who follow up with me that I had since thrown up the #DigitalAgenda23, a cause which presents Dr Isa Ali Pantami, the current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as being worthy of piloting the affairs of the nation by being Buhari’s successor or at least being a Vice to a southern candidate should the argument for rotational presidency become fruitful. I had highlighted his political suitability in my November 4, 2019 article titled ‘Isa Ali Pantami as Near Perfect Fit for 2023 permutations’ and which can be found here https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2019/11/04/isa-ali-pantami-as-near-perfect-fit-for-the-2023-permutations-by-hashim-suleiman/.

In today’s piece however, I am highlighting his technical competence at looking the part with regards to the needed ideology for the kind of leadership required to solve the much problems that have been clearly understood now and that President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to solve by first allowing a democratic identification of them and initiating many policies that would attempt to solve them but this surely requires someone who would consolidate on them and that person has to be digitally inclined thus our initiation of the #DigitalAgenda23.

For every society that truly wishes to progress, there has to be deliberate effort at employing visionary and critical thinking in the analysis of issues and the possible way forward and this has to be employed devoid of emotions and sentiments. For some of us who have always had interest in the public space for over 6 years now, we can say categorically that we understood the current happenings of the country to be related to the young people’s hunger of seeing one of theirs attain leadership status so there can be familiar conversations. What some of them don’t understand however is that nations go through processes of evolution and those processes have to always be appreciated too. President Buhari is the nexus between those stages and we do understand that now is the time for a digital political ideology even though that also has to be done with caution because power is usually negotiated for and not to be snatched.

Furthermore, even before the current protests and agitations, some of us have known and identified the need for a digital transition but found it hard to find an icon that could champion such until the coming of Dr Isa Ali Pantami as DG, NITDA when we noticed that a man had emerged who looked the part owing to his age, education, moral uprightness and digital awareness. We put him under the radar and observed him until he vindicated us by working hard enough to merit a ministerial position where he on assumption to duty immediately hit the ground running as is typical with the expectation of a digital mind. He immediately reengineered the ministry to conform to the expectations of a society that truly requires transformation into a 21st century one. At this point we birthed the #DigitalAgenda23 and it was high time every right thinking Nigerian young person keys into it and equally flies with it.

At the last count, Dr Pantami had commissioned over 500 digital economy projects around the country in about 4 years and appeared more than willing to do much more. Again there had been about 68,000 individuals who had been trained to acquire digital skills. The man then capped up all these with his willingness to identify young visionaries and catapult them to stardom as in the case of the cerebral 40 year old Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi whom succeeded Dr Pantami as the DG of NITDA. You can clearly see how he is willing to create and expand a sort of dynasty of young men who he will not stop at ensuring they achieve much more technically and politically.  While Dr Pantami has merited the leadership of the National Digital Agenda come 2023, the expectation is for his dynasty members to look to see to their emergence in different leadership cadres be it legislature or State executives.

Finally, I am using this medium to congratulate the Nigerian youths who now appear hungry for leadership and incidentally have one of them who has distinguished himself for the task and this leaves the only hurdle to be a proper mobilization of the youth constituency with a view to accepting the leadership of Dr Pantami as the driver of such movement. The agenda is however subject to engagements and conversations going forward and we are very much open to it. We shall soon open the conversation up and we encourage every youth who regard themselves as fit and worthy of leadership to present themselves so we can all form a formidable team for the actualization of a progressive digital Nigeria through #DigitalAgenda23.

A new Nigeria has birthed!

Hashim Suleiman

@omeheartnaija

YES WE WOKE UP AND THEN SNOOZED; AN OVERVIEW OF #ENDSARS By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

#EndSars Protesters

Who ever told anyone that revolution had ever occurred anywhere and succeeded or not without chaos or loss of lives. Were we expecting any different because we felt we had two heads? Or was it just a simple exhibition of lack of knowledge and experience? If that is then it can be excused only if the appropriate lessons have been learnt going forward.

Some of us had gotten excited over the possibility of a wake up by the Nigerian youth in the advent of the #EndSars protests that the entire nation caught up with it albeit with the different regions expressing the hash tags that suited their situations the most as related to the whole security sector. Some had #EndInsecurity, #EndBanditry etc. As expected the pressure made impact as the government quickly accepted all the demands as they were in their short, medium and long term nature. But the youths did not understand the part as related to a democratic setting that is process ridden, those that no one can control by their whims and caprices. Such attitude make me appreciate better Drake’s music line which describes the current generation as lacking in patience. Democracy requires patience, lots of it.

Intact, David ‘Davido’ Adeleke has as a follow up to the accepted demands met with the Inspector General of Police to table the 5 of 5 demands and it was applaudable because of its resemblance with engagements characteristic of a democracy. And it is very instructive to note that the government may not have actually known about the level of rot in the SARS ranks until the protests prompted them and they acknowledged and acted swiftly. The only thing missing was perhaps the lack of understanding of democratic processes. The reasons why we have always advocated for pursuit of knowledge and participation of activities of one’s society.

I have watched a movie that I can’t remember the name but the one thing I picked out of it was a saying by one of the actors after he had acted a fool all through the movie but turned out the most strategic and intelligent by going home with money while others were held that “ A man must always be aware of what’s going on around him”. This is very instructive to anyone who is serious about breaking through the changing society along with increasing complexities.

It was after Davido had met with the IGP and the protests continued that some of us began to see the typical Nigerian youth attitude showcasing itself and I knew it was then wasn’t going to end up well. The demands started shifting to bad governance review requests after elections have been held in just less than two years ago. You could even air your concern about bad governance but you have to be sectors specific and you must be coming to the table with ample understanding of the workings of the sector so you don’t appear a novice on the negotiation table because that’s where all legitimate grievances end up in a democracy.

How could any youth have thought that the old guard would give up power after decades of experiences and grip coupled with availability of immense resources. It has never worked anywhere and this was the reason why our activism had been a political one where the PVC, the numbers and the ballot become the tools. The greatest  revolution in a Democracy is the political revolution where you use your strength to negotiate for power with a view to dispensing your ideology when you grab it. You cannot intimidate or threaten, even the greatest democracies in the world would not take that regardless of the freedom express oneself that is enshrined in the constitution because that I’m itself is not open-ended, it has its boundaries. Coups and mayhem do not fall into such categories and all these knowledge are essential for strategy formulation.

To show you how much these big guys are masters in the game, they quickly employed the tool they cherish most which is the divide and rule and the bigoted nature of the youths started to rear its head with the most respected influencers making utterances that tended towards hate. At this point the government had won the game and what was left was the final whistle which was blown at the Lekki Toll Gate and till today that matter remains controversial with no general occurrence over what had truly transpired. Better politicians learn the ropes very well before venturing.

On a final note, the positives of the protests is that at least the youths have woken up and  even though they snoozed they have had a smell of their powers which could be more effective with knowledge and tact. Furthermore, while we most show empathy and condole those who would have lost loved ones from all the divides, it was instructive to note that such was synonymous with revolutionary movements that does not take into account strategy and leadership. It is now time to heal and visit book shops to shop for leadership and mass movements books so as to learn more about how it’s done, afterwards, we would relax and learn the ropes of Nigeria’s unique politics and democracy with a view of infiltrating it and providing the much needed youth energy.

These are processes of a developing democracy and Nigeria shall come out stronger from this.

God bless the Nigerian youth.

Hashim Suleiman

@oneheartnaija

PANTAMI’S DIGITAL VISION; THE SHORT, MEDIUM AND LONG TERM IMPERATIVES By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

Dr Isa Ali Pantami Commissioning the Tech Experience Center by TD Africa in Lagos recently

The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was founded on 4th October, 1962 as a vision of the then Premier of the Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory. Looking at the size of the land of the university, it was obvious the Sardauna’s intent was not just for that moment alone considering how many of the population of those years were really interested in attending schools. Behold, the vision has today manifested through massive education of the northern populace through that institution from inception till date. Visions are usually long term in nature and this is very instructive to note.

One cannot also refuse to recognize the free education policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Western Nigeria.  The idea couldn’t have been for that moment alone as evident by the dominance of the South West region of Nigeria in the economic, judicial and educational sector of the country today. Visionary leaders build shades they may never rest in.

Since the demise of the people I highlighted above and their ilk, Nigeria has run short of visionary leaders who have practically demonstrated an understanding of what it takes to be visionary. However, after a cursory analysis of the movements and leadership style of Dr Isa Ali Pantami, the current Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy (a name that he christened the ministry), it was obvious another leader in the realm of the Sardauna’s, Awo’s and Zik’s had emerged and he meant business.   

Before I delve into the crux of my subject matter, let me remind us that most Nigerians of today have totally forgotten that in governance and policies there are short, medium and long term expectations and it was only through such understandings that we could appreciate the efforts of leaders and also rate them appropriately. Majority of the citizens nowadays expect magical wands to the fixing of the issues of the society and that has never been obtainable anywhere and will never be around here. Let me borrow from the words of the musician Drake who says “we are dealing with a generation that is lacking in patience” and that cannot be farther from the truth. These problems are however compounded in our climes by the absence of awareness like this one. The media and civil society can do more in this regard.

So then let’s move to see the short term imperative of Dr Pantami’s digital vision for Nigeria. Even though it had been long overdue for Nigeria to get into the queue of recognizing that the world had since fully recognized and embraced digitalization as the new normal, that awakening actually had to become Pantami’s short term goal as he quickly rebranded the ministry and mobilized the agencies under it to understand a need to come together and work towards a similar goal which was that of entrenching Nigeria’s digitalization. Pantami’s short term goal has been fully achieved as Nigerians now fully understand the importance of digitization and that there was full policy direction towards consolidating on perhaps the few gains that had been achieved through personal and accidental tendencies. 

Further to the short term goals that had been laid of the vision, the minister had been on his toes trying to reach out to all the stakeholders of the ecosystem so as to gain their confidence to come and invest in the sector or better still improve on their current investments. Some of this improved interest in the sector was the recent launch of the TD Africa Tech Experience Center by the Honorable Minister on October 1st in Lagos. Also you would remember how there had been improved mentorship to startups by the OIIE sector of NITDA which even led to the Chiniki Guard Startup becoming top of the Startups at the GITEX Global event in Dubai, 2019. All of these efforts are in the medium term.

More of the medium term efforts are those of the provision of the infrastructure necessary for the provision of the digital skills to the populace. This is evident through the massive provision of intervention for ICT Hubs and Centers especially to Tertiary Institutions by the NITDA. Similar interventions have also been provided by USPF and NITDA to secondary schools and organizations that have indicated interest. With the pace and quality of the provision of these infrastructure, so much will be achieved in the time of his administration that will guaranty the security of Nigeria’s digitization agenda. Juxtapose this with Nigerian’s ingenuity and imagine the outcome in years to come.

Ultimately, the outcomes of all the efforts above will be the long term emergence of a digital savvy populace that was capable of providing breathtaking solutions to the problems of the universe. The recent $200m buyout of Paystack by Stripe will be a child’s play compared to what Dr Pantami’s vision will birth in the long term.

Let me use this opportunity to call our attention to the recent protests in the country and how they relate to digital economy. Remember that part of the efforts of Dr Pantami is to get all the Ministry’s and Departments to become digital compliant through the E-Government Enterprise Architecture. These efforts will eventually involve the security agencies so that everyone then understands the reality of the moment which is that of the age being a digital one. So for example, if one is digital savvy it will be easy to understand most people nowadays will carry laptops for their businesses be it Blogging, Social Media Influencing, Comedies, Movies, Music and so many other digital trades. It will also be easy to use digital means to track down online fraudsters without necessarily having to make physical contacts.

Finally, while I applaud President Muhammadu Buhari’s democratic handling of the protests, I strongly believe that Dr Isa Pantami would have to be central in the efforts that the government is going to initiate for reforms in the security and even the youths angle because at the end of the day all the issues revolve around digital issues and the expert and visionary Pantami will be a key in finding a lasting solution.

Nigeria is a great nation!

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

TERRAIN, TECHNOLOGICAL INCOMPATIBILITY AS THE CAUSE OF POOR QUALITY ROADS IN NIGERIA By Hashim Suleiman

Posted on

Abuja-Lokoja road after rehabilitation of some portion.

Let me start todays piece with a little story of a road around the locality I live in in Kano, northwestern Nigeria. The road links Maiduguri Road through CBN Quarters to Zaria Road and the then governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau had given a contract for the rehabilitation of the road around 2007 and before we could say Jack Robinson the road had gone bad again in just less than a year. Same happened to the road that served as a shortcut from Bypass through Zakirai to Hadeijia in Jigawa State, northwestern Nigeria. As a professional I was pained by this obvious waste of scarce resources and I had to start to make some research over the possible cause of the quick failure of road infrastructure in Nigeria other than the procurement of incompetent contractors as well as their incompetentsupervisors. 

With the above matter in my mind, I had to always pay attention and initiated some sort of research over why Nigerian roads do not last. This exercise was in my sojourn through working in various construction companies in all the geopolitical zones of the country and I believe I found a fair understanding of such problem which was nothing more than a lack of research on the Geology of Nigeria, technological incompatibility and incompetence of the supervising government agencies. 

I got prompted to write on this matter after the incident of the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna road which was initiated after the closure of the Abuja airport runway, the road is back to worse than it was in just under three years, if this is not enough to annoy any genuine patriot then I don’t know what could be more. The dualization of the Abuja-Lokoja road has also resulted in the lanes that had been freshly constructed to retract and form some sort of curly undulations on the road which leaves one driving careful to manipulate them not to cause damage to the bottom of the vehicle. 

What it means here is that in a couple of years to come, Nigeria will not have a choice but to re-budget huge amount of scarce resources to reconstruct these major roads again when the funds could have been utilized for other pressing issues if the roads were properly constructed ab initio. The only elements of the road that can be said to have been constructed well are the culverts and bridges, thanks to them been a product of mixtures that can be said to be universally same. 

For the road however, they are structures that are placed on the surface of the earth which is said to be a natural occurrence and could differ in structure from terrain to terrain. The Geology of Nigeria is unique and one that requires proper research in order to understand the terrain with a view to formulating a technology that will match to form a solution. For example, in Nigeria road construction today, we use the British Standard and sometimes the ASTM as Quality Control/Quality Assurance benchmarks but I have argued that the weather and geology of the UK or the USA cannot be the same with the Nigeria’s and the results of the research that resulted from such terrains cannot be superimposed on the Nigeria terrain. 

Therefore, as a way forward, the Nigeria Institute of Building and Road Research must initiate ways to begin to formulate our Nigeria Standards (NS) which is expected to set out the criteria for Quality Control of local materials for construction. The Nigeria Standard is expected to replace the British Standard which is currently in use and which seem inefficient to guaranteeing stable roads. The proper delineation and understanding of the geology of Nigeria on terrain basis is equally very important in the formulation of such standards because as diverse as the country is so is its terrains.

After the formulation of standards, there then needs to be a rigorous training and retraining of the Nigerian engineers to obtain the required skills at understanding the peculiarities described above. Those in the bureaucracy have to see a need to properly supervise contractors building roads and indigenous engineers in the private sector also have to be encouraged to develop indigenous firms that have the requisite capacity to construct roads in line with formulated standards and that will stand the taste of time. This cycle will usher us into a regime of development in the road infrastructure which has gulped so much resources so far with little development. 

Researches allow us an opportunity to provide specific solutions to problem, it also allows us an opportunity to develop local content and professionals that could solve local problems. Such is also required in all sectors of our national being. 

ON #ENDSARS AND ONDO ELECTION

The #ENDSARS protests have held around the country in the past couple of days and my takeaways from it is the sort of waking up of youth from their slumber and docility especially over lending their voice to national discourse and participation in democratic processes. If such is sustained with strategy and peace, a youth takeover and sanity of the political space is still in sight.

As for the Ondo election which is currently underway, the hope is that the atmosphere that played out in Edo is repeated and continued with in all other elections that are to come. All is well tat ends well they say. The campaigns were well executed by both the APC and the PDP and it culminated in debates which made it difficult for pundits to predict a clear winner. May the wishes of the people prevail. 

God Bless Nigeria

Hashim Suleiman

oneheartnaija@yahoo.com