Author Archives: sir henry

The Naira – To devalue or not devalue?

I was working on my computer when I noticed an email pop up; I clicked on it and behold, it alerted me to a situation I had dreaded. Observing my reaction, one would have been forgiven for thinking that I had lost millions in the stock market. Call my actions an overreaction, but reading on Reuters that the United States intends to press Nigeria into talks about the devaluation of the Naira brought forth the imminent reality that the Naira would be devalued sooner or later.

Since the fall of Brent Crude Oil price started creating pot holes in the Nigerian mono-product export driven economy, I have been a staunch believer that devaluation is not the answer simply because a look back at history and you get a feeling of ‘déjà vu’. What has the devaluation of the Naira brought us thus far? Nigeria has been devaluing the Naira from its official exchange rate of $1 to ₦0.75k in the 1980s to the current rate of $1 to ₦196, for broadly the same reasons as that faced today, yet there has been no economic prosperity. Another devaluation of the Naira to the parallel market rate of ₦325 – a whopping 60% fall in value in the space of 18 months – would continue the downward spiral of the Naira, the continual rise in the cost of imports and the corresponding rise in the cost of commodities. Inflation will rise and the adverse effects would be felt by the entire populace, most of whom (over 60% of the populace) earn below the $2 poverty line.

In the light of this,  one can be forgiven for sympathising with Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, which has fervently continued with its policy of fixing the exchange at ₦196. But who is benefiting from this fix? Most Nigerians currently buy and price their production at the parallel market rate as they generally do not have access to the official exchange rate. Only the privileged elites who have the wherewithal to gain access to dollars from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) can benefit – and it has come to light that most of these privileged few have sought to make a quick buck and bet against the Naira, by engaging in round-tripping and price arbitrage. Therefore, all a trader needs is to have the connection at the CBN to be allocated dollars in the disguise of using their allocation legitimately, but rather than plough the money into their business, he or she can make a 60 percent return on their allocation in months as opposed to modest 5 – 10% bottom line revenues if they invested in their businesses. And if we are really lucky, such individuals might invest these funds in their business but rather than base their sales on the CBN rate, they sell their goods at the parallel market rate, or even higher when you consider the present uneven forces of demand and supply in the country. Meanwhile, some genuine businesses that desperately need this forex are closing down because they do not have similar connections; unemployment is markedly rising and social unrest compounding. So who is really benefiting from the current exchange rate?

When you assess the access of forex by the middle class in the economy, you quickly realise that they too have been scarred by the current forex situation. Nigeria’s middle class are those who can afford to travel out of the country, those who can send their children to schools abroad or even afford medical treatment in countries like Ghana, India and the like. However, since the CBN included school fees and medical treatment into the list of 40+ items prohibited from receiving forex, in a bid to salvage the plummeting foreign reserves, the middle class, which constitutes about 30% of the populace, have now been side-lined from CBN’s fixed exchange rate. Again, who is benefiting?

A holistic look at the economy and you get the picture that the future is dire. Foreign direct investments that are needed in an import laden economy are beginning to seize due to a drop in investor confidence over the nation’s dependence on one facet of the economy’s resources and the constant flip flops in monetary policy by the CBN. Add to this the structure of governance in the country and you start to get a sense of the problems that lie ahead.  The cost of governance in Nigeria is dramatically ridiculous – 80 to 90% of everything the country earns is used in maintaining public officers – ala Sanusi. Even if Nigeria borrows funds to jump start the economy in the hope of dramatically turning around its fortunes to become a net exporter, can she truly achieve this? Why should Nigeria borrow only to plug the hole in its budget, incur  more depth and plunge the nation into more misery? Again, who will benefit? Would it not be the overpaid governors, ministers and executive civil servants?

  • Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusihttp://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/199943-emir-sanusi-wants-nigeria-restructured.html

“If you really reflect on the problems of this country, it seems to turn common sense on its head. You sometimes wonder if anyone needs to tell any group of people that if you are a poor country, you do not need 36 governors, 36 deputy governors, with members of house of assembly, commissioners and advisers, Special assistants, a president, a vice president, 36 ministers, special advisers, federal legislature and so on. Simple arithmetic will tell you that if you have that structure, you are first of all doomed to spending 80 or 90 per cent of everything you earn maintaining public officers.  

It is really common sense but it seems to be a problem for us to understand it,” he added.

Moreover, when the dust settles on the volatile Brent Crude Oil price, does Nigeria really think that it can go to the negotiating table with foreign investors to buy their well refined goods at ₦196 to the dollar? Are the investors fools? Of course not! It is either the foreign reserve is used as a buffer or the Naira is devalued before negotiation commences, because for as long as Nigeria continues as a single product driven economy that is net import dependent, the country will continue to receive the short end of the stick in any negotiation.

So as the imminent calls of devaluation from some quarters in the country lingered on, I persevered in my little bubble, hoping and praying that in the current malaise, Nigerian’s and her political class would finally wake up – to the effects of the falling price of Brent Crude; the consequences of being a mono-product export driven economy; the lack of consistent and vibrant monetary policies; the unsustainable cost of governance; and the result of decades of corruption – and put in place corrective measures to strengthen the Naira. Surely, this time we would heed  the lessons from the mistakes of yesteryears and take corrective actions. If Nigeria were the sort of country that learnt from past mistakes and miraculously turned a new leaf, and if it were possible for the nation to harvest newly sown seeds tomorrow, then the textbook solution of not devaluing the Naira, as decisive measures are taken to become an export led economy would have been a truly worthwhile proposition.

Unfortunately, the country is in no position to take this stand. It is hence my opinion that Nigeria should devalue the Naira – not because I believe it is the best measure but because I believe that those currently benefiting from the current state of affairs are largely the corrupt few.

Can someone please tell Jona that…

Can someone please tell Mr. President Goodluck Jonathan that now is NOT the right time to make political appointments or rejections!

If you forgot to grant favour to specific individuals in the past 6 years, now is not the right time to do so

If you forgot to remove those cancerous cells that disguised as your friend, only to realise that they plotted your downfall at the polls, now is not the right time to do so

If you forgot to sack those ineffective government aides, special advisers and civil servants, now is not the right time to do so

If you forgot to visit certain communities in the past, now is not the right time to do so

If you forgot to implement policies that would have bettered the life of the average Nigerian rather than a few greedy lobbyist, now is not the right time to do so

If you forgot that your office had the power to make big and bold decisions that would have shaped the part of this great Nation for the better, well now is not the right time to do so

…for you are not just saddling problems on your successor, you are creating problems for us Nigerians. Please focus your time and efforts on ensuring that your Transitional Committee team hands over promptly to the incoming government, All Progressives Congress APC so that they can pick up from where you left us, without delays.

Thank you Mr. President


P.s. Some of President Jonathan’s major appointments / sackings with less than 40 days in office:

 

A Self Reflection for Nigeria’s Political Losers

Observing the recently concluded general elections in the United Kingdom ‘#GE2015’ has been very enlightening indeed. From the articulate debates to the comprehensive yet detailed post mortem conducted by the BBC at the conclusion of the election, the entire electoral process has been well run. But what has captivated me most is the conduct of the loosing politicians and party chieftains. The concession speeches given by the loosing candidates and the wisdom demonstrated by them to promptly step down as party chieftains, in order to pave way for fresher ideas that would galvanise and rejuvenate their party is commendable; and what Nigeria’s political class should watch and emulate.

That’s not to take away from our elections ‘#NigeriaDecides2015’, for we showed that the nation is, at the very least, heading in the right direction. Nonetheless, there is still room for massive improvement in all aspects of our polity.

If you juxtapose the reaction of Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, the party chieftains of Labour and Liberal Democrats respectively, in the immediate aftermath of #GE2015 with that of the Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu in ‘#NigeriaDecides2015’, you will soon come to realise that the road to the Nigerian Eldorado is very distant. At the conclusion of #GE2015, the two men resigned immediately because of their parties’ woeful performance at the polls. There was no bickering in the tabloids, no lawsuits in the courts, there was just a self-reflection that they had failed to achieve their mandate and thus must step down. This is the defacto in civilised environs.

As a losing party chieftain, you cannot expect that you will still command the respect and confidence of your subordinates after an election defeat, especially in politics, where the opposition is constantly in search for a chink in your armour to use against you. Although slightly left field, it was for somewhat similar reasons that Femi Fani-Kayode’s (FFK) presence as the PDP’s Election Campaign spokesman backfired. Forget FFK’s gross miscalculation with his hate inspired attacks at the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), all the APC needed to do was paint FFK as a defeated politician who would sing the praises of those that feed him. Once that was done, the general public, me included, could not take FFK as a serious individual, but instead as a political prostitute. Therefore, he should have stepped down from his position as campaign spokesman, better still, he should never have assumed the position in the first place. What jibe was he expecting from the opposition?

In the case of Alhaji Mu’azu, here is a party chieftain that could not even deliver his home state of Bauchi during ‘#NigeriaDecides2015’. At least the aforementioned British party leaders, won their constituency. But the magnitude of the PDP’s defeat in Bauchi State – 8% to APC’s 91% – is enough ammunition for the APC to silence an Alhaji Mu’azu led PDP party in any debate. Granted he came in as chieftain into a political party that was already a ticking time bomb, notwithstanding he knew the mandate at hand and lost. So why persist as chieftain? Why set your party up for failure even before the dust has settled on this defeat? Selfish ambitions perhaps!

Moreover, like Albert Einstein stated, insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. For this reason alone, the PDP should search for new leadership and directives ahead of 2019. For the nation needs a strong opposition to ensure that the ruling party is always kept in check.

Is it not time that the defeated political leaders in #NigeriaDecides2015 cast a glance at their counterparts in other environs and think critically of their positions while asking themselves logical questions? Do they think that they can command respect from, and inspire confidence in their peers or subordinates? Is their decision to persist as leaders, for the best interest of their party or constituency?

While I do not think that every leader should quit the job after a loss, I do think that the loss needs to be reviewed in the context of the goals and objectives that were set out for the party before the election, and their performance evaluated on the basis of those targets. Where their performance does not measure up, the noble thing to do is to step aside and let new leadership pave the way forward. After all, it’s about the big picture for the party isn’t it?

The case for or against Facebook’s free internet initiative – Internet.org

When I first learned that Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, would be offering free internet services, I was perplexed because the news sounded like a narrative from the recently released action sci-fi movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service, I had just watched. In the movie, the villain, Internet billionaire Richmond Valentine announces a give way of SIM cards, granting free cellular and Internet access to all, in a sinister plot to reduce the world’s population. So learning that Facebook had begun a project, Internet.org, which is a platform for free online services, had me thinking – ‘Free internet, is it possible? What’s the catch – a reduction in the world’s population ‘ala Kingsman’ or a genuine attempt at offering online services to the millions of people, especially in the developing world, who desire but cannot afford to go online? Having followed the rows in India against Internet.org I have come to understand what the catch is; the argument is centred on whether Facebook’s offering of free internet contravenes the term ‘internet neutrality’.

Internet.org is a free mobile data platform that aims to extend internet services to the offline millions in the developing world by offering a selection of apps and websites free to customers. Since 2014, the project has been launched in Zambia, India, Colombia, Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Proponents of the platform, state that is better to offer some internet access to those who cannot afford internet services than none at all. Opponents of the platform state that the scheme threatens the principle of ‘net neutrality’, a principle that requires all websites and apps to be equally accessible. The contravening factor is that Facebook is offering access to some sites and apps over others. In addition, smaller app developers, publishers and telecom companies fear that the scheme distorts the market and makes it harder for such sized companies to get their products seen by the public, since stripped-down services will be offered on the Internet.org platform and companies will have to bear the brunt of the data charges; a feature that enables customers to access the apps for free. This requirement is advantageous to more-established and financially robust companies who can absorb the costs associated with handling Internet.org’s traffic. So why not make the internet free to all? Even, Mark Zuckerberg knows that it is not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free. As he said in an online video posted on Internet.org’s website, “it costs tens of billions of dollars every year to run the internet, and no operator could afford this if everything were free”. However, as he also insisted that, “it is sustainable to build free basic services that are simpler, use less data and work on all low-end phones”.

Opponents also have the notion that customers’ decision-making will be influenced, if not forced, because only limited options will be made available to customers. Moreover, much like the way Facebook conquered the social media space, ensuring that everyone wanted in, the opposition believes that the competitive aspect will be compromised because everyone would eventually be on this platform, regardless of whether you are for or against it – as the competition will feel compelled to join the platform in order not to miss out on new customers. Concerns have also been raised about the fact that this whole new internet phenomenon will be governed by Facebook, which again does not seat well with some in the internet community. These are all quirks that need to be ironed out by all stakeholders.

Notwithstanding, the benefits of getting more people connected to the internet cannot be understated. It is commendable of Mark Zuckerberg to be thinking along these lines and trying to improve connectivity, which he believes is a fundamental human right. In Nigeria, like in India, there are entire communities and families that do not have access to computers let alone internet. But with the advent of cheaper mobile phones and increased data penetration, in rural communities, more people are beginning to gain access to information. You only have to visit some of the farmers who have benefited in some way from the Nigerian government’s scheme of free cell phones to understand the benefits of Zuckerberg’s proposal. What if these farmers now have free internet access, perhaps they would be able to check the free weather forecast on the BBC app and be better prepared for unfavourable weather conditions? The barrier however remains cost.

A balance will need to be struck between the telecom providers, app developers / publishers, partners of Internet.org and the customers on who bares the cost of the data charges and what free really means. For it is in the interest of the offline five billion, presently more than a billion in India alone – that’s the equivalent of the populations of Europe and the United States combined – that free internet is afforded to all.

 

P.s. if you have not watched the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, I highly recommend it.

Nigerian Army triumphs again

My biggest question to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) must be his biggest regret. The question, ‘why did GEJ not pay as much attention by way of resources, time and effort in rescuing the Chibok girls at the start and why did he let the problems in the north-east fester?’

The recent efforts by the Nigerian army not only in defeating Boko Haram but also in rescuing women and children is commendable, for it reinforces local and international confidence in the Nigerian military. This is an army that received global commendations for its involvement and professionalism in the conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and DR Congo. So for the military to struggle with Boko Haram in a small region of the north east was irreconcilable.

So why did GEJ allow the problems in the north-east to fester?’ I guess we shall never know. Perhaps if GEJ had been as decisive as he has been in the past two months on the issue of insurgency and insecurity he would still be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 29th May?

Whatever the case, well done to the Nigerian army on their continued efforts in their operations in the north-east.

For more on the Nigerian army’s efforts read http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32561052

 

Click to VOTE! Select 3 agendas that are most important to you under General Muhammadu Buhari’s administration

With only one month to go until May 29th handover, what are the most important agendas to you under the incoming administration? Click to vote and comment on reasons why these agendas are important to you.

Select three agendas that are most important to you under the administration of President Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari

  • Improved Power and Electricity (81%, 60 Votes)
  • Corruption and Cost of Governance (80%, 59 Votes)
  • Boko Haram Insurgency and Insecurity (57%, 42 Votes)
  • Youth and ICT Development (20%, 15 Votes)
  • Improved Agriculture (18%, 13 Votes)
  • Improved Education Policies (14%, 10 Votes)
  • Improved Management of the Economy (12%, 9 Votes)
  • Improved National Health Care Services (8%, 6 Votes)
  • Improved Industrial Relations (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Diversity and Nation Building (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Development of the Niger Delta (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 74

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20 Lessons from Nigeria’s Presidential and Gubernatorial Elections

Following two weeks of presidential and gubernatorial elections that has captivated the attention of the Nigerian public, what have we learned?

  1. That the world is watching Nigeria. It was the first time that the president of United States of America issued a broadcast to Nigerians. In addition, not only did our elections get round the clock coverage on BBC Africa and CNN, it also was watched closely by internet hackers, Nigerian Cyber Army, who hacked into INEC’s website. Talk about attention!!! internet hackers
  2. That there is a word in the English dictionary called gubernatorial
  3. That the use of card readers by INEC was largely successful. If hooligans planned to rig the elections they were stifled because they were restricted to the number of registered voters. However, more work is required by INEC to ensure under-aged voters do not register and their staff are properly sensitised for future use
  4. That INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega, is the coolest, calmest and most collected Nigerian in the country. See my article on Men of the Moment
  5. That Nigerians want change, hence the victory of the All Progressive Congress (APC). With 32 million accredited voters, the turnout was twice that of 2011. So if APC were to falter just as the incumbent has, they too will be kicked out at the next voting opportunity results after 36 states + FCT_reg vs acc voters
  6. That more should be done by the government and the electorate to increase the voting turnout – at 32 million, the turnout was 49% of the registered voters
  7. That following its resounding defeat by 2.5 million votes, the People Democratic Party (PDP) will face its biggest test yet – solidarity within the party and a cohesive vision for the 2019 elections results after 36 states + FCT_final election results
  8. That the elders in this great country care deeply about the future of their childrenelderly person voting
  9. That the voting patterns in the general election suggest that most Nigerians still vote along ethnic lines. This pattern was demonstrated by the highly skewed votes in the south-south and south-east regions of approximately 90% to 10% in favour of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and that in the north-west, north-east and north-central regions of approximately 80% to 20% in favour of President elect, General Muhammadu Buhari results after 36 states + FCT_regional voting patterns
  10. That a great deal of nation building is required by the President elect following the voting patterns in the north and south
  11. That women such as Remi Sonaiya, presidential candidate of KOWA party, have heralded a path for female presidential candidates in this countryKOWA Remi Sonaiya
  12. That Nigerians are a happy people and will not be frightened by reckless pronouncements from any Oba, Emir, Obi or traditional ruler with any appellationlagoon response to oba
  13. That President Goodluck Jonathan deserves a special mention for being the first incumbent of a ruling party to concede defeat to the opposition peacefully, regardless of whether he was cajoled to do so as some quarters will have you believe.
  14. That most Nigerian politicians are political prostitutes. Immediately after APC were declared victorious at the general elections, the number of politicians that jumped ship from the PDP to APC was perplexing. Virtually all political meanders claimed dissatisfaction with PDP prior to the election. My question to them is, ‘why did you not jump ship prior to the elections?’
  15. That APC could be the new PDP except it closes the floodgates, for the reasons stated above.
  16. That Femi Fani-Kayode, FFK as he is widely known, is a political prostitute. Click to see FFK’s comments while in the PDP, then in the APC and now for the PDP. What next FFK – APC? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgdPGtqE7uU
  17. That Bode George will relocate from Nigeria and that National Party leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, would not care less. See link to see video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=znKSVOfeYcs
  18. That governor of Ekiti State, Peter Ayodele Fayose is likely to be impeached
  19. That Stephen Keshi is highly unlikely to be the Super Eagles coach now that his godfather has lost the national elections
  20. That above all, Nigeria will always stay as one nation regardless of its trials and tribulations, and that these elections are testament to this claim.

God Bless Nigeria

SARO 2 the Musical

I remember when ‘FELA the Musical’ graced the glamorous stages on Broadway; the words on every theatre protagonist at the time was, ‘what a musical!’ The New York Times said, ‘there should be dancing on the streets’ and when the musical adorned WestEnd theatres in London, the Guardian said likewise. Such was its popular acclaim that it came as no surprise to me when I heard that the musical will be making its way to Lagos. This portrait of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a Nigerian revolutionary of sorts was energetic as it was engaging. It narrated the life of Fela from 1938 – 1997, with the stage set to capture the audiences’ imagination of Fela’s shrine and Lagos nightclubs. For a generation that reached adolescent in the latter part of Fela’s life, watching this pulse racing new musical was as close as we could get to re-experiencing the energy exuded from his onstage performance and the magic of his shrine. This musical was indeed like none I had seen before.

However, having watched the show at a WestEnd theatre, I left with a feeling of simmering sadness. The feeling was kindled when I spotted the irony of it all – the story of a Nigerian icon, whose life is etched into the timeline of our nation, was narrated and produced by an American. The lead actor, Sahr Ngaujah, was not even Nigerian. Worse still this product was exported to Lagos, like refined oil, for Nigerians to buy and the funds used to rightfully enrich the merchants and further uplift their already well-known brand, Broadway. So I asked myself repeatedly, why could we not recreate musical productions in remembrance of our national icons, like other forward thinking nations do? Why do we have to export our raw produce, only to import the refined product five times more expensive?

Well as the gods of the theatre would have it, up stepped SARO 2. Watching this musical on Easter Sunday felt like my prayers had finally been answered. Alas! This was it. From the onset, the musical breathed life – each character had depth, the musical vocals of the ensemble cast was enchanting, the chorography was imaginative, the onstage sound effect was captivating, the costumes… and I could go on and on. Do not be mistaken, the musical had its imperfections but I am not going to rain on its parade, especially when you consider that it is the first of its kind, a musical that was made by Nigerians and capable of donning some of the Off Broadway stages as it currently stands and arguably, on Broadway some day with a few tweaks.

SARO, as it is widely known, tells the story of four enterprising young men who depart their village for the riches of Lagos, in search of fortune. The director takes us through the hardship of life experienced by new-bees on the streets of Yaba, from the uncompromising area-boys to the money grabbing olopa – policeman. Their hardship ends when a somewhat struggling godfather spots their musical talents and decides to take them under his wings. The symbiotic relationship between master and pupil climaxes when the musical band, Saro, performs its first gig and the end of the show. There are tales of love interests, some serene and some forced, and there are lessons of friendship and trust to be learned too.

At the end of the musical, we had the pleasure of listening to the visionary director, Bolanle Austen-Peters, who like me was inspired by the same FELA production on Broadway. Giving gratitude to the sponsors – MTN, Access Bank & DSTV multichoice – who made this possible, she emphasised that the production team, cast and crew were a 100% Nigerian as if to say – ‘yes we can’ – do this too.

This show is a must-see and it is a shame that it will be showing only over the Easter holidays. I sure hope it comes back to the city again soon. I also hope that it gets to tour other cities both locally and beyond our borders. More importantly, there is a clear desire and space for this kind of art. I hope SARO helps to inspire more creativity in the same way that ‘FELA’ inspired SARO’s brilliance.

Men of the moment

I must confess to having criticised INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) in the past, due to what transpired to be a lack of preparedness or decisiveness in their office, but praise must be given where it’s due.

Like many Nigerians waking up the morning after the election hangover, I woke up truly proud to be Nigerian. There have been very few instances in the past three decades when ‘men in power’ – politicians and civil servants alike – have cast their selfish ambitions aside, in order to put the constituency and people they represent first. Most at times, the past thirty years has been laden with men who have courted greed, offered broken promises, fuelled quarrels along ethnic and religious lines, and as a consequence facilitated outbreaks that have left civilians counting their loses. Even more disturbing are the examples these ‘men in power’ have set for the younger generation. A cross examination of our secondary schools, universities and even the National Youth Service Corp orientation camps will show that there is no reward for gentlemanliness, etiquettes, honour and pride in our educational system. The majority share the view that if you do not fight fire with fire and sometimes play mago-mago – as if to quell the proper use of the word ‘cheat’ – then you will loose.

However, the events that unfolded during the election announcement yesterday were examples that you do not have to fight fire with fire to attain victory nor play mago-mago to come out victorious, but instead showing composure in the face of adversity and statesmanship after fierce competition were qualities that also warranted the tag ‘victor’. These were the qualities exemplified by Jega and GEJ yesterday, characteristics that are lacking in our society today, characteristics that brought about a renewed sense of optimism for the future, for all Nigerians. The outcome of the election was not just a victory for the All Progressive Congress (APC) party or a demonstration of the growth of democracy in Nigeria, but also a reference point of decorum, composure, professionalism and statesmanship for all Nigerians, from the youth to even the existing pre-Madonna politicians that loiter the offices in the State House of Assembly.

As if the unenviable task of conducting free and fair elections in a nation that has had a history of violence following the pronouncement of the election results was not enough, Jega’s patience was tested. The test this time was in the form of public intimidation, false accusations that crossed ethnic lines and treats from ‘Elder’ Godsday Orubebe. Through it all, Jega personified calm and collectedness, attributes that are duly needed in Nigerian politics because you are tested in this form daily. The situation that transpired yesterday in the ‘situation room’ could have spiralled out of control. What if Jega had lost his cool, like most would, and responded in kind, forgetting he was in the world’s eye? Or what if Jega had ordered security personnel to restrain Elder Orubebe and escort him out of the hall for fear of his life or for damage limitation to what was becoming a national embarrassment? The People Democratic Party (PDP) would probably have pointed to such actions as examples of the tribalism claims they levelled against him. Instead, a composed Jega waited patiently, listened to the accuser’s claims and then proceeded to explain his own version of events to the public, even dressing his accuser down in the process, by reminding him of his position in office. Whatever claim the accuser had no longer held water, not because of the manner in which he laid the claims but the comportment of Jega. Indeed I was proud! Within minutes the name ‘Jega’ started trending on social websites and everybody, but the PDP of course, saw him as a class act. Dare I say, through this act, he had put to distant memory the postponement of the elections, the malfunctioning card readers, the poorly prepared officials, the challenges with logistics and the failings to complete the election results within 48 hours.

Another man worth mentioning that emerged victorious yesterday was our outgoing President, GEJ. When reports started filtering through that President Jonathan had called General Buhari at about 6:00PM to concede defeat and congratulate his opponent, I was full of praise for him. For here was a man that must have been under undue pressure from his party members to fight fire with fire by challenging the election results in the courts, thereby dragging this already wounded nation through unnecessary misery. Rather than wait to discuss with the big wigs in the PDP, who would have no doubt insisted that he remained in office until the judiciary presided over their allegations, ala play mago-mago, President Jonathan made the all-important call to his opponent. That single action of selflessness, courage and statesmanship served to quench the unquestionable tension that was already evident to all Nigerians. For this Mr President, I commend you. History may not be kind to you now, but over time it will label you victorious and Nigerians will see your successful hand over of power to the opposition as a precedence to follow. Sir, you have raised the bar for even the APC to follow.

Perhaps, the attitudes of men like Elder Orubebe in the corridors of power are the reasons why Professor Jega failed to meet his high targets for these elections, or why President Jonathan performance in office was widely criticised, we will never truly know. Nevertheless, in a time of few political role models, aspiring politicians in this nation should take heed from the gallant actions exuded by Professor Jega and President Jonathan – by staying calm in the face of adversity and exhibiting an attitude of selflessness. These are the hallmarks of true winners.