Is Nigeria truly under a spell? By Simon Kolawole - Newstrends
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Is Nigeria truly under a spell? By Simon Kolawole



Is Nigeria truly under a spell?

By Simon Kolawole

In the dying days of his administration in 2007, President Olusegun Obasanjo sold 51 percent of federal government’s stakes in two of Nigeria’s four ailing refineries to Bluestar Oil Services Ltd — a consortium floated by Dangote Oil, Zenon Oil and Transcorp Plc — for $761 million. Shortly after the inauguration of a new administration, the oil industry unions — apparently prompted — kicked that Obasanjo sold the refineries to his cronies, insisted that one of the refineries alone was worth over $5 billion, and staged a four-day strike. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua gleefully reversed the privatisation and returned the refineries to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Alhaji Abubakar Lawal Yar’Adua, appointed the NNPC group managing director by President Yar’Adua, told the world in September 2007 that all our refineries would start working at “near full capacity” by December 2007 after “rehabilitation” which, you may want to know, cost us several billions of naira. In preparation for the magic, he said government had awarded a $52 million contract for the repair of the Chanomi Creek pipeline, the main feeder pipeline to Warri and Kaduna refineries blown up by militants in 2006. All was set for the amazing revamp of the 445,000 barrels per day (bpd) refineries, after which we would stop importing petroleum products and live together happily ever after.

What happened next? We are now in September 2023 — on the 16th anniversary of Yar’Adua’s monumental promise — and Nigeria is still waiting for the magic to happen. (As an aside, Yar’Adua was named in the Panama Papers to have secretly bought an £890,000 house in London in 2008 while serving as the NNPC GMD, using a company he registered in the British Virgin Islands — but there is nothing to see there).

Sixteen years after the unions said the Port Harcourt refinery alone was worth $5 billion, no one would buy it for N5 million. Sixteen years after we bungled a major victory for local refining of petroleum products, we are still helplessly and hopelessly hooked on fuel imports.

But Yar’Adua was not alone. Every single president after him promised to get the refineries working at “near full capacity”. President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to raise the dead. Between 2013 and 2015, he reportedly spent $396 million on turnaround maintenance (TAM) — and the refineries have still not worked, although I admit that the fortune of a few individuals experienced turnaround miracles.

In April 2021, Mallam Mele Kyari, the CEO of NNPC Ltd, followed the enviable tradition of his predecessors by signing a $1.5 billion contract to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt refinery. President Bola Tinubu has now customarily promised that the refineries will be back by December 2023.

In summary, 16 years after we reversed the sale of the refineries because they were bought by Obasanjo’s “cronies” and promised to get them back to “near full capacity”, we have burnt billions of dollars on TAM contracts and we are still here waiting patiently and enthusiastically for Godot. We are still promising to get the refineries to work “by December” (why always December?) and have no clue when this bizarre bazaar will be over. From the time of Gen Sani Abacha till date, all the presidents have played the same card of getting the refineries to work. It appears there is a hymn sheet at the Presidential Villa from which they all sing: the harmony is enduring and unbelievable.


But you know what? If you take a proper look at the financial and economic implications of fuel importation in Nigeria, you will find a damning explanation for some of the woes overwhelming us today. Shall we discuss the billions of dollars we have burnt on demurrage and storage charges on fuel imports since 1999 (because our ports do not have the adequate reception capacity and the NNPC does not have sufficient storage facilities)? Shall we discuss the fact that the resources we have burnt on demurrage and storage expenses over the same period could have built the biggest refineries in the world and turned us to exporters of both crude oil and petroleum products?


Does anyone ever calculate how much of our forex earnings we burn on fuel importation? This is the largest single consumer of forex today. I wonder what might have been if we had taken another route. When Obasanjo was president and we had considerable savings from oil revenue, I campaigned vigorously that we should invest in a new refinery. I was lectured by neo-liberal fanatics that government should not run a refinery, that it should be the business of the private sector. I conceded but with a request: let us build a refinery (since no investor was willing to do so), lease out the management and sell it off after some years. Let us just stop fuel importation by any means!

The cost of the decisions we took — or failed to take — yesterday is coming back to bite us hard today and threatening to pull down the already fragile economy. With dwindling oil output and export, we are currently facing a double whammy: we export little oil and spend the little income to import petroleum products because we do not refine at home. Things got so bad at a stage that we did not have enough crude to exchange for products, so we mortgaged future oil production in order to import petrol for today. We are digging one hole after the other to fill the other holes we have dug everywhere. It is difficult to understand how we do things here and expect positive outcomes.


Help me make sense of this. A farmer produces yams and sells a tuber for N2,000 to Mama Put. But because he does not have the mortar and pestle to pound the yam, he goes to the Mama Put to buy a wrap of pounded yam for N1,000. Mama Put can probably make N10,000 per tuber, selling it as pounded, fried, boiled or roasted yam, or making yam flour and amala from it. Mama Put can sell the peels as feed for goats. There are several products from yam! Now, wait for this: our farmer friend runs into a harvest problem and starts buying pounded yam on credit, promising to pay with next year’s harvest. That is Nigeria for you: selling crude oil and spending the revenue to import petrol.


The country should be exporting petroleum products — such as petrol, diesel, low pour oil fuel, and jet fuel — and earning billions of dollars, in addition to the little matter of jobs and tax revenue. We want the naira to exchange at N1/$1 (whatever the merits are) but how can you spend all your forex on importing petrol and still expect the naira not to keep losing value? What else are you exporting to earn dollars? Where are the dollars? If income from your biggest export, which used to account for 90 percent of your forex earnings, has been going down for years, what else are you doing to get more dollar inflow into your economy? It seems we are expecting the dollar to fall from heaven.


Let us go to Singapore briefly. The country is less than the size of Lagos state and has a population of 5.6 million. But we are not here to discuss land mass and population. My interest is the size of the intellect. The country does not have oil but it has some of the biggest refineries in the world with the capacity to refine 1.5 million bpd. Nigeria, one of the world’s richest in crude reserves, has been having the capacity for 445,000 bpd since 1987 and rarely refines a barrel. Singapore is regarded as Asia’s oil hub and earned $40.8 billion from exporting refined petroleum products in 2021. Yes, $40.8 billion! It is not about resource wealth or political system. It is the brain. Vision. Mission. Passion.


What more can I say? Ajaokuta Steel Mill has become a centre of stealing since it was conceived in 1979. Up till today, we have not finished stealing through Ajaokuta. If it was a country where our heads were properly screwed on our necks, we would be earning billions of dollars from exporting iron and steel, to say nothing about the jobs and the value chain in the economy. According to data by CEPII, the leading French centre for research and expertise on the world economy, China earned $61 billion from iron and steel exports in 2021. Japan earned $35 billion, Germany $32.8 billion, Russia $30.5 billion, and South Korea $28 billion. These things start from the brain. It is not magic.


Don’t let us get started with palm oil. Forget the legendary story of how an Asian country came to take palm seedlings from Nigeria some decades ago and is now a world leader in the production of the cash crop. As far as I am concerned, that is history and we should move on for Pete’s sake. The part I cannot understand for the life of me is why we keep lamenting as if lamentation ever solved any problem. There are more depressing statistics to share with us but I think we can chew on this for a while: in 2022, Indonesia earned $27.8 billion from palm oil exports alone. I am attracted by the enormous forex earnings for sure, but I am more smitten by the associated economic activities.


Let’s be frank: the solution to our economic and security challenges are hidden in plain sight. It is no rocket science. Nigeria can be one of the biggest exporters of palm oil, petrol, solid minerals, name it — if we use our brains positively. We have no business with being a net importer of petroleum products, so much so the aviation industry is sometimes paralysed because of fuel scarcity. Nigeria is the only country that experiences this constant affliction. Some things are too weird about us. That is why some think the country is under a spell. I can’t say if it is a spiritual problem because spiritual matters are above my paygrade, but I am sure that we don’t know what we are doing. We’re lost.


But when you see that some sectors are doing well —  fintech and entertainment, for instance — in spite of the government, you cannot but conclude that the political leadership has questions to answer. We have a warped concept of governance. When you run a system where the unwritten code is that leadership is all about personal comfort and there are no consequences for bad behaviour, what you get is a Nigeria. We know what ails us. It’s been well diagnosed. But we have refused to take our medication: competent and patriotic leadership at all levels. Our capacity for shortsightedness and selfishness is legendary and damaging. Do I really need to spell that out again?




Gabon is the latest African country to come under the jackboot with the overthrow of President Ali Bongo Ondimba shortly after he was declared winner of a flawed election that returned him to office for a third term. He had succeeded his late father, Omar, in 2009. I was amused that father and son had ruled Gabon for a combined period of 56 years before the military coup — only for me to read reports that the new military ruler, Brigadier General Brice Oligui Nguema, is the ousted president’s cousin. I didn’t know whether to be angry or burst into laughter. I now can’t say what is more odious — the father-and-son stranglehold on Gabon or the incursion by their extended family. Africa!



Military coups are back in full force in Africa and I must be one of the least excited. I will say this one more time: military should stay out of politics.

By their training and orientation, soldiers are not primed to govern the civil populace. Most of Africa was ruled by soldiers in the 1970s and 1980s and if they were geniuses, Africa would be competing with the rest of the world today. I will never argue against the notion that there is a general leadership problem on the continent. I will also not deny the fact that liberal democracy has not delivered the dividends as it should. But the military has not proved itself to be better either. Let’s give democracy a chance, no matter how imperfect. Liberties.



There are underground moves by some selfish Nigerians to cut a deal in the P&ID case by seeking to arrest the British high court judgment. The facts, according to our lawyers, are positive for us. More so, we have a right of appeal if we lose, so it is difficult to understand why some fellows are trying to stampede President Bola Tinubu to go for out-of-court settlement. If we win, P&ID and its backers will not get a penny. Instead, the court may ask them to pay our costs. It is already a good signal that a court allowed us to challenge the $6.6 billion (plus interests) award because of allegations of corruption in the contracting process. Tinubu must not cave in to these commission chasers. Greed.



Mr Wale Adedayo, chairman of Ijebu East LGA, Ogun state, bluntly told Mr Dapo Abiodun, the governor, that the “emperor has not clothes”. He accused the governor of hijacking the funds meant for councils — a major obstacle to the proper functioning of the local government system in Nigeria.

The emperor was very angry. Councillors from Ijebu East quickly visited the emperor with their tails between their legs, apologising for Adedayo’s misdemeanour, and wailing: “We are sorry sir! The emperor has clothes! The emperor is not naked!” Seven councillors proceeded to suspend Adedayo for three months over allegations of maladministration and financial mismanagement. Nigeria!

  • Kolawole is the founder and chief executive officer of Cable Newspaper Limited


The god that cut soap for Wizkid (2)



Tunde Odesola
The god that cut soap for Wizkid (2)
Tunde Odesola
There’s no god-like mother, orisa bi iya kosi. A praying mother for that matter. Eyes shut wide in her bowed head, brow sweats as bosom heaves up and down while tongue speaks in supplication for her offspring to grow in wisdom, blossom in understanding, blow in success, live in health and enjoy the good life. The prayer of a mother.
Father is the mirror, baba ni digi. He’s also the unsung hero. The overworked engine. Father prays, too. But his prayers are short and practical, they are against real threats. His prayers are more physical than metaphysical.
May God hearken to the prayers of every parent on their children. The more bad the child does, the harder the parents pray. May the joy of every parent on their children not be cut short by destiny killers, like naira and kobo flogged the destiny of MohBad to death with the koboko of drugs.
It’s good. Nigerian youths are rising across the states, demanding a probe into the death of MohBad, the youngster and songster whose star dropped off the sky into the sea on noonday, a few days ago. Like many Nigerians, I know the nation’s music industry is a haven of hard drugs, but the fast-spreading #justiceformohbad movement, however, should curb the power of life and death wielded by barons, producers and record label owners. Though death has stopped Ilerioluwa Aloba aka MohBad and his promise, the awareness created by the #justiceformohbad movement will set many up-and-coming musicians enslaved to music labels free. Rest in peace, MohBad Ìmólè!
Oak grows from acorn. Mighty grows from mite. A casual telephone call to a former colleague, Folasade, inspired this article. I was touched by the good-naturedness of Wizkid’s mother, who stayed connected to her humble beginnings. As Folasade recounted her moments with Iya Yetunde, I saw her influence in the musical works of her son.
If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, goes a popular catchphrase. Nigeria, her youth and music industry are fast becoming broken like the rickety bicycle of the village drunk nicknamed Keke baje o seto. Nigeria needs to fix the menace of drugs. I wonder how Iya Yetunde would have felt at MohBad’s death. Like the caring mother she was, I guess she would have been shattered.
A testimony that her prayers on Wizkid were being answered manifested when her only son flew her to Dubai about three years ago for a medical checkup.
Folasade recalls, “Iya Yetunde wasn’t sick from COVID. She went to Dubai for a checkup in the heat of the COVID pandemic. Because she and her husband were very close, they went together. When she was through with her checkup, she flew back home with her husband. When they landed in Nigeria, Wizkid told their driver to bring them to his two-storey mansion in Lekki because he wanted his mother to have adequate rest. He knew friends and well-wishers would throng his father’s Surulere home if his parents went there from the airport.
“But Wizkid’s tactic failed because Iya Yetunde was a golden fish. Family and friends still thronged Wizkid’s Lekki home, and the privacy he sought for his parents became a mirage. After some days, Wizkid bought another house in Lekki, where he moved to, leaving the sprawling two-storey house for his parents. They never moved back to Surulere. She gave me a room on the middle floor where I slept when I visited while she and her husband stayed on the topmost floor. The house has a swimming pool.”
Recounting another act of kindness by Wizkid’s mother, Folasade said when Iya Yetunde visited her in Abuja, she (Folasade) cooked a pot of soup and told her to help give it to her (Folasade) son, Akinola, who was seconded by Accenture to MTN.
“My son was then working in Accenture but he was outsourced to MTN. So, when Iya Yetunde was going back to Lagos after a visit, I told her to help give my son the pot of soup I cooked. She asked me why would I want her to take a soup from Abuja to Lagos. She said she couldn’t take it. But she got the phone number of my son.
“A day later, my son called to ask if I told Iya Yetunde he was having a birthday party. I asked him why. He said she stormed his office with different kinds of dishes enough to host a wedding reception. My son said he had to share part of the various dishes with his colleagues. That was when I knew Iya Yetunde was also a caterer. In fact, she catered for MTN and other big multinationals. When I asked her why she was still into catering despite her son’s success, she said catering was her hobby, and that she didn’t want to be idle. After this, she regularly cooked for my son,” Folasade said.
Folasade, who disclosed that Iya Yetunde was quite older than her, also shared another display of humility by her. “One day, she came visiting in Abuja. She had an afternoon flight to catch and I had to go out in the morning. So, I took her to a friend’s house to stay till the afternoon because I didn’t want her to feel lonely. My friend, Aunty Funmilola, was an ex-caterer with the OSBC, she owned a school in Abuja. When we got to Aunty Funmilola’s house, I called her aside and told her to help me take adequate care of Iya Yetunde. I said she was Wizkid’s mom. She said Wizkid ko, Wizkad ni; she thought I was joking. I didn’t press it. I just left Iya Yetunde in her care and went away.
“Aunty Funmilola collected her number it was during their subsequent telephone discussions that she got to know I was saying the truth. Iya Yetunde never threw her weight around. She was honest, kind, sincere, humble and very down-to-earth.
If there are only two Nigerian Afrobeat stars who love their mothers and are proud to show it, Wizkid is one of them. The love he has for his mom shines through in the various songs and verses he dedicated to her. The song ‘Ayo’ is a special dedication to her. Also, he recorded ‘Jaiye Jaiye’ in her honour, featuring Afrobeats legend, Femi Kuti. Wizkid referenced her in ‘Pakuru Mo’ and some other songs.
Iya Yetunde never dissuaded Wizkid from doing music, she gave her blessing and support, praying, guiding and hoping he turns out well. And Wizkid didn’t disappoint her. Wherever she is now, I think she’s happy. Ayodeji omo Balogun showered his mother with love and affection as if he knew her time was petering out. My heart-felt sympathy goes to Wizkid’s dad, Alhaji Balogun, Wizkid’s elder sisters, family and relatives.
Adieu, Iya Yetunde, the god that cut soap for Wizkid.

The god that cut soap for Wizkid (2)

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The lies of Wole Soyinka by Casmir Igbokwe



The lies of Wole Soyinka by Casmir Igbokwe

PROFESSOR Wole Soyinka is Nigeria’s elder statesman of international repute. As the first and only Nobel laureate in literature from Nigeria, his comments or actions draw global attention. Hence, he is supposed to weigh what he says and does at every point in time. Unfortunately, his recent comments, especially with regard to the February 25, 2023 presidential election, present him in the mould of an elder who stays in an open place to defecate, thereby leaving his private part as a thing of ridicule for children to point at.

Speaking last Wednesday in South Africa at an event titled, “The Lives of Wole Soyinka – A Dialogue”, the 1986 Nobel laureate said Labour Party (LP) knew its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, did not win the presidential election but was trying to force a lie on Nigerians that Obi won. As he put it, “I can say categorically that Peter Obi’s party came third not even second and the leadership knew it but they want to do what we call in Yoruba ‘gbajue’, that is force of lies.”

Soyinka further accused the LP of taking over the organised labour movement and turning it into a regional party and all such nonsense. He claimed the LP attempted to send young people into the streets to protest against the outcome of the election on the banner of lies and deceit.

This is not the first time Soyinka would challenge supporters of the LP and its presidential candidate, Mr Obi, to a wrestling match. Last March, he berated the party’s vice-presidential candidate, Yusuf Datti-Ahmed, for saying that Nigeria had no President-elect and that Tinubu should not be sworn in because he did not meet the requirements of the law. He also attacked Obi’s supporters popularly known as the Obidients, describing them as fascists. The Obidient movement fired their own missiles. Obi later visited the elder statesman and called for a ceasefire.

So, why did Soyinka decide to resurrect this quarrel? What has Obi or the LP done to him? How could he have accused the LP of attempting to mobilise young people to protest when it is obvious that most Nigerian youths are angry at the turn of events in the country and defer to nobody, not even Peter Obi?


Of course, LP couldn’t have kept quiet about the allegations against it. Soyinka, it said, exhibited dual character of someone who might be blinded by some chauvinistic tendencies. In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Obiora Ifoh, the party said Soyinka might have said what he said based on information made available to him by those who shared the ‘Emilokan sentiment’. “It is most befuddling as well as disconcerting that a detribalized and activist Soyinka would succumb to the groupthink syndrome that subscribes to State Capture by those belonging to the criminal fringe by any means, based on primordial considerations,” the LP said.

In any case, it is fallacious for Soyinka to categorically say that LP did not win the election. To the best of my knowledge, the Nobel laureate does not work in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He was not a returning officer anywhere during the election. He is a mere spectator like many of us who rely on the information dished out in the public domain to make our comments.

Besides, how did Soyinka in his wisdom come to the conclusion that LP turned the labour movement into a regional party? Party of which region, if one may ask? Did it become a regional party because its presidential candidate, Obi, is Igbo? Or, because the majority of the South-East people voted for it? South-East has been voting en masse for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before now. Why didn’t Soyinka call the PDP a regional party then? And why didn’t he call the All Progressives Congress (APC) which has overwhelming support from the South-West a regional party?

One thing is clear: No matter whatever anybody does or says, the truth, like the moon, can never be covered by any human hand. No matter what the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) says, the truth remains that the so-called victory of President Bola Tinubu in the last presidential election is highly contentious. The PEPT simply affirmed his victory with a stamp of technicalities. It failed to dispense justice which it had sworn to deliver. There wouldn’t have been any problem if Tinubu won the election fair and square. Some of us would have congratulated him and prayed for his success in piloting the affairs of Nigeria.


But, he first sent some danger signals by urging his supporters to snatch power, grab it and run with it. His supporters did exactly as instructed. I don’t need to recount what happened in some parts of the country, especially in Lagos and Rivers States, in the name of election. The margin with which Tinubu purportedly won the election is even marginal. If the election was not rigged, it is possible that Obi would have won. Though he won in Lagos, he was denied substantial number of votes his supporters gave him. His supporters were intimidated, harassed, attacked and some of them even killed simply for coming out to exercise their franchise. Also, some markets populated mainly by the Igbo in Lagos were vandalized because the traders purportedly voted against the ruling party in the presidential election.

INEC worsened the problem with its partisanship. It transmitted election results electronically for the National Assembly election held same day, but could not do so for the presidential election. It came up with all manner of cock and bull stories, culminating in the surreptitious announcement of the result in the wee hours of March 1, 2023.

A credible observer like the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) said it all when it issued its report on the election. According to the group, “The election exposed enduring systemic weaknesses and therefore signal a need for further legal and operational reforms to enhance transparency, inclusiveness and accountability.” Some ruling party agents attacked the report. But it is the gospel truth. The EU-EOM has no reason to lie about the election. If it was after money like some local observers, it would have supported the APC because that is the party with humongous war chest.

In all we do, let us remember that our democracy suffers when we continue to live a life of lies, intimidation and alienation of a substantial part of our populace. We may think that nothing will happen. We may continue to gloat and make merry that we have snatched power and will rule for as long as we wish. But man can only plan for today. Tomorrow is pregnant. What it will bear wears a hat.

I have simple advice for our Nobel laureate: As a man on top of a palm tree, he should stop polluting the air and putting flies in great confusion. A beautiful face does not deserve to be pinched. He is Nigeria’s beautiful bride. He should refrain from actions that will taint his name and paint him as a regional or tribal champion. –

The lies of Wole Soyinka by Casmir Igbokwe

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PEPT’s verdict and the task before the Supreme Court – Farooq Kperogi



PEPT’s verdict and the task before the Supreme Court – Farooq Kperogi

I finally got a chance to read the verdict of the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal. Being completely emotionally uninvested in the outcome of the last presidential election (because on the issues that really matter— such as subsidies for the poor—Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi are indistinguishable), most of the tribunal’s judgment was unsurprising.

Because the conduct of elections in Nigeria are typically shambolic and inept, as with everything else in the country, I think it’s valid to question the credibility of electoral outcomes. It’s equally legitimate to suspect the independence of the judges who hand out verdicts, including the current one, more so that the first certified true copies of the judgment that circulated in the public sphere had a header that read “Tinubu Presidential Legal Team.”

In any case, in an August 29, 2020, column titled “Aso Rock Cabal’s Judicial Cabal on Election Petitions,” I exposed confidential information that a high court judge shared with me about the sodding moral hideousness of electoral tribunal judgements. The judge said there was a cabal of judicial bandits in Buhari’s Aso Rock who wrote election tribunal judgements.

“The actual writing of the judgments is usually done by a consortium of justices and legal practitioners,” I wrote. “This subversion of justice by a conclave is a low-risk-high-reward undertaking. Members of the judicial cabal are routinely compensated with promotion and financial reward.” So, it isn’t far-fetched to accuse judges of the PEPT of wheeler dealing.

Nonetheless, no neutral, independent-minded person would fail to see that Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi had really weak cases. If a judicial cabal wrote the PEPT judgement, Atiku and Obi made the job easy for the cabal.

The centerpiece of the electoral petitions against Tinubu’s victory was that Tinubu should be disqualified from running for the last presidential election because of a whole bunch of things they alleged against him, most of which revolved around questions of his irrefutable moral turpitude. Unfortunately, immorality isn’t always illegality.


The petitions were high on emotions, conjectures, moral posturing, grandstanding, logical absurdities (such as insisting that candidates must win 25 percent of the FCT to win a presidential election thereby making Abuja more important than every part of Nigeria, that Tinubu should be disqualified for a voluntary civil forfeiture of drug money in the US more than three decades ago, that Tinubu should be disqualified because of false and ignorant claims that he didn’t graduate from Chicago State University, or for perjuries he committed more than 20 years ago, etc.) than on legally sound, substantive arguments about the election itself.

They didn’t present foolproof, unimpeachable evidentiary facts, like Atiku did in 2019, to show that their actual votes were higher than INEC gave them—and thereby higher than Tinubu’s actual votes. Wishful thinking, online bullying, tendentious accounts of events, and coarse, primitive, illiterate invective against people who have different opinions are not substitutes for substance. Neither are mass delusion and blind political cultism guarantees of electoral victory.

The evidence for electoral irregularities they presented to the tribunal were, for the most part, inept, tangential, weak, and easily disputable. Plus, they are also guilty of these irregularities in their own areas of popularity. It isn’t enough to allege; you should prove your allegations beyond all shadows of doubt, beyond merely providing libidinal raw materials for the wet dreams of your worshipful supporters.

You don’t need to be a lawyer to know that the petitions had not a snowball’s chance in hell of upending Tinubu’s victory. Only self-indulgent, illusory hope would dispose people to expect to get anything out of the petitions.

Obi’s wildly Trumpian dissimulation is the most mystifying for me. It beats me how, with a narrow electoral focus, he thought he won a “mandate” that was “stolen” and how he could somehow have been declared the winner of an election in which he finished third without first asking the tribunal to invalidate the votes of the second-place finisher. By what logic would the tribunal have declared Obi the winner without first nullifying Atiku’s votes, which Obi didn’t ask for in his petition?

In other words, the petitions weren’t as much about the vote as they were about who Tinubu was and wasn’t (most of which made more moral than legal sense) and why Tinubu should be disqualified, and a rerun ordered that would exclude Tinubu. That doesn’t strike me as a serious challenge.

The petitions are predictably heading to the Supreme Court where they will get a final legal burial. But I am glad that the appeals will help get us legal closure on two thorny issues once and for all: the electoral worth of the Federal Capital Territory and the intent of the framers of the 1999 constitution when they barred dual citizens from running for elective positions.

It’s apparent to anyone with even a basic understanding of the English language that the constitution merely regards the FCT as equivalent to a state for the purpose of determining the geographic spread of votes cast during a presidential election. It would be absurd for the constitution to confer supernumerary electoral value to the votes of the residents of the FCT by requiring that winning 25% of votes there is a precondition to be declared president.


It makes neither logical, linguistic, nor political sense to isolate a small part of a whole and arbitrarily elevate its electoral value above others. The verdict of the Supreme Court will bury this nonsense forever.

The tribunal’s ruling on the challenge to Tinubu’s alleged dual citizenship is its worst, and I hope the Supreme Court will give us clarity on it. Sometime last year, I had an impassioned dialogic exchange about dual citizenship with a newspaper editor who has a law degree. It was from him I first became aware that I had been misinformed about the issue.

Full disclosure: I am a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States. I thought I could never run for an elective office in Nigeria, but wondered why former Senate President Ahmed Lawan, former House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, and several others who are dual citizens held elective offices.

Well, it has turned out that there are preexisting court judgments that basically say dual citizenship is disqualifying only if Nigerian citizenship is acquired through naturalization.

In a 2004 case between Dr. Willie Ogebide and Mr. Arigbe Osula, for example, Justice Walter Onnoghen held that “… it is clear and I, hereby, hold that the acquisition of dual citizenship by a Nigerian per se is not a ground for disqualification for election… particularly where the Nigerian citizen is a citizen by birth. That is the clear meaning of the provisions in sections 66(1) and 28 of the 1999 constitution when taken together.

“The only Nigerian citizen disqualified by the said sections is one who is a citizen of Nigeria by either registration or naturalization, who subsequently acquires the citizenship of another country in addition to his Nigerian citizenship…”

Similarly, in 2022, Justice Oghohorie ruled that the dual citizenship of Cross River State deputy governor Peter Odey didn’t invalidate his eligibility to run for office because his Nigerian citizenship was acquired at birth.

However, in spite of these precedents, the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt invalidated the candidature of Rivers State APC governorship candidate Tonye Cole on account of dual citizenship. Our courts obviously have no respect for precedents, but I hope the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter will establish once and for all whether people who were born Nigerian but acquired another citizenship later in life are disqualified from running for elective offices.

Of course, it would also be reassuring if the Supreme Court grants legal protection to the technological safeguards that INEC spent billions to acquire in order to assure voters that it would run a credible poll but whose use the tribunal said was optional and discretionary.

PEPT’s verdict and the task before the Supreme Court – Farooq Kperogi

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