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Opinion

Reflections on Nigeria’s Elections

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Kano Rerun Election

Aminu Ali.

The wanton disregard for democratic norms by our decadent and retrogressive ruling elites is increasingly becoming acute.

We are inextricably entangled in a quagmire of building democracy with anti-democratic political class.

It is obvious, at least to every discerning mind that our politicians are not willing to allow democratic principles to thrive.

For instance, in matters of election – which is one of the cardinal elements of democracy – we are embroiled in snakes and ladders: a step forward and another or two backward.

The progress made in reforming our electoral processes in 2015 has been brazenly reversed by our political class. Voter suppression, ballot snatching and stuffing, vote-buying, violence, militarization of polls, among other forms of irregularities and malpractices, have become the defining features of our elections.

The recent “elections” in Kano, Kogi and Bayelsa States were characterized by these terrible incidents.

Waste of resources

When I think of the enormous resources we invest to conduct “elections” and the sacrifice we make for that purpose I become worried.

For instance, according to the Daily Trust’s investigation, what INEC spent on 2019 general elections was more than what India spent to conduct its elections in 2014, “where 553.8 million people voted.”

We have spent hundreds of billions (in naira) to conduct elections since the return to civil rule.

Worse still, the billions, if not trillions, spent on campaigns, vote-buying, consultation fee to marabouts, ritualists, sorcerers and thugs are mostly stolen from the public treasury, since the contestants are either serving looters, ex-looters (with intention to resume their looting spree) or they are being sponsored by these looters.

Dividends of democracy denied

We have had six general elections since 1999, and during every campaign, our politicians make promises to address the same problems they promised to address in the preceding campaign.

Yet, these problems/challenges (poverty, unemployment, inequality, insecurity, corruption, poor access to healthcare services, falling standard of education, among others) have only worsened!

It’s also disturbing that during every election, lives and property are lost as a result of electoral violence, and businesses and schools are shut down for at least two to three days.

More worrisomely, with all the massive investment and sacrifices (of lives, property and school and business activities) made during elections, most Nigerians do not participate either because they have lost faith in our political elites or their franchise is being suppressed through violence or militarization of the polling centers. With this low participation, the legitimacy of the “elected” governments is, in my opinion, questionable, since democracy is supposedly a “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Otherwise, we have to revisit the definition of democracy.

Considering the points made above, one may be tempted to doubt whether the benefits we have gained from the six general elections held since1999 surpassed the cost incurred in conducting them. More fundamentally, we need to reflect on whether we can really get things right through this quadrennial ritual.

My worry is that “elections” in Nigeria always produce the same set of characters under the same or different (though the difference is just in nomenclature) platforms.

It’s quite unfortunate that our leadership recruitment processes have been monetized and bastardized, such that decent and principled people find leadership positions well-nigh inaccessible. Worse still, Nigerians lack the culture of civic engagement that is needed to check the excesses of our ruling elites.

We naively assume that by alternating between the ruling classes parties, we will one day have a crop of leaders who, out of sheer altruism, could get us out of our woes.

Or, maybe, we interminably await providential intervention to salvage us from the yoke of our misrulers.

We have to act

We are yet to recognize that as long as we cannot keep our leaders on their toes through organized resistance, we will never gain the dividends of democracy.

In other words, if we continue to remain acquiescent or consenting spectators, things will keep worsening before our eyes.

It is, therefore, necessary to begin serious conversations on how to initiate popular struggles in order to make our country better. Redeeming Nigeria from the unscrupulous political elites is difficult, but not impossible.

Therefore, the difficulty of this task shouldn’t deter us from the struggles for a political alternative.

The great African revolutionary and Marxist ideologue, Amilcar Cabral, aptly admonishes: “mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”

Aminu Ali wrote from the Department of Sociology, Bayero University, Kano. He can be reached via email: aminuali@yahoo.com.

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Unusual signs may emerge on Laylatul Qadr – Alakarmawi

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Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi

Nasiru Yusuf

A renowned Islamic scholar in Kano Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi said it is sometimes possible to witness unusual signs on Laylatul Qadr.

Kano Focus reports that Sheikh Alkarmawi revealed this while delivering his Friday sermon.

He said Laylatul Qadr is one of the most sacred nights in Islam found in the last ten days of Ramadan.

According to him it is sometimes possible to witness unusual signs on the night.

Some of the signs highlighted by the Imam is the night is serene, quiet and shining where the temperature is neither hot nor cold and the moon shines clearly.

Sheikh Alkarmawi said Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him used to double effort in the last ten days of Ramadan aimed at witnessing the night.

He described as a weak a narration wich declared twenty seventh night of Ramadan as Laylatul Qadr, and urged adherents to seek the night in the last ten days of the holy month.

On the recommended acts in the night, Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi cited a hadith narrated by Nana Aisha which prophet taught Muslims to recite ‘Allahumma innaka afuwun, tuhibbul afwa, fa’afu anna.

He also admonished faithful on supplication, forgiveness, upholding good deeds and assisting the needy.

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Opinion

Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu at 65

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Professor Abdalla Adamu

By Ibrahim Sheme

On this day, April 25, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, clocked 65 years.

He was the VC of NOUN from 2016 to February 11, 2021. When his tenure ended, he returned to his former duty post at Bayero University, Kano, but then took sabbatical work as Visitor at Kaduna State University (KASU), Kaduna, on March 1, this year.

Born in Kano City on April 25, 1956, Adamu is unarguably one of the leading academic lights in Nigeria. He obtained a professorship each in Science Education and in Media and Cultural Communication, both from Bayero University, in 1997 and 2012 respectively. Indeed, he is one of very few academics in the country to have attained the feat of a double professorship.

Adamu is an international scholar, having taught media and science education courses in many Nigerian universities and around the world, including serving as a European Union Visiting Professor at University of Warsaw, Poland, in 2012, visiting professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey, and visiting professor, University of Florida in 2010. He was also Fulbright African Senior Research Scholar in 1991.

One other remarkable achievement he recorded was the development of ‘hooked’ Hausa language character font sets (ɓ Ɓ ɗ Ɗ ƙ Ƙ), which were not present at the advent of the Internet. The emergence of these fonts, which he created as part of his various extracurricular activities, has helped many authors, publishers, scholars, students and ordinary users in conveying the Hausa language in a way that it should be written.

Two years ago, on a day like this, I penned a birthday tribute to Professor Adamu to help celebrate his 63rd anniversary. In that write-up I did not dwell on his unfolding accomplishments at NOUN in the area of infrastructural development of the university because others had done so already. Instead, I emphasised on the then VC’s human relation, which I have always found unique. And I wrote: “On that score Prof. Abdalla has remained the same person I have known for about two decades – easy-going, humorous and understanding towards all. I think this essence is a great contributory factor to the achievements he is making as a leader and chief executive.

“His approachability is rare. I know chief executives who are ‘feared’ – and consequently loathed – by those working under them because of their stiffness and unbendability. Some, you strictly need an appointment to see them, and their secretaries become lords because they emulate the ‘man inside’.  Not Baba Prof (as we used to call him). He runs an open door policy, with a  secretary (Esther) just as approachable and nice as he is.

“Once you get into his office, you immediately feel at home. He has a joke for everyone. You will never find him mirthless or sad as if the whole world rests on his shoulders. If it is lunch-time, he offers you his food.

“That sense of humanity, for me, are as important as the infrastructure he is putting on ground at NOUN. That sensibility, plus the infrastructure and the policy transformation, will no doubt count as his best legacies when his tenure ends in February, 2021.”

I daresay many at NOUN would remember him for such virtue. Happily, his successor as VC, Professor Olufemi A. Peters, is another approachable chief executive who doesn’t put on airs. Even though the two men do not necessarily share the same character traits, one can say there are several points of convergence that one can easily point at – but that is a story for another day.

Meanwhile, I’d like to use this opportunity to wish Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu happy birthday and many happy returns.

Sheme is the Director, media and publicity at National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja

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Opinion

Remembering Ja’afar Mahmud Adam

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Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga

Sheikh Ja’afar foresaw the imminent monster called Boko Haram, but was brutally silenced by the assassins bullets!

Today marks the 14th Anniversary of the assassination  Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, who was fatally shot by yet to be identified gunmen on April 13, 2007. His death was like a defoliation of the tallest tree in the forest of knowledge. He was one of the greatest preachers that ever lived; he was a scholar par excellence. In fact, he defies all the superlatives that you can ever find in  the dictionary.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was not only famous for his erudition, but also for his amazing ability to foresee an imminent danger(what today becomes known as Boko Haram). He posed the most potent intellectual challenge to the outlandish and poisonous extremist ideas of Muhammad Yusuf, the notorious Boko Haram founder. He advised Yusuf, his former student, to renounce those dangerous ideas and apologize to his blind followers for misleading them.

Caught between ego and doing the right thing, Muhammad Yusuf rejected the advice because he didn’t want to lose face by admitting to his brainwashed followers that he was wrong. The rest is history. We are today paying heavily for his stubborn resistance to reason. His poisonous ideas have so deeply settled in the hearts and minds of his credulous Boko Haram  followers that they thought God is on their side and that  any Muslim  who opposes their violent extremism is automatically an infidel or an enemy.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was thus vindicated; the grave danger he foresaw is now consuming us, destroying lives, schools and disrupting our social and economic life. Since 2009, more than 15,000 lives were destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorism. Because extremism paralyses a man’s capacity to think and reason, the terrorists are not even perturbed by the consequences of their atrocities, let alone give a moment’s thought to compassion and humanity.

I won’t challenge anyone who thinks Boko Haram had a hand in Adam’s death because putting two and two together, it is impossible not to reach that conclusion. Because of their extreme brutality, taking out a scholar who represented the greatest intellectual challenge to their poisonous ideas is not beyond them.

May the soul Adam continue to rest in peace! May Allah  forgive his shortcomings and eternally  reward his great deeds! Amin!

NOTE: I originally wrote this tribute to Sheikh Jafar Adam on April 13, 2018. As we mark the 14th Anniversary of his dastardly assassination today, I find it worthy to reproduce the tribute. He was an extraordinary scholar that deserves such honour.

Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga is a media consultant at Atiku media organization

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