Coronavirus in Nigeria Will Get Worse

By Bunmi Makinwa


The COVID-19 situation in Nigeria will continue to get worse and the virus will remain a serious problem for a fairly long time in the country. The reasons are numerous and the logic is obvious, as dictated by common sense, science of what is known about the pandemic, and the context of the country.

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It appears that there is a high level of awareness amongst Nigerians on COVID-19. While such awareness is very useful, it is more important how many Nigerians know what to do to avoid the virus, and are capable of doing it day after day and time and again. Despite lessening of lockdown and some reopening of business life in most of the country, the rising novel Coronavirus presence means that people must take actions to avoid getting infected and infecting others. People must also be capable to manage suspected cases and infected people.

In very simple language, humans change behavior when awareness becomes knowledge, and translates into action. There must be the means and support to carry out the new or modified behaviour consistently over the required period of time. It is not easy to change people and society, but it is achievable. The preventive and coping measures for COVID -19, including personal hygiene, wearing face masks and social distancing are new behaviours that must be internalized and done repeatedly.

How many people in Nigeria will be infected with COVID-19? How many people will die of the disease?

The answers to the questions on the future trajectory of the disease are done through modeling and calculations or by building scenarios. The resulting projections and conclusions, though, are only as good as the information and data that are fed into the models.

Here are a few data and facts on Nigeria. First case was on February 27, 2020. Two months later on May 3, 2020, there were 2,388 people infected and 85 people have died, and 351 people have recovered.

The progression of the disease in Nigeria can be glimpsed as follows:

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, responsible for testing among other functions, will be the first to admit that the extent of testing coverage is too little to allow for any reliable projections to be made. Besides, there are several other factors at play, some of them are peculiar to Nigeria and others are on the novel virus about which much is still being learned.

Despite the limitations, it is clear that there has been a rapid increase in the number of infected people as testing increases, and within a very short period. The increase has happened mostly during lockdown period, and given that the disease thrives best in the course of human social and daily interaction, more infections will be seen as lockdown is reduced or is lifted.

The point made is not an argument to continue lockdown, rather it is about how to manage life with COVID-19 as a permanent, constant, invisible enemy. Are people ready for the new life?

There are no good records of deaths in the country. People die on roads, at their homes and in churches, mosques, and at places of traditional healing. There is no reason in tradition, beliefs and customs to report the deaths. The costs and processes of filing reports and getting certification of deaths can be cumbersome, and they do not encourage people. No autopsy is needed for burial of dead people. The fact is that we do not have now reliable numbers of deaths, nor shall we know how many people will die of COVID-19. Period.

If more organized countries with better record keeping could not accurately account for COVID-19 deaths as distinct from deaths caused by other diseases, it will be too much to expect Nigeria to do better.

Many parts of Nigeria are already in the community transmission stage of the virus and it will become nationwide. The number of COVID-19 positive people will increase and the very likely different expanding interplay of cause-and-effect can be seen as a bulging concentric circle which is described below.

The more people test positive the more their contacts that have to be identified through contact tracing. The more contact tracing is done and the more it is effective, the more people will be available for testing and the more people will be found to be positive for COVID-19. The more people test positive, the more the numbers of people who will go into Isolation Centres. Self-quarantine requires special knowledge and competence by individuals and families.

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Snapshot of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria (Source: NCDC)

At the same time, many people will be asymptomatic – they are infected by the virus and they do not show symptoms but they can, and do infect others. The ratio of asymptomatic people, according to studies across countries (no study of Nigerian situation is available), has been found to be as high as 40 to 50 per cent of all infections. Such people unknowingly constitute a silent growing source of infection. It is dangerous but real.

Contact tracing is very difficult in the Nigerian context given the difficulties of identification of people, poor access to several areas and reluctance to self-report. Cultural norms that encourage protection of family members and political interference are additional problems. For these and other reasons, many infected people will not be found.

In the same context, more people will show up at hospitals with “regular” illnesses and some of them will turn out to be COVID-19 cases. They will cause infections within hospitals and amongst health providers. The increased infections within hospitals and of care providers, coupled with the diversion of care, materials/equipment and attention to COVID-19 will put a strain on medical facilities in general. It will also weaken provision of medical and health care for many chronic and serious ailments. More patients with other diseases will die or have prolonged illnesses.

In the order of things, number of deaths will increase overall, which in turn will heighten the panic on COVID-19. Hospitals and clinics will become un-inviting for people who are slightly unwell as they will want to avoid perceived possible infection of COVID-19. Their health will further deteriorate and their immunity will become fragile.

Meanwhile the Isolation Centres, following major increased number of COVID-19 patients, will become overwhelmed; staff, equipment and materials will become inadequate.

In the natural cycle of COVID-19, as infections grow many infected people will in turn infect others.

The possible heavy infections of health care providers will affect overall health care provision for all kinds of diseases and bring down the quality of care that has been poor in general.

The concentric circle of infections, poor level of care, deaths and more infections will continue to expand, as it has been demonstrated in Italy, Spain and USA. It is bad news.

The good news is that many people that are infected by COVID-19 will survive, as experience across the world has shown. Another good news is that concerted efforts are being devoted to responding to COVID-19 by the federal and state governments of Nigeria. Some states have shown high level competence and significant capabilities in handling stages of the pandemic.

Perhaps the most important saving factor is that the rich and powerful are forced to rely almost exclusively on the available local facilities for health and medical care at this period. Invariably, some much needed improvement being accorded the health sector to cater for the privileged class will trickle down to benefit the generality of citizens.

Societal and individual behavior change and modifications must accompany any serious, determined attempt to limit the impact of COVID-19. Mere awareness of the disease does not result in sustained changes by society or individuals. Studies and practice of behavior and social changes over decades demonstrate that carefully construed approaches tailored to categories of people are needed.

The really good news is that the behavioral approach, alongside medical and clinical care, can limit the impact of the virus on Nigeria.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.

Buhari needs another “Abba Kyari”

By Bunmi Makinwa


Abba Kyari

Those who admired late Abba Kyari, former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, praised him loud and clear. And those who hated him have resoundingly castigated him and his actions. The tributes reflect public perception and feelings about a person who stood out as the key figure of the administration.

Perhaps more than anyone in government, late Kyari defined the Buhari government and carried out its mission seriously and correctly. The tributes reflected this much.

As an un-elected official, he was uncharacteristically well known without making public appearances; unusually famously labelled and categorized by the public without saying much; and generally attributed superior authority and great influence by all including the spouse of his principal.

As Nigerians wait for the choice of a possible next chief of staff, several names are circulating. No matter the guesses and suggestions, one issue that looms largest is that Kyari served Buhari as the president wanted to be served. Kyari consistently spoke for and interpreted the president to all who he came across. Kyari’s appointees served during his principal’s first and ongoing second mandate, unless he chose not to keep them.

Still relying on the tributes, the conclusions are, without prejudice, that Kyari ran the government and the country very well for Buhari. The president confirmed his confidence in Kyari by reappointing him during the second mandate. The president needed Kyari, perhaps more than Kyari needed him.

Given the conclusions above, the next chief of staff will have to be another “Kyari” – meaning a Kyari-like personality. He does not have to be a look-alike in physical and material ways. But he must be similar to the former chief of staff in mind, spirit and temperament.

Some key characteristics of Kyari that Buhari will seek and prioritize in his choice of the next chief of staff are as follows and you should consider them as you weigh your interest in the job:

The health problems of Buhari impose certain physical limitations on his activities. The presidency is not a part-time job, and it places great physical burden on the occupier of the highest office. It is not publicly known whether the health conditions impair other faculties of the president. No matter the facts, the president must be shielded and cushioned from formal and informal demands of the office that may jeopardize his health. The new chief of staff must manage, deploy, arrange the presidency in name and style of his unseen and absent principal.

Very good educational background is important. Whilst what was studied may count for little, attendance of notable educational institutions is critical. The candidate’s former colleagues and mates will form a band of supporters that testify to his strengths, character and personality when he was in school, no matter how irrelevant such testimony may sound relative to today’s realities.

In all choices of key positions in government, families and friends are prime choices. Occasionally well-known people make the grade. Others when appointed to important positions must keep perpetual social distance from the president. And such people will act only within the wisdom of the known but unwritten rules of loyalty. Critics and advisers who do not share prevailing visions must never be allowed any merits.

All defence, security, and intelligence posts are made with hundred per cent “cultural sensitivity”. The appointments are important in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency. They are useful to reduce corruption, but only as defined internally.

The work of running the presidency is hard and demanding. The candidate should be on top of all issues no matter how it appears in public as if he is not. Hence appearances must be a cool exterior whilst interior is boiling with tactics and definite agendas.


President Buhari and Abba Kyari in happier times (image courtesy State House)

The candidate must seek no publicity and obvious attention. The more the silence the better the options that can be applied as the situation demands. Do not show your hand quickly. Even when there is a lot of noise, maintain a poker face and stay impassive. Distance is important from the public. The political campaign has stopped the day the results of elections were announced.

Have a lot of room to wiggle. The space to take a stand or make a u-turn on issues and decisions grows bigger the longer the silence by the presidency. At times, the issues will simply disappear, no matter how loud the noise is. Know how to buy and use time.

The fewer the people with whom there is any social or political interaction the better. The candidate will not mount the soap box readily, or accept to have the klieg lights turned on him. It violates the silence and detached demeanour. In fact, stay within the friends-family-and-well-known others’ circle unless it is absolutely essential. When public interaction or statements are required, be brief. Curt the soap box and lights only when it can lure the unwary and divert attention. Or do it when there is too much pressure that the costs of not appearing in public may cause irreparable damage.

Be wary of politicians, all politicians. Even those within your own party. Let them stay divided if it happens. The longer they fight amongst themselves the easier it is to use them to attain set purposes. Keep in mind that they have served their important objectives already by getting the votes or doing whatever was necessary to win elections. They also have prices and interests. Know them well.

Nigerians will always revolve around ethnic groups and regional alliances. Know the country and its peoples, and make very good use of these fleeting conclaves. They are valuable resources to exploit for the vision and agenda of the presidency.

There is no national interest wherever you look, but it is important to pretend that it is the only reality to which the government is committed, and unwavering.

There are the media and their sponsors. Know them. Almost every story and article is either from our own people or from their own people. Their own people relentlessly sponsor attacks against us. Be aware. Read and study their ways. Enemies are enemies and they will pay dearly when we strike, in our own time.

Be persuasive and eloquent with your friends, not the masses. Your friends will talk with conviction on your honesty, integrity and incorruptibility. The masses will deride you anyways.

Using the criteria above, President Buhari is seeking the right candidate for the most powerful office.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership

Bill Withers, Musical Genius Of Nobody

Bill Withers Dead At 81 - Essence

Bill Wither by Andrew Zukerman

The name Bill Withers (1938 – 2020) hardly comes to mind among the top musical personalities of the era. But his music does. Hits like “Use Me”, “Lean on Me”, “Aint No Sunshine”, and “Just The Two of Us” are highly popular and often associated with other musicians who actually only produced versions of these songs. The originator, singer and producer of the award-winning numbers was Bill Withers whose full name is William Harrison Withers.

As the coronavirus pandemic rages, “Lean on Me”, with vocals of “We need someone to lean onAll we need is somebody to lean on”, stirs deeper meanings in people than Bill would ever have imagined in 1972 when he released the chart-topper number.

His death on March 30 was not due to COVID-19, which a few days earlier had claimed Manu Dibango, a great saxophonist, famous for his “Soul Makossa” which dance steps took off also in 1972 from Cameroon but spread its African-ness far and wide.

Bill Withers will long be remembered for his music. He should be known and remembered for far more than that, although left to him alone,I just want to feel good”, he would say typically.

There are many sides to this son of a miner father who grew up in the small mining town called Slab Fork in West Virgina, USA. He was raised mostly in Berkeley, California, by his mother and grandmother. His father died when Bill was only 13 years old.



Bill grew up shrugging away anything that came his way – racism, creativity, fame, wealth, death and celebrity status, indeed anything that would normally preoccupy the life of an average human being. To him, nothing mattered much, and he lived in total opaqueness to seemingly important material things. In an interview with BBC in 2009, he reasoned: “The most important thing is to be okay…I just like to be able to accept everything before I die. You know how unhappy you would be when you feel that the way you are is not okay? I started out my life like that. I don’t want to end up like that.”

His family was one of two black families that lived in the white part of town. But Bill would describe his time there as one of acceptance by all. He was calledLittle Brother and played with the neighbours’ older white kids with no sense of his racial difference. The attitude to look beyond challenges and mould his own realities somehow brought him popularity, fame and wealth without overly courting them.

At age 17, Bill wanted to move on with life beyond small towns and limited economic possibilities. The military provided an obvious entry place and he joined the navy where he trained and served for nine years as an aircraft mechanic. It opened up opportunities for other future jobs which he did until he was 32 years old.

Muhammad Ali and Company

June Pointer, Muhammad Ali, Bill Withers & Don King in Zaire, 1974 (Lynn Goldsmith)

In the 70s when Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross were among rising black stars who were opportuned and nurtured in the legendary Motown studio, Bill started a new career in music as a fully grown man with no experience in the music world. Until that time, his songs were

personal tunes that he sang to himself as he worked to earn his keep. Despite the limitations, he signed on with Sussex Records and became the label’s best-selling artist.

His first album, “Just As I am” was released in 1971 and he won a Grammy Award for “Aint No Sunshine, a single which sold millions of copies.

Fame and money continued to follow Bill. His second and third albums, “Still Bill” and “Use Me” also sold millions of singles and confirmed that Bill was wanted by the world. Listen to Bill’s songs – Grandma’s Hands, Lovely Day, Who’s He and What’s He to You, Everybody’s Talking, Harlem, Let Me in Your Life… and the words and ballads lure you into reminiscences, sleep, dreams and inspirations.

As he would say much later, if you think that you have something to offer, put it down and let the world take you up on it. Bill was taken sky high.

Early in his musical career, Bill showed his individuality and personal inclination. Music was an art, and if wealth and adulation accompanied it, art should take precedence.

When asked who he had in mind when he sang his famous love songs his answer was unusual: Nobody. He explained that he wasn’t even thinking then. Keep on using me, until you use me up – the widely loved phrase just came to him, and it sounded original, and he used it. The meaning was up to whoever heard it.

Bill Withers revealed later on that he had a rough start in life as far as women were concerned. For close to thirty years of his life, he had a strong stutter which placed a heavy social burden on his interaction with females. Besides, he earned so little money that dating was almost out of his life. His songs were rather a reflection of how he saw life and society. His inner thoughts, he confessed, were more turbulent, closer to an outlier existence that bordered on “manic depression”.

Why we need to lean on Bill Withers and his great music more than ever

Fortune smiled on Bill not only in music but in his personal life too. Although his first marriage was short-lived (1973 1974) and ended in a divorce, he married again in 1976 to Marcia, a very well educated lady, with whom he had two children. They lived together in comfort until his death.

At the height of his popularity, Bill stunned the world by retiring from music in 1985. He contested the word “retirement”. “I did not retire, I merely did something else”, he responded often to questions on the subject. He took a position – he would not accept to be told or advised by producers and marketers to play in certain ways or use some instruments or equipment. “Don’t confuse music with music business…Let your reward be in the doing of it. If you can turn it into business, go for it, but don’t bet your life on it.”

He explained further: Don’t value your gift according to where you fall on the scale of commercial professionalism. Enjoy it. If you can lock up yourself in your closet and just groove, don’t cheat yourself out of that.” He spent his “freedom” years writing music, playing at his own home studio, receiving awards, speaking to groups and doing just whatever he wanted to do.

Famously, Bill refused to play with Elvis Presley because he disagreed with the title of the number, “In the Ghetto”. “That just pissed me off. I don’t know no nothing about no ghetto…If you see me in the ghetto, brother, I am passing through.” Yet another confirmation of Bill’s originality, belief in his personal values and total contentment in who he was.

Rarely is a person so clear about his place in life and happy to stay there no matter what temptations and ambitions lurked around as Bill personified through every stage of his life.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership


Can Africa Keep Coronavirus Under Control?

By Bunmi Makinwa

The map that is emerging of the global situation of coronavirus disease, better named as COVID-19, is strange and surprising.

Coronavirus Map: Distribution of COVID-19 Cases Worldwide, as of March 17, 2020. Credit: WHO

Take a map of the world with an all-white background and put black spots to mark the places where COVID-19 cases are high or significant. Africa stands out as the only continent that remains mostly white. The other continents have a large number of people who have COVID-19. Many of the countries with a high number of cases also have a correspondingly substantial number of deaths from the disease whilst African countries have recorded very few deaths.

What is strange about Africa? Why is COVID-19 unusually bypassing Africa?

Epidemiology is the study of incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health. It uses a lot of data and statistical information to reflect its conclusions or findings. It gives an account of fundamental factors that influence course of diseases.

As in similar studies of humans, nature and society, when no coherent explanation is possible to explain a phenomenon, epidemiology infers, extrapolates and uses conjectures.

In understanding why Africa is spared to date of many cases of COVID-19, there are a lot of inferences and suggestions, but very little coherent or solid explanation. It is understandable. COVID-19 is a new and rapidly evolving disease. The scientific knowledge is growing but It is too early to draw conclusions.

Compared to the rest of the world, cases of COVID-19 are low in Africa. As at this time of writing, Egypt leads with 196 and also has the highest number of deaths at 6. South Africa is a distant second with 85 cases, followed by Algeria with 61 cases, Morocco has 38 cases and Senegal has 27 cases, in that order. Morocco has recorded 6 deaths and Sudan has one. All other African countries with COVID-19 cases are in single units.

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South African Development Community unites to tackle COVID-19. Credit: WHO

The current situation on COVID-19 does not say a lot about where things maybe tomorrow or in the near future. Whilst China was dealing with the first major epidemic and a high number of cases, most countries that became almost overwhelmed with the disease did not foresee the trend. Within weeks, Italy has a raging epidemic with 31,000 plus cases and over 2,000 deaths, and Iran has more than 16,000 cases with almost one thousand deaths. Spain, Germany, France and the USA are battling with rising numbers.

There is, therefore, no valid reason to celebrate or be lackadaisical about the current situation in Africa. Rather, it is as good a time as any to adopt an active and serious preparedness stance. African countries should anticipate any eventuality. There are already lessons to learn from other parts of the world.

African countries cannot be over-prepared, because its best preparedness situation in medical and health services will be not anywhere as strong as the services in China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, France or the United Kingdom – which health care and management capabilities were overwhelmed fast by the epidemic. According to WHO, healthcare and services in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are the weakest in the world.

“Keep it out and be prepared”. This is my shorthand of a combined strategic imperative that should drive Africa’s readiness on Coronavirus or COVID-19 given the facts and data available regarding the disease.

From reports and personal observation, African countries have set up testing facilities at airports to monitor travelers and identify possible infected persons. This is excellent. It is doubtful that the same kinds of facilities are available at land borders which are often too numerous to count, and very porous.

COVID-19 is said to have an incubation period of between 14 and 21 days based on current knowledge. It means that an infected person with no symptoms yet may pass through the temperature recording tests at airports and manifest the disease later on. It has probably been the case with several international travelers who have been identified with the disease days after their arrival in countries.

It is also assumed that COVID-19 or a variant of it is not indigenous to African countries. If it exists already, it is most likely to be passive or not as virulent as the type that is ravaging other parts of the world. The assumptions are reasonable until facts prove otherwise. If the assumption proves wrong with time, there will arise a need to respond to emergencies.

For the above reasons and others, the efforts to “keep it out”, may not be as successful as it is touted to be. Therefore, the second part of the strategy, “be prepared,” becomes even more important.

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Senegal partners with UK lab to develop a hand-held coronavirus test kit. Credit: CNN.

Most African countries have Centre for Disease Control (CDC), or National Institutes of Public Health and similar bodies that are a repository of knowledge and skills in control and preparedness for communicable and non-communicable diseases. They have capabilities to test, confirm COVID-19, treat and manage cases locally, including the capability for contact tracing, isolation and follow-through medical services.

However, medical and care services are most beneficial and effective when disease burden is limited. The fact that most people in the continent do not have reasonable access to health care facilities is a grave complication when epidemics strike.

The maxim, prevention is the cheapest cure, cannot be more appropriate at this time. In order to “be prepared”, African countries should adopt a preventive approach premised on behaviour change, a well-developed public health and change management field.

COVID-19 is a communicable, infectious disease. Unfortunately, merely reviewing measures taken by African countries to date reveal that less than 10 countries out of 54 have taken the preliminary steps of behavior modification and change that can enable people to “be prepared” to overcome the disease. Measures such as limiting the gathering of groups, enforcing reduced movement for social activities, and continuous enlightenment and education with rehearsals for practical understanding are very important.

It is difficult to ask people not to socialize, greet, congregate to celebrate, meet up with family and friends, as they normally do. It is challenging to ask people to wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds every so often; not to touch mouth, nose and eyes; and to avoid handling public facilities. People just like to do what they normally do. It is human. The social and cultural practices of African peoples have proved tough and resistant to behavior changes that place individuals above groups and community. We have seen it in HIV and AIDS programmes, and in combatting Ebola.

Now with COVID-19, people must be ready and comfortable over time with the disruption of normal life and daily routines. It is difficult to stay home for days, weeks and maybe months, but people must be geared to practice and adopt the new behavior.

Official announcements setting stringent requirements to reorganize life in new ways, cancel public gatherings and events relating to education, work, leisure, and social life, are in order. People must be prodded towards changing their lifestyle.

Behavior modification and change are what it means to “be prepared” for COVID-19 in Africa. It is known that behavior change takes several steps from awareness to understanding, through acceptance, adoption, and ultimately the sustainability of new behavior. It also takes several supporting factors, including policy, politics, faith, social and economic contexts to effect a change of behavior in institutions, societies and amongst people.

The time to begin implementing a behavior change movement to contain COVID-19 in Africa was yesterday. There is no justifiable reason for any country to be taken by surprise having seen how the disease has evolved dramatically in several countries.

If, as time goes on, Africa remains unaffected by the ravages of COVID-19, nothing would have been lost by being prepared for the worst-case scenario. Indeed, it would be a much better situation than saying “had we known” after the unexpected havoc that the epidemic can wreak on a fragile continent.

Bunmi Makinwa was the first head of behavior change communication of UNAIDS at the global level from Geneva. He is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.

Facts and Lessons on Coronavirus

By Bunmi Makinwa

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It is highly unlikely that you will be infected by Coronavirus, code-named COVID-19, according to prominent facts from the ongoing epidemic of the virus. This is not what you would think given the hysteria, myths and information that spread every day on the disease.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans or animals. Among the most well-known coronaviruses are Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Swine Flu. The most-recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease and has been code-named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is known so far to have originated from an animal.

Prevention and avoidance of infection is easy and possible through simple actions that each individual can take, and which organizations, companies and communities can facilitate.

The chances of recovery from the disease are also very high compared to other recent viral epidemics. Facts and data on COVID-19 reinforce the positive conclusions stated above. Yet the spread of COVID-19 is real and new facts are likely to surface as the epidemic becomes scientifically more familiar.

The caricature of Chinese people as being carriers of COVID-19 is incorrect. Though the first known cases of the disease and the largest number of infections and deaths were in Wuhan in Ubei province of China, COVID-19 has appeared in at least 64 countries, three of them are in Africa – Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria.

Egypt was the first African country to report a Coronavirus case, a Chinese person who has since tested negative and has been discharged from quarantine. Algeria has two suspected cases and one of them was confirmed for infection. The two cases were Italians. Nigeria has reported a case and the Italian who travelled to Lagos on February 25 had his case confirmed on February 27. He has been quarantined at a facility in Lagos.

According to the government of Lagos State, the patient’s symptoms have subsided. It means that his potential to infect others has decreased. If the trend continues, he will be released as he will no more pose any danger to others.

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It is likely that more Africans will be infected by COVID-19 as time goes on, especially Africans who live in or visit places that have a high number of cases of the disease. For example, two South Africans were detected to have the disease on board the cruise ship, The Diamond Princess, in Japan. The Diamond Princess has recorded 705 cases of COVID-19 and 6 deaths to date. It carried 3,711 people and was sailing from Singapore to Japan when the first case was discovered.

Unfortunately, infected people may carry the virus for many days before they show symptoms, and they can infect others. Infection takes place through droplets when infected persons sneeze or cough. Fomites, object or substance that is capable of transmitting infectious organisms from one individual to another, also may carry the virus through to others. Metals and metallic objects are said to be efficient fomites for COVID-19.

Estimates by credible organizations are that infected people have 98 per cent recovery rate from the disease. The two per cent of patients who die from it are predominantly vulnerable

persons such as older people above the age of 50 and most of them have pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease or cancer. It means that young people have a very high capability to recover from infection based on what is known to date about the virus.

In a larger context, whereas SARS has 9.6 per cent and MERS has 34 per cent mortality rates, COVID-19 has about 2 per cent mortality rate.

How does one avoid COVID-19? Remember the following simple measures.

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Wash and rinse hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 30 seconds. Do it frequently and encourage others to do the same. The hands are the major carriers of viruses and washing hands with soap and water properly kill most viruses. In the absence of water and soap, sanitizers are also effective but not as well as soap and water. Water alone if it is all that is available is useful but very weak as a cleaner for viruses.

Avoid touching the nose, mouth, eyes with hands. The hands pick up viruses and transmit them easily through these parts of the body.

Stay a good distance, about one metre or three feet, away from anyone who sneezes or coughs. The droplets from their sneeze or cough cannot reach you at this distance. Anyone who sneezes or coughs should cover their noses and mouths to avoid spreading droplets to others.

Fomites, such as clothes, utensils, and furniture, also transmit viruses. In public places especially, use fomites sparingly and clean hands frequently when public objects are used.

Stay at home if you feel ill and seek medical care as soon as possible if the illness persists.

It is important to be informed and to obtain new information on the new virus. However, avoid misinformation and myths. For example, the WHO recommends the use of face masks for those who are taking care of patients with COVID-19 or for those who may have a cough, cold, or sneezing. Wearing masks is not a substitute for regular hand cleaning.

There is a lot of wrong information about the current epidemic given the power of social media that turns just about anyone into specialists. Each country has credible sources of information and there are various international organizations that competently provide information. Top of the list is the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control, National Public Health agencies, and well-established, reputable media organizations.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.

The Real Amotekun is Yet Ahead

By Bunmi Makinwa

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The sound of “Amotekun” has drowned out all other issues in the Nigerian public space for many days, and there is a great likelihood that the Yoruba word will have meanings and connotations beyond the original meaning of leopard. Soon enough Wikipedia will include Amotekun. Maybe the word will also enter into the Oxford English Dictionary as was recently the case for several words of domestic Nigerian uses.

Listening to and reading about the loud pronouncements that have accompanied the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Amotekun, one has to be deaf not to conclude that Nigeria is “not at ease” – to borrow a line from the title of the famous book by Chinua Achebe.

From its outing, there were whispers, gasps, exclamations of relief and contentment by many people who found the Amotekun security outfit a very appropriate step taken by five governors of South Western States. At last, the security situation might improve, and life might become normal, many people concluded.

But there were also hisses, jeers, facial contortions, by many other people on how unnecessary Amotekun was. Nothing could be farther from establishing better security than Amotekun because it would be manipulated to foster violence, the others contended.

Whilst the murmurs were still germinating and mounting gradually, Attorney-General Abubakar Malami threw fuel into the low fires and the explosion started. He said that Amotekun was illegal and unconstitutional. Those who support Amotekun or similar policies would have none of Malami’s points. They found that his statement was not only wrong, but it confirmed the status quo. In simple terms, it showed how the Northern ruling class wanted to perpetuate their hold on the rest of the country’s security architecture and other important spheres.

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Abubakar Malami

Who is right and who is wrong? This is the debate that is going on. It is loud and angry.

And the leadership of the country is silent. President Buhari has not made any pronouncement. Nor any of his proxies. Characteristically. The highest Federal Government official who has spoken on the issue remains the Attorney General. From a communication point of view, his statement is the official position of the Federal Government. This is the interpretation of the current silence in communication.

Silence has been used frequently as an instrument of governance by the current government, and it is a strong communication tool. Whether the government has used silence strategically, or merely by accident is less important than what effects the use of it has created.

After a heated political campaign and delicate elections in May 2015, President Buhari emerged as the winner on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party. The manifesto of his party which was used as the preaching instrument across the country by APC had promised to change the country. The new APC government was going to repair the economy, forge a secure nation, and reduce if not eliminate corruption.

More than 15 million voters, constituting 54% of total votes cast, who favoured Buhari waited for the beginning of a new Nigeria to emerge as soon as Buhari came into office.  Silence. There was no team or energetic principals to run the affairs of state. President Buhari took about six months before he broke the long silence to appoint his cabinet.

The president’s frequent travels abroad for medical treatment were usually accompanied also by silence. His health was poor, a situation that was beyond him and anyone for that matter. But the silence, not informing the country, not appointing an acting president often, or not handing over to a designated official publicly, made his silence seriously problematic.

The herdsmen phenomenon generated national furore for a long time. Silence reigned on the matter from the number one political head of the country until it became uncomfortable to be silent.

Silence at critical times when serious issues are at stake seems to have become the norm. You may remember the following:

– The tense relationship between two principal security agencies, namely DSS and EFCC, which at times became public stand-offs.

– Closer to home, the President’s wife and First Lady Aisha Buhari has become a megaphone of how the domestic life in Aso Rock resembles an interesting soap opera of Nollywood. But Aso Rock is not meant to be a Nollywood stage. Silence is being used as an instrument for managing the crisis.

– The agitation by several groups from the South Eastern parts of the country for a re-establishment of Biafra which started as little noises and has become a storm.

– The power-play at the presidency that appeared to place the Vice-President under siege.

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Buhari departs Daura after INEC postponed the February 16 general election (image courtesy State House)

Operation Amotekun will mother many children. The ferocity of future Amotekuns will be determined by competent handling of the babies from birth. Security of people and assets cannot be compromised.

Those who use silence as a strategy for results state that “actions speak louder than words”. There are certainly uses for silence as a veritable instrument of management, leadership and communication. Silence is powerful when silence will bring solutions, healing, unity and contentment. Silence cannot stop disaffection that is obvious. A deep sense of insecurity and distrust permeates the country. Timely interventions and clear statement of positions forestall eruption of latent anger and misinterpretation of situations.

If there were any doubts in anyone’s mind, Amotekun has confirmed that Nigeria’s security situation is broken and needs mending.

In a country where the president is all-powerful and his voice can direct and influence thoughts and conclusions, the perpetual withdrawal and silence of Buhari leaves serious issues unresolved. There is too much dust in the air, and when the dust settles, we shall have yet another crisis swept under a bulging carpet covering the dirt. Silence has become a liability, and it will spawn more Amotekuns.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.

When a Billionaire Goes to Jail

By Bunmi Makinwa

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Former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu

Billionaires do go to jail but only rarely. In any country, a billionaire who pays for his crime with a jail term makes headline news. In Nigeria on December 4, 2019, wealthy, former Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. He wiped away tears, he asked or begged security officers not to be placed in handcuffs as he was being led out of court. “Please don’t handcuff me. I will follow you.”

Kalu, a senator and Chief Whip of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) political party, will most likely appeal the judgment. It took 12 years to prosecute the case to this point. For now, he sits in jail for committing fraud of over 7 billion naira of funds meant for Abia State which he ruled from 1999 to 2007. He will forfeit huge personal assets to the government.

In the public space, he has acquired an ignominious title of criminal, fraud and corrupt person.

In less than five years of APC’s rule by President Muhammadu Buhari, three other former state governors have been sentenced to prison, also for defrauding their states. They are: Jolly Nyame of Taraba State – 12 years; Joshua Dariye of Plateau State10 years; and Bala Ngilari of Adamawa State, whose conviction of 4 years imprisonment was later upturned by the Court of Appeal.

The rate of imprisonment of such all-powerful former governors is unprecedented.

The prosecution of cases of “grand corruption”, as it was labeled by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, appears to have sharp teeth. They bite deep and bloody. The injuries are being spread around in a way that makes people shudder, even if they are “insiders” – members of the APC and strong, well-connected political persons. The expectation that “Once you have joined APC, all your sins are forgiven” as famously stated in January 2019 by APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomole may be far from reality.

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A Federal High Court, Lagos sentenced former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu to 12 years in prison

Kalu’s case is a model of a person who did all the “right” things to wash himself clear of his sins. He had abandoned his political party that took him to governorship position, and joined APC; he campaigned vigorously, visibly for APC and presidential candidate Buhari in 2019 elections; he fought his way through electoral and legal hurdles to become a senator in 2019, a usual guarantor of immunity from sanctions for crimes perpetrated as governor; and he purchased his way to Katsina the home state of Buhari to have himself turbaned as a Moslem leader, showing total disdain for his Christian roots and life-long religion. Yet, he ended up paying for his sins.

It may be too early to draw conclusions. But some questions are appropriate.

Is the government in its second term in office showing its new hands – no friends, no foes, and anyone who falls into the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) net can be convicted and will serve jail term and suffer punishment?

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shehu Malami said on December 19, 2019, that 22 ex-governors are under probe or on trial. This is in addition to many high-level officials and political heavyweights who are being investigated or facing criminal charges. Are the graft fighting arms of government, especially the EFCC, more proficient and more certain of their abilities to get convictions in courts hence they are emboldened? Will more billionaires go to jail?

The legal defence squad of billionaires who face criminal charges in Nigeria has demonstrated over the years its ability to stall the legal process, frustrate and ultimately overcome the prosecution in most situations. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, a recent law, is credited by some legal analysts as having equipped prosecution with more capability to limit the technical manoeuvering that draws out cases sometimes for decades, defeating and making nonsense of trials. Will the use of the Act strengthen the administration of justice and encourage upright judges to determine cases within a reasonable time?

Are various arms of government, especially the executive and judiciary listening more attentively to the cries of the general public who are daily being scammed by their elected leaders?

And by confiscating the gains of crimes through forfeitures of large assets, is the judiciary waking up to the reality that political criminals even when convicted live a sumptuous, obscenely wealthy lifestyle after jail? That the fruits of a crime stay with the criminals rather than return to the people whose life is diminished by corruption?

We should also not forget to ask: Do we as a society contribute to creating many fraudulent and criminal billionaires? A system that makes it imperative to have many millions and even billions of Naira to run for election in any political position has created political commerce from which “investors” must recoup their capital and ensure quick returns whilst in office.

When billionaires go to jail, there is often dancing in the streets. The real joy, however, lies in people reaping fruits of democracy through a vast, noticeable improvement in the lives of ordinary people. A change of ways by governors and political leaders towards a life of service and commitment to reducing poverty in the land is a worthwhile goal.

Then, fewer billionaires will end up in jail.

Bunmi Makinwa is CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.

Buhari and Sowore – The Road to Change

By Bunmi Makinwa

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Image via Daily News Gh

One is lean, slow, deliberate and often distant as he stares into space. The other is compact, quick, agitated and often preoccupied with his mobile phones. I am describing, respectively, my impressions of President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr Omoyele Sowore from watching them both up close physically.

They are two different people, as different as two people can be, including in their age and life experience. Yet, they are two very similar persons. In so many ways that this article will explain, their trajectories have been different, but their ways have been very similar.

In taking a stand against the establishment, Sowore has lived a life of protests. He was a relentless advocate for civil and political rights as a student union leader at the University of Lagos. Later on, he founded Sahara Reporters, one of the early online alternative media that champions agitation against all governments of Nigeria since 2006.

Buhari as a professional military officer might be perceived as conformist and obedient to military tradition. A closer look, however, reveals something different. His most visible form of protest has been that within and outside his military career, he has demonstrated a non-conformist mien. He has been described as austere, withdrawn and often aloof. In his political roles in military uniform, he has not been given to the physical and social excesses that characterized several of his contemporaries who assumed political roles.

Just as Buhari has held several political appointments and worked within the political structures, Sowore has been around and within politics, including engaging institutions of government to criticize them, and sometimes to collaborate with them as sources of his investigations. Buhari and Sowore came to the same conclusion. Neither was happy with the government and the regular politicians.

Both men sooner than later, in their typical day, are apt to show their angry demeanours in social and political discourse. President Buhari and Omoyele Sowore in many ways have led lives that reflected their dissatisfaction, even anger, about Nigeria’s political leadership and parties.

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Buhari as a military officer has been one of the leaders of several coups d’etat against military and civilian governments. For example, in December 1983, he was one of the military leaders that overthrew President Shehu Shagari. Buhari and his deputy Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon ruled Nigeria for some two years, a regime that was characterized by their “War Against Indiscipline”. They jailed many people,
punished many others and made draconian laws. Buhari has not led a quiet life of conforming to the established order.

Similarly, Sowore has never been short of negative words to describe what goes on in Nigeria. His lifelong pursuit of activism against the government has been loud. He has been intolerant of corruption, misrule, abuse of office and exploitative social norms.

President Buhari, after his military career, found his voice within a new political party, the All Nigeria People’s Party, and later in the Congress for Progressive Change. He ran three times unsuccessfully to become president. He won only at his fourth election campaign using the All Progressives Congress party platform. He has fulfilled his desire to rule Nigeria.

Sowore, who had established a powerful, successful media platform, Sahara Reporters, to destabilize the political space, also found a political party, the African Action Congress, in 2018. The party lost resoundingly at Sowore’s first attempt to use the electoral system to become president.

When President Buhari lost his earlier elections, he did not keep quiet. He spat fire. His frustration with the electoral process was heard loudly. For example, Buhari claimed that the 2011 elections were rigged. He angrily stated that “if what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”.

Sowore after his electoral loss did not keep quiet. Moreover, he concluded that open agitation to upend the system was perhaps more effective. He spoke angrily too.
In their characteristic ways, neither of the two men accepted their losses nor did they settle down to parley with the winners. They did not go quietly into the night.
Sowore, reacting against the electoral process of 2015, called out other instruments of persuasion. He brandished a new slogan of “Revolution Now” and led street campaigns.

Unfortunately, for seeking new avenues to change the political discourse, he became the enemy that must be stopped by the forces of law and order.

It is written and said by many people that Sowore was the nemesis of President Jonathan’s government and that Sahara Reporters was a most potent media that charted the way for the end of Jonathan’s government and the entry of President Buhari into office in 2015.

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Sowore, especially through Sahara Reporters, has campaigned in the public arena consistently against the ills of every government from 2006 to date. Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Musa Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan were not spared, nor were their ministers, appointees and other political associates.

Some of these leaders have had their wives painted in undignified portraits in the online media, especially for corrupt activities.

How did Sowore who acted in support of, advocated for Buhari, and his political party’s “change” agenda, become the “enemy” of Buhari and his government?

Buhari was fed up with poor governance, he campaigned in support of a new order and fought hard to get into power. Both Buhari and Sowore swear that Nigeria must change.

Sowore’s impatience with slow or lack of change leads him to seek possible pressure points to accelerate change. What differentiates the two in the new sphere is that whilst Buhari is bound by the fences of government house and its dictates, Sowore chooses to try the paths not taken, using mostly words.

Nigeria is ripe for change. The road to change is already littered with promises not kept, accidents caused deliberately by agents of the status quo, and obstacles that hinder progress for the largest segment of the population. Sooner than later it may become a stark reality to decide which path can truly lead to change – within the existing order, or its overturn to give way to drastic shifts. Patience may have an expiration date.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.

Judges Should Rebuild the Temple of Justice

By Bunmi Makinwa

Image via Quartz

There was a time, and it was not too long ago, when in many communities the name or job of a parent qualifies a child for kindness or disdain.

In the of qualification-by-association mindset, if one’s father or mother was a school teacher, the child was seen as disciplinedand dilligent. The offspring of a well-educated person would get abundant respect. Similarly respected were the offspring ofhonest, reputable, hardworking folks.

Some professions also bestowed respect and admiration on their practitioners. The legal profession was highly considered. Andwithin the legal fraternity, a magistrate was the first step into the dignified chamber of justice. As one went higher in the judiciary, the higher was the adoration too.

A judge was a special being, above many others. If a judge wore only golden shoes in people’s imagination, a justice of the Supreme Court wore only diamond dresses and they would walk only with angels– still in people’s imagination. It used to be rare for people to meet justices of the Supreme Court anywhere other than at the Supreme Court, or at dignifying national official events.

South African Judge Thokozile Masipa at the Oscar Pistorius trial over the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. Picture: AFP.

Suddenly the cookies have been crumbling. Judges homes have been raided and searched for stolen wealth. Judges were accused of selling their golden stools for a bagful of Naira and various currencies. And not a few have been tried, sanctioned or dismissed over the years.

The sad story started a while back. The search for wealth and the need for money is pursued by people in various ways. Whilst hard work and opportunities are favoured by some people, there are other people who use their positions, connections and skills to acquire wealth illegally and in criminal ways. The combination of politics as quick-investment-for-quick-returns, importance of personal material well-being and general loss of honesty and ethical values in the society aided amplification of abuse within the legal profession and judiciary.

In an interview in November 2016, Mr. Olayinka Ayoola, former Supreme Court Justice, expressed regrets at the arrest of some judges by agents of Department of Security Services at the time. He foretold that the implication “was too serious to be quantified now”. The former Chief Justice of The Gambia, said it was debasing for judges to be accused of corruption. Nothing should tempt a judge to seek or collect a bribe, Justice Ayoolasaid.

He disclosed that he had never received bribe because nobody ever approached him to offer a bribe. “I feel …that I never had the opportunity of rejecting bribe because nobody has ever approached me throughout my career as a judge, here in Nigeria or elsewhere.”

In the current situation, the quote above seems like coming from a long gone era. The unheard of has happened. A few weeks ago, then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Walter Onnoghen, faced serious allegations of misdeeds, and was tried both in the public arena and in judicial institutions. He resigned in a cloudy gloom of dirt that should not have been associated ever with the exaltedoffice, nor with his name.


CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen

In a widely quoted story, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935) was traveling by train to Washington, D.C., and a conductor came to check his ticket. Justice Holmes searched everywhere for it but could not locate the ticket. The conductor merely said, “Don’t worry about your ticket, Mr. Holmes. We all know who you are. When you get to your destination, you can find it and just mail it to us.”

Unfortunately, the distinguished positive characteristics andconsideration for judges do not appear merited in Nigeria any longer. It is perhaps due to the actions of a few, but the negative implications are far-reaching.

The judiciary has not collapsed yet. There are, like in any group of people or profession, judges who cringe at the injustice that some of their colleagues have done to the judiciary. There are judges who live a life of dignity and respect with full understanding and acceptance of their responsibility. They refuse to be seen in the marketplace of financial misdeeds and abuse of office. There amongst them lie the saviours. They must protect their oath of office against the bad eggs, no matter how difficult or challenging it is, at this crucial time.

They must refuse to be bought by politicians who will only pay, use and dump them.

During and after elections, hundreds of cases come before the various courts and tribunals for decisions. Ours is a do-or-die political climate where very large monies are spent to purchase nomination at party primaries, and to buy votes and win elections. It is the same logic that drives politicians to spend huge amounts of money to corrupt justice, seeking out possible judges at any price to be bought.

Mr. John Marshall (1755-1835) USA Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and remembered as perhaps the most influential justices of all time in the country, made pronouncements and rulings that permanently uplifted the judiciary to its rightful place as an equal part of the three layered branch with the executive and the legislature. History remembers him.

Justice Salihu Modibo Alfa Belgore

When retiring from the Supreme Court in 2007, Justice Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore appealed to the legislators: “All elected officers are entrusted by the electors with the sacred responsibility of governing well and making laws for good governance so that there will be law and order in the nation…There is absolute nothing wrong with the constitution if the operators manifest loyalty to the nation.” He had made an important ruling at the Supreme Court against the illegal impeachment of a governor who he ordered to be reinstated after the governor had lost his cases at the lower courts.

There are many cases currently where pronouncements of courts and tribunals will mar or make the judiciary. In the states, from Ekiti to Oshun, from Rivers to Imo, and from Kano to Zamfara, the reasoned arguments of our judges and logical conclusions can strengthen the faith of the people in the judiciary and the country.

Hear Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, fondly referred to as ‘The Socrates of Supreme Court’: If you are a judge and you are corrupt, where do we go from here? Then everything has come to a halt. If the legislature is corrupt, you go to the judiciary for redress. If the executive is corrupt you go to the judiciary for remedy. If the judiciary itself is corrupt, where do you go from there?

Judges should rise up to the highest standards expected of their positions and affirm the famous saying – the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.

Presidential Election Gives Nigerians No Choice

By Bunmi Makinwa

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President M. Buhari (Getty Images/P. Ekpei)

If President Muhammadu Buhari figuratively rode on a horseback to assume office in 2015, as at today, he barely rides a three-legged donkey. A wobbling government has frittered away the goodwill of the expectant millions who brought him to office.

However, his main opponent, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, does not have a donkey to ride on. His questionable past and close embrace of proven and perceived corrupt political actors and ruinous leaders do not make him attractive. Despite the weakness of Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) party, Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party or PDP is not the shining star.

Yet one of the two is most likely to emerge as president come the election of February 16, in a few days.

The PDP governed Nigeria from 1999 to 2015. Its three successive presidents, and with control over most of the states, reinforced a faulty political system where massive looting of government coffers became the norm. Provision of services and improvement of peoples’ well-being receded and disappeared in most of the 36 states and at the federal government level.  Politics was the quickest gateway to wealth, riches and power.

Under PDP rule, when political leaders have taken their large share of the official budget, the little that was left could not maintain Nigeria’s elaborate political and administrative systems. Infrastructures became dilapidated. Salaries remained little and unpaid in many states. Social tension heightened.

Nigeria’s political system is problematic too. The “investment” needed to win votes or buy oneself an elected position has kept rising. The demand presses elected persons, in turn, to hustle to recover their wealth, equip themselves and their acolytes for future political positions. Many elected officials aggressively privatize official funds to their pockets for use as future powerful political kingmakers.

Amongst the citizenry, high and low, a culture of primitive self-preservation and material aggrandizement developed. Reliance on system and order gave way to brazen self-reliance, hopelessness in hard work, and spiritual solutions to routine life issues.

People scramble for “money by all means”, especially through political favours, in a situation where material well-being is a primary determinant of people’s self-worth. Absent the government, all basic needs are met by each person according to whatever access is possible to any resources, state or privately-owned.

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Nigeria Votes (

On February 16, 2019, Nigeria will pick either Atiku or Buhari to rule the country for another four years. It is not because there are no qualified, capable and exemplary candidates among the more than 40 other presidential aspirants. It is mainly because the political system is cast in stone, and only the candidates of a few major political parties can have the resources and means to meet the demands stipulated by the constitution, political tradition, and corrupt processes that produce candidates for political offices.

Several of the other aspirants have qualifications, experience and drive that will make any country proud of its possible leaders.

The political system is dominated by political parties that can afford enormous resources to set up structures, reach out to a sprawling, federated country of 36 states and one federal territory, use mass and social media that communicate with some 180 million population, and provide reliable security for themselves and supporters.

Candidates for elections must dole out monies to members of their own parties and voters who have given up on what elected leaders do when they are in office. Rather, party officials and voters want immediate gratification – whatever materials, food and money that they can get from candidates during the election campaign. Elections are costly, not only for the official organizers but also for candidates who must deploy huge amounts of money for every step of the election process, from seeking the nomination of political parties to seeking votes of the electorate.

For the coming election, Nigeria faces yet again the sad choice of having to choose between two leading politicians neither of whom can take the country to its level of development and realization of its potentials.

The gargantuan victory of President Buhari in 2015 over then-incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan gave Buhari a powerful entry. But his three-pronged campaign on corruption, a stronger economy, and security with special focus on ending Boko Haram insurgency are nowhere near being successfully prosecuted.

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Atiku (image via News24; File, AFP)

At the same time, Atiku will only be Atiku – focusing on further enriching himself, his cronies and beloved others.

Those who strongly support Atiku claim that he is different from Buhari and will perform better given the weaknesses of the current government. They say that Atiku will make the expected noise to discourage the rampage by herdsmen and organised attacks on certain people and religious groups. He will choose his lieutenants from various parts of the country. He will enable the South-eastern part of the country mainly the Igbo ethnic group to contest strongly for the presidency. He will make public money spread around through his customary largesse. He will unite the country that appears to be fragmenting. Yet, the claimants have only weak arguments to explain how the expectations will be met.

The strongest criticism of Atiku is that the popular demand to combat and at least reduce corruption will suffer greatly if he becomes president. But his supporters maintain that if corruption is the price to pay to have a more united country, a stronger economy and less structured federalism, it is time to let corruption continue under Atiku’s rule. It is a sad bargain to accept.

Whether 76-year old Buhari or 72-year old Atiku wins in the soon to be held election for the next president, Nigeria loses because neither of the two persons has the disposition, experience, appropriate mindset, nor determination to make Nigeria a better place for its people. The current political system presents only the rich and mighty, not the best that the country can offer.

Asked about February 16 election for the president, someone retorted: “Some people will vote for Atiku. Some will vote for Buhari. One of the two will win despite a large number of frustrated people who will spread their votes among the numerous other candidates. The status quo will remain because Atiku and Buhari are from PDP and APC which are two sides of the same coin.”

To buttress his point, the person explained that Atiku was in PDP before he joined APC, and then returned to PDP a few months ago to buy the political platform to aim for the presidency. The leadership of both parties boasts of the same persons who have led Nigeria’s politics for the past 30 plus inglorious years.

Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.