Monday, March 29, 2010

Still On Lekki-Epe Expressway PPP Contract........

Just over a year ago, I wrote a piece on the Lekki-Epe Expressway Public-Private Partnership contract between Lagos State Government and Lekki Concession Company. My criticism at the time was informed by the decision of LCC to install three toll booths on the 44km arterial road. I couldn’t understand the concessionaire (LCC) tolling strategy. Why for example would a local resident making a short trip between Sangotedo and Ajah be subjected to a toll. I asked the question if the toll is targeted towards local traffic or long distance travellers?

Fast forward to 2010, only 2km of the proposed 44km road widening project has been completed, even though we were told in 2006 that the project will be completed within three years. The concessionaire, LCC put the construction cost of the 2km upgrade at N5billion. However, some of the tolling booths have been constructed, and there are “unconfirmed” reports that LCC intends to start charging commuters for using a road that is technically, “still under construction”.

The concept of Public-Private Partnership is not “Nigerian”. It’s a concept that was developed in the western world. However, it’s become common practice for governments in Nigeria to borrow a foreign concept and turn it on its head.

As PPP has now become a “buzz word” in government quarters, it is important that the government realise that concessions can sometimes create a private monopoly or extreme dominance, with consequent market power, which is prone to be abused. This makes the design of the concession agreement important so that adequate protection is given to consumers.

The Lekki-Epe contract defies the basic principles and world’s best practice on Public-Private Partnerships. From my experience in the transport industry, I’m yet to come across a PPP contract that involves the tolling of a road without an alternative. As we know, there is no alternative “passable” road along the Lekki-Epe axis. Therefore, handing this road over to a private company to upgrade under a 30-yr concession is contrary to principles of social equity. The concessionaire, LCC, has basically become a private monopoly by default.

.It’s been noted that there are plans by the LASG to build an alternative road along the Lekki shoreline. So why was LCC not encouraged to build the alternative road under a PPP agreement? And what’s the timeframe for the completion of this alternative road? Ideally, toll roads in major urban areas are aimed at making available a priced ‘premium’ service as an alternative to competing congested roads on the unpriced network, while covering full costs, including a target rate of return on capital.

The allegations by a local community group that, LCC is planning to commence road user charging soon on a road that is still under construction is also quite disheartening. It calls into question, the openness and transparency of the project procurement process.

The key questions we need to ask LASG are, was the project subject to competitive bidding? What was the agreement between LASG and LCC in terms of toll charges and commencement of tolling? As we know, the project was meant to be completed in 2009, however, only 2km of road has been completed(!). So what does the contract say about completion date? Are they are clauses in the contract that imposes penalty on LCC for failure to complete the project in time?

One of the key benefits of Public-Private Partnerships is speedy, efficient and cost-effective delivery of projects through integration and cross-transfer of public and private sector skills, knowledge and expertise. But if the private sector can’t deliver within the specified timeframe, as it’s currently the case, then what’s the purpose of the agreement and to whose benefit? It is ludicrous to subject commuters to endless months of road works without any form of compensation from the concessionaire.

Some have argued that the global financial crisis may have affected LCC’s ability to secure loan, hence delay in the project. And perhaps, the reason for early introduction of toll charges. Whilst I agree that the global economic crisis might have had an impact, one would have expected LCC to have undertaken a “due diligence”.

The reason why PPP have long concessions periods and different from traditional contract, is because there is a broad range of uncertainties and risks associated with PPP. The concessionaire assumes far more responsibilities and much more and deeper risks than a traditional contractor. And that’s why in most cases, the project delivery cost in PPP projects can be quite expensive.

And also, what if the concessionaire goes ‘burst’ before the completion of the project? Does the state government have any mechanism in place to make sure that the road is completed? This is not an unlikely scenario, considering that LCC seems to be struggling financially. Or will it become an ‘abandoned’ project?

There’s no doubt that LASG and LCC are in for a hard time from local residents on this project. The local community initially complained about the need for LCC to have three toll booths on the road – which I totally agree with! Following that, they are allegations of fraud against LASG/LCC because of alleged plans by LCC to start charging tolls on the yet to be completed road. All these allegations only point to the fact that the local community and key stakeholders have not been duly consulted on the project.

This has been the common practice with most of the PPP contracts. The operator of MMA II, Bi-Courtney Airservices Ltd, was also recently fighting labour union over the take over of the General Aviation Terminal.

Proponents of PPP projects need to understand that extensive consultation and open communication with all stakeholders is necessary to ensure success. Stakeholders include employees and their trade unions, the public, the people who will use the assets and services provided, local community groups and sector interest groups. It is also important that the economic, social and environmental concerns of those directly affected at local level should be taken into account along with the statutory rights and legitimate economic interests.

Whilst the plan by Lagos State Government to upgrade Lekki-Epe Expressway is laudable, the way and manner in which this project is executed remains controversial.

There’s no doubt that private sector participation is necessary, if a sustainable infrastructure development is to be achieved - especially in a country like Nigeria with massive infrastructure deficit. It is however important that it is done in a fair and transparent manner.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On Muammar Ghadaffi and Nigeria Ethno-Religious Violence

The recent comments by the Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi on Nigeria’s ethno-religious crisis seems to have sparked off a bitter diplomatic row between the two countries. Following the recent ethno-religious killings in Jos, Muammar Gadaffi was quoted to have said that Nigeria should be partitioned into two nations (Muslim-North and Christian-South) to prevent further bloodshed. According the Libyan press Gaddaffi said splitting Nigeria “would stop the bloodshed and burning of places of worship”. In Gaddafi’s opinion, the Jos violence is a religious crisis caused the “federal state, which was made and imposed by the British, in spite of people’s resistance to it”.

Considering Col. Gadaffi’s penchant for making outrageous and offensive statements, one will expect that such statement will be taken with a pinch of salt. This was the same person who once said the nation of Switzerland should be divided between Germany, Italy and France (!). There’s no gainsaying that Gaddafi has a reputation for eccentricity, bloody-mindedness..However, it seems our moronic leaders have seen this has a perfect opportunity to flex their muscles.

When attention was drawn to Gadaffi’s comments on the floor of the Senate, the Senate President, David Mark replied "Why do you want to give a mad man that level of publicity”. And yes, I quite agree with Senator Mark. The likes of Gadaffi are fond of spewing controversial and, sometimes inflammatory statements, just for the sake of gaining cheap popularity. And he’s not alone. The Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, and Mohammed Ahmedinejad of this world, all fall in same category. These are leaders, who are stuck in their local political wilderness, and thus have lost international relevance.

What I cannot seem to understand however, is the rationale behind Nigeria’s foreign ministry decision to recall its Ambassador to Libya because of what it described as “irresponsible utterances of Col. Gadaffi”. I also find the decision to summon the Libyan Ambassador by the House of Reps quite laughable. How I wish the National Security Adviser or the Director-General of SSS was summoned with same urgency after the Jos killing. But alas, our (dis)Honourable members were busy debating a bill, seeking to immortalise dead members(!).

There are no doubt that Col Gadaffi’s statement smacks of utter ignorance. It’s quite clear from the statement, that Col. Gadaffi has no understanding of Nigeria’s religious and tribal complexities. When he said Nigeria should be divided into north and south, the question I’ll like to ask him is, where will the line be drawn? Or do we take River Niger/Benue has the north/south divide? As a foreigner, I don’t expect Col. Gadaffi to appreciate the difference between Nigeria’s geographic north/south, ethno-religious north/south.

But in all of these, I think its high-time we need to start telling ourselves some home truths. We need to start engaging in serious discussions that are devoid of religious and ethnic sentiments. Whether we like it or not, the fact remains that the entity called Nigeria, in its current form is not working. What’s the point in deceiving ourselves and pretending to be living in harmony? The nation’s ethnic and religious disunity cannot be over-emphasized! So if that’s the case, what exactly has Gadaffi said that is new? Has he told us anything we haven’t heard before? So what’s all fuss about?

Therefore, what’s the point of the current diplomatic stand-off with Col. Gadaffi, when there are urgent issues we need to deal with? Why do our leaders love chasing shadows? When the CIA issued a report few years ago that Nigeria will disintegrate by 2015, why didn’t we recall the Nigerian Ambassador to the US? Why didn’t the National Assembly summon the US Ambassador? For me, the US prediction if anything is far worse than Gadaffi’s comments. I wouldn’t at be surprised if we are told that a House of Reps delegation will embark on an “all expenses paid” trip to Libya for “high level diplomatic talks” with the Libyan govt.

As the Yorubas say, “a fi ete le a npa lapapa”. Barely over a week ago, more than 500 people were slaughtered in Jos, however the National Assembly did not see it a matter of urgency to summon the head of the nation’s security agencies. The only action taken so far by the govt was the sacking of the National Security Adviser, and only to be replaced by a recycled retired Army General. So what about D-G of SSS? What about Inspector-General of Police? What about the Army GOC, who is responsible for enforcing the imposed curfew? What about the state commissioner of police? What about the state “chief security officer, Gov. Jang?

You need not to study political history to understand the deep-rooted ethnic and religious prejudice in Nigeria. And instead of addressing these fundamental issues, our leaders either engage in diversionary tactics or play the proverbial ostrich. Truth be told, Col. Gadaffi is not our problem; neither will the recall of Nigeria diplomat provide the solution to our ethno-religious crisis. The question now is, how can we forestall another ethno-religious killing?

Our leaders need to start focussing their energy on acts of nation building. The national assembly and executive should stop playing to the gallery. It was the same way they issued the US govt a 2-week ultimatum, when Nigeria was included in the US list of terrorist nations. Enough of all these comedy!

And if they like, let them continue to hue and cry over Gadaffi’s statement, it will be Robert Mugabe next, who will be advising us on how to manage our economy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

50 Things About Sub-Sahara Africa

From the recently released World Bank Development Indicator Report, facts about Sub Sahara Africa (excludes North Africa)

1. The largest population in SSA is 151.3 million in Nigeria; the smallest is 0.1 million in Seychelles.

2. The highest connection charge for a business phone is $366.6 in Benin; the lowest is in Ghana at $0.7.

3. South Africa's and Nigeria's GDP in nominal prices comprised over fifty percent (51.4 percent) of total SSA's GDP.

4. South Africa has 924 mobile phones per 1000 people; Eritrea has 22 per 1000 people.

5. SSA GDP growth was 5.1 percent. Angola had the largest growth at 14.8 percent while the lowest was Botswana with a negative growth (-1.0 percent). 28

6. South Africa has the longest rail lines of 24,487 km and Uganda has the shortest of 259 km.

7. South Africa has SSA's largest real GDP ($183 billion); the smallest is Guinea Bissau ($202 million). 

8. In 2010, starting a business in Guinea requires 213 days for each procedure; it takes 3 days in Rwanda.

9. Equatorial Guinea has SSA's highest GNI per capita ($14,980); Burundi has the lowest ($140).

10. In 2010, Sudan has the highest number of procedures to enforce contracts of 53; Rwanda has the lowest of 24.

11. The total GDP per capita of the richest 10 African countries was 25.2 times of the poorest 10. 

12. It takes 16.6 days average time to clear customs on direct exports in Cote d'Ivoire and 3.8 days in Gabon; conversely for imports it takes 31.4 days in the Republic of Congo and 4.4 days in Lesotho.

13. Between 1990 and 1999 PPP GDP per capita growth was 15 percent ($1,158.9 to $1,327.8) for Sub-Saharan Africa; in between 2000 and 2008 it was 54 percent ($1,372.9 to $2,113.9).

14. Firms indentifying corruption as a major constraint was highest in Côte d'Ivoire at 75.0 percent, whilst the lowest is Ghana 9.9 percent

15. Exports rose from $319.0 billion in 2007 to $413.7 billion in 2008, a 29.7 percent rise; conversely, imports rose less than exports, from $305.3 billion in 2007 to $372.1 billion in 2008, a 21.8 percent rise. 

16. The percentage of firms expected to give gifts to secure a government contract is highest in Congo Republic are 75.2 percent and lowest for Mauricia at 8.8 percent.

17. Total trade as percentage of GDP is the highest in Seychelles, 283.4 percent and lowest in Central Africa Republic, 37.5 percent. 

18. Djibouti has the most urbanized population (84.6 percent); Burundi the least (10.4 percent).

19. In two thirds of SSA countries, one or two products are responsible for at least 75 percent of the country's total exports.

20. For the period 2000-07, the share of poorest 20 percent in national consumption or income was lowest in Angola at 2 percent; in Ethiopia it was 9.3 percent. (MDG 1)

21. On average, the merchandise export within trade blocs is 8.4 percent of total bloc exports.

22. In Burundi, 38.9 percent of children under the age of five are underweight. In Gabon they are 8.8 percent. (MDG 1)

23. Cape Verde receives the highest net ODA per capita ($438.2); Nigeria receives the lowest ($9.5). 

24. On average, between 2004 and 2006, South Africa and Gabon had less than 5 percent of population below the minimum dietary energy consumption; conversely Democratic Republic of Congo had the highest at 75 percent. (MDG1)

25. The highest private sector fixed capital formation as share of GDP is Cape Verde at 33.7 percent; the lowest is Angola at 1.8 percent. 

26. Thirty seven percent of children who start first grade reach grade five in Chad, while in Mauritius 99 percent reach fifth grade. (MDG 2).

27. In Guinea-Bissau, the agriculture value-added as percentage of GDP is 51.5 percent; in Botswana it is 1.6 percent. 

28. The lowest net primary enrolment ratio is found in Liberia (30.9 percent); the highest is in Sao Tome and Principe (97.1 per cent). (MDG 2).

29. South Africa uses the most electric power per person (4,809.0kW/h); Ethiopia uses the least (38.4 kW/h).

30. Youth literacy (ages 15-24) is highest in Gabon at 97 percent and lowest Burkina Faso at 39.3 percent. (MDG 2)

31. In 2007, Burundi has the highest proportion of women in its labor force (90.2 percent); Sudan has the lowest (32.8 percent).

32. Women in national parliament total seats are the highest with 56.3 percent in Rwanda and the lowest with 1.8 percent in Sao Tome and Principe. (MDG 3)

33. Equatorial Guinea has the highest proportion of men in its labor force (93.8 percent); Namibia has the lowest (60.3 percent). 

34. In Sierra Leone 155 out of 1,000 children die before the age of one; in Seychelles the rate is 12 per 1,000. (MDG 4)

35. In 2007, almost one in every three 15-49 year olds in Swaziland has contracted HIV (26.1 percent); the rate is one in every thousand in Mauritania.

36. In Sierra Leone 272 children per 1,000 die before the age of five; in Seychelles, the rate is 13 per 1,000. (MDG 4, IDA 2)

37. For the period 2007-08, Seychelles has the highest life expectancy (73 years); Mozambique has the lowest (42 years).

38. Skilled personnel attend 5.7 percent of births in Ethiopia; they attend 98.4 percent of births in Mauritius. (MDG 5, IDA 4)

39. In the decade (1997-2007) Rwanda and Sierra Leone have made the greatest gains in life expectancy: 11 and 8 years respectively. Conversely, life expectancy has decreased 13 years in Lesotho, and 10 years in South Africa and Swaziland.

40. Contraceptive use (any method) is highest in Mauritius at 75.8 percent; lowest is Chad at 2.8 per cent. (MDG 6)

41. For the period 2007, Zimbabwe has the highest adult literacy rate (91.2 percent); Mali and Burkina Faso have the lowest (28.7 percent).

42. In Chad, 9 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities; in Mauritius 94 percent have such access. (MDG 7)

43. In Seychelles, 92 percent of women are literate; the figure is 13 percent for Chad and 15 percent for Niger. 47

44. In Somalia, 29 percent of the population has access to a safe source of water. In Mauritius, it is 100 percent. (MDG 7)

45. Cape Verde has the highest gross enrolment rate in secondary education (90 percent); Niger has the lowest (11 percent).

46. Gabon has the highest forest area as a percentage of total land area at 84.4 percent, whilst Djibouti has the lowest at 0.2 percent. (MDG7)

47. In Mauritius there are 22 children per primary school teacher; there are 91 in Central African Republic.

48. South Africa has the highest carbon dioxide emissions of 414,649 metric tons, whilst Comoros has the lowest of 88 metric tons. (MDG 7)

49. In Burundi, 63.1 percent of children under the age of 5 are short for their age; in Senegal it is 20.1 percent. Same fact than below – to be removed

50. In Sierra Leone 3 persons per 1,000 are Internet users; there are 371 in every 1,000 people in Seychelles, which also had 212 computers per 1,000 people for the period 2005-07. (MDG 8).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jos on my mind.......

The web has been inundated with comments in the last few days over the recent killings in Jos. The issue has been analysed from different viewpoints. Social commentators have even offered suggestions on the way forward.

Although opinion seems divided on the real cause of the Jos crisis, one fact remains, we have a big CHALLENGE going forward - be it religious or ethnic. It is also clear from all discussions that this ‘contraption’ (or call it whatever you like) is not working or has stopped working – at least in the last 25yrs or so.

I do not intend to regurgitate all that’s been said, however I will like to pose a few questions, based on my observations in the last few days.

1. In light of the recent genocide in Jos, does it still make sense for us to be calling for the resignation of President Umaru Yar’Adua? I’m sure some will be wondering what’s this guy talking about. For me the sickness of President Yar’Adua has somewhat become a secondary issue. The current threat to our national existence is more than President Umaru Yar’Adua’s sickness.

2. Also, why the deafening silence from religious leaders? It seems most of our religious leaders have decided to adopt a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ strategy. If the Catholic Pope can call for restraint in ethnic/religious violence in Jos from far away Rome, then where is the Sultan of Sokoto? Where is the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)? Where is the Pentecostal Federation of Nigeria? Where is the Christian Association of Nigeria?

3. I also find the lackadaisical attitude of the civil society to Jos crisis appalling. When Farouk AbdulMuttalab was arrested in Detroit last December for trying to blow up a US airliner, we were all quick to shout “WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!”. In fact a group on a social networking site, had about 250,000 members within three days of been created. So what about Jos? What are we doing about the innocent boys and girls been butchered in the middle of the night? So which is a greater act of terrorism between a boy trying to blow an airplane, and marauders slaughtering fellow human under the guise of religion? President Barack Obama must now be convinced that we are indeed NOT terrorist.

4. Which is more important, electoral reform or sovereign national conference? If nothing, the events of the last few days, as once again brought to fore, the deepening religious and ethnic intolerance in Nigeria. And unfortunately, the legacy of intolerance has been passed from one generation to the next. The last civil war has left indelible marks on our parents and created some much distrust among various ethnic communities. It is suffice to say that some children of my generation have been deliberately encouraged by their parents to be intolerant towards people of other ethnic groups.

There’s no doubt that the foundation is very faulty. We claim to be a federal state, but all our legislation and administrative elements run contrary. We have metamorphosed from a unitary nation (under Military) into pseudo- federalism. We claim to be secular, yet we are members of Organisation of Islamic Conference. We state government with theocratic administration within a democracy. We have no state religion, but every year billions of naira is wasted on sending people on holy pilgrimage.

Even if we able to implement the best electoral reform in the history of world democracy, I very much doubt if it will make any difference. I doubt if it will remove the threat to our national existence. I doubt if it will heal the wounds of ethnic marginalisation. I doubt if it will make us a more tolerant society.

This is in indeed a time for sober reflection. It also provides a renewed opportunity for us to redefine our terms of engagement. If my brothers in the north want to be chopping off the hands a pick pocket, whilst celebrating pen robbers, let them feel free to do so. If my brothers in the south want to legalise nude/strip clubs, so be it. However, none of these should be forced down the throat of anyone. We must sit down and discuss it in the open.

This entity called ‘Nigeria’ must be redefined!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

1948 - A Doctor in Nigeria

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Political Symbiosis of President Umaru Yar'Adua's Illness

I started writing this piece sometime last week, but abandoned it half way. My view was that the political impasse may take a different dimension following Wednesday’s Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) meeting,

With the changing political landscape, there’s always the risk of your post/article been obsolete even before you press the ‘save’ button on your computer keyboard. However, the events of the last 48hrs reinforced my thinking.

The huge expectation that Cabinet Ministers and the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan will go for the “kill” at Wednesday’s EXCOF meeting did not come as a surprise. Following the international support the Acting President has garnered over the last few days, many expected him to consolidate his hold on power and move the nation forward. It was clear that the only way he could do this would have been seek the support the EXCOF members in declaring Pres. Yar’Adua incapacitated and thus, invoke s144 of the Constitution.

Prior to the EXCOF meeting, we heard the comments of the Gov Bukola Saraki-led Governors Forum and Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, PDP Chairman. Whilst the Governors Forum concluded that ‘impeachment’ of Pres. Yar’Adua is not an option, the PDP Chairman stated categorically that the Acting President should forget about nursing any ‘presidential’ ambition in 2011, as the presidential ticket has been conceded to the North, to maintain PDP’s power rotation agreement!

So, reading between the lines, any “proposal or memo” (if it exists) calling for the declaration of President Yar’Adua as incapacitated was “dead on arrival”. In fact there was no incentive for the Acting President or any member of the Cabinet to raise the issue. Let’s not forget, most of the Ministers were nominated by their State governors. So we can only expect that they tow the line of their benefactor, by remaining loyal to President Yar’Adua and burying their heads in the sand.

The sudden return of the President Yar’Adua, like a contraband item, was a clear demonstration of the cabal’s intent to hold to power by all means. And by noting “cabal”, I’m not just referring to President Yar’Adua’s “kitchen cabinet”.

So what is a cabal? a “cabal” is a number of people greater than two together in some close design, usually to promote their private views and interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue. The term can also be used to refer to the designs of such persons or to the practical consequences of their emergent behavior, and also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. (Wikipedia)

In the current political climate, the word “cabal” has somewhat become synonymous with the first lady Turai, former AGF Aondoakaa, Sayyad Ruma, Tanimu Yakubu and other Pro-Yar’Adua members in the federal cabinet. But the fact is, the cabal steering the ship of the nation extends beyond the Pres. Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet and his loyal wife Hajia Turai..

What we are currently witnessing is a grand conspiracy between three key groups.,. Although these groups have different personal interests (money, power etc), they are working in unison to achieve a common objective.

The common objective shared by these groups, encourages a symbiotic relationship that only helps further their selfish interests. It’s clear that none of these groups can work in isolation. They both need one another to stay on top of the current political game. These groups are the “kitchen cabinet”, with Turai Yar’Adua as its matron, the “People’s Democratic Party (PDP)” and the “Northern elites”. Interestingly, there are few members whose share the same interests with more than group.

Their actions could be described as three Captains on the same ship, with different sailing skills but aiming for the same destination. The argument that that you cannot have more than one Captain on a ship does not hold in this instance.

These Captains all have a stake in this “sinking” ship (albeit self), and it’s in their interest to work collectively to save the ship from sinking. So the least they can do is to offer their different skills set and talents to save the ship from sinking. There is no ambiguity in their mandate. It is crystal clear – save the ship from sinking and sail it to its final destination..

Now back to the Nigerian political cabal, the common objective of the three power groups is to make sure that Umaru Yar’Adua remains in power until at least 2011. It doesn’t matter how this is achieved, even if it means locking him up in a mobile ambulance or being plugged to a life support machine. As a result of their desperation, they have effectively turned the gravely sick President. Umaru Yar’Adua into a “collateral”.

So what are the interests of these power groups?

As for the Hajia Turai and her cohorts in the kitchen cabinet, their personal interest is just to use the mandate of Umaru Yar’Adua to amass personal wealth. These are people that have been shot into fame by virtue of been close friends of Umaru Yar’Adua. As they have nothing to lose, they might as well exploit the political impasse for as long as they can. After which they can all retire to their farms in Katsina and Kano.

As for the PDP, it’s in the interest of the party to maintain some form of stability before the 2011 elections. With 2011 elections around the corner, the last thing the ruling party wants is a division at the national level. So for now, the centre must hold.. And it’s for this simple reason that the PDP Chairman Vincent Ogbulafor has come out openly to foreclose any chance of Goodluck Jonathan seeking nomination in 2011.

The Northern elites are also keen to make sure that “unconstitutional” power rotation agreement is maintained. Already some of these elites are feeling shortchanged by the decision of former President. Obasanjo to impose an ailing president on them. So they will do anything it takes to sustain their grip on power.

A Goodluck Jonathan presidency is more than likely to disrupt the current power rotation agreement. And again, how can the northern elites be sure that Goodluck Jonathan will not seek to contest the presidential elections in 2011 if he’s appointed “substantive” President. With executive power at his disposal, he can never be trusted. With the “absolute” power enjoyed by the Nigerian president I for one will not hold my breath.

The uneventful outcome of Wednesday’s EXCOF meeting lends credence to the symbiotic relationship between these power groups. These power groups have successfully scuttled any plan to change the status quo. And as along as the Acting President carries on with his mandate of being a ‘social prefect’, we can expect more presidential instructions from the mobile ambulance.

The question now is, for how long we will continue to fold our hands and allow this dangerous symbiotic relationship to flourish among the cabals? Our destiny is now decided by a handful of political jobbers sitting in a beer parlour. They have continued to subvert democratic principles through unconstitutional zoning system.

Without any doubt, the Nigerian masses are the biggest losers of this conspiracy. This conspiracy also portends doom for 2011. We need to remember that the man at the centre of the machinations, Goodluck Jonathan still remains part and parcel of the ruling party. Whether he likes it or not, he has an obligation to make sure the ruling perpetuates itself in power. It’s therefore bad news for my friends clamouring for electoral reforms, anti-corruption etc. As long as Goodluck Jonathan remains under the tutelage of Vincent Ogbulafor and co, nothing ‘good’ can come out of his leadership.

From all indication, it seems we are stuck with the contraband presidency until 2011. Anyway God dey sha!.