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Opinion

ATIKU, EL RUFAI, UDENTA AND THE VINDICATION OF “ESU ODARA”

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*By Tunde Olusunle*

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Scholars are divided over what the most appropriate description and perception of *Esu* in Yoruba cosmology should be. The more widely held notion about *Esu,* is to make it the lexical parallel of Satan or the devil, in the English language. *Esu* within this context, connotes evil and devilry in all its ramifications. He is the purveyor and conveyor of wickedness, mischief, anguish, grief, even negativity in totality. *Esu* in popular perception, is mean-spirited, malevolent, devious, vile. The list goes on. This dimension to the *Esu* persona, considered as a “most controversial mixup” by some scholars, has been ascribed to his portrayal by Ajayi Crowther, the iconic linguist and Emeritus pioneer African Bishop of the Anglican Church. Crowther translated the Bible into Yoruba and also translated Yoruba into English. It has been posited that Crowther, in the dictionary, translated Satan as *Esu.* Unfortunately, as Christianity and Islam replaced African Traditional Religion, (ATR), the reference to *Esu* as Satan, gained ascendancy, following Crowther’s precedence.

Yoruba mythology, however, admits *Esu* as one of the *Orishas,* mediums and intermediaries between man and *Eledumare,* God in the Yoruba pantheon. Affiliate *Orishas* include *Ogun,* *Sango,* *Obatala,* *Esu,* *Obatala,* *Osun,* among several others. But even this classification confers some ambivalence on the essential constitution and endeavours of the archetypal *Esu.* He is said to be a benevolent spirit who serves *Ifa,* the oracle who divines the future. He takes sacrifices through him to *Eledumare,* and brings his commands to men. He acts under his orders and punishes the wicked on his Principal’s behalf. *Esu,* however, is a multivalent medium, dreaded in his own right, for the vengeful mischief he can perpetrate. In this capacity, he is *Esu Odara* or *Esu Elegbara,* the unsparing evildoer.

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It is necessary to lay this foundation against the backdrop of the quantum disinformation, misrepresentation, fables, falsehoods serially perpetrated against Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s First Vice President, in the subsisting Fourth Republic. Atiku has been repeatedly profiled for unsubstantiated malfeasance, unsustainable *grabbism,* primitive acquisition, vandalistic comsumptiveness, and similar labels. Atiku is the hardworking, high-flying presidential flagbearer of the major opposition political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), who is staking a formidable, full-chested claim to succeed the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari. This is Atiku’s fifth shot at the presidency and one in which he is very highly favoured to win deservedly. It has indeed been advanced that he won the 2019 election, by independent forensic accounts.

The respected public engager, scholar and professor Udenta Udenta, indeed advanced in a recent television interview, that Atiku ticks all the boxes in terms of his several attributes, competencies and capacities for the nation’s top job. His words: “The most suitable President Nigeria needs now is someone with a sense of urgency, who is ready in terms of preparation, someone who is fully aware of national expectations. Every candidate comes with some bag, not just of expectations, but talent, assets and skill sets… Atiku Abubakar has been devoted to this quest for long. And for somebody to be devoted in his lifetime, almost the entirety of his adulthood
in pursuit of a dream, means there is something deep in his heart that he wants to give the country. He gave part of it as vice president for eight years, effectively for four years because the second term was very turbulent with his boss.”

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Udenta is not emotional about the originating address of Nigeria’s next president. He is objective enough to speak from his own dispassionate interrogation of the country’s sociopolitical situation. He continues therefore by submitting as follows: “Atiku’s undying passion to lead Nigeria, actually means he has the staying power, in terms of persistence, which is very key to unlock the potentials of the nation. And being a vice president for the first term when the country was practically cut adrift from the international community, to restore the country back to the comity of nations with a sense of mission and purpose, I think he did very well. Whether as informal leader of the economic team or someone the president relied on so much to drive the government’s economic agenda, he seems to be best suited for the moment, in terms of who has the adequacy of experience and exposure and the network to get things done.”

The unfortunate narrative out there in the public sphere about Atiku, however, is of one whose hands are soiled in the lucre of state assets and resources, appropriated to self and cronies, while he was in office. These fabrications preclude the fact that Atiku, by his responsibilities as vice president, as spelt-out in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic, was actually and practically, severely constrained. The office and position, is an appendage to a president, and a strong one at that in Olusegun Obasanjo, on whose desk the buck stopped. Convoluted street talk in places, is of a man who desires the presidency as a personal laurel for the prosecution of an agenda for self-enrichment and personal aggrandisement.

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Phantom figures have been concocted in relation to the manner of giveaways Atiku made of some highly prized national assets, under his watch as Chairman of the National Council for Privatisation, (NCP). The Ajaokuta Steel Complex in Kogi State; the National Aluminium Smelting Plant, Ikot-Abasi and the Nigeria Newsprint Manufacturing Company, Oku-Iboku, both located in Akwa Ibom State, among others, were allegedly auctioned to Atiku’s imaginary associates, going by the thread of these conjectures. Yet, government’s legally constituted agency entrusted with the responsibility of disposal of the assets was the Bureau for Public Enterprises, (BPE). Nasir El-Rufai, outgoing governor of Kaduna State, was the Director-General and Chief Executive.

Every electoral cycle, so long as Atiku is on the ballot, these tales are recycled and fed into our ears. Yet Atiku has serially submitted himself to public inquisition to authenticate the veracity of the unfounded aspersions regularly cast on him. Till date, none, out of the Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFFC), or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC), have invited Atiku for a chat since he lost his immunity 17 years ago! Atiku has always desired to be clinically examined. He is in “a townhall, different from” the *balablu blublu bulaba* of his major challenger Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), on this score. Tinubu, reportedly, has held his affluent state in his pocket and his vice grip into its 24th consecutive year! He is the ultimate, a godlike figure, the chess-master who determines if his constituents breathe or not. He actually wants to sneak into Aso Villa without facing the minimum request and expectation of Nigerians, for his participation in a question and answer engagement. As I type this, the social media is abuzz with a picture of Tinubu sleeping and snoring away, at a meeting of party leaders and presidential candidates, with the National Peace Committee, (NPC), in Abuja. Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman of Tinubu’s APC, participated on his behalf.

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In an old short video clip dated August 11, 2011, which is making the rounds, El Rufai dismisses reports and allegations of Atiku’s interference or complicity in any form, with the privatisation exercise. According to him: “I swear to God, I am under oath, except for one time the vice president called me and said: *Look, I’ve got calls from A and B requesting we help this guy win this.* And I said: “Mr Vice President, you know the rules. Tell the guy to bid the highest price, because the highest price wins. And he said *I know, in case they contact you, I don’t want them to say I didn’t pass on their message.* That was the only time. Nobody tried to interfere with my work.” This is very germane to our thesis in this piece, about the eventual vindication of the much maligned *Esu Odara.*

Nigerians will yet come to appreciate the single-minded commitment to, and pursuit of rule of law and due process in governance and party administration, of Atiku Abubakar. This is the kernel of the negative and revisionist stereotypes that have been encased around him. Like Udenta noted in a section of his interview cited above, Atiku truly had a bumpy second term with his Principal, Olusegun Obasanjo. There was indeed a concerted attempt to unlawfully remove him from office in that government. The beef between Atiku and Obasanjo, we are told, derived largely from Obasanjo’s desire to contest for a third term in office. Atiku is said to have cautioned against any form of constitutional breach. Atiku we are told, reminded Obasanjo on that occasion, that since both of them were inaugurated the same day, they should disengage from office on the same day. Atiku indeed requested Obasanjo to support him as his successor so he could consolidate on whatever foundations they had both laid.

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Defying his constitutional immunity as a sitting vice president, Atiku hosted a three-man “Board of Inquiry,” (BOI), made up of three serving ministers in that government, emplaced by by his boss. They asked him to show cause why he should not be unseated, brandishing a “charge sheet” of simulated breaches. Atiku, a due process adherent, resisted the move and challenged it all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Maxwell Gidado, SAN, (now Chief of Staff to the Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri) and Chudi Ojukwu, LLM, co-edited an authoritative compendium on the Atiku litigations in the quest for justice. Titled *Landmark Constitutional Law Cases In Nigeria: 2004-2007: The Atiku Abubakar Cases,* it was first published in 2013. The 300-page book is “in memory of the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and others who died for the cause of democracy and constitutionalism in Nigeria.” The book is a must-read for genuine lovers of democracy, justice and rule of law.

The serving aviation minister at the time, at the very climax of the fiesty acrimony between Obasanjo and Atiku, by accounts, dropped a bomb, during a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC). We are informed he averred that Atiku should be barred from attending or participating in FEC meetings! This was an unelected appointee of the Obasanjo/Atiku ticket attempting to humiliate the Vice President in public. Atiku was in attendance, we are also apprised, by the way. It emerged that that minister was prompted by the President to fly the kite. There was eerie silence thereafter, we are briefed. The president, read the unpopularity of his subterfuge and moved on to other issues on the agenda paper.

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Here therefore lies the reality of the relentlessly wrong, cruel and misleading depiction of Atiku Abubakar as a devil reincarnate, the essential *Esu Odara,* which in truth is unsustainable. Or how do we corroborate his recurrent demonisation, with the many positive inventions and initiatives he brought forth, towards the success of his erstwhile Principal and their joint ticket? Who headhunted El Rufai, a first class degree holder in quantity surveying from the Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) and convinced him to serve in the Obasanjo/Atiku administration? Arguably, El Rufai has been one of the bright lights of the Fourth Republic, whose imprimatur is to be found everywhere he has treaded. Who discovered Chukwuma Soludo, governor of Anambra State, a first class economist? His landmark consolidation of banks and financial institutions, has been one of the most perspicacious achievements of this democratic milieu.

Did we listen to the recent testimony of Akinwumi Adesina, a first class degree holder in agricultural economics and former agriculture minister, the incumbent President of the African Development Bank, (AfDB), about Atiku? He noted in a public lecture, that Atiku is a “destiny enabler.” Atiku held his hands and flew him in his private jet, (Atiku’s airplane), from Abuja to Cape Town, in 2015. This was before the inauguration of the Buhari government. Atiku took him to seek former President Jacob Zuma’s endorsement of Adesina’s bid for the AfDB presidency. Nigeria and South Africa are very key members of the ownership structure of the AfDB. Atiku and Zuma have had a blossoming relationship, since their days as vice presidents to Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki. Atiku was a private citizen at that time and remains one. But here is a global citizen, the foremost bridge builder, whose tentacles traverse the infinite span of the world. Fortuitously, Tinubu was on that Atiku-Adesina shuttle to South Africa and witnessed first hand, the bonhomie and camaraderie between Atiku and Zuma.

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Very instructively El Rufai, Soludo and Adesina trained locally in Nigerian universities, notably: ABU, University of Nigeria Nsukka, (UNN), and the University of Ife, (Unife) which has been rechristened Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), respectively. They each represent Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups: the Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba. This speaks volumes about Atiku’s cosmopolitanism and confidence in the broad-spectrum intellectual and technocratic assets of Nigeria and the country’s homegrown quality. Atiku was not interested in the religious or ethnic backgrounds of these juggernauts before embracing them. He has tremendous capacity to appreciate and encourage scholarship and professionalism. Atiku’s over-arching global goodwill, among other endowments and qualities earlier enunciated by Udenta Udenta, recommend him as Nigeria’s most preferred, come Saturday February 25, 2023.

 

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*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author, is Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, GCON.*

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Opinion

IN ORTOM’S BENUE, POLITICKING IS CARNIVAL

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*By Tunde Olusunle*

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom is not taking his incumbency for granted. Yes, he has been helmsman of his state for nearly eight years now and won the hearts of admirers, while also courting the bile of critics. There are two sides of a coin and both reactions are to be expected of every public office holder. Beyond his subsisting brief as chief executive of his state, Ortom has participated in politics for over three decades now, a resume which privileges him, relative to many latter day entrants into the political fray in his state. For starters, he had been chairman of his local government area, Guma, between 1992 and 1993, when Nigeria’s former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, repeatedly tinkered with the nation’s political transition. The Catholic priest, Moses Orshio Adasu was the democratically elected governor at the time.

He would later serve as Benue State Publicity Secretary of the defunct National Centre Party of Nigeria, (NCPN). The party was one of the five political parties established by former military head of state, Sani Abacha, to anchor the transition programme of his government. With the enthronement of three political parties by Abacha’s successor, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Ortom became Treasurer of the All Peoples’ Party, (APP), which name was later tweaked to become All Nigeria Peoples’ Party, (ANPP). He would thereafter function as Deputy State Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) and Director of Administration of the Benue State PDP, for the gubernatorial campaign in 2007. That campaign produced Ortom’s predecessor, Gabriel Suswam.

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Ortom’s aggregate experiences and good work, recommended him for higher responsibilities at the national secretariat of the PDP, where he was hoisted as National Auditor. He was concurrently, Member of the National Working Committee, (NWC). While on this schedule, Ortom was drafted to serve as the Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck Jonathan/Namadi Sambo presidential campaign in 2011. His hardwork and visibility during the process, earned him ministerial nomination when the Jonathan/Sambo federal executive council was being constituted. In football, Ortom will be described as a player who has earned his medals and trophies. Better still, he could be festooned with the badge of a *FIFA- recognised player!*

His services to political parties and governments at various times in various ways, have accorded him *shon-of-the-shoil* acquaintance with every hamlet, village, community and town in his state, through several decades. Across the Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Agatu homelands, he has built contacts and comrades across time and is at home everywhere. But Ortom is not resting pretty, reclining in the padded, wood-panelled, air-chilled comfort of his office, belching instructions to “field commanders and officers.” No. Since the flag-off of the PDP state campaigns in November 2022, Ortom has been on the road. True he is running for the senatorial office to represent Benue North West, (or Benue Zone B) as it is known in the political lexicon of the state. Ortom, however, is leading a broad-based, statewide campaign for his party in general.

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At the November commencement of the Benue PDP campaigns, Ortom had pronounced that the PDP will adopt a “bottom to top” electioneering mantra in pursuit of its electioneering process. To this extent, the PDP is interested in producing all the members of the state house of assembly; federal house of representatives, senate and governor. He has not reneged. He has rather, braved the dust, haze and dryness of the harmattan season, to literally lead the troops to the battlefield, in the ongoing political evangelism in Benue State. Short of hurling a caravan around American-style, Ortom encamps for the night wherever dusk falls and continues the PDP advocacy the next morning. Ever cognisant of his roots, he remains down-to-earth and relatable, ever generous with his “paddy-paddy style” handshakes.

Everywhere the campaign team has visited, they have been very well received by ecstatic crowds in typical *carnivalesque* fashion. Benue is the state to beat in the art of “politicking as celebration.” Music, dancing, singing and gyrating have characterised these engagements. In some way, this could be symbolic of genuine affection for a party and leadership which has impacted the people in specific developmental departments, despite obvious constraints. The visibly below par performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration at the centre, has also bolstered mass resentment for the All Progressives Congress, (APC). The security conundrum in Benue, characterised by the relentless infiltration of Fulani herdsmen into the agrarian state, routinely killing and maiming innocent people in staggering numbers without chastisement by the federal government, has engendered mass dislike for the APC. Camps for internally displaced persons, (IDPs), have become synonymous with the landscape of the state.

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The APC itself is engulfed in a flurry of litigations, with a plethora of claimants to the gubernatorial ticket of the party. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, a Catholic priest; Barnabas Gemade, a former national Chairman of the PDP, and Terhemba Shija, a university professor, are locked in battle over who the actual governorship candidate of the party is. Curiously, Bola Tinubu, presidential flagbearer of the APC at the Benue State rally, Thursday January 26, 2023, raised the hand of Barnabas Gemade as governorship candidate of the Benue APC! This action is considered a breach of a subsisting court ruling. Such is the present confusedness in the affairs of the APC in Benue State.

While the APC grapples with its internal problems, Ortom, leaders and members of the PDP, have toured and campaigned in all 23 LGAs, which constitute the 10 federal constituencies and three senatorial zones in the state. From Benue North East comprised of Logo, Ukum, Katsina Ala, Kwande, Ushongo, Vandeikya and Konshisha, the PDP has also toured Benue North West. This is made up of Buruku, Gboko, Tarka, Guma, Makurdi, Gwer East and Gwer West. Benue South, where we have Oju, Obi, Otukpo, Ado, Okpokwu, Ogbadibo, Ohimini, Apa and Agatu LGAs, have also been covered. It is a measure of the seriousness Ortom attaches to the campaigns, that he spent two nights on the road in the senatorial segment of the state known as “Zone C.”

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Specifically, Ortom encamped in a private hospitality facility in Otukpo, in the course of the campaign tour of the area. He defied the ever recurring ethnocultural suspicions, even superstitions, between the disparate cultures and tongues in the state. There have always been fissions between the Tiv, Idoma, Igede and Agatu ethnicities in the state, which Ortom moved briskly to mitigate beginning from the earliest days of his government. His trademark *Benue unity* multicoloured headgear which bears the representative colours of each culture and ethnic group in the state, was introduced to reassure all sections of the state that they see themselves as one. Today, Ortom holds the record of prosecuting the most thorough, most enervating political campaigns in Benue State, compared to his predecessors!

On the dais each time he led the campaigns at the senatorial headquarters of the various zones, he was flanked by senators representing the zone. To this extent, Emmanuel Orker Jev, Gabriel Suswam and Abba Moro, took turns to accord desired backup to Ortom in their respective senatorial districts. Each time he mounted the soapbox, the messaging was the same: Except for the circumstances which bred his ascent to office on the vehicle of the APC, Benue State had remained steadfast as a PDP state. With all three Senators representing the state and the preponderance of members of the House of Representatives being members of the PDP, the political lifeblood of the state remains essentially PDP. To this extent, it would be wise politics to sustain allegiance for the PDP, from the very taproots of the political pyramid.

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An interesting dimension to the 2023 political campaigns in Benue State, is the total involvement of the wife of the governor in the ongoing process. Away from her usual chores as first lady, Eunice Erdoo Ortom, has put together a backup campaign team to reinforce the precedence of her husband and his predominantly male campaign cast. She is typically kitted in jeans trousers, sneakers, customised tops and bowler hats, to underscore the seriousness of the electioneering. Her focus is the women and youths, who she engages at the level of the 11 federal constituencies in the state. These are: Makurdi/Guma; Gwer East/Gwer West; Gboko/Tarka; Logo/Katsina-Ala/Ukum; Kwande/Ushongo; Vandeikya/Konshisha; Oju/Obi; Otukpo/Ohimini; Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo and Apa/Agatu. She is thus ensuring deeper permeation of the overall campaign epistolary.

The political mood of the PDP in Benue State is upbeat. At intervals, automobiles with mounted heavy-duty musical equipment drive through the streets of Makurdi, Gboko, Otukpo, Katsina-Ala, dishing out music in loud decibels. This is as an integral part of the political sensitisation process. Speaker of the State House of Assembly and gubernatorial candidate of the PDP, Titus Tyoapine Uba is back from his foreign medical trip, after a health scare late last year. With his running mate, John Mgbede, a former state chairman of the PDP, Uba went through the campaign grills, from A to Z. While not leaving anything to chance, Ortom is confident that the track record of the PDP over the years will see the party through. Having dominated the leadership of the state for the better part of the 24 years of the fourth republic, Ortom declares the PDP is the party to beat. This is as he enjoined his people to collect their permanent voter’s cards, (PVCs) unfailingly and to make their votes count on election day.

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*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE).*

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Opinion

Buhari’s Katsina Foretaste Of His “Street Credibility”

Buhari, Credibility
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By Tunde Olusunle

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Alexander Abolore Adegbola Akande, better known by the stage name 9ice it was, who produced and popularised the song “Street Credibility,” as one of his famous offerings in the early years of his two-decade career.

It was his message to critics and doubters of the genuineness of his artistic talent. It was signal of his preparedness to carve a niche for himself on the star-studded entertainment scene. He dared dissenters to “check my fans,” to interrogate his file of followers, his street credibility, as it were and be convinced he was on the social scene for good and would distinguish himself.

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Gongo aso, (something momentous will be), was the first hit from the album, which received global airplay. 9ice has gone ahead to entrench himself on the artistic scene as one of the nation’s renowned musical artistes.

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, on Thursday January 26, 2023, began a two-day official visit to his home state, Katsina. Aminu Masari his host and chief executive of the state, lined up one dozen projects for commissioning and inspection by his guest.

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Just before Buhari’s coming, Masari had approved a whopping N500 million, shared evenly among the local government areas in the state, for the mobilisation of their constituents.

They were needed to accord rousing welcome to their special guest and homeboy, Buhari. People actually had to receive fiscal inducement and be herded into all manner of vehicular contraptions, to enable them receive their president, a son-of-the-soil for that matter.

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With a fair idea of government expenditure spreadsheet for events such as the coming of an August guest like the president or a high profile foreign dignitary, government spending would easily be more.

Government facilities would be freshly lacquered and adorned with new furnishings. There would be durbars, state banquets and souvenirs for the big masquerade and his entourage, among other subheadings.

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With Buhari’s continuing flirtation with his kinsmen in Niger and Chad republics, there could be high level representation from both countries, of course at the expense of the host entity.

This is not precluding the quantum guzzle of premium motor spirit, (PMS) by the hundreds of automobiles involved in the visit, ever racing at demon-crazed velocities, as though there will be no tomorrow. When the figures are tallied, Buhari’s official visit could easily outstrip the billion naira mark!

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The commissioning and inspection of projects such as flyovers, roads, healthcare facilities, educational infrastructure, manufacturing concerns among others, featured on Buhari’s itinerary during the visit.
Masari earned profuse plaudits from his special guest for the tangible and visible investments of his administration in his state and the citizenry.

Katsina seems to have been privileged since the outset of the fourth republic, with visionary and committed leaders. Umaru Yar’Adua who was a two-term governor before his shortlived stint as president, set the pace in visionary governance.

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I was on the entourage of former president Olusegun Obasanjo on a state visit in 2002, and was impressed by what I saw, especially in the area of the provision of road infrastructure across the state.

Yar’Adua equally earned adulation from Obasanjo for his remarkable frugality, which fits into Obasanjo’s principal mantra for leadership recruitment.

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Yar’Adua’s thrifty approach to administration, was one of the attributes which earned him consideration by Obasanjo as successor. A few other very competent, committed alternatives, were bypassed by Obasanjo in the process.

Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo’s deputy, and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, a heavily decorated former army general, were possibilities. Ibrahim Shema, Yar’Adua’s successor in Katsina, progressed the state from that point, from the bit I glimpsed in 2014 when I attended the annual conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE), hosted by the Katsina State Government. Reports about Buhari’s most recent visit, seem to lend credence to the continuing endowment of the state with performing leaderships.

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In some of the public functions he attended in recent weeks and months, Buhari has alluded to three principal issues, as his administration winds down in four months, inevitably.

First, he believes he has done his very best serving Nigeria since he was inaugurated May 29, 2015. I imagine he probably wants us to be grateful to him for offering us his “very best services.”

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Secondly, he wants to stay as far as possible from the seat of government, Abuja, so as not be construed as meddling with the successor administration.

Third, he desires that history be kind to him, when stock is taken of his eight year regime, vis-a-vis the achievements of his predecessors.

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Last July, daredevil terrorists ambushed Buhari’s advance party convoy in Dutsinma, en route the president’s country home in Daura. A few members of the president’s entourage received bullet wounds and were treated in a hospital.

On the very day of Buhari’s most recent visit to his home state, rampaging youths pelted his convoy of vehicles with stones and satchet water. They made bonfires on the streets, chanting bamuyi, bamuyi in Hausa, meaning “we are not interested.”

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Shouts of “we no go do, we are tired of you…no jobs, no life,” equally enveloped the air at various points navigated by Buhari and his voyeurs in the cause of that visit.

If Buhari needed a foretaste of the manner of reception he would be accorded by Nigerians upon the completion of his eight year tour of duty, his kinsmen gave him one last week.

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Life has not been any less excruciatingly difficult, practically unbearable, thoroughly despairing and mortally despondent as has been witnessed under Buhari’s watch.

Interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola missed the joke when he presented the scoresheet of his ministry, recently.

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The renunciation of Nigerian citizenship by 150 Nigerians in 2022 alone, relative to the tally in preceding years, is very eloquent testimony to the grand failure of the Buhari government.

Renunciation of country of birth is evidence of the crass failure of such a country, to fulfil its basic obligations to its citizenry, and earn the respect of their roots. Such a situation has compelled them to seek shelter and livelihood in other lands.

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An entity has lost capacity in various ways, the ability to sustain the minimum regards and respect of its people for their springs of origin, is that which is so repudiated.

There are of course nationals with dual nationalities, who have unconditionally retained affiliations to the land of their birth. Renunciation, however, is total severance of every cord of relationship with one’s primordial fountains.

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Under President Buhari, Nigeria has revolved full circle, to the better forgotten days of Major General Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state.

The queues of Buhari’s essenco days between 1984 and 1985, when Nigerians lined up in the blistering sun and pouring rains to buy “essential commodities” so abbreviated, are back for good.

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Nigerians queued for measures of rice, bottles of cooking oil, sachets of salt, loaves of bread, packets of sugar, and tablets of soap.

Under the same Buhari today, snaky queues for petrol, kerosene and diesel, spiralling lines at automated teller machines, (ATMs) and collection points of permanent voter’s cards, (PVCs), are the sustained contemporary decors on the nation’s streets.

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Young Nigerian job seekers respond in millions to every advertisement for a handful jobs. Higher degree holders contest for menial jobs with their less qualified applicants, just to keep body and soul together.
Young people take forever to get married and raise families these days, principally because of the lack of sustainable means of socioeconomic survival.

This has fuelled increased emigration by Nigerians across generations to foreign lands. Aregbesola confirms this when he alludes to the issuance in 2022 alone, almost two million international passports to Nigerians.

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The japa syndrome has been accentuated under Buhari, with Nigerians seeking refuge and sustenance in some of the most impossible destinations. It would not be out of place to find Nigerians in a place like Iceland!

Buhari’s most recent missile-and-pebble trailed visit to Katsina State, is a foretaste of what he may yet encounter after his disengagement from office.

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Irrespective of whatever name they may be called, the protesters echoed the voices of several millions of Nigerians, weeping, hissing, shaking their heads in despair in the recesses of their rooms.

He is a man who promised so much to Nigerians after being eventually voted into office, after three failed attempts. He is a president in who so much hope was invested.

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Except for identifiable bright spots in the provision of road infrastructure, Buhari’s reincarnation in civilian garbs, could well pass for a better forgotten interregnum in the nation’s sociopolitics.
Nigerians can barely wait to see his back and welcome a genuinely humanist leadership. Atiku Abubakar represents that possibility even on the strength of what he has continued to do in his capacity as a private citizen.

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, GCON

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Opinion

Digital universe and standardization of Metaverse

Metaverse
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By Sonny Aragba-Akpore

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Global specialized agency for the information and communications technologies (ICTs) the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) with 193 member nations and 900 corporate organizations has begun the process for standardization of Metaverse.

The new management of ITU led by Secretary General,Doreen Bogdan-Martin. said last week that the new executive has been mandated by governments to expand digital connectivity and promote sustainable digital transformation.

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The focus group for this Metaverse standardization “aims to develop a roadmap for setting technical standards to make metaverse services and applications interoperable, enable a high-quality user experience, ensure security, and protect personal data.”

“Standards development must be driven by everyone that will rely on the resulting standards,” said Seizo Onoe, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

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“This focus group will support our work together to envision technology use cases for the metaverse, determine the associated technical requirements, and develop standards that help meet these requirements on a global scale.”

Standardization will make metaverse open and free for all unlike the exclusivity it entails.

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The metaverse has been defined as “a changing network made up of virtual worlds based on real-time interaction where people can work, socialize with each other, carry out transactions, play and even create things.”

Metaverse “uses virtualization and advanced technologies to fully immerse the user in a virtual world”.

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Users could interact directly with a world that is constantly available and that they can access whenever they like.

Bloomberg Intelligence explains that “the metaverse is the next big technology platform, attracting online game makers, social networks and other technology leaders to capture a slice of what we calculate to be a nearly $800 billion market opportunity.”

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Social, persistent, shared, virtual 3D worlds, “the metaverse is the convergence of the physical and digital realms in the next evolution of the internet and social networks using real-time 3D software.

It presents an opportunity for leading online entertainment and social media companies to capitalize on new revenue streams.”

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“The global Metaverse revenue opportunity could approach $800 billion in 2024 up from about $500 billion in 2020, based on our analysis and Newzoo, IDC, PWC, Statista and Two Circles data.

The primary market for online game makers and gaming hardware may exceed $400 billion in 2024 while opportunities in live entertainment and social media make up the remainder” according to the Bloomberg Intelligence.

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The ability to bring live events such as concerts, film showings and sports into 3D virtual worlds represent additional opportunities for game makers as they elevate online experiences into 3D social worlds to capitalize on the Metaverse opportunity.

“ Game makers including Epic Games and Roblox have hosted concerts inside of their games already, while Unity is investing in opportunities to bring live sports content and tools into its 3D development kit”according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

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“The metaverse and its layers of technologies can help human development and progress,” said ITU boss Bogdan-Martin. “The work of this ITU focus group is the first step in ensuring that these technologies work well and that they work for all. The benefits of the metaverse should be shared broadly and equitably, and the risks should be well understood and addressed.”

Uniquely in the United Nations family, ITU brings together a global membership of 193 Member States and over 900 member companies, universities, and international and regional organizations to work on issues such as technical standardization.​

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ITU focus groups, open to all interested experts, accelerate standardization by leading intensive studies in areas of rapidly evolving strategic importance.

The metaverse focus group will be active for one year and will conduct “pre-standardization” work as a basis for developing new ITU standards.

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To stimulate cohesive metaverse standards development, the focus group aims to elaborate common terms and definitions and promote collaboration among relevant standards bodies.

The focus group will meet for the first time in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 8 and 9 2023 on the Metaverse standardization.
The forum and meeting will be open for online participation.
Metaverse has the great potential to change the global economy, way of living and communicating and society.

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The ITU said the meeting in Riyahd,March 8 and 9 has as objective the need to stimulate global dialogue on metaverse, providing a platform to:

.explore challenges and opportunities for an accessible, sustainable, and inclusive metaverse;

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.foster the development of interoperability standards for an open and inclusive metaverse, and accelerate their development;​
.debate the role of metaverse in transforming consumer experiences and business models across industries;

.discuss how metaverse can be used to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and accelerate digital transformation; ​
.provide inputs and discuss relevant topics that can help accelerate the work of the ITU Focus Group on metaverse. ​

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“The establishment of this focus group is very important to define in a timely manner the standards that contribute to a secure and interoperable metaverse and enable growth and prosperity,” said Abdurahman M. Al Hassan, Chairman of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group from the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) of Saudi Arabia.

Roblox, Microsoft’s Minecraft and Epic Games’ Fortnite appear to be early leaders in the race for Metaverse leadership but there’s ample time for other game makers and social networking companies to tweak existing services or launch new ones to capitalize on the market’s growth.

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Other game makers have been able to attract large, active user bases in online titles such as Activision’s Call of Duty Warzone and World of Warcraft, EA’s the Sims, Take-Two’s GTA Online and Nexon’s MapleStory and Dungeon&Fighter Online.

These companies could seek to add additional social features and make user-generated content to become a larger part of their experiences to capture Metaverse demand.

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Online game makers and existing social networks may vie for leadership of the burgeoning $800 billion Metaverse economy, on the convergence of megatrends of games, social and user-generated content.

Facebook’s user scale and VR investments could give it an edge as the market develops, while game engine vendors Unity and Epic may see heightened software demand.

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The ability to bring live events such as concerts, film showings and sports into 3D virtual worlds represent additional opportunities for game makers as they elevate online experiences into 3D social worlds to capitalize on the Metaverse opportunity.

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