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Tribute To LT. Shamsuddeen Umar Bello




By Mahmoud Ibrahim Bako

I have lost a friend, Lt. Shamsuddeen Umar Bello, a bosom friend, the most truely God-fearing youth I know. A very brilliant Academic and a military officer.
Right from the start in Primary school, he was calm and intelligent. We were all surprised when he said he will be going to the Nigerian Military School (NMS), as we thought the military was not for gentle men. Indeed he did not just remain a gentleman, but he became the most gentle of us all. Immediately we finished primary school. Himself and Auwal Isah (Daddy) got the highest score in our National Common Entrance Examination.

We all finished Secondary School and secured admission at ABU Zaria. He was a very hard-working student. We met everyday at Sulaiman Hall mosque and recited the Qur’an together for about two years, until I graduated, having studied a four year course. He was the best graduating student in his class and returned immediately for his M. Eng. Upon the completion of his masters degree, he was given appointment as a Lecturer at the Department of Water Resources, ABU Zaria but his boss at the Nigerian Army refused to release him because he liked him and adviced him to go to NDA and be regularized as an officer instead, having secured admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy around the same time.
Indeed I, and many others who receive his daily WhatsApp admonition messages will greatly miss him. It’s less than a year now that we attended his wedding at Yantumaki, Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State.

It was about two months ago that I saw him last, passing in his car, I called out his name and he stopped, his wife was sitting beside him in the front seat. We greeted very affectionately, as it was the first time we met, ever since he got married, as he was given pass of less than seven days to do his wedding preparation and ceremony. I never knew that it would be the last time I will meet with him in this mortal world.

Last night as I slept, I had a dream where I saw my late father, I was happy that I saw him but I woke up mournful. I never knew that by 7 am I will receive the news of the second most shocking death in my entire life but I am consoled that just like during the mourning of my father when everyone, either young or old who spoke about him would say: they have never seen someone who everyone, either friend or other wise agreed was a good man. like my late father, I bear witness that Shamsuddeen will receive similar testimony.

Last night before I went to bed, I saw a BBC Hausa news that said that some soldiers were attacked at the boarder between Katsina and Zamfara States. I never knew that I will be directly affected by the attack. Nigeria is loosing a lot of brilliant young men, whom parents and the government has spent so much to train. . We know there is nothing we can do to avert what Allah has destined to happen and we take solace in his mercy, we also know that in a war soldiers die but we know that alot of these casualties are directly the consequences of corrupt and incompetent leadership. Hundreds of billions are spent annually on security, yet there seems to be no end to the insecurity. Our military and police complain of having inferior weaponry compared to some non state actors. We have potbellied, clueless leaders that line their pockets with billions, as the young brilliant youth that represent the future of this country get masscred in droves.

Indeed, your life was a short but well lived one. Your fear of God, humility and hard-work have inspired many people to strive to be better. I for one, always admonished myself to be a better person by simply reminding you, even as you walked this Earth.

We are consoled even more when we remember the saying of the prophet Muhammad (SAW): once upon a time a group of people passed by him and his companions carrying a corpse. His companions praised the deceased and said how good he was, so the messenger of God said, Ameen. Another group passed by carrying a corpse and they derided the deceased as being a very bad person, and the messager of God said Ameen. So he informed his companions that when a person dies, Allah the almighty accepts what people say about them (as that represent who they were while on earth). I testify that you were the very best amongst us. When your time was finally up, you paid the supreme price in the service of humanity, for the sake of the hundreds of villages that have been sacked by bandits, for the sake of hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, women and children that have been made homeless, for the sake of mothers that have been made widows and children that have been made orphans. Indeed you are a matyr! and what a noble way to depart this world!

I pray Allah accepts your prayer in your final WhatsApp update where you prayed and said ” Oh Allah! I seek your pardon. Forgive my transgressions and take my life only when you are pleased with me. Amin ya Hayyu ya Qayyum” Ameen.

May Allah forgive you, my father and all the faithfull till the end of time.

Mahmud Ibrahim Bako,
An admirer and a true friend.


Letter To The President On The Re-Introduction Of Subsidy




Dear President Tinubu

Sir,every Nigerian with rudimentary knowledge of economics will agree with you that fuel subsidy has to go, it has stagnate the growth of our economy over the years,benefitting only selected few.
Most Nigerians have no qualms with subsidy removal,its the approach that was used that we have reservation for. There is no doubt that the removal of fuel subsidy had ripple effect on the woof and warp of Nigeria’s economic fabric. The private sector is struggling to keep up with the reality of the moment and civil servants in public sector are financially incapacitated.
Nigeria’s present consumer price index (CPI), stood at almost 30%, this clearly shows a reduction in the citizens purcasing power. Families are finding it difficult to have 2 meals a day; this will have resultant negative effects on the health of the citizens and may reduce manpower ability to contribute to the Nations gross domestic product (GDP).
Nigeria at this point needs to invest massively in agriculture, to make surplus food available to the citizens at an affordable rate. Agriculture is one of the most subsidized sector of most world power’s economy. United States,Russia and China controls the world grains reserve because of the subsidies available for agriculture and other working policies. NIRSAL is a case study of working policy in Nigeria, its a fantastic government programme that was supposed to transform Nigeria’s agriculture by making funds available to real farmers who produce what Nigerians consume daily,but it could not achieve its objective due to the Nigerian factor.

Yes, subsidy is gone in the petroleum industry, but it needs to be re-introduced into agriculture to make funds available for small scale farmers who produce 70% of the food items consumed in Nigeria. Also, there is the need for more regulatory policies in the agrochemical industry to control sub-standard products in the market and possibly provide tax waivers to reduce the market price of these agrochemicals.

Fertilizer is a key component of agricultural production which must be made available to farmers at subsidized rate. The e-wallet template used by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina of African development bank when he was Nigeria’s minister of agriculture is a tested and verified framework for reaching out to small scale farmers.

Insecurity is an integral index in Nigeria’s agricultural sector today, there is the need to improve on the country’s security architecture and a synergy should be put in place betwern the proposed agro-rangers and the various security apparatus ( army,airfoce, police etc). Farmers should be able to go about their business with maximum safety and also a viable solution must be worked out to put a stop to farmers/cattle rearers conflict by establishing a symbiotic relationship between both party.

The twelve River Basin Development Authorities can provide the fulcrum for achieving food security, with thousands of hectares of lands,Dams,Canals and other Irrigation structures in their control for achieving an all year round farming. More funds needs to be funneled into these agencies for revitalization and expansion of existing infrastructures.
Nigeria is presently at a turbulent time in its economic history; making food available to the masses at an affordable rate through subsidized agriculture is necessary to extinguish the embers of looming disquiet in Nigeria.
Ibrahim Baba-Ibrahim writes from Ilorin. ibrahimbabaibrahim@gmail.com


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Government Panics as Cost of Living Crisis Deepens



Professor Jibril Ibrahim


Jibrin Ibrahim

The Tinubu Administration is a fanatic believer in economic liberalism and market forces. Based on its belief, it cancelled fuel subsidy and floated the naira so that it can find its true value. The naira played its part and has been rising steadily desperately searching for its true market value, which it turns out, is still very far away. The result is a “misery crisis” as food prices rise beyond the incomes of ordinary citizens whose naira is too small to enable them purchase food and hunger and anger spreads throughout the land. The President who always tells Nigerians that he understands their pains then offers a solution and orders distribution of free grains from the Strategic Food Reserves. It turned out the civil servants forgot to brief him that the reserves are empty.

Over the past few weeks, hunger and anger have led to street protests all over the country and strike threats. Our politically savvy President sensing the danger decides that since the stupid market forces are now threatening his turn to rule in peace, he must find a diversion. If you search, you will find. The Bureau de Change operators, the “Mallams”, are responsible for destroying the capacity of the “market forces” he unleashed to bring down the cost of living. He therefore got the EFCC to establish a Special Task Force across its commands, to clamp down on individuals “dollarizing” the Nigerian economy. The gun trotting operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have since Monday been raiding Bureau de Change operators and arresting them all over the country. The task force which was inaugurated by the Executive Chairman of the Commission, Ola Olukoyede, was raised: “to protect the economy from abuses, leakages, and distortions exposing it to instability and disruption”, we were told.

Those of us of a certain age were brought up in an era in which the dollar did not circulate as a means of exchange or store of value and we used our currency, the naira. Did our Afrobeat hero Fela Kuti not do to jail for having dollars cash that he wanted to travel out of the country with to perform in a concert? Then the neoliberals told us it was imperative to allow free purchase and sell of foreign currency. They even encouraged us to open domiciliary accounts in our banks to store foreign currency which government guaranteed will be safe as the ideology of free markets requires the assurance. The Central Bank of Nigeria licensed thousands of BDCs and asked them to trade in currencies. Why the hell are they being arrested today for doing what the law asked them to do? The other panic move is to place the blame on crypto-currency websites for stealing the value of the naira. The issue is that the few people with naira, conscious of its steady and daily loss of value, would seek to protect their asset anyway they can, won’t they?

The fact of the matter is that we are simply not earning enough foreign currency to meet our high demands for imported goods. In so doing, for decades, we have relied on petroleum rent as our major source of foreign currency. Then to our shock, in 2022, the Group Managing Director of NNPCL, Mele Kyari, explained to us in a State House media briefing that most of our petroleum was being stolen so the dollars are no longer coming in. Mr. Kyari blamed various sections of the Nigerian society for being complicit in the theft of millions of barrels of crude oil, mentioning even that make-shift pipelines and stolen fuel have been found in churches and mosques.

We were told that between January and July 2022, Africa’s biggest oil producer lost an average of 437,000 barrels of oil a day to criminal entities and individuals who illicitly tap pipelines onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta region. The solution to the problem is therefore clear – stop the oil theft and more dollars will come in. The bigger issue is that for a rentier State, safeguarding the source of rent is an existential problem and simple logic should have prevailed and made the state stop the theft. The underlying reality, as we all know however, is that our political leaders and upper echelons of our security forces are beneficiaries of the oil theft. They have taken the decision to eat the goose that lays the golden egg and move to Dubai thereafter as rich refugees.

There is still an explanation needed for the astronomic collapse of the Naira over the past few weeks. What the hell is going on? The answer, says the research done by Business Day is that we should look at those with a lot of naira – government. Since the removal of fuel subsidy, the Federal and State governments have been receiving massive amounts of naira through the disbursement of money by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). BusinessDay learnt that portions of the funds from FAAC were often changed to dollars by some governments at the parallel market, putting more pressure on the naira. Their analysis shows that from July 2023 to January 2024, the naira depreciated in the black market for the six months immediately after the FAAC shared money to the federal, state and local governments:

“With the removal of fuel subsidy, more volumes of naira are being shared by the federal, state and local governments and some of these monies are changed to dollars at the parallel market.” BusinessDay has asked us to open our eyes from now on. We should note the price of dollars one week before FAAC allocation, check back the price after the allocation and you will see clearly the difference. Let’s all do that and know that those who should go to jail are some of our governors and ministers. President Tinubu, please stop panicking, just look around you and you shall see.

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Senior Fellow
Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Follow me on twitter @jibrinibrahim17

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How Senator Saliu Mustapha is ameliorating the hardships in Kwara Central




By AbdurRaheem Sa’ad Dembo

It is no longer news that inflation is ravaging the country and it has adversely affected the economic power of the citizens. The surge in the prices of grains and other commodities in the market is alarming and heart-wrenching.

Senator Saliu Mustapha, having been a philantropist and a figure with a good heart prior his ascension to the Senate, understood the implications and consequences of such situations and had, as a matter of urgency, reached out to some indigent households in Kwara Central Senatorial District through distribution of rice and other items in late December, 2023.

Similarly, in mid January,2024 he rolled out NECO, WAEC and UTME scholarships for considerable number of indigent students across some selected schools in Kwara Central. The Chairman, Saliu Mustapha Foundation Education Committee, Prof. Binta Suleiman, who represented Turaki of Ilorin during the flag-off ceremony held at Socrates College, Ilorin admonished the beneficiaries to be focused, dedicated, disciplined and committed to their educational pursuits. She reiterated the commitment of Senator Mustapha to the educational development of his Senatorial district with further award of full scholarship to deserving students among the beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Saliu Mustapha Foundation Education Committee, Yakub Ishowo, explained that the committee initially planned the registration and capturing of the beneficiaries for one week, but was extended to capture over 2000 beneficiaries. Being a member of the committee I can attest to the assertion of the secretary.

Most of the parents of the beneficiaries appreciated the Senator and prayed to Allah to grant him long life and good health. In one of the videos shared by Alhaji Jagunma, one of the parents said they never expected it and that it was enough an evidence that the selection process was devoid of political affiliations and biases. Rather, the emphasis was on those who actually needed it, which were indigent students.

Essentially, the Turaki of Ilorin is much aware of the fact that sharing of food items is a temporary measure to cushion the effects of the inflation at all levels of the society and that the Federal and State governments are working together to ensure a permanent solution that would bring succour to the entire country.

In Mustapha’s philosophy, one should reach out to people in one’s neighbourhood no matter how little, because it would help in alleviating their conditions. One does not have to wait to become a rich person before extending the hand of fellowship to the less privileged in his or her community.

Most importantly,I can confirm recently that Saliu Mustapha has started giving out appointment letters to some individuals in Kwara Central. This will be a continuous thing so that an appreciably large coverage is attained ultimately.

I have always said it that when one’s is fixing other people’s lives, he or she is invariably fixing his or her own life too. According to a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, “we cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs”. This is in tandem with the philosophy of Senator Mustapha, hence he is working tirelessly to build others.

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