Shehu Sani is Civic Rights Campaigner and politician who has contributed significantly to scholarship as regards the need for Africans to mainstream the practice of good governance and constitutionalism.

Like many African thinkers, he, Shehu Sani recognises the dearth of the virtues consultation and dialogues by the crop of persons who are opportunistically positioned as contemporary political office holders in almost all of African nations and especially Nigeria that is witnessing a rapid regression of the democratic and constitutional values of the public good as the hallmark of governance.

In one of his books with a catchy tittle as follows:  “Civilian Dictators of Africa,” Shehu Sani noted in the preface thus:

“A leader should strive to be worthy of the mantle of leadership, in whatever way possible. Several African leaders have demonstrated failure in this regard, leading to many, if not most, of problems that plague the African continent. In recent times, many of these so-called leaders have even gone a step further in drastically deviating from all known leadership ethos, emerging as dictators in the process”.

Shehu Sani who represented Kaduna central at the eight session of the National Assembly stated that: “Dictators are natural political leaders who wield active executive power and use such power in an absolute or near-absolute manner, with little or no effective check and balance. Some of the attributes of dictators include a fondness for creating cults of personality about themselves, inflamed by natural talents in demagoguery. They favour a “divide and rule” system of leadership, and they sustain and consolidate their powers through means of fear, intimidation and arrest. They tend to be corrupt, kleptocratic and desirous of spewing a dynasty, regardless of the type of state that they preside over. They also exhibit an inglorious tendency to want to protect their own kind- their “fellow”  dictator.”

He then argues that: “In much the same manner as the past leadership of its constituent polities, Africa today is still characterized by dictatorship.(civilian or military), who have behaved despotically, by governed poorly, initiated or exacerbated existing civil conflicts, murdered or eliminated opponents, decelerated per capita economic growth and have engendered and promoted corruption. And while there seems to be no end to the emergence of new dictators in Africa, there exist no strong institutional mechanism to prevent the emergence and the consolidation of dictatorship in governance in Africa”.

Another of Nigeria’s gifted lawyers and constitutional scholars in the person of Dr. Tunji Abayomi has done what can be considered as Magnus Opus in the area of understanding the essence of constitutionalism even as this book is titled aptly as “constitutional powers and duties of the President”.

In the foreword contributed by one of the foremost lawyers to have come from Nigeria by Name Chief F.R.A. Williams, CFR, CON, SAN, the erudite scholar reminded us thus:

“In modern times, all constitutions of any country organized on the basis of Democracy and the Rule of Law derive their legitimacy from the people. This is because it is recognized that sovereignty belongs to the people. Hence it is the people, and only they, who can legitimately lay down the rules and principles upon which they are prepared to be governed.”

“Under our current Constitution, the president hold a key position. The executive powers of the nation are vested in him. It is his duty to ensure that for that smooth operation of our constitutional system, the Legislature does not encroach on his powers or usurp his functions as the Head of State and Chief Executive of the Federal Government. The National Assembly has the onerous burden of enacting laws for the peace, order and good government of the entire nation in so far as it is empowered to do so under the Constitution. There have been occasions in recent times when the nation has witnessed confrontation and controversy between the Presidency and the National Assembly arising from attempts by one branch of government to encroach on the field of the other. There is no doubt that there are border line or grey areas where the powers to powers or functions of the Legislature and the Executive are such that confrontations between the two organs of government are prone to lead to friction and tension,” so wrote Chief FRA Williams of blessed memories.

The heavy emphasis being laid on the will of the people goes to the root of this reflection which is a commentary on what the minister of telecommunications and digital economy under the current dispensation has set out to do which from all indications, does not embrace the interests of Nigerians in both the conception and implementation of the public policy just as it is happening at a time that scientifically, bringing out large numbers of people to gather in designated places at a time could expose them to contracting the Coronavirus disease which is ravaging not just Nigeria but globally.

And so it was that as Nigerians were still imagining if the reported second wave of COVID-19 ravaging United Kingdom, France, United States of America and many other places will arrive Nigeria, then out the Blues, Nigerians were told to pour out in their millions to assemble at the offices of the National Identity Cards Commission to obtain what they called National Identity Number or NIN in short or they will lose their phone lines. The government then gave over 100 million telephone subscribers just a Month to obtain this so called NIN.

Specifically, the Federal Government of Nigeria had announced the extension of the period of the registration of SIMs with National Identification Number (NIN), as well as the cancellation of USSD and Verification Fees.

This announcement was made in a press statement issued and signed by Engr. Aliyu Aziz, Director-General, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), after the meeting held by the National Task Force on National Identification Number (NIN) and SIM Registration.

In the media statement, the government sounded like it was doing us a favour when it said glibly that it is important to note that the information conveyed in the press statement include resolutions made at the meeting chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, with major stakeholders in the sector including Chairman-NCC, EVC-NCC, DG-NITDA, DG-NIMC, ECTS/ECSM-NCC, Chairman ALTON, CEOs of MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Glo, Smile, and 9Moble in attendance.

It continues that at the meeting, after reviewing the recent developments at hand and the mounting issues, which unravelled today owing to logistics and infrastructural hiccups experienced at the NIMC offices today,

The National Task Force made a resolution that three (3) weeks extension should be granted for subscribers with NIN, from 30th December 2020 to 19th January 2021.

The National Task Force also granted six (6) weeks extension to subscribers without NIN, starting from 30th December 2020 to 9th February 2021.

What you should know

Based on the endorsement of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the National Task Force disclosed that:

NIMC has provided strategies to enable citizens to attend the registration in full compliance with Covid-19 protocols – particularly the use of facemasks which remains mandatory and maintenance of social distancing.

The President appreciates Nigerians for their patience and commitment to update their identities; while he thanked all stakeholders for their compliance with the directives.

Mr. President also commended the efforts of the Task Force and urged all stakeholders to take advantage of the extension to link their SIM card with their NIN.

USSD and verification charges remain suspended during these extensions.

Why this matters

This development, however, is a welcome improvement as it will provide adequate time for Nigerians to plan on when to register and enrol for the NIN, so erroneously chorused the propaganda statement put out in the media to defend the indefensible ill intentioned public policy to compel millions of Nigerians to take risks of catching COVID-19 just so that they obtain NIN at a time the World over, nation’s are taking responsible steps to protect their citizens. This DIRECTIVE by the Telecommunications and digital economy minister has turned the nation’s political leadership into NINcompoops in the eyes of the World because it is only someone without rationality and responsibility that will play the role of the devil’s advocate by compelling millions of their citizens to practically go and die.

Although the politicians in Nigeria at the ministry of telecommunications and digital economy feel that the extension of deadline  will help to reduce pressure on NIMC officials as well as other operators at the NIN enrolment centres, and make way for a seamless NIN registration and enrolment exercise. However, it is insensitive for government officials to refuse to listen to the voice of reason by calling off this exercise that is as good as becoming the SUPER SPREADER OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN NIGERIA.

To demonstrate the lack of cohesion and coherence in the planning and implementation of public policies, whereas the minister of telecommunications has insisted on going ahead with this bad policy of the organised national stampede for NIN, the scientists have warned against this and indeed the Ministry of Health asked that it be suspended.

The ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) enrolment may be suspended considering the large crowds seeking registration in centres across Nigeria and the risk of COVID-19, the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, has said.

He made this remark on Channels TV Sunrise Daily show where he appeared as a guest on Monday.

Mr Mamora, who is also a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said ”it is displeasing to see crowds gather at the National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC) offices.”

“Nobody feels good. I don’t feel good looking at the picture where people are gathered in multitudes. It’s like super spreader events which we don’t like. I’m also aware that the relevant ministry which is the communications and digital economy is looking at this.

“My understanding is that the whole process may be suspended so as to reorder the whole process in terms of management of the crowd because it was never intended that it would become a rowdy process like that. So, people may have to wait and be called at intervals to go through the process,” he said.

He advised the NIMC ”to re-order the enrolment process,” which he said will help avoid large crowds across the nation.

He said the government has a duty to ensure Nigerians are protected at all times.

“We have a duty as government to ensure that people are protected; we also have a duty to ensure people comply within the limit of what is good for the society at large,” he said.

Anxious Nigerians have continued to gather at NIMC offices across the nation to register for their NINs.

Obviously, this outlandish directive by the telecommunications minister which offends even common sense has made the Nigerian authority to look like NINcompoops around the world.

This is because as we had submitted at the beginning of this piece, the people matter a lot in the formulation, implementation and even the timing of the imposition of certain public decisions.

Besides, the Nigerian constitution recognizes the sacredness of life as provided for in section 33 (1).

Why then is the NCC and the supervising minister proceeding with this toxic policy of forcing millions of anxious Nigerians to expose their lives to the risks of catching Covid -19 or is the Federal government made up of NINcompoops who intentionally want to turn government offices to avenues of the super spreading of Covid-19?

Why is the same government that is arresting people for violations of the COVID-19 protocols asking Nigerians to troop out in greater numbers to congregate and struggle for NIN? Why arrest clubbers but the police has not arrested officials of the National communication Commission or the minister of Telecommunications and digital economy who is the person misdirecting Nigerians in their millions to go catch Covid-19?

Imagine the other day, the Lagos State Police Command arrested 43 clubbers including strippers.

They were nabbed at Eclipse Night Club, Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island.

Police spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi made this known in a statement on Monday

Police operatives attached to the Maroko Division made the arrest.

Commissioner of Police Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered that the suspects be moved to Taskforce office in Oshodi for prosecution.

Odumosu reiterated that club owners should no longer be spared as they encourage total disregard for COVID-19 protocols.

The Police boss had ordered Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers to go after violators.

Who will arrest the minister of telecommunications and digital economy?

This shows a failure of the leadership charisma of listening to the voice of the people. James G Hunt, Kimberly B Boal, George E Dodge in

The Leadership Quarterly 10 (3), 423-448, 1999 stated as follows: “A single factor, seven-level, repeated measures, unbalanced experiment was conducted with 191 college undergraduates to test Boal and Bryson’s (1988) assertions that: (1) there are at least two forms of charismatic leadership under crisis conditions—visionary and crisis-responsive; and (2) once the crisis condition has abated, the effects of crisis-responsive leadership deteriorate comparatively faster than other forms of charismatic leadership.

The experiment consisted of four crisis condition leadership treatments (crisis-responsive, visionary under crisis, exchange under crisis, and low expressiveness under crisis) and three no-crisis condition leadership treatments (visionary no crisis, exchange no crisis, and low expressiveness no crisis) at time one followed by low expressiveness no crisis at time two. Two graduate student “leaders” who memorized carefully prepared scripts delivered the leadership treatments. Analysis consisted of 28 a priori comparisons of cell means and repeated measures ANOVA to determine significant main effects as well as interactions. We found support for our hypothesis that there are two forms of charisma (visionary and crisis-responsive) and that, in the absence of crisis, the effects of crisis responsive charisma decay faster than do the effects of visionary charisma.

Some men see things as they are and ask why? I dream things that never were and ask, why not? —Robert F. Kennedy as quoted in Ted’s eulogy for Robert (Kennedy, 1968, p. 58)

There are no great men. There are only great challenges which ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet. —W. F. “Bull” Halsey in Lay and Gilroy (1959).

The quotes above capture the essence of much of the current literature concerning charismatic leadership. Is charisma primarily based on the vision of an extraordinary leader or does it evolve from rising to face extraordinary circumstances, such as a crisis? Strong adherents of Weber (e.g., Beyer 1999, Trice and Beyer 1986, pp. 118–119) argue that he considers the following five interacting elements as crucial in producing charisma:1.

An extraordinarily gifted person;2.A social crisis or situation of desperation;3.A set of ideas providing a radical solution to the crisis;4.A set of followers who are attracted to the exceptional person and who come to believe that he or she is directly linked to transcendent powers; and5.The validation of that person’s extraordinary gifts and transcendence by repeated successes.

Trice and Beyer (1986) viewed charisma as a sociological phenomenon that emerged from the interaction of all of these elements, and argued that all of them must be present to some degree for charisma to occur.

Nigeria needs to be rescued from politics of NINcompoops.

Suspend this NIN insanity now!

…Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria

 


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