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I love Soyinka, but he was wrong – Chimamanda *INEC, Mahmood are the fascists, not Datti



If anybody or group should fit label of fascism, it must be the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Federal Government and all those who engaged in violence in the 2023 general elections as well as their sponsors.

This was the view of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigeria’s celebrated novelist, as she put up a stiff defence for the vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, while disagreeing sharply with Wole Soyinka, Nigeria and West Africa’s only Nobel Laureate, over what she saw as an unfair assessment of the recent comments of the LP chieftain.

Baba-Ahmed, had in an interview on March 22, declared that any move to swear in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was declared winner, without winning 25 per cent of the votes as enshrined in the constitution, would amount to “ending democracy,” in Nigeria.

Soyinka, had quickly described the comments as fascist in his two appearances, first on Channels Television and another on Arise Television in the last two weeks, denouncing the Kaduna-born politician for threatening the polity.

But, in sharp disagreement, Adichie, herself an award-winning, globally-recognised writer, insisted in her own appearance on Prime Time, a current affairs programme on Arise Television on Tuesday, that not even her love and respect for the octogenarian, and respected playwright would make her agree to such undue labelling.

Instead, she maintained that those that should wear the tag included INEC, its Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who ganged up to take away the voices of Nigerians, as well as those who not only perpetrated violence that trailed the election, but their sponsors and others who kept silent, when they ought to have spoken.

She said: “I have a lot of love for Prof. Soyinka. I admire him, I respect him as a thinker, as a writer – I think everyone should read The Man Died – and Ake, his memoir is beautiful. But at the same time, I disagree with him very strongly with him about this particular issue. And actually because I respect Prof. Soyinka, so much, I went back and watched this particular interview – I had watched it when it aired, but I went back and watched it because I thought, am I missing something?

“I think fascist is a very strong word. Fascist often makes me think of Mussolini’s Italy. Then we use it now sort of to address this sort of authoritarianism that often populates right-wing – like Hungary and even the American President. And if you look at the situation, you can see why they have been termed fascists.

“I do not see any reason that Mr. Datti Baba-Ahmed’s interview would have been termed fascist. I think he was making a very strongly-felt point about the election. What he was saying, which again, I thought quite reasonable, is that our democracy is rooted in our constitution and you then swear in a person who is elected unconstitutionally, then you’re in fact, ending democracy. I think it is quite a reasonable position. Of course we can argue about what that bit in the constitution means.

“I’m actually grateful about this whole election period because it has made me read things that I probably wouldn’t have, such as the Nigerian constitution and made me have quite a few suggestions for editing. But I think we’re now talking about what does And, mean? Datti Baba-Ahmed is saying that it is two-thirds and the FCT, and that is separate. It is a reasonable argument. And is a conjunction. We use it in that context often to mean plural. And then we say, Aisha and Yemi are coming. We don’t say Aisha and Yemi is coming. That’s because they’re two separate things. Of course, the court will interpret. “But I don’t think it is unreasonable for educated Nigerians who can read, who know what the word and means to make their own interpretations and to argue it. Of course, the fact that the Labour Party is in court, means that they don’t believe that this election is constitutional.

“So, I didn’t quite see why it should be termed fascist. I think a charitable way of reading Prof. Soyinka’s comment is that he is not given to restraint in language in general. May be that’s where that word fascist came from.

“However, I have suggestions for what we could use fascists for. We could use fascists for INEC, because as it is now, many Nigerians feel deeply cheated by INEC, deeply disenfranchised by INEC and there is an authoritarianism, which obviously is the basis of fascism at the centre of manipulating an election. Because what you’re doing is that you’re ganging people, you’re forcefully taking away their voice. That’s fascist.

“Fascist is all the violence that happened in the elections. Fascist is the way that some people remain silent about that violence. Fascist is the government that hasn’t come out to address the very tangible and palpable discontent in this country.

When I say we can use fascist for INEC, what I mean is that so many of us including myself are convinced that this was in no way technological glitch.”


Speak now! Catholic priests want Kaduna gov’s reaction to El-Rufai’s Islamisation comments



Uba Sani, must either officially distance himself or affirm the declaration of his predecessor Nasir El-Rufai that Muslim-Muslim executive branch leadership, have come to stay or stand up to denounce it immediately.

These were the demands from Catholic priests in parts of the North, who as they expressed disgust at the statement, which showed the former governor captured in a video, which went viral last week, practically celebrating the continuation of an arrangement, which he first introduced in 2019, and which has now been sustained with the new governor having a Muslim deputy.

Clerics from Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria chapters of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), in a public letter to Sani, urged him to declare his position on what they described as political supremacism in Kaduna state and Nigeria, as part of their reactions to the video, which has raised a lot of dust.

El-Rufai, who in his speech to Muslim clerics in the state, had recounted how after instituting an all-Muslim executive in the state himself and made it permanent in the state, the arrangement was pushed through at the national level with the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, as President and Vice President, respectively on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Informing that while Nigerians were actually believed that religion was not the issue in pushing through with the ticket, when it was in fact the case, the former Governor, who spoke in Hausa, declared that the arrangement had come to stay and would last for the next 20 years at the initial stage after Tinubu, adding that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had been defeated by the outcome.

But an apparently thoroughly upset Catholic priests, in an open letter on Thursday, said: “Having soberly considered the contents and implications of such communication by a former state governor who is known to be your close ally, we feel compelled to write you, to know where you stand with regard to the commotions Mallam El-Rufai intends to propagate and perpetuate in our state,” the letter reads.

“We write you today because we are responsible stakeholders in the affairs of our beloved state with our own congregations and followers. Mr governor, we do not intend to conclude that you are in agreement with all the content of the former governor’s utterances, as you have given no explicit reason to suggest so (yet), even though you were present at the occasion! We therefore earnestly expect your direct official reaction to the utterances of your predecessor in office.”

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Buhari spent more than $19billion on revamping four refineries without result – Nasarawa gov



Barely two weeks after his exit, the records of former President Muhammadu Buhari, have come to to the fore with one of them indicating a damning verdict, as he was said to have sunk a whopping $19billion in trying to rehabilitate the nation’s four refineries, without anything to show for it.

Abdullahi Sule, Governor of Nassarawa State, who used the former President abysmal failure to make a case for supporting the removal on petroleum products, compared the huge wastage to the amount Dangote refinery, cost to give Nigeria a facility with the single chain production in the world.

None of Nigeria’s four refineries, located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri is currently operational despite the huge amount sunk to resuscitate them, most of the funds borrowed from foreign lending agencies, the latest being the securing of $1.5million loan for that of Port Harcourt.

Bemoaning the situation, the governor, said: “Look at how much the President Buhari administration spent on fixing the refineries. In the eight years, he spent more money than the $19 billion that Dangote spent in building a refinery. That is one and a half times the size of our three refineries combined.”

A guest on Sunrise Daily, a breakfast programm of Channels Television on Thursday, Sule, pinned the payments of subsidy on Nigeria’s non-functional refineries, adding: “From the government side, I think we didn’t do a good job. When the (former) President (Buhari) came in in 2015, prices of crude oil dropped by less than 30 dollars. At that time, there was zero subsidy.

“Our three refineries in Nigeria today have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote is 650,000. He spent $19 billion on building it. We spent, not building a new one, but in maintaining these refineries; more than $19 billion in eight years, yet they have not been maintained.”

The Dangote Refinery, Africa’s biggest oil refinery, which took off in 2017, drew Nigerians and global personalities in different fields of life, including four African Presidents at its commissioning on May 22, 2023 by Buhari.

Sule, who also lamented the complexity of maintaining the refineries due to their diverse components, added: “The refinery is actually a component for water, crude, and diesel, about five or six different components that constitute a refinery. The moment the government says we are going to spend $2 billion this year on the refinery. The $2 billion is spent and as far as the President is concerned, they have given $2 billion.

“Now when it goes to the three refineries that we have in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna. Then they say, you now take $700 million, you now take $800 million – by the time they take that, it goes to fix maybe only one component out of the four components that are all bad. The ideal resolve would have been to allocate the major funds to one of the refining states to fix it totally before allocating the remainder to the other states.

“So, zero work is done. These are the true realities of what is happening, and that is why none of the refineries is working. These are truly the problem, we have not really managed this thing well.”

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Japan goes tough on asylum seekers, enacts new law to check abuse



Despite desperate attempts to block it, including a ruckus, which broke out in parliament Japan went ahead on Friday to enact an immigration law that would see the government deporting failed asylum seekers, even with members of civil society, joining in the pushback.

The law gives refugees only three chances to try after which they would face deportation, unlike before when applicants could stay in Japan during the decision process, regardless of the number of attempts they made to secure refugee status, reports, say.

The revised law will “protect those who must be protected while strictly dealing with people who have violated rules. There are many people who misuse the application system to avoid deportation,” Justice Minister Ken Saito, was quoted as saying, adding that this had persisted even when such people were not fleeing danger or persecution.

Last year, Japan accepted just 202 refugees out of some 12,500 applicants, and separately allowed 1,760 people to remain in the country due to “humanitarian considerations,” including more than 2,400 evacuees from Ukraine under a different framework.

Activists staged rallies against the revised law, but a protest from the opposition bloc in parliament was voted down by the ruling coalition, which holds a commanding majority.

“It is intolerable to deport people, even if they have criminal records, to countries that may violate their human rights” and where “their life and freedom would be in danger”, the Tokyo Bar Association said this week.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party says the revisions will bring better access to medical care and accommodation options for people whose asylum applications are pending.

Japan’s immigration detention conditions have been under scrutiny since the 2021 death of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman.

Sandamali was not an asylum seeker but had been held for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

Her family are seeking compensation of more than $1 million from the government over her death.

Sandamali reportedly complained repeatedly of stomach pain and other symptoms, and campaigners allege she received inadequate medical care.

Controversy and political pressure over the incident led ruling lawmakers to drop a push to enact similar legal changes to immigration rules two years ago.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer for Sandamali’s family, told AFP on Thursday that the revised bill was “equivalent to having a button to execute those who seek refuge by deporting them”.

“Japan’s refugee recognition system is not working,” he said, with officials turning down applications quickly, sometimes without face-to-face interviews.

Amnesty International also said in March that Japan should scrap the proposed revision to immigration laws, calling the country’s detention policies “harsh” and “repressive.”

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