• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
businessday logo


In the beginning …


While the African-American Summit was on in Washington DC from August 4 to August 6, 2014, we were pleasantly surprised to bump into Hilary Clinton after she had just finished signing copies of her book: “HARD CHOICES” (600 pages) at a bookstore.  As feisty, gusty and indefatigable as ever she proceeded to make several television and radio appearances not just to boost the sale of her book but more importantly to tiptoe into the campaign for the 2016 Presidential election as the flag-bearer of the Democratic Party.  She is heavily favoured to win not only the party nomination but the presidency itself at the mature age of 69 years (same age as Ronald Reagan when he became president in 1981 and stayed until 1989) and emerge as the first female president of the United States of America with the beguiling prospects of her husband and former President (1993 to 2001) Bill Clinton as part of the package —— as the “First Man”.

In her BBC Newsnight interview by Jeremy Paxman, she threw a bombshell:

“We had no money when we got there [The White House] and we struggled to piece together the resources for the mortgages for houses and for Chelsea’s [their daughter not the football club!!] education.  You know it was not easy.  My husband was dead broke and saddled with huge legal bills when we left office in January 2001.”

This immediately provoked an angry rejoinder from Republican strategist Karl Rowe who is an unrepentant traducer of the Clintons.  On the Wendy Williams show, Rowe angrily declared:

“Hilary left the White House with an $8 million advance for her 2003 memoir and the loan on their house was secured by Terry McAuliffe, their chief fundraiser.  Boosted by the huge speaking fees Hilary and Bill commanded, the family’s wealth had leapt to $50 million by 2009.”

As for David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, he has chosen to go right back to the beginning in his vigorous efforts to instill “British Values” in every child in England.

On CNN he waxed lyrical:

“The Charter (“Magna Carta”) signed at Runnymede in 1215 by King John should be taught to every pupil in Britain as it is the foundation of all our laws and liberties.  The document was forced on King John to limit his powers after a baronial revolt.  It enshrined the principles that no man (or woman) is above the law and everyone has the right to trial by jury of their peers, as well as protecting private property and limiting taxes.”

In 2002, the same David Cameron had fluffed his lines when on the David Letterman show to the consternation of the British Ambassador to the United States of America (Sir Christopher Meyer) who was in the audience, he did not appear to know that Magna Carta means “great charter”.  The Ambassador had to choose between exercising diplomatic restraint or rescuing his Prime Minister.  Matters rapidly deteriorated when Letterman asked Cameron when it was signed.  Cameron confidently declared: “In 1215 on an Island in the Thames.” !!  The Ambassador was thoroughly embarrassed and made his exist with all the dignity he could muster.

As confirmation that David Cameron had done his homework this time, he was in his element when on CCTV (Chinese Central Television) he lectured his audience:

“The Magna Carta is a great document in our history – what my favourite book, “Our Island Story” (by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall) describes as the foundation of all our laws and liberties. In sealing it, King John had to accept that his subjects were citizens – for the first time giving them rights, protection and security.  Actually, Our Island Story is a child’s history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold.

Sometimes in Britain, we can be a bit squeamish about our Britishness.  We shouldn’t be.  In recent years, we have been in danger of sending out a worrying message: that if you’re completely intolerant of others, we will still tolerate you.

This has led to division; it has also allowed extremism – both of the violent and non-violent kind – to flourish.  I believe we need to be far more muscular (Kung-fu) in promoting British values and the institutions that uphold them.”

On Al Jazeera, Nigeria’s first Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi was given a whole hour on a programme titled:  “In the beginning”.  The elder statesman fired on all cylinders.

“After the military coup d’état of 15th January 1966, despite the resolve of my colleagues in the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa-led cabinet to continue the First Republic following the assassination of the Prime Minister, the military led by Major-General GTY Aguiyi-Ironsi sacked the democratic process.  Ironsi rejected our nominee Alhaji Inua Wada to replace the slain Prime Minister.  Don’t you see that what we have now is not a country where people can live?  We just survive.  There is a place called Zimboda where the country is ruled by criminals, thieves and people who believe in plundering and looting:  From the executive to the legislature and the judiciary.  That is precisely what the military gave to the country.  The military that struck in the First Republic did not do so out of patriotism.  When you hear about the five majors who carried out the coup d’état and why they struck, let me keep the records straight by saying they did not strike because there was any defect in the democratic setting of the time that was beyond being managed.  They only came to carry out a criminal treasonable action.

Anyway, today Nigerian voters have become docile because the economy is so bad that people are so poor and so they are desperate to live.  Therefore, anybody who is offered a little amount of money sells his conscience and sells his vote in order to survive because of poverty.  People are very poor.  The middle class has been destroyed while some rich people are stupendously rich.  At the same time, the masses are miserably poor.

As for politics, people want to go into position to hold the key to the treasury of a state or country in order to loot.  That is what is happening.  Our legislative bodies that should monitor these things are more corrupt than the executive side of the system.  And the judiciary people, seeing what is happening there now, are opening their own ways to steal.  So, the whole place is a decaying body.

Nigeria is a decaying body; it is rotten.  Somebody wants to be governor of a state, not with the intention to serve because in four years’ time you find him being richer than the state itself.  The states don’t even produce any revenue.  What they do is wait for federal allocation at the end of the month and share.  Local governments are the same thing.  At the end of the month, when they get the allocation, they come to sit for three or four days and you find that the local governments are not working!

J.K Randle