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Who Advises the Nigerian President?

Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai
Published November 15th, 2010

“President to lead Uduaghan’s Re-Election Campaign”. This is the screaming headline in THIS DAY, Nigerian Newspaper of Saturday 13, 2010, Vol 15, No 5683. The report was written by Mr. Chris Okocha and Ahamefula Ogbu. Both of them are THIS DAY correspondents.

Very often, the impunity and impertinence with which very serious state matters are addressed in Nigeria, suggests that the political parties are not oblivious of how much they affront the voter’s sensitivities.

We accept that the leaders of states may not possess encyclopedic and relevant knowledge in all fields.

This is why the state provides Advisers.

In a recent article entitled, “Jonathan and  All the  President’s Men,” Eddie Iroh wrote about “staff failure and timid advice” discernible in the statements, couched by  some  presidential advisers.

One Mr. Charlie Agbo, in his characteristic style, wrote that Eddie Iroh was “off the mark”, although Charlie Agbo did not pin down where Eddie Iroh erred but Agbo regularly veered off into unrelated narratives.

As a lawyer, Charlie Agbo is very conversant with the General Provisions, in Chapter 1, Part 1, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1(2), which says that “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the government of Nigeria, or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

The Nigerian citizens are indisputably the victims of rigged elections, because a person, who has been declared an illegal governor by the Court of Appeal, took control of the government of a part of Nigeria, as governor, exercising illegal authority.

This is a flagrant violation of a cardinal principle in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Article 1(2).

A person, who violated this provision of the Constitution, qualifies, in jurisprudential understanding, as an accomplice

The person is described in law as one who associated with another, whether as principal or accessory in the commission of an offence.

In the case of an accessory, such a person “is concerned in the commission of an offence otherwise than as a principal.  This definition was adopted in the   Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 and was confirmed in Johnson Youden [1950] 1 KB 544.

The Governors were joy riding, in spite of their illegal occupation of Government House. It is  remarkable that some Nigerian judges “did not drop their judges’ mantles to assume the mantles of advocates (although a few did), which did not become them well” per Lord Denning in Jones Vs NCB (1957) 2QB 55

It is universally accepted that where electoral offences   and malpractices have been proven, the impostor loses his unearned honour, job and is regarded as having never been a Governor.

If it is confirmed that there is an open declaration that the President will associate with a governor, who was removed for “taking a part of the country in violation of the Constitution”, this could serve as first-hand evidence whose admissibility cannot be questioned, being direct evidence. This fits in a case of accomplice or accessory to the violation of Chapter 1(2) of the Constitution.  The seriousness of the matter seems to have been lost on the relevant advisers, who vetted the speech.

For someone, who is canvassing for the Voters approval next year, this could be seen by  critics  as a public relations faux pas.

It is intra vires for the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General and other Advisers to estop presidential statements of legal nature and scream out loud if they are over-ruled.

To adopt a timorous attitude, in order not to offend the employer does the “OGA” more harm than good.

The inability of Nigerians to call a spade a spade is a cardinal reason for our political miscalculations

Presidential statements are etched into historical documents, which will be freely used when the President is no longer in power. So, proper advice is very crucial to governance.

The fact that many Governors from the PDP have been unseated by competent courts provides the   irrefutable evidence that there was something illegal with the way those governors were elected and they know it.

So, a declaration that the President would lead Uduaghan’s campaign may please the PDP, but it inadvertently suggests that the President does not seem to see anything wrong in the irregular conduct of the elections in 2007.

 If that is the case, voters would ask what assurance do they  have that the 2011 elections would not suffer and would not  be free and fair,  should  that frame of attitude  become  prevalent.

To support the person, who took control of a part of the government of Nigeria in violation of the country’s Constitution is impunity warped in an enigma.

The RULE of LAW is diminished, the Constitution is affronted and democracy is laid bare to ridicule. I have heard a lot of dismay by fervent presidential supporters that the declaration was not-well-thought out, was inappropriate and above all, undiplomatic.

“Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaketh.”

 I hope that my learned friend, Charlie Agbo will accept a brief, should  one  wish to test the constitutional issues; we have dutifully raised  in this article,

We also hope that he is in a better jurisprudential frame of mind to agree that in some cases, presidential advisers should be more reflective.

We, the People are watching carefully, both the style and substance of governance. After all it is, our VOTERS RESOLUTION that will put a candidate in Aso Rock

Advisers come and go but We, the voters will always decide. Where we are forcefully denied justice at the polls, the Courts of Law will come to the peoples’ rescue.

 Who  is better  an Adviser, who presents his thesis, with trembling hands, a bovine stare and hanging lips or  one, who is erudite, clear about the subject and delivers with assuredness and who looks at a more expansive     definition of the terms used?

An Adviser’s weak postulations manifest in “gaffes and faux pas”. These observations may not be publicly canvassed in order not to be seen as “not supporting the President”, but as they accumulate and become common-place, the trained and intellectual mind gets gradually pushed to go for his pen.

This, I think was what happened to Eddie Iroh, when he made his comments on the “President’s Men”, who are after all, part of us. The President’s men are doing their best but are their best good enough for the huge challenges the President faces?

Eddie Iroh does not deserve a  misplaced  rejoinder, even though fame by association often leads determined sycophants and neophytes nowadays to ride on the tail-coats of the masters.

On Bad Advice

It is a serious matter not to understand the serious consequences of bad or misplaced advice. A misadvise could lead a state to embark on a wild goose chase.

For example, when the Chief Economist of HSBC, Mr. Stephen King presented a clearly defined economic analysis to apprehend the volatility in international liquidity, US government  advisers in well-tailored suits, countered him with their  permutations on negative interest rates, indiscriminate pumping of money into the economy, non-repayment of past debts, currency manipulations and other unhelpful treatises.

Now, America owes 5.3 trillion dollars according to Guan Jianzong of the Global Investors Inc. The depreciation of the dollars is affecting the world economy.

Secondly, the Spanish economy was once boosted by a massive construction boom. Government advisers were timid to tell the Spanish government not to engage in the war in Iraq as a war economy would wreck the Spanish economy. Today, Spanish workers stand hopelessly in long queues, waiting for unavailable jobs.

The consequences of running war economies by the US, British and other European states have come home to roost. Yet, when these states meet during the G8 and G20 meetings, they paper over their mistaken foreign policies, which were manifestly orchestrated by bad, uninformed misadvise by opinionated advisers, who got it all wrong.

It can be recalled that it was bad advice that prevented the Western European states from early engagement with China, until Dr Henry Kissinger pushed Sino/American relations to a good start. Today, Sino/Chinese trade is very crucial and important to America’s international economic relations.

Those Western anti Soviet, anti Chinese ideologists and hard-core advisers have faded away from the political scene, but their misadvice keeps resonating every day.

Has any Nigerian Chief Medical Adviser told the President that the cholera outbreak is emergency and bad public relations for a state that aspires to be among the great nations of the world in 20-20-29? That medical officers should never be allowed to get to the stage of going on strike. That a choleric populace can not vote at elections, nor can they contribute to societal development in any meaningful way. That international tourists avoid nations, where epidemics are often recorded. That it  is hard to brand a nation in which political statements of good intentions are  always at variance with serious actions. That security should be a cardinal issue to ensure a safe environment for sustainable development.

These and more, are national political and developmental issues, which advisers, ministers and permanent secretaries are paid to address on our behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Any other musings fly in the face of logic and commonsense.

Anyone, who genuinely wants the President to meet his wishes, should show concern about his speeches, political decisions, a mastery of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, “which is Supreme and its provisions shall have binding force   on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

If “All the Presidents Men” were   to  minimize their existentialist  pursuits, avidly read the erudite and constructive criticisms about governance in Nigeria, learn from these essays, frame sound synthesis for the proper and enlightened governance of our Nigeria by advising the President right, we all shall appreciate it.

Apart from the discord and the slandering of each other by Nigerian aspirants and other entities in the Nigerian political space, it is cogent to the acknowledgement the need for a Meeting of Nigerian state formations, where our common destiny could be determined, can no longer wait.

Political wrangling not based on life issues, do not meet with the aspirations evinced at this precarious time by our citizens, whose welfare is deteriorating fast.

What is discernible in the politics in Nigeria is that it is driven by ignorance, greed, unpatriotic acts, ethnic antagonism, hard attitudes and self-interest, inoculated by vainglorious pride.

This is more noticeable in our youth, who are entrapped in the American pop-culture of lipstick, cocaine, hip-hop and easy life.

These provide a clear and degenerative descent to disaster. So, where is Nigeria’s hope as we glibly talk of belonging to the most advance nations by the year 20-20-20?

A healthy, well educated and vibrant youth, full of concern and enthusiasm for national development like the ones I taught in Michigan and Qingdao permit hopes of a bright future.

Our youth’s degeneracy is a societal exigency crying for restorative therapy.  Some adulterated and culturally depraved youths, who are dancing with the “stars”, will end up swelling the gang of kidnappers, gangsters that terrorize our people.

Some unemployed and unemployable graduates roam our streets looking for jeeps to snatch. What will they be doing in 20-20-29?

On a lighter note.

There is a Voters Resolution, which favours the distribution of “Rice and soup, very plenty,” as I witnessed during one of the First Lady’s Outing in Abuja, during the October 1 social festivities.  There were stampedes for rice!

Since there is hunger in the land, we are about to learn the potency of rice politics next April. I used to pick out the stones in Tapa rice before it was cooked in our family.

Tapa rice has been partially eliminated from circulation. To win the hearts and minds of voters, rice may prove to be the instrument of mass mobilization next year.


Except the LORD is our sanctuary, the political, cultural and societal events unfolding in our nation may get out of hand to the regret of all of us.

Political reports in circulation, prepared by Transparency International, EFCC, ICPC and International Intelligence Agencies are said to be   inducing deep feelings of melancholy among the political class, whose misery is now plain

When the power of shame will again have spiritual impact among Nigerian politicians, perhaps, a perspicacious historian will find the words to describe the impudence, impunity and impertinence with which criminal acts were comfortably condoned in a Republic that declared openly that the rule of law was a cardinal policy and in which the churches and mosques are full on Sundays and Fridays respectively.

How these principles of governance quickly disappear from our memories will remain an evanescent mystique.

If politicians can act with tact, moderation and see political struggle as a game of wits and not brawls propelled by satanic impulses, then Campbell, his opponents, admirers and other doomsday initiates may calm our jangling nerves.


Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai, a Writer and Academic, is the President of the proposed Afemai University, Fugar, Edo State, Nigeria.

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