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Strictly Personal

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, By Jideofor Adibe



The recent Supreme Court judgement which affirmed the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, was not unexpected. As Abimbola Adelaku, one of my favourite columnists, summed it in The Punch of November 2, 2023, “everyone – and by that I mean people who did not become Nigerians just last night”, did not expect a different outcome.

“Apart from a few who love histrionics and pretended to be pleasantly surprised, I do not know of anyone who imagined that a court that could remove an incumbent president in Nigeria had been composed,” she further wrote.

As the Court of the last resort in the country, the ruling brings to a close the legal challenges to the outcome of the February 25, 2023 presidential election. There are however lasting implications of the election, its aftermath and the ruling of the Supreme Court for the country. These include:

One, some overzealous supporters of the Tinubu government are already pushing the narrative that the ruling of the Supreme Court should be ‘the end of politics’ (to paraphrase Francis Fukuyama’s famous 1989 essay, ‘The End of History’, which he later published as a book in 1992). But this is only triumphalism masked under phrases such as “the time of politicking is over, it is now the time for governance”. Or: “The President should be allowed to concentrate on governance.”

The irony is that the advocates of “the end of politics” are themselves being political. They are either trying to stifle the voices of opposition or blackmail critics of the government, both of which are needed to keep the government on its toes in a democracy, for optimal performance. The self-appointed defenders of the polity would often grudgingly welcome “constructive criticisms” without telling us the metrics for determining the constructiveness of criticisms or who determines what is ‘constructive’ about any criticism.

The truth is that governments want to hear only the echo of their voices or their lap dogs and are usually uncomfortable with criticisms and critics. This constitutes a potential threat to democracy and is one of the reasons why the distrust of government is very high in mature democracies. This in turn is one of the reasons for the high premium placed on freedom of speech in such democracies.

Two, contrary to what many people think, it is not only political parties that could play opposition to the government of the day. Sections of the country could do that – as we saw with the South-West during the Second Republic, the Yar’Adua and Jonathan years (to a less extent). The South-East was also a bastion of opposition to the Buhari presidency. Civil society and labour groups could  equally play the role of an opposition party. In this sense, the fear about the possible emasculation of opposition parties and groups which would imperil our democracy seems unlikely..

Three, it will be difficult for INEC to overcome the sort of  legitimacy crisis that has engulfed the electoral umpire since the last presidential election for as long it is headed by Professor Mahmoud Yakubu.  True, to be chairman of INEC has always been a poisoned chalice and losers always cry foul. However, in the last election, perceptions of incompetence and complicity in perpetrating electoral frauds were so widespread and so well documented by both local and international observers that confidence on the electoral body seems to be at an all-time low since the tenure of Professor Maurice Iwu. In climes where public officials care about honour, Professor Yakubu would have since stepped aside, if not for anything, as a way of taking responsibility for the failings of the electoral umpire despite the humongous sums sunk into it.

Four, the election and the subsequent Supreme Court judgement also underline the need for more electoral reforms. First, there is an urgent need to make it mandatory that all legal disputes are concluded before the inauguration of the President because as Abimbola Adelabu aptly put it in her very compelling column, the court that will have the gravitas to remove an incumbent President from office is yet to be constituted – and may not be constituted in the nearest future. Second,  it may be time to consider having a Presidential Council of six (one from each geo-political zone) where the Council members will take turns in being president for two years while others will serve as Vice President with constitutionally designated powers.

This rotational presidency arrangement, currently practised in Switzerland and the European Union, will not only address fears of being marginalised by various parts of the country, it will also speak to the anarchic nature of our politics. One of the reasons for the Hobbesian nature of our politics is its winner-takes-all character: there is a pervasive fear that the group that wins the presidency will use its enormous powers to privilege its in-group and disadvantage the others.

The Buhari government took this abuse of fairness to a new low (while apparently mocking the rest of us with periodic declarations that his conscience was clear on allegations that he was nepotistic. The Tinubu government seems intent on continuing or even besting that legacy of nepotism, which could mean that by the time he completes his tenure, this may become ‘normalised’, and future leaders will see their tenures as the ‘turn’ of their own ethnic/religious group.

By having representatives of the six geopolitical zones in the Presidential Council, and enshrining in the Constitution that certain decisions or appointments must require the concurrence of all members of the Council) the fear of marginalisation will be attenuated. A single term tenure of 12 years for the Presidential Council will equally give everyone a break from politics which seems to have deepened our fault lines. In any case, it will seem that an increasing number of Nigerians do not even believe that their votes count or that elections are credible vehicles for leadership recruitment. So why waste time and resources on them every four years?

“Ironically, while using presidential powers to privilege a President’s in-groups and disadvantage or weaken others seen as rivals or non-supporters may be the new normal, it actually attracts resentment to the supposed benefitting ethnic group. For instance, it is thought that one of the reasons why it was easy for the rest of the country to unite against the Igbo (who formed the majority in the short-lived Biafran Republic) during the Civil War was the resentment against them arising from their perceived domination of the country during the First Republic.

Similarly, Buhari’s perceived privileging of Hausa/Fulani / Kanuri Muslims during his presidency, led to an unbridled and unfair profiling of the Fulanis during his tenure, with talks of ‘Fulanisation’ morphing into an anti-government mantra. Additionally, quite often some members of the supposed benefitting in-group will be among the most vociferous critics of the act of injustice against others as we saw with Northern Muslims leading the criticisms of Buhari’s nepotism and some Yoruba intellectuals already complaining loudly that cornering the juiciest of appointments does not reflect what the ethnic group stands for.

Five, the election and subsequent Supreme Court judgement once more highlights the fickleness of human loyalty and the transactional character of some politicians, sycophants and influence seekers and peddlers. For instance, shortly after INEC’s declaration of Tinubu as the President-elect, some in the above named category gradually began to adjust their rhetoric to court the attention of the new man in power. One particular character who, prior to the declaration of Tinubu as President carried himself as Atiku’s alter ego, suddenly and shamelessly began to sing a new song.

He sought to ingratiate himself to a man he had openly called all sorts of names, including a baron by tapping into  the government’s perceived proclivities, including praising the Yoruba as the best ethnic group in the world, while berating those he feels are on the black book of the President. We also saw a Senator decamp to the new ruling party, praising the President for his supposed “fairness to all parts of the country”.

The election and the active controversies it triggered also exposed many Nigerians, from across the divides, including some who were previously regarded as national icons, as no more than closet ethnic chauvinists. The reputation of many of these people is unlikely to recover from this. In the end, the election and its aftermath marked the triumph of  politics without principle, and with the Supreme Court judgement, the triumph of the philosophy of the goat follows the man with the palm fronds. Or a triumph of identity politics over politics of principles.


Strictly Personal

There is more worth in what is public than in what is private, By Jenerali Uliwengu 



A conversation I have been having with my compatriots can suffer some escalation to the regional level, especially because our different countries have had largely similar experiences in many respects.

In the 1960s, Dar es Salaam had a more or less efficient bus transport service, run by the Dar es Salaam Motor Transport Company (DMT) organised along lines not dissimilar to the London metropolitan bus service. The city service once even boasted double-deck buses, immortalised in the Kilwa Jazz song, Kifo cha Penzi ni Kifo Kibaya.

The buses ran on strict timelines, and when a bus scheduled to pass by a stop at 7.15 came at 7.20 people waiting at the stop would be seen impatiently looking at their watches.

Some of us in the media would take the matter up as soon as we got to our newsrooms to ask of the transport company officials why our bus had delayed a full five minutes on a working day.

By 1983, the company had been nationalised and called Usafiri Dar es Salaam (UDA) and soon acquired the distinctive Ikarus articulated buses manufactured in Hungary, but soon even thy ran out of steam because of the usual, multifaceted problems attaching to public owned institutions.

Around that time, then prime minister Edward Moringe Sokoine decided to bring in minibuses operating in Arusha and Moshi to rescue Dar es Salaam “temporarily, while the government is making plans for a permanent solution” to the problem.

From that period, it is only now that Dar es Salaam is beginning to see what looks like that “permanent solution” with the introduction of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transport (Dart), which was initiated by a former mayor, the late Kleist Sykes.

Political skulduggery

It was delayed for so many years due to political skulduggery and the inevitable corruption in all our public institutions.

In the meantime, a former transport minister, Harrison Mwakyembe, had the rare presence of mind to remember that the city had had, since colonial times, railway tracks linking different districts but which lay fallow; he took action, and this initiative — which created what has come to be dubbed as “Mwakyembe’s train” — has contributed to the easing of the transit system congestion, but only just, because of issues such as the infrequency of train rides and the lack of security lights, ventilation and so on.

As it is right now, the Dar Rapid Transit is hobbling along, packing the human press the way you would pack cattle if you are not a keen meat seller.

Surely, our people deserve better than that, and the so-called “Mwakyembe train” needs replication in other parts of the city, as I suspect, there are many other fallow railway tracks waiting for some smart alecks to collect them and sell them as scrap metal.

Amidst all this, we have young people with hardly an income to speak of dying to own and drive a personal car, not for anything else but that owning a personal car makes them “somebody.”

What I have been telling them is, you do not have to own a car to be somebody; you are somebody because you are a useful member of society, and, surely, if you are predicating your personality on ownership of material things, you’re not.

What our young people — including not-so-young people, like me — should be doing is to militate for public transport to be expanded, and for it to work well; that is what they do in Europe and the US. The collaborative cries should be for Dar rapid service to improve: This past week, I was in the Coast region and wanted to ride on the service, only to be told by the bored girl at the stop that they had no tickets. Shame!
I understand there is too much red-tape restrictions in the processes attaching to getting more buses run by private operators. If that is so, what are the myriad officials running around like headless chickens doing?

Luxury cars

Why are they paid all the big salaries and allowed to drive such luxury cars if they cannot do a repeat “Mwakyembe train,” increase buses, and ensure tickets are available for rapid-transit bus rides?

These should be the issues our young people have to be fighting for not driving their cars, except if they belong to the Diamond Platmuz or Ali Kiba cohort.

With an efficient public transit system, we all become part-owners of our collective means of transport.

The opposite of that is when you forget what a car is for and you begin to think like the backward tribesman for whom the car is a mystical contraption which confers miraculous powers on the owner and driver, a far cry from the evolved, modern citizen.

Unfortunately, I know I am preaching to the unhearing, but this should not discourage anyone.

In the fullness of time, the message will sink home when the hordes of the lumpen motorcar realise they have more important things to seek for their lives to be better and more meaningful, instead of the trinkets that are being dangled before their noses.

I stand ready, as ever, to engage in a conversation.

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Strictly Personal

Inside the special mission to save Nigerian music; and why the rest of Africa should care, By Chinedu Chidi



When famed German composer and pianist, Beethoven described music as a “higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy” and as “the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents”, he may well have laid out a profound exposition of the depth and reaches of the art, one that is unrestricted by time or distance, by creed or colour, by status or zone. He envisioned a limitless art form. Today, we speak not only of its internal freedoms, but of its transcendent liberating force coursing through entertainment, education, politics, the economy, technology, and social change. Music has become a life form meandering like the bellows of an accordion into the many circles that define life as we know it.

The conception of the MTN MUSON Music Scholars Program in 2006, a partnership between MTN Foundation and the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) School of Music, was a clear reflection of a keen appreciation of this power of music. It was a visionary idea that laid a foundation that would redefine the story, not only of aspiring and practicing musicians, but of the music industry itself. Looking back, it appears a bold demonstration of faith in the promise of Nigerian music while still at comparatively modest levels, and a commensurate investment in the vehicle that would drive its actualization. Today, over 300 graduates later, the Nigerian music industry has grown in leaps and bounds. With over $2 billion in revenue annually, over 30 million monthly listeners worldwide, over 500 music producers, over 1000 record labels, over 50 radio stations amplifying its rhythms and sounds, and multiple digital music distribution platforms, Nigerian music has become the stuff of dreams, if only commercially.

The partnership involves a 2-year Diploma in Music at the MUSON Diploma School.  All the students admitted to the Diploma course receive MTNF Scholarships comprising annual scholarships worth N250,000 to cover tuition, books and transportation over a 2-year period. The graduating students are awarded an internationally recognized Diploma in Music. The scholarship is an open opportunity one. It allows applications from all musically talented youth through an open and fair process.

MUSON Diploma School student performing

MTN Foundation’s investment in this educational scholarship is not an isolated endeavour; it is an integral part of the foundation’s broad commitment to promoting youth development through empowering the nation’s young people with the “skills, tools, access, knowledge, and opportunities to become economically active citizens”. The foundation combines this intervention with its “National Priority” portfolio which “focuses on Initiatives that support community infrastructure development and health-related initiatives that support women and children”. Together, the initiatives align with the objectives of the Government’s National Development plan and te UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since its founding in 2004, the MTN Foundation has invested over N23.7 Billion in the 36 states of the federation and FCT, has over 1,017 project sites across Nigeria, with 50 unique projects spanning 3,319 communities. Overall, it has reached over 31 million people.

MTN Foundation’s Executive Director, Odunayo Sanda, (third from left) with PAU’s Director of Professional Programmes, flanked by MTN MIP Fellows

All this has been made possible by MTN Nigeria Communication PLC, its parent body, which has committed up to 1% of its Profit after Tax (PAT) to the foundation. Far-reaching strategic partnerships with key stakeholders have also been a major driver of the social investments.

MTN Foundation’s choice of MUSON School of Music was thus no coincidence. MUSON has been at the heart of developing and preserving the purest form of music in Nigeria, and helping to export same to the rest of Africa and the world. Created in 1989 by a group of friends, namely Mr. Louis Mbanefo (SAN), Mr. Akintola Williams (late), Chief Ayo Rosiji (late), Mrs. Francesca Emanuel (late) and Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi (late), the school was designed to promote, as Mr. Mbanefo, who is Chairman of the school, aptly captures, “the performance, understanding and enjoyment of serious music”. The dream, he notes, has continued to be realized, producing internationally reputed graduates and changing the dynamics of music in Nigeria and Africa. “The school has produced over 400 Diploma graduates, many of whom have continued their musical education in Europe, South Africa and America and attained international recognition. Most of our alumni have made and are making very impressive contributions to the musical life in Nigeria and indeed, the world.  They have raised considerably the standard of singing and musical performance in churches, in schools and at social events.  Indeed, many churches and musical societies throughout Nigeria are borrowing from the templates established by MUSON”, he proudly reveals.

The MUSON Centre, Lagos

As the proud owner of Nigeria’s “only professional Symphony Orchestra” and a choir of international renown, the school boasts a rich platform for empowering young Nigerian artistes and instrumentalists, especially in the dying art of classical and orchestral music performance.

Accredited by the Federal Government to award Diplomas in Music since 2002, the MUSON Diploma School grants all MTNF MUSON graduates diplomas which are equal to those awarded by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in the United Kingdom.

MTN Foundation graduates

Perhaps the most critical area of importance that MTN Foundation’s music intervention serves is the preservation of the fine arts of the classical, orchestral and live performance genres, with their accompanying socially valuable messaging.  The rapid rise of studio-recorded music, with its massive commercial success, has sadly provided an alternative to total music, one that substantively accommodates a wide array of ‘real’ instruments, trained voice, and electrifying theatre. It is perhaps the appeal of total music that inspired Victor Hugo to bellow, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”.


This challenge is one that is not only unique to Nigeria or Africa, but a universal one. In Sasha Frere-Jones’ piece, “Do Recordings Kill Music?”, she cited a profound quote from Richard Kostelanetz’s interview with John Cage, thus: “I’ve always said that a record is not faithful to the nature of music.” David Grubbs, a professor at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, she reports, “takes up a specific belief of Cage’s: that recordings can injure the ability of an audience member to experience a performance in real time. In theoretical terms, the recording reifies a specific moment, potentially interfering with a composition’s ability to live and change and breathe by fixing a single iteration as the ‘authoritative’ version”. Perhaps, nothing captures the triumphantly seductive and absorbing force of the authentic live performance than Robert Ashley’s description of Alvin Lucier’s 1969 piece, “Vespers” as referenced by Grubbs. Ashley wrote of “Vespers”: “No number of microphones and loudspeakers can reproduce the relationship between the sounds and the space in which the sounds create the musical experience.” This reminds one of Mozart’s delicate refrain that “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”


This dying art form was once the force that rocked the bowels of mother Africa, from the Sahara to the Mediterranean. From Fela and Makeba to N’Dour, Salif Keita, Amr Diab, Sangare, Mapfumo, Kidjo, Mtukudzi and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the glory days of message-laden total music may, but for the flickers embodied by the likes of the eternal Kidjo and the heirs to the Fela dynasty, be well and truly over.

But the rebirth glistening in the hallways of MUSON Diploma School offers hope. The school is home to the award-winning MUSON Diploma Choir directed by Sir Emeka Nwokedi, and the MUSON School Orchestra & Concert Bands. It has been able to produce outstanding Jazz ensembles such as the all-female GIRLZ RULE Band, the 5YZ MEN and The Theosolites.

At MUSON, MTN Scholars take advanced training in music with majors in voice or any of the instrument forms of: Piano, Organ, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion, and Classical Guitar. “Students are also required to take 2 terms of an instrument minor other than their major instrumental family. All voice students must pass grade 2 piano, instrumentalists must pass vocal techniques and all students must belong to the choir. Orchestra is required for all string majors. All wind and percussion majors must belong to band. Others who may not be majors are welcome to audition for the orchestra band”, the school says. They also take part in high-level musical productions which provide the perfect opportunity to exhibit their talents and skills. At the end of their programme, the music scholars have the opportunity to showcase the result of their advanced training through performances at the annual Donors Appreciation Concert. This speaks to the neat integration of sound and rhythm, of theatre and messaging; the total music.

If the MUSON Diploma School is to continue to plot the course for Nigeria’s music salvation and become the sure hope of total music’s triumph for all of Africa, then it must display resilience, which its parent body— The Musical Society of Nigeria— chose as its Festival of Arts theme during the celebration of its 40th anniversary earlier this year. It must be resilient in the face of the onslaught of crass commercialism. It must be defiantly resilient if it must realize its goal of producing “well-rounded, thoroughly educated musicians…comparable to those found in a Conservatoire”.

And in its resilience, it must remember that lodged in the soul of this art, in its purest form, are the currents of humanity.


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