It is a question many Nigerians are asking. Their future depends on it. So Nigerians have been closely analysing Obasanjo's record to see what clues his career and his public statements might reveal about his potential. Obasanjo is from a humble background. He comes from Abeokuta in Ogun State, about 100km from Lagos in the south-west of Nigeria. Born in 1937 into a Baptist family, he sought a career in the military because his parents could not afford to send him for higher education. He enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1958 and was trained at the Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, England. On his return to Nigeria he specialised in military engineering and his army career progressed steadily (see panel). Obasanjo's first political appointment was as federal commissioner for Works and Housing in January 1975. He held that office for seven months before the government was toppled in a palace coup. He then became the number two man under the new Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, who initiated a programme for a return to democracy. Six months later General Muhammed was assassinated in another coup attempt. When the dust settled, Obasanjo was elevated to the top job. During his three years as Head of State, Obasanjo worked hard and apparently sincerely to create a Nigeria of proud and industrious people. He committed Nigeria fully to the anti-apartheid crusade, giving diplomatic, political and military support to the freedom movements in southern Africa. He involved university academics in the formulation and execution of foreign policy. At home Obasanjo introduced a series of economic austerity measures, at the same time giving priority to education and health. He discouraged the culture of ethnic favouritism and promoted high work ethics. It was Obasanjo, too, who pushed for the transfer of the nation's capital from the congested city of Lagos to Abuja, and got most of the planning work completed before he left office. Many Nigerians still regard his brief interregnum as a period of exemplary good governance. Certainly Obasanjo crowned his achievements in office with a single-minded pursuit of the transition back to civilian government. This transition was a difficult and challenging process. Many Nigerians thought that the death of General Muhammed would require a postponement of the handover date. To everyone's amazement and delight, Obasanjo stuck to the original programme, handing over to an elected government on schedule on October 1, 1979. He then retired from the army, saying he would never seek public office again. After his retirement, Obasanjo set up business as a commercial farmer with the same energy and single-mindedness he had displayed in office. His Obasanjo Farms project was one of the biggest and most diversified in Nigeria. Side by side with his farming business, he took an active interest in international affairs. He established the African Leadership Forum - through which he organised international workshops on African problems. He was a member of several international, UN, Commonwealth and other agencies. He contested, unsuccessfully, for election as secretary-general of the UN. During this time Nigeria's decline was as precipitous as it was total. A succession of military regimes stripped Nigeria of its wealth, influence and confidence. The worst came under Sani Abacha whose unprincipled behaviour was an eye-opener to even the most cynical of Nigerians. Social services and the economy, already in a state of epilepsy, were finally knocked into the deepest of comas. The regime became ever more inventive in finding ways of silencing its opponents through imprisonment, blackmail, intimidation and even murder. Obasanjo himself was one of the most prominent victims of the Abacha regime. Only last June he was languishing in prison, having been convicted of being privy to a coup plot allegedly masterminded by a group of military officers. Obasanjo was condemned to death by a military tribunal. The international outcry against the trial persuaded Abacha to commute the sentence to 15 years' imprisonment. Obasanjo had served three years of the sentence when Abacha died suddenly and mysteriously on June 8 last year. Abacha's successor and the godfather of Nigeria's latest stab at transition to civilian rule, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, promptly released Obasanjo and granted him a state pardon. The stage was thus set for his re-entry into politics. Obasanjo, who is now 61 years old, certainly has his work cut out. One pressing decision will be what to do about the disastrous regional legacy of military rule. Nigerian soldiers are today dying in a brutal war in Sierra Leone where the rationale for Nigeria's expensive military intervention is by no means clear cut. Obasanjo has indicated that he wants to see Nigerian troops out of the war-torn West African country as soon as possible, but he has stopped short of issuing a deadline. In the medium term he is likely to try to get more involved in diplomatic efforts to promote Nigeria's interests in the wider African context and beyond. The president-elect's personal relationship with several African leaders, especially in southern Africa, may bring a new partnership between Nigeria and the leading African nations. The aim of such a partnership would be to promote issues affecting the continent in international fora. At home Obasanjo, who is a strong advocate and (in his business days) a practitioner of private enterprise, has declared that will seek to curb official corruption drastically and breathe new life to the crumbled economy. That in itself is a tall order at a time when Nigeria lies paralysed by the vice-like grip of corruption and when the slump in oil prices heralds a deepening recession and balance-of-payments crisis. Every sector of society has its own expectations. Village farmers hope that he can restore a measure of sanity to the agricultural sector. They want a steady supply of pesticides and other agricultural inputs at competitive prices. Parents want the new leadership to tackle the acute problems of the education sector head on and quickly. Teachers are poorly paid and unmotivated. The people of the Niger Delta areas want the new leader to resolve the problems of environmental degradation and pollution and to compensate them adequately for the oil exploitation in their areas. All Nigerians want drastic improvements in social services, they want the economy to improve, they want industry to get back on its feet, they want to see job creation, they want justice and fairness. People want a lot. And if Obasanjo turns out not to be able to provide what they want, they also want a chance to get him out at the next election and let someone else have a go. So perhaps Obasanjo's most difficult job will be to keep the military at arm's length for long enough for civilian rule and democratic institutions to put down firm roots. Some see Obasanjo's own military connections as an advantage here. According to this theory, his is a sort of a transitional mandate. He combines a proven commitment to democracy and principled governance with a shrewd understanding of the internal workings of the military power structures which have dominated Nigeria for so long. But it will be a delicate balancing act: all those generals and retired generals did not bankroll his election campaign just out of love of democracy. They are likely to want something in return. There is a proverb which goes: "he who sups with the devil should use a long spoon". Nigeria has yet to exorcise the devils from its body politic. So Nigerians should hope that Obasanjo has some long spoons up his sleeve. Yet this is the area of the state where such economically valuable trees as teak, tripochiton, seletrocylon (Arere), banclea diderrichil (Opepe) and terminahia (Idigbo) are to be found. The creeks, lagoons and rivers act as arteries which carry huge quantities of logs from outofstate sources to Lagos. Soils: Lagos State is endowed with very little arable land. Altogether, four soil groups are identi fiable. On the western half of the coastal margin, juvenile soils on recent windborne sands occur. The rest of the coastal area towards the east is cov ered also by juvenile soils on fluviomarine alluvium (mangrove swamp). Thirdly, a narrow and rather discontinuous band of mineral and/or organic hydromorphic soils occurs in the middle and north erneastern sections of the state. The fourth group, occurring in two rather tiny and discontinuous patches along the northern limits of the state, consists dominantly of red ferrallitic soils on loose sandy sediments. In 2013, Nigeria through the Presidential Committee on Broadband developed a five-year strategy to drive internet and broadband penetration and scale up the nation_s broadband growth by 30 percent. However, five years down the line, the impact of the National Broadband plan is yet to be felt. Last mile broadband penetration is still a mirage in the country even though it formed the basis and primary aim of the plan. Broadband service providers have attributed this to the inability of the Federal and state governments to harmonise the Right of Way (RoW) levies that give operators access to deploy services. This is even when "Broadband for all" is a concept that is catching on in many developed countries. The National Economic Council (NEC) RoW guideline stipulates N145 per metre for laying fibre network in every part of the country. Yet, only a paltry 38,000 km fibre out of about 120,000 km of fibre network required for pervasive coverage has been deployed in Nigeria. In a similar development, the country_s mobile broadband penetration only inched up to 22 per cent from 21 per cent the previous year, thus showing almost no progress. Industry observers have expressed worry that this is not the way forward for a country that has made tremendous progress in telecom development and should ordinarily plug into broadband revolution, seamlessly. The frightening aspect of the development is the opinion that the effects are adversely telling on the economy of the country and may soon throw Nigeria back into a pariah state. CEO of Main One Cable Company, Funke Opeke, is one of the operators feeling the impact. Opeke has raised the alarm that prospective investors who are genuinely willing to invest in the country are seen to be retreating when they look at the economics of investing in the broadband sector. She said: "Investors are willing to come to Nigeria. I have seen a lot of them who looked at the size of the Nigerian economy and wanted to come in, but once they start looking at the economics they pull out. They will tell you they have done it in Kenya, Ghana and other African countries, so, why is it too expensive to do here in Nigeria? The conditions are not just conducive at the moment to make such investment" she said. She said the remedy was for government to bring down the cost of infrastructure; be it RoW or main infrastructure, adding that low purchasing power of Nigerian consumers has had a negative impact on the telcos. She specifically regretted that "Nigeria_s Broadband Plan targets spreading 3G/LTE to at least 80 percent of the population while delivering a five-fold increase in broadband penetration, but this has not been achieved, thus hurting the prospects of the industry". Another stakeholder who is not finding the country_s low broadband penetration funny is the President of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, NACC, Chief Olabintan Famutimi. He recently highlighted the sorry nature of Nigeria_s broadband penetration when he recalled that present service providers in the country, may find it difficult to meet the demand for broadband services. Famutimi also regretted that Nigeria_s five-year national broadband action plan, has failed to deliver, as its inaction exposes broadband network operators and may lead the country into playing catch-up to broadband developments when other countries are harnessing the benefits. Apparently, this realisation prompted Famutimi to revolve the theme of NACC_s May 2018 breakfast meeting around "Aggressive Broadband Strategy and National Development - The Way Forward for Nigeria". He said the benefits of broadband connectivity are felt directly by every consumer and business and so, final decisions must involve local leaders under a comprehensive federal program. He said: "Several studies predict that the future of internet growth for homes and businesses will need a minimum of 100 megabites per second of capacity within the next few years and will need greater capacity even going forward. While several countries are preparing for this future, our dear Nation, unfortunately, is not even considering the huge population growth. "For instance, Japan has already announced a national commitment to build fibre networks to every home and business. "Expectedly, the ineffectiveness of Nigeria_s broadband plan is affecting Nigeria_s capacity to make progress on so many of the indices by which the nation_s economy and current diversification efforts are judged. For example, Nigeria continues to be ranked among countries with the lowest broadband penetration in the world. In 35 year of our existence, we have watched from generation to generation, as Mathematics rose from just being a classroom exercise into becoming the tool for veritable change in Nigeria. This is not without the interest and sacrifice of great minds who planted and nurtured the body to where we are today. Our successes from bringing together, scholars and researcher of different areas of Mathematics to share ideas and enhance existing results in interesting areas of research annually has spurred us to do more. We are daily looking out for more potentials in young adults and elderly members of research communities with wealth of knowledge, to keep the discipline alive. We therefore welcome you to contribute your part to achieving our goals. Explore in this website, our resources, use the wealth of information here and decide how to contribute your part.
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