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Soyinka, Atiku and fruits of the poisonous tree, by Festus Adedayo

Soyinka,

In the democracy that Nigeria enjoys today, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka’s contribution is huge and unambiguously massive. If weight of contribution were coterminous with reward, Soyinka should be awarded the presidency of Nigeria, post-military regime, like Nelson Mandela of South Africa. In physical participation in attempts to rout the military and mental contributions to same, history has reserved a pride of place for the Ake-born poet and literary colossus in the annals of struggle against despotism and personal rule of our khaki brothers. However, post-military, there are very strong, scarcely rebuttable submissions that the Soyinka subsequently pitted his tent with the Ahmed Bola Tinubu political ensemble and has thereafter been offering mental collaboration to it in its quest for power. It is generally said that anyone Tinubu associates with will enter the Kingdom of this world. Whether he will make the hereafter is however subject of a huge theological debate.

The professor of Comparative Literature has however been in the eye of the storm since last Thursday. His comment denouncing the two major candidates of the two leading political parties in Nigeria – Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has come under visceral attacks, especially on the social media. Soyinka had told the whole world last week that, in the Nigerian presidential election that will be held in the next two weeks, he would not vote for either of the two leading candidates. He said he would rather walk in a “totally new direction.” While some accuse him of blatant escapism, some mischievously claim that in his professed non-alignment lies a façade of a full-time alignment. Today, the world knows where the group he collaborates with, the Tinubu group, belongs in the current Nigerian political equation. Many times, the professor has been unusually taciturn or at best, maliciously timid in awarding blame of guilt to the APC and its governments, unlike his wont. Many have located the incubus in his association.

Since last Thursday, those whom his offer to abstain from recognizing either of the two main contenders have even turned his famous espousal in his prison memoir, The Man Died,against himSoyinka, in the book, had written: “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” Their submission is that, the valiant man has long died in a Soyinka who, rather than take a definitive stand at this crucial juncture where the fate of his fatherland is hanging in the balance, had chosen to literally shuttle towards what, in the main, could be regarded as Afghanistanism. Afghanistanism, you will recall, means duding greater, complex issues demanding a definitive attention at home and focusing one’s binoculars rather on issues outside the prism. It is a term which first gained notoriety in American lexicon in the 1980s to refer to the practice of concentrating attention on problems that occur in distant parts of the world and choosing to ignore controversial issues at the local level.

Afghanistanism, they claim, is Soyinka’s refusal to make a bold claim as to where he belongs in current political crossroads that Nigeria has found herself and escapism is his choice to walk on the path of what they say is a nebulous “totally new direction,” knowing fully well that, taking into cognizance Nigeria’s electoral history, that direction he espouses leads to anywhere else but an electoral Siberia. Some very mischievous ones among them even said that Soyinka’s “new direction” is actually targeted at railroading Southern Nigerian elite and intellectuals who believe that Soyinka can do no wrong and by that very fact, mop up knowledgeable followers of one of the candidates, Abubakar, on the understanding that the huge followership enjoyed by Buhari, comprising mainly of millions of sheepish almajairis and the North generally cannot access the thoughts of Soyinka. The professor had said, at a programme organized by the Citizen’s Forum at the Freedom Park, Lagos Island last week that he would not vote for either of the candidates. “I, Wole Soyinka, will not be voting for either of the two so-called contesting parties. I find both of them worthy of absolute rejection for a number of reasons which I will not go into here,” he had said.

Anyway, did you watch the interview granted by Nigerian journalist, media entrepreneur and television host, Kadaria Ahmed, to Abubakar, former Nigerian Vice President and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi during the week? Whatever are its limitations, that interview propelled Nigeria back to reckoning as a country where the precepts of democratic and electoral governance still hold sway. We all remember that debates, designed into the process of electioneering by the autochthonous owners of democracy, have been held in the breach in Nigeria. Candidates walk out of debates with baffling abandon and choose to absent themselves from them as if it they are a tea party. We know however that debate in a democracy is an opportunity to interface with our proposed runners of government, assess their thoughts on critical issues of governance and weigh their temperament, among other things. As things stand today, no one can claim to know what Buhari stands for and what is inside of him other than that expired shibboleth of kwaraption. He does not talk to the Nigerian people and his minders have conveniently shielded him from scrutiny of the people who voted him into office. This was why, at an earlier edition of this same Kadaria interview, Nigerians were thoroughly shocked and dejected that a man of such degenerative mental capacity is one administering this complex country.

So, the Atiku and Obi interview offered some measure of hope and window into the minds of those who could be runners of this country from May of this year. Comparatively articulate, smart and with a huge presence of mind, Atiku holds promise that his presidency wouldn’t be a dis-advertisement for a Nigeria that has such immense mental capital. However, the Kadaira interview refreshes the probability of the huge risks that Nigeria runs in electing Abubakar president.

First risk therein is what I term the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. It is a common terminology employed by lawyers when weight of evidence is at issue. Its etymology is this: First employed in the famous case ofSilverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States by Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1939, this legal doctrine is of the opinion that the process of obtaining evidence by the prosecution is of consequence in criminal trials. Any evidence secured by a contaminated or illegal process, according to Justice Frankfurter, may not be admissible in court. For example, if the EFCC secures its evidence by illegally burgling the home of an accused, such evidence, in the opinion of the judge, which in America is evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, going by the doctrine of the fruit of the poisonous tree, would most likely be excluded from being admitted in a criminal trial. However, legal practitioners say that rules of evidence have since bypassed Frankfurter’s legal doctrine as the court is now enjoined to weigh such illegally procured evidence for its probative value.

My apologies for veering into legal bombasts. The fruit of the poisonous tree is an analogy that is available in our backyards. There is thisganin-ganin tree which produces an orange species that Yoruba named osan ganin-ganinthat aptly mirrors Justice Frankfurter’s. It is a very bitter and uniquely acidic orange which pierces the tongue like a furious syringe. Those days, children, excited by its multiple fruits but furious at the lien placed on its plucking by its bitterness, believed that the tree had been cursed by some god. Simply put, the bitter or poisonous ganin-ganin tree cannot but produce an acrid orange called osan ganin-ganin. That, in essence, was what that Kadaria interview revealed of the Obi/Atiku ticket. I will explain presently.

Kadaira’s condescension, self-righteousness, unnecessary indignation and the crucify-them mindset she brought into the studio during that interview clearly destroyed her as an interested party who should never be allowed subsequently to conduct such nationally consequential interviews. When her familial linkage to that irreverent governor, Nasir El-Rufai was established, it removed all doubts that she had been on an assignment from a government which is propelled by an unfounded messiahnism. Granted however that at that interview, Kadaira violated what in judicial rules is called descending into the arena by abandoning the time-worn impartiality of a journalist-interviewer, her questions are actually queries that engage the minds of a typical Nigerian. Abubakar’s inexplicable wealth, his palpable subversion of the rules while in office and his commune of tainted friends, made up principally of men who are recognizable political vultures in Nigerian political equation, frighten Nigerians that if he gets power, it will be for the voyeuristic pleasure of these vultures. Imagine how vulnerable the Nigerian raw flesh would be in the throats of the Bukola Sarakis, Uche Secondus and the army of blood-baying political hounds who surround the TurakiAdamawa when he gets into office. Buhari’s own replica of vultures of power are the Rotimi Amaechis, Issa Funtuas, El-Rufais and sundry others who have made the man from Daura a feeble captive. More importantly, let us, for the sake of argument, believe that the whole estimation of Abubakar as corrupt is a ruse, borrowing motivation speakers’ lingo, impression is expression and vice versa. Can we imagine a government whose every move, policies and acts are festooned with perception of corruption?

As Abubakar has explained before Kadaira, I have no doubt that if given power, the fact that he made success of his life and personal ventures would rub off on the Nigerian economy. His experience as a successful entrepreneur and Obi’s as a successful businessman would certainly jumpstart the Nigerian economy and commerce, as against a combine of a cattle-economist and teacher of law that we currently have at the driver’s seat of Nigeria. The latter’s experiences in economic matters are nearly nil, compounded by a mental recession currently manifested by Buhari. But, after Nigeria under Abubakar has accomplished an economic Eldorado, what next? What happens to public morality? We will then be subjected to the greatest iniquities of a capitalist society where sharks of capital, constituting themselves into greyhounds, pierce their incisors into the economy and prey mercilessly on the raw flesh of the Nigerian common man. But I guess this is barren preachment to Nigerians who want the good life that a good economy brings.

The fruits of a poisonous tree, as it pertains to Abubakar, is a beautiful, fruits-laden tree which every of its harvests cannot but produce poisoned fruits. This tree stands side by side another poisonous tree in Buhari who is a good example of what a nation’s leader should not be. This is perhaps where Soyinka would coast home with a deserving trophy. The drawback of where the Nobel Laureate stands is that his intervention is coming at a suspiciously late time when it could be perceived as either a lame hypothesis or a decoy by a power-baiting group to castrate a front-runner for the presidential trophy, a trophy which the group believes is deservedly its.

 

Ap’ejalodo’s second journey to the riverside

There are two issues which, as a commentator on contemporary issues, this writer intervenes on with great pains in his heart. If it was possible to totally refrain from lending an opinion on those matters, for me, it is better. One is commenting on Muhammadu Buhari and the desirability or otherwise of his presidency. I have lent my opinion to the level of boredom and I believe that, as things stand now, all of us will, post May, 2019, reap the consequences of where we stand in the present political equation. The other issue is Lagos State and its de jure and de factoadministrators. They are two pains in the neck which, whenever they happen on national discourse, this writer’s first instinct is to blank them out from his flowing ink. And, for two reasons. One is that, having on occasions lent opinions on them, a rehash would be an overkill. Second is that, the recurrent oozes from their maladies have become notorious facts to Nigerians. They have also assumed the level of acceptable norms.

When Asiwaju Bola Tinubu began moves to stop Akinwunmi Ambode from a second term a few months ago, this writer, in a piece entitled Tinubu the Apejalodo and his strange fish friend, warned that danger lies ahead in the untrammeled hire and fire power wielded by Tinubu. I told the story of an indigent fisherman who was made rich by a strange fish goddess and how the fisherman’s petulance and ingratitude brought him back to his early penury. The writer’s query was whether the grouse against Ambode was performance. Lagosians that I interviewed said it was far from it. Occasionally when I emerge from my hinterland habitation to enter the Land of Aquatic Splendour, the administrative acumen, feel good feeling and developmental sagacity that confront me can be likened to the hit by music which Bob Marley adumbrated in his Trenchtown Rock track. “One good thing about music,” Marley had said, “when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

The question that agitated the minds of all was, this new proposed replacement to Ambode, in what capacity has he manifested requisite skills of governance that could dwarf the credentials of an incumbent? Is it that this newfound heir to the throne possesses such glowing credentials, so much that even a blind can project that he would impeach the performance of the incumbent? Or he is a bigger truck capable of moving Lagos cash into the group’s vault?  The Lagos society is so helpless and hapless in this regard and it is at the mercies of those who think for it at Bourdillon. Even not being a politician, the moment you enter this Land of Aquatic Splendour, you could tell without being a diviner that the captivity is not about to witness a let.

Now, the latest news is that the one who holds the Land of Aqua in captivity has decreed that, for his perceived insolence, the man he has decreed his governmental memorial; who has just a few months to his departure, must be impeached even before his few months tenure comes to an end. The Lagos House of Assembly has thus summoned Ambode to appear before it within one week over his alleged failure to formally present the 2019 Budget before it. Already, a group, the Lagos Liberation Movement, (LLM) has vowed to resist the planned impeachment. Its Convener, Mark Adebayo, said Tinubu’s most recent grouse against Ambode stemmed from his refusal to part with N200 billion of an expected state fund accruable to Lagos. While Tinubu had allegedly asked Ambode to meet him over the impending fund which Ambode had reportedly slated for completion of some projects, the governor had filibustered from meeting him. Hence, the need to scare Ambode with an impeachment. Is this progressive politics? Is this the trait that the Awolowos bequeathed to the South West?

I honestly pray that these allegations are all political fabrications aimed at discrediting Tinubu and the House will emerge to tell all that it was merely trying to play the fool. As I said in Ap’ejalodo, Tinubu’s Maker, his strange fish friend, has been hyper-generous to him to warrant him fleeing from the evil of playing God. As the Igbo say, Tinubu possesses a benevolent chi.  More than any politician in Nigerian history I know of, Tinubu has single-handedly produced a Vice President, governors, ministers and, you name it. Why would he affront God by asking to own His power of life and death?

CJN: A very grave and unprecedented arraignment- Jiti Ogunye

Our attention has been drawn to the trending news that the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen has been charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, based on a petition submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau on Wednesday the 9th of January, 2019, and is to be arraigned before the Tribunal on Monday , the 14th January, 2019.

The prosecutorial decision that has been taken by the Executive Branch of Government ( FGN / FRN) is a very grave one. It is unprecedented in the political history of Nigeria. Let us go down memory lane. During  the blistering General Murtala Muhammed Military Regime, in 1975,  there were massive purges in the Judiciary as well as in the public service. Many public servants were removed “ with immediate effect” .

During the purges , a sitting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Chief Justice Teslim Olawale Elias was removed as the CJN. But he was not subjected to a criminal trial. He later went on to serve as the President of the World Court.

In the life of the Buhari Presidency, the leadership of the National Assembly, the First arm of government , has been subjected to, at least, two criminal trials( Senate Rules forgery case and CCT False Asset Declaration Case). Following those charges and trial is now this charge and planned arraignment of a serving Chief Justice of Nigeria, the head of the Judiciary , the third arm of government.

Being a weighty issue, therefore , one would have imagined that the decision to put the CJN on trial with frenetic speed , following the petition against the CJN, was weighed very carefully.

The general election is 35 days away. The CJN, the Supreme Court and the NJC will play certain statutory roles, post the elections. And even as these events unfold, these judicial authorities are playing some adjudicatory and administrative roles regarding the determination of pre-election matters ( appeals ) arising from contentious party primaries.

The CJN is also the head of the Judiciary. Putting him on trial while he is in office, certainly, will impact the Nigerian Judiciary negatively. The portrayal here inevitably will be that the Nigerian Judiciary is so corrupt that its head is put on trial. This depiction is not fair to many judicial officers whose integrity is solid and who are free of corrupt practices.

The CJN is, in the eye of the law, presumed innocent, until he is proved and found guilty. Being charged at all, however, implicates his right to fair hearing, as many will start arguing that he should step down from office. In other words, once charged and arraigned , the likelihood is that calls will be made for him to vacate office , albeit temporarily, for integrity reasons. If, in the end, he is found not guilty, irreparable damage would have been done to his reputation and the integrity of the Judiciary.

The most important reason why the CJN ought not to have been charged before the CCT, let alone being prepared for arraignment is because the charge is illegal and unconstitutional. In NGANJIWA V. F. R.N, 2018, 4NWLR, Part 1609, Page 301, at page 339, para. G-page 352, para. E, the Court of Appeal ( Lagos Division) held that no serving judge in Nigeria can be investigated or tried in a court of law , without first being removed from the Bench.

A petition first must have been written against the judge , and he must have faced an administrative disciplinary process of the NJC for an alleged violation of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers, found guilty, recommended, by the NJC,for removal from office  , and removed from office by the Executive arm of government. In short , only dismissed judicial officers can be investigated and prosecuted by the anti corruption agencies .

That decision is being appealed by the EFCC at the Supreme Court .
The position we took when that decision was handed down was that the judgment had no constitutional basis . Judges, ( unlike the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor) enjoys no immunity from against investigation , arrest and prosecution, while they are in service.

They do not enjoy executive immunity , and are not covered by Section 308 of the Constitution. The Court, therefore, cannot grant to the judiciary an immunity the Constitution does not vest in it. The concept of judicial immunity only covers the exercise of the judicial powers of a judge and his jurisdiction. No civil action or criminal action may be taken against him in respect of his judicial work or decisions , but he is not shielded from criminal culpability if he commits a criminal offence while he is in office .

The NGANJIWA Decision, however, remains the law in Nigeria today. Nigeria is a constitutional democracy under the rule of law. By virtue of Section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, the judgment is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria , including the Executive Branch of Government at the “ Federal “ level , the Office of the Attorney- General of the Federation, the CCB and CCT.

We support the fight against corruption in the public sector and in the Judiciary in particular. But this fight must be done in scrupulous conformity with the rule of law .

In the light of the foregoing , we call on the President of Nigeria to direct that the charges filed against the CJN be withdrawn forthwith for its incompetence, even as the Administration continues to explore other legitimate and constitutional means to continue its fight against corrupt practices in our public life .
The allegations against the CJN may be grave , but justice cannot be served by resorting to patent illegalities.

What Nigeria needs, by Olawale Duyile

 

As we approach the final stages of the campaign for the presidential elections, I am compelled to write this article in the hope that it captures the attention of some or all the aspirants, other politicians and decision makers in the next administration. The article is neither partisan, nor intended to favour one political party above the others.

I have seen a few manifestos where 1 or 2 aspirants have made privatisation a central plank of their economic strategy. Privatisation is not a bad thing in itself, but it must be executed at the right place and the right time. Let us look at some of the advantages of privatisation, which are:

– To generate income for the treasury;
– To enhance prosperity and foster enterprise democracy;
– To enable the government to discard liabilities and loss making ventures, thereby saving costs for the treasury;
– To improve cost-effectiveness and efficiency of a business / firm;
– Improvement in services for customers, making them more accessible and joined up;
– To reduce the impact of organisational fragmentation and minimise the impact of any perverse incentives that result from it; and
– In some cases, to facilitate capital injection into the business.

As attractive as these are, privatisation of state assets is not what Nigeria needs now and should not feature in the priority list of any credible economic strategy. For starters, what proportion of Nigerians will prioritise shareholding above job security, shelter and providing for their families at this point in time? Privatisation at this point can only benefit a tiny minority, who we cannot even be sure have the nation’s interests at heart. Asset stripping comes to my mind straightaway when I hear or read about privatisation in the Nigerian context. Examples elsewhere suggest that the new owners will simply carve up the business, focus on the viable aspects of it and discard the liabilities. The end result being that the Nigerian customers will end up being short-changed and customer service will be worse than before.

To understand this better, one needs to fully appreciate the intricacies of private finance initiatives. It may come as a surprise to hear that hardly any shrewd businessman or woman uses their own capital for any business endeavour, including the acquisition of shares in a company. All of them, without exception, and in an attempt to evade bankruptcy against their personal assets, go to lenders, who in turn carry out their due diligence by undertaking a viability assessment. In the UK, most banks and lending institutions require at least 30% profit margin as a safety net on top of capital repayment and interest.

The reason why I am elaborating this is to provide an understanding of the main drivers of privatisation – greed and profiteering. So if in error you mistakenly believe that the injection of private capital into a failing parastatal is the way forward, think again. Those who acquire shares and their lenders only have one thing on their mind – efficiency savings, which in turn leads to excessive profit, increase in share value and handsome returns on their investment. To hell with efficiency and improvement in service delivery to customers. In truth, privatisation at the wrong time and under the wrong circumstances actually worsen customer service and entrench the sharp divide between the rich on one hand and the impoverished, the dispossessed and the marginalised in the society on the other.

There are several examples of where privatisation has gone wrong. British Rail is a very good case in point. The delivery of train services by several franchises is far worse now than at anytime in history, so much so that some people are now openly advocating the re-nationalisation of the rail industry. Who is willing to hedge a bet that this won’t happen the way things are going?

The centrepiece of Nigeria’s economic strategy has to be INFRASTRUCTURE PROVISION in transport system, power supply and information & communication technology (ICT). Where is housing, health and education provisions you may ask? My conviction is that, although they are not less important, their efficient and effective delivery hinge upon adequate transport system (housing), adequate power supply and ICT for health and education facilities. If we are being honest, there is no Nigerian institution with enough gravitas to fund mega infrastructure projects. Therefore, the sources of funding have to be from either the IMF, The World Bank, from government bonds issues, from private capital & direct investment or a combination of all of them.

Whatever side of the political divide you belong, and unless you are disingenuous, you will agree that the present government has made great strides in infrastructure provision and enhance the nation’s infrastructure base. Notwithstanding, this is nowhere near enough. A country like ours, which has experienced several decades of neglect ought to have at least 80% of its gross budgetary allocation for capital expenditure dedicated, ring fenced and committed to infrastructure provision and improvement if we are to be taken seriously. Investors will not flock to these shores, as long as the basic infrastructure is moribund and belong to the 20th century.

I know of some business opportunities that have been squandered and I myself have been a victim of such unfortunate circumstance. My backers and I were about to enter into a joint venture with a university to build a 75-bed hostel within their campus. This, we later discovered would require us bearing the costs of new access road and an electricity sub-station (transformer as they’re referred to in Nigeria). The cost is so exorbitant that it effectively killed the deal. Such infrastructure are readily available and taken for granted in other countries. I am sure that mine is not the only sad episode as countless others are out there who have been frustrated and taken their business elsewhere. I certainly consider it as a blessing in disguise. It wasn’t meant to be.

I do not need to extol the benefits of adequate infrastructure provision. Aside from easing the burden of doing business, they galvanise all other sectors of the economy into action and create thousands of new jobs directly and indirectly.

Infrastructure funding cost does not need to be borne by the government alone. Housebuilding is one of the most lucrative ventures in Nigeria. Housebuilders themselves are acutely aware of the added value of adequate infrastructure provisions to land values and house prices and I suspect that many of them won’t mind giving a slice of this uplift in value if at the end of it things are better. In this respect, the government should introduce a Residential Infrastructure Levy (RIL), which will be payments made on completion of construction into a ring fenced treasury account solely for the enhancement and provision of infrastructure. If it is expedient and provided it does not undermine viability, a business equivalent could be established and called Non-Residential Infrastructure Levy (NRIL).

Another aspect that the incoming administration needs to focus on is the creation of a new environment for enterprise to flourish. By this I mean – easing the burden of business set up and eliminating bureaucracy and corruption. In the UK for example, you can register a business and open a business bank account in one day. To this end, it is suggested that the government of the day set up a National Enterprise Promotion Council (NEPC) tasked with facilitating business start-ups. NEPC will have representatives in key financial hotspots of the world – Europe, USA, Middle East, Far East etc. They will hold regular exhibitions at home and abroad to drive inward investment and their mantra would be NIGERIA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS. If necessary, tax holidays can be dangled in front of potential investors and the provisions in the Indigenisation legislation that requires Nigerian indigenes’ ownership of a certain proportion of business enterprise can be waived in respect of foreign investment unconnected to the exploitation of our natural resources. This need not be a permanent measure.

Finally, any government must endeavour to tackle the elephant in the room – corruption with everything at its disposal. Corruption is the single most important inhibitor to attracting inward investment to Nigeria. Many world leaders and officials from reputable international lending institutions have consistently highlighted this. Well- meaning and patriotic Nigerians know that there is some truth in this and should not be offended. Instead, the incoming administration should take up the challenge and confront it with a patriotic zeal. I personally consider the eradication of corruption and the injustice arising from and associated with it as the greatest challenge of our time.

Thank you for your time in reading this.

Duyile, a Certified Built Environment professional, writes from the UK

 

Illegal Migration: EU must start in Nigeria 

 

By Ajibike Onajin

The world’s attention has been focused on the European Union as it struggles to cope with a growing migrant crisis that has overwhelmed key members, redefined internal politics and posed a real threat to EU cohesion. A recent YouGov poll* showed ‘immigration’ and ‘terrorism’ to be consistently the top two issues for voters in virtually all EU states.

Member States have been unanimous in realising that finding enduring solutions to this quagmire cannot be delayed given the continuing exodus from Africa to southern European borders. Whilst many of the migrants have originated from Syria and Afghanistan due to the ongoing wars in that region, hundreds of thousands of people more have also streamed in from Sub-Saharan Africa including Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria, Ghana and The Gambia.

Political unrest, economic instability and general deprivation have driven sub Saharan migrants who arrive in Libya through tortuous desert routes before facing an even more dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean in flimsy, overcrowded vessels to Europe. In recent years, Nigeria has topped the list of African migrants to Europe.

Indeed, data released by the International Organization for Migration shows that at the end of December 2016, out of 387,739 arrivals to Europe that almost half,173,000, were from Nigeria. The consequences of all this is that EU nations are now caught between living up to their well espoused principles, which guarantee humane treatment of refugees, especially those fleeing persecution and wars, and avoiding the increased pressure on resources as well as risk of antagonizing voters, who are now increasingly leaning towards nationalist, right wing politics.

Disagreements have also broken out amongst EU members over how to take and share responsibility for the growing numbers of migrants which leaders are trying to resolve. Some of the proposals being put forward include “controlled” migrant processing centers outside of Europe, with North Africa earmarked as a staging post to thwart activities of people-smugglers ferrying migrants from sub-Saharan Africa through Libya across the Mediterranean into Europe.

However, what would work better in my view is solid EU interventions in migrants’ countries of origin to ensure better conditions and reduce peoples propensity to emigrate. Nigeria of course should be the starting point since it is obvious that if the flow of migrants from that country alone is reduced, the net migration to Europe at least from the West African region would also abate significantly and alleviate the EU current headaches. As it is, Nigeria is experiencing its worst economic performance in decades under the ‘baba go-slow’ Buhari administration which has shed 10 million jobs in just 3 years and with many people, even if they have a job, being unable to feed their families as the prices of staples have shot up.

The feeling in the country is that Buhari has to go, but it is clear that he will do everything in his power to keep his hand on the reins of power and as the incumbent, has many advantages which perhaps his predecessor were less willing to adopt. Every day we hear reports that underage voters are issued with Permanent Voter Cards in the north of the country and foreigners from Niger, enticed to sign up so they can vote in February 2019. The EU can help ensure free and fair elections by bringing their Election Observation Mission into Nigeria now to oversee the work of the Independent National Election Commission to ensure it is genuinely living up to the first word in its name.

The EU can also identify and support an alternative leadership, which I believe can only be delivered by the only candidate that can successfully challenge President Buhari in next year’s general elections. That candidate is Atiku Abubakar, a man who brings to the table years of experience as an administrator, businessman and astute politician with a wide network of friends and associates from across the country. Indeed, his economic agenda points the way forward for the future of Nigeria where citizens would be proud to stay and build by taking advantage of new opportunities in the economic space.

Atiku’s agenda includes bold new measures to tackle the power crisis -the biggest drag on Nigeria economy – including development of multiple green field mini-grid transmission systems and bringing private sector entities to participle in the network.   He also plans full diversification of energy sources to include, wide, solar, hydro, nuclear and natural gas.

The former vice-president is also looking to address the perennial problems of northern Nigeria, such as access to education,which has bred extreme poverty, youth unemployment, social unrest, insurgency and terrorism as well as rebuilding the economy in the region. He also has a stimulus plan to facilitate growth in critical sectors such as agriculture and small and medium enterprises, while special funds are being envisioned to support innovation, skills development and job creation in the non-oil sector by positioning Nigeria as the key outsourcing centre in Africa.

What this indicates is that leaders with a clear idea of how to get Nigeria out of her current situation, foster socio-economic growth and development are not in short supply but a flawed electoral system, dodgy census figures, misuse of state resources and the sundry peculiarities of the Nigerian system conspire to perpetuate the status quo. The EU must bring its weight to bear in facilitating a free, fair and credible poll, as well as ensuring that it is not compromised in the conduct of the election.

Ajibike Onajin writes from London

My Choice of Candidates in 2019 Presidential Election

 

By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, thanks for the deluge of messages and phone calls last week after reading my memo to our dear President. I doubt if any article of mine ever generated such amazing interest from the rich and poor, educated and not so educated, alike. The closest to it would be the letter I wrote to our wonderful First Lady of yore, Dame Patient Jonathan at the peak of PDP rascality.

For the sake of those still wondering why I wrote so passionately, and objectively, in my last column, let me say it loud and clear, that memo was an apologia to Nigerians. I had promised to write whenever I’m finally convinced that the APC government has irredeemably flopped like its predecessor PDP. I wish to emphasise that as much as I wish that a miracle can still happen in the next 12 months or so to come before the general election, I’m sorry to inform you that the signs are ominous. The lackadaisical attitude of APC, and in particular, President Buhari, has become unbearably palpable. They are looking like a Party and President on a suicide mission. They keep making mistakes after mistakes, and blunders after blunders.

There was no better time to rescue itself from the kamikaze slide than during the mass funeral in Benue State two days ago. What should have been a special occasion for national rebirth and reformation was frittered away by the sheer arrogance of the ruling class. What should have been a day of national mourning was treated with such recalcitrance, and possible disdain. It is difficult not to see or feel that this government is a victim of some witchcraft and hypnotism. A government that rode into power on the supersonic jet of goodwill of the people is barely struggling to survive a swim in the gutter of ill-wind. It is more like it has embarked on a predictable slide down a giant abyss, as by its very demeanour and offhanded posture it insults and belittles those very same people that it relied upon for the much vaunted change it promised but has found difficult to deliver. In many, albeit different ways, we seem to have gone back to the arrant impunity of the Jonathan era. What exactly is wrong? Anyway.

Pardon my digression, but the recent devastating and sad events in Benue State in which some herdsmen went berserk and attacked innocent indigenes of that State deserves condemnation of these terrorists by every Nigerian. I join others in offering my condolences to the families of all those who died in the unfortunate incidents. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. I commiserate with those injured and affected by the dastardly rampage. The time has come for President Buhari to act swiftly and decisively to curb this menace which has the potential to tear our country apart, despite the strenuous and vociferous protestations by the President about our unity being non-negotiable.

Now to the matter at hand. A few people suggested last week that I was working for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, probably because of our recent meeting and also partly because he is the main candidate who has declared his interest, and that is why I wrote that memo to President Muhammadu Buhari. Let me say with all the emphasis at my command that I’m not working for anybody. I’m too independent to be used by anybody. The time has not come for me to jump into the game. I have my eyes on a few bright guys of Nigeria but what if they don’t get the ticket? And what happens if we have Buhari and Atiku as frontrunners in the next election? You may wish to know who between the two I will support. When I’m faced with such option, I will not shy away from declaring my position publicly. I’m not the kind that would hide my support. When Chief Olu Falae contested against Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, I supported Falae, as a matter of personal principle. He did not have cash to throw around and I even spent my meagre income to travel to Vienna to try and persuade that cerebral gentleman, of blessed memories, Dr Rilwan Lukman, who was the kingpin at OPEC headquarters in Austria, to run as Falae’s Vice-President. Though the arrangement fell through, I still returned home to support Falae. Only one person can win at a time.

I never supported any PDP candidate in their sixteen years in power though I admired a few of their action-packed Governors. The last election that catapulted them out of power finally convinced me that behaviourally and ideologically, the difference between APC and PDP was between six and half dozen. There was no way APC would have emerged triumphantly without the epic support of the PDP dissenters. Anyone can say whatever they like today, I was an eye-witness, and active participant, in the making of that spellbinding, suspense movie. Amaechi, Saraki, Kwankwaso, Atiku, Wamako, Tambuwal, and others from the PDP made so much difference when they added their weight to those of the godfathers from the other Parties that formed the APC conglomerate.

My decision to support APC, though never a member of the Party till this day, was primarily to get rid of the PDP fiefdom that was stylishly manifesting and bourgeoning into a veritable catastrophe for the country. Two, to stop the profligacy that had characterised the government of the day. I have met some key actors who said President Goodluck Jonathan was never a corrupt man personally but he lacked the strong will to challenge his thieving acolytes. That was the major weakness that guillotined his regime. Most reluctantly for some of us, Buhari became an option and a stopgap. Anyone who followed my support for President Buhari would have seen how I regularly referred to him as the Mandela option. I didn’t expect him to become a permanent feature. I’ve always believed that anyone above the age of 65 is a high-risk option, and I said this about Buhari during our Presidential race in 2011.

However, since the last Presidential election was a straight fight between Jonathan and Buhari, the choice was totally limited. Many of those who supported Buhari also considered his anti-corruption credentials though, in retrospect, I believe we downplayed his anti-democratic records and proclivity. I still have no doubt that he’s one of the most honest Nigerians alive today, although like Jonathan he seems to be surrounded by people in respect of who that is difficult to say.

It is likely that age, as well as the reality and practicality of how he attained power, have jointly humbled and mellowed his almost sacramental vows against corruption. It would be tantamount to monumental hypocrisy and superlative ingratitude to bite the fingers that fed one in our hour of acute need. It has become critically obvious that what has confronted Buhari in power was never what he anticipated or bargained for. This is why I advised him last week to bow out with whatever honour he has left, instead of squandering everything away. If he stubbornly contests the next election, he would be forced to compromise and capitulate on a number of things. He would have no choice than to play the erstwhile PDP card, by opening the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria to political vultures who are not known to be patient or merciful in respect of primordial interests. That was my honest and candid appeal to Baba out of genuine concern for his future and legacy. Let us, at least, continue to dream that we have one selfless and incorruptible leader in Nigeria.

The truth, is that my preference would be for younger candidates in both major Parties and my criteria would be as follows. The candidate must be well educated. Nigeria has produced more than enough graduates from every part of the country for us to be continuously and endlessly led by near-illiterates. The candidate should have managed people and resources, whether in a private or public capacity or both. The candidate is expected to be seriously exposed to modern trends. Ability to communicate well would be appreciated since he would have to interact with world leaders. I want a Nigerian candidate and not a sectional leader. Anyone who cannot feel at home in any part of Nigeria is not fit to lead our otherwise great nation. Anyone still relying on zoning, quota and Federal character to become anything in Nigeria is certainly an enemy of progress. We must consider the brightest people from every part. There are enough people in Nigeria who fit this bill. We can’t simply say that we cannot find one such person. Our search should in reality be moving on to finding the very best of the best. Once we find our Leader and his deputy then we should not care too much about engaging others, including foreigners, who are the best at infrastructure and facility building of the type we so desire and need. Dubai is not solely managed by Emirati citizens. The UK allows foreigners to manage critical sectors, including the economy, a good example being the Bank of England (their Central Bank) headed by a Canadian, Mark Joseph Carney.

I will not totally disqualify exceptional elders who have distinguished themselves under most of my above criteria lest I fall victim of the same bigotry I’ve been preaching against. Some elders are more reasonable, less corrupt, more business-savvy, more exposed to international standards, more efficient, less cantankerous, more focussed, and more visionary than our so-called youths. We have since come full cycle by trying sinners and saints but we have not yet succeeded in having great and big thinkers. We cannot, and must not, continue to delude ourselves that we can find saints from anywhere to lead us. What we need, as a matter of urgency and desperation are competent performers from wherever we can seek and find them. By now, we should be tired of exchanging the baton of backwardness and mediocrity every four years. Like joke, like joke, nothing spectacular has happened to us for decades now while smaller countries across Africa are marching forward confidently and admirably. Our own leaders seem to be very comfortable in our squalid, desolate and unsavoury conditions. No qualms. No urgency. No new ideas to copy, borrow or buy. We are permanently stagnant and sanguine about our perpetual state of inertia.

The next election should be a turning point. We can no longer afford to play politics of ethnicity, money and religion. I reiterate that we must search frantically, extensively and productively for the best. The world would leave us very far behind at the rate we are going. We are already desperately behind and trying to play catch up. We do not need to lose more ground. I’m appealing to everyone who loves Nigeria to free Nigeria from the bondage of oppression, suppression, ethnic jingoism, religious fanaticism, terrorism, Satanism, and all forms of retrogression. 2019 cannot, and should not, be business as usual. It should be our year of true liberation and independence. Yes. The time has come to assemble our proven performers in a government of national unity. Nigeria cannot be handed over, or handled anymore by professional politicians who have no other business or job they do, and who merely see their stay in government as an opportunity for self-aggrandisement, and unashamed and unabashed looting of our collective wealth. Rather we want Nigerian leaders who are committed and passionate about their country.

Our chosen leaders must be willing to sacrifice their all to ensure and enhance the comfort of their fellow citizens by providing the simple basics of life. Nigerians have never been a demanding people. We merely want education for our children, decent wages for our hard labour, good health care, electricity, water, food, security and above all peace. For now, every single one of these matters evade and elude us notwithstanding our vote for change! The President and his Vice President must provide evidence of what they have done and accomplished in their lives. Merit, productivity, passion and vison must be our watchword. Irrelevant considerations, like religion, ethnicity or even gender, have no place in this equation.

May Nigeria be victorious.

The brewing tension in Okpella: Obaseki’s proactive steps to prevent crisis

By Crusoe Osagie

From Kaduna to Rivers and Benue states as well as other parts of the country, the stories of woe over the senseless killing of Nigerians abound.

While the issues are not exactly the same, there is however a common narrative about the alleged failure of the governors of the affected states in arresting the issues at their early stage before they snowballed into full-blown crises.

Crisis management experts contend that the best strategy to preventing crisis, irrespective of the scale, is the proactive approach. It is cost effective and less likely to lead to the loss of lives and property.

The brewing tension in the quiet town of Okpella, in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State, a solid minerals bearing community could become the hot bed for killings and counter killings if urgent steps are not taken.

Newspaper men have had their share of the ‘fight’ with the advertorials and counter advertorials on the ownership of the Obu mine site located in Okpella, that have dominated the pages of newspapers in the past weeks, sponsored by both Dangote and BUA, both cement manufacturing companies.

The lingering legal tussle between Dangote and BUA International Limited, is being followed keenly by stakeholders in the solid minerals sector and other stakeholders.

Beyond the court hall where the Obu case is being adjudicated upon, the growing tension in Okpella could claim several lives, more so with the posture of one of the parties to the case, BUA International Limited.

Worried by the failure of BUA to abide by a simple Stop Work Order and the likely consequences, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, with officials and personnel of various security agencies effected the arrest of staff of BUA Cement after shutting down the mine site, to prevent any crisis.

Followers of the BUA-Dangote case commend governor Obaseki’s action, more so considering security intelligence that BUA is raising a militia as part of a grand plan to adopt extra-judicial means to continue mining activity on the Obu mine site.

However, a few hired commentators on the issue have blamed Governor Obaseki’s action. Understandably, the commentators are paid and do not appreciate the bigger picture and the obligation of a state governor to his people in a matter that could throw the community into a theatre of war.

In Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom is in the eye of the storm as Benue people protest the alleged killing of their people by suspected Fulani Herdsmen.

No excuse or defence is acceptable to the people who have lost their relatives to the mayhem. Ortom is now being called all sorts of names over the issue. Some have even asked for his resignation. They say he is not proactive and cannot protect his people. Perhaps Ortom may have taken some proactive steps which were rebuffed by his detractors.

All his efforts to prevent anarchy, whatever those efforts may have been, which might have been resisted and ridiculed are now completely drowned in the cries of distress that followed the killing of several Benue people.

In Edo State, Governor Obaseki is now taking proactive steps to protect his people and prevent the state from becoming another killing field and people are coming up with various conspiracy theories and wild guesses and are ignoring the real issue, which is the sanctity and safety of human life.

To cast aspersions on Obaseki for his proactive efforts to protect the lives of his people in Okpella is senseless to say the least.

Governor Obaseki is resolute about fulfilling his obligation to protect Edo people and will not be swayed by the cacophony of voices, knowing that he is the one that will be blamed should there be mayhem in Okpella tomorrow.

So the governor is not listening to side talks, as he has said times without number that no amount of money is worth the life of any Edo man or woman.

Many Benue and Rivers State people blame their governors who are the chief security officers of their respective states and no matter how long the blame game lasts, the dead are gone. No amount of blame trade will bring them back.

Obaseki has resolved to ensure that this is not the fate of Edo people in Okpella or elsewhere in Edo State.

Very likely, if the issues that led to the various crises mentioned above were tackled by the governor and all the people without prejudice, at the early stage, the senseless killings might have been avoided.

Osagie is the Special Adviser to Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy

Needless brouhaha over NDDC Board tenure

By Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu

Senator Emmanuel Paulker may have played the devil’s advocate when he raised a motion for an abridgment o the tenure of the incumbent board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). In raising argument seeking to put an end to the tenure of the board led by Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, Paulker, one of the senators representing Bayelsa state, argued that the board’s tenure ought to have ended on the grounds that it was a continuation of the Sen. Bassey Henshaw-led board.

In his argument, leadership of the board ought to now revert to Bayelsa state given that the Act establishing the NDDC did provide for a rotation of its leadership among the nine NDDC states.

Paulker may have intended to make a case for his home state of Bayelsa, but in doing so, he stirred a nest and needlessly troubled some water. He would have been saved the hassle if he had been made aware of a legal opinion by the Attorney-General of the Federation which interpreted the actual meaning of cessation of membership of the board of NDDC, and vacancy, as intended by Section 3(1) of the NDDC Establishment Act.

In the mind of Paulker, the NDDC board ceases to exist on grounds that it was a continuation of the previous board which was sacked by the incumbent government in 2015.

Upon that argument, Paulker argued that vacancy now exists in the leadership of NDDC.

But in the legal opinion of the AGF, titled Re: Clarification on the Tenure of the Governing Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), signed by Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, and dated October 11, 2017, it was stated that no vacancy exists in the leadership of the NDDC, as yet, as the incumbent tenure had a fresh mandate upon inauguration and ought to serve for four years. Paragraph 2(h) of the letter conveying the opinion marked LE.104/S.1/NDDC.01/25 stated specifically that “…the inauguration of the present NDDC board is a fresh tenure as contemplated by section 3(1), that is, a term of four years which is subject to renewal”.

In interpreting the NDDC Act, the AGF argued that “the proper interpretation of vacancy under Section 5(2) of the NDDC Act going by the ejus dem generis rule is to consider the instances where a board member can be said to have ceased to hold office as provided for under Section 5(1) (a-f) of the NDDC Act. Vacancy as used under Section 5(2) is a general term whose meaning can only come from the specific items listed under Section 5(1). Therefore, a vacancy that requires the appointment of a successor to complete an unexpired term can only occur if the six instances provided for under the Act occur”.

For emphasis, the six instances referred to, as conditions for cessation of membership of the NDDC board include bankruptcy, suspension, conviction, unsound mind, misconduct and resignation. None of these applied to members of the erstwhile NDDC board. What applied to the previous board was dissolution by the federal government. In the mind of the law, dissolution means termination and this indicates an end to the life; in this case, the life of the board. An end to the life of a board also interprets to end of tenure thus empowering any new appointments as having a life of its own, and, on a fresh mandate.

To this end, the AGF specifically argued that “dissolution of the Board cannot be categorized as a vacancy under the Act. Dissolution signifies total extinguishment of the Board, it simply ceases to exist, and therefore there cannot be any remainder of any term which as successor is expected to complete. There has to be fresh composition of the board for a fresh term of four years”.

This was the crux of the argument in the legal interpretation of Section 5(3), signed by Apata, Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, which was procedurally upheld by then Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to whom it was addressed. Perhaps, the Senate would not have been led into taking up that motion had Sen. Paulker taken cognizance of the details of the AGF’s interpretation which was premised on Section 5(3), the same section of the NDDC Act upon which Sen. Paulker based his contest.

Sen. Paulker presented his case before the senate in a manner suggesting that the Ndoma-Egba board is a usurping board. That information, as misleading as it was, was capable of rendering the work of the Commission, and also scare off international development partners, whose renewed interest in the NDDC is spurred by the openness and transparent conduct of business of the commission in the pursuit of its core mandate.

It is interesting that the Dr. Bukola Saraki-led senate has realized that there may have been wrongful information passed on to it leading to its entertainment of the Paulker motion and has moved to remedy the situation. Senate’s new move re-assures international development partners of the NDDC of the commitment of the upper legislative chamber to uphold the provisions of the NDDC Act, which itself is an act of parliament. This, the Senate has done by referring the matter to its committee on Niger Delta for review. In doing so, the Senate President said the matter will be resolved in a “gentlemen discussion”.

Commenting on Senate’s action, Senator Ahmed Lawan, who is Senate Majority Leader said “I want to appeal to all of us here that since we have a new SGF (Secretary to the Government of the Federation) who wants to work with us, in the spirit of this season and interest showed by the SGF, that he wants to deal with the issue, I will advise and move that we ask our Committee on NDDC to liaise with the Office of the SGF to look into the real issues so that we can deal with them”. This senatorial position comes in light of the understanding that the AGF interpretation of Section 5(3) of the NDDC Act is appropriate and renders Sen. Paulker’s motion a nullity. That also may be an added fillip to enable the board make a difference.

*Uchegbu, a journalist writes from Lagos

NNPC 2019: Of Jackals and Hyenas

By Jubril Oladipupo

The well-publicised spat between the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu and the Group Managing Director of the state oil company, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru, is perhaps the greatest challenge so far to the much-vaunted credibility of the Buhari administration.

Having swept to power largely on the self-imposed mandate of fighting corruption – a well entrenched national malaise that has contributed more than its fair share to the sorry state of affairs in which we wallow as a nation – Buhari is, of course, is expected to walk the talk.

However, having been regaled with tales of billions of dollars disappearing from NNPC accounts in the last days of Goodluck Jonathan’s kleptocratic regime; the still unfolding Diezanigate; millions of dollars found in judges bedrooms, high rise apartments and even soak away pits, not a few see the NNPC saga as just another on a long list of scandals for the press to make a meal of until others take its place on the headlines, such that it is soon forgotten.

One must concede that the apparent in-fighting among those who control NNPC, the nation’s cash-cow tainted by a long held perception as the bastion of corruption of Nigeria, only reinforce the views of a larger section of the informed public that this makes a strong case for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which prescribes full commercialisation of the NNPC and whittling down of overarching powers concentrated in the minister of petroleum, among others.

Yes, Kachikwu has raised largely governance issues relating to reporting lines and approvals in his memo. Baru’s defence has been solid, (based on legalese, some argue) but he appears to be right in that the NNPC Act gives the petroleum minister, not the minister of state, the final say in approval of contracts and other key decisions.

Ordinarily, this should not be the sort of issue that should distract from the task of refocusing the national oil company in the direction of improving its efficiency, especially in terms of fuel distribution, refining capacity, creative funding options for its operations and maximising value for crude off take but the NNPC is no ordinary corporation, and these are no ordinary times.

Regardless, the leakage of the minister’s ‘petition’ suggests less-than-noble intentions as future events might confirm.

As things stand, the pressure on Buhari to deliver on promises made during his 12 year campaign to be president cannot be higher. Mr President has lost ground due to an economy buffeted by low oil, prices, his downtime abroad, rising calls for restructuring, the inability to deliver much on power, social services and a string of others. He is being labelled as pro-North.

Even the anti-corruption war, which some consider as his signature programme, has itself come under fire as skewed and ineffective.

Even at that, the corruption issue and Buhari’s efforts at engaging this monster locally and with the help of our international partners remain his strongest point yet, as many corrupt elements have laid low or gone off the radar for fear of a date with the EFCC.

This is why as the preparations for the 2019 elections start to gather momentum with names of potential contenders starting to surface and sundry declarations that the President Buhari is not on a beeline for an automatic ticket from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, it is becoming obvious that the easiest way to deny Buhari another term is to rubbish any credibility he has built so far.

For sure, the anti-corruption war is a lonely road. Many perceive that in all sincerity, Buhari himself and his vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo are the only travellers.

In line with this, it can be deduced from some of the very recent articles in newspapers, that the seemingly unravelling NNPC saga, is deliberately to weaken the Presidency through threats of impeachment over “phantom” governance issues, much less fraud. The public should be wary that this has all the hallmarks of a bid by opportunists to leverage on an impending “public” hearing on NNPC transactions, to attempt a “takeover” of NNPC, with a view to funding a strong challenge for the presidency in 2019.

So the issue at hand is not Kachikwu or Baru, It is not even the NNPC, it is Buhari and 2019.

There can be no arguing that Nigerians have a right to deliver a verdict on Buhari at the coming polls, but certain forces, which he himself may not realise, are preparing to deal him the wrong hand.

They can be found in state houses, at the upper echelons of the legislature and among the bitter men of yesterday who are simply not happy that the gravy train has stopped running.

The NNPC matter is trap and the way Buhari handles this may ultimately seal his fate, either way.

Feelers from certain quarters indicate that the President is being pressured to descend on the NNPC management despite its defence that it was acting well with the provisions of the NNPC Act and the Public Procurement Act. So how can Buhari sack a management that he signed off on its decisions? Did he not read his files?

On the other hand, Mr Kachikwu has become a bone in Buhari’s throat as they say. Firing him would equally damage any claim to his own integrity, for how do you punish a senior official for “blowing the whistle” as it were.

Nigerians and our foreign “friends” are watching closely as the whole saga unfolds. If Buhari fails to read in between the lines and falls into the trap sprung by the “jackals and hyenas” that have put him on the spot, he might just need a few more lessons on Nigeria’s curious brand of politics.

Oladipupo, sent this article from Lagos

Keeping safe with Harriman Isa Oyofo

 

KILLER GENERATOR FUMES

Generator fumes have killed thousands of people in their homes in this country yet we do not seem to have a firm grip on the problem. But we know why the problem perennially exists – unavailability of regular power supply in the land. The result is citizens are forced to self-help no matter how dangerous and hazardous the chosen alternative might be, so long as it holds the golden promise of a few candelas of light for any length of time. The ‘peace’ it brings supersedes all else, personal safety aside.
It affects us all, citizens of all walks of life. So the danger to life and limb is equally spread and ever present wherever there is a running generator, irrespective of the size of the machine. And the handier or more portable it is, the nearer home the danger to the user(s) because in essence, size determines where it is installed or located, thereby increasing the inherent health and safety risk exposures to the user(s). That aside, D-I-Y installation by owners tends to accentuate or further compromise the safety of man and equipment.
Think about portable generators installed in home enclosures such as balconies, porches, foyers, stairwells, verandas, or bedrooms; running all night with windows firmly shut. Where do you think the exhaust fumes escape to? Nowhere, that is where. In such instances, the noxious fumes accumulate in such enclosures to be routinely inhaled by home occupants with disastrous consequences as frequently reported in national press. These incidents occur with alarming regularity round the country such that one would have expected that local, state and federal authorities would be up in arms by now but there is so little to show in that direction just yet. This perhaps suggests that the authorities are yet to see these repetitive ugly occurrences as a problem deserving of priority action or solution. It, therefore, is something that should worry most, if not all of us that the various tiers of government appear to be sleeping on the job as far as generator-related public safety is concerned.
So where does leave us? I would think it leads us right back to self help insofar as taking the appropriate steps to assure generator user’s safety and health. Therefore, the next time you plan on setting up a portable generator, get professional help to make sure it is properly and safely installed. Shun D-I-Y or quack ‘electrical engineers’ who can’t tell why the Earth or Neutral cores are necessary to complete a safe circuit. Do not be deceived by the pompous assertion that ‘that is how we have always done it’. It can be patently unsafe for you and your family to listen to such foolish talk. If it’s unsafe, QUIT TRYING.
Do not put your family and yourself in harm’s way for any ‘good reasons’. It never ever does any good, it never has. And many households have found only too late that though portable generators generally appear to be good servants but can be in actual fact, very bad masters. The key thing is that the associated operational safety issues leave everyone in close proximity to them while running severely exposed. However, all hope is not lost since those associated operational safety issues can be controlled, significantly reduced or completely eliminated by seeking the right professional advice or input at the installation and running phases to ensure that very little is overlooked by way of safe operational considerations. Starting up or refueling activities can present quite some tricky challenges which, if not correctly handled, could spell major troubles. It is therefore highly recommended that users avoid refueling portable generators while still running otherwise any inadvertent error can result in a serious fire/explosion with massive consequences for life, nearby assets and the environment. Also, do not forget to make a point of avoiding rogue electricians or poorly trained allied tradesmen, unskilled and/or uncertified electrical service providers. Their interface with you and your machine can sometimes prove to be as extremely toxic as the exhaust fumes from the generator itself. Keep them at a safe distance as a first step toward insulating yourself and family from self inflicted portable generator troubles. Do not pinch your pennies when buying professional services only for you to end up losing more than dollars in the end. It is hardly worth the time and space.
Whatever you do, choose wisely to STAY SAFE. That is all that matters when it comes to managing your portable generator at home, in the office or anywhere else it might be required. And since the DISCOS aren’t about to turn on the music loud enough and soon enough it does seem like you, me and the good neighbor next door have no other choice than to stick to our portable generators like tomorrow is not another day, or may never come. But while at it, do NOT let that old saying about necessity being the mother of invention, sway you into taking the road fork on the SAFETY ROAD because more often than not, safety errors are unforgiving. That’s just so you remember that there is no viable substitute for getting it right first time, especially when it comes to matters in which you’re least competent like installing a portable generator.
Harriman Isa Oyofo is a Health, Safety and Environment specialist based in Warri, Delta States

 

How Balewa Declared State of Emergency in the West in 1962, By Eric Teniola

Just like play, the crisis of the Action Group reared its ugly head at the party’s annual convention held in Jos, Plateau State in January 1962. It was at the convention that the general secretary of the party, Chief Ayotunde Rosiji (1917-2000) resigned and Mr. Samuel Goomsu Ikoku (1912-1997) took over as the chief scribe. Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro (1923-2010) became the deputy leader of the party at that convention. Mr. Ikoku had earlier defeated his father, Dr. Alvan Ikoku by 59 votes in the Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly election. The eighth convention of the Action Group was held in the African Sports Club in Jos, with Chief Ajibola Idowu Ige (1930-2001) elected as publicity secretary of the party, and Professor Samuel Adepoju Aluko (1929-2012), Prof Hezekiah Adedunmola Oluwafemi Oluwasanmi (1919-1983), Professor Victor Adenuga Oyenuga (1917-2010), Chief Arthur Edward Prest (1906-1976), Professor H.E. Ajose, Dr. Sanya Dojo Onabamiro (1913-1985) and Professor Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje,in attendance. At the convention, the then leader of the party, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) was on one side, while the premier of the Western Region at that time, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola (1912-1966) on another side. The crisis snowballed into a major national crisis, the consequences of which we still face today.

On May 29, 1962, the then prime minister, the right honourable Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1912-1966) summoned an emergency meeting of the Federal House of Representatives which was then the federal parliament in Lagos, during which he moved a motion on the Action Group crisis. The full motion is hereby reproduced and the reply of the then opposition leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo to it. The motion reads thus: “I rise to move the Resolution standing in my name which reads as follows: ‘That in pursuance of section sixty-five of the constitution of the Federation, it is hereby declared that a state of public emergency exists in Western Region and that this resolution shall remain in force until the end of the month of December, nineteen hundred and sixty-two.

“Members know the reasons why parliament has reassembled today. For the past week or so there has been no properly constituted Government in Western Nigeria. I would like to recapitulate briefly the events which have led to this impasse and in doing so I would like to emphasise that the Federal Government had been motivated solely by the desire to ensure that peace, order and tranquility are maintained throughout parts of the Federation.

“A political crisis developed within the Action Group which was the party in control of the Government of Western Nigeria. Following the crisis the National Executive of the party deposed Chief Akintola as Deputy Leader and asked him to resign his appointment as Premier of Western Nigeria. On the 20th of May, the Premier advised the Governor of Western Nigeria that in view of the political crisis which had been developed in the Region and of the rival claims of the two factions to a majority support of the electorate in the Region His Excellency should exercise his powers under section 31 of Part III of the Constitution of Western Nigeria to dissolve the Legislative House of the Region. The Governor refused.

“On the same day the Premier asked the Speaker, for the same reasons, to convene the Western House of Assembly for Wednesday, May 23rd to consider and pass a Motion for a vote of confidence in the Government of Western Nigeria but the Speaker also refused. The following day the Governor purported to exercise the powers vested in him by section 33(10) of the constitution of Western Nigeria set out in the Fourth Schedule to the Nigeria Constitution Order-in-Council 1960 and purported to remove Chief Akintola from his office as Premier of Western Nigeria with effect from the 21st of May. Chief Akintola thereupon filed a Motion in the High Court challenging the power of the Governor to remove him from office in the manner he did. The matter is still before the court for determination.

“The Governor, nevertheless, proceeded to exercise the powers in normal circumstances vested in him by section 33(1) of the Constitution of Western Nigeria by purporting to appoint Chief D.S. Adegbenro to be Premier of Western Nigeria with effect from the 21st of May. A meeting of the Western House of Assembly was summoned for the 25th of May.

“As Members know, two unsuccessful attempts were made on that day to hold meetings of the Western House of Assembly; the first one ended in a violent uproar and disorder. The police had no alternative but to use tear gas to disperse all Members, but before then the House had become a shambles. I was then approached by one side to the dispute to allow the Nigeria Police to guard the Chamber of the Western House of Assembly so that another meeting could be held, this time, in the House of Chiefs which was to be used as the House of Assembly. The other side almost immediately warned that it would be unwise and risky to allow such further meeting to be held. Before the attempt to hold a second meeting I felt impelled to issue the following release: “The two factions in the Action Group have contacted the Prime Minister regarding the holding of another meeting of the Western Nigeria House of Assembly today. The Prime Minister cannot stop the meeting from taking place but because of the fight which has broken out in the House this morning if the parties decided to hold a meeting of the House of Assembly they may do so. It must be on the strict understanding that there will be no police protection within the Chamber. If, however, any party insists on being afforded police protection within the Chamber the police may be so present, but the Federal Government will not accept any decision reached as a result of such proceedings in the Chamber. If in spite of all the efforts of the Police there should be an outbreak of violence or any disorder, the Police have authority to clear the Chamber and lock it up.”

“Shortly after the release had been issued, I received a further report from the Inspector-General of Police that an attempt had been made to hold a meeting under Nigeria Police protection but that it has resulted in a far greater uproar and commotion than the earlier one. The Police therefore cleared the Chamber and locked it up.

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“In the afternoon of the same day, May 25th, the Council of Ministers met to discuss the situation. The same evening I made a nation-wide broadcast explaining the position of the Federal Government in the matter, and in the course of any broadcast, I made the following observation:

“No responsible Government of the Federation could allow an explosive situation such as that which now exists in Western Nigeria to continue without taking adequate measures to ensure that there is an early return to the Region of peace, order and good Government.”

“I said a few moments ago that the past week or so there does not appear to have been any validly constituted Government in Western Nigeria. In the light of the violent incidents on May 25th which badly shattered both Houses of Assembly, it is difficult to see how the public affairs of the Western Region could possibly be carried on in an atmosphere of warring factions of a party in power so sadly rent asunder in the old world struggle that will ultimately do nobody any good inside and outside Western Nigeria. This is the background against which I ask honourable members to assess the situation and to authorise the Government of the Federation to take appropriate measures in accordance with the provisions of our constitution.

“Allegation of conspiracy have been made against the Federal Government, that it had planned the whole crisis in order to take over the Western Nigeria Government. It has also been said in certain quarters that this parliament would be abusing its powers were it to declare a state of emergency because the sad and unfortunate occurrences had not extended.

“Nothing could be rather from the truth. We are surely not responsible for the chain of events that led to the party and personal wrangles and the attempted by-passing of the Western Legislature and to the mutual dismissal and counter dismissal between the Governor and Premier. The question at issue is whether in the absence of a duly constituted Government in Western Nigeria, the Federal Government have no responsibility for ensuring peace, order and good government in that region. The main purpose of this Resolution is to seek Parliament’s approval for measures which the Federal Government proposes to adopt in order to ensure an early return to Western Nigeria of peace, order and good government.

“I ask all Nigerians to co-operate and support the Federal Government at this momentous turning point in our national history. It is not yet two years since we began the adventurous but arduous task of nation building. The eyes of the whole world are upon us, particularly now when we, a responsible and friendly people, are seeking to exercise our development plans and to increase the happiness and prosperity of our people.

“I solemnly assure you that the power we shall soon be forced to assume will be exercised in as humane and democratic a manner as the circumstances will permit and that as soon as reasonably may be, the Federal Government will actively promote and encourage a situation in which an early return to the normal process of Parliamentary Government could be guaranteed for all classes of people of Western Nigeria. I beg to move.”

The prime minister’s motion was seconded by the federal minister of finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, representing Warri constituency.

Busted: The lies against FRC and its Executive Secretary

Some faceless but powerful persons recently launched a campaign of calumny against the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRC, and in particular, its Executive Secretary/CEO, Jim Obazee. Their aim is to rubbish the integrity of Obazee and put FRC into disrepute.

As you may well know, FRC is the government agency with the statutory mandate to set accounting standards for both public and private corporate entities in order to ensure probity, accountability and transparency in both the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy.

And it is clear that corrupt top government officials who are hell-bent on looting public funds do not want FRC to do its noble job. The so-called allegations which one online newspaper called The Will recently published against FRC and its chief executive, Jim Obazee move from the ridiculous, to the laughable to the outright stupid!

Let’s look at the The Will leaking basket of spurious allegations one by one. The title says Busted: Jim Obazee and His Tainted FRC. It gave us the impression that it was going to be typical James Bond block buster movie but it turned out to be a miserable Somali pirate act. Simply laughable. The Will wrote that Obazee a chief executive of a government agency collected N150,000 as travelling expenses. Meanwhile, the government circular on such expenses says anybody in his position is entitled to N150,000! The Will said he spent N82,500 as hotel expenses at Abuja .Please, everyone knows what the rates are at hotels such as  Sheraton or Transcorp Hilton or Protea.

Then, The Will and its paymasters tell us that Obazee was used by former president Jonathan to oust former Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi. Please the former CBN governor who everyone knows to be very vocal never told us that. Sanusi (now Emir of Kano) never made that claim. One, the then President had the executive powers in consultation with the Senate to remove the CBN governor so he did not need to use anybody to remove anybody. Second, the query raised by the Financial Reporting Council on the account of the CBN at that time was a professional one, which demanded a professional response.

Not running to the Press. Look at the cold, hard figures, simple! The CBN had been examining the accounts of the country’s commercial banks and telling us which ones were doing well and those who cooked their books! So, why should not the CBN accounts be audited? It was a case of physician heal thyself!

Then, The Will flew another kite.  It screamed. Aso Rock is under pressure to fire Obazee. Please, who is Aso Rock? The only people we know who are under any pressure are the rogues in government who are afraid of Obazee and FRC. ‘Yee, yee’ they have been crying, ’This boy, Obazee will finish us oh, with his new National Code of Corporate Governance. We must fight him back.’

Let’s make it clear neither the rock at Aso nor our President is under any pressure as regards Obazee. The President is indeed, well pleased with the performance of Obazee at FRC. Period.

That is why they have come to plant their janjeweed in the media. But it will not work.

Next, the paymasters of The Will claim that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is reviewing multiples of petitions against Obazee “who is being accused of using proxies and phoney consultants to siphon tens of millions of naira from FRC” Very, very laughable. In the first place, the FRC does NOT receive funding from government. So, where are the tens of millions of naira?

Who sent petitions to EFCC? Well, we have asked the EFCC and it says there are NO petitions against the FRC or Obazee. Except The Will and its paymasters want to manufacture one as they are doing on their janjeweed online site.

Now to the house that Obazee purportedly owns in the US. According to even the purportedly document published by The Will the house or actually an apartment is owned by another Nigerian, Victor Omosigho. The owner bought the house in 2012, then due to personal challenges he asked Obazee to act on his behalf in respect of the house in 2014.Then,Omosigho retook possession of the house the following year,2015.The records are clear. Moreover, the house/apartment is only worth US$82,500,which is under US$ 100,000.

Please do find out, such houses are for lower middle class or the poor. Even students buy such houses/apartments and take a little mortgage to gradually offset the cost of the house. So, laughable.  It is not even a US$ one million mansion! And of course, it does not belong to Obazee. These naysayers will have to try very, very hard to find any dirt to dig up around Obazee! Pity.

Next episode of lies from The Will and company: “The EFCC has been asked to investigate the N1billion International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Academy fund as well as over N225 million wastefully expended for the printing of FRC registration certificates for use by the agency for the next two decades through proxies fronting as contractors.”

The lies here are so mindboggling that you will simply laugh rather than cry. The truth is that there was NEVER any N1billion naira earmarked, budgeted, disbursed, or allocated for the proposed IFRS Academy. The “N1billion” only exists in the distorted evil minds of The Will publisher and his paymasters. The money received for the academy is less than N100 million and this money is currently domiciled in a fixed account and in government treasury bills.

I hope The Will is getting its own money ready to pay for libel and defamation of character pretty soon. Please The Will hold firm to your paymasters because you will need them when the heat is on you.

So, FRC can print forms “to be used for the next two decades?” There must be some element of insanity in the writers of this garbage. Can the whole office of the FRC which is on one floor of a rented office building in Ikeja, Lagos even be able to contain these forms that can be used for two decades? I think the quack writers at The Will need to check into the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos or another popular one, the Aro Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta.

Where will FRC get N225 million to spend on such a nonsensical venture?

The Will says” Obazee has a taste for luxury cars.” Am wondering how his taste buds relate to his work at FRC? If a man has worked hard and has got to the top of his career through hard work and the grace of Almighty God, he deserves to have good taste buds! He may be graciously allowed to drink good wine if he so wishes. The Mercedes Benz in question was a status car bought by the FRC for Obazee (who was then executive director) and another status car (not Mercedes) for his former boss, Mr Nnadi in 2009. It was not bought by Obazee for himself. The board of FRC, then known as NASB, with Nnadi as chief executive approved and financed the purchase of the two official cars.

The Porsche car in question is a used, old model car which he bought from his friend, who is a US car dealer. So, there is no concrete evidence that he lived above his means as The Will labours hard to convince us. Sorry, The Will if the evidence was there we would see it, you don’t have to go through childbirth to convince us.

One will not be far from the truth if one concludes that in their lust for quick money, the editors of The Will have thrown away the ethics and professionalism of the journalism profession. A key tenet of journalism says that there are at least two sides to a story. The Will NEVER approached either the FRC or Obazee to verify the concocted allegations which it published. It is had done so, the spurious allegations would have been torn apart by the truth backed by documented evidence at FRC. But then, how will The Will get its filthy pay?

The problem of the powerful paymasters who are using The Will and a few other media is the fear of the new National Code of Corporate Governance recently launched by FRC through the tireless work of Obazee and his team of dedicated staff. The fear of the powerful bootleggers in government is how can we steal easily with this new code? We must stop it.

Nigerians, should we allow them? No.

The restoration agenda reloaded

“No problem is insurmountable. With a little courage, teamwork and determination a person can overcome anything.” B. Dodge.

February 14, 2015 is a date that would remain indelible in the minds of Bayelsans and Nigerians at large. It is a date that is globally acclaimed to be the day for lovers, Saint Valentine’s Day, But to the people of Bayelsa State in South-South Nigeria it marked a watershed in the history of Bayelsa State. It was the day Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson was sworn in for the 2nd time having been re-elected as civilian governor of the state after the acrimonious December 6th and January 9th elections.

In the course of his campaigns prior to the elections that brought him into office, he traversed the length and breadth of the state promising to consolidate on the restoration of the lost glory of the state. Having won the elections decisively, the inauguration ceremony was more or less a symbolic event that accorded him an opportunity to appreciate the people for their support and the mandate they had freely given to him to serve for the second time.

However, the opposition instead of towing the honourable path of conceding victory went through the labyrinth of the judicial process in an attempt to thwart the will of the people freely giving to the ‘Contriman’ Governor.

Finally, after successive triumphs in the Tribunal, Appeal and finally in the Supreme Court, Governor Dickson in a great spirit of sportsmanship beckoned on his political opponents to join hands with him to transform this coastal state into the envy of all.  With various developmental challenges staring the state in the face, it is obvious that all hands must be on deck to guide one of Nigeria’s smallest states in the path of sustainable development. Politicians, leaders of thought, community and religious leaders must all put behind their sectional and political differences and join the ‘Countriman’ Governor as he strives to conquer the peculiar challenges of the delta.

In the first tenure of his assumption of office, the Dickson administration addressed head on the litany of problems it inherited.  His far-reaching programmes and policies, earned him several appellations such as ‘Contriman Governor’,”Ofruma-pepe”, ‘Restoration Governor’, ‘Talknado Governor’ and the like. Hon. Dickson has come to be regarded widely as the architect of the new era of Bayelsa State and has without doubt established a paradigm shift in the culture of governance. Indeed, he stepped into the seat of Government in Creek Haven with a determined zeal, creative ingenuity and courage to dare.

In the second term, in spite of the overwhelming economic challenges facing the country and the constituent states, he has ploughed on resolutely, striving to continue with development strides that he initiated in his first term. Construction work has continued in the state to the surprise and consternation of political opponents, analysts and observers alike even as he battles with the huge wage bill confronting the state.

He has by dint of hard work and strength of character led by example, affirming his credibility as a visionary leader.  He has succeeded in proving doubting Thomas’s wrong, giving hope to the people of Bayelsa State that tomorrow will certainly be better.

The march towards restoration as severally emphasized by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, is no doubt one that can only be achieved by uncommon imagination and commitment. Drawing on the exertion of the state’s founding fathers and some of his predecessors, Governor Dickson has thrust the state into the frontline of national development.

The development-centered policies of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson have ushered in an era of hope and progress in Bayelsa State. In the next few years, there is no doubt that Bayelsans will witness more of the Contrimans’ magic and as the march to restoration continues unmitigated, the Restoration Government led by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson continues to enjoy the overwhelming support of Bayelsans, the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta as he strives to turn the glory of all lands into the ‘Dubai of Africa”.

The years 2012 to 2015 have been remarkable in many ways hitherto unknown in the political history of the state. The following three years would undoubtedly leave a watershed in the history of Bayelsa.  At the seat of power is a leader who has continued to prove his mettle as a visionary and rare breed politician who brought with him a new philosophy of governance and a passion that is assuredly redemptive. Indeed he had the courage to dare!

***Akpe, Head (Media and Events) to the Bayelsa State Governor, contributed this piece from Abuja