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Utomi, Na'Abba To Lead Mass Action Against Corruption, Insecurity In Nigeria

2 August 2020 - 4:32pm

A newly formed group, National Consultative Front, has charged Nigerians to be prepared for nationwide mass action against corruption, hunger, abuse of public trust and insecurity by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

The group disclosed this on Sunday in a statement jointly issued by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na'Abba, and a former presidential candidate, Prof Pat Utomi.

The group said there was the need for Nigerians to resist, neutralise and chase out the political cartel bent on milking the country's commonwealth to dry.

The group noted that it was time for Nigerians to rise up and put an end to the situation where the President was being caged and his office being run by some unelected proxies and power traders operating without any form of mandate from the Nigerian people.

The statement reads in part, "In view of the various unimaginable melodrama and macabre dance of corruption and chaos within the top echelon of the Nigerian political leadership and government, which has been exposing the cause of high level insecurity and hunger in the country today.

"It has also become imperative for us as victims of the increasing mis governance and official impunity to halt the festering rot and political corona virus in the country's power centre. 

"Consequently, all of us as citizens of conscience should have no choice but to urgently rise in unison to utilize our collective power as a vast majority of united citizens capable of chasing out that clique of ruinous political cartel ravaging our common wealth enabled by their self serving capture of our Government and State, now being ruthlessly deployed to milking us to stupor, while riding rough shod on us as a people.

"However, in strengthening our budding national consultations and mobilisation towards a historic nationwide political resistance programme, the NCFront shall be flagging off its zonal political structures in the six geo political zones of the country and also set up its strategic operational committees."

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NDDC Probe: Sack Akpabio, Pondei, Niger Delta Group Tells President Buhari

2 August 2020 - 4:04pm

A group, Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, along with members of the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission.

The group said President Buhari's admission of wrongdoing by the IMC should be backed with action.

“When the President was asked what he thought of the ongoing revelations of corruption at the EFCC and NDDC, the president said that some of his appointees have abused trust by misusing their offices for their self-aggrandisement. While heartwarming, the President's acknowledgement does not address the ongoing corruption at the Commission. By delaying action, the president emboldens the Niger Delta Minister, Chief Godswill Akpabio, and the IMC to continue the pillage of the NDDC,” a statement by Comrade Godknows Sotonye, National Coordinator of the group, read.

Sotonye lamented that the commonwealth of the people of the region had been cornered into private pockets.

“For instance, despite the National Assembly report on the misuse of N81.5 billion in just a few months, Akpabio and the IMC are not letting up in their financial recklessness, as whistleblowers have discovered fresh fraudulent and self-serving payments that have been made by the IMC.

“The Acting MD Prof Keme Pondei and his IMC colleagues should not remain in office a day longer. We cannot afford delayed action by the president, which gives these officials that have abused public trust such as Akpabio and the IMC more time to commit further infractions, when there are already established cases of fraud, corruption, self enrichment, financial recklessness, abuse of due process and mismanagement against them.

“Mr President should also take note that Akpabio fraudulently procured certificates of no-objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for the award of two contracts, the first for a lead forensic consultant at N318 million, and the second for the purchase of 62 cars for N1.599 billion. According to the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP), Akpabio assured them that the contracts had budgetary provision, following which Akpabio presented Memos and obtained approval for these contracts at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings of February 12 and June 10, 2020, respectively.

“The President should match his words with action and visit the 116-page report and resolutions of the Senate on the financial recklessness of the NDDC IMC, which was adopted unanimously. The report details the humongous scam that has been going on at the NDDC, and presents a clear pathway forward for the Commission.

“Even from the Committee's public hearing where the Acting MD Prof Keme Pondei and Acting Executive Director Projects Dr. Cairo Ojugboh admitted, in the full glare of Nigerians and the international community who watched the proceedings on television, to paying themselves billions of naira as Covid-19 pandemic bonuses despite their receiving their normal salaries and emoluments; to the unveiling of breaches of the nation's procurement laws by Akpabio and the IMC; the facts that informed the Senate resolutions were clear for everyone to see. 

“We were not surprised at the revelations from the public hearing and the conclusion reached by the Senate Committee, which confirmed our initial fears, knowing his antecedents, that Akpabio's motive in pushing for the IMC to run the NDDC was to have unfettered access to the NDDC accounts to authorise questionable payments for dubious contracts and expenditures, one he cannot get away with easily with a Governing Board in place. The NDDC account statement from the CBN has shown clearly, since facts don't lie, that Akpabio and his IMC have turned the NDDC into their personal farm where they sign off billions of naira under dubious headings. 

“So far, the National Assembly reports and resolution have laid out fraudulent and questionable payments of N81.5 billion by the IMC under the supervision of Akpabio. This is a clear looting of the resources of the NDDC. Among other expenditures made in the last eight months, as gleaned from the NDDC account statements are: N1.12 billion for publicity, N1.3 billion for Community relations, and N475 million, which the IMC said was used to buy hand sanitizer and face masks for the police. In his testimony, the Acting Managing Director Prof. Daniel Keme Pondei said the IMC paid themselves and staff a Covid-19 'palliative allowance' of N1.5 billion despite receiving their normal salaries and allowances! In addition Pondei takes home N51 million monthly as allowances, while Ojougboh takes home an additional N18 million monthly as allowances.

“An idea of the prevailing mindset of financial recklessness and the fraudulent disposition of the Akpabio IMC is encapsulated in Pondei's testimony, at the Public Hearing, on the application of N3.1 billion under the heading 'Covid-19 Funds' expended in the last few months where he said: “We used it to take care of ourselves. We are NDDC, we need to take care of ourselves." When he was asked by a member of the committee if the reckless and criminal 'Covid-19 Bonus' was in addition to their salaries, he answered: "Yes sir." Pondei awarded himself N10 million, the two Acting Executive Directors got N7 million each and other members of the IMC received N5 million each as Covid-19 Bonus in the sharing bazaar. What manner of management turns a situation as grave as a global disease pandemic, where the local people are impoverished, into an opportunity to steal scarce resources?

“As is evident to all, Akpabio and his IMC have lost the moral right to preside over the affairs of the NDDC! The authentic voices of the Niger Delta are very clear in our demands, which are: The IMC is illegal. There is no provision for it in the law establishing the NDDC. The IMC must be disbanded immediately because, as an illegal contraption, it serves no functional purpose in the administration of the NDDC. Rather, it has been exposed as a conduit for stealing the lean resources of the NDDC. The NDDC Governing Board, which is provided for in line with the law, should be put in place immediately to run the affairs of the Commission.

“The forensic audit has to be done by a reputable independent auditor, creditably and independently, just as the NNPC audit was done by Price Waterhouse a few years back while the legitimate Board and management was still in place. The board and management of the NNPC were not set aside for an IMC in order to do the audit,” he added.

There have also been calls by the National Assembly for the dissolution of the Interim Management Committee and the return of the NDDC to the Presidency for direct supervision.

For instance, the Senate ad hoc committee set up to unravel the alleged financial recklessness of the IMC to the tune of tens of billions of naira on Thursday lamented the extra-budgetary spending of the IMC, urging the President to immediately dissolve the committee.

The House of Representatives is also currently probing alleged corruption in the NDDC.

But the President is yet to take any decision concerning the dissolution of the IMC and the termination of the appointments of the minister and the acting NDDC boss.

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Unite Against Banditry, Shehu Sani Urges Christians, Muslims In Southern Kaduna

2 August 2020 - 4:01pm

A former lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, has told Christians and Muslims in Kajuru, Southern Kaduna, to unite and fight terrorism and banditry in the region.

He stated this during a peace meeting between Christian and Muslim leaders in Kajuru Local Government following the killing of innocent residents in the area.

He said, "For four decades, blood has been shed in Kaduna State in the name of religion or ethnicity. Since we were children we have witnessed killings and bloodshed for the last 40 years."

He noted that the bloodshed will continue in the area if the religious leaders do not come together and unite to fight the terrorists.

He added, "Sympathy for banditry and terrorism put you on the same league with them. Fathers, children and women are massacred everyday. The North has become an area where ceaseless mourning, bereavement and funeral services have become a daily affair.

"We must condemn the mass murder in Kaduna as we condemn the mass murder going on Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Zamfara and Niger states. We must not justify, rationalise or give excuse for killings or murder."

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Gas Explosion Kills One In Ogun

2 August 2020 - 3:40pm

One person was on Sunday killed in a gas explosion at Golden Estate in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

Spokesperson for the police in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident in a statement.

Oyeyemi explained that security operatives had been drafted to the scene.

“One person died and his corpse has been taken to the state general hospital morgue in Ijebu-Ode.

“No one sustained injury. The explosion affected one person who died immediately while others scampered for safety,” he said.

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Nigeria Will Pay China Loan Back In 20 years –Minister Of Transportation, Amaechi

2 August 2020 - 11:22am

Nigeria's Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the loan the Nigerian Government got from China for the rail projects being done in parts the country will be paid back over the next 20 years. 

Amaechi in a statement said China was the only country giving out loans with a low-interest rate of 2.8 per cent.

He maintained that no country in the world would give out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.

He said, “The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.

“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.

“Whether is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.

“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.

“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.”

Amaechi further stated that it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the National Assembly but for the issue of confidentiality in government, he would have published the clauses generating dust.

He added, “The National Assembly is aware of all these loans, we can’t take loan without the National Assembly, so ask why they are investigating? The Chinese are just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.

“The payment plan is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, ours is to implement the contract. They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay.

“$1.6bn was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for $5.3bn to fix from Ibadan to Kano, $3.2bn to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about $11.1bn, if those things were done when we had money, will we be here today? The answer is no.”

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Ogun Government Asks Graduating Secondary School Students To Pay N25,000 Each As COVID-19 Test Fee

2 August 2020 - 11:14am

The Ogun State Government has been accused of asking graduating secondary school students to pay N25,000 each before they could be allowed to resume.

SaharaReporters had reported that the graduating students are billed to resume schools ahead of their examinations on Tuesday.

The state government had mandated each student to undergo a test as a precondition for resumption to school.

The government said only students certified free of COVID-19 will be allowed into school premises.

It also asked parents to take their wards to designated places for the test between Friday and Monday.

Attempts by parents to get their children tested for free on Sunday failed as they were asked to pay N25,000 per child.

The parents became agitated and staged a protest against what they called monetisation of the test.

They also shut the gate of the hospital as part of moves to show their grievances against the payment.

For more than six hours they took over the premises and brought activities to a halt, preventing entry and exit into the hospital.

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AAC Kicks As INEC Replaces Name Of Party's Deputy Governorship Candidate Ahead Of Ondo Election

2 August 2020 - 9:17am

The African Action Congress in Ondo State has rejected the name published by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the party's deputy governorship candidate for the October 10 election. 

The party accused INEC of publishing a "strange name" as running mate to its governorship candidate, Mr Adekunle Adeleye.

The commission on Friday released the name of all political parties' candidates and their running mates for the October 10 election. 

It published one Samuel Tope Omotosho as the deputy governorship candidate for the party for the election. 

But the AAC said it sent the name of Mrs Mopelola Evelyn Ibrahim as the deputy governorship candidate to Adeleye and was surprised to see that her name was replaced by the electoral body. 

In a statement by AAC Chairman in Ondo, Alex Adeniyi, and Publicity Secretary, Oluwasunkanmi Oni, the party accused the electoral body of distorting the list of names of its candidates for the election. 

The statement reads, "It is therefore saddening that INEC went to manufacture an unknown deputy governorship candidate, namely Samuel Tope Omotosho, who is totally unknown to our party, who is not and have never been a member of our party, the African Action Congress, either in Ondo State or anywhere in the Nigeria.

"It is ignominious for INEC, a body that is expected to be apolitical, to collaborate with some unrecognised entities for reasons best known to them to tamper with the structure and constitution of our party.

"We, the African Action Congress (AAC), reject in its entirety the unknown name paired with Prince Adekunle Adeleye, our party Gubernatorial Candidate as running mate.

"At this point, we demand INEC to abjure her errors at once, and replace the unrecognised name  (Samuel Tope Omotosho) with the authentic name (Hon Mrs Mopelola Evelyn Ibrahim) submitted to them by the party or face legal action."

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Anti-corruption Coalition Writes President Buhari, Lists 14 Top Corruption Cases Against Malami

2 August 2020 - 8:40am

Abubakar Malami

Prominent civil society groups involved in anti-corruption have written to President Muhammadu Buhari, informing him of 14 high-profile corruption allegations against the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

The allegations range from financial sleaze involving him and his family to influence peddling.

The groups in a joint letter sent to the President called for immediate probe of Malami.

The letter was signed by Olanrewaju Suraju of Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Debo Adeniran of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, and Ezenwa Nwagwu of Say No Campaign.

Abubakar Malami

The groups said the immediate option before the Malami was to resign and give way for full inquiry into the grand allegations that seem to portray him as stunningly corrupt.

The statement reads, “It has to be now or never. There are very strong allegations of corruption against Mr Abubakar  Malami with clear evidence. President Buhari should act now. We have listed these corruption cases after painstaking compilation of high profile corruption cases involving the country’s No 1 law officer. The President must act without delay.

“We are perturbed by these reports considering the revered position occupied by Mr. Malami, being the number one law officer of the country. Some of the allegations as conveyed in the media reports go to the root of breakdown of law and order and total disregard for the rule of law. These allegations serve as a slap in the face to your Excellency’s administration foremost goal of ridding the Nation of corruption. These allegations are totally opposite the core objectives of your administration and international perception of the country.”

Top on the list is the alleged auctioning of vessels holding crude oil seized by the Federal Government, violating Section 31(2) and (4) of the EFCC Act 2004.

“The AGF also authorized the sale of these vessels by companies under EFCC prosecution for similar offence of illegal bunkering and this action was admitted by the AGF through his media aide pleading presumption of innocence on the part of the accused, in the case being prosecuted by the Federal Government through EFCC,” the statement added.

Continuing, it said, "The minister also barred the prosecution of the former Comptroller-General of Customs, Mohammed Inde Dikko, through a suspicious deal between the him and the Immediate past DSS Director on one side and the Comptroller General of Customs to refund $8 million to the Federal Government.

“The case was discontinued as Justice Dimgba refused to allow further prosecution of this matter under the guise that Mr. Dikko had kept his promise under the agreement by refunding N1,576,000,000 and more to the FG through the EFCC funds recovery account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The FG earlier accused Mr. Dikko of stealing over N40 billion.

“Some of the properties listed in his name were a multimillion naira Rayhaan Hotels worth about N500million, located at opposite Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Zaria Road, Kano State, a property worth about N600million Naira locate at Ahmadu Bello Way, Nasarawa GRA, Kano, a newly constructed school at the back of Nitel at Gesse Phase 1, Birni Kebbi worth about N700million, a multi million Naira property built by Mr. Malami for his son located at Gesse Phase II in Birni Kabbi worth over N400 million, a mansion known as Azbir Arena allegedly built by Mr. Malami for his second son. Azbir Arena an entertainment centre worth over N3 Billion, with a big plaza and kids playing centre and hotel all combined in one expansive property.

“At ICPC, Mr Malami also displayed his unpretentious hatred for the fight against corruption by writing a letter dated 16th December, 2016 withdrawing the case of fraud filed against Mr. Godsday Orubebe, the former Minister of Niger Delta, in a case involving over N1.97billion, on the ground that in his opinion, there was no basis for filing the charge against him.”

“We strongly believe that the above allegations are deserving of thorough, immediate and urgent investigation through an independent panel of inquiry and the Attorney General suspended from office pending the conclusion of this investigation; the veracity or otherwise of these allegations is essential for the sanity of the public service.

“The law presumes any allegation as a suspicion until the suspect is so proven guilty; we as organizations, relentless in seeing transparency and accountability actualized and that due process is deployed in investigating corruption, abuse of power and office belief the allegations leveled against the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami is deserving of your urgent action.

“We believe in due process which is why we have forwarded this petition to your Excellency for proper and diligent investigation and timeous action in order to restore the sanity of the core mandate of your administration to fight corruption which is at the verge of collapse as a result of the alleged abuse of power and office by the incumbent Attorney-General and Minster of Justice.”

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Humour Among Thieves By Felix Oboagwina

2 August 2020 - 5:34am

Felix Oboagwina

Assistant Comptroller General of Customs (ACG) Bashir Abubakar has learnt in the hardest way that two rights can turn into a wrong. Just in 2018, the world toasted him for rejecting a bribe of $412,000 (circa N171 million) from unscrupulous Tramadol drug smugglers, but this year he got disgraced out of the service after leading a raid on the warehouse of a suspected imported rice smuggler in Daura, the President’s hometown in Katsina State. 

Breaking at the same time that corruption scandals rocked the investigation of government parastatals in the National Assembly, news of Abubakar’s dismissal (part of a general sacking exercise in the Customs) practically slipped under the radar; and the irony in the Customs man’s story failed to get the deserved media limelight. An honest man fell at the same time scandal was born. And scandal stole his spotlight. After merely nibbling at the dismissal of the crack Customs officer as breaking news, the media subsequently gave Abubakar’s travail the cold shoulder treatment without doing follow-ups. Editors rather followed the bandwagon of attention devoted to reporting the National Assembly committee oversight sittings that stank of suffocating stenches of sleaze, corruption and thievery. The theatre of the absurd staged by members of the President’s cabinet dominated the traditional media and quickly went viral on social media.

A number of MDA heads and ministers appeared at the Legislature’s oversight investigations to display sadistic humour. In addition, these dramatis personae appeared determined that if they must fall they would achieve two things: Firstly, they would not fall alone; and secondly, they might go down with their integrity in tatters but with their sense of humour intact. Begin with the Nollywood-style fainting of Professor Kenebradikumo Pondei, Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) under scrutiny. Move to the “off-the-mic, it-is-enough” episode of the Niger-Delta Minister Senator Godswill Akpabio, who had accused Federal legislators of securing 60 per cent of the commission’s contracts. Akpabio’s diatribe came days after the legislative enquiry saw him crossing swords with former NDDC MD, Ms. Joy Nunieh, who claimed to have dealt him a dirty slap for sexually harassing her. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Right Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, joined the fray to challenge Akpabio to open the Pandora Box on NDDC contractors in the National Assembly. In the mix, the Labour Minister Chris Ngige came to trade insults with a “Mushin boy” Lagos Legislator instead of concerning himself with the corruption in the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), a parastatal in his portfolio. And then the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, mounted the stage to dillydally over delays in NPower beneficiaries’ monthly stipends running into billions, only to allege Federal legislators had been allocated hundreds of slots, a charge they dismissed as a fabrication. Similarly, the opposition has raised hell over how the ministry could claim to spend N13.5 billion, about N679 million daily, on a school feeding programme with children unable to attend classes due to the pandemic. 

Felix Oboagwina

One common thread ran through proceedings. All the dramatis personae demonstrated a determination to divert attention from the putrid skeletons that the Legislature’s post-mortem should focus upon; they instead hoodwinked the audience with a symphony of comedies. They reduced the subject matter of corruption to the elephant in the room too embarrassing for anyone to talk about. 

However, he who brings home ant-infested firewood must welcome the visit of lizards. All these shows of shame have come into the public domain, so talk we must. Who remembers the IF-YOU-TARKA-ME-I-WILL-DABOH-YOU episode in the Second Republic, when Godwin Daboh accused fellow Benue kinsman and serving Minister under General Yakubu Gowon, Mr. Joseph Tarka, of corruption; and the former threatened to unearth the dry bones in his Accuser’s box in retaliation? Thus, this generation of politicians are merely borrowing from their predecessors’ “do me I do you” tactics of responding to corruption accusations with counter-accusations.

Fela spoke about them. In his 1980 hit album, “Authority Stealing,” Abami Eda captured Nigerian leaders’ penchant for accusations and counter-accusations.

I no be thief (You be thief)

I no be rogue (You be rogue)

I no dey steal (You dey steal)

I no be robber (You be robber)

I no be armed robber (You be armed robber)

Argument, argument, argue (Argument, argument)....

Beyond the comic relief that the actors presented in these COVID19-ravaged times, people have queried why the President appears to have surrounded himself with questionable characters. That may be true or not. But behind PMB’s outer facade of a military toughie, there lies a heart that reposes childlike trust in people. Maybe old age too has whittled the veteran’s cutting edge. All this, several of his aides exploit. 

Let us assume, without necessarily conceding, that all the President’s appointees currently facing corruption investigations are guilty as charged; it will mean that the President must have somehow brought all this trouble upon himself and upon the country. Some scenarios bear out this conclusion. Buhari went ahead and appointed Ibrahim Magu EFCC Chairman in 2016 despite DSS reports that indicted the policeman for failing the integrity test; that report pushed the National Assembly to disqualify Magu, whom the President stubbornly retained as the anti-corruption Czar. Similarly, Akpabio faced a N108 billion corruption investigation from his tenure as a Governor, leading to wide protests immediately his name surfaced as a ministerial nominee; PMB appointed him nevertheless. Then when he became Minister for the Niger Delta Ministry, people raised questions about his strange contraption of an illegal Interim Management Committee (IMC) that subsumed the NDDC’s statutory board, but Buhari encouraged him in this perfidious path that has resulted in an IMC sleaze of N4.9 billion. 

That, in a government noted for its self-righteous anti-corruption mantra, it took a joint committee of the National Assembly to expose these jaw-dropping Executive lapses leaves many citizens livid. Imagine the hypocrisy! This sordid image has led to someone caricaturing Nigeria’s three arms of government as LEGISLOOTERS, EXECUTHIEVES and JUDISHARING. In fact, Transparency International’s Corruption Index ranked the country 146th last year, worse than her 126th in 2015 when PMB came to power. Of course, critics like Senator Shehu Sani have said that the President applied deodorants to sanitise the corruption within his inner circle while deploying the sledgehammer against outsiders. 

But is Nigeria really bereft of people of integrity capable of rendering due diligence in managing public funds? The regime of Olusegun Obasanjo discovered apolitical technocrats like Nasir El-Rufai, Charles Soludo, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the rest. Where are the likes of Frank Kokori, Olisa Agbakoba, Pat Utomi, Olu Falae, Donu Kogbara, Agba Jalingo, Ledum Mittee, Annkio Briggs and all those who pushed the struggle for Niger-Delta development? Couldn’t any of them be co-opted to run with their pet visions in an interventionist institution like the NDDC for the infrastructural advancement of the Niger Delta?

When, earlier in his regime, PMB announced a list of appointees that received wide condemnation as a sectional and recycled assemblage, aides quickly cooked up the defence that Buhari had selected people he knew and could trust. Pray, is it only thieves that PMB knows? Why is the President surrounded by thieves? Why has he succeeded in putting together an Executive, containing a good dose of dishonourable scallywags, incapable of giving value for public money, and who are propelled by the idea that public service provides them an opportunity to loot the commonwealth and feather their nests? Has anything really changed from the corruptive past?

However, with a hanging debt burden hovering around N40 trillion, a good slice pilfered into secret sleaze accounts, the country must break this vicious cycle of humouring thieves with public posts. Thus, President Buhari, like Obasanjo, must eschew this party-patronage and job-for-the-boys mentality. He must begin to look beyond the knights of his round table. Outside Baba’s cycle, there exist Nigerians who rise above filthy lucre, capable of delivering on nation-building visions. Yes. Look for someone with the same moral code as the Customs officer who rejected a N171 million carrot, someone like the prematurely retired ACG Bashir Abubakar.




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117 Nigerians Evacuated From East Africa Arrive Home

2 August 2020 - 4:03am

About 117 Nigerians evacuated from Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania after being stranded following the outbreak of Coronavirus, arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Sunday morning aboard Azman Air flight.

The returnees are expected to embark on a compulsory 14-day isolation period in line with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control protocol on Coronavirus.

In a post on Twitter, the airline said, “Evacuation Update: A total of 117 passengers evacuated from three African countries #Rwanda #Tanzania & #Uganda by @AzmanAir safely arrived at International Wing of MMA Lagos 2nd August 2020 around 03:00hrs.

“We wish all the passengers a wonderful stay in Nigeria.”

Evacuation Update: A Total of 117 Passengers evacuated from 3 African Countries #Rwanda #Tanzania & #Uganda by @AzmanAir safely arrived at International Wing of MMA Lagos 2nd August 2020 around 03:00hrs

We wish all the Passengers a Wonderful Stay in Nigeria#LetsFlyAzmanAir

— AzmanAir - #LetsFlyAzmanAir (@AzmanAir) August 2, 2020

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COVID-19: Lagos Government Closes Eti-Osa Isolation Centre

2 August 2020 - 3:47am

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu

The Lagos State Government has shut down the Eti-Osa Isolation Centre, the News Agency of Nigeria has reported.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu made the announcement during the 17th update on the management of Coronavirus in the state.

The governor said the Agidingbi Isolation Centre would also be closed and patients relocated to a large capacity centre – Indo-Centre in Anthony area, which would be soon be inaugurated.

Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

He said, “Over the last four, five months, we have built an excess capacity centre, but that is only the way to go, you cannot over-prepare.

“We have got to a stage where we need to balance the economics of this and which of these facilities do we need to keep running.

“Some of them now are having less than 20 per cent of occupancy.

“This is why we reached a conclusion to shut Eti-Osa facility and another one in Lekki.”

He explained that the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba “is now also gradually being reverted back to its former status as a hospital to cater to all forms of infectious diseases.”


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BREAKING: Husband, Wife Killed As Boko Haram Bombs Borno Again

2 August 2020 - 3:42am

A man and his wife have been killed in multiple explosions that rocked Kafan Ruwa town under Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State.

The explosions occurred around 12:30am on Sunday, according to residents, who spoke with our correspondent.

SaharaReporters gathered that many people also sustained injuries from the blasts.

A security source told SaharaReporters that details of the actual casualty figure could not be ascertained yet but a man and his wife were killed in the blast.

The latest incident comes a few days after multiple explosions rocked Maiduguri, killing several persons and leaving dozens others injured.

Borno is the epicentre of Boko Haram’s many years of violence and wanton killings across most parts of Northern Nigeria.


See Also Insurgency UPDATE: Furniture Maker, Son, Three Others Killed In Borno Bomb Blasts 0 Comments 2 Days Ago

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The Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi Of Our Lives By Calixthus Okoruwa

2 August 2020 - 3:30am

I was already seated somewhere towards the back row at the hall in the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, waiting for the meeting to commence when I saw him walking from the high table towards the rear of the hall.

So I walked up to him and introduced myself, upon which he gracefully took my hand and ushered me to a seat on the front row. To my left and right was an intimidating array of top shots in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector – chief executives of blue-chip pharmaceutical companies, top civil servants, deans of pharmacy schools and the like. I was only a fresh-faced 21-year-old final year student, at the quarterly meeting of the council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in my capacity as President of Nigeria’s pharmacy students. But to Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, who had recently become President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, mine was a very special position that needed to be accorded utmost importance.

Not very long afterwards, with the meeting now well underway, Adelusi-Adeluyi signaled to me. “I’ll be calling on you next,” he whispered gently, apparently in order to avail me of some time to prep myself ahead of my presentation. “Next, I’d like to call on a gentleman who represents the future of our profession,” he soon announced. Of course, I had by then become very relaxed and confident and my presentation was near flawless.

The practice of incorporating students into the highest level of policy making in the profession was unique to pharmacists in Nigeria. Its objective was to seek the unique insights of students in policy formulation and implementation while at the same time enabling students better understand and appreciate and perhaps even internalize these policies before they graduate. In my experience at the council, whose meetings I had attended thrice before this one and with whose members I had interacted, no one appreciated this as much as Adelusi-Adeluyi. And in typical fashion, he strove to ensure that the council optimized the benefits of this innovation. The future of the profession was critical and it was today’s student who epitomized that future.

It wasn’t because he had been a student leader in his day. It was his person. A natural strategist, he has a great sense of perspective.

I veered off pharmacy many years ago and have for more than twenty years practiced in the realm of communications management. When you discuss issues pertaining to public relations, marketing, branding and advertising with Adelusi-Adeluyi, you’re practically discussing with a peer in these areas. He is as much at home in these fields as he is with his primary profession of pharmacy.  When he set up Juli Pharmacy in the early 1970s, he designed its logo himself, a logo that in its colour, simplicity and distinctiveness, ticks all the boxes of uniqueness that define great brand expressions. Even its tagline, “…the sign of service” is no less unique for its succinctness in capturing the essence of service which Juli Pharmacy continues to exemplify.

It is instructive that wherever he has operated, Adelusi-Adeluyi has typically been set apart by his peers for leadership. As a student both at domestic and international levels, as an employee at Pfizer, at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, as a member of Rotary Club, as a participant at the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies and later its alumni association, even as a minister in government.

It is easy to recognize that he has an innate disposition to bring people together, to break down boundaries, to foster better understanding and trust among people. And his leadership is enriched by the altruistic virtues he embodies. But beyond these, people can see that he combines his deep intellect with a super-human temperament and incredible humility. There is the X-factor as well. Impossible to describe, but which the gentleman appears to have in full measure: The charismatic ability to inspire followership.

At 80, Adelusi-Adeluyi has taken to studying Greek. He’s already very proficient in several languages that include Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese and even Latin, in addition to his native Yoruba, but this doesn’t matter to him. He’s as much a Philomath as he is a Polyglot.

He learnt how to fly planes many years ago and has a private pilot’s license. The story of his sojourn in the field of law, with his peerless performance at the Nigerian Law School in 1987, is now the stuff of legend.

He has been a television broadcaster, journalist and even music producer. He has been very active on the professional circuit: Institute of Directors, the chambers of commerce and many others.

When he turned 75 a few years ago, I recall over-hearing a phone conversation he had with a state governor who was planning to pay a visit to felicitate with him. “When you’re several houses away,” he implored the governor, “do me the favour of turning off your sirens.” He had no interest in drawing attention to himself by the caliber of his visitors, nor of disturbing the serenity of his neighbourhood.

You can feel his simplicity when he stretches out his hand to a 10-year old and engages him in a conversation, effortlessly committing the child’s name to memory. He doesn’t do it to patronize the child. He engages the child out of genuine love and interest.

You can experience his largeness of heart when he laughs away incidents and deliberately refuses to hold a grudge against anybody. Indeed, immensely witty, he’s not above poking fun at what he imagines, are his own shortcomings or failures.

Then you experience his godliness when he puts his own problems aside and takes upon himself, the problems of everyone else – at professional, social, and even personal levels. At 80, you wouldn’t hear him complain even of a headache. This is not because he doesn’t have headaches, but because he is more concerned with your own problems and helping you resolve them.

I have yet to meet a better listener. Whether presiding over a formal meeting or proffering counsel to a group of visiting politicians; whether playing host to a group of visiting students or a delegation of traditional rulers, Adelusi-Adeluyi is never carried away by his learning, exposure and experience. He never ceases to listen, thereafter crafting his well-articulated sagely counsel that have made him a much sought-after mentor and counselor.

A rumination of his life inevitably evokes the great “what ifs”. What if he had stuck to the arts and humanities for which he had a natural disposition and not gravitated to pharmacy in a country where scientific disciplines are under-appreciated and malnourished? Perhaps today, he may have been another of our Nobel laureates in Literature. What if he had been born in some other country, the United States for instance? What a delight it would have been to see how the US would optimize his humongous intellect, skills and organizational ability. Perhaps he would have long earned for himself, a place in the Pantheon of America’s greatest presidents.

As he celebrates his 80th, one can only wish this multi-talented beacon of statesmanship, leadership and integrity, many more years of excellent health in service to humanity. And if the earlier “what if” questions are academic, the “when” question, certainly isn’t. When shall such a personality come the way of our country again? Or as William Shakespeare put it so succinctly in Julius Caesar, “whence comest such another?”

Okoruwa works for XLR8, a communication company

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Nigerian Population Explosion: Was Malthus Right? By Tony Ademiluyi

2 August 2020 - 3:19am

In the 19th century, English scholar, Thomas Malthus, in his widely read book ‘An essay on the principle of population’, warned the world that the geometric growth of human beings will far outstrip the resources needed to take care of them. He warned that there will be lots of famine with its attendant undesirable consequences and that the world should brace up for the agony that would follow.

The West proved him wrong as they used science and technology to give their citizens a better deal in life.

However, he is indeed a sort of prophet as his prediction seems to have come to pass in Nigeria – the African continent’s most populous country, which earned her the ironical sobriquet ‘The Giant of Africa.’

Nigeria has been cursed with the worst set of leaders both military and civilian and the lack of vision from these overlords has ensured the perpetuation of the vicious cycle of poverty which has been the lot and fate of the generality of the populace.

As at the last census, we are estimated to have about 206 million people and the numbers keep growing day by day.

Population growth is a two edged sword. On the one hand it could propel a nation to greatness and the zenith of economic growth and development. The China example is there for the world to see as the world’s fastest growing economy leveraging on their large population as the world’s most robust market. This was because its leaders since 1949 when Mao Tse Tung took over power have been visionary and have translated this vision into pro-people policies. They also ensured that their country was highly investment friendly which saw the United States and the west setting up shop massively in their country.

Nigeria on the other hand has no clear cut plan for her citizens beyond empty rhetoric and grandstanding. We have had vision 2000, 2010 and 2020 with the economic situation of the country deteriorating with no solution in sight.

The average birth rate in Nigeria according to the Punch editorial of July 29, 2020 is put at 5.3 per woman and it is as high as 7.3 in Katsina where President Muhammadu Buhari hails from.

The government has no plan for anybody as we are all left to our devices and survival strategy by the cruel government. The current challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic where very few citizens received palliatives is a clear pointer to the reality of our heading to Golgotha.

Malthus was a diehard advocate of population control long before it became a global buzzword. China had to embark on a one child per family policy in 1978 to keep their population under control after the failure of the Cultural Revolution which failed to leapfrog the Asian nation into the economic big league.

Coming back home, population control has been an extremely hard sell as most people especially the proletariat believe that children are a gift from God and as such they should perpetually be open to life.

We recall vividly the attempts by the then Military Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida to limit the children per family to four. The religious leaders and the conservative cultural practices of the people made the idea end up in a gargantuan fiasco.

By 2050, there is the projection that Nigeria’s population will be well over 700 million. This is really scary when you take into consideration the reality of scarce resources that are available to live a decent and productive life. If at 206 million, there is massive unemployment, poverty, hunger and the dearth of a welfare state, imagine how it will be by 2050! It will be worse than the state of nature.

There must be a critical paradigmatic shift as we grapple with the realities of being domiciled in a failed state where every resident is a local government unto him/herself.

The issue of population is a personal one and it is wrong to impose strict population control as a public policy. However there should be some robust form of suasion to ensure that each citizen has children that they can reasonably cater for.

It is the quality of the kids that really matter and not the number. The challenge of day to day modern living is different from what obtained in the 20th century where the family unit was stronger and we were our brother’s keepers. 

Things have changed now as the extended family which was a huge source of economic buffering is given way for the ascendancy of the nuclear family as a result of the brutal financial pressures of the 21st century.

Many Nigerians even with just two children find it a herculean task giving them the good life and how much more the possibility of taking additional ones from their relatives. That cultural cum economic description of the Nigerian family is fast giving way to the novel realities of westernization and globalization.

While we could blame the government for our woes as the country may have been better if corruption was reduced to the barest minimum, individuals also have a critical role to play to ensure that their kids get a head start in life in the ever increasing world of competition.

Thomas Friedman’s New York Times bestseller, ‘The World is Flat’ talks about the new realities of competition across borders. In this era of outsourcing, the dynamics of the labour market has witnessed a shift in who constitutes the competition. Many western nations have a presence in Asia for instance and these Asian residents earn huge foreign exchange without having to leave their countries of residence unlike in the days of yore when migration was highly necessary. The competition a modern day Nigerian now faces comes from all across the globe. The critical question to ask is that how competitive is the average Nigerian child when benchmarked against their foreign peers?

It is important that Nigerians have kids that they can afford to take care off in order to forestall disasters that await these children in the future if they don’t have the tools and knowledge needed to thrive in this jet age. While I agree that children are a gift from God, they could also become a societal menace if they are not properly equipped to face the current challenges being thrown at them. Religion is good but it shouldn’t be substituted for rational thinking.

It is the society that will ultimately bear the brunt of badly brought up offspring and so it makes a whole lot of sense for modern day Nigerian parents to cut their coat according to their cloth with regards to the number of kids that they bring into the world especially when you factor in the absence of a welfare state since we are all on our own to use local parlance lingo.

A word is enough for the wise goes the age-long cliché.

Tony Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos

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Environmental Activist Arrested By Benue Government For Protesting Illegal Mining In Owukpa Community

2 August 2020 - 3:10am

Okwori's facebook post

An environmental activist, Okwori Onaji, has been arrested by the Benue State Government over a protest in the Owukpa area of the state.

The activist was arrested and physically assaulted by men of the Benue State Vigilante while trying to protest the illegal mining of coal in the community by Dangote Company.

The activist was accused of possessing an AK-47 weapon and an axe by the vigilante.

However, a rights advocate, Andy Obeya, dismissed the claim, adding that Onaji was organising a press conference when he was arrested with placards and other materials for the event.

He said, “Dangote group has been mining coal without recourse to environmental safety standards and proper compensation to the community.

"Okwori has been complaining about the indiscriminate and illegal mining that was ongoing in Owukpa, his community. The coal mining activities have paralysed learning activities as the only school in the place is no longer safe and is almost being consumed by the coal mining programme.

Okwori's facebook post

"We asked Okwori to go ahead as an advance team to mobilize and plan ahead of our planned documentary and press conference since the Commissioner of Police has refused to approve our request for Police protection and approval for protest. Because we had originally planned for a peaceful procession to advocate on behalf of the community.

"Okwori had met with members of the mining community to discuss the planned press conference and mobilized people to be part of the program and I did speak with some members of the community who are critical stakeholders of the people.

"On the said date, Okwori was arrested by the local vigilante group at Ukwo area where he had gone to wait for other team members and the media.

"They labelled him a thief, handcuffed him, tied him up and tortured, then later handed him over to the police. The police didn't allow the media team and other professionals working with him to even have any access to him.

"They claimed at first that he was seen with a bullet. Later on they claimed it was an AK-47. And now an axe. His relatives who slept in the same house told us that he only left the house with a banner and placards and had nothing else on him. One of them is an eyewitness.”

Obeya demanded the unconditional release of Onaji, who he argues was exercising his constitutional right as a Nigerian citizen when he was arrested and framed up for what he did not do.

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The Sanctimony Of Nigerian Army Against Rawlings, Nzeogwu’s Ghosts By Festus Adedayo

1 August 2020 - 2:39pm

Festus Adedayo

The symbolism of blood in Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings’ name must have terribly scared the Nigerian Army. So also the “baboon drenched in blood” picture of the July 29, 1966 mutiny-turned coup codenamed Operation Araba. Worse still was the image of bullet-ridden bodies of politicians in the January 15, 1966 coup, about the bloodiest putsch in the history of the Nigerian ruling elite’s struggle for the control of the levers of power. When the National Democratic Party, (NDP) upper week, barely a week to the 54th anniversary of the second Nigerian coup, canvassed the “Rawlings treatment” for masterminds of alleged monumental theft of Nigeria’s wealth in the Muhammadu Buhari government, the party had obviously shot the sling of a catapult on a hive of bees. 

The January coup had ideological trappings, a warning against the misusage of power. Spearheaded by military officers of Igbo descent who eliminated key Northern politicians and military officers, there was no doubting the fact that it desired to mop up systemic maggots from Nigerian government. Unfortunately, however, the plotters left wounds that have since refused to heal. While the July coup was masterminded by vengeance-propelled Lt. Colonel Murtala Mohammed, who struck in concert with other disgruntled northern military officers, it left memories of an orgy of extreme torture, ambush killings and summary executions. Nevertheless, both coups, as well as the Ghanaian Rawlings coup of 1979, will make the ears of anyone who witnessed the bloodletting tingle.

The most venerated Northern politician of the time, the politically sacred Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, was felled by the audacious bullets of Igbo officers of the July coup. Bello’s counterpart in the West, the polyglot, erstwhile Editor of the Daily Service newspaper, Chief S.L. Akintola, was gunned down in the presence of his family. The highest victims of that counter-coup being General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi and Lt. Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, Nigeria's first military Head of State and  Governor of Western Region respectively, the ethnic bad blood it provoked left in its wake a civil war barely a year after, with residue of a million souls sacrificed.

Festus Adedayo

On the reverse, the coup in Ghana was a retributive strike against the 42-year old Lt. Gen. Frederick W. K. Akuffo-led Supreme Military Council of Ghana, which had earlier, on May 15, 1979, incarcerated Fl. Lt. Rawlings. Rawlings’ initial grouse against the Akuffo government was its refusal to pay salaries of the military. At his trial, Rawlings turned the tide against Akuffo by publicly alleging massive corruption of his government, which he claimed was reason for widespread suffering and disenchantment of the people of Ghana.

Shortly after, specifically on June 3, 1979, Major Boakye Djan and junior officers with allied disgruntled feelings about the Akuffo government, matched into the prison where Rawlings was incarcerated, yanked manacles off his arms and walked to the radio station to announce Akuffo’s overthrow. The coup-plotters thereafter rounded up the Head of State, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and another former Ghanaian ruler, General A. A Afrifa and put them on trial. The allegations of the young new military rulers against them were, economic sabotage, abuse of power, amassment of wealth, as well as misuse of the Ghanaian state funds. On June 26, 1979, Acheampong, Akuffo and  Afrifa, were publicly executed by firing squad. They were shot in company with five other senior officers. Venue of their last breaths on earth was a military firing range on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean near Accra, witnessed by a huge crowd of bystanders.

I went into details of the above three military putsches in order to adequately situate the press release credited to the NDP National Chairman, Chidi Chukwuani. In the statement, Chukwuani had canvassed the “Rawlings treatment” for current Nigerian rulers as reprisal for the massive corruption which had seized the polity. Chukwuani’s statement had barely hit the airwaves by the time a rebound surfaced from the Nigerian army. In a statement signed by the Defence Headquarters’ spokesman, John Enenche, the army likened Chukwuani’s call to an “unguided utterance” and “call to insurrection” and pleaded with Nigerian soldiers to disregard the call to arms, reminding them of their oath to be loyal to Nigeria and its Commander-in-Chief.

“The Defence Headquarters… observe(s) that this, targeted at the Nigerian military, is inciting and instigative. What Chukwuani is calling for is a combination of unpopular acts of insurrection and mutiny, which cannot be taken for granted by the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Consequently, I am directed by the high command of the Nigerian military to let the general public know and remind personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria that all officers and men of the Nigerian military swore to an oath of allegiance to be totally loyal to the civil authority of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and protect the constitution. All officers and men of the Nigerian military are further reminded of offences contained in Armed Forces Act CAP A20. The laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which include among others; mutiny in sections 52 and 53, which if committed are punishable,” Enenche sermonized.

Perhaps because they are soldiers, Enenche and his military constituency apparently have no patience for comprehensive interrogation of issues. No wonder their resort to lame placebo and placatory, as well as veiled threats. It’s our duty not to allow them get away with this rigor-less sanctimony. Rather than this cant, the first question they should have asked was, are there historical constellations between what led to the Rawlings revolution in Ghana, the Nigerian coups of 1966 and today’s chaotic Nigeria under the previous government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the current one under Muhammadu Buhari which Chukwuani and his NDP took liberty to compare and project? If the events are not dissimilar, shouldn’t there then be similar retributions for similar infractions?

The truth is that, the quantum of rot and corruption that instigated the 1966 Nigerian coup plotters and the Rawlings' putschists of 1979 to strike against democratic institutions of the time is grossly miniature compared to the huge systemic heists that have been inflicted on Nigeria in 20 years of the Fourth Republic. While the Aguiyi-Ironsi military government unilaterally and unconscionably subverted the country’s federal structure to unitarism, the coup-plotters of January alleged that Nigerian enemies, who their coup was aimed at, were “the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent, those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office… the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circle, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds.”

Now, check all the provoking indices of that Nzeogwu coup speech and tease out which is not present since two decades back. Politicians have literally stolen Nigeria blind and flushed her to the precipice. The cronyism of the Buhari government and the heavy theft under Goodluck Jonathan are undeniably worse than that which riled Nzeogwu to kill the crème de la crème of the polity. Worse than the ten percenters of 1966, votes for contracts are stolen 100 per cent in Nigeria’s current Republic. The divisiveness promoted by the Buhari government is the worst in human history by a government against its own people, a morbid version of tribalism perfected without any care in the world, with mindless abandon, if you like. You heard Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, putting “the Nigerian political calendar back” in words and deeds, by justifying the relinquishing of Nigeria’s sovereignty to China, in a bid to sign a $5.8 billion debt for the finance of rail projects which, trust Nigeria’s rapacious governmental elements, must have had them filch billions of Naira from? If a Minister didn’t see anything wrong in a contract which states that, "The borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for ITSELF or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets,” then many of the government runners now and in the three administrations previously should thank their stars that the ghost of Nzeogwu isn’t as vengeful as the ghost of Julius Caesar.

In 20 years of democratic practice, through the avarice of “political profiteers, the swindlers” hunger, squalor and hopelessness have colonized Nigeria. From the corruption dramatology in the NDDC perfected in the last 20 years and in virtually everywhere in Nigeria, politicians have done worse than, a la Nzeogwu, “mak(ing) the country look big for nothing before international circle” – they have miniaturized a giant. No one respects Nigeria or Nigerians in the whole wide world any longer.

In spite of the billions of Naira voted to protect Nigeria and combat crime, our people are killed like chickens in Kaduna, Katsina, Borno States by ragtag armies of bandits and insurgents every hour. A report, two days ago, said that 497 Nigerians were killed in three weeks, yet Buhari claimed he had done his best. In Southern Kaduna, more persons must have been hacked to death than were killed in Mali, yet Buhari not only didn’t find it necessary to be bothered enough to intervene, but he had no qualms in junketing to that country, ostensibly to go shop for an end to the “Malian crisis.” Jonathan was practically dozing while insecurity seized Nigeria too.

A few days ago, the Governor of Borno, Babagana Zulum, was almost assassinated by Boko Haram insurgents, provoking a threat from him to defend his state by returning to a pristine architecture of hunters as substitute to a Nigerian Army that gulps billions of Naira in annual budgets. In the midst of this plethora of crises that dwarf his essence in office, Buhari was either not aware or busy smiling in empty photo-ops and well-starched babanriga. So, what is wrong in canvassing similar remedy for same ailments?

Having said all this, however, military rule can NEVER be a substitute to the democratic flip-flops of the last 20 years in Nigeria under civilians. We do not need to engage in homilies to see that the 30 years of military rule, out of the 60 years of Nigeria’s independence, have destroyed the country almost irreparably. Patently ambitious, many times infantile and ostensibly incompetent military officers bayoneted their ways into Government House amid a ricochet of guns, trusting in their armory, rather than rich minds. They were bereft of the tiniest ingredients of leadership and ran this country not only by trial and error but with heavy brawns and nil brains. Just imagine for a second that, but for providence, a drunk, blabber and sybarite like Bukar Suka Dimka could have headed this country in 1976.

Leading Nigeria at a time of unprecedented boom, the ruling soldier elite literally administered Nigeria like a saturnalia. They quashed precious wealth on frivolities and were too conscribed thought-wise to plan for today. This produced a Yakubu Gowon who unabashedly announced to the world that the problem with Nigeria was not money but how to spend it. The soldier boys squandered trillions of Nigeria’s inheritance on playing Big Brother to Africa, rather than providing a future for millions of Nigerians unborn. Today, Nigerians live with the squalor resulting from and concomitant to that irresponsible and opaque military leadership. So, in all material particular, as lawyers say, military rule is not an option to move Nigeria forward at all.

But the right way to begin to address Nigeria’s problem of selfish and self-centered leadership isn’t to play the ostrich as Enenche and his Army Headquarters have done. A truism in the literature of Third World governance is that a people-centered democratic government is a sure antidote to the evil of military governmental hijack. There is no doubt that the Nigerian Army was scared by this harmless comparison made by the NDP, having also confronted the well-burnished disorder in the polity in the last 20 years under civilian rulers. The military must know as well that such hopelessness in Nigeria today is a lacuna which irresponsible soldier wayfarers exploit to headbutt democratic governments. NDP should, however, have told Nigerians that virtually all Nigerian politicians and not the APC-run government alone, is responsible for this colossal rot.

We all know that the democratic template we have had in Nigeria in 20 years is the worst form of representative democracy anywhere in the world. We also know as well that Nigeria is hemorrhaging terribly and is gasping for breath in the hands of the political class and its accomplices. Worse still, this same political class has corrupted the electoral process so much that the democratic lingo which says that irresponsible governments can be voted out of office at voters’ behest is, in Nigeria, at best a hollow and dud concept. We must engage our problems head on and military rule is not part of the options at all. Soldiers will further worsen and compound Nigeria’s bottomless problems. What we need is a nihilist return to reset mode. The way forward, I honestly cannot fathom though.    

Buhari’s politics of memory

President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, rolled out a list of railway station corridors which were named after living and departed Nigerians, ostensibly with the aim of memorializing icons of the Nigerian state. The corridors are ones along the Lagos-Ibadan and Itakpe/Ajaokuta/ Aladja/Warri corridors. He claimed that the Nigerians were so honoured due to the commensurate contributions they had made to the progress and development of their communities and Nigeria as a whole.

The honorees and their corridors were, Bola Tinubu (Apapa station), Mobolaji Johnson (Ebute Metta Station), Babatunde Fashola (Agege station), Lateef Jakande, (Agbado station) Yemi Osinbajo (Kajola station), Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (Papalanto station), Wole Soyinka (Abeokuta station), Segun Osoba (Olodo station), Ladoke Akintola (Omi-Adio station), Obafemi Awolowo (Ibadan station) and Alex Ekwueme (Operation Control Centre). He had earlier named one after Goodluck Jonathan. If you ask me, a Buhari who scarcely bothers about what the rest of the world says, must have fought for the inclusion of General Sani Abacha’s name on the list.

Anthropologists will be interested in the politics behind this memorialization by the Buhari administration. It reminds me of the theme of the 2017 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, which was, In Whose Honor? On Monuments, Public Spaces, Historical Narratives and Memory.

In naming monuments after persons, Buhari seemed to be acting as a steward of the past and present, arriving at a potpourri broth of good names sprinkled with dregs and suppressors of the people’s will, for political advantage. However, with the current mood sweeping round the globe, it is apparent that the correct and most enduring memorialization is in good deeds. For instance, Buhari does not have to erect any physical monument in Awolowo’s memory. He is etched in Yoruba people’s memories and will continue to occupy that space till the end of time.

Centuries-old statues perceived to have been erected to honour individuals who fought wars protecting the institution of slavery were recently pulled down. What that means is that, while Buhari has the presidential power to play politics of memory by erecting monuments in remembrance of people who catch his fancy, they will be pulled down long after we are all gone, when the correct reading of our memories are shoveled out. In fact, users of the railway corridors may not affix to them the names decreed by the President. I cite two examples to buttress this. The popular Ring Road named after MKO Abiola in Ibadan, Oyo State is seldom so referred while the New Garage road, never named after anyone, but built by a former Oyo governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, is so memorialized ever since.

Buhari himself should bother what monuments would be erected in his own memory decades to come. Perhaps in Daura where he has been a son-of-the-soil made good? Or in the Fulani nation where he had successfully muzzled merit into the dustbin to favour his ethnicity? In Daura, in Buhari’s very eyes, his monuments – billboards – were pulled down some months ago by his own people. It should tell him that memorialization is done by the people and has no place for politics. 

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Insecurity: Nigerians Deserve The Best, Not Your Best – A Reply To President Buhari By Festus Ogun

1 August 2020 - 1:22pm

As the spate of insecurity in Nigeria continues to wax stronger, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday, while celebrating Sallah with his family and aides inside the comfort of the Presidential Villa, that Nigerians indeed know that his regime has done its best. It came as a rude shock to many that the President could utter such a disturbing statement when the country is largely at war, to put it mildly, and condemnable little or no effort has been put in place to restore peace, tranquillity and security in the country.

On the eve of Sallah, at least, no fewer than two bomb blasts were recorded in Maiduguri. A day before that, the convoy of the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum was violently attacked by insurgents in Baga, Kukuwa Local Government of Borno State. Notably, the massacre in Southern Kaduna still continues unabated, leaving the hopeless, helpless and innocent citizens to their fate. The list is endless! The situation is turning from bad to worse: banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, raping, insurgency, and herdsmen terrorism – all on the rise!

Is it not ironic that those who terrorize the country are still being fed, clothed, ‘financed’ and given education by the Nigerian State? Over here, not alone has terrorism being made lucrative, terrorists are being handsomely rewarded by the government and the surviving victims of their virulent attacks are made to wallow in unmitigated agony and live in tattered penury at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

Just last week, over 601 ex-Boko Haram insurgents were rehabilitated in Gombe State. To be honest, I am yet to understand the unjust system that allows killers of innocent people to be rehabilitated, on the basis of repentance, back into the society when the insurgency has not fully ended. My grouse is majorly about the legal framework that allows apprehended criminals disturbing the peace of our country to be freed under such ridiculous conditions and circumstances. For a fact, I do not know of any living law in Nigeria that provides for clemency or rehabilitation when the alleged criminals have not even been tried or convicted. Such a cruel level of arbitrariness! Truly, lawlessness is the greatest form of insecurity.

Most respectfully, the statement of the President is insensitive, insulting, and shows that the scorecard of his performance is written in red biro. If the whole country is being caught by a raging inferno and the man in charge declared he has done his best, it is evident the impotency of his competency is apparently incapable of consummating this marriage. If what we have now is the best the President can do, we are all in a serious trouble.

By virtue of Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Interestingly, the President took an Oath to defend, secure and protect the people of Nigeria under the Seventh Schedule of the 1999 Constitution. It is not amusing to now see the same President turn around to declare he has done his best when the house is almost completely fallen? It is a crying shame that this statement is coming from a man who promised to bring ‘Change’, and later ‘Next Level’, to Nigeria. Is this the best of the ‘Change’? Is this the best of the ‘Next Level’? At this point, all genuine lovers of Nigeria have a thousand and one reasons to be worried.

The President’s statement can be likened to the proverbial pupil who claimed to his parents to have done his best even when he failed all his subjects. That should be treated as an expensive joke and an insult to the addressee. I have consistently maintained that during the electioneering season, President Buhari never promised that the administration will do “its best” but the best. Nigerians did not elect a leader who will simply do his rather selfish best but one who will do that which is best for the good of all. It will be apposite to say that the best of the President is not enough as the people’s interest trumps personal indolence. The good people of Nigeria deserve the very best, and not the President’s fictitious and unrealistic ‘best’.

Without mincing words, the utterance of the President smacks of incompetency and the inability to live up to his basic constitutional duties. Some called it Freudian slip, well, to say in the face of the tragedy we witness now, the President has done his best is not just provocative, it is an insult to the Nigerian people, on whose collective sweats and resources his office is being maintained.

Or, could it be that the President has lost touch with our current national realities? Human lives are getting increasingly too cheap in Nigeria. So, I find it too worrisome that a President could make such a statement when the country is almost becoming a State of Nature. In fairness to the President, maybe the old man is currently ‘not aware’ of the security menaces, just like he has always been. With that, Nigerian could have easily forgiven him for expressing surprise. But, to be unaware of the fire on the mountain and still make such a statement is wicked, callous and inhuman.

The days ahead are perilous. Nigerians are tired of excuses and empty promises. President Buhari needs to be told that his ‘best’ is nothing close to the very best. He must show leadership at this juncture. The innocent blood flooding our country should not be allowed to turn a river. Service Chiefs found wanting should be appropriately sanctioned. And if the President feels what we have now is all that he can deliver, he should do the honourable thing: resign. For being a Nigerian President is not a do or die affair.

History beckons. Posterity matters.

Festus Ogun is a lawyer-in-equity and human rights activist. 09066324982

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Man Allegedly Rapes Lady On Sallah Day In Ibadan

1 August 2020 - 1:02pm

One Waheed Ogundele has been accused of raping a lady (name witheld) in Ologuneru area of Oyo State.

Ogundele was said to have raped the lady on the night of Sallah while she went to share food to her neighbours.

A relative of the lady, who identified himself as Mahmud, told SaharaReporters that the rapist absconded while neighbours were trying to take him to a police station.

Mahmud said, “We were going to pray in a mosque when her mother sent her to go and give food to somebody. 

“She did not come back on time and we had to go and check to know why she is being delayed.

“We saw her coming on the road shedding tears with blood on her body. 

“We asked what happened and she said Ogundele raped her.

“We tried to hold him down but his friends intervened and helped him escape.”

Mahmud said the case had been reported at the Eleyele Police Command, adding that they were trying to appeal to the family of the victim not to escalate the matter.

Condemning the rate of rape in the country, a lawyer, Alexander Atuchukwu, urged parents to educate and discourage their male children from raping.

He noted that rape was the only criminal case in law that does not have a defense.

He said, “As a lawyer, we have found out that most rapists and their apologist and sympathisers had a rough sad traumatic childhood; cases of father beating mother and others.

“Rape is the only criminal case that doesn't have a defense in law, as bad as murder is, murder has a defense in law but rape doesn't.

“The moment you decide to rape a woman, that is the day you decide to damage her life for ever, just like how u have her physical health and mental health. Let us all take note and be guided.”

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Shops Destroyed As Fire Guts Foam Market In Lagos

1 August 2020 - 10:10am

Items worth millions of naira were destroyed on Saturday when fire razed a foam market in the Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

The fire, which reportedly started around 1:00pm, was said to have started at number 16, Ladipo Street in Mushin.

Nosa Okunbor, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency spokesperson, who confirmed the incident, said no casualty had been recorded.

He added that first responders including LASEMA operatives have been deployed to the scene to prevent the fire from escalating to adjoining buildings.

He said, “The fire, which cause is yet to be ascertained, has now been brought under control and stopped from further escalating to adjoining buildings, with no loss of life nor injuries recorded so far at the scene of the incident.

“LRT led by the DG/CEO LASEMA, Olufemi  Oke-Osanyintolu, officers of the Nigeria Police, LASG Fire, LRU Fire, LNSC are responders at the scene working together to curtail the inferno from escalating to more adjoining buildings. Rescue operation ongoing.”

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Magistrates Fume Over Non-payment Of Salaries By Cross River State Governor

1 August 2020 - 10:06am

Governor Ben Ayade

Some magistrates of the Cross River State judiciary currently serving in various magisterial districts across the state have berated Governor Ben Ayade over non-payment of salaries and wrongful removal of their names from government payroll.

Findings showed that mostly affected by the exercise were the magistrates and senior registrars employed by the State Judicial Service Commission in February 2019.

Some of the magistrates told SaharaReporters that they had not been paid since September 2019.

“On February 1, 2019, a total of 46 new magistrates were duly appointed and sworn into office by the then Chief Judge of Cross River State, Hon. Justice Michael Edem (now retired). 

Governor Ben Ayade

“The appointment followed due process involving thorough screening, interview,  and necessary documentation exercises conducted by the State Judicial Service Commission, being the body statutorily empowered to employ and exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers of the magistracy cadre in Cross River State.

“Since then all the magistrates have undergone necessary professional training including a two months attachment to courts and a mandatory induction course at the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Abuja. Also, magistrates have since been posted/assigned to various magistrate courts across the state where they are still working and discharging their responsibilities till date, yet none of them has been paid.

“It is important to note though parenthetically that the JSC is created under section 202 of the 1999 constitution and also its independence is statutorily guaranteed. Therefore, in exercising its power to appoint magistrates and exercise disciplinary control over them, the JSC is not subject to control by any other authority or person including the governor. With reference to Section 9 of the Judicial Service Commission Law, Cap J2 Vol.3 Laws of Cross River State of Nigeria 2004.

“Another twist is that out of the total of 46 new Magistrates, only about 30 are fresh appointments, the rest were already civil servants whose names were already on the payroll but merely transferred their services to the Judiciary as magistrates, (my source said this is very much allowed and has always been done in the past, this is not the first time).

“In April 2020, the state Judicial Service Commission in a bid to pander to the yearning of His Excellency conducted a screening exercise where they attempted to reduce the number of the new Magistrates to 19 and further recommended the return of all those on transfer back to the various MDAs where they came from. Yet the governor has refused to pay even one person till date,” one of them told SaharaReporters.

He further alleged that the governor in September 2019 acting on advice of his Special Adviser on Payroll, John Odey, illegally, unjustifiably and unceremoniously removed the names of over 2,000 civil servants from government payroll. 

“According to John Odey, the removal was to enable the governor authenticate the process of employment of the affected staff and restore only those who were genuinely employed. The governor has refused to call for the so called verification exercise till date.

“Those removed from the payroll include about 40 law officers (state counsel) from the Ministry of Justice and some of the magistrates appointed under the category of transfer of service. Note that these are staff who were properly employed in 2016, issued with letters of appointments and after two years of satisfactory and meritorious service they were further issued with letters of confirmation of appointments, only for their salaries to be stopped unceremoniously without any established case of misconduct neither are they issued with disengagement letters.

“A group of six magistrates among those whose names were removed from the payroll have since filed a case at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Calabar Division in Suit No. NICN/CA/46/2019 where they are challenging the wrongful and illegal removal of their names from government payroll. About 33 law officers from the Ministry of Justice are also in court challenging the wrongful removal of their names from the payroll."

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