It is extremely iniquitous, nay execrably villainous, that the money set aside to buy arms and ammunitions to combat terrorism – which had consumed whole communities and decimated others – was wickedly purloined by the same Military chiefs that our security is constitutionally entrusted in.In all of this, what was really unpardonable was the way our once respected military became a laughing stock in the sub region. Nigerian soldiers started becoming fair game for Boko Haram terrorists!
Undoubtedly, these are uncertain times in Nigeria; the uncertainty of the behavior of players in the various organs had decidedly made the times to be very uncertain for Nigerians. It is as if there is a sudden release of the lunacy virus into the Nigerian polity. Unfortunately, there is virtually no method to the madness.
Sometime before the Jonathan administration expired, news broke that a Private Jet belonging to a Nigerian Christian cleric, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (the exact source of the Jet gift is yet to be unraveled!) had been detained in faraway South Africa for attempting to smuggle $9.3 million into the country. Given the usual chicanery associated with the business of governance in this part of the world, Nigerians did not have the opportunity to rake up the details of this sordid affair. Instead, the Nigerian government at that time laid the blame at the doorsteps of the South African authority for the effrontery in truncating supposedly legal arms procurement for combatting Terrorism. On March 28, 2015, good fortunes smiled on Nigerian people because the government of the day was voted out of power. On assumption of office on May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari literally tore away the translucence of the immediate past. Nigerians got to know that the princely sum of $2.1 Billion voted for arms procurement had been shared into the private pockets of friends and acolytes of the former president on their behalf! It explained why – during the electioneering campaigns – there was so much dollar rain in South West geo-political zone under the ruling Party’s radar for its strategic importance that some traditional rulers from the zone were pictured enchanting success to the supine president kneeling before them!
The governorship election in Rivers was marred by massive killings and general intimidation of voters. In terms of electoral crudity, it was only second to Obasanjo’s famed ‘do or die’ presidential election in 2007. The petitioner proved its case of substantial non-compliance (with the electoral act) and had the petition upheld by both the election petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. One of the respondents and the greatest beneficiary of the electoral heist, Governor Wike, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court. In a clearly bizarre ruling, the Apex Court set aside the judgment of the two lower courts and asserted that the violence recorded at the electoral was not enough proof of substantial non-compliance. Professor Itse Sagay, a respected legal mind, in his seminal piece titled- Wike v peterside: the supreme court decision constituted a devastating blow on democracy – took the apex court to the cleaners. He relied on extensive authority in countering the apex court on its rejection of the card reader (as INEC’s administrative tool in assuring on credible poll) and insistence on the petitioner proving a polling unit by polling unit substantial non-compliance! The Supreme Court judges have unwittingly, by their collective decision, consigned election petition as unworthy venture, thereby giving full reign to anarchy before and after elections. Politicians now know that election petition is a time wasting venture, so they would rather ventilate their grievance on the street than going by way of judicial adjudication. That was the import of the Supreme Court verdict and no Nigerian ought to celebrate this, more so, when you understand that the current President Muhammadu Buhari explored the option of the judicial process to ventilate his grievance in each of the three times that he felt cheated at the conclusion of the electoral process. A very sad day, so very sad, for Nigeria!
The gale of probes sweeping across the land aptly captures the state of affairs in the immediate past. Whilst the other probes involving greedy and opportunistic politicians ‘cornering’ giant slice of our common patrimony may be grouped in the usual malaise that had afflicted Nigeria all the years of her existence, I consider the $2.1Billion probe as one that must be brought to logical conclusion. It is extremely iniquitous, nay execrably villainous, that the money set aside to buy arms and ammunitions to combat terrorism – which had consumed whole communities and decimated others – was wickedly purloined by the same Military chiefs that our security is constitutionally entrusted in. Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh (rtd) was the head of the military at the time of this awful malfeasance. Earlier, while occupying a lower position of the Chief of Air staff, he was reported to have consistently stolen on a monthly basis over half a billion naira of his service vote. It explained why he resisted the superintending authority of General Aliyu Gusau as the appointed Minister of Defense. Constitutionally, the Minister of defense has superintending authority over the tri-service as the representative of the commander in chief. Given the massive plundering that Badeh, as the Chief of Defense staff, was about to unleash on the Nigerian military, he led the three service chiefs in open rebellion against the Minister of Defense. He said that the Minister of Defense could not summon all the service chiefs to a meeting. He said only the Commander in Chief could! Where he read that from is left to be seen; it is on record that, from that moment, the minister was only to be seen and not felt or heard. The lacuna that Badeh decidedly created was, from all intents and purposes, what Colonel Dasuki latched on to start doing Defense procurement. In all of this, what was really unpardonable was the way our once respected military became a laughing stock in the sub region. Nigerian soldiers started becoming fair game for Boko Haram terrorists! What was even more sordid was that Badeh sat atop a governing authority that sentenced to death the soldiers that chose to stay away than facing well-armed terrorists with bare hands or inferior armaments! Given the democratic dispensation, it would be a fitting comeuppance for Badeh to be tried under military laws upon conviction by the civil court. In that way, we would have avenged the blood of our young men and women that Badeh, through his avarice, sent to their untimely graves.
These are perilous times indeed; there was a time in the life of South Africa that the revered Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu blurted out with uncontrolled indignation, “Our leaders have gone mad!” If the current happenings in the Nigerian Senate are not “crazy-demo” or “demonstration of craze” – with unreserved apology to the late ‘Baba 70’(Fela Anikulapo-Kuti – I wonder what your reading of the events is. Given the fallibility of man, the senate president, Bukola Saraki, was alleged to have run foul of the law and was subsequently arraigned before a competent court. After the initial filibustering to evade justice, the apex Court finally told him that his arraignment was proper under the law. Rather than being advised by his colleagues to step aside and save the exalted seat of the Nation’s number three any further opprobrious assault, we saw a coterie of ‘like minds’ senators abandoning the business of law making in order to show solidarity to their leader. You mean senators of the Federal republic of Nigeria? Yes, I do not mean personal aides of the senate president. You would be quite right to say these are people that represent whole communities of Nigerians in formulating laws for good governance of the Nation state; there is now an abandonment of the people’s cause in their daily conduct. For over three months, the National Assembly members dithered while the 2016 appropriation bill was in their bosom. At first, the intent was to do a trade off of early passage of the bill and the Federal Government entering a ‘nolle prosequi’ on the Saraki’s case. A careful reading of the President’s body language showed that this would never be possible, therefore, a well-padded document was sent to the President for his assent. Again, in his inimitable uncompromising stance against graft or, semblance thereof, the President has withheld his assent. Meanwhile, the people’s representatives in the hallowed chambers continued to evince infra-dig that is unbecoming of occupants of the upper legislative chamber in any democracy. Given the futility of their routine appearance with their leader in intimidating the Judges, the senators began accelerated hearing on the amendment of the law that saraki’s trial is predicated upon. Not done, the senators have now summoned the Judge to appear before them onThursday, April 21, 2016 with twelve copies of his written statement in response to some corruption charges. Where is the end point of the oversight function of the National Assembly and where is the starting point of the judicial process in a democracy? Is the National Assembly expected to usurp the function of the Court in order to employ bullish tactics with a view to exculpating members from prosecution?
What is loyalty, really? The essence of loyalty is never lost on me. Let me give two personal experiences in my life.
On Sunday, December 20, 1997, General Oladipo Diya (rtd) was arrested in Abuja by the Abacha junta for coup plotting. In his Lagos residence, the security agents waited for his family members to return from church before sealing off the house, thus preventing anyone entering or leaving the house. Some of the Children had come home for holiday and were due to return to school abroad. One of them was his first daughter, Kemi. Sinmi, the first son, had correctly gauged the mood and felt that he could not afford to go near public places like the airport etc. Quite rightly so because his uncle, Wole Diya (a serving member of the House of Representatives) had been arrested alongside his brother, just for being in the General’s house at the time of his arrest! Being family friends, Sinmi told my wife to assist in getting the younger sister to the airport to resume schooling in London in January 1998. My wife bounced the idea off a respected older sibling of hers and she was told not to touch it with a ten-foot pole. I waded in and simply told her that there is nothing illegal in taking an innocent girl to the airport to resume her studies in London and besides, this is the time to show loyalty and not abandon the family. Though it was a risky venture at the time, I encouraged her to do it. The rest is now history.
In 2013, just about the time I was rounding off my assignment as the national publicity secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) after the successful registration of the All progressives Congress (APC) by INEC, a respected party woman, Otunba Basirat Nayibi, invited me to her home in maitama, Abuja. The kernel of her discussion was that she was already in league with some governors (and former governors) and had mapped out strategies on how to defeat GMB in Eagle square at the new party’s presidential primary. “So what am I supposed to do”, I asked her calmly. She then told me that to team up with them; it is very discourteous to insult a person in his/her house. I simply thanked her and left. Thereafter, I called Mallam Nasir El-rufai. We fixed appointment for the next day in his house. In the presence of another friend and party man, Jimi Lawal, I narrated what the lady had told me. Then I said, ”Please call her to see if she is not irredeemably lost. If she could still be helped, please do. If not, leave her to her pernicious ways.” That was the last time I had any communication with the lady.
The two narratives are not meant to be self-adulatory or making incursion into narcissism. It is necessary to show, in unmistakable terms, that the import of loyalty is never lost on me. But blind loyalty at the expense of loyalty to a cause is selfish and foolish. Loyalty to a colleague ought to be couched properly within the framework of set values and beliefs. Loyalty that is made to trump loyalty to the state is a misplaced one. The senators that report at the CCT every morning, rather than the senate chambers, have lost their calling as senators and totally oblivious of the enormity of the responsibilities of being their people’s representatives. Their untoward conduct aptly lends credence to the general belief that Nigeria can well do with a unicameral legislature. Of what use is a body of senators that is meant to maintain status quo to the detriment of the prosperity of the people. This is the time for the Nigerian people to rise and reverse this odious trend that tends to besmirch our Nation’s democracy. After all, it is firmly enshrined in Section 14 (2a) of our constitution: “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority.”
God bless Nigeria.