Blame Passing, Social Media Automated Mumus – The New Year Gift To A Nation By Wole Soyinka

In the accustomed tradition, I wish the nation less misery in the coming year. A genuine Happy New Year Greeting is probably too extravagant a wish.

The accompanying news clipping from June,1977 came into my hands quite fortuitously. It is forty years old. It captures the unenviable enigma that is the Nigerian nation. It is however a masterful end-of-year image to take into the coming year, not only for the individual now at the helm of government, General Buhari, but for a people surely credited with the most astounding degree of patience and forbearance on the African continent – except of course among themselves, when they turn into predatory fiends. When many of us are blissfully departed, an updated rendition of this same clipping – with a change of cast here and there – will undoubtedly be reproduced in the media, with the same alibis, the same in-built panacea of blame passing.

Let this be called to our collective memory. Even before the current edition of the fuel crisis, other challenges, requiring immediate fix, had begun to monopolize national attention, relegating to the sidelines the outcry for a fundamental and holistic approach to the wearisome cycle of citizen trauma. This has been expressed most recently, and near universally in the word “Restructuring”, defined straightforwardly as a drastic overhaul of Nigerian articles of co-existence in a more rational, equitable and decentralized manner. Such an overhaul, the re-positioning of the relationship between the parts and the whole offers, it has been strongly argued, prospects of a closer governance awareness of, and responsiveness to citizen entitlement. An overhaul that will near totally eliminate the frequent spasms of systemic malfunctioning that are in-built into the present protocols of national association.

I recently ran the gauntlet of petroleum queues through three conveniently situated cities – Lagos, Abeokuta and Ibadan – deliberately, this Friday. Even with ‘unorthodox’ aids of passage, this was no task for the faint-hearted. Just getting past fueling stations was traumatizing, an obstacle race through seething, frustrated masses of humanity, only to find ourselves on vast stretches of emptied roads pleading for occupation. As for obtaining the petroleum in the first place – the less said the better. I suspect that this government has permitted itself to be fooled by the peace of those empty streets, but also by the orderly, patient, long-suffering queues that are admittedly prevalent in the city centers. It is time the reporting monitors of government move to city peripheries and sometimes even some other inner urban sectors, such as Ikeja and Maryland from time to time to see, and listen! Pronouncements – such as the 1977 above – again re-echoing by rote in 2017– are a delusion at best, a formula that derides public intelligence. Buying time. Passing blame. Yes of course, the current affliction must be remedied, and fast, but is there a dimension to it that must be brought to the fore, simultaneously and forcefully? This had better be the framework for solving even a shortage that virtually paralyzed the nation.

Just to think laterally for a moment – what became of the initiatives by some states nearly two decades ago – Lagos most prominently – to decentralize power, and thus empower states to generate and distribute their own energy requirements? Frustrated and eventually sabotaged in the most cynical manner from the Federal center! The similarity today is frightening – for nearly four days on that earlier occasion, the nation was blacked out near entirely. We know that one survival tactic of governments is to keep their citizens in the dark over decisions that affect their lives but, this was literal! And yet each such crisis, plus lesser ones, merely reiterate again and again that this national contraption, as it now stands, is simply – dysfunctional!. What this demands is that, in the process of alleviating the immediate pressing misery, we do not permit ourselves to be manipulated yet again into forgetting the MAIN issue whose ramifications exact penalties such as petroleum seizures and national power outage. These are only two handy, being recent symptoms – there are several others, but this is not intended to be a catalog of woes. Sufficient to draw attention to the Yoruba saying that goes: Won ni, Amukun, eru e wo. Oun ni, at’isale ni. Translation: Some voices alerted the K-Legged porter to the dangerous tilt of the load on his head. His response was – Thank you, but the problem actually resides in the legs.

The providential image above sums up a defining moment for both individual and collective self-assessment, places in question the ability of a nation to profit from past experience. Vast resources, yes, but proved unmanageable under its present structural arrangements. As the tussle for the next round of power gets hotter in the coming year, the electorate will again be manipulated into losing sight of the BASE ISSUE. Its noisome claque in the meantime, the automated mumus of social media, practiced in sterile deflection and trivialization of critical issues, unwittingly join hands with government to indulge in blame passing and name calling – both sides with different targets. From the anguished cry of Charley Boy’s Our Mummu Done Do! to expositions from academics such as Professor Makinde’s recent intervention, the public is subjected daily to a relentless barrage of awareness, underlined in urgency. Nobody listens. One wonders if many people read. And certainly, very few retain or relate – until of course the next crisis. The labor movement declares that it awaits a guarantee of the ‘people’s backing’ before it embarks on any critical intervention. Understandably. There is more than enough of the opium of blame passing on tap to lull mummus into that deep coma from which – give it a little more time – there can only be a rude awakening.

Sooner than later, but not as soon as pledged, the fuel crisis will pass. And then, of course, we shall await the next round of shortages, then a recommencement of blame passing. What will be the commodity this time – food perhaps? Maybe even potable water? In a nation of plenty, nothing is beyond eventual shortage – except, of course, the commonplace endowment of pre-emptive planning and methodical execution. Forty years after, the same language of re-assurance? “There is something rotten in the state of Naija!”

Wole SOYINKA

Advertisements

The Self-Destruction Of Buhari’s Presidency By Erasmus Ikhide

It is only in primitive and conquered democracies such as Nigeria that the executive arm of government will bypass the parliament and unilaterally allocate money to itself without due appropriation. Defense alone in the 2018 budget estimate will be guzzling a whopping sum of N567.43 billion — aside the now sought N360 billion by the presidency — amounting to nearly a trillion naira to fight the already ‘captured and defeated Boko Haram’, as Lai Mohammed would like to lecture Nigerians, even though contrary evidence shows that hundreds of innocent lives are being extinguished on a daily basis.


With the the National Economic Council’s approval of $1 billion to fight Boko Haram, it should be clear to Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war is an expensive joke. 

$1 billion is approximately N360 billion of the monthly allocation to all three tiers of government: federal, state and local. The same amount is roughly half of the savings in the illegal Excess Crude Account! Even at that, the ECA is an aberration or a channel created to pilfer the collective patrimony. It’s now normal to have an ECA which was stoutly opposed by the APC as illegal when the shoe was on the other foot.

It is only in primitive and conquered democracies such as Nigeria that the executive arm of government will bypass the parliament and unilaterally allocate money to itself without due appropriation. Defense alone in the 2018 budget estimate will be guzzling a whopping sum of N567.43 billion — aside the now sought N360 billion by the presidency — amounting to nearly a trillion naira to fight the already ‘captured and defeated Boko Haram’, as Lai Mohammed would like to lecture Nigerians, even though contrary evidence shows that hundreds of innocent lives are being extinguished on a daily basis.

More debilitating is the discovery of a floating N50 billion of NNPC money that escaped from the almighty Treasury Single Account (TSA) capturing. The violated TSA provision by President Buhari government stipulates that all agencies of government, without any exception, remit every transaction of government money to the designated TSA. The TSA is a centralized Federal Government revenue account kept by the CBN. This centralized revenue pool is run through an electronic platform, Remita, which was built by a Nigerian firm, SystemSpecs.

The sheer willpower of the selfless House of Representatives’ ad-hoc committee probing remittances into the TSA make nonsense of the impregnable fortress of President Buhari’s perfected act of systematic corruption. While Baru, the NNPC boss, is babbling insensate nonsense like a rescued delirium survivor from the high sea, Buhari government suddenly makes the fabled former President Goodluck Jonathan wince in admiration.

A senior official of the CBN, Dipo Fatokun, told the committee that indeed the NNPC wrote the apex bank informing it of the exemptions. “The banks are actually holding some accounts. We are aware. It’s not yet a case of 100 percent transfers to the TSA,” Fatokun explained. “We are compiling a report on each of the banks and it will be ready soon,” he stated further.

The ‘Executive Order’ directing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to exempt some of its accounts from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the Chief of Staff (COS) to President, Abba Kyari, raised the question whether there is another president in Nigeria apart from Buhari. This is because the order negates a well-known government position as regards its revenue.

But there have always been Presidents other than Buhari since he came to power.

Sometime ago, the now sacked SGF, Babachir Lawal, signed and sent a letter purportedly written by President Buhari to the Nigerian Senate, clearing him of any wrongdoing on the IDP’s saga while Buhari was plagued and incapacitated by illness in the far away the United Kingdom. That’s how far Buhari government has embraced corruption.

The lawlessness or selection of what laws to obey the call to question President Buhari’s integrity and sincerity of purpose on the anti-graft war. Mr. Buhari and his minder, by this singular act, demonstrated and confirmed Nigerians’ suspicion on political corruption. The easiest way politicians loot the treasury blind and raise a humongous sum for next round of election is to pretend to be fighting insurgents in the manner President Goodluck used Sambo Dasuki to fund his 2015 Presidential bid.

Since Mr. Buhari came to power in 2015, the manifest hope of a new beginning has shrunk. The hell-hole of power failure, the disaster zone that is the North East, the stone-age zealotry of the Fulani herdsmen’s conquest, their morbid cruelties, the complete destruction of the economy and forced migration of jobless youths all compete for primacy in the absolute misery index.

Added to that is the failure of the Buhari government to leave up to the billing to either face out corruption or minimize it. The first premonition we have that Buhari is not interested in the crusade against corruption was the rejection of the study that he (Buhari) retools the anti-corruption agencies in the tradition the Chinese authority dealt an everlasting blow to its corrupt ruling class.

By the way, the majority of the Nigerian populace believe Buhari is a terrible option Nigerians were saddled with, after the ousting of the PDP 16-year of a ruinous reign that comes with looting; economic retardation, power stagnation, greed and outright poverty. “For the first time in Nigerian history, a man with total lack of respect to constitutional rights, institutional building, clear authoritarian tendencies, and a tyrant of the highest order was elected president,” Odia Ofeimu said at the time Buhari found his way back to power in 2015.

However, it’s to the credit of President Buhari’s government that for the first in Nigeria the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) remitted N3 billion naira to TSA, as reported last week. It still did not remove the fact that President Buhari and those around him have no ideas how a civilized economy work. At the same time, they are impervious to correction. The President is contented that governance or anti-corruption crusade is a charity ball, and an obligation to reward longtime friends and family relations against the wishes of the electorate. They have no ideas about consolidation of national institutions for effective delivery. That’s why EFCC and ICPC are completely bereaved of creative ways of dealing with anti-corruption issues.

Just when you think Mr. Buhari will provide critical leadership and stamp out corruption in our system than yet another disclosure came to light that some indigenous companies not registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) have lifted Nigerian crude oil grades valued at $3.5 billion (about N1.1 trillion) in the last 10 months. These are some of the reasons Buhari government has been slatternly drabbed as the ‘political weapon of mass self-destruction’ — of the missed opportunities, aborted change, failure to restructure the polity, impunity, suppression and muscling of the press — of which he has become notorious.

We only but hope that the pestilential poverty, corruption, dereliction in leadership, epidemics of hunger, disease and want prepare and instigate the emergence of genuine redeemers to enforce social change different to the ones previously and presently offered. Until then, the precursors of democratic crisis will not seize to lord it over us.


Erasmus writes from Lagos. You can reach him at ikhideerasmus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Ikhide_erasmus

Baru/Kyari Again In Fresh NNPC N50bn Tangle: Walai ‘Una Mumu Never Start’ By Ifeanyi Izeze

Sentiments apart, some things are just not adding up at all in the manner the present administration is running. Which week passed at least in the last few months that we did not hear mind-blowing rape of our common wealth by people working with, or rather around, the president? And the only thing that keeps coming from our president is that “I am not aware.”

Whosoever that has observed this government closely since its inception can rightly liken President Buhari to Ali Baba. The present administration’s all round misconduct is so brazen, so primitive and outright insulting. Can the president also claim not to be aware that a common denominator in all the alleged fraud and corruption scandals in his government involving the NNPC has been the man working with him as his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari?

At the wake of the revelation of Baru’s $25 billion secret oil contracts, it was argued that powerful people at the corridors of power were tacitly involved in this. And as said, “If the President’s powerful Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, could sit on the NNPC board and such a calamity is taking place without an eyelid being blinked, we are forced to believe that the stealing is being done to the advantage of the President who has shown by his body language that the only thing that matter most to him for now, is his second term ambition.”

Unless politics has given us a new and completely different Buhari, the one we voted for in 2015, will not entertain Maina’s case and behave as if what has been revealed does not matter; he cannot be silent on fraud/corruption at National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Security and Exchange Commission (SEC); and Baru’s NNPC $25 billion secret contract awards; and now another N50 billion NNPC’s money stashed in what could best be described as private accounts outside the Single Treasury Account  (TSA) policy of the administration.

What do you call Maina’s explosive testimony on Channels Television: a smear campaign or obfuscation of facts? Why is a president who armored himself as a warrior against corruption displaying such an odd reluctance in this fight? Why is he giving the impression that he is a likely accomplice in the spate of malfeasance that has become the defining characteristic of his administration?

The question is: why is the president so nonchalant about all these shameful disclosures? Is he shielding some powerful people or are some powerful people around him shielding him from knowing the truth?

Is it not very disheartening that despite the loudly trumpeted efforts at enthroning transparency in the conduct of government business, full disclosure in the administration of crude sales still remains an issue at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)?

The House of Representatives last week raised questions over a “purported” presidential approval withholding some special NNPC accounts from being transferred to the Treasury Single Account. The accounts, with funds worth over N50billion, are still being kept by commercial banks in breach of the TSA policy, which provides that all accounts belonging to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government should be transferred to the TSA. The TSA, a centralized Federal Government revenue account, is kept by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The CBN confirmed to the House Committee that it was aware of the excluded accounts, pointing to a document tendered by the NNPC saying that there was a presidential approval. The said approval was a memo written by the Chief Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari, authorizing the NNPC to exclude the accounts from the TSA.

Curiously, the memo didn’t say much other than opening with the line, “I have been directed.” Which made the Kyari’s memo appeared to be an Executive Order.

Hear the explanation of the NNPC boss, Maikanti Baru: “By virtue of the operations of the NNPC, the Corporation had made series of compelling cases to the Presidency and the Central Bank of Nigeria to allow certain categories of accounts operate outside the TSA, as they contain co-mingled funds governed by detailed agreements with local and international implications.”

In essence the NNPC boss inferred that President Buhari was fully aware that the corporation has accounts holding billions of both Naira and Dollars outside the TSA. So how do you reconcile this?

As aptly remarked by the minister of state for Petroleum in his memo to the president exposing the $25 billion Baru and Kyari’s secret oil contract, “There are many more Your Excellency. In most of these activities, the explanation of the GMD is that you are the minister of petroleum and your approvals were obtained.”

Truth be told, our president is the problem. He continues to violate the constitution, rule of law and government policies including those he instituted and some people keep telling us he means well for the country. Is this not an absurdity? The Buhari we thought will put a good system foundation in place is now so weak and incapacitated allowing his regime to be completely hijacked and turned into a house of commotion. Walai this thing is becoming more serious than anyone may want to explain it. God bless Nigeria o!

Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja and can be reached at [email protected].

Buhari’s Last Chance By Azu Ishiekwene

If the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, is offering advice on what President Muhammadu Buhari must do to rescue his government, then the President should know he has work to do.

The governor, who came to office over six years ago on the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, has since switched parties. He is currently the official clown of the All Progressives Congress. And with months of unpaid salaries and pensions, and state monuments bearing his family name, there’s enough wreckage to show for his status.

But that’s a digression. His advice to Buhari is on point and infinitely more sensible than the nonsense of his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, who declared a public holiday to mark the President’s return but didn’t know what to do to save even one of the 60 persons that died from an abdominal infection in Kogi the same week.

Buhari has work to do and he has to start from home while the rodents in his office are being apprehended and the cobwebs cleared.

His six minutes national address was a mixed bag. But whatever its defects, he has made enough speeches in the last two years. It’s time to do what he has been saying.

As far as I can remember, Buhari is the first to win a presidential election depending almost entirely on votes from the North and the South West. What he should have done on assumption of office, was to rally the whole country and not give the regrettable impression that he would only be President for the regions that voted for him.

Azubuike Ishiekwene

That posture, compounded by a few skewed appointments in his early days, has fuelled separatist sentiments, especially in the South East, and popularised Nnamdi Kanu’s Biafra rhetoric.

Renaming Buhari “Okechukwu” (a share from God) or even “Onyenzoputa” (savior) will not solve the problem created by his initial faux pas. The government has to start an honest engagement with its citizens, especially groups that have been radicalized by official insensitivity.

The 2014 National Conference report and even reports from previous ones, which Buhari has inexplicably refused to read, would be a good starting point.

As I said in this column last week, Boko Haram appears resurgent and insecurity is assuming new, frightening dimensions. It would be naïve to assume that Boko Haram would be wiped out. The recent deadly attacks by the group suggest that there’s still work to be done.

Buhari cannot afford to take his eyes off the insurgents; nor should the even more difficult task of resettling the victims be ignored anymore.

It’s heartening to know that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had not submitted his committee’s report on the $43 million found at a Lagos residence before the rodents invaded Buhari’s corner.

The Vice President’s committee was supposed to find out how tons of dollars ended up in a private residence and if it was true as the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, claimed, that he sheltered the money on orders.

That report should be made public, along with the findings of Osinbajo’s committee on the role of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, in the alleged case of millions of naira set aside for the Presidential Initiative on the North East, which ended up in private pockets.

The war on corruption appears stuck in the mud. But since the President was getting regular briefings in his London sickbay, he’s probably already aware of two court rulings asking his government to publish looted funds recovered since 1999 to date; looted funds recovered on his watch since 2015 and the names of the looters.

Corruption will kill the country if all we do is talk about it or turn a blind eye when the culprits are close to us. Some people close to the President are giving his government a bad name and he knows them.

If the National Assembly is still perceived as a den of corruption, it’s because Buhari has failed to use his leverage as leader of the ruling party to deal with it; and if the judiciary is making mincemeat of anti-corruption cases, it’s because Buhari has retained a minister of justice who is confused, if not incompetent.

If he seriously wants a change, he’ll have to make the right call. And time is not on his side. There’s merit in Okorocha’s advice that he might need to overhaul his cabinet.

Not only does he need to take another look at the Justice Ministry, he might also need to overcome the sentiment that to love a competent minister is to kill him with work: Babatunde Fashola is currently overworked with three ministries. He needs to be where the country can optimise his talent and energy.

In theory, the Ministry of Education should be able to handle the national strike by university teachers, which is in its second week. In practice, however, Buhari cannot afford to outsource the problem, which has lingered on now for eight years.

I recall that when The Interview interviewed Buhari in July 2016, he said one of the reasons why he dumped the National Conference report was that Goodluck Jonathan’s government used the money that ought to have been used to pay lecturers to host “a useless conference.” Now, he’ll find that the matter is a bit more complicated.

Money won’t bury all the problems in the universities, though. Sure, the universities require more resources, but even if we hand over the key to the treasury to them, nothing will change as long as the market continues to think that university graduates are useless and that a good number of lecturers themselves need teachers.

What is required is a comprehensive overhaul of the educational system – the kind that Oby Ezekwesili tried to implement as Education Minister before vested interests fought her to a standstill. Fixing education is a presidential assignment.

It’s good to know that, so far, there are no reports of well-wishers falling over themselves to visit Buhari at home since he returned. They can send him cards with a spray can or two of pesticides for his office use, if they can afford it.

The man has work to do and should be left alone to face it, squarely. 

Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview magazine and board member of the Paris-based Global Editors Network 

 

Rich Thief, Poor Thieves and A Burglary By Emmanuel Ugwu

In recent past, the Igbos had a way of denouncing a steward or guard who committed the treachery of stealing the very thing he was hired to manage or secure. They called him the proverbial dog that ate the bone hung around its neck.

That barbed censure fits the policemen that burgled the Gwarinpa home of President Goodluck Jonathan. They stole the very goods they were charged to protect. They vandalized the property left in their care, emptying it of all transferable valuables.

Police authorities have dismissed four of the six culpable officers following the guilty verdict of an orderly room trial. Sgt Musa Musa, Sgt John Nanpak, Sgt Ogah Audu, and Sgt Gabriel Ugah lost their job for coveting ‘’furniture sets, beds, electronics, toilet and electrical fittings, doors, and frames’’.  

In true Nigerian fashion, the two most senior officers involved in the crime, Inspectors Lengs Satlakau and Usman Wuduki , were not shunted out of their job with same dispatch. The Police say the proceedings of their orderly room trial had been forwarded up the ladder ”for further action”.

Nevertheless, I am shocked that the case of burglary and stealing made it to the public domain. I would never have imagined Jonathan would run to the police to complain that he was robbed. As the head of the government of Nigeria, he seemed to be constitutionally indifferent to stealing.

Jonathan was defiantly apathetic when his kleptomaniac cronies were looting the House of Lugard, under his watch. A sense of outrage appeared to be alien to his nature. It’s ironic that he felt offended when his private house was sacked.

Going by his statement, the looted house was a ‘’modest four-bedroom duplex.’’ It contained small creature comforts.  Not the ‘’36 Plasma television sets and about 25 refrigerators’’ as speculated.  

It’s hard to figure out why he chose to make the trivial evisceration of his house a national headline? Why did he raise hell…like a pauper rendered weightless, in a crowded bus terminal, by a pickpocket?

Ordinarily, President Jonathan should be one of the last Nigerians to cry about being robbed. He ran a crazy kleptocracy. He presided over a stealing orgy whose intensity and reach anti-graft accountants have been unable to ascertain even after two years of labor. He licensed his aides to loot with impunity as though the overarching objective of his administration was to bankrupt Nigeria.

Ex-President Goodluck JonathanWhen Jonathan’s attitude to corruption was interrogated, he answered that he could not stop the plague. He whipped out a dispiriting Barn Theory to rationalize and legitimize the hollowing out of the national treasury by his sidekicks. He postulated that if you put a barn full of yams in the custody of a goat, the goat would violate duty and obey instinct.

Under Jonathan’s watch, $20 billion of Nigerian oil revenue went missing. The Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, raised the issue with the president. Jonathan fired Sanusi …for daring to blow the whistle.

Under Jonathan’s watch, his Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, stole $6 billion. She bought multimillion dollar properties all over Nigeria and the world. She collected enough jewelry to mold the Golden Calf all over again.

In recognition of her high stealing quotient, Jonathan appointed her the head of the finance committee of his second term bid declaration event.

The lady would later go on to attempt to buy the election. She organized a widespread bribery operation that compromised electoral officials and obligated them to inflate the ballot figures of candidate Jonathan and rig him to victory.

Jonathan made the office of the National Security Adviser an annex of the Peoples Democratic Party. He permitted the funds earmarked for resourcing the fight against Boko Haram to be funneled to his political campaign. This caused the well-armed terrorists to take over a significant part of Nigerian territory and hundreds of Nigerian soldiers to die in the unequal war.

By the end of the election, Jonathan and his gang had raped the economy into a crisis.

After he departed office, his wife, Patience Jonathan, was found to have salted away $15 million in her bank accounts. She claimed that the money was savings dedicated to her medical treatment. The fortune couldn’t be reasonably explained by her inheritance or work history…or a jackpot she has never won.

Further moves by state agencies to understand Mrs. Jonathan’s other curious assets saw her complain of being witch-hunted. She recently petitioned the House of Representatives, alleging ‘’persistent, consistent, unwarranted personal and physical attacks” on her by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other agencies of the federal government. She thought that the security agencies should have left her in peace because she rejoiced in the nickname, ‘’Mama Peace.’’

Her henpecked husband obviously copied her alarmist whining. Goodluck saw the break-in and looting of his house as an opportunity to whip up public sympathy. His ‘leak’ of the burglary to the press was about narcissist victimhood and pity party.

Truth be told, the Jonathan who looted the Nigeria he was elected to govern had no moral right to protest that his private home was spoiled by the policemen assigned to guard it. The policemen merely micro-mirrored the plunder Jonathan perpetrated against Nigeria. He should have been grateful to be served a gracious dose of karma. Those ‘’modest’’ trivia stolen from his home is nothing compared to the staggering portion of the Nigerian patrimony he and his band of looters expropriated.

The policemen who sacked Jonathan’s house are petty thieves. If he felt outraged that they were so unscrupulous as to strip bare a house they were assigned to safeguard, that’s gross self-righteousness. He has no reason to indict people for the same wrongdoing he did on a monumental scale: he looted the treasury the Nigerian people mandated him to administer.

The policemen who abused their trust have been punished with a job loss: it follows that Jonathan, who committed the heinous crime of weaponizing the Nigerian presidency for treasury banditry, should receive a judicial recompense commensurate with his high treason.

Jonathan lived his early life without shoes. He is now a man of wealth. He has many houses. He can replace the stuff stolen from his Gwarinpa address with ease.

Many Nigerians live in reduced circumstances. Jonathan robbed them. He pushed them further below the poverty line.

The poor policemen robbed one rich man. The rich Jonathan robbed one hundred million poor Nigerians. He is the greater thief.

He was relieved of an infinitesimal fragment of his excess possessions. Yet, he was so pained by the loss that he forgot ‘pardon’. The kind he bestowed on the rich thief, his role model, Alamieyeseigha!

Nigerian justice system is rigged against the poor. That’s why the dismissal of the low-ranked rogue policemen was ”immediate” and that of the senior policemen is imminent.

And the punishment of Jonathan will forever be impossible.

 immaugwu@gmail.com

@EmmaUgwuTheMan 

Jonathan And The Uniformed Burglars By SOC Okenwa

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), remains a big man with multiple problems and scandals. Ever since his historic defeat at the presidential election of 2015 he has been in the news for (mostly) bad reasons. For one, his stewardship in power for close to six giddy years was nothing to write home about. For another, when one considers ‘Dasukigate’ and ‘Diezanigate’ we come to the conclusion that GEJ did more damage to the system than one could have ever imagined. The incarcerated Sambo Dasuki, his ex-National Security Adviser (NSA) had distributed millions of Dollars criminally (funds meant to procure arms and ammunitions for the army waging war against Boko Haram) to cronies and political leeches — whoever was engaged or involved in the ill-fated GEJ re-election bid was handsomely rewarded by the generous son of the late deposed ex-Sultan of Sokoto. Alas after throwing millions of Dollars and billions of Naira into the presidential project it was lost soundly as the APC opposition coalition triumphed in grand style producing the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari.

The fugitive Jezebel, Diezani Allison-Madueke, the former Petroleum Resources super-Minister, had the ears of the failed President having conquered his libido! She became untouchable and stole billions of Dollars with GEJ incapable of calling her to order. Diezani was monumentally corrupt both morally and sexually and GEJ was found to be under her amorous ‘spell’! Regrettably, the scarce resources of the state that should have served other developmental purposes were diverted and squandered ‘servicing’ executive sexual indulgences. What a connubial presidency!

Today, Jonathan is one ex-President whose inability to account for his stewardship is as comparable as asking the late Idi Amin of Uganda how he managed to turn the east African ‘Musevenied’ country into a jungle where anything went. Or the late Mobutu Sese-Seko of how he became richer than the entire former Zaire and now DRC Or better still, the late bloody dictator, Gnassingbe Eyadema, of how Lome became a developing town during his decades in power, a glorified city where the importation and selling of ‘Tokunbo’ vehicles became the only viable economic venture that yielded revenue to the state!

Goodluck Jonathan is a Nigerian presidential tragedy. His cluelessness is as broadly defined as his aloofness, his mediocrity! But the Aremu of Ota, the erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo, bears certain responsibility for pushing GEJ indirectly to Aso Villa. The Ota veteran farmer must have had his reasons for doing what he did but the Nigerian national interest was not served by such imposition devoid of class. In any nation where merit or competence is sacrificed on the altar of godfatherism then such society is bound to experience developmental retardation akin to ours.

Recent reports online had it that the Abuja home of the former President Jonathan was burgled with everything stolen! But the burglary was reported to be a ‘special’ operation involving insiders, the mobile policemen stationed there and charged with providing security for the imposing property. The uniformed thieves simply went inside the house and helped themselves raking in millions of Naira in the process. The theft began since last year according to the report culminating in the ‘cleaning’ of whatever valuable a property that was found within. These included scores of plasma televisions, expensive suits with name of GEJ imprinted on them, traditional Ijaw clothes, exorbitant women wrappers, executive furniture, fridges, air-conditioners etc. 

Those behind the theft were arrested after an alarm went out and GEJ himself came calling and discovering the systematic dispossession of what could probably be said to have been gift items donated to him by political contractors during his tragic reign as President. He reportedly informed the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris and the top cop immediately ordered his boys to fish out the culprits. The three or four security men attached to the house were promptly arrested and detained. The ‘kparawos’ are still cooling their heels in a police detention facility awaiting a date with a judge. Breaking news had it that they have been dismissed from the force after a trial that found them guilty.

But the question raised by this bizarre incident and the swift action of the police in apprehending the uniformed burglars is this: If the Abuja property were to have been owned by an ordinary Nigerian without police connections would Idris have swung into action in record time and speed? The major problem with policing in Nigeria is that a whole lot of crooks abound within and abuse the system by abusing their uniforms and/or commissions. They treat ordinary Nigerians with disdain and produce poor performance professionally. Many are content with abusing motorists and taking bribes in broad daylight. 

For others still, their meagre salaries are inadequate leading inexorably to the abuse of the corrupt system with impunity. Some frustrated ones among them aid and abet crimes by hiring out their uniforms or even guns to criminals! Others never saw anything wrong engaging in armed robbery, oil bunkering or even terrorism. Abubakar Shekau is audacious and boastfully arrogant because he must have had some informants in the system supplying him with classified information and even ammunitions! That is probably why today Shekau and his gang of marauders continue to torment villages and towns up north meeting little or no resistance. 

They violently rob, rape, kill, burn down houses and abduct anyone at will! The much-vaunted claim by the federal government that Boko Haram had been defeated “technically” has somewhat become mendaciously obsolete. As long as Shekau (the green snake living dangerously) is not caged with his head bruised or better still chopped off the battle against the terrorist organization he leads would be a military (mis)adventure without end. 

Following the celebrated capture of the notorious kidnapping kingpin, Evans, in Lagos a few months ago it was revealed that his military collaborator, one Victor Chukwunonso, had been apprehended and was helping the police with their investigations. The bad egg in the system made huge fortunes providing cover, information and even personally assisting Evans in his nefarious activity. And when the late Lawrence Anini alias the Law, the dare-devil Oliver Twist-like armed robber, was nabbed and charged to court many years ago in Benin City he had shocked not a few by naming one George Iyamu, a senior police officer, as his point-man, nay hitman, in the police. The late convicted Iyamu gave out vital pieces of information, arms and ammunitions to Anini and his gang as they went about town terrorising banks and citizens!

IGP Idris has a huge task ahead of him given the rot in the system. That the police central command he heads is in dire need of a radical reform is an understatement. There are a lot of criminals inside the force daily denting the image of the police, an image that was at best dented already over time. Idris cannot, in good conscience, claim ignorant of this odious fact. Therefore, he urgently needs to get cracking by undertaking a holistic overhaul, nay restructuring, of the police in tune with the best standard global practices. Otherwise, the situation would remain ever hopeless!

The uniformed burglars that broke into GEJ’s compound in Abuja (that they ordinarily should be protecting) were just exhibiting the typical Nigerian malady of cupidity and indiscipline. They must have felt that by gaining access into the edifice perhaps they would stumble on ‘abandoned’ safe box filled to the brim with foreign currencies. They knew that the EFCC had not too long ago stormed a residential apartment in Ikoyi Lagos and serendipitously discovered staggering millions of Dollars! They must have read in the newspapers or read online about the millions and billions in some bank accounts the EFCC and Dame Patience Jonathan are still fighting over! They must have heard about how politicians now hide their loots in pit latrines, ceilings, water tanks and elsewhere in their grandmother’s homes! They knew, for sure, about the two ‘gates’ that chiefly defined GEJism in terms of heist.

Corruption has effortlessly affected every sector in Nigeria. Stealing whatever is found belonging to the public has since become a hobby for workers and government functionaries at state and federal levels of government. The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was right when he recently declared that when it came to stealing the resources of state the divisive issues of the region, religion or tribe did not always matter. He had said this while delivering a lecture. According to him:”There is complete unity in this business of stealing”. Can anyone afford to disagree with him?

 

SOC Okenwa
soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr

​(In) Justice In Our Penal System: Evans Vs Corrupt Public Servants By Abiodun Ladepo

Without one of those spoilt, narcissistic Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) who specialize in advocating for white-collar criminals standing by him, Chukwudumeje George Onwuamadike, also known as the celebrity kidnapper Evans, narrated to the media how he kidnapped people. We got to know the entire modus operandi. I bet you, given enough time, he will tell us more…everything from how he selected his targets, to how he studied their lifestyles, how he selected the dates and times for the kidnap operations, reconnoitering and selecting the intended routes, recruiting the right accomplices for the operations, deciding what types of weapons, modes of transportation and signs and signals he shared with his crew for whether to proceed with or abort operations.

Given enough time, Evans will tell us what post-operation meetings (After-Action Review?) looked like. Did they burn vehicles used in the operations? Did they shut off or throw away all the phones they had with them? Did anybody get wounded? Did anybody die? What were the health conditions of the victims? How much were the victims really worth? How were the ransoms collected? What were the sharing formulas? And how were the monies kept or spent without triggering suspicion in the community?

Evans would tell you all these not because he has suddenly been overwhelmed by a sense of contrition, or that the Holy Ghost has taken control of his dark heart and lodged there to cleanse it, or simply out of the goodness of his heart. He has been singing like a canary and will continue to sing like that because he has undergone (and is probably still undergoing) some of the most “creative” interrogation techniques in the whole world. No, I do not know for sure if that went on, or is going on. I just know, by taking a close look at his face, seeing his bloodshot eyes, his swollen red face and overall countenance, that he has faced the kind of interrogation techniques that Musiliu Obanikoro, for instance, did not face while being questioned for alleged corruption.

You probably know a thing or two about “creative” interrogation techniques…those that violate some of the articles of the Geneva Convention to which Nigeria has long been a signatory; those that could cause a country to be seen as a pariah by the rest of the civilized world, and bring the government official violators before the International Court of Justice at The Hague for human rights violations. The “good” thing about those kinds of interrogation techniques is that they make you confess fast and deep. You may even confess to crimes you did not commit!

Now, let me state without any equivocation that I do not think Evans has confessed to crimes he did not commit. In fact, he has confessed and given us proof of his sadistic crimes. There is no question Evans is one of the most depraved and despicable entities to have walked the face of this earth. There is no question he put innocent people through untold anguish by depriving wives of their husbands, children of their fathers; siblings of their siblings and friends of their friends. There is no doubt he robbed people of their hard-earned incomes and stripped them of their dignities in the most heartless and brutal ways, killing some in the process of snatching them against their will. And there is no question the man belongs in a fiery furnace, thrown in there while still alive, and left to immolate until his ashes are completely burnt too.

But just as Evans represents the worst kinds of human beings, so do some of our public servants represent the dregs of our society. The difference though is that rather than vilify the white-collar criminals like we are doing to Evans now, we celebrate them. We rankadede them when they show up in our communities in their bedecked clothes and accouterments. We trot after their sleek SUVs. We hold them in awe, drooling with admiration when their private jets land at our airports. We troop to their mansions to eat the crumbs off their tables. We never challenge them for the crimes they have committed against us…crimes with far more devastating and lasting consequences on us as a nation and as individuals. We can’t challenge them because we can never know with the kind of clarity, lucidity, and forthrightness (albeit forced) that Evans confessed to his sins. We can never know because we will never subject them to “creative” interrogation techniques.

Or will we ever strip Bukola Saraki naked; slap tight handcuffs on his hands, clasp leg-chains on him, and deny him sunlight, food, water, shelter from cold, shelter from heat, shelter from mosquitos? Will we ever subject him to marathon questioning where we get to change interrogators to give them a break but not give him any break in order to sustain weeks-long sessions and any time he dozes off, we beat the living crap out of him? Will we ever introduce a flaming rod to his private part? Will we ever introduce a hammer to his fingers and toes? Will we ever simulate drowning him? Will we ever do any of the above to him while questioning him about the allegations he faces?

When you took a look at Sambo Dasuki’s face, did you see any evidence of “creative” investigation techniques? What about that of Rabiu Kwankwaso? What about Alex Badeh’s face? What about Femi Fani-Kayode’s face? What about Stella Oduah’s face? What about Patience Jonathan’s? What about Adesola Amosu’s? And these are people against whom some of the most “fantastic” corruption allegations in the history of Nigeria have been made. Some of them have never even been arrested, let alone interrogated. Some of them have admitted to stealing (way more than Evans has stolen violently) and have started to return their loot to a government. But we don’t see them as terrible people in the same way we see Evans, even though they may have hurt our very beings beyond repair if some of the crimes against them are ever proven to be true.

Hundreds of women die monthly during childbirth because hospitals do not have the equipment to monitor their and their babies conditions, with funds meant for equipping the hospitals having been embezzled by public servants. We don’t see that as worse than what Evans did because we have not subjected the public servants to the process of atonement, the kind that Evans faced. Boko Haram successfully carved out a “country” for itself in Nigeria’s northeast, butchering thousands of innocent and poor civilians, kidnapping and raping hundreds of young school girls and Nigeria’s military could not defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity because some eminent Nigerians diverted to their pockets funds meant to arm the military. We don’t see that as a crime worthy of the kind of burn-in-a-ferocious-furnace punishment that I recommend above for Evans?

What about those death traps we call roads? What about those coffins we fly as aircraft…with funds for their maintenance having been cornered by the politicians we eulogize? What about our children’s future being taken from them when tertiary education has been priced out of their reaches?

The list is endless. We see and feel every day the litany of crimes committed against our humanity by the people we revere, trust and respect. But we have inoculated ourselves against the sense of justice, proportion and fairness in apportioning punishment to the point that we lynch a hungry man who steals a loaf of bread while saluting the public servant who steals our billions. We subject to public opprobrium and humiliation the common criminal while 50-plus Senators, 100-plus SANs, shameless media advisers, pliant prosecutors who intentionally sabotage their own cases and morally debased judges all conspire to free the highly-placed criminals. The war against corruption will fail unless we have a level playing field…the kind of field on which we played Evans; the kind of playing field that will serve as deterrence for our super-corrupt public servants.

Abiodun Ladepo

Ibadan, Oyo State

Oluyole2@yahoo.com