​The Celebration Of Corruption By Ozekhome And Co

In their separate reactions to the questionable discharge of Senator Bukola Saraki by the Code of a Conduct Tribunal, the Ekiti state Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome and former Aviation Minister, Fani-Kayode decided to celebrate corruption and impunity. One thing that is common to the three of them is that they have been indicted in the criminal diversion of public funds by ex-NSA, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
As Governor Fayose currently enjoys immunity, his protege, Gbenga Agbele is on trial for keeping part of the N2.5billion traced to the lousy governor. To avoid his imminent prosecution the governor is getting ready to ask for an extension of his second term in the Ekiti state house. If has been confirmed that he paid N75million from the N2.5 billion to his counsel, Ozekhome for the defense of Agbele. On his own part, Fani-Kayode is standing with another for N3.4billion from the N23 billion set aside for the 2015 general election by Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke.

Since these guys are keeping stolen public funds they cannot see that the Code of Conduct Tribunal did not absolve Saraki of criminality. By upholding Saraki’s “no case” submission the Tribunal said that there was no enough evidence for the accused to enter the witness box to offer any defense. Is Chief Ozekhome interpreting that to mean that Saraki declared his assets? Or that he was not receiving full salary of a sitting governor while he is being paid the full salary of a senator?

Saraki had tried to get the Code of Conduct Tribunal Chairman disqualified because of his indictment by the EFCC that he had once been indicted for collecting bribe from an accused person. Since the Code of Conduct Tribunal has ‘freed’ Saraki he has become an incorruptible judge in the circle of corrupt lawyers like Ozekhome, Femi Fani-Kayode, and other influential crooks.

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President Buhari, Silence Is Not Always Golden, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

​The quality of leadership in the Senate and House of Representatives has long been considered an intra-party problem, and the budget padding scandal has shown that it is a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. Since we started the present democratic experiment in 1999, the legislative chambers have never been accountable. They have existed as extortion departments to make demands from the executive. Until Buhari was elected, they were the Senate and House of Ghana Must Go Bags. It is these perks and vaunting ambition that prompted Saraki’s hijack of the process and the forgery of standing rules, as being alleged. Events since the Eighth national Assembly was inaugurated has proven to Nigerians that the Senate President and the Speaker of the House are unqualified to serve in their respective roles; both in character and temperament. Together, they promote graft, theft and a campaign of intimidation and harassment, while they revel in the complete abdication of their statutory roles.

Despite the president’s signature agenda of fighting corruption, a few people in positions of trust and privilege continue to plunder our resources while ordinary Nigerians are not being paid their wages, salaries, and decent living has never been harder. Saraki and Dogara’s infractions have continued to make mockery of the president’s anti-corruption fight. Their intent and actions in their official capacities clearly reveal their contempt for Nigeria’s constitutional norms and preference for judicial subjugation and abuse of procedures.

Along with these orchestrated sabotage is Mamman Daura’s hostile takeover of presidential appointments and the Dambazau debacle. Sadly, the president has remained silent through it all. It feels like it doesn’t matter. What will it take to get the president to talk? What will it take to get the president to feel the pain and anguish of the average Nigerian? President Buhari, at times of national unease like we are in, silence is not golden. Do not listen to the likes of Adesina who tells you that you cannot afford to be a talkative president. Nigerians elected you and they deserve occasional briefings on major events and developments. You cannot afford the communication strategy of a hermit. It will not serve you nor will it benefit us. Sometimes you need to rally the troops. You need to make the case for patience and sacrifice. Sometimes, you need to give peptalk to boost morale at times of national despondency when there is pervasive hunger and want in the land. At times like this, it is better to say too much than to say too little.

Mr. President, are you going to leave Nigerians to the desecrators and violators to deal with as they deem fit? The majority of Nigerians do not understand your wall of silence. The unusual combination of mindless gratification, unbridled arrogance, disregard for the judicial process and impunity from legislative quarters is galling. Unfortunately, neither Saraki nor Dogara and their clique of saboteurs sees their moral failures as any form of handicap. While Saraki is encouraging bullying and physical fights in the Senate in his desperation for affirmation, he is totally contemptuous of facts and other points of view. While Dogara is accusing another of budget padding, his red ink gives authority and timestamp to grand theftYour silence might be political but it is not strategic and it is detrimental to national interest. Even if it conveys a sense of mystery to us, the predictable meaning we read into it are different. With this sort of silence, we feel more passivity, more uncertainty and relinquishment, if not surrender and helplessness. It is true that politics is a game of intrigues but times like this calls for persuasion, clarification and conviction to win public support and sympathy.

Sir, your silence is being interpreted even by core Buharists like me as incompetence, intransigence and a variant of arrogance. From what we see so far, your silence has led to your political encirclement. Effectively, the legislative houses are in the hands of unbelievers of change and seasoned economic saboteurs whose interests are their pockets and ambitions. Your appointments are lopsided in a country with visible fault lines and we are begining to see the manifestations of cronyism and nepotism.

As a battle tested General, I know you will never underestimate an enemy but sir; but the signals are there that the battle lines are drawn and the conflict is going to be a fight to the finish between you and the unbelievers of change. The plot is to prevent your administration from functioning effectively and succeeding in the battle against corruption. As I write this, the battle front is desultory and your men like Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari and Femi Adesina are widening the theatre of conflict to the point that it is appropriate to call it a war. I urge you to break your silence today. Your silence is deafening. Your silence is not strategic. It is certainly not golden!

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column – “Bamidele Upfront” for the Premium Times . Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo
Culled from premiumtimesng

​Dogara fights back; House accuses ex-Appropriation chair, Jibrin, of budget fraud

The House of Representatives on Tuesday gave further explanation for its decision to replace the Kano lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin, as chairman of House Committee on Appropriation.

The House said Mr. Jibrin was removed last Wednesday for his “incompetence, abuse of budgetary process and serial betrayal, including a ‘proclivity to blackmail’”.

In the explanation, which was detailed in a press release by its spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas, the House said Mr. Jibrin’s “highhandedness” could no longer be tolerated, hence his dismissal.

Mr. Namdas also responded to Mr. Jibrin’s allegations that Speaker Yakubu Dogara severely padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N40 billion.

Read the full press statement below:

TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE BY CHAIRMAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON MEDIA & PUBLICITY, HON. ABDULRAZAK NAMDAS ON 26 JULY 2016:

You will recall that on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin was removed from his position as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations and replaced by Hon. Mustapha Bala Dawaki. This was done in exercise of the powers conferred on Mr. Speaker by the House Rules to appoint and remove Committee Chairmen and Deputies in consultation with the House Leadership.

On that occasion, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had stated that Jibrin’s removal was a decision of the House Leadership and that incidentally, after that decision, Hon. Abdulmumin himself approached him on the floor of the House, just before he made the announcement, notifying him that the pressure on him was beyond what he could bear and that he no longer desired to continue as Chairman.

Strangely, after this, Hon. Abdulmumin went into a press war in which he is maligning, misrepresenting and denigrating the Speaker, the Leadership, the entire members of the House and indeed the House of Representatives as an institution.

It has become imperative that we clarify some of the issues he has raised to set the record straight.

2. SOME REASONS WHY HON. ABDULMUMIN JIBRIN WAS REMOVED:

His removal was based on sundry acts of misconduct, incompetence, immaturity, total disregard for his colleagues and abuse of the budgetary process, among others.

a. Immaturity and lack of capacity to handle the Office of Chairman, Appropriations:

One of the fundamental reasons why the House Leadership removed him is that, he was found not to be fit and proper person to hold such a sensitive office which exposes him to high officials of government at all levels.

Furthermore, in the course of the performance of his duties as Chairman of Appropriations Committee, it became evident that he does not possess the temperament and maturity required for such a high office.

b. Tendency and proclivity to blackmail colleagues and high government officials and misuse and mishandle sensitive government information:

He was in the habit of collating, warehousing and manipulating sensitive information to blackmail people sometimes apparently for pecuniary purposes. And by virtue of his position as Appropriations Chairman, he usually met with very high and senior public officers at all levels.

The Speaker and the Leadership were inundated with complaints by heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over harassment from the House Appropriations Chairman to engage in conduct and acts unbecoming of their offices.

The Leadership launched an internal investigation into these allegations and was largely satisfied that action had to be taken to remove him, in the interest of the integrity of the House.

One clear example is the insertion of Funds for the so called Muhammadu Buhari Film Village in his Constituency in Kano without the consent or solicitation of Mr. President. This has brought both Mr. President and the government to disrepute.

Again, it was found out that he was fond of inserting projects into prominent persons’ constituencies without their knowledge to curry favour and possibly use it as a means of blackmail against them when necessary.

One of such is the numerous projects he claimed in a Channels TV interview in April 2016, to have cited in Mr. President’s home town of Daura, Katsina State without Mr. President’s solicitation or knowledge, in a desperate attempt to blackmail Mr. President as an answer and justification for allocation of N4.1 billion to his constituency when confronted by the interviewer.

He did not stop there. Hon Abdulmumin went about soliciting Honourable members to nominate projects for him to help them include in the Budget. When called upon to defend his actions as Appropriation’s Chairman, all he did was to be calling names of those members and the amount he helped include for them in the Budget in an unsuccessful bid to silence them. Most of the affected members took serious exceptions to his despicable antics and sundry acts of blackmail and protested to the Leadership to prevail on Hon Abdulmumin to expunge from the Budget what he claimed he allocated to them since they did not solicit for those projects.

To attempt to drag the name of Mr President, Honourable members and others to his new low through sundry acts of blackmail was one of the matters the House Leadership found off limits and totally unacceptable.

c. Unacceptable Mismanagement of the 2016 Budgetary Process:

i. It was also discovered that the former Chairman, Appropriations, discreetly and clandestinely allocated monies for projects that are not clearly defined in the budget for the purposes of exploiting the ambiguities for personal gains.

ii. Furthermore, he was found to be responsible for some bogus allocations in the budget for projects that have no locations and were apparently never meant to be executed.

iii. Hon. Jibrin’s mishandling of the 2016 budget process nearly fractured the otherwise cordial relationship between the Executive and the Legislature and brought the National Assembly and the government to public ridicule.

iv. For reasons that were not noble and not in the Public Interest, Hon Abdulmumin had initially inflated the Budget by adding about N250b more to the total figure as submitted by Mr President. This, the National Assembly Leadership out rightly rejected as a form of financial recklessness and inability to appreciate the dwindling resources available to government necessitating that we act prudently. He was directed therefore to make even further cuts below Mr Presidents total figure.

v. Hon Abdulmumin, in his desperation to ingratiate himself into the good books of the Presidency, unilaterally entered into commitments on the structure of the Budget, without the knowledge of the National Assembly Leadership, in the full knowledge, not only that he had no authority to do so, but dishonestly had no intentions of keeping to those commitments, having done the exact opposite in processing the budget details. This brought the House into disrepute as it portrayed the National Assembly and its leadership as persons who couldn’t keep their word.

vi. He displayed crass ineptitude and general lack of capacity to handle the work, thereby serving as a clog in the appropriations process. He contributed significantly to the delays in the passage of the Appropriation Bill. No one, not even his Deputy and Members of the Appropriations Committee, could reach him at certain periods during the budget process.

Indeed on the last day of the exercise, he went underground to avoid being compelled to show areas he had hidden most of the cuts he claimed he made, an act which amounted to gross insubordination and an attempt to hold captive, all involved in the budget chain to the point of entirely frustrating the passage of the Budget.

The tripartite Committee of the Senate, House and Executive thus completed the 2016 Budget without Hon Abdulmumin as he was hiding, believing that the job could not be done without him.

vii. Confirming some of the reasons for his removal and true to type, Hon Abdulmumin has since after his sack, resorted to blackmail, his stock in trade. He has released documents from dubious sources in a desperate bid to lure gullible members of the public to his side. Mr Speaker’s inputs to the 2016 Budget was signed and delivered to him. If he has honour, let him release the signed inputs of Mr Speaker and not pieces of paper that bears no acknowledged authorship. Our counsel to Hon Abdulmumin is for him to be real as a man by bringing up credible, authentic and verifiable documents or stubborn facts which disclose the commission of crime on the part of any Member or Leader of the House. If he can’t, then let him go and sulk in secret over his sack.

3. LOSS OF CREDIBILITY:

a. It also came to the knowledge of Leadership that the allocations for these developmental projects meant for the Appropriations and Finance Committees’ members were neither disclosed nor properly and equitably distributed by Hon. Jibrin to them which contributed to massive agitations for his removal.

b. The Leadership was also in receipt of complaints about his activities as Chair of Finance Committee in the 7th Assembly, which had potentials to embarrass the House because of his current position as Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Investigations found that from 2011 – 2015 Hon Abdulmumin domiciled with Hadejia – Jama’are River Basin Authority and few other MDAs some of the allocations meant for his former Finance Committee members some of whom are still members of the 8th Assembly. He was alleged to have aided the use of front companies that collected funds without executing most of the projects. The Projects have been compiled and will at the appropriate time be referred to the Anti Graft Agencies to establish why the projects were fully paid for and not executed, who collected the funds and why has Hon Abdulmumin not raised any alarm about the non execution of the projects even now?

c. Twice, in Executive Sessions, members unanimously and vehemently demanded that the Speaker remove Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin from the Appropriations Committee for gross abuse of his position as Chairman.However, the Speaker, tried to manage the situation but members did not relent on their agitations for his removal not only for gross abuse of his position but also for the poor and incompetent handling of 2016 appropriation process.

d. The Leadership also observed with embarrassment that since his mismanagement of 2016 Budget process, every time Hon Abdulmumin gets up to speak on the floor of the House, there was spontaneous chorus of ole! ole,! ole! or thief! thief! thief! Barawo! Barawo! Barawo! from Hon. members which climaxed in a motion to have him removed as Chairman, Appropriations.

e. It is regrettably true that Hon Abdulmumin was entrusted with critical aspects of the budget, but he is not the sole author of the budget as he appears to be portraying himself. Every reasonable person knows that it is a bare faced lie. His stories without corroboration from anyone who was deeply involved in the Budget process is, mere tales by moon light, a fitting story for bed time. If he has any witness, let them speak up in his support. Apparently, he doesn’t know that no one can be convicted even in the court of public opinion based on the evidence of one man.

4. ZONAL/CONSTITUENCY INTERVENTION PROJECTS IS NOT PADDING:

Zonal/Constituency Intervention Projects have their origins in constitutional provisions as encapsulated in the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy requiring the government to ensure equitable distribution of resources and infrastructure.

The idea of Zonal/Constituency Intervention projects arose as a result of the need to carry every part of the country along in allocation of projects in the budget, and to address the imbalance in line with federal character principles as enshrined in the Constitution.

In recent years, there has always been standing lump sum allocation for the implementation of Zonal/Constituency Intervention Projects in every budget proposal from Mr. President including the 2016 budget, as mutually agreed between the Executive and the Legislature.

The entire annual budget estimates once presented by Mr. President, is referred to the Appropriations Committee for further legislative input and scrutiny at the conclusion of the Second Reading.

While it is prerogative of National Assembly members to decide the projects and their locations, it is the prerogative of the relevant MDAs to choose the contractors, award the projects and to execute. For emphasis, the general impression that monies are given to members of the National Assembly to execute projects is incorrect and unfounded.

The allocation of the funds earmarked for Zonal/Constituency intervention projects has customarily and traditionally been distributed between the Senate and the House in the ratio of 40-60 as done in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Assemblies.

The leadership of both Chambers, including the Appropriations and Finance Committees are normally and traditionally allocated certain percentages of these funds, for inclusion in the Appropriation Bill for projects. The remaining are distributed to members of the National Assembly for inclusion of their preferred projects in the Budget. This has also been the established tradition over the years.

For the avoidance of doubt, the 8th House of Representatives under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has not deviated from established practices, precedents and traditions in this matter.

It is necessary to emphasise that these budgetary allocations are meant for developmental projects under the purview of these leaders in their Constituencies and at other levels and not for their personal benefit. And certainly they are not allocations of money or contracts! These projects include roads, bridges, water supply, electricity, schools, skill acquisitions etc. They are projects that can be located either in the Exclusive Legislative List or Concurrent List.

It should be noted also that arising from oversight and House Resolutions on specific critical needs, the Leadership is obliged to accommodate some projects that may have been omitted or are not captured in Mr. President’s proposal.

5. POWERS OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON APPROPRIATION:

The powers of the National Assembly on appropriation are clearly spelt out in Sections 4, 59 and 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.

Section 4, empowers the National Assembly to make laws for good governance of the federation while Section 59 confers on the Legislature final say on the budget.

Section 80 (4) on the other hand, which confers on the legislature absolute power of control over public funds, states that: “No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, EXCEPT IN THE MANNER PRESCRIBED BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY”. The word MANNER confers absolute legislative discretion.

When therefore, the National Assembly appropriates funds in the budget, it CAN NEVER under any circumstances or guise be deemed or regarded as tinkering or padding.

The legislature is therefore constitutionally incapable of padding the budget.

What the Executive submits are mere estimates and proposal as stipulated in Section 81 (1). It is obvious that the Constitution uses the word ESTIMATES advisedly. Consequently, it is therefore an exhibition of crass ignorance, abuse of language, outright mischief and or blackmail for a legislator especially one who chaired the Appropriations Committee to use the word PADDING to describe the action of parliament on the budget.

The removal, introduction of projects or the amendment of Mr. President’s estimates in the Appropriation Bill CANNOT AND SHOULD NEVER BE CONSTRUED AS AN ACT OF CORRUPTION OR IMPROPRIETY because it is at the core of appropriation powers of the National Assembly as aptly enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. It is therefore clear, that no crime or wrong doing can be legitimately imputed on the actions or conduct of Mr. Speaker, the Leadership or Members of the House of Representatives before, during and after the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

6. CONCLUSION:

After the House Leadership reviewed all the issues raised above, it was left with no option but to respect the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Hon. Members to remove Hon Abdulmumin as Chairman, Appropriations Committee of the House. It was clear to the entire Leadership that in this government of change, Hon Abdulmumin lacks the character and credentials to chair the House Committee on Appropriations.

I am aware that in accordance with the Rules of the House, this matter will at the appropriate time go to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges where Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin will be afforded the opportunity of fair hearing.
Culled from premiumtimesng

First Lady Aisha Buhari’s Wristwatch and The Vanity of Nigerian Elites, By Adeolu Ademoyo

If true, the news about Mrs. Aisha Buhari’s wristwatch is highly disturbing. The reported news is that she allegedly wore a ten Million Naira Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-Carat White Gold Diamond wristwatch to her husband’s inauguration on May 29, 2015. Her defenders deny this. They claim that the wristwatch is a “knock down” version of the watch and the one she wore cost between $100-$130.
The responses of both Mrs. Aisha Buhari’s critics and defenders on this matter have been inadequate and unhelpful. Her critics seem to be raising ethical issues, one of which is that if Mrs. Buhari is hoping to step into the public sphere in any form, her handlers hope to package her, genuine and verifiable modesty, humility, a strong sense of ethics in public service consistent with the moral opposition that shoved Ex-president Jonathan aside and brought Mr. Buhari in is non-negotiable. Her critics on this matter have not clearly stated this (perhaps because they – the critics – are also morally compromised), neither have they shown that Aisha Buhari actually wore that vain watch (if actually she did) in a moment that can be described as an instance of public service.
On the other hand Aisha Buhari’s handlers have failed on two grounds. First, they dodged a legitimate issue, which is about requisite ethics in public service and role. It is possible Aisha Buhari’s handlers do not even see the seriousness of the grim moral problem Nigeria is in since many of Mrs. Aisha Buhari’s handlers probably belong – in a historical sense – to the same political, feudal, military, and ruling class that knocked the country down.
Let us put it starkly. It is unacceptable in a country where the average Nigerian lives on a dollar a day for anyone in a public service role to step into the public sphere in a vain ten million naira wristwatch. If Aisha Buhari’s handlers correctly understood the moral opposition that brought Mr. Buhari to power, then Aisha’s handlers must admit this ethical position unconditionally and proceed to either admit that she needed to draw a clear line between her legitimate right to her privacy (where she is free to use anything she likes since it is her money), and her potential public role (where her role ought be conditioned by public ethics), and apologise to Nigerians for such faux pas or deny it factually.
Aisha’s handlers chose the latter (i.e. they denied) and said what their principal wore is a knock down version of the original watch, which they claim, cost $129 in a flea market. But for Aisha Buhari’s handlers to dismissively claim that it is a knock down version of the original watch is a mere statement needing factual confirmation, which is similar to the claim of her critics which also needs factual confirmation. This is the point at which both Aisha’s critics and defenders/handlers may be playing on the genuine moral feelings of Nigerians who are determined to break with the silliness and vanity in Nigerian First ladyship.
Someone may ask: “what is the heck with Aisha Buhari wearing a ten million naira wristwatch if it is indeed true”? The simple answer is that “the heck” is that it reveals a moral mindset, if true a moral mindset which is out of tune with the new Nigeria we want to build where anyone in a public role is a genuine servant of the Nigerian people, and not a pretender. Mrs. Aisha Buhari is the latest brand in the lineage of first ladies of Nigeria. And here I will go for the broke with no holds barred. Why? Those who fought to change the old dispensation will not allow any President and his first lady to re-invent and take us back to the dark days of Goodluck Jonathan presidency and the useless First ladyship of the Nigerian presidency. To put it starkly, this mandate is not Buhari’s mandate. It is the mandate of the Nigerian people, and we are going to watch this very closely.
Those who worked selflessly (working to see radical break from the past and improved conditions of the people) for the election of President Buhari took a gamble and a risk. And Nigerian voters will remain watchmen and women of the risk they took because the voters did not work to institute another round of vanity in power because if true, to perform an official function with a ten million Naira wristwatch in a country where the average Nigerian lives on a dollar a day is morally unacceptable.
Mrs. Aisha Buhari is a private citizen. She should remain so in so far as she does not peddle influence, or go near the public treasury. To this end, she is free to wear any type of wrist watch – gold, silver, golden-silver, brass, diamond – anything. It is her right. It is not important to Nigerians the type of wristwatch she wears. She only needs to take it off the public sphere if she is hoping to step into the public domain.
A comparison of Nigerian ruling elites with their counterparts in other climes reveals a lot about vision and ethics. Take as an example Charles Feeny, one of the early movers of the now popular duty free shops where all brands of wristwatches are on display but who personally uses wrist watch worth less than $50! An Irish-American and alumnus of Cornell University, Feeny has this to say about himself: “I had one idea that never changed in my mind — that you should use your wealth to help people. I try to live a normal life, the way I grew up…I set out to work hard, not to get rich.” Since 1982, Feeney had given out grants totaling 7 billion dollars – the single bulk of it has gone to universities both in the US and his original country, Ireland. But wait a minute, Feeny, a billionaire, a signatory to the World Billionaires’ “The Giving Pledge” and pioneer mover of duty free shops where all manner of wristwatches are often on display for sale, himself, uses a wristwatch worth less than $50!
This ought to be a sober lesson for our usual Dubai bound vanity, gold plated phone and Carat wristwatch seeking members of the Nigerian ruling and feudal elites.
But it is conceivable that Mr. Buhari himself may just not be aware that her wife allegedly wore ten million naira worth wrist watch to his official inauguration; even if this is true, it negates in a fundamental sense the sense of seriousness and purpose we thought Buhari had and which we used to rally Nigerian people to his side in the last election. At least it is on record that ex-president Obasanjo said he was not aware that his wife, Stella Obasanjo was going for a tummy surgery, which sadly resulted in her death.
Nigerian people have the right to be on the alert because of the vanity of the so-called Nigerian First ladies. Always mistaking vain pomp and pageantry to be style and taste; lacking in deep and profound vision; failing to see the style, grace, nobility, honour and virtue in modesty and humility in service to the people; lacking in style and grace but full of vain pageantry and poor ethics that define members of Nigerian ruling and feudal elites, these tribe of so-called first ladies range from Mrs. Babangida, to Mrs. Abacha to Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, Mrs. Turai Yar adua, down to Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
The Buhari presidency must quickly define and clarify the relationship of the figurative position of the first lady to official public life and to the Nigerian public treasury – both formal and informal. While all “first ladies” and “first men” have rights (as private citizens) to their sense of vanity, including their multiple golden, silver, brass wristwatches, driving toys, phones, gold ringed eye glasses, and shoes, they must limit their vanity to their private lives. But if they change roles and officially step into the public domain with their vanity, the Nigerian people will subject them to the rigorous public scrutiny of the high ethics and high standards of the public sphere.
In the post-Goodluck Jonathan presidency, the first and last call of any state official is genuine, visible and verifiable humility, modesty in service to the Nigerian people as we have it in advanced democracies and civilised climes. There will not be less. There will be no sacred cow, goat, or sheep in this historic and moral duty of watchmen and women. This is the only condition the votes of Nigerian people and our deliberate call for Nigerian people to vote Buhari would not have been a waste.

Adeolu Ademoyo, aaa54@cornell.edu, is with the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Culled from premiumtimesng.com

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Beyond Fuel Subsidy: What Next? Why Sure Is Not A Sure Route To Infrastructure Development By Jaye Gaskia

INTRODUCTION: At the height of the
tremendous mobilisation and
organising efforts aimed at
preparing Nigerians for resistance
and persuading the government to
change its policy course on subsidy
removal, I had written a paper in
December 2011, titled ‘Governing
by stealth: exploding the myths of
fuel subsidy removal’, attempting to
summarize all the counter
arguments of civil society and its
labour allies against the hiking of
price of petrol.
THE OUTSTANDING ISSUES:
The principal planks of the counter
arguments which remain valid even
today bear some brief mention; first,
there is the whole question around
the nature of the subsidy. The most
important fact here is that around
the reason why the subsidy which is
the difference between the landing
price and the pump price, exist in
the first place. This reason is
fourfold – the parlous state of our
domestic refining capacity, which
necessitates that we have to import
refined products, the floatation of
our currency against major
currencies, as well as the corruption
in the import regime of the refined
products. It is the sum total of all of
these that ensure that the subsidy
exists and continues to build up
after every subsidy removal
exercise. As long as we continue to
depend on importation, and the
value of the naira declines against
the dollar, the landing cost of
refined products will continue to
rise. If this is coupled with a desire
to make the product easily
accessible and affordable because of
its centrality to the economy due to
the parlous state of power
generation and distribution, then
there will always be a subsidy that
will always be on the rise.
Second, is the whole debate around
the actual beneficiaries of the
subsidy? Government assumes and
promotes the false idea that only
the super elites and the cabal
benefit from the subsidy. In fact the
major beneficiary is the
overwhelming majority of ordinary
citizens who have access to petrol
because it is affordable, in the midst
of crushing poverty (61% of the
population according to latest NBS
figures); the overwhelming majority
of whom need to use petrol to
power their businesses [small,
medium and large scale, as well as
formal and informal sectors of the
economy] and earn a living.
In reality as the NASS probes have
now revealed, the cabal and corrupt
government and industry officials
have been corruptly enriched by the
fraud perpetrated and perpetuated
in the import regime and in the
management of the subsidy. But
this is a criminal benefit, which
ought to and should be subject to
prosecution and punishment with
fraudulently collected subsidies
recovered and returned to the
coffers of the federation account.
Third, there is the issue around the
financing of the subsidy, and it is
the issue most directly connected
with the SURE program. If the
subsidy is being financed through
deficit budgeting/public borrowing,
then the only thing that can be
achieved by hiking fuel prices to the
same level as ever increasing
landing cost [which stood at 141
naira per liter as at 31s Dec 2011,
and has now risen to 165 naira per
liter as at 29th February 2012] will
be to stop borrowing! No savings
would be possible to be made, and
therefore there will be no money for
the SURE program. This is basic
economics.
The fourth issue is then directly the
argument around freeing money for
critical infrastructure development,
what then became conceptualized
into the SURE program. And here it
is important to mention that the
SURE program in its original form
[before its withdrawal, is at best a
deceptive collection of programs
into a wish list. A program that will
be implemented requires more
serious approach; it requires a
strategic, operational and
implementation, as well as
investment plan. SURE was none of
these.
The SURE program had no sense of
the strategic linkages of the
infrastructure projects; there was no
prioritization; no costing, and no
timeline for implementation [no
start and end dates for the projects]
. There was also no indication of
what each will cost to implement,
what the total cost for the entire
package is; what part of the budget
the subsidy reinvested fund will
cover; what the funding gap will be;
and how this funding gap will be
filled.
What is even more appalling and an
indication of the shoddiness of its
preparation as well as the inbuilt
deception in the program is the fact
that ongoing projects for which
contracts have been signed were
severally included in the SURE pot-
pori of critical infrastructure
interventions!
Additionally as we now know thanks
to the subsidy probes at the NASS,
the funding regime was based
absolutely on guesses not on
empirical information. No body as at
the time the program was being put
together had any idea about the
true cost of the subsidy fraud, which
we now know cost us well over 2
trillion naira in 2011!
Even now no one is certain what the
actual daily consumption rate for
petrol is, the actual amount we pay
for per day, the actual daily
production rate of existing
refineries; much less a sense of
determining what the actual short
fall in daily supply is, which will
require an actual quantity of refined
products per day!
What is perhaps more shocking with
respect to revealing the mind of the
regime, is the shocking assumption,
that the subsidy program was
designed on the basis of an annual
available funding of 478 billion naira
over a four year period! Why is this
shocking and scandalous? Precisely
because it assumes no reduction in
the quantity of imported refined
product per day, translating into an
assumption or rather more
appropriately, an intention to keep
current domestic refining capacity
at 2011 levels over the four year
period.
The implication of this is that no
additional domestic refining
capacity will be acquired over the
four year period, and we will
continue to be dependent on
importation of refined products, at
current, if not at increasing levels
over the four year period! It also
means that we will have to remain
subjected to higher and ever
increasing pump prices of
petroleum products, based on
increasing landing costs, due to
changes in the value of the naira in
relation to the dollar on the one
hand, and as well due to rising
production cost internationally on
the other hand.
And finally on this issue, where is
the sense of strategic linkage in the
SURE program, between the
refineries to be built under the
program, the private refining
licenses to be issued, and this
assumption that we will remain
dependent at the very least on
current import levels for the next
four years?
Fifth, there is also the set of issues
around the need for all of us to
sacrifice. The fallacy of this
argument is that the overwhelming
majority of Nigerians are already
over sacrificing; and have become
so thoroughly impoverished by their
level of sacrifice; a sacrifice that
actually corresponds to a citizens
subsidy of the opulence and
corruption of the ruling political
elites, the various cabals and high
officials of the civil/public service.
Those who need to sacrifice are the
ones that have refused to
demonstrate a willingness to
sacrifice while urging the rest of us
who are already over sacrificing to
sacrifice more! A critical look at
federal and state budgets reveals
these inconsistencies. Since the
January uprising we have been
regaled with snippets of such
ostentation in the federal budget:
1billion to feed the president in this
year; 1.7 billion to fuel cars in the
presidency [remember that we are
paying from public coffers for them
to fuel their cars, while we are
expected to pay from our own
pockets these deregulated prices for
petroleum products!]; another 1.3
billion naira to fuel generators in the
presidency [does this ruling class
have any shame at all?]; etc etc.
Sixth, the issue around what the
real deficit is, which is the deficit of
trust. No one trusts the Nigerian
government, and all of the things
that have happened since the
January Uprising firmly underlie the
reason why we cannot and should
not trust this government. As a
government they have so perfected
the act of lying and governing by
deceit that they also very often
believe their own lies and act on its
basis.
This regime needs to rebuild trust,
and nothing in all the actions it has
taken so far indicates that it is
willing, able to, or capable of being
trustworthy.
Seventh, there is the claim by
government,[ its supporters, and
does who support deregulation, who
may even be in opposition to the
way the government is going about
it] that government can not
successfully operate refineries, that
government has no business in
operating companies in the
petroleum [downstream &
upstream] and power sectors; and
that it is only the private sector that
can successfully operate these
businesses!
The fallacy in this argument is
obvious in the fact that the
monumental failure of giant
corporations/TransNational
Corpoarations [including Enron,
Lehman brothers, and banks and
corporations across Europe, North
America and Japan/Asia]; as well as
the failure, bankruptcy and collapse
or threatened collapse of whole
national market economies [from
Iceland, through Ireland, Greece,
Portugal, Italy, Spain, etc]; has been
the defining character of the period
since 2007; yet no one has said that
capitalism, and the system of
private ownership of the means of
production, alongside the market on
which it is based has failed!
How can such a system that has
faced such monumental crisis of
existential proportions be still held
up as the only way to run business,
and as the viable alternative to
public ownership and management
of businesses?
Besides, when they shamelessly
make this argument while signing
contracts to build and operate
refineries, independent power
plants, railroads, including oil and
gas exploration contracts, etc with
state owned Chinese firms?
And while they try to white wash
their own incompetence and
ineptitude in managing the
economy, they forget to give
examples from Indonesia, Brazil,
and Venezuela, that have built
successful transnational state
owned operations in the petroleum
sectors. It is obvious that what has
failed is not public ownership, but
incompetence, ineptitude and
impunity in the management of our
political and economic life by a
thieving and looting ruling class!
Eighth, there is the other claim by
the regime and its supporters, that
this debate is not political, it is
purely economic! What can be more
political than a situation where a
government avoids all rational
economic options, and sticks
dogmatically to a set agenda, aimed
at completely ousting the state and
the public administration from the
management of the petroleum
sector?
Refineries can and ought to be
made to work, and yes, those
owned publicly? Those who
mismanage them, sabotage, or
defraud them are committing
economic crimes, and ought to be
prosecuted and punished. Those
who are guilty only of incompetence
and ineptitude should be sacked
and new managements brought in!
Linked with the supposedly non
political nature of the debate, is the
claim that this debate is not
ideological. What can be further
from the truth? The arguments
around the alleged public sector
inefficiency vs alleged private sector
efficiency are purely ideological
given that they are made without
reference to the deep rooted global
crisis of capitalism!
Besides, the insistence by the
government and its supporters that
hiking fuel prices would have no
impact on the poor and would not
contribute to increasing poverty
levels; while also insisting that
making petrol, that is so central to
the economy, available at affordable
and accessible price only benefits
the super rich and the cabal; can be
understood only within the context
of ideological faith and fidelity!
The last myth, the ninth one is the
made prominent by the CBN
governor, around the nature of
subsidies. He, along with the
supporters of the government claim,
that there are two broad categories
of subsidies: subsidizing production
vs subsidizing consumption! They
further claim, that what grows the
economy is a subsidy on
production, and that the petrol
subsidy is a subsidy on
consumption!
How fallacious and desperate can
these people get! Petrol, is in the
Nigerian economic context, a factor,
if not a primary factor of production!
In a context where electricity is
conspicuous only by its absence or
epileptic presence, every sector of
the economy: formal and informal,
manufacturing and commerce;
small, medium or large scale; is
dependent on using generators to
provide power. Over 80% of
generators in use require petrol not
diesel. How can the availability of
such a central product not be a
factor of production? How can a
subsidy to make it accessible not be
a subsidy on production?
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Since the January Uprising and the
probes at the national assembly of
the petroleum sector which it has
engendered and energized; several
important revelations has come to
light with respect to the lack and or
complete absence of coordination in
the management of the economy,
inspite of the fact that we have in
place not only an economic team,
but also a coordinating minister of
the economy.
Furthermore, although several mind
boggling revelations have come to
light, there is as of this moment no
serious indication that those
implicated in the fraud will be
prosecuted and punished, and
looted funds recovered!
In addition, although several task
forces [about four so far] have been
set up to tackle specific challenges
that parastatals of the ministry were
established to handle in the first
instance, no such attempt at
seriously interrogating the basis of
the fraud has been undertaken. And
what is the basis of the fraud? It is
the way and manner by which we
questimate daily consumption rate
for PMS and other products. As long
as there is no scientific, strategic
and empirical way of determining
this rate; it would always be
possible to manipulate the figure in
other to benefit importers.
And this can be done simply,
monitored monthly, to get monthly
averages. The total number of
tankers transporting petroleum
products ought to be known, they
ought to be registered, along with
their capacity. Likewise petroleum
products dispensing stations/outlets
ought to be ascertained and
registered along with their
capacities. Tankers should check in
when lifting products and check out
when they have offloaded the
products. Sales at outlets ought to
also be recorded and monitored to
determine daily sales and monthly
averages. We can have the first
empirically proved figures within a
month with seriousness.
Additionally, there is a need for a
strategic plan, with operational and
implementation plans showing how
we intend to improve domestic
refining capacity over a given period
of time [no more than 24 months],
to such an extent that we would
have achieved self sufficiency in
domestic refining. Such a plan, with
a budget, will also include a timeline
for reducing importation as
domestic refining capacity improves
until importation gets to zero. This
is no rocket science, it can be done.
TO CONCLUDE:
The most significant indication of
the seriousness of any government
with respect to the development of
basic infrastructure and delivery of
basic services is the extent of
commitment in its annual budgets
to the development of these. Our
budgets continue to fail woefully on
this score with recurrent to capital
expenditure ratios still in excess of
7:3 in favour of recurrent
expenditures.
No nation grows and develops
human capital in this way. If the
wastage, leakage and fraud in
management of public resources
and budgets are cut and eliminated,
huge amounts of resources can be
freed for development of critical
capital projects. If all the looted
funds in the power and petroleum
sectors are recovered, culprits
punished, impunity in governance
will be dealt a crucial blow, and we
can make our money work for us.
One other issue, our penchant for
extra-budgetary spending is once
again demonstrated in the design of
the SURE program outside of the
budget.
On a final note, if rather than
address and tackle these
outstanding issues, if rather than
take concrete steps to sanitise the
power and petroleum sectors and
implement the recommendations of
the probes, the regime instead goes
ahead to increase electricity tariffs
and prices of petroleum products
from April as it has severally
indicated; then it will have
demonstrated that it learnt nothing
from the January Uprising; and it
would have taken steps to provoke
another Uprising in April!
For let there be no doubt about this:
we shall mobilise Nigerians to return
to the barricades, take over the
streets and OCCUPY NIGERIA, if the
issues are not addressed and
further hardships are imposed on
Nigerians from April.
And let there be no ambiguity about
this too; unless citizens actively
organise and mobilise politically,
and challenge the ruling class
politically; unless we take the bold
step to take power into our own
hands, and proceed to remake
Nigeria in our own interests [the
interest of the majority]; the
fundamental problems of
governance in our country will not,
and cannot be resolved in favour of
the popular masses.

PAPER PRESENTED
BY JAYE GASKIA
NATIONAL CONVENER
UNITED ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY
[UAD]
AT A FORUM ORGANISED BY LAWAN,
NECA HOUSE,
LAGOS: 30TH MARCH 2012.

Church Bribery : ACN asks National Assembly To Commence Impeachment Proceedings Against The President

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has asked the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan, having admitted openly that he solicited a bribe from a foreign construction company, in violation of the Constitution that he swore to uphold.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said commencing the impeachment proceedings will enable the National Assembly to
investigate the matter and also reach the appropriate conclusions, since the President, by his own admission and without any prompting, has thumbed his nose at the Constitution.

”To know the gravity of the President’s self admission of soliciting the church ‘gift’ from the Managing Director of Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Limited (GCG), one needs to understand Section 6 of
the Code of Conduct for Public officers embodied in the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution and the Code of Conduct and Tribunal Act (CAP C15) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

”The Act states: ‘A public officer shall not ask for or accept any property or benefits of any kind for himself or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharge
of his duties. For the purposes of subsection (1) of this subsection, the receipt by a public officer of any gifts or benefits from commercial firms, business enterprises or persons who have contracts with the Government shall be presumed to have been received in contravention…unless the contrary is proved’,” it said.

ACN said by his improper and unfortunate action, the President has also undermined the country’s fight against corruption and put Nigeria’s democracy in jeopardy, hence must not be allowed to get away
with such an egregious act.

”Gitto has obtained billions of contracts from the Nigerian government, amid reported allegations in the media that it has not executed such contracts well. How can the federal government hold the company
to account, when it (firm) has obtained an ”insurance cover” by bribing the President? Is this not why the country’s anti-corruption efforts have not achieved anything? Can the EFCC and
the ICPC honestly and boldly fight corruption when the President is knee-deep in the mud of corruption?” it queried.

The party said by openly and gleefully saying, at the inauguration of the church at his Otuoke hometown, that ”the managing director of Gitto made him a promise to build and donate the church to Otuoke
community after he (the president) had complained of the aging structure of his church,” the President has demonstrated that he is either not conversant with the Constitution he swore to uphold or thinks very little of the laws of the land.

”Either way, he should be held accountable for his deeds,” it said.

ACN said it would amount to wishful thinking to expect the country’s anti-corruption agencies to probe President Jonathan’s admission of soliciting and receiving bribery, hence the call on the National
Assembly to handle the issue.

The party warned that ongoing attempts to twist the facts and make it seem as if the President did not solicit the bribe will not work, as Nigerians are too smart to be hoodwinked.

”If the President and his supporters deny that he indeed solicited the bribe – as he admitted at the inauguration of the church – we challenge the presidency to play – on national radio and television – the
unedited audio and video recording of his speech at the occasion for all Nigerians to hear and see. Experts must also be called in to verify that the tape has not been tampered with in any way,” the party said.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed
National Publicity Secretary
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)
Abuja, Nigeria
April 3rd 2012

N3bn Scam: DPR And Harrowing Evidence Of Fraud By Ifeanyi Izeze

When the Department of Petroleum
Resources (DPR) at a meeting with
the Senate Committee on Gas
Resources in Abuja accused
International Oil Companies (IOCs)
of frustrating the efforts of the
Federal Government to monitor and
measure the amount of gas
produced at every given time, the
agency must have meant to ask
that it be scrapped effective
immediately for gross incompetence
in doing what it was set up for.
In 2009, DPR awarded a contract for
the installation of Real Time Gas
Monitoring meters at specified
production points. This involved the
design, procurement, installation
and commissioning of a system that
will facilitate the remote monitoring
of volumes of produced natural gas,
in real time, from facilities operated
by multinational oil and gas
companies in Nigeria. This contract
which was part of government’s
efforts to separate natural gas from
oil production to generate additional
revenue was meant to last for nine
months. But almost four years after,
only 8.3 percent of the contract has
been executed.
As revealed, the level of project
completion between 2009 and 2010
recorded only three percent, while
in the same project from 2010 to
2011 attracted 5.3percent
milestone, making a total of
8.3percent completion.
Out of 116 installation sites, only 10
have been installed with the
monitoring gadget. The reason as
given by the managers of Riverman
Technologies, the DPR contractor
was that, “The IOCs do not give us
permission to carry out evaluation in
their sites. Where evaluations are
done and engineering report sent to
them, they do not get back to us.
And that has been a major setback
for us.”
The major culprits in this regard as
alleged are Shell Petroleum
Development Company of Nigeria
Limited (SPDC); Chevron and
ExxonMobil. Out of the 116 sites,
Shell owns 70 locations. None of the
locations have been installed with
the equipment.
This is the harrowing gist of the
fraud: As gathered, the original
contract value was N1billion. In
2009, N812 million was
appropriated for the project; in
2010, N632 million; in 2011 N452
million; and in 2012, N700 million
was appropriated.
For four years running, budgetary
allocations had been made for the
same project. So how would you
expect the not-very-honest
administrators of DPR to put
pressure on the IOCs to allow the
contractor do his work when every
year they get almost the net worth
of the contract?
What has happened to our
conscience in this nation? This is
just one of the harrowing things
happening in government- control
of the nation’s oil and gas industry.
The very powerful regulator of the
oil and gas industry gave out a
contract that has a time-line of nine
months and in three years only 8.3
percent of the contract was
executed. Meanwhile, this regulator
has blown almost three hundred
and fifty percent of the original
contract value to achieve only 8.3
percent. You see the warped
mindset on parade by people in
authourity! And for how long can we
continue like this as a nation?
Shell in their response raised an
important issue of competence as
they alleged that Riverman
Technologies Ltd, the DPR
contractor “appeared not to have
the capability and capacity to
handle such contract, hence the
delay.” Why should DPR award such
sensitive contract to an incompetent
company? The answer is corruption
and fraud-inspired favouritism.
Even the DPR director at the Senate
presented the contractor as grossly
incapable of carrying out the
assignment.
Hear him: “The companies would
need to shut down operations to
allow the contractor to survey and
design the appropriate technology
to be used, but they were not
willing to do that.” So DPR expected
the IOCs to shut down their
operations so that its contractor can
work? Is it possible? No wonder Shell
alluded that the contractor lacks the
capability and capacity to handle
the project.
The entire management of the DPR
should be ashamed of their service
to this nation and honestly accept
their incompetence or rather
insincerity and lack of will -power to
be honest in the service for which
they are lavishly paid. If the IOCs
refused to obey the DPR’s order to
allow the contractor do this all
important job, who would they
obey?
It was an outright nonsense to
accuse the IOCs, particularly Shell of
using “some techniques to slow
down the installation of the real
time units that would give accurate
measurement of gas production and
utilization in the country.” These
IOCs are here to make “unholy”
profit from where they operate and
protecting your national interest to
them is of zero priority. And of
course this was one of the major
reasons government established the
DPR to police the operators and
ensure the right things were done
to serve and protect the interest of
the nation. Now the agency that
was supposed to be the strong arm
of government -control in the oil and
gas industry has turned a lame
duck just because of corruption.
This is pathetic indeed! The excuses
adduced by the DPR for the
abysmal performance in this vital
project could only be accepted in a
tombo(palmwine) bar.
Gas production in Nigeria has been
deliberately played down by the
IOCs to the detriment of revenue
derivable from it. How do you know
the quantity of gas being produced
and utilised without real time
monitoring? As rightly said by the
Chairman of Senate Committee on
Gas Resources, Nkechi Nworgu,
Nigeria should know how much gas
that is produced and utilised so that
if the oil companies have not been
paying accurately, we can
compelled them to do so.
For years there has not been a
standard measurement of the
volume of gas produced and utilised
in the country. DPR has so far
depended solely on what the IOCs
tell them to peg the volume of gas
produced and utilised in the
country. And if the DPR does not
know, it means Nigeria does not
know with exactness the quantity of
natural gas the IOCs are taking
away from the country. These
companies just give you any figure
they so wish. How long can we
continue like this as a nation?

IFEANYI IZEZE IS AN ABUJA-BASED
CONSULTANT ON STRATEGY AND
COMMUNICATION (iizeze@
yahoo.com; 234-8033043009)