The Sun News » Opinion - Voice of The Nation Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The strengths and weaknesses of Akpobolokemi Fri, 31 Jul 2015 09:43:03 +0000 The name Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi will not be hurriedly forgotten by internal and external publics of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for a flurry of reasons.]]>

By Uche Usim

The name Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi will not be hurriedly forgotten by internal and external publics of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for a flurry of reasons.

Firstly, he is an outsider without the requisite industry credentials but interestingly, he is the longest serving Director General/Chief Executive since the establishment of the agency in 2007 after the merger of the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC) and the then National Maritime Authority (NMA). Secondly, he is considered the most favoured, having enjoyed robust federal government support which, perhaps, explains why he had a stable tenure (December 2010-July 2015), that he maximised by commencing and completing many legacy projects. Thirdly, he is fearless and regarded as the most controversial of the chief executives, having dared to tread the minefields in a bid to accomplish feats his predecessors regarded as insurmountable.

Perception challenge

The former NIMASA DG meant different things to different people within and outside the maritime circle. Some saw him as a silent force that bent the rules to hoist the emancipation flag of the Ijaw nation on Nigeria’s maritime domain, thus making the largely “impoverished Ijaws” major stakeholders in the affairs of NIMASA. This pitched him against other ethnic nationalities in the oil-stained South-south region, aside the battle from other parts of the country. Other stakeholders saw him as a stubborn achiever whose projects ought to have been spread beyond his region. However, many have hailed the erstwhile NIMASA DG, not only for his achievements, but also for showcasing the capabilities of NIMASA and changing the psyche of Nigerians, who hitherto saw the agency as a docile entity.

Maritime analysts say part of Akpobolokemi’s sin was the way he arrogantly called the bluffs of some powerful politicians who, aside having an entitlement mentality about NIMASA, felt prematurely weaned from continually milking the agency because he diverted the funds to various audacious projects.

Abuse of due process

Industry watchers describe Akpobolokemi as a man who did not adhere to civil service rules but yet succeeded in popularising the agency and leaving a lot of legacy projects and programmes behind.

According to a top Transport Ministry official, who craved anonymity, “Akpobolokemi believed in bending the rules to achieve positive results. He got a lot of presidential approvals which, in most cases, was an abuse of due process and civil service rules in general. We all know he achieved so much in his tenure but people are querying the way and means he went about it. But again, you can’t really blame him. Civil service has a lot of incredible bureaucracy that has become a clog in the wheel of progress. To purchase patrol vessels, for instance, do you know it may take more than two years to get just one? This is because of the tortuous bureaucratic terrain, which must be navigated and while time is wasted on that, piracy is increasing on the waterways without checks. People are being maimed and kidnapped for ransom; businesses are shrinking because of incessant attacks. Again, because of that, vessels coming into Nigeria charge all manner of exorbitant fees. That is why he contracted Global West Vessels to handle that on a PPP basis. It was born out of the need to be more efficient. With that collaboration, piracy in Nigeria has reduced and IMO confirms that; revenue has increased also and the records are there.

He also built a satellite station for monitoring ship’s movement and responding to distress calls. You recall a Ghanaian vessel was rescued from pirates last year courtesy of the distress call because the satellite base stations receive signals from outside Nigeria. These cost money and without presidential approvals, he may not achieve those in a decade all because of civil service bureaucracy. This is what some people are calling impunity but to me, it is not. Of course, you don’t’ expect those engaged in piracy and their sponsors to go down without a fight. They are ones calling him names,” he said.

Asked whether the money paid to Global West was not on the high side, he said: “I don’t know the details of the accounting part of it. Auditors can be called to look into the books. It is done everywhere. But the motive was right and it worked. In Nigeria, any chief executive that is not attacked is probably not working because some powerful people are smiling to the bank and ensuring there is no negative press. So, when someone is attempting to change the status quo even for the betterment of Nigerians, hell is let loose” he explained.

Capacity development

This is where Akpobolokemi got the loudest applause, even from the worst of critics. He inherited the then unpopular Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) that was just at its infancy stage. The NSDP is an interventionist programme designed to replenish the depleted manpower stock in the maritime sector. Going by the original design, it was a joint venture between NIMASA and various state governments with a  40:60 funding ratio.  There was also room for buoyant private individuals, corporate bodies and other categories of people to key in but the common denominator was that beneficiaries must pass an aptitude test and medicals.

As it were, many states did not show enough interest in the programme, forcing NIMASA to bear the cost of the training a 100 per cent. Over N20 billion has been reportedly spent on the programme, while over 2,600 Nigerians are currently benefiting from the programme as they are studying various courses like Naval Architecture, Nautical Science etc., in select maritime universities in The Philippines, United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania and India. To localise the training and conserve foreign exchange, Akpobolokemi established the first maritime university in Nigeria located at Okerenkoko, Delta State. Academic activities are expected to commence later in the year at the temporary site. Aside, the university, there is also the NIMASA science and technology institute, Okoloba, Delta State, which became operational in 2013.

The college was conceived to act as a breeding ground for students of the maritime university and other tertiary maritime training institutions through early exposure to technical aspects of the maritime training. There was also concerted efforts to establish maritime institutes in six Nigerian universities.  They are: the University of Lagos, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; IBB University, Lapai Niger State; Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State and Anambra State University, Uli. Besides undertaking research, the institutes will also run diploma, undergraduate and post graduate programmes in different fields of maritime study in conjunction with the respective universities. Aside academics, another aspect of capacity-building is the ongoing NIMASA Shipyard and Dockyard project in Okerenkoko. The choice of Okerenkoko stems from its rich hydrocarbon reserve.

President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, told an online maritime platform he had this to say about his passion for capacity development.

“If am to comment on Akpobolokemi’s tenure, I think he did well, considering his background because whether we like it or not, he was able to bring professionalism to NIMASA for the fact that he allowed mariners to be brought into the key positions and those who came in are core professionals who are adding value.”

Also commenting on his tenure, the President, Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, Comrade Mathew Alalade, said the former NIMASA boss had keen interest in manpower development by growing the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), building training institutions, among other achievements, urging whoever comes in to sustain the tempo. Some of the ongoing projects to Akpobolokemi’s credit include: Construction of a standard marine pollution laboratory, second phase of the automation of the Nigerian ship registry to facilitate the efficiency of ship registration process in Nigeria, coastal radar system, among others.

Maritime safety and security projects

To check the nerve-racking issue of piracy, search and rescue boats were acquired and deployed to use by the agency. Still under his watch, it established the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) that is on the verge of commencing operations. The NIMASA satellite Based Maritime Domain Awareness/Surveillance System has also been effectively deployed to facilitate effective port state control of vessels calling at sub-regional ports.

The subscription has been renewed till May 2016. The environmental index mapping of the Nigerian coastline has also been completed, while under Akpobolokemi’s watch, NIMASA produced and gazetted the national regulation for environmental protection and instituted the sea protection payment levy regime..

Labour matters

Under his watch, the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) was ratified, even as he successfully carried out review of Stevedoring contractors guidelines to achieve national standardization. Another was the successful review of minimum wage condition of service for dock labours in Nigeria.

]]> 0
Jonathan bashing as pastime Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:16:10 +0000 There’s a growing, observable trend since President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration began on May 29, it is the effort that has gone to discredit the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. ]]>

There’s  a growing, observable trend since President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration began on May 29, it is the effort that has gone to discredit the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. My taking on this issue is not an attempt to white wash the image of the former president or robe that administration in any undeserved garment. I believe things could have been done differently under President Jonathan, which could have made the country a better place than we presently have.  But my take on this is ‘to every man his style’. One does not expect a Jonathan to behave like a ( Late President Umar) Yar’Adua. Neither would we expect  a Buhari to see things the same way  (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo would see it. We all have different world views based on our backgrounds, and these shape the way we react to issues.

The trend to discredit the Jonathan administration either through attacks on him or any of his ministers cuts across. If it is not former President Obasanjo, it is one of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors.

In one of such diatribes on Tuesday, the former President Obasanjo  took a swipe on Jonathan , describing him as lacking in vision in the rehabilitation of the Nigerian Railways. He said the rail lines were obsolete having been constructed in 1903. “For what reason should anybody in his right senses in Nigeria of today believe that rehabilitating the railway system which was completed in 1903 to carry three million tonnes of goods is what we need today,” he said.

This is just one of such attacks in recent time. A few weeks after the inauguration of the present administration, he had castigated the former President saying the country had been mismanaged under his tenure. Without sounding disrespectful of the revered former president, I  recall that in the dying days of his administration, a contract of $8.3billion was awarded for what was described as the modernization and expansion of rail lines. The administration of Yar’Adua which was uncomfortable with the contract set up a committee to review it. The committee and a World bank report advised that the contract be discontinued. This was after a mobilisation fee of $250 million had been paid. One of the reasons cited, leading to the termination of the contract was lack of transparency in its bidding and inflation of that particular contract. So what are we now talking about. The former President, though highly respected, does not really have a moral right to condemn Jonathan especially on this issue. We saw the result of the rail project under the Jonathan administration, the same cannot be said of Baba’s contract which was awarded in the twilight of his administration.

Also more recently, some of the ministers that served under the past administration came under attacks. There is no denying the fact that it is an indirect attack on the Jonathan administration. There was no weapon that was not used to convey that message- photographs that were played up to mean what they were not really for. There was a particular photograph of former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke who was said to have gone to the home of former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar to plead with him to intervene on her behalf with President Buhari. It was actually a photograph taken at a different occasion. There was another one of hers purportedly running after President Buhari.

The other day, it was the Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole who took on the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala over the spending of the excess crude account.

“The last time the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy reported to the Council and it is in the minutes, she reported by November 2014, that we had $4.1 billion( in the Excess Crude Account) but today the Accountant General Office reported we have $2.0 billion, which means the Honourable Minister spent $2.1billion without authority of the NEC. And that money was not distributed to states, it was not paid to the three tiers of government”, he accused.

There is also a tendency to also view some of the recommendations in the Ahmed Joda committee’s report as a subtle attack on the last administration.  The committee recommended that President Buhari should terminate all ‘dubious appointments made by former President Goodluck Jonathan in the last nine months and review all contracts awarded by the administration in the last 18 months.

For those who are discerning, this is a subtle attack on the last administration. I wonder whether the committee realized that the appointments that they recommended should be terminated were made to Nigerians. One would have though that the recommendation should have been to review and retain whoever is found suitable and terminate the dubious one. The tendency is to think that party affiliation played a role in this recommendation. Since the appointees are not APC members, it would be an opportunity to do away with them.

As much as I do not support the shenanigans of top government officials and the officially sanctioned corruption that has taken over governance in the country, I do not think the public pillorying of the people the citizens look up to should be the practice. It is clear that the recent outburst stems  from the President’s statement that he would probe the Jonathan administration. Thus every other person sees this as an opportunity to carve a little out of the hide out of the ‘Jonathanians’.

We often wonder why there is no longer respect in the society. The reason for this could be drawn from the above when due process is not always followed.  I personally do not see the necessity of these public condemnation because it is fashionable to do so. Nobody in his right senses would oppose the prosecution of those who betrayed public trust, but such actions should be conducted with dignity. I expect our public office holders to conduct the affairs of state with dignity and also protect the sanctity of public office. Some of those speaking now are occupying these public offices today and they see it as opportunity to say whatever they like, but they should remember that what goes around comes around.  If we are talking change, that change should also affect the way we conduct our affairs.

]]> 0
Nigerians demand Buhari’s policy direction Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:14:38 +0000 SINCE President Muhammadu Buhari returned from the United States (US) trip, the question on the lips of many Nigerians is: after the visit, what next? Besides, they are eager to know the policy direction of the new government. The question above would naturally attract different answers depending on who is providing the answers.]]>

SINCE President Muhammadu Buhari returned from the United States (US) trip, the question on the lips of many Nigerians is: after the visit, what next? Besides, they are eager to know the policy direction of the new government. The question above would naturally attract different answers depending on who is providing the answers.

But, regardless of whatever opinion other Nigerians may have on the trip and the agenda next, the most important thing is that the president should sit down and start implementing his change programmes to Nigerians.

While some Nigerians are busy dancing themselves lame over expectations from the Buhari visit to the US, those who know American Foreign policy thrust very well are not so enthusiastic about the supposed gains the visit will give Nigerians. Most of what President Barack Obama said the US will do to Nigeria is just good on paper. It is the implementation that may be problematic, especially with Abuja’s refusal to toe the line of gay marriage rights.

I really do not understand why Obama is pushing gay rights to African countries? I find it funny that Obama should subsume gay rights under human rights. His speeches in Kenya, his father’s ancestral country and Ethiopia, where he visited this week, are punctuated with allusions to human rights including those of men that love (marry) each other. Thank God that President Uhuru Kenyatta made him understand the futility of such exercise. I think by now that Obama should be abreast of the workings of African culture, especially as relates to family and the marriage institution. Africans do not believe in same-sex marriage.

If Obama really wants to help African people, there are many areas of intervention he can choose from and gay right is not one of them. Obama’s charge to Kenya and other African countries to eschew tribalism, curb corruption and fight terrorism is welcome.

Instead of gay rights, our problem in Africa is how to overcome poverty, disease, war and terrorism as well as corruption and bad government. This is where America can come in and assist us tremendously. We will be so glad to welcome assistance in these areas. America should assist us develop strong democratic institutions and anti-graft agencies, workable democracy across the continent. America can help us in agriculture, power and plenty industries that will employ our teeming jobless youths.

I agree with Obama on his belief in the rule of law and the emphasis that no one is above the law, including Presidents and his call for unity among Africans and the need for Africans to end the cancer of corruption and sit-tightism. Corruption could be in other countries but it seems the one in Africa is the highest. It is unfortunate that political office holders in Africa see power as a route to quick and stupendous wealth. Very few of them see it as an avenue to serve the public.

The other time he came to Ghana, he said that what Africa needs was not strong men but strong democratic institutions. That statement is as relevant today as it was when it was first uttered. Yet, our democracies keep growing strong men and weaker democratic institutions hence corruption is rife in Africa.

I really do not know where Buhari’s foreign policy or others are heading. The ministers that will define the policy direction of the government and drive them are not yet appointed because the president is looking for clean men and women. Men and women of integrity he is looking for in Nigeria are not in short supply.

You can pick them in one week. He should never give the world the impression that most Nigerians are not good people hence it is taking him more time to find credible men and women that will quicken his governance pace. He does not need the 100 days of honey moon period being sold to the public by former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, before performing his promised wonders.  He should hit the ground running. We are in a 21st century world where events that affect our lives happen so fast and need quick responses. Time is not on our side to catch up with the West or even the East.

As citizens of the global village, we shall be eclectic in our foreign policy. Our foreign policy should be hinged on what the country stands to gain. While it is still good to be in the good books of America and Britain and some others in Europe, we should tilt towards the far-East, especially China, the new global power house. China is the new happening place to go now if we are to industrialize. They have the technical know-how and cheap labour as well. We should send our young ones to school in China, especially in the area of science and technology. We shall embrace Indian schools for medicine and other sciences as well if we are to develop. The Singaporean model of development is worth emulating.

While Buhari wants to tackle corruption, especially political corruption, he should tackle structural imbalances that are themselves corruptive as well. He should not dismiss the recommendations of the recently held National Conference as regards the restructuring of Nigeria and other issues. Nigeria should muster enough strength to confront its past.

Boko Haram insurgency, separatist agitations, Niger Delta militancy and recently Radio Biafra are all manifestations of our buried past which keep resurrecting to haunt us from time to time. Nigeria cannot wish Biafra away simply by extinguishing Ndigbo from the national power equation. The more the Igbo or any other tribe is treated as unwelcome, the more the country’s growth is being slowed down irredeemably.

Nigeria will grow and achieve its manifest destiny when every component is made to feel that they have a stake in it. The day Nigerians start seeing themselves as members of one family and one tribe (Nigeria) will mark the beginning of its greatness and realization of its destiny.

]]> 0
The road not taken to protect Nigerian environment Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:12:01 +0000 A few days ago, the Lagos State Government marked its annual Tree Planting Day. This is an annual ritual, celebrated to encourage the populace to plant trees to protect the environment. ]]>


A  few days ago, the Lagos State Government marked its annual Tree Planting Day. This is an annual ritual, celebrated to encourage the populace to plant trees to protect the environment. The exercise often reminds one of the gallant struggles of the environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, to save the environment from degradation. Her persistent campaign was to make her  first African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize.

Maathai, who died of cancer on September 26, 2011, put her name on world map, using her Green Belt Movement to push her campaign to enthrone a healthy and sustainable environment in her native Kenya. It does appear however, that the vision espoused by the celebrated academic has died with her.

But knowingly or unknowingly, the Lagos State Government seems to be pushing the vision of Professor Maathai by marking the annual tree planting campaign. It is an event that ought to catch national attention but it is not. This is quite unfortunate in this day and age when the issue of the environment should be at the centre of every discourse.

Flagging off the campaign at an elaborate ceremony in Lagos recently, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode told residents of the state to embrace the culture of tree planting, describing tree planting as the cheapest and simplest option to preserve the “lungs of the earth’’. According to him, the impact of climate change, particularly the depletion of the ozone layer calls for all hands to be on deck.

The governor, subsequently, appealed to Lagos residents to embrace tree planting as a way of life to restore the dignity of the earth. He revealed that over 5.9 million trees had been planted in the state since the government embraced the campaign. The figure looks good if other states in the federation had shown similar zeal and commitment.

What Governor Ambode did not mention was the fact that hundreds of the planted trees are usually cut daily for various economic reasons as soon as the planted trees grow to maturity. More often than not, the trees find their way to various kitchens as firewood or charcoal. Herein lies the irony of the annual tree planting campaigns. Nobody has calculated the huge funds expended each season to celebrate the event in Lagos State and other states in the federation. In all these, there is obviously a road not yet taken by government in discouraging the environmental degradation caused largely by the incessant cutting of trees for firewood, charcoal or for other uses.

One such measures is for government to popularize the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also popularly known as cooking gas as a veritable source of domestic energy. If greater segments of the population embraces cooking gas, cutting of trees for firewood will be systematically be curbed and environmental degradation reasonably checked. LPG usage is the way to go in this day and age.

For over a decade, Techno Oil and other companies have embarked on measures to promote the use of cooking gas in households in Nigeria.

In particular, Techno Oil has launched the Going Green Initiative, to make more people in the country to embrace cooking gas. The Going Green advocacy has been adopted as a key element in the corporate social responsibility programmes of Techno Oil. Our goal is to encourage Nigerian households to embrace LPG rather than continuing to depend on firewood and charcoal for cooking needs.  It is a known fact that LPG is cleaner, safer and even more affordable compared to firewood and charcoal. Nigeria has the largest reserve of gas in Africa but this nation of about 170 million people, the largest in Africa, has the lowest cooking gas consumption rate, compared with many other emerging economies around the globe. In comparative terms, adoption of LPG currently stands at 10 per cent in Nigeria while Ghana has 45 per cent adoption level. Senegal stands at 40 per cent while Brazil has 90 per cent adoption rate. Nigeria’s standing is even more laughable compared with countries such as Togo and neighbouring Benin Republic. This does not have to be so with Nigeria.

The huge gas reserve in Nigeria should be a factor that should compel the Federal Government to put measures in place to make more Nigerian households to embrace cooking gas. This will automatically make more people to abandon firewood and charcoal. The environment will be better for this and so will the economy. When more households start using LPG, the rate of cutting trees for firewood will decrease. Besides, using kerosene for cooking will also become unattractive because of the ever increasing cost of kerosene.

Government will subsequently, spend less money on importing the commodity. Everybody stands to gain because the foreign exchange that hitherto is spent on importation of the commodity has to be put to other uses. It becomes logical, therefore, to suggest that government should direct its agencies such as the National Orientation Agency, ministry of information and other related agencies to mount campaigns to make Nigerians to embrace the use of cooking gas.

Government should also introduce incentives to encourage investors to go into LPG ventures. Such incentives should include removal of multiple taxation for investors; creating the enabling environment for business and introducing measures that would make the cost of cooking gas affordable for every Nigerian household.

It may not be out of place for government to provide gas cylinders to households at no cost to the households. Users of the cylinders will only contend with refilling the cylinders. Some companies have introduced gas stoves that have been found useful for low-budget situations. The more number of people using use such facilities, the better for the environment.

• Obi is the Executive Vice-Chair of Techno Oil Limited and President of Women in LPG Group.

]]> 0
After the failed ‘coup’ in Osun Fri, 31 Jul 2015 01:09:04 +0000 WITH the May 26 judgement of the Supreme Court that affirmed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the winner of the August 9, 2014 governorship election in Osun, the state’s PDP knew it had come to the end of the road in its long sustained but futile bid to come to power in the state. It, therefore, had to devise some unconventional means to unseat the governor.]]>

By Mike Ogundele

WITH  the May 26 judgement of the Supreme Court that affirmed Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the winner of the August 9, 2014 governorship election in Osun, the state’s PDP knew it had come to the end of the road in its long sustained but futile bid to come to power in the state. It, therefore, had to devise some unconventional means to unseat the governor.

On Sunday June 14, 2015 one of the leaders of the party in the state called a meeting of party bigwigs, stakeholders and loyalists for the purpose of repositioning the party for the next elections. But to their chagrin, they were told by the frustrated politician to brace up to his plan of action of making the state ungovernable, if they ever hope to win any election in the state.

However, Osun State Security Council got wind of the plans and read the riot act to them on June 19 after its emergency meeting.  The first stage of the plan was to import thugs and hoodlums into the state in the week starting from June 22. These thugs were to unleash mayhem in the name of protesting delay in payment of workers’ salaries and pensions. The ‘protest’ was to be accompanied with killing, looting and arson, both of public and private property. An NGO was formed a week before the rioting to be the arrowhead of the felony in order to give the thugs a façade of legitimacy.

Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyede’s petition asking for the impeachment of the governor was to be the second stage of this plot. Coming after the mayhem, destruction and state of insecurity, the petition would have provided a comfortable ground for some of the legislators who had been promised money and positions if they  carry the impeachment through.

When the state security council aborted the subversive protest with its sabre rattling, we though Oloyede’s petition would be shelved too. However, Oloyede went ahead with her petition. If stage two was to ride on the wave of stage one and stage one was aborted, why go ahead with stage two that landed on dry ground without the expected support?

This is because there was stage three designed to give fillip to stage two. Stage three was eventually carried out on Tuesday July 7 but it was stillborn. The ‘protesters’ made up of known PDP members and local leaders, a very tiny section of the retirees on the payroll of a prominent politician in the state and sundry thugs (local and imported) had gathered around Ola-Iya junction in Osogbo (The area is a hotbed of progressive activism).

However, Aregbesola, the master tactician and a good student of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, took the wind out of their sail. While going to his office that morning, he turned the trip into a carnival as he slowed his convoy to acknowledge cheers from the people on the route, who trouped out to greet him. Women, men, children, traders, artisans, commercial motorcyclists, just everybody within the vicinity came out to meet his convoy. Some were weeping. Other were praying loudly and openly for him while others were cursing his enemies.

When the convoy reached Ola-Iya, which is a market place, the crowd surrounding him had become tumultuous, swallowing and overwhelming the miserable protesters who had gathered in the place before. Possibly out of fear and or shame, many of them took to their heels on being overwhelmed. And so, Aregbesola rode to the office triumphantly that day, overwhelming and shaming those who thought they could ambush and embarrass him.

To add salt to injury, the story that went to town that day was how Aregbesola rode triumphantly to office and how his enemies ran away in terror.

Interestingly, while signing a memorandum of understanding with the state government before calling off its industrial action, the state’s NLC denied that its members participated in the farcical protest of July 7, claiming that the charade was politically motivated.  The body of pensioners in the state also claimed that the union did not participate in any protest, that Governor Aregbesola’s administration had treated retirees very well before the financial crisis that engulfed the whole nation, and not Osun alone.

Also, the chairman of the state’s vendors association also signed a statement, denying that his members were attacked by Aregbesola’s supporters.

Lastly, on July 28, Justice Oloyede refused to appear before the house committee set up to investigate her claim. Apparently, she has developed cold feet. There are unconfirmed reports that the state’s Judicial Commission is unhappy about her petition, which has put the judiciary into disrepute. They were shocked to find that a judge displayed open political partisanship, something unheard of in the history of the judiciary. She may, therefore, be recommended for retirement, at best; or outright dismissal, at worst.

Her not appearing meant her petition is dead and she herself is in trouble. For all practical purposes, therefore, the coup of the PDP to remove Governor Aregbesola from office through subterfuge and conspiracy has failed.  The first lesson we must learn from this is that if God is with someone, no matter how formidable his enemies are, he would overcome them and put them to shame.

Secondly, politicians must accept that a democratically elected governor, that is popular with his people and has not committed an impeachable offence, can only be changed through tenure expiration, losing election or by a competent court of law.

Thirdly, a new dawn has come to Nigeria where only values like credibility, integrity and a track record of unblemished public service will commend a candidate to voters.

It is my hope that the defeated candidates of PDP will accept their destiny and try to amend their ways, instead of working to destabilise Osun State. If, with all the support they got from former President Goodluck Jonathan with cash, dogs, masked gunmen and other security operatives, they could not unseat Aregbesola in Osun, what makes them think that they could overthrow him now?

• Ogundele writes from Osogbo, Osun State

]]> 0
The house arrest of Col. Dasuki Wed, 29 Jul 2015 23:00:29 +0000 By Chris Akiri ON Thursday, the 16th day of July, 2015, on the eve of the ED-El Fitri festival, Col. Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser (NSA) under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was put under house arrest, in a Gestapo style, and in a manner reminiscent of our sordid military past, by officers of [...]]]>

By Chris Akiri

ON Thursday, the 16th day of July, 2015, on the eve of the ED-El Fitri festival, Col. Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser (NSA) under former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was put under house arrest, in a Gestapo style, and in a manner reminiscent of our sordid military past, by officers of the Department of State Security (DSS), alleging the presence or likely presence of criminal items in his houses. For this, his houses in Abuja and his father’s house in Sokoto were ferreted about by the DSS, in spite of the protestations of Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, Snr. to the contrary. By the way, poor Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki was dethroned in April, 1996, as the 18th Sultan of Sokoto by Gen. Sani Abacha.
Col. Sambo Dasuki may have committed a most heinous crime; the most lethal weapons, including, but not limited to, bulletproof vehicles and magazines, may have been discovered in his compound; he may have misappropriated stupendous sums of money; he may be suspected of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance- all bailable offences.
But it could be that the crime allegedly committed by the former NSA is treasonable felony, definable, in our case, in terms of an attempt to overthrow the government of the nation, in contravention of section 41 of the Criminal Code Act (LFN 2004). If so, the DSS must identify Dasuki’s co-conspirators as it is impossible for only one person to overthrow a government.
Whatever the former NSA is accused of, the DSS must remember that Col. Sambo’s fundamental human rights are enshrined in the grundnorm of the Nigerian legal system, which is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Section 36 (5) thereof warns that “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty.” That is in pari materia with Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 1948) and in consonance with the Harare Declaration, 1991, in which all Heads of Government of the Commonwealth, including Nigeria’s, committed themselves to the promotion of human rights and democracy.
Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution prescribes the mode of arrest and treatment of a suspect with regard to the length of time of his arraignment before a court of law. Subsection (5) thereof prescribes a maximum of 24 hours “(a) in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of forty kilometres” or 48 hours “in any other case…” That is to say that you don’t start fishing for evidence against an accused person after arresting and detaining him. And there is a long line of Supreme Court cases in this regard.
The DSS, which also arrested and detained former President Jonathan’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) (for days on end) and released him only when it falsely transpired that the CSO had kicked the bucket in detention, refused to formally prefer charges against him or arraign him before a court of competent jurisdiction. The arbitrary arrests and detentions of citizens by the DSS savour of a reincarnation of the defunct Nigerian Security Organization (NSO) of IGP Sunday Adewusi’s days. The defunct NSO acquired a notoriety that was hardly any less than Hitlerite turpitude.
The concatenation of the arrests and detentions, the refusal of the DSS to obey section 35 of the Constitution, with regard to the arrest and arraignment of suspects, coupled with the demotion of Marilyn Ogar of the DSS for her “role” during the last elections has conspired to cause inveterate gossips and tell tales to engage in the conjecture business on what could be the motive(s) of the officers of the DSS: is it simply overzealousness on its part, trying to over-impress the new Head of State, President Muhammadu Buhari?  Could it be President Buhari trying to conduct a vindictive, personal vendetta against Col. Sambo?  In 1985, when Buhari’s military government was overthrown, Col. Sambo Dasuki and three Majors reportedly arrested Gen. Buhari, and put him in handcuffs, on the eve of Ed El-Fitri! Could he, now as a civilian Head of State, be taking a revenge on one of his erstwhile tormentors? Is Dasuki’s travail related to a suggestion he
made, in London, that the 2015 elections be postponed for security reasons, or are witnessing a rebirth of the draconian Decree 2? Will our President use the DSS, like one of his predecessors used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to keep a tight rein on his perceived political enemies?
Today, the abbreviation of the Department of State Security, “DSS”, like the EFCC of the days gone by, resonates throughout the country, stealthily carrying off the laurels, as it were, from the image and status of the Nigeria Police Force, established by section 214 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 (as amended).
Whatever may be the motive(s) of the DSS in treating people with nonchalant unconcern, they should be told to desist from actions, such as wrongly playing the role of the police, a brazen usurpation of functions that may be deleterious to our democratic experiment. The DSS should allow the ICPC, the EFCC and the Police to help the President in the onerous task of eradicating corruption from the land, and concentrate on its statutorily plain security duty of intelligence gathering so that we can put the menace of Boko Haram and of others behind us.

n Akiri writes from Lagos

]]> 3
Oye and APGA: History beckons Wed, 29 Jul 2015 23:00:18 +0000 By Ody Chukwube At every point in time, certain events take place that become the turning point in the making of history. And at such points, such events throw up a particular person, who becomes the arrowhead in the making of that history. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles De Gaulle, Che Gueverra, Fidel Castro, Patris [...]]]>

By Ody Chukwube

At every point in time, certain events take place that become the turning point in the making of history. And at such points, such events throw up a particular person, who becomes the arrowhead in the making of that history. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles De Gaulle, Che Gueverra, Fidel Castro, Patris Lumumba, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, at one time or the other, found themselves in this position.
However, rather than shy away or  being swept aside by its tempestuous tide, when they found themselves at its threshold, they seized the momentum of history, rode through its waves and finally landed at the centre stage of reckoning, never to be forgotten by appreciating people they gave their all or an alert world recording those events. The political trajectory of Nigeria in recent times, has not shown any marked departure from this well-established trend, where individuals play key roles in not only creating events, but transporting it to the point where they become history.
Resting on the historical foundation of a tripod, the structure of Nigeria in virtually everything, has always taken the peculiar shape of East, West and North. Other parts of the country, though major components, have always found expression through these established tripod.
It was not surprising therefore that at the outset of the present civilian democracy in the country, the political party structure again tapered towards this traditional reality. The emerging political parties, like then All Peoples Party (APP), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had tried to assume the nationalistic toga, leaving the Alliance for Democracy (AD) as the regional party. But it was not long before the evolving order followed a familiar route.
Thus, the birth of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in 2002, saw to the completion of the third leg of the tripod, especially as the APP, which eventually became the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), having been pummeled and assailed by the PDP, took a regional bent. Consequently, the crystallization of the AD, which transmuted into Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the ANPP and APGA along the old Western, Northern and Eastern borderlines, was only a reflection of the primordial political sentiments of the nation.
However, things have since changed. At the time of the grand coalition that gave birth to the current ruling party in the country, All Progressive Congress (APC), in April, 2013, it was clear that the ANPP and ACN, had left APGA far behind. Each had come to the table with not less than six state governors, such that even if the party decided to fully join in the arrangement, it would have come with only Imo and Anambra. That was how far it failed to measure up.
In fact its place in the political development of the country as a whole and in particular, the South East since its inception, given the path it toed during the period remains a matter of debate. But it is beyond question to stress that the party is not where it ought to be at the moment.
One singular reason for this rather regrettable outcome is the leadership tussle that beset it shortly after take-off. Just after the 2003 general election, the first it participated in, and barely a year after obtaining its certificate of registration, the party was plunged into a leadership tussle and for more than eight years, went in and out of the various hierarchies of the Nigerian courts.
It is against the backdrop of this rather parlous outlook that the recent development in the party finds expression. Thanks to Chief Willy Obiano, Anambra State Governor, who has refused to bear what would have been the eternal burden of sounding its death knell, the party has just been given a new lease of life. Special gratitude also to the fighting spirit of the immediate past Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh who galvanised support for a rancour free National Convention.
In fact, if the seamless manner in which a new National Working Committee (NWC) of the party emerged in May this year, could mean that the governor completely understands the historical imperative entrusted on his shoulders to ensure its survival, the choice of the party’s new National Chairman, Dr. Victor Oye, remains a clear evidence of his ability to fully bear the Akpokuo dike sobriquet.
For it is only a dike like Obiano that would be able to weather the storm, wade through the cacophony of voices and still keep a clear head to know what to do at this time. For there is no doubt that APGA needs a fresh breath of air. It now has it in Oye. Not only that he has no primordial baggage that could weigh him down, Oye comes with an envious track record of managing men and materials, besides the burning desire to uplift the sagging fortunes of Ndigbo and pulling them out of the abyss of despair. He has also demonstrated a clear vision and a burning desire to succeed. His experience as an accomplished Public Relations Practitioner, adds to his suavity. Those close to him attest to his iron cast principles, which they see as key in the task of rejuvenating the party.
A snippet of his vision comes handy here. Hear him: “There is no way an organisation can make reasonable progress without properly defined and shared vision predicated on pragmatism and selflessness. The era of conflict and rabid hatred among members, is gone forever. We are in a new era where brotherly love, transparency, mutual respect, dignity, fear of God and altruism will supplant hatred, greed, internal wrangling and mutual suspicion. “It is our desire to reconcile all genuinely aggrieved persons and bring such persons back to the fold to contribute their quota to the reconstruction of the party.”

nChukwube writes from Abuja
Surely, this line of thinking is not only reassuring, but the icing on the cake. Not a few observers had bemoaned what they believe was the loss of fire, effervescence, confidence, sagacity, oratory, courage, tenacity and erudition, such as were embodied in the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Surely, these are the qualities needed to rouse the party to the new momentum of waking the sleeping giant that is the Igbo political consciousness. Luckily, Oye is not deficient in this regard. If anything, he possesses them in large measures.

APGA had been founded on the basis of a political movement. In its early years, it had lived out this billing by the level of mobilisation it embarked on. With the late Ikemba leading from the rear, like the General he was, the din of its mobilisation practically reverberated in virtually all parts of the country.
In fact, it is said today in certain quarters that it was the fear of the huge successes the party was making and the consequences of seizing and dominating the Nigerian political space that caused the enemies to move quickly to sow the seed of discord that eventually bedeviled, stunted and almost asphyxiate it to death.

Now, with the quality of leadership expected of Oye, there is no doubt that the party may have turned the crucial bend that would bring it to the expressway, where it can rave the engine full throttle and engage the needed speed that would eventually land it to its destination even faster than expected.

In so doing, there is no doubt that he would be needing all the support he could muster both within and outside the party. It is gratifying that Oye is already hinging his vision on full reconciliation and integration rather than separation, intimidation and acrimony. In fact, this is actually the time to reach out to everybody that has had something to do with the party in the past. The success of bringing them to the same table would not only be an ample test of Oye’s sagacity, a successful reconciliation would definitely be one of the magic wands to tip the balance, engender the self-discovery and ultimately catapult the party to take its rightful place in the scheme of things in the country.

Re-enacting those ululations at Alaba, Ladipo, Balogun, Ariaria, Ogbete, Otu nkwo, Sabon gari and all other places where those who make APGA tick can be found as was done in the Ojukwu days, has become as imperative and critical as the survival of the Igbo nation itself. It has become more so with the clear signals in the Nigerian polity where the Igbo man is daily being handed the wrong end of the stick. That they must refuse the place they are being relegated must mean that they possess the teeth to bite. APGA is that teeth and it is Oye’s place to sharpen them enough to bite deeply if necessary. That, like when Ojukwu was called upon, is the demand on the new APGA boss today. History beckons.

Top of Form
Chukwube is Public Affairs Analyst
Bottom of Form
Top of Form

nOkoli writes from Lagos.

]]> 0
Obama in Africa Wed, 29 Jul 2015 23:00:01 +0000 Lewis Obi, 08173446632 sms only US President Barack Obama’s 4th visit to Africa has in places been called a home-coming.  Well, each visit to Africa for him is a home coming.  He is a proud African.  He loves Africa.  His father may have been wayward, but President Obama still loved his father.  Even when [...]]]>

Lewis Obi, 08173446632 sms only

US President Barack Obama’s 4th visit to Africa has in places been called a home-coming.  Well, each visit to Africa for him is a home coming.  He is a proud African.  He loves Africa.  His father may have been wayward, but President Obama still loved his father.  Even when they told him his father had drinking problem, he still loved him.
His middle name, given him by his father, was Hussein.  At a time the name reminded everyone of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi warmonger and dictator, Obama proudly bore his Hussein with pride.  It was this name that left the impression in the minds of nearly 60 per cent of Republicans that the President was probably a Muslim, even after the dramatized controversy concerning his pastor, Jeremiah Wright.
The endorsement of candidate Obama in 2009 by the former Secretary of State, and former Chairman Joint Chiefs, Gen. Colin Powell, a topmost member of the Republican Party all but closed the deal for Obama in 2009.  Among other things, the general lamented that some members of his party were wondering that Obama might be a Muslim.  At the Arlington Cemetery where US service men are buried, the general said, Muslims and Christians who died in the service of their country are buried together.  “He is a Christian.  But, what if he (Obama) is a Muslim?” Gen. Powell asked.  And when at his swearing-in in 2009, Chief Justice John Roberts omitted “Hussein”, Obama corrected him promptly, as the whole world watched.
His mother was the only parent he knew.  He never tires to tell how she worked him so hard, until he lost her to cancer.  She was still a young woman.  Thus when he campaigned to reform the American healthcare system, now known as Obamacare (so branded by the enemies of the reform who thought it would end in the dust bin like ‘Hillarycare’ of the 1980s)  he sometimes told the story of his mother’s struggle with health insurance companies in her last days.
The ruthless insurance companies were more concerned about whether the woman had pre-existing conditions than doing everything to save her life.  And two days to his election as president in 2008, his white grandmother also died which made him cry at his last rally before the election.  Thus his wonderful education notwithstanding, he was forged by misfortunes, hardships and difficult circumstances.  These helped to give him an immaculate character, pushed him to work to help the needy, to fight for the neglected, to protect the despised and the ignored.  It was no surprise that he became a community organizer, the job he volunteered to do after Harvard Law School, trying to help jobless men and women pick up their broken lives through the Catholic Mission.
President Obama came to Africa this week at a time his job has got a little easier.  He is no longer vulnerable.  He is under attack 24/7.  But he has no more elections to face.  He can now afford to spend four days in Africa, a region which most of his domestic political adversaries would not bother about.  But he knows his responsibility to the African continent and has tried to fulfill it.
As the big agencies reported, he did not arrive with big United States aid packages like his white counterparts would.  He did not come with huge military resources or fresh initiatives worth billions of dollars to impress the continent.  He came for a frank talk with Africans and that was what he delivered.    He did the same in the Middle East.  The difference was that in the Middle East he was trying to reason with young Arabs who have been indoctrinated to think that America was their greatest enemy.  The United States was not at war with Islam.  Far from it  The greatest enemy in the region, he said, was the contradiction imposed by dictatorship.  A few months later, the Arab Springs began.
“The future of Africa is up to Africans,” he said.  “For long I think that many looked to the outside for solution and focused on somebody else being at fault for the problems of the continent.”  Hopefully, this piece of advice may rekindle the realization that ‘we have found the enemy: it is us.’  It will not lead to an African Spring, but it is food for thought for those who have continued to blame Africa’s colonial past for the ills of today.
He spoke to the African Union where he declared that nobody should be president for life.  I’m sure in that hall would be counted a dozen presidents who think otherwise.  These would include countries like Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Guinea, and Togo.
It is not true he did not come with great initiatives.  Obama would like to be remembered for helping to electrify the African Continent.  My fear is that this offer will be ignored and not fully utilized.  President Obama does not start things he has not fully analyzed.  And anyone would agree that the wondrous resources latent in African would only be brought alive when there is electric power to unleash the energy of the continent.
He has not put a limit on US investment in this promise, which means that the ball is in the court of the continent.  He spoke about food security.  The famines in Ethiopia, the scandalous deaths in Darfur and South Sudan can be avoided with US help.  So is security challenge in Nigeria and East Africa and Guinea.  The US seems ready to help.
President Barack Obama has a personal stake in the success of the African continent.  He has a reputation.  He doesn’t start anything he won’t finish.  And he doesn’t bluff.  He is not a politician.  He is an unrepentant activist.

]]> 0
Waiting for Buhari’s ministers Wed, 29 Jul 2015 02:16:43 +0000 Since the swearing into office of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, it has been tingling ears in all parts of the country as the people await the announcement ]]>

Since the swearing into office of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, it has been tingling ears in all parts of the country as the people await the announcement of his cabinet that would set the tone of the new administration, and indicate the “gains” or “losses” of some of his lieutenants and the country’s constituent parts from the last polls.

The appointment of ministers has always been of great interest to Nigerians as it is regarded as a measure of the president’s ability to select a good team that will help to facilitate the achievement of his objectives and the fulfillment of his campaign promises. It is also seen as an indicator of how ready the president is to fight the battle against corruption, as he promised during his campaigns.

In this regard, the appointment of professionals who are believed to be honest and committed to public service will show the president as serious with his campaign promises, while the appointment of  persons who are believed to be corrupt will throw his administration up as no different from those before it.

The president has, however, led Nigerians on a waiting game on the issue since his inauguration. This had wrongly fuelled speculations that the “inability” to constitute the cabinet was traceable to the crisis in the National Assembly.  The president has, however, since dispelled this assumption following his announcement in the United States that his cabinet would not be constituted until September.

As he put it, the composition of the cabinet is being delayed to ensure that no person of questionable character makes the list. He also vowed that only experienced, hardworking persons of proven integrity would be appointed. Above all, he has said that he is putting certain measures in place in the various ministries to ensure that there is a credible template for good performance by the ministers whenever they are appointed, so that they will not fall into the corrupt  ways of past appointees.

The president’s concerns on the appointment of the right persons into the   office of minister are well noted. Nigeria has suffered for so long in the hands of arm chair ministers in critical ministries in recent years. This problem is very much at the root of the dilapidation of public infrastructure, as visionary persons with a passion for infrastructural development were not appointed to these offices. Instead, we had instances of persons that probably ought to have retired from public service long ago serving as ministers of works, housing and the like. These are offices that require persons who have the energy and the passion to make a difference in these critical areas of national life.  We have also had very corrupt ones that feathered their personal nests and those of the persons and parties that appointed them rather the country and its people.

Buhari, in particular, has a heavy burden in this regard as he was appointed into office on the platform of change. He cannot afford to make a mistake in the appointment of his ministers because over a hundred million Nigerians are eagerly waiting to clinically go over his appointees with a fine brush to pick out the slightest fleck of corruption dust on them. Many Nigerians are waiting to pick faults in his appointments. All geo-political zones, states, senatorial zones and his own lieutenants are also anxiously waiting for his appointees to see whether they have been well represented in his selections.

This great interest in the states and geo-political zones of the appointees is partly derived from our culture of seeing public office as a reward, and a licence to the public till, instead of a call to serve.

But then, should the plan to appoint only honest and hardworking persons lead to this long delay?. I do not think so. With four months gone since the voting into power of the APC, Nigerians cannot be blamed for thinking that the president should have hit the ground running and named his cabinet within a month of his inauguration. This expectation is not too out of place considering the depth of rot in the country and the scope of problems that the new president is expected to solve.

However, the search for credible persons to man the ministries should not take all of five or six months for the APC, which is what will happen if the ministers are not appointed until September.

Certainly, six months, or half a year, for a government that has a four-year mandate, is too long to name the “dream team.”  This is more so as the appointees will still made from among Nigerian politicians (for political expediency) and professionals. The government cannot go to heaven to bring in angels, so he has to work with what is available in the country.

Moreover, it is virtually impossible to predict the attitude of anyone once he gets into public office, as even the persons that are be believed to be most honest and hardworking may turn out to have feet of clay.

All these suggest that the process of appointing a credible team is a continuous process. Any minister who is appointed that does not measure up can be sent packing at any time, as long as there is a charter of responsibilities and conduct that has been handed over to all of them. Even the ministers that are appointed taking all the care in the world can still mess up, big time, if they are not monitored to ensure that they remain on the straight and narrow path.

What Nigeria requires is a system that leaves no room for the kind of incompetence or misuse of office that the president is trying to guard against. There are no perfect political office holders anywhere, only close monitoring and sack of offending ones will keep them on track

Let the president go ahead and name his team to throw off his “Baba go- slow” appellation. Slow and steady wins the race, of course, but perception and first impressions also matter. If in doubt, President Buhari should ask formerpresident, Goodluck Jonathan, about his perception as a “clueless president” which clung to him like a second skin until it threw him out of office.

]]> 0
IGP Arase: 100 days of proactive policing Wed, 29 Jul 2015 02:15:04 +0000 July 29, 2015 makes it exactly 100 days when Solomon Arase was appointed as Inspector General of Police.]]>

By Abubakar Musa

July 29, 2015 makes it exactly 100 days when Solomon Arase was appointed as Inspector General of Police. Having assumed office in acting capacity on April 21st 2015 following the termination of the appointment of Mr. Suleiman Abba by former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

As Arase girds his loins to reshape the entire structure of the Nigeria Police Force, like his middle name- “EHIGIATOR” which means “God let me live long,”  Arase is  already moving with the speed of light to reshape, re-orientate, and rejuvenate the entire  Nigeria Police Force.

Like a good shepherd, Mr. Arase has plunged into the wilderness to recover lost sheep. The premier Police Detective College at Orji River in Enugu State had been lost for some years now and it  takes an Inspector-General of Police who knows what the benefits and functions of a detective or an intelligence officer could be to the day-to-day operational capability of the force to revive the institution that trains high calibre of personnel.

Thus, few days into office as IGP Arase took a trip to Enugu to dust all the cobwebs that had taken over the entire classrooms of the detective college and had it re-opened. As a man with a good profile, humble, accommodating, IGP Arase took a first step to remove a problem which over the years has given the Nigeria Police Force a bad name. This has seen the removal and dismantling of all police roadblocks and checkpoints nation-wide. Those roadblocks and checkpoints have seemingly been scenes where some unscrupulous personnel of the force allegedly extorted money from motorist, and from other commuters.

To stamp out corruptive tendencies from within the rank-and-file of the force, IGP Arase has enumerated several ways of enhancing the welfare of the officers and men under his command. Patrol vehicles are to be fueled from designated filling stations close to police divisional headquarters and officers and men who carry out their assignments on the petrol vehicles are to be given some stipends to boost their morale.

To safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians and others living in the country and who ply the highways, from one destination to the other, IGP Arase and his team  have put in place patrol vehicles fitted with communication gadgets, code-named “safer highways.” It is  Arase’s desire to prevent or reduce to the barest minimum, the rate of crime perpetrated on our highways. This aspect of motorized anti-crime patrol is yielding dividends already as crimes on our highways these days have reportedly reduced. IGP Arase’s antecedents such as on the spot visits to assess the level of damage caused by terrorists’ attacks in some parts of the country stand him out as the nation’s chief cop. This was why in a record time of twenty-two days, the federal government, acting on the advice of the Council of State, confirmed the appointment of  Arase as the 18th indigenous Inspector-General of Police Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Since May 12, 2015,  he has been  doing everything he can to fine-tune the operational methodology of the Nigeria Police. Command Commission of Police and Zonal Assistant Inspectors Generals (AIGS) have been given the encouragement to stamp out crime in their areas. For over a decade now, there had not been a forum where a sitting IG assembled spokespersons of the force to strategise on ways to polish the image of the force. At the Louis Edet House of the Force Headquarters, Abuja a –two-day workshop for Public Relations Officers of the Nigeria Police Force from all the regions assembled to chart a new roadmap in police/public crises management stance. IGP Arase believes that every police officer worth his name is a public relations officer of the force.

Thus, the cream of PPROs who gathered at the Force headquarters were informed to see the public as friends of the police. They were asked by the IGP to visit community schools to inculcate into the youth the need to live a crime-free life and shun drug abuse. The police, IGP Arase emphasized, are closer to the people than any other security agency, thus the public will form an opinion on each and every police officer they come across. IGP Arase who has had a close working relationship with the media, recently commissioned a press centre at the force headquarters. This, according to him, will enable journalists to cross-check their stories with the force public relations office before filing them to their various media houses. With the little resources at hand after assumption of office, police personnel were paid their monthly emolument before the fourth week of the month and many officers felt that good things would come their way during the tenure of IGP Arase. The IGP has promised to fight arbitrary arrests and detentions without sufficient evidence.

This is coming against the background that due to the activities of some unscrupulous police personnel, the force has had to cough out a colossal sum of over N1 billion to aggrieved persons who have successfully sued the police before a court of law and obtained favourable judgment which attracted monetary compensation. The recent dismantling of all military checkpoints nation-wide and the directive by the Federal Government to the police to take over its statutory function as internal security provider has put much load on the shoulders of the IGP  and his  team.

In view of current terrorist attacks in  the North-east, the IGP has also ordered for the immediate return of the police at strategic points to conduct “stop and search” which involves frisking of motorists and other commuters. Though the police lost some of its personnel along the North-east  during a recent “stop and search” operation when some suicide bombers detonated the IEDs hidden in their bodies, the force remains focused to flush out all forms of crime and criminality from our midst. In the end,  Nigerians look forward to a good legacy from Solomon Arase.

•Musa,  a crime analyst, writes from Abuja

]]> 0
Gay marriage: We will not bow to Obama Wed, 29 Jul 2015 02:12:04 +0000 I had intended this article to be entitled “We Will Not Bow Down To Idol.” After careful reflections, I changed my mind because I felt that readers might ]]>

By  Kalu Ulu Eme

I had intended this article to be entitled “We Will Not Bow Down To Idol.” After careful reflections, I changed my mind because I felt that readers might misunderstand me and give the write-up a religious mindset.  I then settled for “Obama” rather than “Idol,” because, come to think of it, this write-up is actually about Barack Obama and his American posturing.

Before I delve into the subject matter, permit me to prelude this discourse with the word that was common with us in my newsroom days thirty-something years ago.The Daniel book of the Bible tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar (605 – 562 BC) of the Babylonian empire who built a gigantic idol and commanded the peoples, nations and men of every language to bow down and worship the idol, failing which the defaulter would be thrown into a blazing furnace to be roasted to death.  Three young Jews – Shedrack, Meshack and Abednego – refused to bow down to the idol and they were promptly thrown into the blazing furnace.  But by divine intervention, the furnace disappointed Nebuchadnezzar and the young men came out unhurt.  Eventually, King Nebuchadnezzar’s empire crumbled and collapsed, just like empires have been known in history to rise and fall.The history of the rise and fall of empires may be repeating itself in the world of the high and mighty America.

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the U. S. Supreme Court put the finishing touches on the idol that the American society  been constructing over the years – the same-sex marriage conundrum.

On that fateful day, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitutional provisions of due process and equal protection under the law actually means that States cannot ban same-sex marriage.  With this ruling, same-sex marriage became legal in all the 50 States of the US.  Very unfortunate.

A Wikipedia source states that the movement to obtain civil marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples in the United States began in the 1970s.  In 2011, the Obama Administration took over the movement and started constructing the idol of same-sex marriage legalisation officially when it declared as unconstitutional, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was enacted by the Congress in 1996 and which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for all Federal purposes.  And on May 9, 2012, President Obama, this time, personally made a public statement in which he advocated that same-sex couples should be able to get married.  As I have said above, the June 26 Supreme Court ruling was the icing on the cake of same-sex marriage, the idol Obama has been building since 2011.

Like Nebuchadnezzar, Barrack Obama, looming large over the American world power of today, is commanding the peoples, nations and men and women of the world to bow down to the idol the society has constructed and worship it. As at June 26, 2015, eighteen countries had bowed to  idol of same-sex marriage.  These are the US, the UK, France, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Argentina, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brazil, Iceland and Luxembourg.  The entire African continent, with the exception of South Africa, has not bowed down to Obama’s idol.

On Monday, January 13, 2014, the then Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-gay bill into law and Nigeria joined the 34 other African nations with strict anti-gay laws. The Daily SUN editorial of January 21, 2014 quoted Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry of lamenting how “deeply concerned” the US was with the new law in Nigeria.  On his own part, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, another member of Obama’s cabinet, described the law as “a big setback for human rights for Nigerians.”

My take on human rights is premised i both the religious and social ethics matrix.  It is not human rights when same-sex marriage, or any act whatsoever, negates and insults the religion, culture and tradition of the people.  The Bible and the Koran which are the supreme guide-books of the majority of the people of the universe are unequivocal in their condemnation of homosexuality and other obnoxious sexual practices.  The cultures and traditions of most peoples, particularly those in Africa are against homosexuality.  Yet imperialistic America is talking of our law, made in response to the demands of our religions, culture and traditions, as being against human rights.  There is no right that is absolute.  The charter of human rights has its limits and limitations.  It is not human rights when a person carries out an act that runs contrary to the sensibilities of a people in a given environment.  It is an offence as it offends the norms of that given society.Having said that, let me return to the issue of Obama’s idol.  Through the strategies of intimidation, arm-twisting and the carrot of foreign aid, Obama is putting pressure on Nigeria and other African nations to de-criminalise same-sex marriage.

The Thisday edition of July 20, 2015 published a report entitled “CAN, Group Urge Buhari Not To Succumb to Pressure on Same-Sex Marriage as He Meets With Obama.”  The appeal, which was in reference to President Buhari’s visit to the US which began on Sunday, July 19, 2015, was prompted by the public apprehension arising from the suspicion that Obama was going to pressure Buhari on the matter.  The suspicion was not uncalled for at all. It had been reported that the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield had said that America would continue to pressurise Nigeria until it legalised same-sex marriage.

Obama is applying the same arm-twisting strategies on other African countries, notably Kenya, Cameroun, Ghana, Uganda and Mozambique.  Africa may be poor in our pockets, but we definitely are not poor in our religious and moral intellect and responsibilities.  We stand by these and will not bow down to the Barrack Obama idol of same-sex marriage. It is a great relief to hear that President Buhari has outrightly rejected the gay marriage offer by Obama during his US visit. If Barack Obama’s promised assistance to Nigeria in battling with our economic and security challenges has the overt and covert design of making us to legalise same-sex marriage, Buhari’s blunt rejection should assure him that we will never trade off our conscience for a morsel of food.  Somebody should tell Obama the story of Nebuchadnezzar.  Empires rise and fall, particularly when they dare God as Nebuchadnezzar, Hitler, Nero, Napoleon, etc, did.  Obama and his mighty America are daring God with the same-sex idol.  Beware America!

•Rev Eme is spokesman, The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, Aba

Daniyan writes from Osogbo 

]]> 1
Time to jettison petrol subsidy Wed, 29 Jul 2015 02:10:07 +0000 By definition, fuel is any material used to produce heat or power by combustion and that includes diesel, gas, premium motor spirit, otherwise called petrol or gasoline; ]]>

By Eddie Mbadiwe

By definition, fuel is any material used to produce heat or power by combustion and that includes diesel, gas, premium motor spirit, otherwise called petrol or gasoline; fuel oil materials from atomic energy, aviation fuel and rocket fuel. In Nigerian parlance however, fuel is synonymous with petrol so this discourse will be limited to PMS. Fuel to Nigerians is petrol. Governance is about the welfare of the vast majority of the population. It is also about the courage to take the difficult and sometimes painful but right decisions in the overall interest of the people.

Some politicians, appeal to the shallow sentiments of the public and  refuse to reveal economic realities. A typical example is the current debt crisis in Greece where the government wrongly assumed that bravado will wipe out legitimate debts.

If you borrowed money, you can negotiate but the debt has to be repaid. It looks a lot more humiliating when a government is forced to make a U-turn and literally lick its own sputum. Nigeria currently spends N1.69 billion daily as subsidy on petrol. Diesel is deregulated so one assumes we are paying the economic price. If this daily figure is extrapolated for a year, Nigeria will be spending more than 15% of its yearly budget of approximately N4 trillion on subsidising one product alone.

There are, of-course other products that receive subsidies from the government. The World Bank report reckons that by the end of this year Nigeria will be spending close to N2 billion daily to make petrol available at the pump at N87 per litre.The question every Nigerian must truly answer is whether we can operate at this level of expenditure without sacrificing other sectors of our national development. Can we really go for broke with our eyes wide open? There have been many valid arguments for and against petrol subsidy so I won’t rehash them. If we do not act, reality will catch up with us.Some of the compelling points raised by ordinary Nigerians against subsidy removal is that it is their only dividend as owners of crude oil. Is this really correct?

Our major transport systems – trailers, tankers, luxury buses, transport vehicles, trains which impact directly on the economic lives of the vast majority of Nigerians are powered by diesel which is deregulated. It is the elite and the oil marketers, who drive cars that benefit from the subsidy on petrol. These groups can also afford to pay economic prices for petrol: so why are we going round in circles.

Subsidy, if at all necessary, has to be for the poor.In some states in Nigeria, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Imo, Anambra, to name just a few, petrol sells at between N105 – N110 per litre. The people gladly buy; there is no shortage and there are no queues. Who really is subsidising who?

The dispute between oil marketers and government about who owes what is always recurring and there is no end in sight. Malfeasance and the endemic corruption in that importation arrangement is ingrained so the only way out is to dismantle it now. It can only get worse and the petrol queues will become permanent. This is almost happening in Abuja and Lagos.

The simplest economic principle of all time of “Supply and Demand” will not change in Nigeria. If by tomorrow we fix all our four refineries in Port-Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and possibly build new ones, petrol will flood the market and prices will crash; this is not rocket science.

The entire dynamics will change when Dangote refinery comes on stream.What the government must do is to go into town-hall meetings with organised labour, students, market women and convince them as to why the subsidy must go. There is no better time for this exercise than now when the National Assembly is in a state of flux.

Governance is wrongly see as  a quid pro quo business must ensure that monies realised from fuel subsidy removal are channelled into building access roads, providing power and water in the rural areas.

There must be village security.The vast majority of Nigerians are hard working and do not want hand-outs from anybody – not even the government. They will rather create wealth and pay taxes than stand in offices for hours waiting for LPOS.

Apart from security of lives and property, the second most important duty of government in my view is to create an enabling environment so that serious minded citizens can create wealth and jobs. There are many Nigerians who are anxious to set up cottage industries in their communities and employ people.

They also want to retire to cleaner and fresher environs. Opening the rural areas is a sine-qua-non in arresting youth restiveness and tackling insurgency. We will also arrest the rural – urban migration which totally distorts the Eco-system and stresses our cities.Price fixing by legislation, as is currently done for petrol, has never grown any economy and Nigeria will not be the Miracle.

•Hon. Mbadiwe writes from Abuja

]]> 2
In defence of Radio Biafra (2) Tue, 28 Jul 2015 01:45:52 +0000 Meanwhile, if there is one known fact that is increasingly endearing the people of South-East and South-South to the so-called illegal Radio Biafra (to the chagrin and discomfort of Buhari’s government), it is best to be situated in the perceived witch-hunt by the present national leadership. ]]>

By Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije

Meanwhile, if there is one known fact that is increasingly endearing the people of South-East and South-South to the so-called illegal Radio Biafra (to the chagrin and discomfort of Buhari’s government), it is best to be situated in the perceived witch-hunt by the present national leadership.

Rightly or wrongly, its first rash decision to transfer a whole lot of high risk Boko Haram detainees/prisoners to an unworthy prison facility at Ekwuluobi in the South-Eastern State of Anambra speaks volumes about the validity of the stereotyped mindset of President Buhari’s government vis-a-vis Ndigbo. And this may help to explicate the rationale behind the fortune being made by Radio Biafra in the area of securing the attention of the public.

Though it has always been easy for those who enjoy the privilege of being in the media or having access to the media to put in the public domain fierce polemics against peoples’ projects that are apparently antithetical to the interest they represent or protect.

Yet it must be noted that the role of the media, whether print, electronic or online, on this issue of Radio Biafra should go beyond attacking the station. At the very best, there is need for caution, profound reflection and candid analysis of this issue.

Like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service which champions the cause of the Hausa people all over the world, it may not be out of place to say that the Radio Biafra fundamentally exists to serve and promote the cause and interest of the people of Igbo extraction both at home and in Diaspora.

To this end, it does not seem to make sense that Premium Times, an online media, in its July 10, 2015 editorial, erroneously tried to equate the activities of Radio Biafra with Radio Television Libre des mille (RTLMC) that allegedly aided the massacre of 500,000 Rwandans during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Truth be told, there is hardly any station which caters and propagates solely the cause of a nation that does not err from time to time in terms of providing controversial content to its listeners.

As a matter of fact, we may recall that it was reportedly on the BBC Hausa Service interview segment that our current President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, allegedly issued his notorious threat about the possibility of monkey and baboon’s blood oozing out on the streets in the event the 2015 general election failed to meet his personal and group expectations.

And here lies one of the challenges associated with the existence of a cause radio station or a global radio station that permanently runs a cause programme for a nationality co-existing with other nationalities within the same geographical entity and under a supreme authority (one government).

What is more, if indeed Radio Biafra is illegal on account of the pronouncement by Dr. Yemi Folashade Esan, merely because the station does not have a licence obtained from Nigerian government to be on her airwaves, then it stands to question if the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Deutsche Welle and their ilk that freely operate on our airwaves do so because they are issued with Nigerian government’s licences or basically because of their ownership, possession and use of superior technology/technical knowhow.

But be that as it may, it is high time the government left Radio Biafra alone and minded its business of governance, especially as it concerns its efforts in containing the unabated offensive being launched daily by the Boko Haram insurgents. Endlessly chasing shadow in the guise of fighting to jam the signals of Radio Biafra will only continue to attract more attention and listenership for the radio station.

This is why it is imperative for Buhari to start addressing cases of injustice, inequality and inequity (which abound in our polity) against the people of the enclave whose cause and interest the pirate radio station claims to be pursuing.

This is one major way of making the vast majority of the people concerned think and act less for and in defence of Radio Biafra.


•Chiduluemije writes from Abuja via – 07012130204

]]> 0
I smell fresh trouble today Tue, 28 Jul 2015 01:44:14 +0000 After a month-long hurried adjournment, orchestrated to avoid a possible breakdown of law and order, the Senate and House of Representatives reconvene today amid heightened tension. Nothing seems to have changed from ]]>

After a month-long hurried adjournment, orchestrated to avoid a possible breakdown of law and order, the Senate and House of Representatives reconvene today amid heightened tension. Nothing seems to have changed from what the situation was on June 25, when both houses adjourned. No white flags to signify that the warring camps which have been at each others throat have sheathed their swords.

Peace remains elusive in both chambers. The meeting called yesterday evening by President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the divisive issues among the lawmakers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) did little to put the issues in dispute behind the party.

So, the bitter struggle for positions of principal officers of the National Assembly will likely take a new, dangerous, and tumultuous dimension this morning. Like a broken family whose members will like to destroy their father’s inheritance rather than share it, I have this nagging dampening feeling in my spirit that today’s proceedings in both houses will be the ultimate showdown in lawlessness.

In the House of Representatives, no truce is in sight despite the reported reconciliation of Speaker Yakubu Dogari’s camp with the Femi Gbajabiamila group over the sharing of principal offices. What happened last Friday was a contrived “marriage of convenience” that has already broken down even before the spouses could embrace each other. It was a “marriage” that was consummated based on selfish personal interests. It was simply a power-grabbing deal that will crash even before the members converge on the Green Chamber this morning.

It is not too hard to understand why APC will continue to gallop from one crisis to another and why the crisis in the National Assembly will continue to deepen almost two months after the 8th parliament was inaugurated. It is the failure of the leadership of both houses to look beyond personal ambition. None is ready to give up personal gains for collective interest. Therefore, nobody should be under any illusion that the proceedings in both chambers will be peaceful today. This is because every option that could help APC emerge from the present crisis and put its house in order is like using different debit cards when a bank has run out of notes.

Every layer of the crisis you try to remove leads inexorably to yet a more delicate one that brings the crisis back to where it all began. Take, for instance, the issues in dispute in the House of Representatives: whatever attempt made so far to resolve the positions of principal offices, is met with a suit fixed for hearing today before a Federal High Court in Abuja. The suit seeks an injunction to stop Speaker Dogara from naming principal officers other than those recommended by the ruling APC. This is one of the knotty issues that will set the stage for drama today.

Interestingly, the opposition PDP is relishing this drama in both Houses. If the situation in the House of Reps looks amenable, that in the Senate presents something of a drop-dead-dealine for a make or break situation for the APC. There’s a ‘joker’ in the Senate already. This is the emerging report that the Police investigation into the allegations that the Senate Standing Rules were forged, has been confirmed.

The Standing Rules/Orders, we may recall, has been at the heart of the drama in the aftermath of the election of Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as President and Deputy Senate President on June 9. The Senate Rules guide all aspects and procedures of the senate, including the promulgation of the National Assembly as well as election of its principal officers.

From what we hear, the police investigation is said to have indicted the management of NASS, in particular, the clerk, Salisu Maikasuwa. The clerk is the custodian of the Senate Standing Rules. If the probe indicts him, as being speculated, that speaks volumes of the legality or otherwise in the election of Senator Ekweremadu, in particular. Things can go from bad to worse for him as the police report is also said to have recommended the prosecution of all those found culpable of the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders.Remember that forgery is a criminal offence. The law prescribes a minimum of four years imprisonment upon conviction. This will be good news for the anti-Saraki camp. They will likely call Saraki and Ekweremadu to step down immediately. But they cannot without putting up a fierce fight. And that will mean a big storm in the Senate today.

Among those said to have been interrogated by the police investigation included immediate past senate President, David Mark, Senator Ekweremadu, former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egbe, and former Senate Committee Chairman on Rules and Business, Ita-Enang. The anti-Saraki senators had alleged in their petition that Ekweremadu was a recipient of the alleged forgery.

The controversial 2015 Senate Orders include Rule 3, as contained on Page 4 of the document. It deals with election of presiding officers. Those who have seen the police report say the rules on which the election of June 9, 2015 was conducted was different from the 2011 senate Order. Also, Rule 3 (e) (i) and (ii) are said to have been altered in the 2015 document to accommodate electronic voting and secret ballot. But ballot papers were reportedly not mentioned in the 2011 Standing Rules. The Standing Order in question says, “voting shall be conducted by the clerk at-the-table using division list of the Senate with Tellers in attendance”. The insertion in the amended version reportedly reads: “the appointment of senators as chairmen and members of committee shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the six geo-political zones of the country, and there shall be no predominance of senators from a few geo-political zones”.

When you look at these allegations closely, one thing is certain: expect a showdown from rival factions today. My advice: Focus your attention on the Senate, but don’t forget to tune in intermittently at proceedings in the lower House. it will likely end in a situation that will leave APC with few choices. And PDP is looking forward to today to see how it can cash in on the crises in both houses to spring a surprise of its own.

Altogether, events in the National Assembly could prove a “matchpoint” for the Buhari presidency. It could define the direction of his presidency, whether his agenda for “Change” is stuck, or if he has finally broken through the labyrinth of forces that want to portray him as a ‘deceiver’ of change. Whichever way it goes today, I perceive trouble. But out of this messy and bitter struggle, change might come! The question is: are we getting the benefit of the huge cost on the members of the National Assembly?

]]> 0
Emefiele: The quintessential reformist Tue, 28 Jul 2015 01:39:06 +0000 When Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was appointed to head the nation’s apex bank by the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan administration, many financial analysts hailed his ]]>

By Nwobodo Chidiebere

When Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was appointed to head the nation’s apex bank by the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan administration, many financial analysts hailed his selection as a round peg in a round hole not because of his tribal or religious inclination but well-proven experience as a reformist banker, which enabled him as Managing Director of Zenith Bank in transforming the hitherto national bank into number one financial entity in Africa and one of the top twenty financial institutions in the world.

Upon his confirmation as CBN Governor by the Red Chamber, Godwin Emefiele, CON hit the ground running by initiating lot of well-thought-out and tested reforms in the financial sector of the economy which have helped in restoring investors’ confidence in the nation’s economy in line with CBN’s mandate as regulator of Nigeria’s banking industry. Governor Emefiele’s wind of reform first swept across the foreign exchange market where he identified exchange rate stability and shoring up of the country’s foreign reserves as one of the key planks of his tenure at the apex bank; which he intends to achieve side-by-side a gradual reduction of interest rates. Recapitalization of parallel market via Bureau De Change (BDCs); became his major policy reform aimed at reviewing and reducing the hitherto over-bloated number of BDCs operating as outlaw financial units in the country.

The CBN under the visionary leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele increased the minimum capital requirement of BDCs from N10 million to N250 million, which represented an increase of 250 per cent. The apex bank also reviewed upward a mandatory cautionary deposit to be lodged in a non-yielding account in the CBN..It also warned that it would punish any operator of BDCs discovered to have multiple number of BDCs. Before the conceptualization of this laudable policy, records showed that there were 3,208 Bureau De Change (BDCs) officially registered with the CBN as well as 1,417 applications from prospective BDCs awaiting approval, which means that Nigeria’s endangered foreign reserve was being depleted to the tune of more than $6 billion annually to fund these BDCs. Apart from the haemorrhaging of the country’s foreign reserves orchestrated by unregulated BDCs, un-recapitalized BDCs encouraged dollarization of the economy and money laundering activities particularly by those who have looted the nation’s treasury, which invariably put unnecessary pressure on the local currency—Naira. Recapitalization of BDCs by Emefiele’s leadership of CBN has streamlined the hitherto all comers affair into a well-regulated exchange market positioned to drive the exchange market.

Recently, stakeholders and financial analysts in the economy commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for limiting access to forex for certain categories of importers. In order to beef up the fast depleting external reserves, the Central Bank of Nigeria not too long ago stopped the sale of foreign exchange to importers of the following items: rice, cement, private jets, textiles, tomato paste, poultry products, vegetable oil, Geisha, sardines, toothpicks, wheelbarrows, headpans. Others are steel drum, steel pipes, wire mesh, steel nails, wire rods, security wire, wood particle and board, wood fibre boards and panel, plywood board and panel, wooden doors, toothpicks, glass and glassware, kitchen utensils, tableware, tiles and wooden fabrics, plastic and rubber products, soap and cosmetics, etc.

The CBN, in a circular dated June 23, 2015, stated that the implementation of the policy would help to conserve foreign reserves and facilitate the resuscitation of domestic industries as well as generate employment. The circular, which was signed by the Director, Trade and Exchange, CBN, Mr Olakanmi Gbadamosi, stated that it was imperative to exclude importers of some goods and services from accessing foreign exchange at the Nigerian foreign exchange market in order to encourage local production of the items. The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had a few months ago said the bank would bar importers of toothpicks, rice and other products from accessing forex at the nation’s forex markets.

Apart from the fact that the dwindling crude oil price in the international market has affected the nation’s external reserves cum revenue by forty per cent which is exerting pressure on the naira, an import-dependent economy like ours has become vulnerable in the face of falling oil prices. To cushion the ugly effect of this fall in oil prices, and subsequently protect the nation’s foreign reserve and the value of the naira against foreign currencies in the exchange market, CBN under the watch of Emefiele restricted imports of the listed items from the official forex market. The patriotic action was also motivated by CBN’s noble quest to revive the nation’s ailing manufacturing industries through empowerment of indigenous manufacturers by encouraging locally produced items and services.

Ironically, Nigeria which prides itself as the largest economy in Africa is importing virtually everything needed by its citizens. How can a nation under severe strangulation of youth unemployment continue to provide its scarce foreign exchange to economic “saboteurs” who create unemployment; kill our local industries by exporting jobs meant for the youths abroad? Why would Nigeria as a country aspiring to be one of leading economies in the world in the near future keep subsidizing imported refined petroleum products using limited foreign reserves while the local refineries are rusting away, thereby creating poverty via unemployment? I am a strong advocate for subsidy if it is for production and not consumption, and if it benefits the poor and not middle men and rent-seekers. How can we diversify Nigeria’s economy when crude oil remains the nation’s major revenue earner? Unfortunately, US government subsidies cotton and Nigeria spends its reserves importing textiles from America and keeping American farmers employed. These are some of the thought-provoking questions CBN Governor, Emefiele is trying to provide answers to using the current policy introduced by the apex bank.

• Chidiebere writes form Abuja via

]]> 0
Nigeria’s thievish ex-ministers Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:38:56 +0000 EBERE WABARA 08055001948 SOMEWHAT, plomb, I had always be­lieved that the Goodluck Jonathan ad­ministration was the worst in corruption rating the country has ever had under a civilian leadership. Transparency Inter­national by its reportage of our country’s corruption profile on a global reckoning erased any modicum of doubt or uncer­tainty I may have developed. I [...]]]>

EBERE WABARA 08055001948

SOMEWHAT, plomb, I had always be­lieved that the Goodluck Jonathan ad­ministration was the worst in corruption rating the country has ever had under a civilian leadership. Transparency Inter­national by its reportage of our country’s corruption profile on a global reckoning erased any modicum of doubt or uncer­tainty I may have developed. I had never believed any regime would be as bad as the Second Republic National Party of Nigeria (NPN) let alone surpassing the official banditry record of that time.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) remains the worst political association Nigeria has had and may ever have. Ev­erything about it was just ignominable and was (yes, it is gradually becoming history hence my deliberate usage of the past tense) reckless and deviantly unscrupulous with our national patri­mony. God will never allow us to expe­rience such a callous group populated mostly by devilish kleptomaniacs, some of whom have ended up in the hallowed Chambers of the Senate after yet another round of electoral theft.

This is not to say, however, that the other political parties—defunct or exist­ing—were/are not almost as bad as the PDP. The only difference, for instance, is that the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not have the same level of impunity and unconscionable banditry adrenalin. In terms of membership and individualistic records, both organisa­tions are peopled by the same characters united be vaulting personal desires ag­gregated on unique platforms that have nothing to do with self-dignity, propriety or the common good of their followers.

In other words, no political party mem­ber should gloat over anything credible whether in the oppositional frame or cur­rency of rulership.

The truth of the matter, which nobody can contradict, is that the APC has as many corrupt politicians as the PDP, if not more! For most people, the ony ray of hope is the impeccable nature of Buhari. Remove President Buhari and it would be a thin line between the PDP and the APC, most especially in the absence of profound and enduring ideologies.

The only assurance I have is that with the sterling personage of President Mu­hammadu Buhari, Nigeria is on a re­demptive thrust, by the grace of God. It can no longer be business as usual. Ev­eryone has to sit up. It was God’s inter­vention that threw up Buhari.

I do not agree that his emergence was a function of pressure on the electoral pro­cess that foreclosed anything contrary, as declared by President Buhari in Wash­ington DC, USA, last week. I cannot imagine what this country would have become if Dr. Jonathan had returned.

Last Wednesday during his visit to the USA, President Buhari declared to the world that ministers and other govern­ment officials in the immdiate-past ad­ministration stole one million barrels of oil daily! You wonder how much is left for the nation in the sordid circumstance. The situation is so bad that a national newspaper in reporting the magnitude of the matter emotively used “loot­ing” and “stealing” contemporaneously without caring a hoot about etymologi­cal abuse! The thievishness is better captured in President Buhari’s words: “We are now looking for evidences of shipping some of our crude, their des­tination and where and which accounts where the monies are being kept.

“When we get as much as we can get as soon as possible, we would approach those countries to freeze those accounts and go to court, prosecute those people and let the accounts be taken to Nigeria.

“250,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude are being stolen and people sell and put the money into individual ac­counts.

The amount of money is mind-boggling but we have started getting documents.“We have started getting documents where some of the senior people in government, former minis­ters, some of them had as much as five accounts and were moving about one million barrel per day on their own.

“We have started getting those docu­ments. Whichever documents we are able to get and subsequently trace the sale of the crude or transfer of money from ministries, departments and the Central Bank, we will ask for the co­operation of those countries to return those monies to the federation accounts and we will use those documents to ar­rest those people and prosecute them. This, I promise Nigerians.

“A lot of damage has been done to the integrity of Nigeria with individu­als and institutions already and institu­tions already compromised”.I am sure that the intractable challenge of man­aging the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is the bed­rock and engine room of corruption in the sector, will soon be sanitised with the second coming of President Buhari. It is unfortunate that past governments skirted around it and allegedly benefit­ted from the looting spree hence their in­capacitation. With the man in the saddle now, that is unthinkable.

The corporation unwittingly has be­come a parallel government with so much crude money that its management has no regard for due process, the coun­try’s laws and peculiarities. Over the years, so much had been expected of the NNPC with nothing to cheer about.

The time has come for the Econom­ic and Financial Cimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies to close in on the NNPC and other federal institutions neck-deep in sharp practices of monumental proportions. Nigerians must synergize on the hot chase after oil thieves and other scammers.

They have collectively pauperized those of us outside the corridors of pow­er. The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) must discover its groove as the EFCC has just begun to rediscover its own even if sluggishly.

Cleansing of the Augean stables should be extended to the national legis­lature where some immediate-past gov­ernors who could not pay workers’ sala­ries are now positioning themselves for the leadership of the National Assembly.

I plead with President Buhari to expe­dite action on apprehending the thievish ex-ministers and to extend his search­light to other institutions and democratic organs, particularly state independent electoral commissions where imme­diate-past governors made a bazaar of polls that culminated in the enthrone­ment of their puppets. With President Buhari, all forms of official roguishness have ended!


]]> 0
Ogbonnaya Onu: Awaiting the reward of perseverance Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:28:59 +0000 By Collins Obibi IF and when President Mohammadu Bu­hari decides to appoint somebody from the South East to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as is be­ing speculated in many quarters or to any other key position, the first and best choice is Dr Ogbonnaya Onu. His academic quali­fication, pedigree [...]]]>

By Collins Obibi

IF and when President Mohammadu Bu­hari decides to appoint somebody from the South East to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as is be­ing speculated in many quarters or to any other key position, the first and best choice is Dr Ogbonnaya Onu. His academic quali­fication, pedigree and wealth of experience stand him out. He is among the best the zone can produce and has tremendous ca­pacity to deliver on any assignment.

Onu has beyond these shown character and has creditably acquitted himself since he came to political limelight first as gov­ernor of old Abia State in 1992. He is eas­ily the face of any semblance of opposition the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ever faced in the South East in the past 16 years and a familiar face at the national level. Using lectures, seminars, speeches and talks at different occasions, he sustained the attack on the then ruling party, until the tide changed.

Onu has since 1998 kept faith with the opposition beginning with the All People’s Party, the All Nigeria People’s Party and the recent amalgam – the All Progressives Party (APC) which has been engineered and efficiently marketed to become the rul­ing party. He has paid his dues and there­fore awaits a crown.

To really understand Onu and appreciate the gift of God in him, if he is schemed out of the first slots in the much awaited appointments, people may see it as injustice and scream, but the Onu I know is most likely going to take it with equanimity and maintain his peace and stability. He is not likely going to roughen shoulders but will persevere and keep faith with the party and its principals just as he has been doing since 1998. His commitment to lofty ideals and beliefs and implicit trust and confidence in God are absolute.

This is a positive character trait and indeed a display of strength, even when scholars of the Machiavellian institute may disagree. How many of the present day jostlers and their godfathers are so endowed?

Scheming or jostling for positions is the game of politicians and this is aggravated by the delay by the administration in making the appointments even when the elections had been won over four months ago. As expected, names are being thrown up from different parts of the zone and many kings and king makers have emerged including name droppers who forget easily that Nigerians know the tendencies and idiosyncrasies of the Katsina State-born general who has shown some signs of conversion to a democrat.

There is hardly any position Onu can be ap­pointed to by the present administration which he probably would not have occupied if he had flirted with the PDP since being edged out by the All People’s Party as presidential candidate in the 1999 elections.

He chose to remain and build the opposition. And for 16 years, he persevered making sacrifices which he once lamented about.

As he put it in one forum, it is very challenging in our clime to be in a non-ruling-party at the fed­eral and state levels for a long time. In his words, “I must tell you, I have always believed that we should not have a one party system in the country and that is why I never changed and it is very diffi­cult to be in the opposition particularly if you have risen to a certain level.

It is extremely difficult, particularly if you are in the opposition in your state and at the federal level.” How he survived and visibly so these tor­tuous years should serve as a case study for po­litical scientists. Onu has contributed in building the opposition in the past 16 years, yet the times call for more work, zeal and sincerity of purpose, perhaps a good reminder to those who see appoint­ments differently.

He has the requisite pedigree and sagacity to de­liver at the topmost level of governance anywhere in the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Engineering from the Univer­sity of California, Berkeley, California, USA. He taught at the University of Port Harcourt as the pioneer Head of the Department of Chemical En­gineering among other positions in the university. He was the first executive governor of Abia State from February 1992 to December 1993 an office he brought tremendous charisma to.

The same words Onu used to respond to my question in 1999 while appealing for votes in his home state are still apt today: “I will appeal to the people of Ebonyi State to do all within their power to look at those who are trying to represent them and judge them on their values, experience and temperament”

.Obibi writes from Lagos

]]> 0
Ikpeazu’s salesmen and the Abia tragedy Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:27:25 +0000 By James Onuoha NNANNA Ezeocha has just written a brilliant piece (The Guardian, July 13, 2015) on Abia debacle as epitomized by the Ikpeazu-led administration. Predict­ably, uneasy calm had since pervaded the state house in Umuahia and the new administration’s aides and salesmen are on the prowl trying hard to counter the impressive article and [...]]]>

By James Onuoha

NNANNA Ezeocha has just written a brilliant piece (The Guardian, July 13, 2015) on Abia debacle as epitomized by the Ikpeazu-led administration. Predict­ably, uneasy calm had since pervaded the state house in Umuahia and the new administration’s aides and salesmen are on the prowl trying hard to counter the impressive article and sell their master to the highly impoverished masses of Abia state.

But, the truth is that just like a bad product, it would be a herculean task for these salesmen to convince Ndi Abia to accept Ikpeazu as the man sent by God to lead them to the promised land given the credibility overdraft hanging like the sword of Damocles on his head and most unfortunately his linkage with a discred­ited dynasty.

In his contribution to the growing list of desperadoes and hirelings making ef­forts to justify their pay, Godwin Adindu, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor pulled a despicable stunt aimed at dis­crediting the episodic achievements of the illustrious Dr,. Alex Otti in both the political and economic spheres of Abia State.

By his estimation, there is nowhere in Abia of today that the presence and achievements of Otti are felt to warrant a nostalgic feeling from among the popu­lace of Abia towards the APGA governor­ship standard bearer in the last governor­ship election in the state. It is either that Adindu is naïve or carries an overdose of mischief in his veins. If Adindu and his co-travellers must be reminded, it is the acceptability of Otti as the “Moses” sent by God” to liberate Ndi Abia from Pharaoh’s clutches that majority of Abia people trooped out in their large numbers to cast their votes for him before the en­emies of Abia put spanners in the works. Again, the Abia State House of Assem­bly is today significantly populated by APGA, a feat that was not possible prior to Otti’s emergence as leader of the party in the state.

While Adindu and his special assistant to the governor counterpart, Ojo Madue­kwe, futilely tried to convince the public on the messianic pursuits of Ikpeazu in resolving myriads of challenges beset­ting Abia, a certain Chinyemike Torti un­ashamedly wrote a load of hogwash in an article titled “The Lies Against Ikpeazu” published on page 17 of The Guardian of Monday, July 21, 2015 to support his co-mercenaries in the corridors of power.

But Torti’s write-up could best be de­scribed as an untidy and untutored out­pouring of an opinion contributor lacking in the rudimentary instruments of judi­cious articulation and analysis.

Torti began his ill-fated piece by accus­ing Dr. Otti of not emptying the vaults of Diamond Bank Plc to grant loans, over­drafts and working capital to customers of Abia extraction when he was the Group Managing Director of the Bank. Unfortu­nately for Torti and other propagandists in his conclave of boot-lickers, the re­cords are there for the general public to see and make value judgments. Unlike their paymasters who received billions of statutory allocations and diverted them for personal gains, under Otti as GMD, Diamond Bank. grew its balance sheets astronomically.

The bank, which has always been at the forefront of supporting local enterprises added more impetus to this under Otti. For instance, in an honest attempt to jump start the tottering commercial and indus­trial base of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State,. the bank ensured that funds were made available for the completion of the over $500m, 141MW Geometric Power Limited project in Aba. Under Otti administration in Diamond Bank, small scale business owners who met the laid down procedures for accessing credits from Diamond Bank were adequately catered for and naturally Abia entrepre­neurs are not known to be in short supply in this space. For the avoidance of doubt, Otti never claimed to have received $100 Billion grant from World Bank or IMF as mischievously alleged by Torti. This is a creation of warped minds and mercenar­ies like Torti.

If Torti and his ilk must know, Otti cannot stoop so low to deceive Abians into believing that he had secured a grant in the sum of N46 billion from African Development Bank in the manner their paymaster disclosed recently. For a man who intends to lead Abia in secrecy, no one knows how Ikpeazu secured the nod of yet to be constituted Senate commit­tee on finance and of course the scrutiny and approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance before obtaining the loan.

Again, that Ikpeazu is carrying on as though the economic status of the state is in order when arrears of workers’ salaries are mounting and pensioners are commit­ting suicide and others dying of prevent­able diseases speaks volumes of a gov­ernor who promised Abians payment of workers’ salaries latest by the 24th of ev­ery month during his election campaigns.

It is curious to note that since he mounted the saddle, Ikpeazu has refused to avail Ndi Abia the true financial state of Abia treasury especially the amount owed banks and other financial institu­tions by the immediate past administra­tion and yet the incumbent is gallivanting everywhere preaching transparency.

The question is what is transparent about deploying New Idea Construction Company, with links to the former gov­ernor Theodore Orji’s son Chinedu a.k.a Ikuku, in executing government projects whose agreements are worth far in excess of what reputable construction compa­nies bid for?

What is transparent about awarding Ukaegbu Road and Kamalu Street in Aba to a company charging outrageous N1.2 billion when the NDDC had earlier awarded contracts on the two projects to reputable construction companies in the sum of N250 million and N120 million respectively?

By claiming to cut down on his salary which is far below N1million a month, Ikpeazu attempted to hoodwink Abi­ans into believing that he shares in their pain and agony. But he failed to disclose to Abians how he intends to resolve an imminent showdown between him and Ikuku over who gets the lion share from Ikpeazu’s about N750 million monthly security votes. Simply put, a Ladoja Vs Adedibu face- off is currently brewing in Abia state.

Again, I suspect that Ikpeazu is delib­erately shielding his godfather from fac­ing the EFCC as some of his co-travellers recently appeared in court in connection with sundry issues of fraud in office.

But. the James Ibori incident should act as a reminder to anyone who feels he could run away from the long arm of the law.

And the new men of power in Umua­hia need be reminded that the era when a cabal in power rigged their candidate into Government House and confidently waited for a hollow ritual that would pro­duce a predictable outcome in favour of the bandits is gone. The Andy Uba and Rotimi Amaechi’s examples are still pointers to that belief. The judiciary is the last hope of the masses and Ndi Abia are hopeful that their stolen mandate would be recovered.

.Onuoha writes from Abia State.


]]> 0
In defence of Radio Biafra (1) Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:26:46 +0000 By Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije IT is quite surprising how all of a sudden the so-called illegal Radio Biafra reportedly being operated by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, said to be resident in the United Kingdom, is increasingly becoming a source of seri­ous concern to the government of President Muham­madu Buhari, a section of the Nigerian Online Media [...]]]>

By Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije

IT is quite surprising how all of a sudden the so-called illegal Radio Biafra reportedly being operated by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, said to be resident in the United Kingdom, is increasingly becoming a source of seri­ous concern to the government of President Muham­madu Buhari, a section of the Nigerian Online Media and some Nigerian elements who are wont to believe that Ndigbo must always dance to their tune or do what suits their thinking and/or act in line with their personal and group expectations – so as to be quali­fied to be called good citizens of Nigeria or, better still, nationalists. What a beautiful nonsense!

Similarly surprising is the rate at which the operator of this now all-important Radio Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is being denigrated by the officials of the gov­ernment of President Muhammadu Buhari and their retinue of parasitic sycophants.

Little wonder that while some of these officials now seem be dissipating a lot of energy, time and re­sources striving to outdo one another in a bid to jam the signals of Radio Biafra, the security operatives are reportedly busy loafing around every nook and cranny of the South-East and South-South geo-political zones searching for the sponsors of this pirate station.

Furthermore, it smacks of curiosity that these op­eratives appear to be carrying out this task with more vigour, strength, uncommon commitment and un­precedented diligence than they seem to have so far deployed in the perennial fight against the Boko Ha­ram terrorists that have been wrecking havoc here and there in the Northern region.

Apparently in an effort to shore up what seemed to remain of its dwindling image – which has been ad­versely dealt with by the seemingly superior strategies and operations of the Boko Haram sect – and in order to create the impression of possessing the technical knowhow to control the country’s airwaves, the gov­ernment, through the instrumentality of the National Broadcasting Commission, recently announced its success in jamming the signals of Radio Biafra.

According to Dr. Yemi Folashade Esan, the Perma­nent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, “right now the signals from Radio Biafra have been jammed successfully by the NBC”. As pleasant as this remark sounds, there is no gainsaying that only time and events will give credibility to this claim.

Now let us dwell on the crux of the matter about the things believed to be said or done wrongly by Ra­dio Biafra. First of all, apart from the media reports about the station’s pejorative reference to President Muhammadu Buhari as terrorist-in-Chief and sundry other names, which is roundly deplorable, could it be empirically wrong for rational minds in a sane society to think that the station’s metaphoric use of the word “zoo” or “zoological republic” in describing the de­grading and appalling state of human existence in Ni­gerian today is really misplaced? For sure, this should, as a matter of fact, be the fundamental question of abiding concern to all of us, even as we continue to take a swipe at the general operations and content of the pirate radio station.

As it were, going by the abysmal, unacceptable and, in fact, clearly uncontrollable spate of killings and wanton destruction of property on a daily basis by the Boko Haram sect since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, could it not be an understate­ment to submit that the Radio Biafra’s characterization of Nigeria as a ‘zoo’ is a mild word in the depiction of the near animalistic state of living in the North-East geo-political zone? For goodness sake, how else do we aptly describe a situation whereby human beings are daily slaughtered like animals in Nigeria by the Boko Haram sect? Or, how else do we rationalize a state of human existence with a government ostensibly in place whereby no fewer than 625 innocent and hap­less Nigerians got butchered in a day in four villages in Borno State as reported by Vanguard Newspaper of July 14, 2015?Funny enough, not even in the US now­adays would anybody take the lives of ordinary ani­mals in just a day and in such a large number without the government swiftly unveiling its deadliest fangs of law enforcement in retaliation against the culprit. But here we are watching our government setting 182 Boko Haram suspects free on grounds that they had been duly investigated, discharged and acquitted. It is well indeed!

In fact, no matter the things that we do or say against the Radio Biafra and its operator, Nnamdi Kanu, the point is that Nigeria cannot live in self-delusion for­ever, more so now that the government of the day appears to be pontificating so much about change – though one hopes that this is far from being a lip-service approach aimed at taking Nigerians for a ride.

Undoubtedly, there is need for change in the style of governance in Nigeria. But then, the change the country needs or desires is not such that is currently being tilted in favour of the Hausa-Fulani and a few of their Northern brethren, in collaboration with their fellow ‘Muslim brothers’ in the South-West. Of course this desired change ought not encapsulate or envisage the emerging notion (as evidenced so far in President Buhari’s appointment) that the people of Northern Ni­geria know it more than their southern counterparts and as such have a duty to take over all the strategic security and other positions in the country, to the ex­clusion of others co-existing with them in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious entity called Nigeria.

– To be Continued tomorrow

.Chiduluemije writes from Abuja via du­ – 07012130204

]]> 3
THE OKADAMAN FROM BENGHAZI Sun, 26 Jul 2015 00:12:22 +0000 08056180011 I got the inspiration for this col­umn during a visit to a ‘remote’ part of Lagos, upper weekend. I chose the word ‘remote’ because even though the area is inside mainland Lagos, the roads are so dilapidated that no matter how ‘big’ and ‘sophisticated’ you think you are, you need the ubiquitous okada [...]]]>


I got the inspiration for this col­umn during a visit to a ‘remote’ part of Lagos, upper weekend. I chose the word ‘remote’ because even though the area is inside mainland Lagos, the roads are so dilapidated that no matter how ‘big’ and ‘sophisticated’ you think you are, you need the ubiquitous okada operators, who are the undisputed kings in the area, to get to your des­tination.

To the residents of this area, the name ‘Fashola’ never conjured any magic, as I found out during the trip in question. They were unimpressed by Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, S.A.N., the immediate past gover­nor of Lagos, whom they, rightly or wrongly, believe only did roads that gave him the loudest applause from the elite.

Let’s leave that for another day. Let’s go back to the okadaman that almost broke my back by driving like a demon recently released from the hottest part of hell. To avoid be­ing bedridden or spending the rest of my life in a wheel chair, I decided to engage my ‘driver’ in a conversa­tion, hoping that it would slow him down.

It worked like magic. He reduced his speed as I kick-started the en­gagement by asking him, which part of Nigeria he came from. He sold me a dummy: “Kano,” he said automati­cally.

‘Kano?’ I retorted.

“Yes,” he said spontaneously, again, arousing my suspicion that he was far from the truth.

‘But your face looks like Ibrahim’s, who used to sell water in my former area. He came from Maradi in Niger Republic,’ I told him point blank.

“Where was he working?” he asked me, confidently.

‘Iju-ishaga’, I lied.

“I used to sell water in Ilaje (in Bari­ga area of Lagos),” he replied, as the ride turned turbulent. He suddenly ran into a crater and I was almost flying off his back. My heart jumped to my mouth. I could feel the violent thumbing of my heart as I grabbed him for stability. But he managed to halt the imminent crash.

‘So, why did you stop selling wa­ter?’ I resumed my enquiry when the ride became stable.

“There is no money in mairuwa (Hausa word for water sellers),” he said, releasing what I thought was a parody of a laughter. “So, I went home to look for money to start this okada business. I have been doing this for about a year now. The busi­ness is good.”

‘Where did you come from? Are you from Niger Republic?’ I drew him back to my starting point because I was convinced he was lying.

“Benghazi,” he said firmly, not smiling. “I’m from Benghazi in Libya.”

Libya? A country devastated by a messy war? A hub of the so-called Islamic State in North Africa? An alarm sounded in my brain.

‘Benghazi?’ I asked to ensure I heard him right.

“Yes, Benghazi” he said, firmly still.

‘But you are Black. You are even darker than me.’

Still, he didn’t laugh. My surprise had either died or bounced off him like a bug on the windscreen of a speeding car.

“So, they told you there are no black men in Libya?”

I was slightly ashamed of myself. I felt slightly diminished that it took this ‘bloody illiterate’ to remind me that there are blacks in Libya.

‘Of course, I know there are blacks in Libya,’ I fired back, exhibiting a false sense of superiority and self-importance. ‘How many of your countrymen do okada business in this area?’ I continued my interrogation, as he made a right turn that would lead to my final destination.

“I don’t have the figure. I’m not an immigration officer.”

I almost got angry by the impu­dence of this arrogant okadaman. But I kept calm since, as they say, if you want to catch a monkey, you must behave like one. So, I swallowed my pride, again, and continued the con­versation…

‘But you are many here,’ I said seri­ously.

“I told you I don’t work in immi­gration. But if you insist, some of my countrymen do okada business here.”

The truth hit me like someone had poured a bucket of freezing water on me as the wife of my host confirmed what the okadaman from Benghazi had told me. Her husband expressed serious concerns about the spiraling population of “alien okadamen” in the area.

“I think we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder in Lagos,” my host said sadly. “There are too many Niger­iens and Libyans doing okada and mairuwa businesses in this area. Al­though there hasn’t been any ugly development yet, I think the police and the intelligence people need to investigate this disturbing develop­ment. They need to act fast because there is always a bad day. One day, something may snap, and before you know it, the whole place is on fire. God forbid.”

I concurred, and added: ‘Before God can forbid, man has to forbid first.’ I said this because terrorism has become a global phenomenon. It knows no border again. It is no lon­ger native to any particular region. It is everywhere. And governments that love their countries and peoples do not wait for something to happen before taking action. They are pro-ac­tive. Therefore, Lagos State, indeed, Nigeria, cannot afford to sleep with the alarming rate these foreigners are invading the land. Those entering this country must be properly scrutinized to ensure we are not tying bombs to our wrapper.

Terror came to Nigeria in 2002 when Mohammed Yusuf midwifed Boko Haram as a religious sect in Yobe State. Since then, everything has been ill at ease with Nigeria in terms of homeland security. Since then, over 15,000 people, mostly ci­vilians, have been killed, and some three million have been reportedly displaced. And each time the insur­gents strike, the media is usually awash with reasons why the group seems to be unstoppable, proffering what should be done to stop its ad­vance.

Although there is a slight change in strategy in tackling the Boko Haram menace, as the then presidential can­didate, Muhammadu Buhari, prom­ised during his campaign, a lot still needs to be done. This is because, rather than slowing down, the insur­gents seem to be getting more fero­cious by the day. For instance, over 500 people are reported to have died from terror attacks since Buhari took power on May 29. Whatever change in strategy that the new government may have adopted, it has not shown any remarkable difference in the se­curity situation in the country. Rather, there has been a sudden surge in ter­rorism related violence since its inau­guration. Almost two months after, there are no indications that Boko Haram would be wiped out of Nige­ria any time soon.

Yet, it would be unfair to judge President Buhari based on the recent ravages of Boko Haram. Indeed, it would be unreasonable to start marking him with some back-of-the-envelope statistics; just as it would be incongruous to put the blame at the doorstep of America. In apprais­ing the situation, some compatriots had blamed the United States for the slowing progress in the war against the insurgents. They cited that coun­try’s refusal to sell weapons to Nige­ria on account of a recently enacted law that forbids America from selling arms and ammunition to countries with records of human rights viola­tions.

Recall that early June, Amnesty In­ternational, the global human rights watchdog, released a scathing report which indicted the top brass of the Ni­gerian Military of serious war crimes and possible crimes against human­ity. In the report, Amnesty alleged that the Nigerian Military committed “horrific war crimes”, including the gruesome “murder of 8,000 people, who were allegedly starved, suffo­cated, and tortured to death”. Based on these, the body urged the new Buhari Administration “to ensure the protection of civilians and bring to an end the culture of impunity within the Nigerian armed forces.”

Femi Adesina, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, was in his elements Thursday night as he fielded questions from BBC’s Focus on Africa, on what President Buhari told President Barack Obama during his just-concluded visit to Washington. Asked if Buhari was disappointed by America’s ‘arms embargo’ against Nigeria on account of the alleged human rights viola­tions, Adesina said the President had expected America to support Nigeria with arms to stamp out the Boko Ha­ram menace. The interviewer pressed further, wondering why Nigeria was insistent on American arms, when it could easily snub Washington and go elsewhere. Adesina retorted that as Nigeria’s Number 1 Ally, the coun­try had not committed any crime by scampering to the United States for arms.

That’s absolutely correct. But con­sidering the current contest between America and China in the scramble for Africa, one cannot but wonder why Nigeria can’t ignore bragging America and jump into the warm em­brace of Africa’s newest big brother, China, for help? But for Russia’s despicable mission in Ukraine, one would have dared to ask: why not Russia?

Anyway, and beyond arms, we need to go back to where we started. I mean the cliché on the need to address the fundamental issues that make ter­rorism and blood-mongering terror gangs attractive to our youth. Presi­dent Barack Obama was on point on Friday, the first day of his visit to Ke­nya, his fatherland, when he said that beyond the “twisted ideologies’ that becloud the sense of judgement of youth who find terror groups attrac­tive, the world must not shift its focus from the oft-talked about issues that magnetize them to the devil’s alterna­tive. Nigeria needs to grab that ad­vice, and if possible turn it to a creed. Like their counterparts in North Af­rica and the Middle East, joblessness, inequality, official corruption, bad governance and primitive acquisition by elected officials have conspired against the youth, the critical mass of our population, in achieving their potentials. They go to school, acquire good degrees, and years after na­tional service, most of them are still collecting ‘pocket money’ from their parents. And that is those whose par­ents can afford it. The less privileged among them roam the streets, from sun rise to sunset, scrounging for sur­vival. Yet, they are very much aware that their country is blessed enough to give them a good future. Yet, they know quite well that they are entitled to live well like their friends in better-governed countries on the continent and in the West.

It is these frustrations that terror groups are capitalizing on. Apart from the growing exploitation of technology, especially the internet, which has given terrorists a far and wide reach, bad leadership, across board, has fueled the capability and capacity of the merchants of death in enlisting the youth for their terror campaigns.

To stop this trend in our current war against Boko Haram, the President must stop at nothing in stamping out corruption, irresponsible behaviours by civil servants, and elected or ap­pointed officials, delivering account­able governance that will ultimately herald the real change that he prom­ised Nigerians. His government must tackle the issue of unemployment headlong. It must create jobs. It must bring out and boost the entrepreneur­ial spirit of our youth by locating their areas of core competence and inter­est, and providing revolving loans for them to start their own businesses. The government must convince the youth, in pragmatic terms, that it is deeply interested in their future.

Lastly, and as Nigeria continues the war against insurgency, we must not foreclose the possibilities for dia­logue and negotiation. Fortunately, the President is positively disposed towards this.

He said so in his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, dur­ing the week. He must, therefore, identify which of the Boko Haram’s hybrids he needs to talk to, and then initiate the process of negotiation. It is not too much a sacrifice to make to stop this mindless blood-letting.


]]> 0