Aisha Buhari and The Cartier Affair

Aisha Buhari
Wife of the President of Nigeria

  

The news have been making the rounds about the wrist watch worn by the first lady at the Swearing-in ceremony of the president of Nigeria – Muhammadu Buhari.

Many have tagged the piece of jewel as extravagant and a demonstration of ostentatious lifestyle of the Wife of the president and the president’s family. To them, this is a clear misinformation from the ‘common and poor president’ they voted into office.

However, there have been claims and counterclaim about the value of the Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-Carat White Gold Diamond Watch that was donned by the first lady. In the interest of responsible journalism, I will try to establish the true value of the wrist watch. I first read about the wristwatch on Jide-salu.com which confirmed that the value of the wristwatch is £34,500. However, on Tuesday several websites claimed the wristwatch is merely $129. If you ask me, there is a huge gulf between the two.

From my own findings (Thank God we can all find and buy whatever we want on the internet), This Cartier Wristwatch is sold by some jewelers as high as $50,500.00 (N11,110,000 approx.). The watch gallery also listed the watch for £34,500 (N10, 500,000)cartierawiss cartier

However, those claiming the watch go for a paltry $129 must have got there information on kowatches.co. Well, Kowatches is a leading seller of replica jewelries. If you can not afford the real deal, settle for the cheap deal.cartierko relica information on the website

Any one that intends to buy a rhodiumized 18K white gold watch  with brilliant-cut diamonds, and transparent sapphire crystal back at N23,000 ($129) must be living in fantasy.

I do not think there is a question about the value of the watch but my bone of contention which I know I will get sticks for is – Yes, she’s wearing a N10.5Million wristwatch on her husband’s most important day and so what?

I think the choice and taste of jewelries has nothing to do with the pro masses sentiment. In as much as there is no allegation that the acquisition of such is through corruption or mismanagement of public funds. If you work hard, and you treat yourself to something good it has no bearing on your sentiment for the public.

Aisha Buhari is not the president of Nigeria and we did not vote her. As long as it is not public wealth that is used in an unscrupulous way. There is nothing wrong.

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Chibok Girls: The Unaddressed Letter

chbk
My Dear Sisters,

It has been 365 days of mystery, repugnance, ineptitude and irresponsibility. We betrayed you as Nigerians-We shouted for a while and stopped; some doubted that you were kidnapped but what is more disappointing is that we can not offer any excuse other than greed, politics and incompetence on why your whereabouts are still unknown.

It is unfortunate that we have not been able to offer your parents closure as days fade away staring into desolate nights and gloomy days. Though I do not know anyone of you in person but you are my sisters and fellow compatriots. I feel awful that we are not at any point close resolution.

I still wonder where could you be. Why is it this difficult to just point in a direction? I am sure you have a million and one questions on why our leaders have failed you for so long but we are astoundingly dulled to a state of stupefaction inspite of the fact that the whole world did what they could to support those at the helms of affairs to bring you back in earnest from the claws of savages and primitive captors.
We will keep you in our hearts and we will keep hope and faith until the light guides you home from the agonizing trepidation and unending darkness. ….and this time we won’t lose you again.
Just remember the victory of evil over good shall only be TEMPORAL.
Stay alive because we never mourned you – We never will!
Your Helpless Brother,
Me

Presidential Election 2015: As the dust settles… [Part One]

GEJ: Honour in Defeat

Jonathan GoodluckI worked as an INEC adhoc staff in 2011 election, I make bold to say that for me it is still the freest election that has taken place in Nigeria.

While the victory in this election might have been resounding for All Progessive Congress [APC] and General Buhari in this presidential election, as Nigerians expressed their feelings through democratic process.

Let us  quickly differentiate  between this election and  that of 2011 as the circumstance around them dictates.

In 2011, President  Jonathan represented a lot of positive things: A young president, with an impressive academic CV, from a largely under-represented region. Also, his meteoric rise in political life is too phenomenal not be seen as an ideal candidate. You can say he has the Halo effect and the stage was perfectly set for him to be elected as the president of the 7th republic after two years as a vice president  and 2 years as an acting president. In my opinion, to stage a rightful claim to the office of the president of Nigeria, anything short of free and fair election will give create tension.

Fast forward to 2015, President Jonathan has been distant from the qualities and potentials seen in him 6-7 years ago. Surrounded by sycophants who make him suffer delusion of grandeur suggesting he is a messiah, ferrying cash on private Jets to purchase arms, Mismanagement of state resources on a grand scale without culpability, inexplicable mis-handling of the state of insecurity, misguided and reckless utterances of the President and unacceptable public abuse of unrecognized power by the first lady (especially in Rivers state) and many acts unworthy of recounting. While some of these have not been directly tied to President Jonathan, the fact that he surrounds himself with unscrupulous characters speaks volume of his incompetence to square up to forces behind the scene  working against the prosperity of Nigeria as a nation.

The election earlier slated for 14th of February was delayed by 6 weeks to wrestle back the controlled areas from Boko Haram that have been abandoned before now in search of sophisticated weapons to combat them. I personally find this excuse flimsy and I choose to believe this is due to the handwritings on the wall that the election will not return him to the office on 29th of May if it goes as initially slated.

Attempts to salvage the election eventually proved abortive. Thank God it was largely violence free, but it was not without theatrics that could have caused ripples.

President Jonathan congratulated General Buhari  even before INEC announced the winner with just Borno state only to be announced and it was mathematically impossible to stage a comeback. The show of sportsmanship  has been praised both  locally and internationally but it is not enough to say the president has a large heart but his ability at the moment in time to put Nigeria ahead of any personal gain or advantage even before his sycophants starts drumming up beats of discord and tunes that can heat up the polity of Nigeria.

With that done, I make bold to say the most (and probably the only) enduring legacy that will be left by GEJ is the conduct of a free and fair election in his own right not once but twice and the humility to know when to concede. This is will be foreign to a lot of African leaders and in annals of history, this is a moment of grace could actually mitigate the degree of incompetence that has characterized his tenure. I hope this set the standard not just for Nigeria leaders but African leaders that it is a call to service, when the people look the other way you could still hold your head high.

No ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian – President Goodluck Jonathan said this and he stood by it.

All Progressive Congress: Finally an institutionalized Party

apc_partyThe party of the moment is APC with or without victory in the presidential election the party has redefined what opposition is in Nigeria and broke the hegemony of Peoples Democratic Party for close to two decades.

Although the being of the party is largely owed to steady and organic growth of All Progressive Congress in the southwest, and decision of  CPC and ACN to agree on the primary objective to break the PDP hegemony. This has helped institutionalized a strong opposition.

However the popularity too benefit a lot from the failings of President Goodluck Jonathan and implosion of PDP. With Nigerians tired of ineptitude in rule, undisguised corruption, and unbridled abuse of power, the bar for a failing government in Nigeria was set at an all-time low since the start of the fourth republic.

It was going to be now or never for any opposition. I have mentioned in my previous discourse that the survival of APC will largely depend or their victory at the presidential polls. If that was not the case, the party would probably have returned back to its regional domination and never attain the nationalist status as even the party faithful do not believe the cross country support could stand the test of time if it fails to secure the presidency against a very weak government.

WE ARE THE ENEMY TO OURSELVES

WE ARE THE ENEMY TO OURSELVES!!!!

Image

It is pathetic how majority of nigerians make joke of everything…..small time we will blame GEJ for inaction, ineptitude and insensitivity but these 3 are deep reflections of what happens deep within most of nigerians….‘if it has not concerned me directly it is not my business’.

In an ideal world, i had expect without delay the prosecution of Dana Air for corporate liability and the culpability of ranking government officials in the aviation industry [rather than having the aviation minister shedding crocodile tears on TV]. 2 aircraft crashes in 2 days is unacceptable! I dont expect a stupid house committee hearing let’s leave this to court to judge culpability of the air carriers.

It still goes without saying that, GEJ and the people surrounding him are bunch of hopeless/cluless lots. All this increasing connundrums none had been solved. From realistic point of view
he has done more damage in measure of his good [if any].

I dont know if it is just me, there seem to be more bloodshed in this guy’s tenure than any democractic govt in nigeria…..pls dont tell me it is the work of his detractors

Compensation nor 3 days mourning makes up for the demise and teeth gnashing brought by this horrible incidents.

ImageImageWE ARE THE ENEMY TO OURSELVES!!!!
The culprits
1. people – see the occurrence as funny but it is not, for any right thinking individual. Also those that kept saying only the rich fly, if you don’t your child will.
2. Air Operators – to maximize profit take unfathomable risks, jeopardizing the lives of hundreds and putting nigerians through swords
3. Government – i dont know where to start with them, they have evil written all over them, for cutbacks they have failed to regulate the industry and this is what we get.

My heart goes to those that lost their loved ones in this avoidable inadvertent carnage caused by all of us! God will grant them fortitude to bear the loss.Image

I am sorry.

Woe Betide Criminal Justice System of Nigeria :Ibori – Lessons to learn

Woe Betide Criminal Justice system of Nigeria : Lessons to learn

James Ibori: Convict abroad, Statesman at home Bradesh(solicitor) and Theresa (Ibori's wife)

I will start again today by reiterating the words I have often quote:

“A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten. ” – John F. Kennedy

When I woke up on the 18th of April on the comfort of my bed all I could think of was how to plan my day and live a crime-free and unhindered day as I wish. I am sure you did the same if you were not reading this from Scotland Yard or someplace of that sort. That aside, what caught my attention on the said day was the sentencing of James Onanefe Ibori who was formerly a cashier for Wickes (a DIY store in UK) before becoming a two term Governor of Oil-rich Delta state and a presidential aspirant.

If my memory serves me right, while I was in the university studying my bachelors law degree (about Seven years ago), we  were examining  the initial trial of James Onanefe Ibori who was convicted in 1995 for Criminal breach of trust but contested and won the election to become a governor. The position of the constitution was almost beyond clarity on this:

on section 182 (1) (e) of the 1999 constitution which provides:  No person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a state if within a period of less than ten years before the date of election to the office of Governor of a state, he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of the contravention of the code of conduct.

Quare 1: should he have scaled through screening to stand for the election in the first place without this cropping up?

On the verge of his re-election, some contestants for the Guber seat of Delta state, Messrs Godnews Agbi and Anthony Alabi challenged  his  eligibility to stand in election and seek to disqualify him from the election. No thanks to the immunity clause, Ibori was not answerable to the court and instead PDP were the defendants who argued that it was not ibori that was convicted but his name was put on the record of another [one Shuaibu Anyebe].

Ibori sworn an affidavit that he has never been convicted in his life. This is a man that has been convicted in the UK for 2 different offences:

  1. In 1991, while he was a cashier at Wickes, he let his wife through the checkout without paying for the goods she picked in store, He was convicted and fined.
  2. He was found in possession of a stolen credit card spent to the tune of  1,000 pounds a year later. He was convicted and fined again.

Still, he was never convicted!

The trial court in a bizarre decision which (still) runs contrary to common sense stated that Ibori’s name was the one on the court case. Though the court agreed that he was sentenced but in the interest of justice could not confirm that he was convicted!

As naïve as law student I was then, I could not put my head around the judgement till today.

Quare 2: can there ever be a sentencing without a conviction? My humble submission which stands to be corrected is that, a sentencing follows a conviction, there can’t be a sentencing without conviction but we can have a conviction without sentencing. – Opinions are welcome at comment box.

On Appeal, the court of appeal held that On James Onanefe Ibori was convicted and sentenced but ordered retrial for ascertainment of identity. Ibori hastily approached the Supreme Court led by Hon. Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais (CJN rtd). There, a full court of seven justices of the Supreme Court including the Chief Justice of the Federation heard the case and affirmed on February 6, 2004 that a James Onanefe Ibori was convicted.

But the apex court said that evidences were not led at the trial court on the identity of the James Onanefe Ibori that was convicted. The verdict of the Supreme Court on the genuity of the conviction came exactly one year, three days after the case was initiated at the Gwagwalada high court, Abuja. The apex court, in its judgment, however ordered retrial in the case, as earlier did by the court of appeal on April 16, 2003, with a view to identifying whether the James Onanefe Ibori that was held convicted is the same Chief James Onanefe Ibori serving as Governor of Delta state. – What a waste of time!

On retrial, Justice Awwal Yusuf [the earlier judge that convicted James Ibori] testified that it was the same Ibori he convicted 9 years ago was the same in the government house. In Ibori’s defence, he called witnesses who testified that the trial judge was a pathological liar. Police Final Report indicted Governor Ibori. The Abuja high court dismissed the case against Ibori, saying he was not sufficiently identified.

The above is to show how notorious Ibori has been as far as corruption is concerned. He reeks of it. But who is to be blamed more? I say our Criminal justice system. How can we not have a good record of our convicts? If the National population census is impossible – I don’t think this should be as difficult.

Now to the substance of the discourse, after Ibori’s tenure, the EFCC hounded him. No thanks to the devil’s advocate – the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mike Andoaaka who vehemently stood in the way of the commission and badgered it till Ibori walked unhindered in Nigeria for misappropriation of well above fifty-billion naira [#50,000,000,000]. Andoakaa really took the case personal and his interest was called to question.

Unfortunately, Money Laudering is an offence with dual effect – sometimes its place of commission can be either the place the money-worth was taken or where it was spent. Let me define it in the shortest term possible:

Money laundering is a process of concealing the source of legally and illegally and grey area obtained monies.

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The UK government convicted Ibori along with some members of his family – he pocketed £50million which he splashed on a life of luxury including:

  • his own private jet costing him £12.6million
  • Ibori’s monthly credit card bills alone topped £125,000 (about 31 million naira monthly)
  • a portfolio of luxury houses
  • his kids attend one of the most prestigious and expensive boarding schools in the UK

Judge Anthony Pitt also put that the estimated graft is ludicrously low – probably when the confiscation proceeding starts there will be more to be found out.

 

In Godwin Josiah v. The State[1], Oputa JSC. (as he then was) said:

“Justice is not a one-way traffic. It is not justice for the appellant. Justice is not even a two-way traffic. It is really a three-way traffic – justice for the appellant accused …crime …; justice for the victim, and finally justice for the society at large whose social norms and values had been desecrated and broken by the criminal act complained of.”

There are huge and over-bearing pressures on the entire criminal justice system sector: from the police, the courts, prosecution, prisons to the civil society partners including the law.

As a cue from the Ibori episode, there are many problems associated with the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria some of these are:

  • Chronic delay in the trial of cases
  • Lack of effective coordination among the agencies of the criminal justice system; the police, prison, prosecution and the court.
  • Absence of clear and consistent sentencing guidelines
  • Growing number of awaiting trial inmates.
  • Poor Data management system – Which will be address in another article soon.
  • Corruption and crookedness of agents of justice

I will not bore you today with the nitty-gritty or extent of corruption in Nigeria criminal justice system as the essence of this article would have been over-flogged by then but the mind-opener should be the fact that Ibori stole in Nigeria, walks free in Nigeria where he impoverished the sons and daughter of Delta state on whose mandate he stole of state coffers and was made unanswerable by the AG federation of Nigeria as at then. Even when instructed to cooperate with the Metropolitan Police on their investigation, he refused. His arm-twisting of the law ignores the Maxim that:

Justice is not only what has been done not must be seen as been done.

Agents of Criminal Justice system

We have a lengthy list of agents in criminal justice system, but I will only talk about a few in light of the Ibori’s case.

Attorney General

The AG is an agent in the Criminal Justice system and an important one at that which bothers on the fact that the people we select into federal/state cabinets should not be substantially on party affiliations. More often than not in a developing society where human rights and democracy are aging through struggle, the best of attorney will take sticks and might be unpopular for the period, the fact is that is one of the catalyst of effective administration of justice – But when the attorney-general starts judging falsehood in open market then the precept of justice cannot be presented on a strong pedestal.

It is not erroneous that the coordinator and the custodian of criminal justice administration is the Attorney General, as I remember the provison of Section 174 of the 1999 constitution [note: the section might have changed as amended]:

In exercising his powers under this section, the Attorney-General of the Federation shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.

The then AG ran afoul of all the prescription above, little wonder that he was infamously evicted from government.

The Police

Describing the present state of institution will not be my duty today; it is an assignment for you – if you can be bothered. But while the Ibori trial II [about identity] was on, he was enlisted as one of his witnesses, the then Inspector general of police, Tafa Balogun. One of the dailies reported that, Mr Tafa Balogun was to give evidence in favour of Ibori after he had allegedly prepared an interim police report exculpating him. Balogun was reported to have allegedly collected heavy money from Governor Ibori to do the report. The deal reportedly leaked and the Presidency was said to have invited Tafa to Aso Rock where he was threatened with public disgrace, prosecution and dismissal. – I guess the threat was carried out, we all know how Tafa’s episode ended.

The police is expected to carry out unhindered/thorough investigation on accused persons and keep proper record of them for future references. Documents in the criminal justice system must match and not capriciously expunged. – I wonder when last police updated their mugshot record, if there is any!

When the police carry out comprehensive investigation, it reduces the burden of the prosecutor and the risk of convicting an innocent man. Let’s take a cue from Ibori’s waterloo in UK, he pleaded guilty when all the facts lay bare before him. That is a system that works – no bullshitting!  – That guilty plea was what earned him 13 years in Scotland yard which might have been lengthier had he not pleaded so.

The Judge

A Judge exists to determine disputes and to examine with due care all matters before him, in his pursuit of justice. He is there not to trap any party or to set in motion what the parties have not brought before him. He is not the grand inquisitor envisaged by Dostoyevsky in his brother Karamazor. He is a judge governed by rules. At times, the judge is erroneously referred to as the court, the justification for this is that the judge is the Alpha and Omega of his temple, which the temple of justice. The judges are not to descend into the arena of conflict so the temple of justice is not smeared with the dirt and mire involved in fact finding.

A judge should not show any indignation that it does not want to see through justice, he is not to descend in to the area of conflict but he is not also meant to sit and fold his arms and watch injustice pervade his courtroom. It might be a long debate but I hold to the view that a judge will be per incuriam to say a sentencing can be in place without conviction, I think it can only be the other way round. It is a good thing that the appellate courts in quick succession ruled that there were both conviction and sentencing, it cannot be ignored that the initial decision of the court is least expected of a law student let alone a serving judge  of the high court of Nigeria. – the only benefit of doubt I offer was that the judgement reeks of lazy attitude of some Judges in the country today who cannot be bothered when fat and sacred cows are brought to their court for slaughter.

COUNSEL

Oguntade J.C.A passage in Gomwalk v. Military Administrator of Plateau State[2] is quite succinct:

Counsels are officers of the court and the court should at all times be able to count on their support in the quest to attain Justice in litigation. He owes a duty not only to his client but also to the court. If he files an action in a court as soon as he finds out that the action is baseless, the only honourable thing to do is to withdraw that action. If he has appealed and then finds that there is no merit in the appeal and that it serves no useful purpose to pursue the appeal, he should also withdraw the appeal. It is not the duties of counsel to send the court on a wide goose chase which is of no benefit to the litigants concerned and which does not serve any useful purpose.

Yes, lawyers must eat not withstanding their allegiance to court is to aid effective administration of justice, unnecessary delays – called delay tactics should no longer be encourage as it in effects does negate justice.

The worthy justice is a justice in time.

In Ibori’s case, before the issue of identity was dispensed with by the high court in 2004, he had been re-elected and which even if the judgement had gone against him would have left a gap in government which is one of the things we are experience today. Instance is the election tribunal, where states have varying election years owing to the longevity in the dispensation of justice. I still hang the bulk of this blame on the counsel. I was in the high court one day in Nigeria two years ago, it was 2 weeks before the end of the legal year, a counsel declined a cross examination on the excuse that his health has sapped in the course of the day! All efforts by the sitting judge to get him to say exactly what was wrong with him were abortive which further led to the cross examination of the last witness to the next legal year. This was just an instance of many pranks played on the court by counsel. I can only assume that, if the cost of litigation is borne by counsel and clients alike, stalling will be a terrible option for counsel.

At this juncture, I wish to drop my pen which will not stop bleeding unless I stop it on the note that when outsiders fight out battle for you it comes as a cost. For the lazy ones, it might be the item to rejoice and merry. But for those I call statesmen/comrades, it is the time to brood and cover our faces in shame that we have been disappointed by the system that fails to work, defrauded by those at helms of affairs who cannot be bothered by the obvious and conspicuous truth, partly owing to their chauvinism and culpabilities. They are all guilty without charge. We should take a cue from the administration of justice in UK in this light, where Ibori has been convicted 3 times and none in Nigeria in the letters of law.

Benjamin Franklin said:

‘Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are’

My questions are: Are you affected? Are you outraged?

I think not.


[1]

[2] [1998]7 NWLR (pt. 558)

CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA AND FEASIBLE PANACEA

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

By Afuye Akinyemi

Every basic need in our country and society has assumed or risen to a point of crisis. Is it electricity, water, food supply, healthcare, roads? You be the judge! Every politician who comes to power will promise to solve these problems. They turn out to be empty promises. Our leaders, for these many years, have taken us for a ride to the cleaners, and they have done a damn good job. It is long overdue for us, the citizens, to shine the light of truth on them. The only weapons we have to fight this war are our PENS and VOICES. The drumbeat is getting louder and louder. We have to expose these thieves for what they are before they sell the country, and all of us, to the highest bidder. We have to hold their feet to the fire and demand transparency and accountability from them. We cannot continue to fold our hands and close our eyes and allow them to lead us to our graves. It is not going to be business as usual. When you campaign and ask us to make you a custodian of our national wealth and resources, you are asking for a contract to execute your promises honestly and faithfully. When you breach that Solemn Trust, do not try to run from the long arm of justice. You can run but you cannot hide. Know that your time is up!

The EFCC should know that all eyes are on them to do the right thing, and that is to mete out justice accordingly without fear or favor no matter where the axe falls. If EFCC should muddle things up this time, it will send a resounding wrong message to generations to come, and the result will be very destructive for the whole country. It is indisputable that bribery and corruption has permeated our society in Nigeria. A corrupt leader will breed a corrupt society. If we, as a people, are very serious about fighting this sickness in our society, we should be ready to apply both the right type of medication and the correct amount of dosage to it. We should not only be reactive, we should be proactive too. This fight will involve the participation of all Nigerians. I am therefore suggesting to the Federal government, the States government and all Nigerians to do the following:

1. Embark on all out campaign to fight bribery and corruption in all places in the country. Use the slogan “DON’T GIVE AND DON’T TAKE BRIBES” or simply say “NO TO BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION.” Announce these slogans on TVS, RADIOS, INTERNETS, NEWSPAPERS etc. Print and paste the slogans in the Offices, Highways, Billboards, Hospitals, Universities, Buses, Cars, and many public places. Also, involve Diplomats and foreign companies operating in Nigeria, in this campaign.

2. Take very good care of our leaders and politicians by compensating and paying them generously for their services to our country. I hope that this will dissuade them from embezzling our money.

3. To in-corporate into our legal system a minimum amount of money anybody will embezzle,misappropriate, or loot from the government coffer and that individual, after conviction, that not only will refund the loots, but will also face the penalty of death by hanging. I will suggest ONE MILLION NAIRA conviction will result in a total ban of such an individual from participating in any politics or holding any civil service position in our country. While anybody convicted of looting more than ONE BILLION NAIRA will face a firing squad.

4. All our leaders and politicians, including the President, VP, all Governors and Administrators, who are responsible for disbursing or appropriating public funds, must not only declare their assets before they assume their offices, but will make such a declaration every year they continue to serve the public.

5. In order to avoid conflict of interests in performing their duty, all of our Crime Watchdogs, like EFCC and ICPC should operate independently of any Political Party. They should enforce the laws in the book without fear or favor.

6. All major contracts and financial transactions should be made public records and open to a serious debt that will involve the participation of our experts and opposition parties in the field before approval. All major contracts must be completed in a given period, supervised and audited scrupulously too. This will help to ensure transparency and accountability in the system.

Fellow Nigerians, I personally believe that if we implement the above recommendations, we should be on the right course to solving our worst problems in our country. Only the right people with good conscience, who have the interests of our country and citizens on their minds, will serve Nigeria.

LONG LIVE NIGERIA

 

With the rapid advancement in Information Technology (IT), the present generation of Corrupt Nigerian leaders and politicians should know that they are now dealing with new breed of educated, well-informed and more sophisticated citizens, both overseas and in Nigeria. The citizens know their rights and are ready to play a hard ball if you continue to mess with them.

In the recent past, Information Technology was not quite as advanced as it is today. There were few Newspapers in circulation to report the events of the day. Only those fortunate Nigerians who lived in the metropolitan cities had access to daily Newspapers. Those in the villages counted themselves very fortunate when they received old Newspapers from friends or relatives who came to visit home from the metropolitan cities. Even though the news was belated and staled, they still cherished them because they were still news to them. In those days, radios and televisions were unthinkable in the villages. People used to cluster around the house of an influential chief or petty trader who had a battery operated radio, with an antenna hoisted on a bamboo pole almost as tall as Empire State building in New York. Nigeria was not quite as rich as it is today. Agricultural products like cocoa, palm oil and kernel, kola nuts, groundnuts and rubber constituted about four-fifth of our exports and foreign-exchange earnings. Foodstuff was more than adequate for everybody. Those were the good old days!

Politicians, local chiefs and leaders played thin gods. Most of them were corrupt, and bribery was still in practice. During the campaign season in this epoch, the politicians would knife their way, on either horseback or bicycles to reach the market squares and promise poor villagers good roads, pipe-borne water, electricity and whatever, to earn their votes for the various offices they wanted to occupy. These were empty promises. Next campaign seasons, they would show their ugly faces again to deceive the poor villagers (our parents and loved ones) with more empty promises to win their votes again. Sadly, these thieves were re-elected to second, third and fourth terms to serve the same people they were milking like a cow. The poor villagers did not know better. They did not know their rights; they never demanded for it. They were not educated and sophisticated; and the politicians intimated them with bribes.

Although Nigeria’s resources and wealth was not as buoyant as it is today, our leaders and the politicians looted them and enriched themselves to the detriment of the poor and illiterate citizens they were supposed to serve and protect. The politicians had big houses, big cars and businesses. Nobody ever demanded for accountability and transparency from them. They could get away with murder. Only their children and relatives had the opportunities to go overseas to study with hopes to come back to continue the legacy or perpetuate the atrocities started by their fathers.

With the era of oil discovery in Nigeria, in the 1970s and 1980s, petroleum overtook agricultural products as the source of government revenues for the country. Then came a new generation of politicians and leaders with misplaced priorities for the country and the citizens they swore to govern. These present breed of politicians and leaders are ruthless, heartless, greedy, callous and not smart. They raid the nation’s wealth with impunity. They abuse their offices with such recklessness that they will even question and challenge the existence of God. I say the modern day politician is not smart because, more often than not, he or she still think that the citizens are our uneducated and unsophisticated parents and citizens of the sixties. It should be put to them that with the improvement in Information Technology ( Internet, TVS, Radios, Newsprints etc), they are now dealing with a new generation of educated and more sophisticated Nigerians (both overseas and in Nigeria) who not only know their rights, but are ready to play hard ball if you mess with them. Now the citizens have more avenues to express their opinions. They are going to demand transparency and accountability from their leaders and politicians too.

Our leaders do not like educated and bright minds. Has anybody ever wondered why our Universities and other institutions of learning have been much neglected, ill equipped, and under-funded by our leaders? Nigeria ceased to offer scholarships to study abroad to our bright minds, I believe, since the early 90s. I am not quite sure about the domestic scholarships. Could it be because Nigeria does not generate enough wealth to fund our institutions of higher learning and award scholarships to our smart sons and daughters? However, there is sufficient fund for them to embezzle and enrich themselves to the tune of billions of dollars. No! Our leaders will rather dumb our minds and render our children and us impotent so that they will not face challenges from the educated and bright minds. The educated and well-informed generation will pose a threat to their corrupt leadership and might even displace them from their god’s anointed positions of leadership.

When our leaders and politicians travel to other developed countries like the USA, England, Japan, Switzerland etc, they enjoy 24/7 electricity and water supply, good network of roads, efficient healthcare system, and banking facilities where they can lodge their loots. I wonder what they think when they come back from those trips and compare their experiences with what they see in the country they govern. Could it be that Nigeria cannot afford to build good roads? No! Could it be that Nigeria cannot afford to build plants that will ensure 24/7 electricity and water supply with little or no disruptions? No! I can only make a smart presumption. Under their administrations, they approve substandard works, purchase inferior equipments, and continue to award contracts to their surrogates to repeat the same job they have not properly executed the previous years, thereby creating an avenue or lope holes to justify stealing our money. I challenge you to look at our Federal and State budgets every year to provide these amenities.

Corruption in Nigeria by Afuye Akinyemi

Political corruption is not a recent phenomenon that pervades the Nigerian state. Since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of resources for personal enrichment.

Corruption in Nigeria

Afuye Akinyemi

The rise of public administration and the discovery of oil and natural gas are two major events seen to have led to a litany of ignoble corrupt practices in the country. Over the years, the country has seen its wealth withered with little to show in living conditions of the average human being. A Nigerian political leader, Obafemi Awolowo raised a salient issue when he said, since independence, our governments have been a matter of few holding the cow for the strongest and most cunning to milk, Under those circumstances everybody runs over everybody to make good at the expense of others.

The pervasive corruption has been blamed on colonialism. According to this view, the nation’s colonial history may have restricted any early influence in an ethical revolution. Throughout the colonial period, most Nigerians were stuck in ignorance and poverty. The trappings of flash cars, houses and success of the colonists may influence the poor to see the colonist as symbols of success and to emulate the colonists in different political ways.

Involvement in the agenda of colonial rule may also inhibit idealism in the early stage of the nascent nation’s development. A view commonly held during the colonial days was that the colonists property (cars,houses,farms etc.) is not “our” property. Thus vandalism and looting of public property was not seen as a crime against society. This view is what has degenerated into the more recent disregard for public property and lack of public trust and concern for public goods as a collective national property.

Causes:
Petroleum in Nigeria
Some writers have posited about the different potential causes of flagrant and pecunious graft that exists in the country: many blame greed and ostentatious lifestyle as a potential root cause of corruption. To some, societies in love with ostentatious lifestyle may delve into corrupt practices to feed the lifestyle and also embrace a style of public sleaze and lack of decorum. The customs and attitudes of the society may also be a contributing factor. Gift giving as expressions of loyalty or tributes to traditional rulers may be fabrics of the society.

Also, a political environment that excludes favors towards elites or wealthy citizens may also be influenced by corruption. Wealthy elites may resort to sleaze in order to gain power and protect their interest. However, the bottom line surmised from the views of most Nigerians is that corruption is a problem that has to be rooted out. In Nigeria another major cause of corruption is ethnicity called tribalism in Nigeria. Friends and kinsmen seeking favor from officials may impose difficult strains on the ethical disposition of the official. Many kinsmen may see a government official as holding necessary avenues for their personal survival or gain.

The culmination of use of official resources for private gain may lead to further pressures on incoming officials from other kinsmen. However, the fact is, the importation of modern rules on inter-ethnic political relationships is a recent colonial and western initiative that may take time to become the norm, deep allegiance to other ethnic groups for administrative decisions early on was sometimes viewed suspiciously, and an early institutionalization of a unitary system in the country, may also have led to a further familiar groupings induced corruption. Nevertheless, a modern practical approach to leadership and relationships has gradually taken a prominent role in the political process. The necessity for practical inter-dependence and cooperation is at the forefront of yearnings for good governance in the country.

Past president of Nigeria

History and Cases

Pre-Independence and the First Republic

Corruption, though prevalent, was kept at manageable levels during the First Republic. However, the cases of corruption during the period were sometimes clouded by political infighting.

Azikiwe was the first major political figure investigated for questionable practices. In 1944, a firm belonging to Azikiwe and family bought a Bank in Lagos. The bank was procured to strengthen local control of the financial industry. Albeit, a report about transactions carried out by the bank showed though Azikiwe had resigned as chairman of the bank, the current chairman was an agent of his. The report wrote that most of the paid-up capital of the African Continental Bank were from the Eastern Regional Financial Corporation.
In western Nigeria, politician Adegoke Adelabu was investigated following charges of political corruption leveled against him by the opposition. The report led to demand for his resignation as district council head.
In the Northern region, against the backdrop of corruption allegations leveled against some native authority officials in Bornu. The Northern Government enacted the Customary Presents order to forestall any further breach of regulations. Later on, it was the British administration that was accused of corrupt practices in the results of elections which enthroned a Fulani political leadership in Kano, reports later linking the British authorities to electoral irregularities were discovered.
Gowon Administration

Corruption for the most part of Gowon’s administration was kept away from public view until 1975. However, some informed officials voiced concerns, Gowon critics labeled his governors as misguided individuals acting like lords overseeing their personal fiefdom. He was viewed as timid, in terms of being decisive against corrupt elements in his government.

In 1975, a corruption scandal surrounding the importation of cement engulfed his administration. Many officials of the defense ministry and the central bank of Nigeria were involved in the scandal. Officials were later accused of falsifying ship manifests and inflating the amount of cement to be purchased.
During the administration, two major individuals from the middle belt of the country were accused of corruption. The Nigeria government-controlled newspapers: the Daily Times and the New Nigerian gave great publicity to denunciations of the administration of Gomwalk, and Federal Commissioner Joseph Tarka by the two critics. A situation which may signal a cause for exigent action on corruption.
In 1975, the administration of Murtala Mohammed later went on and made reformist changes. After a coup putsch brought him into power, the government sacked a large number of government officials and civil servants, many of whom had been criticized for the misuse of power they wielded under the largely uneducated military of Gowon.

Shagari Administration

Corruption was deemed pervasive during the administration of Shagari.

A few federal buildings mysteriously went on fire after investigators started probe on the finances of the officials working in the buildings.
Late 1985, investigations into the collapse of the defunct Johnson Mathey Bank of London shed some light on some of the abuses carried on during the second republic. The bank acted as a conduit to transfer hard currency for some party members in Nigeria. A few leading officials and politicians had amassed large amounts of money. They sought to transfer the money out of the country with the help of Asian importers by issuing import licenses.
In 1981, a Rice shortage, led to accusations of corruption against the NPN government. The shortages and subsequent allegations were precipitated, by protectionism. After his election the Nigerian government decided to protect the local rice farmer from imported commodities. A licensing system was created to limit the amount of rice import. However, accusations of favoritism and government supported speculation was leveled against many officials.

Buhari Administration

In 1985, a cross section of political gladiators were convicted of different corrupt practices under the government of General Buhari. However, the administration itself was involved in a few instances of lapsed ethical judgment. It is on record that the General himself was on his way to removing a Nigerian colonel from the army before his exit from power, though the removal may signal a hard-line on corruption, it is a far cry from the 10-22 years of imprisonment, politicians under Shagari were sentenced to.
Babangida Administration

The regime of general Babangida is seen as the body that legalized corruption. His administration refused to give account of the gulf war windfall, which is estimated to be $12.4 billion. He rigged the only successful election in the history of Nigeria on June 12 1993 and lives in a very exquisite mansion in his home state (Niger-state) in the Northern part of the country.

Abacha Administration

The death of the general Sani Abacha revealed the global nature of graft. French investigations of bribes paid to government officials to ease the award of a gas plant construction in Nigeria revealed the global level of official graft in the country. The investigations led to the freezing of accounts containing about $100 million United States dollars.

In 2000, two years after his death, a Swiss banking commission report indicted Swiss banks for failing to follow compliance process in allowing family and friends of Abacha access to accounts and depositing amounts totaling $600 million US dollars into the accounts. The same year, a total of more than $1 billion US dollars were found in various accounts throughout Europe.
Public institutions perceived as corrupt

The following list contains the institutions perceived as the most corrupt. It is culled from the Nigeria Survey and Corruption Survey Study, Final Report (June 2010) Institute for Development Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (IDR, ABU Zaria)

Nigeria (as of 2010)
RatingInstitution
1Nigerian Police
2Political Parties
3National and State Assemblies
4Local and Municipal Governments
5Federal and State Executive Councils
6Traffic police and FRSC
7PHCN

Afuye Akinyemi, is law graduate and a part qualified Chartered insurer. His string point is politics and law.

Nigeria: GEJ and SUNDRY ISSUES: Part II

Welcome to the Heartbreak

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Sequel to the astronomical increase in the price of oil on the first day of this year, the reaction of Nigerians to this cruel policy of GEJ-led administration has been nothing short of commendation. The harmony and camaraderie shown by Nigerians is epic as it is the first time when Nigerians from all strata of the society unified in voice devoid of the usual cacophony with the tag occupy Nigeria.

OccupyNigeria was imperative at the moment and as it spread like wild fire within the spate of 2week throughout the world where Nigerians inhabit shows how crucial the pump price of PMS is o the living of every Nigerian. Protest took place in notable places like Washington, New York, London, Accra to mention few. While in Nigeria, protest was virtually in all states of the federation with Lagos protest at Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota being the convergence point since 9th January when the protest started.

With human right activists, artists, civil and labour organisations  and many Nigerians marching out en masse to show their grievance to the inconsiderate policy of GEJ and ill-advised members of cabinet. Their message was loud and clear for the world to see, even the cable news channels could but give it a significant coverage. On twitter, the trending words were #Subsidy #OccupyNigeria, #GEJ, #141. Every television channels in Nigeria was discussing the issue of subsidy removal.

People demonstrated religiously and for the very first time people asked questions about the subsidy like they have never done before. Although, the protests have been as peaceful as possible for protests of this popularity. Despite this, we cannot shy away of the side effect along the way, people shot and killed by the police. Deaths and injuries resulting from stampedes all this cannot be blamed on anything other than oil subsidy removal.

Everyday at Gani Fawehinmi Park since 9th Jan has beebn like this.

Questions like: is there subsidy? Who benefits from subsidy removal? What are the alternatives to subsidy removal? Whether or not the manner of the removal is constitutional? Why must it be removed now? Regardless of what your take is on subsidy questions and except for those that profit directly from oil, I think the consensus of opinion is that the removal of subsidy now is like a coup and it is unacceptable from the government at this time by 118%.  Forget the theory of economics, there is no place in the world this is rational in a country that more than 65% of her populace live under N250 per day and the minimum wage is N18,000 per month/N818 per day [equivalent to $144 per month/$6.50c per day], it appears like putting the camel through the needles eye in reality but the government is not seeing it from that common perspective. We keep hearing the need for economic transformation and prudence without the immediate welfare of Nigerians.

Let’s individualise the topic a bit: You want to help me to a better life on inflated promises that have become so monotonous to my ears over the years, and I say no thanks I will take my chances until there are something feasible you can show to prove your genius. Actions they say speak louder than voice.

“How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what is yours?” ― Malcolm X

When labour decides to take the front of this struggle, like many other Nigerians, I was concerned: as labour really won a landslide against the Government before? NO, partly because the cause has never been as well supported as this. In essence, labour  have not successfully negotiated the pump price back to status quo at any price hike.

Last week, the senate president called a meeting that was attended by Federal Government representatives, The NLC/TUC, Civil Organisations, The Governors’ forum. The labour representative was hosted by the Senate president in his lodge – what a good gesture!  The initial meeting was said to have ended in a deadlock on Saturday. But my take is why should we even have a negotiation in the first place? The crescendo is loud enough for even the deaf not to hear what the grievance of the people is revert back to N65 now no more no less. The meeting was held again today and it has been reported that labour has agreed to N97 per litre – about 51% increase.

nlc/tuc and fin. minister
Omar, Esele and Iweala -Occupying Aso Rock

Honestly I’m not surprised when I learnt that the compromise between the federal government and the Labour representatives is N97 per a litre of petrol. It only confirms the ususal perfidy of the labour organization. Responsiveness and effectiveness of the cause, should at first bring the price back to N65 at first [even if it will go back up the next day]. This is no victory at all.

It is unfortunate that open fraud are committed behind closed doors. John F. Kennedy said:  “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people”.

I refuse to give the labour any benefit of doubt on this. They have caused their usual heart break. I wonder if Nigerians will continue in this state of learned helplessness. I just wish Nigerians can see through what we’ve started without been unfazed by the betrayal of their labour representatives.

“A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten. “

Still from John Fitzgerald Kenedy.

Welcome to the heartbreak!

Nigeria: GEJ and Sundry Issues in Brief pt. 1

Nigeria: GEJ and Sundry Issues in Brief

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
GEJ

Dante said:

“the hottest place in hell are reserved for those who,  in a time of great moral crisis, maintain neutrality”.

For this I feel obliged to write this piece on the recent happenings in my beloved most populous black nation, Nigeria.

I have been struggling with the reality that only thing that can be worse than state of unrest and anxiety in this country is the Arab spring. In just a year at the helms of affairs for President Jonathan [GEJ], the state of affairs in the country has deteriorated in virtually all fabrics for arguably the most popularly elected president of Nigeria since 1993.

Insecurity has gone off the roof and has defied any logic the abysmal state of insecurity of lives and properties. From Bombing of the Nigeria Police Headquarter, to the bombing of United nations office in Abuja and to the recent Christmas Bombing, little more need to be said that the organized security that is the responsibility of the state has been annihilated and the president as the chief security officer of the country is clueless it. This is clearly evident in the comments of President Jonathan in his reaction to the bomb blast on Christmas day in locations in Niger, Jos and Abuja. He said: “The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with. It will not last forever; I believe that it will surely be over,’’. The statement to me, is devoid of confidence and authority voted in the office of the president.

While Nigerians have resolved to comforting ourselves from bereavement for the loss of lives of our fellow countrymen to a devious group BOKO HARAM and finding a self-help to abate this conundrum that has threatened both our collective existence as a country and as individuals with our government already switched off to its security responsibilities, President Jonathan struck a devastating blow to Nigerians. This time he brought the fighter spirit out of Nigerians in short time of his administration, the curtains already appears to be falling with his infamous removal of oil subsidy to spoil the merriment of the New Year.

To me, the removal of subsidy is not a death penalty if done in the right manner but President Goodluck Jonathan put Nigeria to the guillotine at the most awkward time and that has rapidly cast a shadow n the once popular candidate for a new Nigeria. He hit the bull’s eye at the wrong time. Despite the initial division of opinion on the removal of the subsidy with both pro subsidy removal and anti-subsidy removal presenting sound logic for their argument, it is widely believed that it is not going to be removed until after first quarter of the year.  Boko Haram struck last week in December, while people are trying to comfort themselves out of grief; he threw the spanner barely 7 days after. This only shows insensitivity, naivety in governance and stupidity to do that on the first day of the year. My question is: what has he delivered to the people within his 8 months at the reins that can compensate for requiring the people to pay through their skin?

Fela Durotoye

I will add in an excerpt from a post of a renowned motivational speaker Fela Durotoye:

“My response has been, How will a wasteful government suddenly realize the genius of prudence and making the right investment decisions simply bcs (because) there is more money available from oil subsidy removal?

Will there be less graft & bribes involved in process of issuing the road contracts or power contracts?

Have we sought to honestly find every way we can plug wastage in our leaking economy before we ask a feeble populace to carry the burden of corruption and gross ineptitude of a gluttonous few?

Have the Presidency, the State & Local Governments and the Legislature discovered how to travel without a convoy of 20 cars to the airport?

Can the occupiers of these lofty positions act in honour as Barack Obama did in 2010 when he got every member of his cabinet to take a pay cut, starting with himself?………….”

It continues but the truth be told, can all this questions be genuinely answer? If yes may be the people will take solace in the fact that we are in for an austerity measure which has to cut across all quarters of Nigeria.

There are other sane avenues to explore in this situation, for instance Sanusi Lamido complained about the reeking pressure of the allowances of Nigeria lawmakers which account for 25% of Nigeria overhead. They vehemently denied it but who is deceiving who? A senator takes about N29, 479,749.00 Per annum [excluding their famous asides pocket lining]. We vote N 3,264,329,264.10 to pay 109 members claiming to be serving the people. We are talking financial prudence. The government does not deem it fit that it will be more prudent if we slash that at least by 50%. Since we all know it is ‘selfless service”

While presenting the budget to the National Assembly a month ago, he never discussed the issues of subsidy removal in his address despite the fact that Nigeria economy sit essentially on oil. How can you omit a part of the budget that gives us about N3.644 trillion in excess? I take it as a coup on Nigerians.

Subsidy is forced down the throat of the unwilling masses

Let’s explore a little bit the connection between oil and other facets of Nigeria economy.  Now that electricity is history, the stable sources of power are generators mostly powered by Premium Motor Spirit [also known as petrol]. Road Transportation is the only viable and economic way of travelling most motor vehicles in Nigeria run on premium motor spirit [petrol], artisans whose trade is connected to the use of power supply had resulted to stand alone generators, let us not forget that even telecommunication providers run their equipment on generating plants. So when I read in the papers that the president wants to launch a mass transit line of 1600 buses, I said to myself, he must think we are all from where his wife came from. Nigerians are not shortsighted. Where I am driving at in essence is that the removal of subsidy as at now will have MULTIPLIER EFFECT and before we know it we will be at the same point I no time more money chasing fewer goods.

Let me paint a circle, Petrol is 141 naira, all fares of transportation goes up by at least  120%, so will prices of domestic goods (food stuff) all will go up blaming it on transportation which is very correct. Wages of workers will be at deficit with their expenditure; they will inevitably demand a pay rise, after a long tussle government will succumb and increase the wages of workers,  then we will be back to time zero when subsidy was not removed. Government spending increases as the income.

He claimed Nigerians should be eating cassava bread no problem, I had already started putting it in my nutritional plan when I realized that his feeding budget is N1billion. So much for Cassava bread?  N1billion budgeted for presidential feeding would pay the wages of 1200 Nigerians for a year. Leadership they say is by example.

Why can’t GEJ work on making stable power supply?, tackle insecurity rather than purchasing two bullet proof vehicles for N280million of tax payers’ money, complete his resuscitation of the railway transport before total removal of the subsidy, then people will know why they are paying the cost. If Fashola insist on more tax in Lagos people will react but judge within their conscience that it is for the better of it as he has shown by his physical development.

Personally without mincing words, I did not support his government from the onset as a do-gooder government without an agenda or yardstick to measure your election promises.  Government is more than what some people around you say and accepting the logic of their idea, he should have known that he owes the primary allegiance to Nigerians and striking a balance between the good a policy brings with the adverse effect. The question I ask is, at what cost is he removing the subsidy now?

For the very first time since the military days, Nigerians came out of their laidback approach to policies when GEJ administration hit their crust. If this protest is seen through to the letter and government yield to the yearnings, then I foresee a brighter Nigeria where every man believes he has a stake in the government for himself, children and the unborn. Robert F. Kenedy in special foreword of Memorial edition of ‘Profiles in Courage’ by John Kennedy:

“Government is where the decisions will be made which will affect not only all our destiies but the future of our children born and unborn.”

Therefore, we all have a sense of duty to check the excess and arbitrary of government at all time.

Femi Falana and others take over the road