Investigation: How Shell Petroleum Company Is killing Nigerian Economy

There are strong evidences that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited has been milking Nigeria dry through its activities.

The federal government of Nigeria recently sued Shell Petroleum Company and its allied Shell Western Supply & Trading Limited for nearly $407 million as part of its battle to recover all monies siphoned through undeclared/under-declared lifting of the nation’s crude oil.

The government says $406,751,070 is the total sum of the missing revenues from the shortfall/undeclared/under-declared crude oil shipments of the government, including interest on the money.

In an amended statement of claim filed before the court by Professor Fabian Ajogwu, a Lagos lawyer, and accompanied by the sworn affidavit of three United States-based professionals, the government alleged that sometime in 2014, it experienced a decline in the revenue derived from the export of crude oil.  The ensuing investigation showed that the decline was partly attributable to un-declaration and under-declaration of crude oil shipments by some major oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.

The three professionals employed by the Federal Government of Nigeria are:

  • Professor David Olowokere, a US citizen who is the lead Analyst at Loumos Group LLC, a technology and oil and gas auditing firm based in United States of America;
  • Jerome Stanley, a counsel in the law firm of Henchy & Hackenberg, a law firm the USA and head of the legal team engaged by Loumo Group LLC; and
  • Micheal Kanko, a citizen and resident of the state of Arizona, also in the USA, who is the founder and the current Chief Executive Officer of Trade Data Services Company.

The Nigerian government used the consortium of experts for the intelligence-based tracking of the global movements of the country’s hydocarborns, including crude oil and gas, with the main purpose of identifying the companies engaged in the practices that had led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas exports sales to different parts of the world.

In reconciling the export records from Nigeria with the import records from respective ports of entry in the USA in the case of the two Shell companies and others, the Data on shipment of the company, including its Bills of lading, Oil Vessels name used for the shipment, date of arrival at the destination ports, ports of origin, were used to identify the buyers of the undeclared Nigerian crude oil, and the sellers thereof, as well as quantity of crude oil exported from Nigeria.   The same data for the same shipment imported into the United States were compared, and the comparison showed that the crude oil shipments declared to have been exported from Nigeria was less than what was declared to have been imported into the US, using the same shipment by the same vessel on the same bill of lading while on the other hand, some other shipments were not declared by the defendants to the requisite authorities, particularly the pre-shipment inspection Agents. In some instances, the crude oil shipments were completely undeclared.

The Nigerian government alleged further that all crude oil and gas shipments/exports from Nigeria are required to be declared and inspected by pre-shipment agents appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria of revenue due from the crude oil shipments. The inspection records are to be deposited with the Ministry of Finance.

The government averred that high-technology information systems, including satellite tracking systems, were deployed by the consultants in gathering the various validated information establishing the shortfalls in the export declarations and the import declaration in the country of destination.

The plaintiff averred that:

  • On the 6th of January 2013, the defendants lifted crude oil on board and using a vessel named AUTHENTIC, shipped same to BP Oil Supply of 28301 Ferry Road, Warrenville, Illinois, USA at the port of Chester, Pennsylvania, United States of America with Bill Lading number ALMYSVDM161212A3.  That shipment was however not declared to the relevant authorities, resulting in a shortfall of 660,712 barrels of crude oil in the value of $72,678,320 as revenue to the Government.
  • On January 3rd, 2013, the defendants lifted crude oil that resulted in the shortfall of 979,031 barrels of crude oil in the value of $107,693,410.
  • On the 14th of December, 2014, the defendants lifted crude oil using a vessel named EAGLE TUSCON, and shipped same to Shell Deer Park of 5900 Texas 225, Deer Park, TX77536, USA through the port of Houston, Texas, USA, with Bill of Lading number AETK0909US14; with the shipment undeclared to the relevant authorities, resulting in a shortfall of 499,048 barrels of crude oil in the value of $54,895,280 as revenue to the Federal Government.

The defendants were also alleged at three different times on board three different ships: EAGLE TUSCON, EAGLE SEVILLE, and OVERSEAS EVERGLADES, shipped crude oil that resulted in a shortfall of 3,697,737 barrels of crude oil in bringing the total value of all the shortfalls to $406,751,070.

On January, 21, 2016, the Federal government through its legal representative, wrote a letter to the defendants drawing their attention to the above discrepancies and requesting them to explain with specific documentation to clarify the discrepancies as a prelude to the repayment of the revenues and debt they now owe the government.  Up until now, the government said it has not received from the defendants any payment pursuant to the said letter, or received the requested documents.

The government further averred that it has suffered huge and enormous financial losses as a result of the defendants’ under-declaration of the value of the crude oil they lifted and exported to the USA.

Consequently, the Shell Petroleum Development company of Nigeria Limited and Shell Western &Trading Limited action has not only hindered economic development in the country but has also undermined the sustainable economic development of the Nigeria for the benefit of its people.

The government’s claims against the two companies severally and jointly are as follows:

  • An order of the court compelling the two companies to pay into the Federal government of Nigeria account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the total sum of USD 406,751,070, being the total value of the missing revenue from the shortfall /undeclared/under -declared crude oil shipments of the country, made by the companies to USA;
  • Interest against the defendants at the rate of 21% per annum on the sum of $406,751,070 until the entire sum is liquidated;
  • General exemplary damages in the sum of $406,751,070; and

The cost of instituting the legal action.

Recalled that the International advocacy group, ActionAid, recently, accused Shell and two other companies of fleecing Nigeria of $3.3 billion in seven years, through their investments in the Liquefied Natural Gas, operated by the Nigeria LNG Limited, NLNG.

TheIcon

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Cash Or Prisoners, What Did The Nigeria Govt Swapped For Chiboks Girls?

Since the release of 21 girls who were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State more than two years ago, there have been conflicting reports about what Boko Haram received in exchange.

The reports contrast what the Nigerian govt said, which is that no prisoner or cash were exchanged for the release of the girls.

“This was not a swap,” Nigerian Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Thursday. “It is a release, the product of painstaking negotiations and trust on both sides.”

However, some reports claim prisoners were exchanged for the girls, while some others said the swap involved cash.

While Thisday, quoting presidency source reports that the release of the girls involves cash, a report by CNN is saying some Boko Haram commanders were exchanged for the girls.

Thisday, quoting a presidency source said an undisclosed amount of money was paid to the Boko Haram leaders before the 21 girls were released.

But a CNN report which quoted an anonymous source close to the negotiations between the Islamist militant group and the Nigerian government, “a number of Boko Haram commanders” were freed as part of Thursday’s release of the girls.”

The CCN report  also quoted a separate source, one with direct knowledge about the girls’ release, as saying that no captive Boko Haram fighters were released in exchange for the girls.

Further laying credit to the prisoner swap claim is a report by Punch which said troops and security personnel involved in the ongoing counter-terrorism campaign against Boko Haram are unhappy with the release of five top Boko Haram commanders.

The report added that investigations revealed that the military expressed reservations about the swap which saw the release of five terrorist commanders in exchange for the 21 girls.

“Troops and some military commanders are further worried by the fact that the release of terrorist commanders could impact negatively on the ongoing campaign to flush out the insurgents from the North-East.”‘

“It was further gathered that some of the troops were not happy that Boko Haram commanders, who had killed civilians and security personnel, were traded for the girls.”

The fact that the Nigerian government who claimed no swap in the release of the girls have yet to release terms of the agreement in the negotiated deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government has helped in leaving room for speculations.

Nonetheless, what appears to be of importance to the country is the safe return of the 21 girls and hope that the others will soon be released.

This much was expressed by Vice president Osinbajo after meeting the girls at the Office of the Department of State Services (DSS), saying Nigerians should congratulate themselves and thank God for the girls’ release.

Osinbajo, who also confirmed the information minister’s assertion that the federal government did not swap the girls for detained members of Boko Haram said said: “We should congratulate ourselves and thank the almighty God for the release and subsequent return home of 21 of the Chibok girls who were taken hostage two years ago.

“It is exciting news for the whole country. Everyone is really excited and I believe that we should be very thankful to God.

“When we started negotiations, we said we would consider all options available to us. Absolutely, there was no exchange of any kind.”

When asked further if the government will agree to future swaps to secure the release of the remaining girls, he replied: “We must be sensitive to the fact that the government wants these girls back and alive.

“Again, we must balance it against the security and safety of the country. In the process of negotiations, we will look at all options and we will weigh the options carefully and decide on what to do.

“But what has happened and the process we have begun is one which has not involved any type of swap of Boko Haram commanders or any militant in any way.

“That is a very good turn of events. We believe that in the next few days and months, we will be bringing in more of these girls using exactly the same kind of negotiations and the same template that we used.”

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Let Corrupt Judges Go To Jail – Punch Editorial

 

Justice is on crutches in Nigeria, severely ethically disabled by rogue judges. The long-held suspicion of grand decay was laid bare again when the Department of State Services arrested a total of seven judges in several parts of the country in an operation last weekend. Two of those arrested are Supreme Court justices. During the operations, the DSS claimed that its agents recovered a total of N363 million from the houses of three of the judges. Though the depth of the corruption is so shocking, fighting it must be within the laws of the country.

The DSS raided the homes of the judges and arrested Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro (both of the Supreme Court); Mohammed Tsamiya (Court of Appeal); Adeniyi Ademola and Muazu Pindiga (both of Federal High Court); Innocent Umezulike (Chief Judge, Enugu State); and Kabir Auta (Kano State High Court). But the raid that generated ruckus happened in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, when the governor, Nyesom Wike, mobilised against the DSS agents arresting an FHC judge. The National Security Agencies Act, Section 3, among others, charges the State Security Service with the responsibility for preventing and detecting crime against the internal security of Nigeria; and such other responsibilities “affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary.”

Coincidentally, the National Judicial Council, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, had, on September 29, showed how cheaply some judges have sold their courtrooms in return for favourable rulings. The NJC had recommended the trio of Tsamiya, Auta and Umezulike to the President and their respective governors for retirement over allegations that included demanding bribe to pervert the course of justice. These breaches are ominous as they clearly bring into disrepute the entire Nigerian magistracy and threaten the very fabric of the society.

Tsamiya allegedly brought the judiciary to disrepute by relating with a litigant in a 2015 election dispute before the Court of Appeal panel, which sat in Owerri, Imo State. The NJC said, “During deliberations, Council found as follows: that there was evidence that the petitioner met with … Tsamiya thrice, in his residence in Sokoto, Gwarinpa, Abuja and Owerri, where, on each occasion, he demanded from him the sum of N200 million to influence the Court of Appeal Panel in Owerri or risk losing the case.”

The case against Umezulike is equally revolting. The highest judicial officer in Enugu, he failed to deliver judgement in Suit No E/13/2008: Ajogwu v Nigerian Bottling Company Limited, 126 days after final addresses were adopted in October 2014. This is contrary to the 90 days time-limit set by law. The NJC also accused Umezulike of other offences, including accepting a N10 million donation during his book launch from businessman, Arthur Eze, who had an interest in two cases before his court. It is unethical to unduly delay judgement. Justice delayed erodes the integrity of the judiciary, and the aphorism that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man is thus lost through dishonourable judges.

However, this is not the first time that such perversity is occurring. In March, the NJC descended on Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Lagos High Court, barring her from elevation to the Court of Appeal. Her offence: she allegedly adjourned a 2011 pre-election matter before her several times until the termination of the lifespan of the Ogun State House of Assembly in 2015. That meant the petitioner never got justice in the case.

Auta was accused of collecting N197 million from a litigant. Part of the filthy lucre was purported to have been used to help in providing accommodation for a former CJN, who had just been appointed at the time. Auta, who was recommended for prosecution, even agreed to refund N95 million to the petitioner. Though this behaviour is unconscionable for a judicial officer, it is not, however, surprising. Already, the NJC has sanctioned about 13 judges for misconduct this year. Those affected include Oluyinka Gbajabiamila (Lagos High Court), MJ Evuti and Tanko Usman (both Niger State High Court); Olamide Oloyede (Osun High Court); and BT Ebuta (Cross River High Court). Most of them were just retired and freed from punishment. This is a bad policy. It entrenches corruption on the Bench.

To stamp out graft from the judiciary and really kick-start the Buhari administration’s avowal to rid Nigeria of graft, the NJC must go the whole hog. As we have said in past editorials, this means prosecuting offenders. Before his death in 2012, a former Supreme Court Justice, Kayode Eso, had warned that there were then “billionaire judges.” He meant judges who made ill-gotten wealth from collecting bribes in election petitions before State Election Petitions Tribunals, which were common then because of the massive electoral heist of 2007. Corrupt judges should not escape the long arm of the law because justice is skating on thin ice if the judiciary is compromised, as these cases indicate.

It is argued that giant spectre of corruption is arguably more harmful than terrorism as it siphons an estimated $1 trillion from developing countries annually, wastes about $40 billion in direct aid and kills an estimated 3.6 million of the world’s poorest annually through inadequate health care and poor living conditions. A CBS TV report says at the extreme case, corruption causes people to lose faith in government, states to fail and violence to erupt in the form of organised crime and terrorism.

Judges must not be spared when they soil their robes. Arrested in October 2010, a United States District Court Judge, Jack Camp, was jailed 30 days, given a $1,000 fine and 400 hours of community service. He had pleaded guilty to a charge of giving a stripper his $825 government-issued laptop, among others. In 2011, 79 judicial officers were subjected to formal disciplinary action, while a further eight were given “guidance” or told to undergo training in Britain. Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassation ruled in a corruption case against a judge in April that “the actions of every magistrate should be oriented towards raising the prestige of the judiciary and to protecting public values such as legality, fairness and equality. Therefore, committing crimes by such a person and especially crimes related to corruption, deeply resonate in public awareness and undermine public confidence in the entire judicial system.” We agree.

To make for a just legal regime, the justice system should be insulated from interference from desperate litigants, dishonest lawyers and the executive arm of government. A 2016 study by Washington DC-based NGO, Global Integrity, stated that the judiciary was impaired in 54 African countries because of interference by the executive. “This is the root cause of the judiciary’s inability to uphold the rule of law,” the report stated.

However, much as the Buhari administration’s anti-graft campaign is lofty, it must not be arbitrary. Did the DSS secure legitimate warrants before arresting these suspects? If not, its action so far is a throwback to dictatorship, which must not be allowed in the society. We re-state that the war on corruption must be fought openly and in accordance with the rule of law. Therefore, the NJC should stop coddling corrupt judicial officers by just sacking them. There might be corruption in the society, but it is too perilous for judges to traffic in it. The rights of those arrested so far must not be abridged in any form. They should be swiftly taken to court within the time limit allowed by law.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

How Tinubu Nominated Osinbajo As Buhari’s VP – Bello

If the revelation by Secretary to Lagos State Government (SSG) TUNJI BELLO is anything to go by, President Muhammadu Buhari’s biographer Prof John Paden has created a distortion of historical facts in his book, “Muhammadu Buhari: “The challenges of leadership in Nigeria”.  The former Lagos Environment Commissioner said the American author got it all wrong in his claim that   the President chose Prof Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate for the 2015 presidential election above All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his successor Babatunde Raji Fashola. In this article, Bello, who was part of the process that threw up Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate, gives his account.

Nothing strengthens deceit more than silence. And on an occasion like this, one often wonders why some people twist events and history in order to legitimise a mission. While ruminating over why this should be, it is not impossible to embark on introspection by thinking out so many possibilities that politics is replete with. This line of thought is informed by laughable events of the last few days.

The news media have become agog with false story as to how Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came to be. During the launch of a book: “Muhammadu Buhari: The challenges of leadership in Nigeria”, a biography on President Mohammadu Buhari in Abuja on Monday, 3rd October 2016, Nigerians were fed with half truths by the author, Prof John Paden, on how Osinbajo became the Vice President of the country. I don’t know how the author came about his story, but he totally got it wrong because what he wrote basically is based on falsehood that reeks of deliberate misinformation and mischief.

I know how Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu picked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo because I was part of the process that midwifed his nomination. In mid-December 2014, it was a Saturday morning after President Mohammadu Buhari had been picked by All Progressives Congress (APC), at the party’s presidential primaries at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos. I received a phone call from Asiwaju to see him that morning. On my way to his house, I discovered that a car at a reasonable distance was that of former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dele Alake, who was, ostensibly, heading towards Asiwaju’s house in Ikoyi. Asiwaju must have called him too for that task that could be explained underneath.

As soon as we arrived, Asiwaju quickly asked us to join him in his car as we headed to a Guest House. At the Guest House, the former All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, Prof Yemi Osibajo and one renowned pastor joined us.

At the meeting, Asiwaju related to us the urgent need to pick a vice presidential candidate for the APC. He advised that we immediately discard the idea of his being nominated for the vice presidential slot as it was no longer possible to pick a muslim-muslim ticket. This he reasoned made sense if indeed we were to be realistic in our bid to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election. He reasoned that what was important and imperative at that time was to look for a good Christian nominee to complement President Muhammadu Buhari.

I remember Baba Akande responded to his aversions that he would still have preferred that Asiwaju should be the running mate since it had been done before. Baba Akande was obviously referring to the MKO Abiola/Babagana Kingibe nomination. Asiwaju responded by distinguishing the political equation then from what was before us at that point in time. He foreclosed that scenario as no longer possible. We all voiced our opinions, and at the end of the day, it was resolved that we had to get a Christian candidate.

It was at this point that Asiwaju reminded us to be fast in coming up with an option because he felt other geographical zones are also jostling for same position reiterating the need for the Southwest to get it as a must. Asiwaju audaciously told us for that left for him, and if he were to pick anyone, he would suggest Prof Yemi Osinbajo. That Osinbajo, apart from being a brilliant legal luminary, is also a committed progressive and democrat. And having been married to the late Obafemi Awolowo’s grand-daughter, it would not be a problem selling him to the old political establishment of Southwest for acceptance.  He asserted that Alake and I, having served in his cabinet could attest to the great works he did as attorney-general during his, Asiwaju’s administration as Governor of Lagos State. He also reasoned that the second major factor in favour of Osinbajo was the fact that he is a strong Christian and one that he is already a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

READ: EXCLUSIVE: How Tinubu Outsmarted Amaechi, Oshiomhole, Others to Present Osinbajo as Buhari’s Running Mate

In the long run, Osinbajo’s nomination was well received by all of us at that meeting and Prof Osinbajo was asked to start detailing with us, further strategy sessions to which he brought out his laptop and we all commenced a brainstorming session. The rest of the discussion was to strategise on how to contain other likely opponents from the Southwest zone before proceeding to Abuja to battle other regional zones in the coming nomination.

The meeting did not finish until about 9.00pm when we returned to Asiwaju’s residence in Bourdillon. By the time we returned to his house, there were about six serving governors already waiting to see him from different parts of Nigeria.

What is particularly sad now is that the book launch of the president was deployed to create a make-believe story that puts the society at a disadvantage of history. One would have thought that now that the progressives, through an uncommon alliance in 2015, created an upset by defeating, for the first time in the country’s history, the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), it might be taken as given that the role of all active participants in the exercise would be correctly recorded. But surprisingly and painfully too, such an avenue was used to create a historical distortion of facts.

If a political adversary had done that, one would not have been disturbed. This is because at the end of the day under such circumstance, the goal is usually to create a make-believe story that puts the society on a wrong side of history. But now that the progressives, through an uncommon alliance in 2015, created an upset by defeating, for the first time in the country’s history, the then ruling (PDP), it might be taken as given that the role of all active participants in the exercise would be correctly recorded. But surprisingly painful is the fact that an historical distortion of facts is coming from an unexpected quarters at this early stage of progressive politics.

It becomes more of a matter of concern when a renowned intellectual writes a book and begins to redefine events in his own way by abashedly evading facts that are bellowing in the public space in order to re-create a world of make-believe for his audience. Sincerely, such an act understandably becomes a matter to ponder seriously.

Let us stop here. It is not all clothes that can be dried in the sun.

TheNation

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

How Lawmakers Cheat System Using 2,570 Aides

No fewer than 2,570 aides are engaged by the 469 members of the 8th National Assembly, an investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, has revealed.

Out of the number, 700 aides work for lawmakers in the Senate, while the remaining 1, 870 are engaged by House of Representatives members.

As provided in the National Assembly Act, each lawmaker, excluding principal officers, is entitled to five aides – one senior legislative aide, two legislative aides, a personal assistant and a secretary.

It was discovered that in the provision, President of the Senate is entitled to 45 aides, his deputy, 30, and 20 each for principal officers.

Similarly, Speaker of the House of Representatives has 35 assistants, Deputy Speaker, 15 and 10 each for the six principal officers.

The number of aides to each legislator, it was gathered, includes those in their Constituency offices.

The monthly emolument of the aides, which ranged from N150, 000 to N250, 000, sources close to the assembly said, has been reduced to between N75, 000 and N180, 000 by the current leadership of the assembly.

The investigation revealed that in addition to the regular aides, the principal officers of both chambers have Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants and Special Advisers of varying numbers.

This category of aides, it was learnt, had a monthly salary of a minimum of N950,000; but was reduced to N400, 000 by the current management of the assembly. All the aides are paid from the coffers of the assembly.

 

CHEATING THE SYSTEM

However, NAN gathered that some of the lawmakers, especially principal officers, have more than the statutorily approved number of aides in their employ, who also draw their salary from the assembly’s funds.

Some lawmakers, however, pay the aides from their own resources.

It was also revealed that many legislators draw the emolument of their aides from the assembly’s funds but pay them fractions. Some of the lawmakers employed only one or two aides but are collecting the full salary for the five they are entitled to.

This act was discovered to be perpetrated more by the members through their constituency offices, which they are mandatorily expected to have in their areas, but deliberately failed to do so.

They submit names of non-existent staff in the constituency office to the national assembly service commission and collect their entitlements directly.

An aide to a senator from the South-West, working with him in Abuja, told NAN that he had never heard of other aides or office his boss had in his constituency.

“All of us, his aides are here; it is only when he is travelling to the state that he goes with the senior legislative aide and his younger brother.

“The brother works with him; he is not documented but he is in charge whenever oga (the boss) is not around.

“But, all of us are always in the office in Abuja, I do not know of assistant or aide he has at the constituency level or in the state,” he said, adding that it was the same with some other lawmakers.

The source declined to disclose his salary, allowance and pay point, but said that the emolument depended on the grade of the aide.

He, however, disclosed that the least-paid aide earned N120, 000 from the assembly commission.

The lawmakers contacted on the issue declined to comment, with some of them saying that they were complying with the rules.

The Clerk of the National Assembly and officials in his office also rebuffed enquires on the issues.

 

NIGERIANS REACT

Reacting to the findings by NAN, some stakeholders called for reduction in the number of aides working for federal lawmakers and a slash in their pay.

They told NAN that the reduction was necessary in view of the current economic challenges facing the country.

Ahmed Haruna, a trader in Wuse Market in Abuja said “from my own point of view, I think the number of aides assigned to legislators is much and consumes a huge amount from public funds.

“These aides are paid monthly but if their number is slashed and their pay reduced, the money can be redirected into providing infrastructure in the country.”

Paul Imohiosen, a civil servant, believes that the lawmakers do not need the number of aides they are officially entitled to.

He said, “some of these aides are not useful; most of them are there for mere decoration. They are just too many.

“The country’s economy has gone into recession so this is not the appropriate time to use as much as 45 or 35 aides by one government official.’’

Mr. Imohiosen also decried the number of security details attached to some government officials and other elite in the country.

According to him, Nigeria is in need of adequate security to protect lives and property but government officials have huge number of security aides all to themselves which is not fair.

In her view, Igoni Mirabel, a student, insisted that there was need to cut the number and salary, respectively, of the legislative aides by 50 per cent.

“The 50 per cent cut should serve as intervention and the remaining percentage could be used judiciously to improve the economy of the country.

“The Nigeria economy is in a bad state presently, so all expenses must be cut down so that the citizens can benefit immensely,” she added.

On her part, Imelda Omelogo said that the number of aides and their emoluments “does not suggest a prudent approach to the management of public expenditure.

“If the call for the reduction in number of aides to the lawmakers is implemented, it will greatly reduce wastage, thereby leaving more money to be ploughed into other sectors.’’

Condemning the large number of the federal lawmakers’ aides, Emmanuel Sawyer, a legal practitioner, said it did not tally with the economic hardship in the country.

He said the number of aides should have been slashed along with their salaries by the new leadership of the national assembly.

“We are in a period when Nigeria is facing recession and the cost of running government is still too high.

“At this point in time, we should be talking of merging both chambers into one to reduce the cost of running governance,” Mr. Sawyer said.

Teddy Nwanunobi, a civil servant, said that it was unfair for such big salaries to be paid to aides of lawmakers when they were not doing any work commensurate to the pay.

Mr. Nwanunobi questioned why some of the principal officers should be entitled to many aides.

“My honest thinking is that the principal officers do not need more than five aides to start with. That way, the aides would be up the task on their duties.

“Secondly, the nearly N1 million monthly salary is just too large for one aide; most of them do not merit that sum, and that’s why they misbehave.

“Personally, I suggest that aides should be graded, and salaries paid accordingly; their salaries should not only be slashed, but paid in accordance with grade and level,’’ he said.

Adanna Uwaleme, a political analyst, however said that the call for slash in the number of aides to the lawmakers should be extended to the Executive arm of government.

Ms. Uwaleme said most of the ministers, and even the President, have too many aides.

She said, however, that she was not suggesting that people be sacked but said that there was need to save cost.

“There is no need employing too many aides and paying them so much when other people who do so much work are paid very little.

“I feel that there should be a harmonisation of salaries and allowances of aides and staff of choice government agencies like the NNPC and FIRS with other federal workers.

“There is no justification for paying someone in NNPC so much salary while his colleague on the same level in the ministry takes less than quarter of his salary,” she said.

Emeka Ogwuru, a businessman, said that those on the payroll of the lawmakers were “just lucky; many other Nigerians would do anything to get the same position.

“Even if it’s N400,000 a month, at least they can afford a bag of rice, a basket of tomatoes, 50 litres of petrol and book a local flight online in this recession,” he said.

NAN

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Shekau Vs Barnawi: How Fighting For Dominance Led To Multiple Killings Of Sect Members

Recently, some suspected Boko Haram assailants stormed Tumur, a sleepy community along the Nigerian border with Niger Republic and slit the throats of 10 people, who the locals called “associate Boko Haram members.’’

It was gathered that the insurgents had crossed to the Nigerien community from villages around Malam Fatori in Abadam Local Government Area of Borno State. The 10 were victims of an emerging ideological split and brutal supremacy battle between the hardhearted leader of the Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, and the new point-man of the Islamic State in West Africa-backed faction of the group, Abu Musab Al-Barnawi.

In the first week of August, this year, the ISIS put to an end, the seven years of ruthless reign of Shekau, and in his place, anointed Al-Barnawi, the son of the late Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of the Nigeria-based Boko Haram, which recognised and paid allegiance to ISIS’s proclaimed caliphate under Abubakar Al-Baghdadi, in March, 2015.

The confirmation that Shekau had been dethroned came from the dreaded sect leader himself, in an audio message he released on August 4, which was the first in so many months, where he described the breakaway leader as heretic. Soon after the new development, sporadic fighting broke out between the two factions, one headed by Shekau and the other by Al-Barnawi.

The rivalry, analysts claim, would break the spine of the Boko Haram group, which was ranked the most deadly terrorist organisation on earth by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015. The sect, according to the report, was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, compared to ISIS’s 6,073.

The Nigerian military has dismissed the reported division within the ranks of the insurgents as a “drama” being staged by the group to remain afloat and vowed to crush terrorist threats under whatever guise.

“When the terrorists besieged Tumur, they told the locals, who were mostly Nigerians taking refuge there not to panic, but warned that so and so persons must be produced to face the wrath of their betrayal,” Ahmed Khalid, a resident of Abadam, who is now taking refuge in Maiduguri, said of the first reported intra-group rivalry killing.

However, there are two different versions to the narrative as to why only 10 people were brought out and killed in Tumur, even when the Boko Haram invaders had all the opportunity to butcher everybody in the village in the dead of night.

“From my findings, the 10 were supplying foodstuff to the insurgents who lived in cluster of camps along the Nigerian border with Niger. But they suddenly stopped the supplies, leaving the terrorists in hunger and deprivation in the midst of constant offensive by the Nigerian security forces. This was why they were trailed and killed,” Khalid said.

But a resident, Aisami Modu, said they were killed because they shifted their loyalty from the camp of Shekau to that of his archrival, Al-Barnawi.

“The problem started shortly after the Boko Haram split, and those 10 people, who were traders and known to almost everyone in surrounding communities, were loyal to Boko Haram, which is why we call them: ‘associate members.’ They used to supply food, fuel, medicine and cloths to the terrorists, even though they didn’t fight for them,” he said.

“But the Shekau camp got angry when they shifted their loyalty to the other camp; that was why they were killed.”

For the past four weeks, locals in Borno State said fierce encounter had taken place between fighters loyal to Shekau and those loyal to Al-Barnawi, struggling to displace one another. Five fighters loyal to Shekau were killed during a battle between the two factions in a community at the outskirts of Monguno last week, a local vigilante, Kolo Kuroskawwa, disclosed.

Other sources said that at least 18 Boko Haram fighters from the bushes around Monguno surrendered to the army, together with their families, as a result of the infighting.

“There is serious disarray now, and most of the Boko Haram fighters are apparently confused. Those loyal to Shekau are being trailed by the other faction and vice versa. It is now killing, killing and killing,” Kuroskawwa said.

“And you know that there are some Boko Haram fighters that were forcefully conscripted, they are the ones that are now repenting and taking advantage of the dispute to surrender themselves to the Nigerian Army,” he said.

Similarly, residents told the AFP Wednesday that several fighters from Shekau’s camp had been killed last Thursday in two separate gun battles with IS-backed Barnawi gunmen in the Monguno area of Borno State, near Lake Chad.

Mele Kaka, who lives in the area, told AFP: “The Barnawi faction launched an offensive against the Shekau faction who were camped in the villages of Yele and Arafa. “In Yele, the assailants killed three people from the Shekau camp, injured one and took one with them, while several were killed in Arafa,” he said by telephone from the state capital, Maiduguri. The attack prompted residents of Arafa to flee, he added.

Fighters from Barnawi camp had the previous day attacked gunmen loyal to Shekau in Zuwa village in the nearby Marte district, killing an unspecified number of people, Kaka said.

“The Barnawi fighters told villagers after each attack that they were fighting the other camp because they had derailed from the true jihad and were killing innocent people, looting their property and burning their homes. They said such acts contravened the teachings of Islam and true jihad,” he said.

Factions Divide Borno Into Two Jurisdictions

Findings by our reporter reveal that while the ISIS-backed Al-Barnawi has an upper hand in northern part of Borno State, which shares borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon along the shores of the Lake Chad, Shekau is still dominant in the central and southern parts of the state, where the large swathes of the Sambisa forest are located.

Sources said Al-Barnawi was giving Shekau a “tough time in northern Borno” by taking over the few places where the group had “some influence.” Mamman Nur, the hitherto third in command to Shekau, who was declared wanted by the United States, is seen as the actual ISIS linkman in Nigeria, but is fronting Al-Barnawi as leader, in order to retain the loyalty of the original supporters of Mohammed Yusuf.

A community leader from northern Borno, who is now living in Maiduguri, but does not want his name mentioned, said: “The Al-Barnawi boys are trailing and killing Shekau’s boys in places like Monguno, Kukawa, Damasak, Abadam, Marte and Kala-Balge, even though all the two factions are being confronted by the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).”

“While only security officials can confirm if Al-Barnawi has started receiving support from ISIS or not, what we know is that they have black mercenaries from neighbouring countries who barely speak our local dialect,” he added.

“But when you go to villages in Gwoza, Damboa and Chibok, which are all not far from the Sambisa forest, you find out that the few skirmishes being recorded recently are being perpetrated by the Shekau camp,” said Alex Magaji, a farmer in the small village of Dabuli in Southern Borno.

Their Fight Good For Us – Civilian JTF

Leaders of the Borno Youths Vigilante, popularly known as Civilian JTF, said the infighting by the Boko Haram was probably the best news coming out of the violent group in recent times. Barrister Jibrin Gunda, the legal adviser of the vigilantes in Borno State, said the emergence of crack in any group signified the end of it, no matter how strong such group was.

“We welcome the development and we pray they would continue fighting and fragmenting. However, what I want to tell you is that none of them is better; we are looking for all of them. “The only ones that we would spare are those who repent, and they were the ones that would be taken as prisoners of war by the Nigerian Army. “If you look at recent events, our people, like the ones from Konduga and Mafa, are gradually leaving the IDP camps. All these positive things are happening because of the gradual return of peace. The Borno State government is working hard to take all the people back to their homes, and we, as vigilantes, welcome this feat,” Gunda said.

How Ideological ‘Differences’ Made A Difference

When Abubakar Shekau launched a surprised comeback in 2010 after he had been reported killed by the Nigerian forces in the 2009 bloodbath in Maiduguri, he remained the indisputable leader of the Boko Haram for the next seven years. Nobody dared to question his “judgement,” which began with isolated killings of policemen by shoot and run ragtag fighters, before it escalated to targeted killings of civilians with AK-47 rifles in their homes.

His group gradually added soldiers and other uniformed men to its killing list, just as it began to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at markets, motor parks, mosques, churches and other populated places, before it started taking hostages, as well as invading and occupying communities.

Shekau also described government, democracy, international relations and diplomacy as un-Islamic and vowed to destroy constituted authorities and replace them with Sharia system, that would spare only those Muslims that believe in his teachings.

In March, 2015, Shekau paid allegiance to Al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader and renamed the Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah LIdda’awati Wal Jihad he headed to Islamic State in West African Province (SWAP).

In the first week of August, this year, the ISIS announced Al-Barnawi, who is said to be in his 20s, as its new representative in West Africa.

Shekau Resisted

But few days after, Shekau kicked against the decision, explaining how he arrived at his “ideology” and how he differed with what the ISIS wanted to achieve.

“I was deceived but all I know is that AlBarnawi and whoever is with him are infidels. I will never stray from the ideology of the Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad, which has its basis in the Quran,” he said in a 10 minutes audio he released, after he had disappeared from glare for over a year.

“In the first place, we sat and I was deceived, they said I should write my ideology to be taken to them so that if there is a mistake they will point out and revert. They now deceived me, and… today I found out that there is one who is following the principles of the infidels, which they want me to follow, and the Prophet has stopped from doing that..

“We have heard news going round and attributed to people (ISIS) we had earlier pledged allegiance to. Although we are not against them, based on the message we heard in the radio, we are still on our ideology.

“We know those we differ from and I have written on this long ago. Because I stated it clearly that I am against the principle where someone will dwell in the society with the infidels without making public his opposition or anger against the infidels publicly as it is stated in the Qur’an. Anyone doing that can’t be a Muslim, thick and thin. This is what our ideology proved and that is where I stand. To them, a Muslim can dwell in the society and do his marketing, compromising core foundations.

“I want the world to know that we are still holding our ideology and tied with the Qur’an, we will not derail and will not revolt, but will continue to remain in the cause of Allah. Following the Prophet (SAW) is compulsory for us, and we will follow him to the end,” he said.

Al Barnawi Countered

Few days after Shekau gave his side of the story, Al Barnawi, with the support of Mamman Nur, reacted, saying Shekau was ousted because of various offences, including the killing of “fellow Muslims and living a life of affluence, living members to starve and hoarding of munitions.”

“We are here to send a message across to Shekau who had released his own cassette,” Mamman Nur said. “We would challenge anyone that challenges us, and we must bring out the true meaning of Islam because the religion does not belong to your father or mother.

“We would soon release our own video and you will see how Shekau is justifying killing people and boasting about it. We are not killers like him. If our intention were to kill, we would have killed him. Unknown to him, those he trust his life with are our people, we can kill him if we want, but we will not.

“We want him alive so that he would see that things can go on without him. “We will fight for the cause of Allah and work against personalising Jihad and against unjustifiable killings and shedding of blood. We are out because you came out with your own cassette. We want our people to know proper Islam because Allah in the Qur’an forbids killings without justification. Just like Allah gave us power to kill infidels, there are those he said we shouldn’t kill without reason,” Mamman Nur said.

“In the Qur’an, Allah forbids Muslims from killing one another…and He also taught against killing in secret. If it is a serious punishment, it must be public for people to know and witness it. But once you see killings in secret, there is something fishy, and this is what we noticed with Shekau. What he is doing is not Islam. He said we should follow him and we agreed, but we later realised it is another thing and we said no. We have to stick to the Qur’an and what Allah says, not following someone’s waywardness,” he added.

They also accused him of “inserting his opinion” while giving Fatwa (Islamic verdict), which, according to them, clearly contradicts the teaching of their founder, Mohammed Yusuf.

Who To Dialogue With?

From their recent body languages and utterances, the two factions are evidently amenable to a truce with the Nigerian authorities, observers have said.

For instance, Shekau, as evident in the video he released recently, is in possession of a large chunk of captives, including the over 200 Chibok girls that were abducted on April 14, 2014. Speaking through one of his longtime ally, Abu Zinnira, who appeared in the video with the girls, Shekau said only the release of his members in the custody of Nigerian authorities would guarantee the security of the girls.

On the other hand, Al-Barnawi, who is also reportedly in possession of some of the Chibok girls and other captives, is “the extensive knowledge at his disposal.”

“You see, Shekau had accused the Al-Barnawi group of somehow being amenable to living under constituted authorities. This means that if the federal government would explore a window of getting him and giving him asylum, he could expose the whereabouts of Shekau and how to tame him,” a source in Maiduguri said.
Credit: DailyTrust

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Meet Aisha Wakil, Declared Wanted By The Army Over ‘Links’ With Boko Haram

She stood out when President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the committee on amnesty for Boko Haram last Wednesday in Abuja, covered from head to toe in her burqa. The mystery of the woman behind the veil extends to her origins. Tony Akowe in Kaduna profiles the woman Boko Haram insurgents call “Mama.”

In a region where women are given little attention, the announcement of the name of Aisha Wakil as a member of the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the northern part of the country came to many as a surprise.

Even though not much is known about her, her name has consistently appeared on the list of people allegedly released by the Boko Haram insurgents as one of those to represent them in any form of dialogue or negotiation with the government.

In November last year, when the insurgents announced the names of prominent northerners who they wanted to represent them in negotiations with the Federal Government, Aisha Wakil and her husband, Justice Zanna Wakil of the Borno State judiciary, were on the list headed by former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari.

When the leader of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, Sheikh Datti Ahmed, rejected his nomination into the committee, many Nigerians felt disappointed – especially in view of the fact that he is one of those that may have had any form of contact with members of the group. Ahmed was part of the botched peace deal and he believed that the government was not serious about peace with the insurgents.

Alongside her husband, Justice Wakil, Aisha, a practicing lawyer was nominated by the government to help resolve the problem. Even though she was called the mystery lady, many Nigerians may not be aware of the fact that she has been in touch with some members of Boko Haram and was even instrumental to a ceasefire declaration announced by the group at a time which was later denied by another faction of the group.

During one peace march by women in Borno State, she was quoted as asking them to come out and state their grievances. “My sons, I have been begging you since in silence to come out and state your grievances and stop destroying your homeland. Please come out and state your grievances and stop these killings,” she allegedly said amidst tears.

One Mohammed Amin Abdullahi, who said Aisha was a friend to his sister, claimed on his Facebook page that Aisha Wakil actually hails from the South-East, but converted to Islam when verses of the Holy Qur’an started appearing on her skin and blended well with the Borno Muslim community.

He wrote “Barr. Aisha Wakil, I would say, is a mysterious woman. She is Igbo by tribe and was a Christian during her education in University of Maiduguri many years ago. She converted to Islam when inscriptions of verses from the Holy Qur’an started appearing on her skin. Members of the sect became so close to her that they even called her mummy.

“They visited her house at will. She even sold her valuables to feed them, just to convince them to drop their weapons. There was a time she seized from them and burnt a note book containing the lists of people killed and those to be killed.

“A lot of them confessed to her that they were fed up with the sect activities. She has been trying to convince members to stop their insurgency long before the issue of dialogue and amnesty started. I got to know all these because she is a close friend of my sister’s, who is also a human rights activist. I once drove my sister, whose name I don’t want to mention here, to Aisha’s house and had the opportunity of seeing the sect members.”

Barrister Wakil, who works with the National Human Rights Commission, told Peoples Daily, an Abuja-based newspaper that largely covers the north, that her relationship with members of the sect dates back to a time before the conflict began and before the death of the spiritual leader of the group.

She also alluded to the insinuation that she was an Igbo lady. She was quoted as saying that she “started the dialogue process since 2009, even before the major crisis erupted, because I knew their slain spiritual leader, Muhammad Yusuf. His father in-law, late Alhaji Baba Fugu Mohammed, was my spiritual father in Islam, and I used to visit his home.

“In fact, Mohammed Yusuf almost married my younger sister Amina, but Almighty Allah did not make it possible. So that was how I got closer to the duo. It went even to the extent that I was cooking food and taking it to the house of late Alhaji Fugu, to the pupils of the Qur’anic school, (almajari).

“And because I am from the southern part of the country, I normally prepared southern dishes, which Yusuf had always come to eat. In fact he liked my egusi soup very much and we became very close when his father-in-law told him that I was the one who cooked the food. So anytime we met, he expressed delight and prayed that Almighty Allah would reward me, for he was eating from my pot and that was how I established a strong relationship with him.

“Though I did not know where he lived at that time, but whenever I visited Fugu’s house, I saw many people trooping to the area and they would later gather behind a particular compound, so I asked Fugu who these people were. He replied that they were the followers of his son-in-law and that they had come for a preaching session conducted by the late Boko Haram leader. When they finished the preaching and were offering closing prayers, I would sometimes walk across to get the blessings of the prayers.”

Wakil admits knowing some members of the sect saying, “I reside in Shehuri North Ward, the epicentre of the insurgency and I know majority of the insurgents, so I sat down and made up my mind, that how could I just watch them continue like that?”

“When this thing was about to start in 2009, late Yusuf had been detained severally and when he came out after one of the detentions, I went to his house to greet him, but his followers refused to allow me access to him. I was angry and said I would never go to greet him again.

“On hearing that, he rushed to his father-in-law and asked him to plead with me that I should forgive him, saying he was not around when I came. But three weeks to this problem, I started hearing rumours that they would launch deadly attacks. So, I called him (Yusuf) to my house and when he came, I learnt that Abubakar Shekau and other followers had escorted him, but they stayed outside.

“When he entered my house, he didn’t even look directly at my face. He put his two hands behind him and I said to him, “my son, I’m hearing something. These rumours I’m hearing, I beg you in the name of Allah, don’t do it. He said that he was betrayed; I said by whom, he said by government, I said can I come into it, he said. Alright, if you can intervene and settle it, we are ready.’

“But I was unable to do so due to the protocol involved in government, especially when it entails meeting governors. I tried all I could to get to the former governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, to discuss the issue, but wasn’t able to get to him. But I later spoke to Yusuf’s in-law, telling him that I was not comfortable with these rumours I was hearing but he said there was nothing he could do, as he was a man of over 70 years and that he had written a letter to the government but he didn’t tell me precisely the content of the said letter.

“I continued talking to Yusuf and he kept giving me instances of the betrayal as his followers were shot over the use of crash helmet for instance. Then when they carried their dead bodies for burial they shot them again despite the fact that there was an agreement between them, they were betrayed.

“In fact he had seriously lamented this betrayal as I’m talking to you now I don’t know the betrayal he was referring to and nobody has told me about it up till now. And another issue is, I didn’t know the problem will degenerate into mayhem like we have seen, otherwise I would have contacted some of the elders in the state so that they can come into the matter with a view to finding a solution to it.”

But how was she able to convince the sect members to lay down their arms, she was asked. She said “it was not easy, it was hell. It was horrifying, scary, because when I spoke with one of them, he directed me to come to a particular place. When I reached the location, I found him with an AK 47 rifle and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“Afterwards, he said, ‘Mama, why did you risk your life to come here? I said because we are killing ourselves and I want to put a stop to the bloodshed. He said ‘you know I’m not alone’. I replied that yes, I know and I said but you can talk to others and that was how the whole thing started. I was able to persuade them to come out from their hide-outs in the forest and show their faces, promising that they will not be harmed or arrested. I was able to do so because I’m fully involved in the dialogue procedure.

“After succeeding in convincing some of the insurgents to show up as their safety was guaranteed, I was linked with someone and I contacted the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, who welcomed the development and facilitated several meetings between myself and the insurgents who accepted the dialogue on one hand with the top officials of the state government as well as the Borno Elders Forum, after which the dialogue process was mapped out resulting in the present ceasefire.”

They, however, gave conditions, which include the need for absolute confidence from government that they would not be arrested, all their members in detention should be freed, compensation should be paid to the families and relations of all those killed in the violence.

Others were, rebuilding of the enclave of their leader and houses of some members destroyed in the conflicts, they should also be empowered to be self-reliant, and that all those involved in the extra-judicial killing of late Yusuf should be prosecuted.”

She was not unmindful of the fact that some members of the sect denied ever agreeing to a ceasefire, but said that the denial could not have come from Abubakar Shekau, leader of the sect. She noted that the leaflets denying the ceasefire did not “emanate from Shekau, because he was in support of the truce and in fact was the one who directed Ibn Abdul-Aziz to represent the sect in the agreement.”

Moreover, why did it take long before the purported Shekau denied the ceasefire? She replied: “You would recall that before the ceasefire was reached, Shekau was always hasty to react on any particular issue that didn’t emanate from him. I also want to dismiss the recent video footage of the person who claimed to be Shekau, because the insurgents’ spiritual leader does not cover his face in all his appearances as that man did. But even with the ceasefire, killings and bombings have continued. Actually all these attacks were the handiwork of some faceless enemies of peace and progress of the state. Whether they are politicians or ordinary citizens, all I know is that there are some individuals who are not at all happy with the ongoing peace process that the state has started enjoying.”

But she is not happy with the statement credited to President Goodluck Jonathan, calling the sect members ghosts. She said, “it is quite unfortunate that the president made this statement at a time when dialogue is still going on, Boko Haram is not a faceless group because we have seen them and sat with them. The president’s position will not in any way jeopardise our peace initiative because we are doing it for the benefit of women, children and elderly people, who are at the receiving end.”

This mystery woman may be the key to solving the insecurity that has continued to destroy the north and the economies of some of the most vibrant cities of the north. It is apparent that a lot will be expected from her if the peace initiative is to work.

This article was first published by TheNation Newspapers in its online edition of April 28, 2013

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Behind The Trouble Maker: Meet The Other Abdulmumin Jibrin

Since his decision to resign as Chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin has been in the media limelight for his crusade against what he calls institutionalized corruption in the House. At 39, he is one of the youngest lawmakers in Nigeria country. But who exactly is Abdulmumin Jibrin?
 
Born on September 9th 1976, Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin represents Kiru-Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State in House or Representatives under the aegis of ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC). He was educated at the University of Abuja and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Jibrin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, obtained from the University of Abuja in 1999. He followed up with a Master of Science degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 2003. He then returned to the University of Abuja to obtain PhD in International Relations in 2009.
 
In 2009 he attended London Business School, UK, where he obtained certificates in General Management and Global Economy Crisis. He then proceeded to the prestigious Harvard Business School, USA, for certificates in Negotiation, Competitive Decision and Deal Process, and Comprehensive Leadership Development. Between 2012 and 2014, he got an MBA from the Swiss Business School Zurich, Switzerland. He also has certificates in Telecommunications Strategy and Marketing European Institute of Business Administration INSEAD, France and also attended the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme at the Oxford University, UK.
 
Jibrin started work and business in the media and construction industry at 19 before establishing his own company Green Forest Investment Limited. He later became Chairman/CEO of Green Forest Group with subsidiaries in investments, construction & engineering, property development, petroleum and gas and agriculture. Between 2010 and 2011 he was Chairman (Nigeria) of Turkish construction giant, TASYAPI, as well as Chairman of the Abuja branch of Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce.
 
In 2011, he resigned as Chairman of Green Forest Group Limited to join politics. The same year he contested and won election into the House of Representatives under the PDP. In his first stint in the House he was Chairman of Committee on Finance. He was also head of a joint ad-hoc committee on Finance, Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas Resources. In 2015 he was re-elected into the House of Representatives under the APC and served as Chairman of Appropriation Committee until his resignation.
Jibrin has a passion for teaching and has lectured as several universities mostly pro bono, including the Nasarawa State University where he taught International Relations. He has written several books and papers including the celebrated book on Obasanjo’s foreign policy.
 
Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin is a fellow of several professional bodies and has won several awards both home and abroad. He was the third Nigerian recipient of the French International Visitors Leadership Program since 1989. Jibrin was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow in 2010 for his philanthropy work and sits on the board of and supports several charity organizations.
[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Historical Facts on the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Project As Buhari Commissions…

The Modernisation programme commenced in 2006, with the signing of agreement between Nigeria and the CCECC for construction of a new standard gauge rail network Lagos-Kanoand Port Harcourt – Maiduguri and the Lagos CCalabar lines to replace the existing narrow guage lines, at a cost of  $8.3 billion, over a 25- year period.

*The counterpart funding was faulty on the part of Nigeria, while it contravened the law.
*The government of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua discovered that the contract did not follow due process and that the project was inflated.
*Yar’Adua visited china and re-negotiated and re-scoped the entire project. Partners agreed to first, get the services back by rehabilitating the two narrow guage lines first then construct the standard guage lines thereafter. The standard guage project was segmented and the abuja-kaduna component was added. The completion date of rehabilitation of Lagos-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri lines was December 2011. Rehabilitation work started while a Chinese delegation came to Nigeria to commence on-site assessment and preparatory work on first phase of the now segmented standard gauge Abuja-Kaduna line in July 2008 and to finalise it in 2009. When Yar Adua died, Jonathan rescoped the Lagos-Calabar line by adding Otuoke to it.

*Contract for the Abuja-Kaduna standard rail project was awarded in 2010 but the actual construction did not start till 2011. It is an 874 million dollar project with the Exim Bank of China’s facility of $500 million, while Nigeria was to pay the rest. The Project was scheduled for completion in 2014.

*But Jonathan’s administration reneged on counterpart funding of the project, leading to extension of completion period. It was typical of the Jonathan’s government. Almost all capital projects inherited by the administration were not adequately funded in spite of their strategic importance to the nation, and in spite of the large amount of monies Nigeria made from the high price of crude oil throughout his regime.

*Jonathan did not initiate the project, not to talk of completing it. He indeed, inherited it and had the opportunity of completion to take the glory, but he blew the opportunity.

*When Buhari came in 2015, there were outstanding payments which stalled the project. Buhari paid off and worked commenced and is now completed due largely to the seriousness Buhari attached to it.

*The Second phase of betrayal of terms of agreement befell the Rail Modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan dual track standard gauge line. The contract was awarded in 2012 and to be completed in 2015. Federal Executive Council on July 18th, 2012 approved the sum of $1.457 billion as the project contract sum on 36 months completion period. The project was abandoned by Jonathan after 13 billion naira was appropriated in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 budgets with nothing to show for the sums.

 

Post authored and sponsored by the Buhari Media Support Group

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

The Sudden Exit Of Hadiza Bala Usman From Sir Kashim Ibrahim Govt House Kaduna: Who Fills The Vacuum?

Haj. Hadiza Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman is undoubtedly of an intimidating family lineage and sparkling prolific curriculum vitae (CV).

She is the daughter of late Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman a re-known astute scholar, a human rights activist of reputes and a full blood royal Prince, a direct grandchild of the famous Late Muhammad Dikko the Emir of Katsina in the early 20th century.

Haj. Hadiza bags her 1st and doctorate degrees from the premier Nigerian University of Ahmadu Bello, Zaria. She rose to national lime-light through various working activities and activism. She immensely contributed in the formation of the then solid and verile opposition party APC that won the 2015 general elections.

Her appointment as the Chief of Staff to His Excellency Mal. Nasiru Ahmad El-rufai of Kaduna state was to say the least but was however proved to be the stabilizing force given the entire administration cohesion and progress. As expected of the office, she combined political skills, technocratic mastery and administrative grandizment to propel the government of Mal. Nasiru Ahmad el-rufai higher most.

Her recent appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as the new MD Nigerian Ports Authority doesn’t take analysts aback considering her immense successes and contribution on the nation building.

However it was a thunder bolt or earthquake to the people of Kaduna state who woke-up with shocks of the news that strip-naked the entire government of Kaduna state.

The night-mare therefore remains the tongue waggling of who bears the shoes of this giant wolf that moves to the national stage.

Pundits are of the opinion that some of the possible replacements to the office of the chief of staff government house Kaduna could be:

 

  1. Alh Uba Sani (Political Adviser)

Uba
He is the present political adviser to His Excellency. He had a track record of loyalty and commitment. His only short comings are the inability to help the governor to manage the political confusion in the state chapter of the ruling party APC.

The government is not able to tackle widespread accusations on the lack of an all-inclusive administration with most of those who politically contributed in the success of APC in the state very well sidelined.

He may only be qualified on the aspect of his closeness to His Excellency, loyalty and administrative management skills.

  1. Hon. Garba Abbas (IMC Chairman Giwa)

BashirHe is the present IMC Chairman of Giwa local government as well the state ALGON Chairman, a charismatic politician who was the pioneer secretary of the El-rufai campaign organization before the primary elections.

He was later to be the assistant secretary to the present commissioner for local governments & chieftaincy affairs Hon. Bashir Sa’eed during the stirring committee of the El-rufai campaign organization.

He well served in many capacities among which, the transition committee for the handing over of government to His Excellency Malam Nasiru El-rufai in 2015.

His biggest challenge may be his inability to manage his relationship with other elected officers from his local government area, but he may be considered for his political sagacity to serve as a bridge and a unifying factor.

  1. Hon. Moh’d Sani Dattijo

(Hon. Commissioner Economic Planning)

DaltijoA very young and exposed technocrat with vast knowledge, a level headed person with a brighter future in the state. He is the present commissioner of economic planning. He served in different capacities amongst which the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Washington DC. He is a prolific young politician.

His challenges could be his political limitations but he is however a sound administrator.

  1. Bashir Sa’eed (Hon. Commissioner Local Governments & Chieftaincy Affairs)

SkimA close ally of His Excellency with whom the political moves were initiated. He was involved in all of the skimisms and was later the general secretary pioneer state APC leadership doubling with that of the stirring committee of His Excellency’s campaign organization after securing the Party’s candidature for the governorship in the State.

Hon. Bashir Sa’eed was appointed Commissioner for local governments & chieftaincy affairs on the inauguration of the administration. However, His Excellency promise for the autonomy of local government councils is yet to be fully implemented. To worsen situations, the commissioner is more of the log in the wheels of the local government councils derive to deliver dividends of democracy to their teeming masses.

He is a more controversial senior member of the present administration and his appointment as chief of staff to His Excellency would add more to the desired need for an urgent rescue mission to project the government’s dwindling political image.

  1. Mr Jimmy Lawal (Senior Special Assistant Counseling)

JimmyA very close associate of His Excellency, he was part of the successes of Mal. Nasiru El-rufai as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. He made tremendous contributions in His Excellency’s journey to ascend to the present position.

Mr. Jimmy Lawal is undoubtedly a member of the inner-house that projects policy formulation and implementation for the administration in the state. He presently act in capacity of the chief of staff but may not be able to provide one of the key demands of the chief of staff office which is to stabilize various sectors and institutions due to his lack of touch with mainstream political structure in the state.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

NEVACO: The Newest Sherriff In Town

In 2004 a popular Nigerian pop musician released a song that took a swipe at Nigeria. Though so many thought the lyrics to be satirical, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s reaction to Eedris Abdukareem’s Jaja-Jagamade headlines in national dailies.
The lyrics described how uncoordinated and hopeless the Nigeria project had become in the sense that nothing was working in the security, business, education and other sectors.
Contrary to the sharp criticisms and bashing the presidency lashed out at the artiste, the song was heralded by Nigerians as describing the reality in the country and captures the desperation, frustration and utter disconnect the citizenry had with government. It was, in a way, a plea by the artiste to the government to get things organized.
With the return to democracy in 1999 following long years of military regimes, there was certainly a lack of ethics and values in Nigeria and Nigerians.  There became an urgent need to urge the citizens to once again have a belief in themselves, the government and the country. There was a basic need to uplift the standard of living of the populace in the communities and ensure that they have a sense of belonging in Nigeria and get the best of social services, having the mindset that our political class had overtime encouraged disobedience to the rule of law which has inadvertently eroded the ethical value systems and belief.
The Federal Government, under former President Goodluck Jonathan, on March 17th, 2015 established National Ethnics and Values Department to critically examine the fundamental change in Nigeria that brought corruption to the glare of the public and looking into the importance of ethics and values in our system of governance with Dr. (Mrs.) Serah Jubril appointed the Special Adviser with a view to promoting inherent values of integrity, honesty, fairness and responsibility towards a positive transformation of Nigeria’s cultural heritage and ethical awareness the nation’s core values system.
After the historic election in 2015 which for the first time saw an opposition party defeating the incumbent government, Nigeria was seen to be in a path to self-realization based on the Change Mantra in which the President Muhammadu Buhari government came into power with. 
And to achieve this, President Buhari established the National Ethics and Values Compliance Office (NEVACO) to build in Nigerians that self-confidence is needed. NEVACO is looking at developing the entrepreneurship skill of individuals to be self-reliant, developing code of ethics that will stand the test of time, developing code of conduct of ethical training for all staff, developing a broader social responsibility to showcase it as a source of group strength.
Appointed to shepherd this new establishment is Dr. Emmanuel Adeoye as its first Director General, saddled with the task of giving a new orientation to Nigerians to ethics and values.   
 
Correcting the wrongs
According to Adeoye, the core responsibilities that NEVACO has now are to correct the wrong perceptions in the country and redirect the thinking of Nigerians positively. 
NEVACO is established to correct the wrong, the evil vices we are doing in our country and society today. It is to make sure we do things the right way, which we have not been doing in the country, even the little child in Nigeria today want to make money by wrong ways. So, the aim of the commission is to educate people to be upright and sincere in whatever they are doing. For instance, you want to go to the ministry for something, you must have to bribe somebody to help push the letter, this act is wrong and we want to correct it. So, we are out to let everybody know whatever you are doing in the country, let it be ethnical, let it be done in the right way. Ethnic is to correct the abnormality in the society, to correct the misimpression by the outside communities.”
Being among the newest federal government organizations to be established there are fears that the current state of the economy would affect the effectiveness of the commission given the heavy task it has been saddled with in dealing with over 150 million Nigerians and also with the various experiences being witnessed in the North East, South East and Niger Delta regions.  But Adeoye dispelled those fears saying that NEVACO existed as the Foundation for Ethics and Values (FEAV) under the former special adviser, Dr. Sarah Jubril under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
“If you would remember vividly, how Ethics and Value was been run, the former administration, appointed her Excellency Sarah Jubril as Special Adviser on Ethics and Values and later on my office was created, I am the first Director-General. So, based on this what was in existence before was FEAV   at the time, she was not been given fund so she has to use her NGO to carry the message which to me was a good idea, she started it as a corporative society to help the people with their communities.
“For instance, if there is cassava in a particular village, anybody can borrow money from the corporative and process the cassava, refund the money after selling and the loan given to another people. That was how the structures started going base on NGO bases, what the government is doing now is that they are interested, and decided to say let make it a proper structure. But, again, there is no fund, what we told the government is that we will create something to be generating fund, so that the burden would not be on the government alone. That is what the government is looking for, that is what everybody need now. Because the government can’t do everything, there’s no fund/money anywhere at the moment,” he said.
 
Not waiting for government
With a full knowledge of the task ahead the new DG embarked a sensitization programs aimed at introducing NEVACO to the grassroots all across the six geo-political zones in the country. The first was held at Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State over the weekend with a great emphasis on agriculture.
The conference tagged South West Convention on Ethics and Values sought to engage the people, listen to their complaints and educate them on the need to adhere strictly to the ethics and values of the country. The participants drawn from all sectors of the economy had open access to the Director-General. The core message NEVACO is dwelling on is the need for Nigerians to return to farming. Also enumerated were some of the attracting offers NEVACO spelt out to those who comply.
“We intend to create employment, by training people on different vocations. For instance, in Ekiti state right now, the yam flour Processing Mill is down; it has not been working for a long time. We are looking at NEVACO taking over the mill, we can talk to the people, they bring the yam to our warehouse, we can buy it from them, process it and repackage it for final consumption. We have to invest; we have to also look at bringing in investors to partner with us. We must find a way to create jobs/employment; we don’t need to wait for the government for everything.”
Adeoye made it clear that as a new sheriff tasked with preserving the ethics and values of the land, they are looking for partners that will work progressively with them to achieve the objective.
“We are looking for credible people to drive these programs, not just anybody that would come to destruct the whole process. Like I always tell people, Nigerian like to two things, they like uniform and they like titles. So, structures have to be on ground to correct. Everybody must know their function, not for a watch repairer to stand up and tell the whole world he is a managing director. In order words, we need to get the message of the government to the grassroots; there must be orderliness, structures for everybody to carry out their respective functions.”
 
Duplication of duties
With the Bill establishing the National Ethics and Values Compliance still under consideration by the National Assembly, some experts are of the fear that the duties of the compliance officers may be conflicting with those of the police and Civil Defense corps, an assertion Adeoye said isn’t possible as ethics and values compliance will also partner with the police, armed forces and civil societies. 
“The police is established to act after the offence, the Police arrest because you are a criminal, the DSS arrest  criminals but NEVACO is a compliance office.  We are there to correct everybody; all Nigerians. We are compliance officer and tasked to preach the change, ethnics and value to let people know their right from wrong. We are there to correct people, even the policeman can be corrected by a Compliance Officer. We were with the Inspector General of Police recently and we told them we are here to partner with them, we told them they also need to establish ethnics and value in the police force to deal with any officers that try to go above the law. Every department of our lives, every ministry, parastatals must have a compliance officer to correct abnormality in the country.  We don’t arrest, we make sure you don’t commit the crime. The police arrest after a crime is committed   but we are here to prevent you from committing the crime in the first place. We are going to partner with the police and already existing arm forces; we are here to enlighten people.”
Owing to the hard anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari and his establishment of the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) as a military administrator with WAI brigade corps enforcing discipline at times with force, there has been some allegations by the opposition that the establishment of NEVACO is another form of Buhari bringing in attack dogs that will champion his anti-corruption cause. But the DG reassures that none of that is true as every advanced government knows the need to have an ethics and values department.
“Any serious government all over the world must have Ethics and Values, just take a look at the advance world. It duties is to correct, train and enlighten the citizen. In Nigeria we are developing and as a develop nation things like this will need to stay together as one. Other organization will come up in the nearest future that will are suppose to have. Even in the National Assembly at the moment have a committee on Ethnic and Values is to check them.”
The first test that NEVACO is likely to encounter is the turbulence being witnessed across the regions; Boko Haram in the North East; the agitation for Secession by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) in the South-South, how ready is the commission to send its officers to these volatile areas.
“You know as government, we are talking to everybody; some parts of the country feel cheated and feel they need to have their own share. But, most of the problems are even the communities themselves, they vandalize the pile and it will spill over and destroy their farm, some of them have different ship on the sea to hijack vessel and this is not helping the federal government. Resource control is what they are fighting for, they want to be in control, but this is one Nigeria they should know that there is no negotiation. Power belongs to the people and not one section of the country. They claim they are fighting for the community, but the communities are rejecting them, as we read in the papers every day,” he said.
 
[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

#KanoDurbar16: The Color, The Glamour And The Warriors Of The Desert By Jude Egbas

Last time

The last time I visited Kano, north of Nigeria, Boko Haram ran rings round the historic walls of the ancient city, bombs went off every other day on the streets, the sidewalks were deserted at night, curfews were the in-thing and gun-totting soldiers and cops patrolled the tarmac, peeping from within steel helmets. I had arrived Kano just weeks after a mosque had been hit by Boko Haram bombs, cutting short the lives of hundreds.

As guests of the state government at the time, my colleagues and I rode in buses laden with police escorts and flanked by security personnel. As we drove for dinner on the night we arrived, the fear and tense atmosphere was palpable. I recall laughing uneasily as everyone cracked jokes in the bus. I couldn’t wait to return to the comfort of my hotel room.

And now…

As I made a return to Kano last week on the invitation of friend and brother Salihu Tanko Yakasai (@dawisu)– who is the Director General of media and communications to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje–to spend the Sallah holiday in his city, the atmosphere felt and looked different from the arrival lounge of the airport. There were more people milling about as we drove through the lit streets of the city around 8pm.

gidan maikama

Music filtered from loudspeakers in the distance. At dawn, contemporary Nigerian music boomed from the walls of a refurbished Gidan Makama museum. Millennials danced heartily to Olamide, PSquare and Tekno’s tunes in the foreground of the museum, pulling off moves that could have bested those of their southern peers.

Durbar 5

Kano was ready for a song and dance.

Durbar 11

The Kano Durbar

It was my first Durbar and I was glad I was here in the flesh to take it all in. My day began at the Emir’s palace where Emir Lamido Sanusi galloped out with an army of courtiers, on camel back. The palace was warming up for the Durbar–a colorful display of riders and garishly adorned horses.

emir sanusi

Outside the Emir’s palace, people sat hunched in groups, some already turbaned for Durbar, others simply just excited in anticipation of the festival. Everything stands still in Kano when the Durbar comes around, I was told.

The Durbar festival is held annually to celebrate special occasions such as religious Sallah festivals, honoring of visiting state governments or the installation of a new traditional Emir; often with massive pomp and pageantry. The Durbar festival flaunts the rich culture and tradition of Muslim communities, especially in the Emirate of northern Nigeria. The first Durbar was staged during the reign of Sarkin Kano Abbas in 1911 when the British colonial rulers under the headship of Lord Lugard, assembled all Emirs from different parts of northern Nigeria for the Kano-Nguru railway project.

The two major Durbar festivals in Kano, according to a pamphlet of the event handed out during the occasion, are held at Eid-El-Fitr and Eid-Kabir Sallah celebrations. Held annually, they are celebrated according to the Islamic Calendar.

Durbar 10

The Sallah celebration or Sallah holidays, often depends on the sighting of the moon. This year in Nigeria, the moon proved rather uncooperative. My scheduled trip to Kano kept getting postponed as all of Nigeria turned into a cast of moon gazers. There was certainly no moon up there in the sky as a few friends and I got on-board an Azman airline for Kano on July 6th. We had been told not to wait for the moon any longer, much to everyone’s relief.

Beautiful horses, beautiful people

We sat at the VIP section just behind the governor, to see the Durbar unfold before us. It was a massive crowd on all sides of a bald football pitch just beside the Emir’s palace. Peripatetic traders in carbonated soft drinks and beverages, made brisk business. I sat on a plastic chair after helping myself to a drink I had never seen in Lagos but which tasted quite nice. I think the label read “Kally”; some Dangote mix which comes in variants of apple, peaches and strawberries.

The next minute, I was sitting on the pavement and the next, I was taking pictures of the Durbar from my smartphone whilst perched on the rooftop. Such was the surging crowd and my height disadvantage, every growth in the crowd numbers meant I had to keep adjusting my vantage position that much higher.

durbar 2

The parade of horses and horsemen itself was a spectacle to behold. Kano was in joyous mood. Spread before us, thousands chanted and cheered as the horses made their way across. There were horses adorned in all colors, horsemen turbaned beautifully and children as young as 5 years of age galloping on their horses. From my position on the rooftop, I clapped and cheered, my bald pate glistening in the Kano sunshine. I wasn’t alone. The entire stadium was on its feet the whole period of the Durbar, sweating profusely and having a ball.

durbar crowd

The horses arrived in groups, their riders raising a hand in salute towards the VIP section where Governor Ganduje smiled in return and raised a fist in acknowledgement. Beside him, Environment minister, Amina Mohammed, was enjoying the evening as well.

Amina Ganduje

The governor’s ICT special assistant explained that the groups of horses and horsemen represented the 45 local governments of Kano and the various districts. The district heads rode ahead of the procession, looking like warriors in the desert. When Emir Sanusi bucked the trend and sauntered on camel back instead of a horse like everyone else, the governor’s ICT assistant told me the new Emir vowed to ride on camel-back because his grandfather or great-grandfather also rode on a camel. The uncontrollable crowd devolved into a cacophonous frenzy as the Emir made his way through.

emir

One young man beside us couldn’t stop chanting indiscernible words even during relatively quiet moments. He was gyrating as well. He was so excited, his voice was taking the form of a grating guttural sound. I alighted from my rooftop position to have a word with him. Surely, he could enjoy the evening without becoming such a nuisance to VIPs (“Rooftop VIP” inclusive).

And just as I got to within a foot of him in all of his towering mass, the young men beside him armed with selfie sticks pulled me over in readiness for a selfie photograph. I smiled hesitantly and click…click…click.

Yours truly and the “loudmouth one” in one photo!

All my pre-composed words of advice suddenly forgotten and shoved down my throat. If you couldn’t stand the noise, you shouldn’t have been here, I quickly advised myself. We were here to holler and party.

And hollered we did..well into the night. Well into day 2 of the Durbar…

The Emir visits the governor

Day 2 of the Durbar Festival is held so the Emir can return the favor–pay the state governor a return courtesy visit in his official residence. On Day 1 of Durbar, the governor is a guest of the Emir at his palace.

A tent reserved for visitors, journalists and bloggers was made available to us. But that was soon taken over by the surging crowd. Again, my height disadvantage was intent on putting me to shame in Kano. As soon as it officially dawned on me that everyone in front was taller and had constituted themselves into an opaque wall, I peeled off from the team and ran into the bus, just in time to see the Emir strut his camel past us and into the governor’s residence–the joyous crowd taking in his every stride and ululating in uniform.

Ganduje Emir

A few horsemen posed for us and shared a laugh or two. A group of young men dressed in red, occasionally let their dane guns rip through the still Kano sky.

BOOM…BOOM!!!

I enjoyed those sounds on Day 1 of the Durbar as well. A deafening sound from a gun at peace-time isn’t a bad thing, I discovered. The men were described as the defenders of the Emir and his palace.

Magic and the search for Kilishi/ Dabun Nama

Dawisu had it all planned out, I figured. For each night we were in Kano, there was a surprise in store for us at night-time from the stable of the DG on media. Because what happens in Kano should stay in Kano, I’ll leave out what Dawisu treated us to on the other nights. After all, what’s a diary without some suspense?

Our penultimate night in Kano will stay etched in the memory for a while. We were herded into this historical building at about 9pm, to be shown more of the city’s ancient history, its culture, allure and artifacts.  Outside, with the moon now casting a shadow in the background, local dancers and musicians strutted their stuff. They were good. The dancers had the capacity to twist their malleable bodies into whichever shapes they wanted. They were acrobatic, nimble and dexterous all at once. We applauded their art and every move over sumptuous dinner.

Stepping out of the group was a young man just as short as yours truly. Except that he had a bag of tricks up his sleeves. He was part magician and part trickster. He’ll swallow a roll of tissue paper and regurgitate a string of razor blades. He turned leaf into milk while everyone watched and called out water from the sky on a dry night. He emptied water into a cup and emptied out air from the cup. He poured water into a newspaper and poured same into the ground as you would from a glass. The newspaper was dry to touch at some point. The bloody magician!! Each spell of magic was performed to the beats of the local drummers and troupe of dancers behind him.

I couldn’t wait to run away. Ahmed Rufai (@Sir_Ruffy) who was seated on the same table as me, whispered that some of these Kano magicians were quite capable of making your private member or money from your wallet disappear with a stroke of the finger. That was some scary stuff, you’ll agree.

Durbar 3

The next night, my friends and I embarked on this hunt for Kilishi and Dambu Nama (some dried, processed beef variants) for our loved ones back in Lagos and Abuja. We got aboard a Keke (tricycle) and led by Abubakar Usman (@MrAbuSidiq) we ended up in a rustic part of Kano called Agade Sawa. We emerged out of this spot clutching enough Kilishi to kick-start a Kilishi business of our own.

As I pen this, I still reek of some tasty Kilishi.

Dun cry. Dun Beg

Dawisu has the governor’s ears

There was plenty of rapport between Governor Ganduje and his DG on media and communications, Salihu Tanko Yakasai (who you know as Dawisu), as we sat down for a chat with the number one citizen of Kano state on the eve of our departure.

In that measured cadence, barely above a whimper, Dawisu introduced us to his boss, as assuredly as you’d like. He exuded plenty of grace, charisma and confidence, for a young man his age. Governor Ganduje nodded to and smiled at Dawisu’s every word. He looked very pleased with his latest hire–a respected member of Nigeria’s burgeoning and very active social media community– the same community Reuben Abati loves to call the “Children of Anger”.

Governor Ganduje spoke about his vision for his state, the Durbar and how he’s commenced efforts to return Kano to its enviable position as the country’s agricultural hub–away from its current dependence on handouts from the center, stripped off plummeting oil proceeds. He articulated a clear vision of how the Durbar is one in a series of deliberate steps to remake Kano into a tourism destination of first choice.

Durbar 4

durbar 6

“You can see that we do not have Boko Haram in Kano anymore”, Ganduje said with a broad smile.

When Dawisu asked his governor to pose for a selfie with the Children of Anger, he duly obliged. Ganduje was at home here. At home with the iPad wielding, twittering, Facebooking, Whatsapping lot.  “You are Dawisu’s guests today”, Ganduje said humorously, “next time you’re in Kano, you’ll be my own guests and I’ll show you around all my completed developmental projects…”

selfie governor

Sallah holiday over

We touched down in Lagos to the sickening feeling that our Sallah gig was over and that work will begin in a few hours. Jubril Gawat (@Jag_bros) pulled us out of the airport parking lot in his ride, to some mish-mash of fuji music from the stereo.

Durbar 7

Durbar 9

Hope to see you again, Kano. Hope to see you soon, Durbar.

____________________

Catch the writer on Twitter @egbas

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]