Jonathan’s Appeal To Pastor Adeboye: The Cry Of A Drowning Man, By Amaechi Agbo

“For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” – Romans 13 vs 4
 
When former President Goodluck Jonathan called to the General Overseer (GO) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adebayo to call the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo who is a revered pastor in the church to order him to halt his continuous exposure of malfeasance that took place under his tenure, it became clear that they would stop at nothing to conceal their misdeeds.
 
The rot and unbridled corruption perpetrated by Jonathan and his officials are simply unprecedented that it would be an anomaly and injustice if they are not called out.
 
He seems to have been pricked the most by Prof Osinbajo’s speech at The Platform, a programme organised by the Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos which he said three persons stole $3 billion (N1 trillion) in the Jonathan administration.
 
Not happy with the revelation, they asked the Vice President to name the persons involved if his claims were true and he did. He listed Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko and the former Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani Alison- Maduekwe as the three persons involved. Since his response, we have not heard from Jonathan and his cohort.
But that is one of many revelations about the immediate past government and also one of many which he did not say to Pastor Adeboye. Earlier in March this year, the VP also explained to Nigerians how the Jonathan administration shared N150 billion two weeks to the 2015 elections while it spent a paltry N14 billion on agriculture in 2014; N15 billion on transportation and only N153 billion on infrastructure in three years.
 
No country where would such looting spree as witnessed under Jonathan be hatched and executed with cruelty would not lead to economic contraction and a disjoint in economic flow.
 
It is disheartening that instead of calling his crooks who milked this country dry and aborted her promising future to return the loots they had pillaged for their selfish benefits, rather the former President is adding a needless burden on a clergy who knows very much that the Vice President is only saying the truth.
 
Just in case the former president and his media jokers have forgotten, in March this year, the federal government released the list of looters of which more are expected to be released soon to the Nigeria populace. Expectedly, the named looters never went to court to challenge the list. Only two did.
 
The only worrying situation we have at hand is that the courts in the land have not been proactive enough in the federal government’s anti-corruption fight, otherwise many people walking on the streets in the country should be cooling off in various jails in the country serving various jail terms for their self aggrandizement while in office. 
 
If indeed, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo’s revelations were untrue as Jonathan’s uninformed media aids posited, one would have expected Goodluck Jonathan to do the needful – go to court and claim damages. But alas, he decided to dabble in pettiness seeking favour where he has none. 
 
The law is clear on the defamation of character and as an educated man, one would have expected him to explore this option. Like the saying goes, that one does need not wear glasses to check what is on the wrist. 
 
In releasing the list of the looters in March, the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammad said “The decision by the APC-led government to reveal the names of the alleged looters and the funds allegedly stolen is in response to the opposition party, PDP’s, challenge to the government to name those alleged to have looted the country and destroyed the economy.
 
“This list is just a tip of the iceberg, and the APC did not make these cases up as some of them currently have cases in court.
 
“We insist that Nigeria was looted blind under the watch of the PDP and that the starting point in tendering an apology is for them to return the loot.
 
“We will not stop talking about the massive looting by the PDP. They brought Nigeria to this sorry pass.”
 
The federal government through the culture and information ministry released the following names, inter alia, as looters of Nigeria treasury under the unfortunate leadership of last administration:
 
Former NSA Sambo Dasuki: Based on EFCC investigations and findings alone (this is beside the ongoing $2.1 billion military equipment scandal), a total of N126 billion, over $1.5 billion and 5.5 million British Pounds was embezzled through his office. A good number of these monies were simply shared to persons and companies without any formal contract awards.
 
Former Petroleum Resources Minister,  Diezani Alison-Madueke: In just one of the cases the EFCC is investigating involving her, about N23 billion is alleged to have been embezzled. She is also involved in the Strategic Alliance Contracts of the NNPC, where the firms of Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko got oil blocks but never paid government taxes and royalty. About $3 billion was involved. The Federal Government is charging Omokore and Aluko and will use all legal instruments local and international to ensure justice.
 
Rtd. Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah: N13.9 billion. N4.8 billion recovered by EFCC in cash and property
 
Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika: N4.5 billion. N29m recovered by the EFCC so far.
 
Alex Barde, former Chief of Defence Staff: N8 billion, and EFCC recovered almost N4 billion in cash and property already.
 
Inde Dikko: former CG Customs: N40 billion, and N1.1 billion in cash recovered in cash and choice properties.
 
Air Marshal Adesola Amosun: N21.4 billion. N2.8 billion recovered in cash. 28 properties and 3 vehicles also recovered.
 
Senator Bala Abdulkadir, former FCT Minister: N5 billion. Interim forfeiture order on some property secured.
 
Senator Stella Oduah: N9.8 billion. Interim forfeiture order on some property secured.
 
Former Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu: N1.6 billion – from NSA.
 
Senator Jonah Jang, former Plateau State Governor: N12.5 billion.
 
Bashir Yuguda, former Minister of State for Finance: N1.5 billion, $829, 800 recovered.
 
Senator Peter Nwaboshi: N1.5 billion
 
Aliyu Usman: Former NSA Dasuki’s aide: N512 million
 
Ahmad Idris: Former NSA Dasuki’s PA: N1.5 billion
 
Rasheed Ladoja: Former Oyo Governor: N500 million
 
Tom Ikimi: N300 million
 
Femi Fani-Kayode: N866 million
 
Hassan Tukur, former PPS to President Goodluck: $1.7 million
 
Nenadi Usman: N1.5 billion
 
Benedicta Iroha: N1.7 billion
 
Aliyu Usman Jawaz: Close ally of former NSA Dasuki: N882 million
 
Jonah Jang, former Plateau State Governor: N12.5 billion
Godknows Igali: Over N7 billion
 
PDP Chairman Uche Secondus: On the 19th of Feb 2015, took N200 million only from the office of the NSA.
 
Therefore, if former President Jonathan should make any call, that call should be that the crooks who looted Nigeria’s common patrimony should return them.
 
When the people that safeguard the big masquerade are chased away, the masquerade feels threatened and insecure and like a drowning man, will try to hold unto anything real or imaginary for relevance. 
 
Amaechi Agbo is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja. 

My Open Letter To Mr President, By Olasupo Opeyemi

It is with a heavy heart that I sit down to write Your Eminence. As a conscious, patriotic and progressive youth, I could not help but register my dissatisfaction with my country’s plight alongside a volley of plea to your administration to rescue this dire situation. Excuse the curtness of my manners. The intensity of my pain has almost robbed me entirely of formality. My passionate plea is not for a personal gain but for a revision of government’s position on issues of health, poverty and education, the individual components forming the fulcrum around which our collective development and glory as a nation revolve.

Sir, I read the disapproving remarks you made at the 58th general conference of the Nigeria Medial Association (NMA) concerning the unpleasant effects of various strike actions embarked upon by the country’s health professionals on the nation’s health. With a commensurate level of concern – and perhaps more, I have found myself under the onus of speaking on this trend with a view to achieving an impressive turn in events.

By the same token, a flush of reassurance stole my heart when I read your solemn promise, alongside the Senate President, to release the 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund to cater for health needs – in line with the National Health Act of 2014. This is a remarkable development. There is, however, still far more to be done to make this administration the true, long-awaited group of heroes.

Sir, I will always be reminded to say that nothing has been more pleasant about the present administration than President Muhammadu Buhari’s unconditional devotion to unceasingly protect the interest of the citizenry. In many of your words, Your Eminence has always reiterated your unfaltering devotion to putting your country first. Sir, I am a fan of your confession for being for everyone, and, today, Your Excellency, I seek to invoke that spirit of selflessness and dedication to the common man’s good to seek your favour pro bono publico (for the public good).

Mr. President, it is always interesting to know that Nigeria has a fantastic population of a hundred and eighty million people – conservatively. Unfortunately, this feeling of national pride is not without an admixture of an aching sore. The country’s high death toll owing to a gross inadequacy of our health sector is the source of this enormous pain.

In a statistic that will shake the cruelest heart, sir, the 2006 UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report reveals that about 580,000 mothers die from pregnancy-related causes – annually, while close to 750,000 children are buried amid bitter tears before their fifth birthday. It is also a thing of national shame that our dear country loses $1bn to medical tourism every year whilst forfeiting its thousands of well-trained medical professionals who continually search for greener pastures to other countries ? no thanks to the inadequate resources channeled toward maintaining the country’s health sector. It is exceedingly disturbing that the country has set aside only a paltry ?1,500 – according to an analysis – to be spent on our individual health needs.

As if it never happened, sir, the country seems to have totally forgotten the Abuja Declaration. Since there are piles of documents that struggle for your presidential attention, may I be honoured to remind you of the promise our dear country made some seventeen years ago. On April 1, 2001, heads of states of African Union countries met and pledged to set at least 15% of their annual national budget to improve the health sector. While the duo of Rwanda and South Africa have attained this praiseworthy target, it’s disappointing and dissatisfying that the purported Giant of Africa is nowhere within sight. Instead of progressing we have only continued to stagnate. In fact, the situation has gone for the worse with the 2018 budget which has considered a ridiculous 3.95 percent for our healthy subsistence in the national budget. For years, we have depended on aids to tackle diseases like HIV and Polio.

If this deviation from a sealed pact has been ongoing for years unaddressed, I believe the time is now to hold firmly to that pledge. Now is the time for the country to shift focus to the deteriorating health sector. And this will never be possible until the country retraces its position toward the Abuja pact that stipulates a modest 15% of budgetary allocation to the nation’s health-related concerns. Another step in the right direction is the release of the 1% Consolidated Fund Revenue for the health sector. In the name of humanity and love and for the sake of our collective national development, may I humbly and passionately solicit that Senate approves the 1% consolidated fund with the 2018 budget as promised, while future efforts would be made at assuming the aforesaid 15% target.

It is a ridiculous and unspeakable source of collective shame to humanity that an incredible 130 million girls are out of school, when a report has exposed that it costs less than a loaf of bread or a newspaper to educate a girl in a day. Sir, it is a great source of national disrepute that our dear country ranked as the 27th for a girl child to get an education. While this is uncomplimentary, prima facie, a regional consideration tells a more discouraging reality. With the heinous insurgent incidences of Boko Haram, over 1000 schools have been destroyed in the North while a thousand five hundred more have been closed as of 2016. Sadly, 52% of girls in the North-East are out of school.

If the business of the nation is business, there is yet a fascinating and untold economic yield that accompanies the education of the girl child. As unbelievable as this may sound, pundits are unequivocal in their assertion that educating girls to the same level as boys could benefit developing countries to the tune of at least $112 billion a year. In fact, one 2008 estimate suggested that the failure to educate girls to the same standard as boys cost developing countries $92 billion a year. This should not be so incredible. The last prophet of Islam, Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), has said, “when you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. Bridging the gender gap could yield an enormous gain in developing countries, a figure that has been presumed to be between $112 billion and $152 billion dollars a year, according to 2017 One Campaign paper.

In the face of this resource boom, it is disappointing – though not surprising – that a massive number of Nigerians still flourish in stark penury. While poverty may seem an insurmountable impasse for the country, experts have confidently proposed education to be a potent weapon against the towering poverty in country. There is an abundance of evidence that countries who have a more educated population are healthier, wealthier and more stable.

Educating the girl child carries as much importance as increasing the budgetary allocation for the health sector. This is because education is light, wealth and power. Girls who do not get educated are at a high risk of becoming child mothers, are more vulnerable to disease, and suffer the risk of dying of AIDS.

With the look of things, this cost of our little investment in the health and educational sectors – especially of the girl child – is too expensive for us to bear as a developing nation. Sir, an increased health spending will translate into a healthier and increasingly productive population, just as an increased educational allocation and monitoring would mean a healthier, wealthier and more progressive population. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about people’s lives than infrastructures?

On a final note, I would love to express my cordial greetings to Your Excellency. It is an honour to be a witness to the milestones your administration has achieved so far. While I admire your success, let me hasten to add that there is still so much to achieve. A lot has been done but a lot more is still undone. My genial wishes to the honorable Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr, Yakubu Dogara. I sincerely hope the duo would be served copies of this letter of aching concern.

Olasupo Abideen Opeyemi is a ONE Champion (one.org) and a fellow of the Young Africa Leadership Initiative (Regional Leadership Centre). He is the executive director of the award-winning Brain Builders International; a United Nations recognised and certified SDGs group. He is also the CEO Brain Builders IT Firm, OPAB Global Consult, OPAB Gas Station, Soup For Me and OPAB Farms. He hails from Osun State. He can be reached on abideenolasupo@gmail.com or 2347068775529. He tweets at @opegoogle

The Critical Path Of Dignity To Every Young Person Out There, By Praise Fowowe

My first degree was accounting before I took up permanent residency in the family life sector. I remember clearly how my dad would complain about my consistent stay at school without bothering him about my financial needs.

I can recollect how I took responsibilities for my friends during exams when most would had become broke and so fresh is the memory of how many school fees I helped in paying, even as a student.

The big question anyone should ask now is: ‘What was my source of wealth’?

I learnt early from the book of Proverbs that ‘It is better to get your hands dirty and eat than to be too proud to work and starve’ so I sourced for opportunities to do anything ethical, legal and right, to earn something for myself.

If you had graduated from the University of Ado Ekiti, it would interest you to know that I painted many of the doors in your hostels and was paid #500 daily for working for 4 hours. So in a week, I earned #2500 which was a lot way back in 1998 or so. I learnt early enough what it means to solve problems and get paid for doing so.

Fast forward to the year 2002 as an employee who had just pledged away his 9months salary for a cause I believed in, my brother was a bit scared about how I would survive my madness that period but guess what? I had survived as a student and my skills had not deserted me. So, what did I do that time?
DIGNITY: My letter to younger folks

My first degree was accounting before I took up permanent residency in the family life sector. I remember clearly how my dad would complain about my consistent stay at school without bothering him about my financial needs.

I can recollect how I took responsibilities for my friends during exams when most would had become broke and so fresh is the memory of how many school fees I helped in paying, even as a student.

The big question anyone should ask now is: ‘What was my source of wealth’?

I learnt early from the book of Proverbs that ‘It is better to get your hands dirty and eat than to be too proud to work and starve’ so I sourced for opportunities to do anything ethical, legal and right, to earn something for myself.

If you had graduated from the University of Ado Ekiti, it would interest you to know that I painted many of the doors in your hostels and was paid #500 daily for working for 4 hours. So in a week, I earned #2500 which was a lot way back in 1998 or so. I learnt early enough what it means to solve problems and get paid for doing so.

Fast forward to the year 2002 as an employee who had just pledged away his 9months salary for a cause I believed in, my brother was a bit scared about how I would survive my madness that period but guess what? I had survived as a student and my skills had not deserted me. So, what did I do that time?
I took Pastor Bimbo Odukoya’s tapes to the banks and sold for at a higher price. I made Zobo and positioned in front of churches and I also offered to dry clean clothes for my friends for a fee. I also became an emergency musician supported by Excel Adeleye-Samuel to play at wedding ceremonies. We did anything and everything legal, ethical and right just to be able to feed. That was the period pap became my favorite meal because that was what I could afford and #5 naira biscuit with tea became common on my desk while rehearsing for a life of a future executive.

Why am I writing this and where am I going?

My heart sinks everyday when I see what young people are willing to do to earn and how people put themselves under unnecessary pressure just to belong. The quest to drive the latest cars and live a life we are not qualified for is driving many of our young minds into all sorts of crime.

Sometimes, we may want to blame bad leadership but this bad leadership was in existence when I sold zobo and painted doors. Why are we suddenly pretending as if this bad leadership just started yesterday?

Pay attention to the songs on airwaves and you’d be shocked at how much of ‘Make money at all cost and be ashamed if you don’t have money’ these young minds consume everyday. Unfortunately, religion has also reduced God to the one we can command and money cometh but do we bother to find out what people do between the chant and the testimonies?

Dear young minds, I want you to note the following:
1. That you want to drive that big car now and go testify about it is a proof that our transportation system has failed because your car is a tool for transportation and any attempt to qualify it otherwise is ignorance.

  1. Don’t put pressure on yourself because someone advertised 7digit income. Those who earn 7 digits daily or weekly don’t announce it on social media. You might want to ask those who peddle such if they earn such all the time and ask them to show you their evidence.
  2. Never measure your success by what you drive; measure it by what drives you because success as defined by a wise man is not what you have achieved rather it’s what you have achieved compared to what you could have achieved.
  3. Your journey is not the same as others’ so keep your focus and run your own race, lest you crash because godliness with contentment is great gain.
  4. Volunteer with anyone that is honest enough to tell you the truth and show you the way and don’t be fixated on what to earn as a starter. As you discover what they know what you know will ultimately produce what they earn.
  5. Yahoo Yahoo and 419 are not the way to go because the same level of skills and diligence deployed to scam people could have been used to do a legitimate business
  6. Have dignity in whatever you do as long as it is not stealing and give it your best because money is what you get for adding value and a true measure of your humanity is the value you can add to the society. Even if all you do is sell water, carry yourself with dignity and look for how to scale up. You are better off than a thief.
  7. Refine your skills and plan to be indispensable to the future. I started with nothing and served the best in my field for free. Not once did I steal their funds and not once did I disrespect them. I wanted to become the best so I went after the best. You can serve your way to wherever you want to go.

At the end of your life, what would matter is not what you drove or at what age you made your first billion. What would matter will be the value you have added to
At the end of your life, what would matter is not what you drove or at what age you made your first billion. What would matter will be the value you have added to humanity and how truly your mind can be at peace with what you have done with your life.

Be proud of your trade and know that as long as you are hardworking and what you are doing is adding value to humanity, no matter how much our society counts it as insignificant, you deserve a lot of accolade.

I honour you

 

Praise Fowowe

pf@iampraisefowowe.com

NASS/Presidency: A Disharmounious Marriage That Must Work, By Johannes Tobi Wojuola

This legal relationship, forged by the letters of our constitution has been a rocky romance from its coming together again in 1999. Break-ups, cheating, distrust, late nights, bribery, and even padding have been the phrases that we have oft heard of the affair.

But this is not uncommon, or unexpected. Different political leanings, different personal backgrounds, strong ego, unclear relationship terms, with seeming overlapping responsibilities, interests, and many more, are the obvious reasons.

Yet, irrespective of these, the two arms must never forget that their mandate is to serve the Nigerian people. Differences must be set aside, and ego-driven argy-bargies left behind to fulfill this primary assignment.

For this Presidential system of government to fulfill its constitutional objectives, to give the Nigerian people good governance, all hands must be on deck. That is to say, the three arms of government must work in tandem, not at cross-purposes, to fulfill this mandate.

Promises by the government in power, especially for infrastructure, social amenities and investments are put into the budget proposal sent to the legislature to undergo the rigorous sail of scrutiny, debate and defense of the appropriation process. And even when they are passed into law, they are naught but proposals – mere intentions. Funding must be made available for each item. For some, this would be guaranteed from earnings from oil revenues, while others would find their funding from borrowing, or other sources of government revenue.

The spirit of the budget proposal is summarized thus: what do we, the government, seek to do, when do we hope to do same, where would we get the funds to embark on these expenditure?

For the fact that Nigeria’s income is not sufficient to fund our deep deficit of infrastructure and capital needs, the country must borrow. To borrow, we must equally, with circumspect and nous, discern whether to borrow externally and/or internally; and to what degree on each, where we opt for both. Either way: the blessing of the Legislature must be sought to make this happen.

Where these two arms of government quibble unnecessarily, over who gets what, when and how much, the people are the ones who bear the brunt. No projects. No roads. No schools. No health facilities, no social investments – because the elephants are fighting.

In 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, then Acting President signed the budget in June – that was almost mid-year. That budget is still in operation. Knowing that it takes about 200 days to complete the due processes for procurement, a delayed budget passage has damaging effect on the delivery of government’s promises to the people.

With the somewhat early submission of the 2018 Budget document by the President to the National Assembly, it was hoped that the passage of the 2018 Budget would be different, evidence on ground does not seem that way. It is late-April and the budget is yet to be passed by the National Assembly. With 2018 being largely a political year of campaigns and political mobilization, slow passage of this budget may hamper its implementation, especially that it has not been passed in the first quarter.

Both arms of government must sit up and get to work together; with the ball largely in the court of the legislature right now, it has the burden of pulling this through in record time – if it wants to. Politics and self-serving interests must be put aside in the overall interest of Nigerians.

Nigeria faces daunting challenges in the days ahead. The world, as it progresses, and solves its own problems, would not pause to help us fix ours; most of which were in fact self-inflicted.  For instance, parliament withheld approvals of Presidential nominees to the boards of the Central Bank, ICPC and some other government agencies, which slowed down the process of governance. This sort of petty power-play is needless for our country’s development.

The fractious romance of these two arms of government is more worrisome, when one remembers that the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has a majority membership in the National Assembly. As it is worrisome, so also, is it embarrassing.

An epigram says: The President proposes the budget, but congress holds the key to the purse. The good intentions of the Executive do not translate to better days for the Nigerian people without the legislature playing its fundamental role of opening the purse for spending through the Appropriation Bill and other sundry responsibilities.

A better harmonious relationship must be forged. And if patting each other’s back would smoothen this ride then it must be done. If for nothing else, in honor of the ultimate responsibility to serve the Nigerian people. Not our egos.

By Johannes Tobi Wojuola, a lawyer, and a member of the Abuja Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum

Senate Versus IGP: A Dissection Of The Law, By Inibehe Effiong

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria summoned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on three different occasions, namely: April 25, 2018; May 2, 2018 and May 9, 2018. The IGP failed to honour the summons.

The reasons for the summons as indicated by the Senate are twofold: the first reason was for the Police Chief to address it, and answer questions on the “undignified” manner the Police treated their colleague Senator Dino Melaye. The second reason was for the IGP to answer questions on the killings perpetuated across the country by armed herdsmen and other militias. Recall that the Senate previously debated the unabated killings by herdsmen and other armed groups in Nigeria during it plenaries on January 16 and 17, 2018 and resolved inter alia: that the IG should arrest and prosecute the suspects within Two weeks (14 days).

The facts as stated above are already in the public domain and verifiable. My intervention in this piece is to dissect the law on the matter.

As a preliminary point, the power of the Senate to summon any person in Nigeria is derived from Sections 88 and 89(1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) (subsequently referred to as ‘the Constitution’) as reproduced infra:

Section 88 (1) “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed investigation into – (a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for – (i) executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.”

88 (2) The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to;

(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and (b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it”.

89 (1) For the purpose of any investigation under Section 88 of this Constitution and subject to the provisions thereof, the Senate or the House of Representatives or a committee appointed in accordance with section 62 of this Constitution shall have power to – (c) summon ANY PERSON in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions.” (Capitalize for emphasis).

It is beyond contention that the IGP can be summoned by the Senate to give evidence on any of the matters listed in Section 88 (1) for the purposes envisaged under Section 88 (2) of the Constitution. In essence, the real issue in controversy here is not whether the Senate can summon the IGP, but for what purpose?

Two reasons were adduced by the Senate for summoning the IGP. The first reason was for him to address it and answer questions on the travails of Senator Dino Melaye. The second reason was for the IGP to explain the wanton killing of innocent Nigerians in Benue State and other parts of the country.

On the issue of mass killings across the country, by the combined effect of Section 214 (1)(b) of the Constitution and Section 4 of the Police Act Cap. P19 LFN 2004, the responsibility for the maintenance of law and order and security of lives and property is vested in the Nigeria Police Force. Therefore, the Senate acted within the scope of its oversight powers under Section 88 of the Constitution by summoning the IGP over the killings in Nigeria since the Police Act that vests the duty of security on the Police is a law made by the National Assembly; of which the Senate is an arm as provided in Section 47 of the Constitution.

On the issue of Senator Dino Melaye, some of my learned friends have contended that the Senate cannot summon the IGP over the manner the Kogi Senator was treated by the Police. With the greatest respect to them, that argument can be faulted for the reasons canvassed below.

The powers to search, arrest, detain and or prosecute any person are donated to the Police by an Act of the National Assembly, specifically Part 4 of the Police Act. When the Police exercise its powers of searching, arresting, detaining or prosecuting any person in Nigeria, they are merely executing a law made by the National Assembly. Note that by virtue of Section 88 (1)(b)(i) of the Constitution reproduced supra, the Senate is imbued with the power to carry out investigation into “the conduct of affairs or any person, authority, Ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the responsibility for executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly.”

If it is conceded that the police was executing a law made by the National Assembly when it arrested Senator Dino Melaye for alleged sundry offences, it follows that the Senate can investigate the conduct of the affairs of the IGP and the Police relating to how it executed its powers in arresting and detaining Dino Melaye, provided that the purpose of such investigation by the Senate is to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution of the powers of the Police under Part 4 of the Police Act.

I agree that the Senate cannot investigate a matter which is a subject of litigation based on the sub judice rule. Admittedly, this rule is cognizable under Order 53(5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015, (as amended) which states that ‘’Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending in such a way as might in the opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.’’ Interestingly, IGP Idris relied on this very provision to evade probe by the Senate over the allegations made against him by Senator Misau when he appeared before the Senate ad-hoc committee on the matter.

In the present case, Dino Melaye was first arraigned on May 2, 2018 in Abuja which coincided with the second summons. As at April 25, 2018 when the IGP was first summoned to appear, there was no pending litigation on the Melaye’s case. If the IGP is now relying on the sub judice rule to ignore the Senate summons, which should be properly raised when he appears before the Senate, which court case is preventing him from honouring the summons to explain the ongoing wanton killings across the country?

There is nothing unprecedented or unusual in the decision of the Senate to investigate the actions of the Nigeria Police Force. Indeed, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cases of alleged abuse or misuse of power and human rights violation by the police pending before the Senate and the House of Representatives Committees on Human Rights and Public Petitions. These are cases brought by Nigerians of diverse economic, social and political standing to seek redress against various forms of reckless and unlawful exercise of power by the police and other law enforcement agencies. It will be to the collective disadvantage of the people of Nigeria if the National Assembly was not empowered by the Constitution to investigate the conduct of affairs of the police. The law cannot be changed overnight merely because the Senate has decided to invoke its oversight powers for the benefit of one of its member. The right of Melaye or any other Nigerian to seek redress in court does not operate as a bar to the oversight powers of the National Assembly.

It is also my considered view that the IGP cannot delegate other officers to represent him when the Senate has expressly indicated that it wants the IGP to appear before it in person. Section 89 (1)(c) of the Constitution empowers the Senate to summon ANY PERSON. It is also unhelpful to posit that the Inspector General of Police is an office and can be represented or that the occupant of the office can delegate his functions. The Police Act, which authorizes the IGP to delegate his functions, is subservient to the Constitution which empowers the Senate to summon ANY PERSON. The IGP cannot rely on his power of delegation under the Police Act to challenge the power of the Senate under the Constitution to summon him to appear in person.

The Senate is empowered by Section 89 (1)(d) of the Constitution to issue a warrant to compel the attendance of the IGP since the excuses given by the IGP are not satisfactory to the Senate. Unfortunately, it is the same Nigeria Police Force headed by the IGP that has the duty under Section 89 (2) of the Constitution to enforce and execute the warrant. This is why the conduct of the IGP must be deprecated and viewed not just as a flagrant disregard for the rule of law, but a despicable attack on our nascent democracy.

I further submit that it is not within the powers of the IGP to determine whether the reasons proffered by the Senate for summoning him are within the scope of Section 88 of the Constitution. That is for the courts to determine. Only a court of competent jurisdiction can interpret or limit the constitutional powers of the Senate under Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution. If the IGP genuinely believed that the Senate acted ultra vires by summoning him, he ought to have sought redress in court.

I am conversant with the decisions of the Court of Appeal in the cases of Senate of National Assembly v. Momoh (1983) 4 NCLR, 269 and Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai v. The House of Representatives, National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & Ors. (2003) 46 WRN 70, where the appellate court pronounced on the limits of the investigative powers of the National Assembly under the Constitution. However, a case is only an authority for what it decides. The facts of those cases are not on all fours with the present case. If the Senate in their letter of invitation (summons) to the IGP had clearly indicated that the summons was for the IGP to explain the killings in the country and the manner Melaye was treated, the Senate is in order as those reasons are within the scope of the Constitution. The IGP is not a private citizen but a public officer.

Last month, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory presided over by Justice Abba Bello Mohammed, dismissed a suit instituted by this same IGP, Ibrahim Idris, against the Senate when he was summoned over the damning allegations leveled against him by Senator Isa Misau. The Court upheld the powers of the Senate under Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution to summon the IGP. The IGP is yet to honour that summons despite losing in court.

This same IGP has continued to flout the subsisting orders of two different courts of competent jurisdiction for him to unseal the office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria. We are dealing with an IGP who flouted the directive of the President and Commander-in-Chief for him to relocate to Benue State. The contemptuous conduct of the IGP towards the institution of the Senate is intolerable. This unbridled impunity by the Chief Law Enforcement Officer should not be allowed to stand.

Let it be known that I am neither a fan of Senator Dino Melaye nor do I share in his political idiosyncrasy. I also have strong reservations about the present crop of members of the Senate and its leadership. However, we must never condone the destruction of our institutions. Senate President Bukola Saraki and Senator Dino Melaye will not be in the Senate forever. We should resist the temptation to play to the gallery by trivializing the offensive, unlawful and arrogant conduct of the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, simply because we disagree with the Senate leadership or membership.

This is about the survival of our nascent democracy.

Thank you.

Inibehe Effiong is a Lagos-based Legal Practitioner and Human Rights Activist.

Email: Inibehe.effiong@gmail.com

Re: #NotTooYoungToRun And The Rest Of Us, By Ibrahim Faruk

Since May 2016 the Not Too Young To Run Campaign and the Movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics have been at the forefront of the constitution amendment in Nigeria.
The Movement (which has gained global recognition from the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States) and grown into what is now Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address political exclusion and institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in Nigeria’s electoral process.
When the National Assembly in a historic vote passed the age reduction bill in July 2017 and the bill was also passed by 34 out of 36 State Houses of Assembly in February 2018, the Movement was convinced that after the State Houses of Assembly transmitted the constitution amendment to the National Assembly on 1 March 2018 the next and final stage in the constitution amendment process would be concluded quickly to open the space for young people to contest.
In a piece titled ‘NotTooYoungToRun and the Rest of Us’ by Ibrahim Kabiru Dallah, a member of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, which was written ‘to encourage some of the young people in Nigeria that are currently making us proud in either the political or business arena’ I was particularly impressed with the level of youth participation in Katsina state and in particular Ibrahim Zakari who is the Special Adviser on International Relations and Investments. However, whether the President signs the bill or not Ibrahim Zakari can run for office.
How about the rest of us? The ‘rest of us’ include young men and women who are waiting for the President to sign the Not Too Young To Run bill and other constitutional amendment bills. Young men and women aspiring to run for office who are below the age of 30 are hopeful that the constitutional amendment bill which seeks to lower the age for contesting for House of Assembly and House of Representatives seats from 30 years to 25 years will pass before political parties begin to hold primary elections.
The ‘rest of us’ include young organizers across the country who sent letters, text message, placed a call to their representatives, spoke on television and radio, posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, marched under the sun in their states, engaged in online and offline debates among others.
The only thing that currently stands in their way is the transmission of the Not Too Young To Run bill and other constitutional amendment bills from the National Assembly to the President.
In preparation for Presidential Assent for the Not Too Young To Run bill, thousands of Nigerian youth marched peacefully to the Aso Villa on March 14, 2018, to present a letter to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requesting for assent to the age reduction bill which was received by Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
The Senate also resolved to transmit the Not Too Young To Run bill among others to the President for assent on April 17, 2018. Two days later, the leadership of the Not Too Young To Run Movement met with the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the purpose of the advocacy meeting being to secure a commitment for the ‘rest of us’ – who want to see the Not Too Young To Run bill passed.
At the meeting, the Vice President stated that young Nigerians should be allowed to run for elective public positions as they have demonstrated capacity and competence in technology, education and other sectors of the economy.
The time is now for the National Assembly to immediately transmit the Not Too Young To Run bill to the President and for the President to speedily sign the bill into law. This is the demand and the message from the ‘rest of us’. We are ready and must be part of the 2019 elections not just as voters but as candidates.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Ibrahim Faruk is a Senior Program Officer with YIAGA AFRICA. He has been actively involved in the #NotTooYoungToRun Movement and is based in Abuja. He can be reached via fibrahim@yiaga.org. He tweets via @IbrhmFaruk

Khalifa Rabiu: A Life Well Lived, By Rabiu Shamma

When you are to write about someone with multiple blessings, one would be in a fix on where to even start from. Khalifa Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu was probably the most multi-blessed person in Nigeria. He was a Qur’anic memoriser, a blessing which he treasured above any other thing. He was a noted industrialist, a community leader, and was blessed with a large family. Khalifa was also an Islamic Scholar, Elder statesman among others.
Khalifa Isyaku Rabiu was the patriach of the Sheikh Muhammadu Rabiu family. His father, Sheikh Muhammadu Rabiu, whom I was named after, was equally a noted Islamic scholar and memoriser of the Qur’an. Khalifa Isyaku Rabiu, who we all called Alhaji Babba, was perhaps his most famous son, but his other sons were also scholars in their own right.
They are all Qur’anic scholars; the likes of the late Malam Zubairu Rabiu, the late Alhaji Bala Rabiu, Gwani Tijjani Rabiu, Malam Almustapha Rabiu, the late Malam Sabiu Rabiu and Alhaji Shehu Rabiu, all great memorisers of the Holy Qur’an.
For his religious evangelism, his service to the Tijjaniyya sect and philanthropy, Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu was conferred with the title of Khalifa in the mid 1990s.
Khalifa’s probable date of birth was 1928, but many said Khalifa was close to 95 years giving by his oral account of events. Khalifa virtually spent all of those years in the service of the Holy Qur’an, its learners and the Islamic faith as a whole.
In this tribute, I am not going to delve into his business acumen, but rather one or two of his exemplifying qualities which we can learn from as young people.
Unlike most people of his status, Khalifa’s door was always open to people, one can see him without passing much protocol, especially on Fridays after the Jumaat prayers. To members of his larger family however, he was accessible virtually anytime of the day.
One quality that we can learn from him is that despite his elavated status, one can see his old friends or their relations from his days of itinerant Qur’anic studentship visiting him. He interacted with them freely and he was happier to be in their midst than any other category of people. Khalifah was perhaps the most successful Almajiri in the world.
Also, another quality we can learn from him is never to discriminate against people base on their creed. Khalifa was generous to people and various sects without any discrimantion, that is why you will see leaders of various sects visiting him. On some days he may crack jokes and say someone is ‘Dan Izala’ and people will always laugh, but that never stopped him from being good to the person, eventhough they may not be members of his Tijjaniyya sect, which he led with vigour and magnanimity in Nigeria.
It was not for nothing that he was named Khadimul Qur’an (the servant of the Qur’an). His house is always a hub of recitation and reciters of the Holy Book. He was generous to reciters of the book, he pays them, provide shelter to hundreds of them. He was in constant service to Allah. He recently ordered for 10,000 copies of the Holy book which he said will be used for a special prayer, they have been duly delivered and kept in a room in his palatial residence. He however did not mention what occasion to use the Books, it is now that people are saying that the Qur’an will be shared to mourners as a form of sadaqatul jariah.
His love for his country Nigeria and its people is second to none. Khalifah was probably the only wealthy person that will summon special prayers for Nigeria, for peace and prosperity. Usually Qur’anic reciters were summoned from the nook and cranny of the country to converge for the purpose. He had done this countless times, especially during the ugly phase of insurgency in Kano.
Perhaps the last of his wish before his demise was the creation of a private university for the study of Qur’an and other Islamic jurisprudence. The multi billion naira University is completed, it is situated at Gadon Kaya in Kano, what we are  waiting now is the final accredition from NUC and other paperworks for takeoff.
His latest bout of illness started around December 2017, and from his utterances, one may say that the amiable Sheikh had a premonition of death. Though he recovered to return home around April 2018, after he  spent time in Nigeria and London Hospitals. He was his boisterious self for some weeks before he relapsed again. He was advised to be returned to London but he insisted that he was not going anywhere. He said it was time, and he should be left at home.
After several pleas and intervention from many closed relations, including his equally successful son, Alhaji Abdussamad Rabiu, Khalifa agreed to be taken to London for another round of treatment. I was with him with other family members the day that he left, eventhough he was weak, he was indeed very alert and his voice very clear. After I greeted him, he said “Malam ya aiki?”, and I said alhamdulillah, ya jiki, he said “To mun gode Allah”. Some days after he returned to London, the cold hand of death took him away on the 8th of May, 2018.
May the gentle soul of Khalifa Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu rest in perfect peace, may Allah reward him for his selfless service to Al Qur’anil Kareem and Islam in general.
Rabiu Shamma,

By River Osin, I Sat Down And Wept, By Olalekan Waheed

The Osin River or more well-known as (Odo Osin) occupies a unique position in Igbomina history. Legend has it that a pretty woman angrily turned into the river after she had to endure long societal insults for barrenness.

Osin flows from Ila Orangun to Ajasse-Ipo, Ilala and many other places into the River Niger practically encircles Igbominaland which makes her unique to them. Osin provides refuge to those who seek her.

You don’t weep to Osin and come back still bereaved. She will graciously give you what you ask provided you are due for it. But weeping extensively at this great river without Osin knowing what you really want will fetch one nothing!

An avid observer of the Nigerian political and social space since January this year cannot fail to notice several developments from herdsmen “killings” especially in Benue state to the kick-starting of political campaigns for the 2019 elections. All these events have their interconnectedness.

On the several killings, one will notice several commentaries especially on social media about the cause(s) of the killings, but sadly, few analysts seem to know the cause and fewer seem to have provided solutions to the problem. What one cannot but fail to notice are the continuous rantings and understandable anger. But do all these solve problems?

I recall telling someone in February that the recent killings, especially in Benue state, cannot be technically classified as the normal Herdsmen/Farmers conflict. Though, there is grand or “evil” agenda in a section of the media to promote the narrative that the killings were carried about by ‘Fulani’ herdsmen just to find a way to link President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, to the killings.

In doing so, promoters of the narrative want us to pretend that farmers/herdsmen conflicts in Nigeria are recent phenomena. The only solution the promoters of this narrative proffer is to “vote out Buhari.” Unfortunately, these ones are only interested in seeking electoral and other political gains from the misfortunes of others. Buhari will not be Nigerian president forever.

If for any reason he stops being president today, does this mean the conflicts will just disappear into the thing air? I am sorry to disappoint you, Surely not. It will not because it is not an algebraic equation that just gets solved by simply changing one variable.

In 2015, many Buhari supporters believed that voting out President Goodluck Jonathan will just automatically bring an end to Boko Haram insurgency. We all living witnesses to how easy it has been ending the insurgency indeed!

This problem has been with us for as long as anyone can remember. In my opinion, it seems we have gotten so used to it. It has become a “normal” part of us. We play with it and when it bites, we cry to the heavens not knowing what to do.

Like prostitutes, they are condemned using the strongest words in the daytime, only for the same prostitutes to be used to satisfy some uncontrolled libidos by nightfall. We do not seem to want a solution to the problem because it appears to have its own “benefits”.

Things like these used to be serious problems in many West African countries, but today no more because they chose to find lasting solutions to the problem.

Herdsmen and farmers are living in harmony in Ghana, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and the likes. These countries used to be the hotbed for farmers/herdsmen conflicts. In our case, we play politics with it like we do with everything else before things escalate.

The farmers/herdsmen conflict is not primarily a political problem. There are dimensions to it. There are questions of environmental (climate) change; development and food security; national security; land reforms and citizenship; and political and religious issues.

On the list, the political dimension would have conveniently been the least. But this was made difficult when “vested interests” like ethno-religious people and politicians chose to make gains out of the misfortunes of others. This is why I sat down beside Osin river and wept!

 

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is the author of the fast-selling book WITNESSING THE CHANGE. He can be reached at +2348136502040, +2347081901080 or email: adgorwell@gmail.com. He tweets from @adgorwell. He blogs at http://olalekanadigun.com/

Apostle Williams: How Some Nigerian Religious Leaders Are Deceiving Their Congregation Against Buhari

A UK-based minister, Apostle ATB Williams says President Muhammadu Buhari is God’s last chance for Nigeria, stressing that, many Christian leaders chose to deceive people because of what they were gaining from previous administrations.

Apostle Williams who says he has never benefited from any Nigerian government told his congregation that God showed him that Buhari will win despite concerted efforts against his candidature in 2015.

“They mislead Nigerians to pray against God’s anointed because he is a Muslim,” he said in a sermon to his church congregation.

“When Holy Spirit told me that the man will rule Nigeria all of them were saying the man will not, before the election of the man,” he said.

“I have no business in Nigeria, you know, I have no sharing in the government money or in all those stuff in Nigeria. So I have no reason to be biased. Holy Spirit told me the man would rule Nigeria and He showed me 4 years for the man to rule Nigeria and bring Nigeria back to its position but the liars who called themselves Christian leaders in Nigeria lied to the people only because they had participated in ungodly act with the politicians.

Apostle Williams added that, “In a short term their judgment will begin. I am telling you what I have seen. Some people will mourn and weep when they open their Pandora’s boxes out. The Holy Spirit, in the New Year.

“Listen to me, because of that Christians in Nigeria got biased instead of them to pray for their Cyrus they kept their mouth shut or they wish him evil. But the man is sick and the spirit of the man his crying who shall help me and the Christians God sent there have been lied to so they turn against him.

“Therefore the people who rule in darkness afflicted him. The one who have the authority to free his affliction, Satan turned them against him. They will answer with their life in eternity,” he said.

“Listen to me, Cyrus was ungodly, God said to Cyrus I will lift up your hand to subdue nations, I will open before double double doors so that doors shall not be shut against you. He said I will break down the gate of bronze and cut through the bars of iron because you let my people go.

“Buhari is God’s last chance for Nigeria. Nigeria miss it I am sorry. Many years ago God took me to the future of Nigeria and showed me.

Apostle Williams said he was open to any challenge from any man of God who claims to have heard differently from God. “I’m going to Nigeria next year to teach and talk to them. I want anybody who thinks he can hear God to come and talk to me publicly unedited.”

Apostle Alfred Williams is the general overseer of Christ Faith Tabernacle, a church that he started in September 1989 after a revelation to the General Overseer.

As of today the church has been planted in various Nations spanning through four continents.

The Osinbajo Example: Bridging The Gap As A Pastor And Politician, By Bernard Okri

On 8 January 2018, Vanguard Newspaper published a story titled, “Fuel Scarcity: Nigerians commend Osinbajo for selfless leadership” it was one of many headlines that commended the number two citizen of Nigeria for his service to the people as a politician.

Osinbajo is a man who has a track record for his dedication, perseverance, courage and for achieving excellence in his work as a public servant, in the church as a pastor or at home as a husband and father. He is a man that knows how to find a balance despite the responsibilities on his shoulders.

Not many believe that a you can succeed as a pastor and public servant at the same time but Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo is redefining the thought of many Nigerians.

Despite his busy schedule as Vice President, he has never forsaken the gathering of the brethren even while helping to attract successes to efforts by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to re-invent Nigeria on many grounds.

In addition to assisting in putting the national economy on track for fast recovery as head of the Economic Team, Osinbajo has won the heart of the Nigerian youths for the government through a well-designed Social Intervention Programme (SIP) comprising the N-Power, GEEP Market Moni, Home Grown School Feeding initiative and the Conditional Cash Transfer for the unemployed in the country. He has been the bridge through which the south-south zone of the federation re-connected with the Buhari’s government, a development, which assisted in mitigating tension on the zone.

The latest exploits by the Vice President in bringing the good agenda of the Buhari’s government to fulfillment came through his unrelenting efforts to expose corruption allegedly perpetrated under the past government of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Osinbajo has been doing that because the war against corruption is one of the major planks of the policy trust by the present government to re-invent Nigeria.

His background as an established Pastor in the Redeemed Christians Church of God (RCCG) offers an insight on why he seems to be neck deep in the task by the Cabinet to fight corruption. As a pastor, he is ordained to stay of any acts corruption, set examples on how not to be corrupt, speak against corruption and its incubus as well as expose corruption even when on an embryonic stage. Vice President Osinbajo, when honking on acts of corruption, dwells on facts and figures available to the Cabinet. He is committed to assist Nigeria stave off the possible return of the menace with every successive government. For effectively bridging the role of a pastor and a politician, Osinbajo deserves applause.

A week ago, the Vice President stepped on toes when he featured in the last episode of the The Platform, organised by the Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos, alleging that three persons stole $3 billion (N1 trillion) in the Jonathan administration.

Not too long ago, he had alleged that the Jonathan administration shared the sum of N150 billion just two weeks to the 2015 elections, whereas, the same government spent just a paltry N14 billion on agriculture in 2014; N15 billion on transportation and only N153 billion on infrastructure in three years. Osinbajo, perhaps, has more privileged information on monumental kind of mindless corruption which the Jonathan government allowed in its six years reign.

Even though Nigerians are aware that the government ran by Jonathan knew nothing about frugality and parsimony on financial matters, with evidence of alleged infamies against his government on corruption still in the pubic domain, Jonathan, who had before now remained taciturn and a recluse, swallowing all guilt about his failure, is now finding the courage to make feeble kicks.

Last week, Jonathan, likely prodded by jobless aides who still leech on him, resolved to take his brittle grievance to the RCCG Shepard, Pastor Eunuch Adejare Adeboye, asking him to call the Vice President to order for “Lying” against him. Incredible! The question is; will Jonathan, whose government symbolizes corruption ever accused anyone of lying against him when, indeed, evidence of the mindless looting of treasury perpetrated by his government is in the public glare, all flying on the streets?

From observation, Jonathan who had from day long owned up to some grave mistakes while his regime lasted, would never have dreamt of approaching Pastor Adeboye to call the Vice President to order for telling the truth against him. The truth is; Jonathan’s former Social Media aide, Reno Omokri, prodded his latest move to approach the RCCG for succour. The tweets by Omokri on the issue are enough evidence to prove that he, indeed, prodded the reaction by Jonathan.

Before now, Reno Omokri has been crying more than the bereaved since Jonathan fell from grace to grass, after rejection by Nigerian voters in the 2015 Presidential election. Reno Omokri since then has never seen anything good in the succeeding administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. He had whipped sentiments sufficient to rebrand and remold Jonathan out of power and had consistently failed. Remo Omokri acts as if a grand plan was afoot for Jonathan to return to power in 2019, failing to come to terms that his principal remains a rejected quantity on account of corruption and “buffoonery”, the type Nigerians will never tolerate again under any guise.

Jonathan and his gang of looters are lucky that they are Nigerians. In other climes, Presidents and prime Ministers who merely accepted bribes and kickbacks are either in the dock today or behind bars.

This year alone, the world has witnessed how Presidents and Prime Ministers of different countries were arraigned in court on allegation of corruption not bothering on looting the Nigerian style, but on account of carelessness in handling bribery cases.

The south-African former President, Jacob Zuma and Mauritius President, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, are classical examples of how matured democracies abhors corruption. South-Africa and Mauritius never allowed the leaders breathing spaces until they eased them out of power, parading them in courts, all the same.

The same scenarios are playing out in Brazil where two successive leaders, Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Lula da Silva are currently in court answering charges on corruption over alleged 400 million euro bribe.

In Isreal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing charges filed against him by the Police, which recommended his prosecution on two count charges of corruption and breach of trust.

Nigerian too can fall in line with countries that reserves great abhorrence for corruption, showing sincerity of purpose and the will power to just fight the menace at all levels. The best way to achieve this is to enlist in efforts by leaders like President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo, first in condemning acts of corruption which have destroyed every fabrics of the Nigerian nation and begin to push for prosecution of those found culpable of corruption crimes that has pegged Nigeria down this much. Those due for prosecution include former President Jonathan and his gang of treasury looters.

Bernard Okri, writer and public affairs analysts wrote in from Asaba,
Delta State.

OPL 245: The Most Popular Oil Block, By Reuben Abati

The Petroleum Act 1969 (as amended) grants powers to the Ministry of Petroleum, acting through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to administer the licensing of oil blocks in the country. These include Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL), Oil Mining Licence (OML) and Oil Exploration Licence (OEL), which allow the awardees, local and foreign, to explore for and develop oil and gas resources within the country.

So far, there are 65 OPLs and 99 OMLs. The last round of licensing bids was conducted in 2007. Of the existing awarded oil blocks and marginal fields, the most controversial and the best known is OPL 245, which owes its fame specifically to the allegation of a missing $1.3 billion due to the Federal Government in what is known as the Malabu oil deal.

The main actors in the Settlement Agreement involving OPL 245 continue to insist that no Federal Government money is missing, and that indeed they deserve praise for civic patriotism, for saving the Nigerian Government from embarrassment and imminent loss of money and face, due to its mismanagement of the award process in the first place. Allegations of missing money are often translated into naked truth, in this season, without due reflection, and regard for the facts of the case.

This is so, in this instance, because of reports of corruption involving and surrounding the OPL 245 transactions and foreign investors – Shell and ENI, into which the courts in the home jurisdictions of those companies are inquiring. Whereas this has dominated the narrative, it is important that we go beyond the politics of name-calling, victimization, blackmail and harassment that has developed around OPL 245 and focus on the big picture.

The oil and gas industry in Nigeria is opaque; it is one of the most difficult areas of our national life. The award of exploitation and exploration licenses raises questions of transparency and accountability. Section 2 of the Petroleum Act relies on the approval of the Minister of Petroleum for a license to be awarded, and under the military, this was more or less an exclusive prerogative of the Minister of Petroleum.

This is in fact why Presidents and Heads of State (Obasanjo, Buhari) hold on to the Petroleum Ministerial portfolio, and when they do not do so, they ensure that whoever is appointed to that position either as Minister or Special Adviser, or by any title whatsoever is directly answerable to them.  The oil and gas sector is Nigeria’s honey pot. Whoever is awarded an oil block or marginal field is instantly a multi-billionaire, and that is why the struggle for an oil block is the most desperate struggle among Nigeria’s aspirational elite.

With the introduction of an Indigenous Exploration Policy in the 1990s, meant to ensure  indigenous participation in this most strategic sector, Nigeria’s military rulers, awarded oil blocks to themselves, their friends, girlfriends and cronies. It was like another season of the oil boom and every one wanted a part of the national cake. Many of those who were given oil blocks could not even identify a Christmas tree if they ever saw one. Petty traders, hawkers, errand boys and girls and those with access to the corridors of power only needed to ask for help and that could come in the form of the gift of an oil block.

Nigerians who got lucky and got such oil blocks only needed to have a foreign technical partner. This indigenization policy may have indeed been well-meaning but it created a special class of rent-collectors who lived off Nigeria. There were complaints about the ethnic extraction of those who enjoyed such privilege.

In 2002, President Olusegun Obasanjo, to moderate concerns about ethnic favouritism, and lack of transparency, introduced an open bidding and competitive process. His government also established the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), an oversight and audit agency, but despite the best intentions, oil and gas transactions remained opaque and the Obasanjo government eventually violated its own principles by resorting to discretionary awards during the 2002/2003 licensing rounds, and the adoption of a problematic policy called “forced marriages”. Forced marriages in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria have often ended in bitter divorces with collateral damages.

Thus, consistently, the Nigerian government has been the author of various distortions in the oil and gas sector due to inefficiency, the politicization and personalization of national resources, and the abuse of due process.

The Malabu case provides a good illustration. Malabu, an indigenous oil and gas company, was allocated Block 245 in 1998, other local companies were also similarly allocated oil blocks, which under the Guidelines, they were required to develop in partnership with international Technical Partners. Malabu paid $2m out of the stipulated $20m at the time, and entered into a joint operation agreement with Shell Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD).

The company received its operating license in April 2001 but the same license was revoked in July 2001. The Federal Government then curiously invited Exxon Mobil and Shell, Malabu’s technical partner, to bid for the same OPL 245 as contractors in partnership with the NNPC.

Shell won the bid and proceeded to begin work on the oil block. Malabu cried out that its former technical partner, Shell, had acted in bad faith, by conniving with the government to grab OPL 245 for itself.  The company then petitioned the House of Representatives which directed the Federal Government to re-award Block 245 to Malabu. Malabu also went to the Federal High Court, Abuja to seek redress. The suit was struck out. Malabu headed for the Court of Appeal. While this was going on, the then Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Edmund Daukoru asked for settlement out of court on behalf of the Federal Government. OPL 245 had become a cause celebre.

Its association with Dan Etete, Abacha’s Minister of Petroleum, and the Federal Government’s argument that Etete awarded the oil block to himself while in office, had resulted in agitations among the people of the Niger Delta who began to ask for an audit of all oil blocks and full disclosure of the ethnic identity of their owners.

The people of Odi, Etete’s home-town also protested that President Obasanjo was against the people of Odi. In 1999, President Obasanjo had been accused of ordering a military invasion of Odi following increased protest in the Niger Delta over indigenous rights to the ownership of oil resources. The people of the Niger Delta could not understand why an oil block associated with an Ijaw suddenly became the target of harassment. The delicate politics of oil block allocation was gradually being unveiled.

The Obasanjo government back-tracked and re-awarded Block 245 to Malabu but on the condition that the company would pay the new signature bonus of $210 million less the $2m it paid in 1998. Malabu paid the sum, and withdrew its case from court. But this created another problem. Shell went to arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC, and also filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

SNUD, having entered into a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with the NNPC in 2002, had paid $1 million out of the $210 million signature bonus for OPL 245, and kept the balance of $209 million in an Escrow Account with J.P Morgan pending the resolution of the dispute over OPL 245. Shell wanted compensation and damages in excess of US$2 billion. The company further claimed that it had incurred costs de-risking the oil block.

This was yet another problem: the Federal Government received payment from two companies for the same oil block! In addition, whoever gave the approval for the de-risking of OPL 245 despite an on-going litigation that should have provided a basis for lis pendens, further complicated the situation. Every attempt to resolve the matter one way or the other failed. The possession of an oil block is a serious matter.  Shell was offered another oil block; it refused. Block 245 has a total estimated value of about 9 billion barrels of crude. The Obasanjo government toyed with the idea of settlement negotiations among the feuding parties, but no concrete resolution was reached, although a Terms of Settlement Framework was eventually adopted in 2006.

This was the situation until 2010 when President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office. Malabu again petitioned the Federal Government. While taking into consideration the cost to the Federal Government of entering into litigation with Shell on one hand, and Malabu on the other, the Jonathan government resolved to enter into a Resolution Agreement with both parties, and resolve all issues amicably.

Under this agreement dated April 29, 2011, Malabu resolved that it would waive all claims to OPL 245, after due compensation by the Federal Government. Shell also agreed to withdraw all suits against the Federal Government and to pay, through the Federal Government, the sum of $1.092 billion as full and final settlement of Malabu in relation to its claims on Block 245. Automatically, Block 245 would in that case revert to Shell and the Italian oil company, ENI, Shell’s new partner.  In June 2013, the matter was amicably resolved on these terms. Presidential approval was then given to the effect that Malabu Oil and Gas should be paid the sum of $1.092 billion from the Federal Government’s Escrow Account with J.P. Morgan.

In every instance in this case, the Federal Government under President Jonathan acted solely as a mediator – trust between Malabu and Shell having broken down- and as an obligor seeking to resolve the crisis arising from the collection of money by a previous government from two parties for the same oil block.

It is important to note that the said $1.092 billion has not even been paid in full to Malabu Oil and Gas, for whereas the Federal Government of Nigeria had given approval that the money be paid, other parties suddenly showed up to make claims on the money: Energy Venture Partners Limited (a British Virgin Island Company), International Legal Consulting (a Russian Company), Pecos Energy Limited and Mohammed Sani. In the event of these developments, Malabu ended up getting a sum of US$801.540 million and an additional US$75 million while a sum of $215 million is retained with the High Court of England pending the determination of proceedings against Malabu in the UK.

The Malabu/Shell crisis has spanned the lives of four administrations: Abacha, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan. The Jonathan administration helped to resolve a lingering crisis and saved the Federal Government of Nigeria from the risk of liability. If the allocation of oil blocks had not been politicized and personalized in the first place, the crisis would not have occurred. This year, the Buhari government is said to be proposing another round of oil blocks licensing; this should provide an opportunity for a rigorous review of the licensing process.

No company should be pre-qualified or favoured; the process must be truly open and competitive. Companies that are unknown to the oil and gas industry and with doubtful capacity should be barred from the process. No license that has been held for up to 20 years should be renewed and no person must be allowed to have multiple licenses either as principal partner or investor. All allocated blocks that have been left unexplored should be withdrawn and re-awarded. The Department of Petroleum Resources should publish a full list of all blocks awarded so far- offshore, deep water, shallow waters and onshore- indicating who owns them- local or foreign.

The people have a right to know and all things taken together, the power to allocate oil exploration should licences should not be vested in a person.

This far-reaching reform is important again because it may be contradictory to promote indigenous participation and local content in the oil and gas sector, and at the same time, persecute select beneficiaries on the grounds that a previous government granted them an undue advantage whereas this seems to be the general pattern. Moral questions may be raised about abuse of office or undue influence, but the government that does so must be seen to be fair, just and equitable in doing so, otherwise it would project itself as selective and vindictive. We need to create a template for fairness.

Where the Federal Government can prove cases of bribery, it is up to it to prove its case, and the onus is further on it to prove if indeed the Federal Government has in any way lost any penny belonging to it in the Malabu case. But other OPLs and OMLs must also be investigated. If there are concrete, irrefutable facts, the state should make them available in the public interest. As James Comey argues forcefully in his 2018 memoir: A Higher Loyalty – Truth, Lies and Leadership, the greatest form of corruption, dishonesty and assault on democracy is when a government and its officials resort to truth-avoidance and the politics of expediency.  In such a strategic sector as oil and gas, this would be rather too costly in the long run.

Osun Security: Another First In Rating Indices, By Abiodun Komolafe

State of Osun is Nigeria’s most peaceful state. This impressive feat, according to a report on Nigeria Peace Index (NPI), couldn’t have come at a more auspicious time than now in the sense that Nigeria is bogged down by serious internal security challenge on all fronts: provable Boko Haram and ‘ISIS in West Africa’ terrorism in the North East; violent herdsmen/farmers clashes in the North West and North Central; armed banditry and kidnappings and in the South East, militancy and piracy in the South South; and violent crimes and ethno-religious upheavals in parts of the South West geo-political zones of the country.

Gratifyingly, the ranking, based on the research findings of the Foundation for Peace Professionals (FPP), came less than a month after the Joint Tax Board (JTB) commended the Rauf Aregbesola-led administration for spearheading a process that has consistently led to a year-on-year improvement in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and tax remittances to the state, the latest being the N11.9 billion generated as actual full year IGR for 2017, representing more than 30% increase over the previous year’s N8,884,756,040.35.

The award could also be described as a soothing balm for a country that has just been treated one of the cruelest forms of armed robbery attacks in its recent history. The incident, which took place in Offa in a neighboring state, left no fewer than 17 persons dead and a large amount of money carted away by the bandits.

Yes! This is not the first time the state will be so honoured! Remember: Osun ranked Nigeria’s13th crime-free state in 2016, a height attained “through various interventions by the government in beefing up the security of the state.” It is even more than that! Osun is, as we speak, Nigeria’s 2nd richest state. Currently, it is 2nd on the Human Capital Index and has maintained the 2nd position in four years in a roll in the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). In Agriculture and Food Security, dear state is now 2nd only to Oyo State in broiler production and its forestry sub-sector ranks 5th in the country.

Osun is now Nigeria’s 5th largest economy with its GDP growing at 7.3% per annum. Its position (between 1st and 3rd, since 2013) in the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) matriculable students in Nigeria has not only rubbished the premise that “WAEC rankings” of states should be the only yardstick for measuring states’ performance in education, it has also gone a long way in demonstrating that government’s transformational investments in the education sector have not been in vain. In Sports, the state also came 9th in the recently-concluded National Youth Games, a feat that has for a long while eluded the state.

For the sake of clarity so as not to be left in the ambience of ambiguity, this government is reputed to be the first in the country to have led a new understanding in parliamentary Local Government administration in Nigeria. It is also the first in the country to replace books with computer tablets called ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ aka ‘Opon Imo’ to further stimulate the interest of students to learning as well as completely turn learning into play in schools.

While other states were wallowing in the cesspool of salary conundrum, courtesy of the national economic dislocation, Aregbesola’s government became the first in the country to creatively adopt a robustly-designed salary apportionment model which “makes workers from grade level 08 and above collect between 75 and 50 per cent of their salaries.”

However, while its ranking as the state with the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation in Nigeria, courtesy of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), demands the attention of all, facts are that Aregbesola’s parliamentary gift to Osun will in no small way help in expanding the potentials for accountability, transparency and societal capacity building.

Though by no means a great feat, Aregbesola’s administration’s latest cap did not come as a surprise. Certainly, it is one of the expected results of his administration’s renewed efforts at fostering, especially, a secured, virtuous state. Prior to his assumption of office on November 27, 2010, Osun was home to all kinds of security challenges which no doubt compromised the people’s lives and diminished their influence. Though sitting on a sea of possibilities, the state was broke, with its IGR at the time standing at a paltry N300 million monthly average. Put in strict terms, Aregbesola took over the reins of power when the state was in an economic dilemma as a result of structural deficiency, gross misrule and mismanagement of resources.

Aregbesola became governor and the narrative changed! Without being sycophantic, Ogbeni’s commitment to security of lives and property remains unimpeachable as he has consistently maintained that no state, not even country, can reach its full potentials in an atmosphere of violence and insecurity. It was against this backdrop that government set up the Swift Action Squad (SAS) as a dedicated a crime response team to compliment the efforts of the regular police in securing the state.

It also procured and distributed 125 security patrol vehicles and 25 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), in addition to provision of other logistics, to security agencies in the state for the purpose of ensuring peace and communal harmony in the state. Vigilance and neighborhood watch groups were also encouraged to provide support for the regular security agencies.

Another area that demands commendation was the administration’s fostering a “co-existence blueprint” in resolving herders/farmers crises in Osun, a situation the Sale Bayari-led Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN) said has been responsible for a “silent and peaceful” state.

Talking about Aregbesola’s administration in the eye of history, this, again, is why Nigeria’s tribe of Pharisees who always hunger for the wrong reason needs to wake up from its hatred-infused slumber. Rather than engage in needless spleen-venting or muscle-flexing wiles that take nobody nowhere, present challenges should unite actors in the Osun political landscape to look beyond political sentiments and needless emotions in the choice of Aregbesola’s successor.

Jokes apart, one pathetic paradox of what Kingsley Moghalu referred to as ‘politics of vested interests’ in this clime is that, in spite of all that Nigeria has been blessed with as a country, she’s still rated as the poverty capital of the world, with more than 80 million Nigerians now live below poverty level and over-3.7 million currently faced with food insecurity which, if care is not taken, may increase to 5.2 million by August 2018. Nigeria, interestingly, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, is now world’s 125th poorest country. The sad side of it is that, of the world’s poorest countries, 18 of them are in Africa; and, Mauritius, which currently serves as Africa’s best, is world’s 45th.

Less than 3 years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, Nigeria’s external debt, already considered as the biggest in all of sub-Saharan Africa, now stands at over-$18.91 billion (over-N5.787 trillion). And, as if difficulties are gender-sensitive, Nigeria currently ranks worst in women’s participation in politics, courtesy of Nigeria’s unhealthy political environment. On the World Happiness Index, she is 91st. In Industrial Gross Domestic Product (GDP), she has the lowest on the continent, beaten by less-endowed countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Ghana. In

Budget transparency, she is world’s 90th; and 23rd in Africa behind Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Liberia. Even, the best university in Nigeria can only fit into 1099th position globally. To make a bad situation worse, Nigerians, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF), are now poorer than they were three years ago!

Without being immodest, Nigeria is in troubled times and Osun as an integral part of the country is not immune from her many predicaments. According to information, 34 states can’t pay workers’ salaries without running, cap-in-hand, to Abuja for monthly handouts. The trials being faced by Nigeria’s crude oil in the international market are yet to abate even as dear country is yet to smart out of its mono-economy status.

It’s in the midst of these threats that the incoming governor will be expected consolidate on Aregbesola’s achievements, win the confidence of his people, improve on the payment of workers’ salaries and perform wonders along the line of infrastructure development.

Looking at Nigeria’s current political and socio-economic dynamics therefore, those who truly love Osun will have to do more than debating, counter-debating and panting with polluted affinity on the colour or size of the next governor’s ethno-religious garb. In my considered opinion, Aregbesola’s successor must be a personality who has all along been partaking of the many surgical operations aimed at healing the wounds created by the enormity of its challenges. Failure to incorporate this into the DNA of our choice process may be likened to deliberately preparing dear state for doom. God forbid!

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in the State of Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

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