My Trip To Bama, By Morocco Ibrahim

The Victims Support Fund (VSF) an initiative of the Presidency to aid victims of terrorism helped with reconstruction work in Bama, Borno state, northeast Nigeria. The unveiling and commissioning was Tuesday this week 16 May. I was invited by VSF to observe and relay an unedited and unsupervised report of what I saw and experienced, so I accepted and went along.

On Monday 15 May, we left Abuja at 1:50 pm, arrived in Maiduguri at 2:50 pm and were taken to our accommodation ahead of the next day. The next day I along with the team of journalist, blogger and others were ready as earlier as 7:00 am. At 9:20 am we were taken to Government House Maiduguri where everyone on the entourage ie the team from VSF, officials of Borno state government, security officials, etc met. Governor Kashim Shettima later came down to welcome us all. After then we were informed to get ready as we were to take off for Bama soon.

We left Maiduguri at 10:50 am in a motorcade of up to 100 vehicles, amidst tight security provided by the military, police, SSS, civil defence, Civilian JTF, the every security agency available. It was a deserted road, we could travel stretches of up to 30 kilometers without sighting any human being on house, all have been destroyed and deserted. We arrived in Bama at 12:30 pm and went straight to the reconstructed local government secretariat.

Dr Sunday Ochoche, Executive Director, VSF said reconstruction of the local government secretariat was a top priority due to its strategic importance in ensuring that governance returned to the grassroots. He urged the local government Chairman, his Council, and entire staff of the the local government to reciprocate VSF’s gesture by returning to take possession of their secretariat and commence providing work. He this in itself would encourage Bama residents to return to commence rebuilding a normal life.

Next we went to Kayamari Primary School, which is one among the 8 reconstructed schools in Bama. Dr Ochoche confirmed that Bama is VSF’s largest project so far, even though they are in the process of commencing reconstruction of 16 primary schools, 4 each in Damboa, Hawul, Chibok, and Askira-Uba local government areas. However he assured all that VSF’s intervention to support reconstruction and resettlement would not end in Borno alone be would extend to the entire northeast states affected by the insurgency, and even beyond. Generel T.Y. Danjuma (rtd) who is the Chairman of VSF, represented on the trip by Tijannu Tumsah, the Vice Chairman emphasised VSF’s goal in partnering with state governments in not only commencing but successfully completing all projects to provide succour for returning victims.

Governor Kashim Shettima conceded that Bama was the worst hit in this insurgency war, as 80-90% of infrastructure both public and private were destroyed. ‘Our goal is to confront the most difficult challenge in a bold manner so that our task becomes less’, he said. The purpose of this unveiling of projects in Bama was to enable residents to return home and resettle before the commencement of Ramadan which is within the next 2 weeks, but it’s clear this may not be possible due to very clear and present security concerns. Bama remains very unsafe.

Babagana Umaru, the Commissioner, Ministry of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement (RRR) was visibly excited and grateful to VSF for their support. He confirmed that 4 months ago the Borno state government launched the programme to reconstruct 11 public infrastructure, VSF was kind to support the endeavour with procurement of building materials at 295 million naira, and another 73 million naira for labour costs, making a total of 368 million naira. The 11 projects are: the local government secretariat, 8 primary schools (with 42 classroom blocks 4 of which were constructed from scratch, 42 offices and a library), Bama Cultural Centre, and a police station. The Commissioner further appealed to VSF to help with reconstruction of private homes as virtually all have been destroyed.

From there we went to the Shehu’s Place fully reconstructed by the state government, which was our last destination. We saw other reconstruction projects being carried out by Dangote Foundation most of which are almost completed. We left Bama at 4:15 pm and arrived back in Maiduguri at 7:00 pm. It took us 3 hours because we stopped at every checkpoint to show solidarity with our security forces manning them. The next day, Wednesday 17 May we  left Maiduguri at 3:40 pm and arrived in Abuja at 4:45 pm.

What I Saw on the Trip to Bama

VSF did a very good job and are willing to do more if they get the cooperation of the concerned state governments. Both its Chairman speaking through its Vice Chairman, Tijanni Tumsah, and the Executive Director, Dr Sunday Ochoche not only said so repeatedly, but demonstrated it, and I have cause to believe them. The VSF team I saw was very coordinated and professional. Everything was well planned and well executed, no stories. VSF has also been transparent in its handling of finances which is rare. This too is commendable.

Bama is a ghost town. The insurgency is far from being over as we are made to believe. I am from Borno, I have been to Borno and the northeast in general often and innumerable times in the past few years, but I have never been impacted as I was this time. From this trip I have more respect for our men and women in uniform and for the sacrifices they make day and night to keep us safe. The men and women in uniform deserve far better than what they are getting, as what is meant for them is certainly not reaching them. They are overstretched and need to be replaced regularly.

The counterinsurgency war is far from being over. Even though our motorcade had up to 100 vehicles half of which were manned by armed security personnel yet the fear was palpable. It is amidst this that VSF risked having this reconstruction work go on.

Borno state government must stop hiding the truth about the real situation on the ground. Covering up will help nobody, opening up will help everybody. We can get more understanding, sympathy, and therefore more support. Bama residents have to rise up to the occasion and rally themselves together from the Shehu of Bama, to all traditional and religious leaders, all eminent sons and daughters, politicians of all divides to community leaders, opinion leaders, youth, even children. They have to be bold to take back Bama their town and local government area, with the full backing of the state. They have to organise themselves to fight back. The military and others have done so much. The residents are the ones who know the terrain inside out. Otherwise VSF’s investment will be a waste.

The state government has to come clean with their finances. Everybody knows VSF spent 368 million naira, how much did Borno state government spend? Who can verify? The state and all 27 local government areas have been steadily receiving their statutory allocations from the federation account, how have these been used? Transparency as this demonstrated by VSF helps in getting more support. I also don’t think VSF should support the reconstruction of private homes, but should focus on public infrastructure for the greater public good.

Thank you

Pencom And Obla: Why Osinbajo Should Right The Wrongs: A Rejoinder, By Utum Eteng

In a democratic clime when rule of law reign supreme, everybody is entitled to an opinion on any matter of public concern. It is therefore in pursuit of his constitutional right that Chief Okoi Obla, Special Assistant on Prosecution to the President expressed his opinion vide Channel Television to which Mr. Femi Ajiboye from Lagos expressed a contrary opinion on THISDAY of Saturday, May 13, 2017 at page 50 wherein he thinks “Why Osinbajo should Right the Wrong” of the Removal of Chinelo Anohu-Amazu with a call to the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to reverse President Buhari’s decision.

Obono-Obla in defending the President’s decision has cited Section 21 (i) of the

Pension Reform Act thus: “notwithstanding the provisions of section 20 and 26 (3) of this Act, a cessation of office, member of the Board shall cease to hold office as a member of the Board if:- He resigns his appointment as a member of the Board by a notice, under his hand, addressed to the President; his term of office expires; he dies; he becomes of unsound mind; he becomes bankrupt or makes a compromise with his creditors; he is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty or corruption; he becomes incapable of carrying out the functions of his office either arising from infirmity of mind or body; he is found to have contravened the provisions of section 19 (5) or (6) of this Act; in the case of an ex-officio member, he ceases to hold the office on the basis of which he becomes a member of the Board; or the President is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or public for the person to continue in office or notifies the member in writing to that effect”. Obono-Obla also cited Section 19 (3) of the Act which vests the power of the appointment of the Director-General and Commissioners, subject to the confirmation of the Senate on the President. Anybody with the power to appoint in law also has the power to remove. Whether sufficient notice was given by the announcement on the media of her removal as stipulated by the law is subject to different interpretations. The operative word appears to be the notification of the President’s decision conveying her sack. It is submitted that “writing is the form whilst the substance would appear to be the content of the information getting to its destination.” Nonetheless, Anohu-Amazu cannot pretend to have been unaware of her removal.

This means the intention of conveying the information of her removal to her and the public was achieved.

The long and short approach could be that if the DG of PENCOM considers her removal is against the law, she has the option of challenging the President’s action in the court. It is preposterous for Mr. Ajiboye to think that the Acting President should reverse the decision of the President if it was wrong. It is certainly not a good step for the professor of law who knows the limits of acting authority to take.

Ajiboye may have painted Anohu-Amazu, as the best thing that has ever happened to the pension industry in ignorance of the facts the President relied on. It is however important to note that her presence in the industry since PenCom was established owes it more to privileged access and good fortune than anything else. While working with the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El’Rufai then at the Bureau of Public Enterprise, El’Rufai recommended Anohu-Amazu her to serve as Secretary of the Fola Adeola’s National Taskforce Team on Pension Reforms. The pioneer Managing Director of Guarantee Trust Bank was recommended to then President Olusegun Obasanjo for the assignment by El’Rufai. The Adeola Committee that laid the foundation for the Pension Reform Act 2004, which established the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and PenCom as the regulator. M. K. Ahmed who also served in the Adeola Committee became the pioneer Managing-Director of PenCom while Anohu-Amazu became the pioneer Secretary/Legal Adviser.

Before her confirmation in September 2014 by the Senate for a five-year tenure,

Anohu-Amazu was from December 2012, in the position of Director-General of

PenCom in acting capacity. She was not qualified to be appointed Acting Director-General of PenCom at the time of her appointment. Her position as Secretary/Legal Adviser for eight years prior to her Acting Director-General appointment is a position of a director. It was required of her to retire after serving as a director for eight years in line with the Public Service Rules. This was ignored when the then SGF Senator Anyim Pius Anyim via a memo dated December 10, 2012 directed the then Director-General, M. K. Ahmed to handover to Anohu-Amazu. Ahmed was due to retire on December 16, 2012 alongside Anohu-Amazu. She remained in acting position until the Pension Reform Act 2004 was amended to reduce the number of years of experience to become Director-General from 20 years to 15 years in order to accommodate her.

Before her removal, Anohu-Amazu was in the news. Thus, the Guardian newspaper in a publication of March 1, 2017 reported her interrogation by the police over allegations of embezzling N3.2b, tax evasion, total disregard of court orders and other unlawful activities leveled against her by First Guarantee Pensions Limited (FGPL).

In October 2016, Premium Times has published an investigation on the FGPL saga. The report revealed that shareholders had accused Anohu-Amazu of failing to render accounts of FGPL, in violation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act which mandates yearly filing of a company’s financial report, and forgery against an official appointed by PenCom to run the firm. The report also detailed the illegal takeover of FGPL by PenCom and allegations of attempts to run the company aground to facilitate its collapse into Premium Pension Limited, which is suspected to be a business of the family.

With all these controversies trailing her since her appointment as Acting Director-General in 2012, the termination of her appointment may have been the reason that influence the decisions of the present administration. The new Director-General, Aliyu Abdulrahman Dikko, a former Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa PLC (UBA) until May 10, 2005 when he disengaged from the services of the bank to pursue private initiatives and later MD/CEO of Premium Pensions Limited may be a deliberate play to inject the needed experience and leadership the industry presently needs.

There is no evidence to show that she was removed because she is from the South-East. Her appointment was not given to her from that perspective.

 If Mr. Femi Ajiboye is a lawyer as his arguments and presentation would suggest, then he should not be “surprised that no South East group has gone to court over the injustice, even if Ohanaeze recently threatened to do so, if the FG did not reverse itself.” They would not have the required locus standi to take such a costly step.

 Finally, it is pertinent to remind Ajiboye that the choice of words and proper use of language is a potent tool for effective communication. The adjectives he deliberately employed to qualify Chief Obla is uncalled for and unlawyerly

 * Utum Eteng a lawyer and social commentator lives in Calabar

Nigeria’s Housing Deficit – We Must Act Now, Lest the “Angry gods” Be Enraged By Chima Christian

I recall, with a copious mix of laughter and feelings of disappointment, a fable I circumstantially heard repeatedly and believed. I can’t trace the origin of such tales but I recall coming in contact with it when a section of a major road that runs through my town failed. The road was practically cut into two by unforgiving floods which insisted it must empty itself into the nearest water body, even if it means washing away people’s houses and cutting an expressway into two to achieve that purpose.

The erosion site was massive. Hearing the sound of floods raging through the erosion site each time it rains is enough to send any six year old into panic. I don’t recall specifically interviewing people to ascertain the cause of such menace but the popular rhetoric then was that “the gods were angry at the people and therefore plagued them with such erosion as a punishment for their preferred lifestyle.”

Before you jeer at my folly (for those who find sufficient reasons to do so), please note that I was young, naïve and innocently gullible. It is needless to argue whether I would have believed such fables if I were to be an adult at the material time but I know that adults (my uncles inclusive), local chiefs/titleholders, the religious who were calling for fervent prayers, school teachers who didn’t fail to communicate such to their hapless students and even some intellectuals people looked up to, believed the angry gods fable. It took the intervention of the Obasanjo–led Federal Government to arrest the situation, fix the erosion site and unshackle the minds of the people.

David-Chyddy Eleke of Thisday Newspaper, in his November 2016 report, said; “there are over 960 active erosion sites in Anambra State, and these have in most communities swallowed up houses, making residents lose their places of abode.” It is safer not to imagine what fables some of these traumatized people might still hold on to.

Not too long ago, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State and the Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum offered his thoughts on a variant of a known infectious disease – Type C Meningitis, which threatened the peace, security and orderliness of the state he governs. He opened his mouth, as widely reported by the media, to say; “What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the type A virus…however, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccination. People have turned away from God and he has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned. There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured.

It is either the governor sincerely expressed what he believes in or that he resorted to telling fables because he knows his people will buy into such tales. And any of these two points to the magnitude of scientific and civic illiteracy still ravaging our society even in this 21st century.

A little digression. This call for repentance, is it not coming from the same Gov. Yari who is now being accused by the EFCC of stealing (diverting, to be politically correct) a substantial part of the money that would have been deployed to combat the epidemic, pay workers’ salaries and attend to other needs of the people and allegedly used same to service his personal debts and acquire a $3Million hotel? Without acquiescing with Gov. Yari’s accusers, which is tantamount to striping him off his presumption of innocence, I tend to wonder what type of Meningitis the angry gods will visit the governor with if he indeed committed the alleged crimes. Type D, E or F? Who knows?

Back to my point. At the risk of running into philosophical or theological arguments with Gov. Yari and the people he shares similar views with, I beg to be allowed to think aloud for a few more minutes. Had my State Government enforced total compliance with the state’s master plan and prohibited people from erecting buildings on areas mapped out for drainages, cleared clogged drainage facilities and reinforced or replaced existing ones when they showed signs of weakness, perhaps the gods wouldn’t have been so angry to strike the people with a devastating gully erosion. Had Zamfara State Government provided the people of the state with affordable well-ventilated houses and was proactive enough, perhaps the angry gods would have spared them the agony of burying hundreds of their kinsmen who died by the sword of Type C Meningitis like they spared other people who “do anyhow” but live in well ventilated houses and have access to proper medication.

The danger with angry gods fables is that, though they pass responsibility to the people, they misdirect the people’s collective energy into seeking solutions where there are none, thereby killing creativity and elongating (if not perpetuating) the problems. Nigeria has continued to under develop herself by cheaply resorting to prayers where she ought to think and act. Will there be situations that call for prayers? Yes. Do all situations call for prayers? No. Even those situations that call for prayers also call for folding up of sleeves after those prayers. Nigeria is very privileged, imagine for a second, what would have happened if we have earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and things like that.

This author has repeatedly observed that Nigeria is plagued by terrible leadership, but a lot more damage is done by gullible followership. We must, by all possible means, invest in massive civic and scientific literacy – both for the leaders and the led, but essentially for the later. The gullibility of our people, the exploitation of such by the political class, and the attendant consequences have now assumed a rather dangerous dimension.

Nigeria, with a population of about 180 million people, is presently challenged with a threatening national housing deficit. In 1991, the deficit was 7 million units. It has since increased from 7 million units in 1991 to 14 million units in 2010 and currently 17 million units. By 2050, exactly 33 years from today, popular estimates say Nigeria will be the third most populous nation, with a projected population of about 390 million people. If we do not, as a matter of priority, build well ventilated and affordable houses for our teeming population in this era of global warming, let Gov. Yari and his followers be assured that the gods were just test running their anger in Type C Meningitis.

__________

Chima is a good governance advocate and a public policy analyst. He writes in from Nnewi, Anambra State. He can be contacted on chimachris2@gmail.com and can also be connected with on Twitter via @ChimaCChristian.

Reconnecting People With Nature – A Reunion Long Deserved By Amusa Victor

Once upon a time in an endowed kingdom, the air was fresh and the scenery beautiful, the grass was lush and the oceans pure. It was a kingdom with a balance. All parts of the system worked. Each time new subjects were inducted into the kingdom there seemed to be enough to serve all, the balance distorted but the subjects had a connection with the kingdom and believed they have the responsibility to help the kingdom get restored. There came a major invasion of civilization. The subjects became extremely industrious and engaged in activities to make living go beyond the presumed ‘Archaic’ level of the kingdom. The once endeared connection started wearing out.

The wave of civilization ravaged every nook of the kingdom; induction rate grew – population; the sense of responsibility for kingdom balance dropped, the rate of usage of resources spiked and outdid the rate of formation and maturation of resources. Trees were felled; fossil fuels were burnt; the air, land, and water were polluted. The kingdom groaned, the subject moaned as they seemed to be excited by each new day of invention and introduction of a shift from the presumed‘archaic’. Then comes the resultants of all the activities, the kingdom started burning and the subjects were running; the effect of their activities was the formation of a cloud of death over the kingdom- the greenhouse gases welcomed a new era called Global Warming.

The mystery is that the cloud of life around the kingdom contains some elements seen present in the cloud of death but in controlled quantities; the balance crumbled, the grass became dry; the oceans littered with dead fishes and other creatures, the glacial melted, and the oceans increased in volume broke its banks and flooded the kingdom. There began scarcity of resources – famine, the kingdom started burning from inside out; the subjects kept running all about yet sustained their wave of activities.

The only thing that can remove the cloud of death is to choose to live responsibly in the kingdom.

The decision to plant more trees, outlaw the burning of fossil fuels and vehemently resist pollution of any kind by reducing, reusing and recycling Materials will set the subjects on the path to reconnection with the kingdom. There is no option B; the kingdom is our planet, the system- our environment; we are the subject.

The effect of global climate change is biting harder each day, the time to set the records straight and act is now. We must stop Indiscriminate waste disposal, it increases our risk of epidemic breakouts. Waste burning should be outlawed as we end up releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Our forests should be preserved because they sustain our ecological balance. There must be an active reduction in material consumptions, we must reuse materials in many ways possible by upcycling and materials must be Recycled –  a zero-waste attitude must be developed by all.

Global warming is real and there is no other way to combat it other than climate actions aimed specifically at grossly reducing our carbon footprints,holistically staring down Pollution, and working tirelessly in reconnecting people with nature – a reunion long deserved!

Amusa Temitope Victor is an Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur and Zero-Waste Advocate. He is the Chief Executive Officer, Vicfold Recyclers- A Recycling Firm based in Ilorin Kwara State Nigeria, Which Promotes Incentives Motivated Recycling. (www.vicfoldrecyclers.com). He can be reached on +23408107454031 or founders@vicfoldrecyclers.com

Boro Day: Ijaw Nation Wont Be Allowed To Be Treated As Minority By Eniola Opeyemi

Every 16th day of May marks the annual Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro day celebration by the Ijaw people, the celebration which lasts for days and widely celebrated in honour of the nationalist and Nigerian civil war hero, Boro as popularly called was one of the pioneers of minority rights activism in Nigeria.

This year’s celebration ?has gathered personalities both at home and in diaspora, with renewal of commitment to Boro’s vision in making the Ijaw nation a unified region in quest to get the fourth largest ethnic group a deserved place in the nation.

The Ijaw Youths Council scribe, Comrade Parkins Ogede, ?said the Ijaw nation will continue to legally agitate to ensure it is recognised as a key player in the sovereignty of the country. Ogede made this known when he led teeming youths from Bayelsa state to visit Kiama, the home town of the renown hero, the scribe went further to condemn the underdevelopment in the Niger – Delta region, the lopsided appointment and employment in the nation which has not in anyway reflected true federalism.

“The Ijaw nation have over the years brought food to the table of the nation in the name of sovereignty and true federalism but we have not been treated well in reciprocate of our uncommon sacrifice”, the IYC scribe added.

On the security of investments, lives and properties, Ogede has urged the traders and shop owners to honour the late hero, warning the youths not to take advantage of the celebration to take law into their hands, stating that any erring youth will be forced to face the law, adding that the Ijaw hero, Major Isaac Adaka Boro, never oppressed the masses in the course of his struggle.

The high points of the event include visitation of the IYC president, Comrade Eric Omare led executives to the late Isaac Boro ?country home and the Ijaw National Academy.

Water for Zaria: Improving Healthcare And Agriculture By Abdulhassan Rabiu

Time and again, successive Kaduna State administrations have blatantly failed at meeting the one persistent yearning of the people of Zaria city to provide safe, drinkable tap water. The demand for this need has most often been met with mediocre action and despite their best efforts, the PDP administrations of both Namadi Sambo and Ramalan Yero still fell short of fulfilling this basic need.

Now thanks to current Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai and his commitment to guaranteeing the basic right of easy access to clean water, Kaduna State will witness a massive unveiling in July 2017 when the 150 million litres per day Water treatment plant in Zaria becomes operational. Water from the plant will flow through the taps of at least 2.2 million homes in 28 communities across 8 local Government Areas in Kaduna State.

The 150 million litres per day water treatment plant is only one of three components that constitute the Zaria Regional Water Supply and Expansion Project started in 1999 by the Kaduna State Government with the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). The project was stalled in 2007 when the FGN implemented its Water Exit Programme which mandated it to transfer all water projects to beneficiary states and withdraw all funding.

Most other governments would have let this project stall or abandon it all together as is common all over Nigeria, after all revenues have only dwindled since the inception of this administration and the FGN had withdrawn its support, but no, that did not deter a government committed to delivering on this all important front.

El-Rufai and his team negotiated a smart deal with the contractors consisting of monthly staggered payments of N300m until all liabilities of N3.6bn owed by previous administrations on the project were cleared. N24.6 billion has so far been invested by the Kaduna State Government on realizing the decades long vision of bringing water to the people of Zaria City and its environs.

With a loan of $81 million obtained from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Kaduna State Government will construct 73km transmission mains, 10 service reservoirs and 2 booster stations. All these are part of efforts to ensure that end users have safe drinking water, are economically advantaged and have access to water sources for improved sanitation.

The third component of the Zaria Water Supply and Expansion project is funded by a loan of $101 million received from the African Development Bank (ADB). The loan will be spent on the rehabilitation and expansion of existing distribution networks and sanitation facilities in Zaria as well as creating water access to previously unreached localities across these 8 Local Government Areas.

Already, a 186.1million cubic meter (MCM) multi-purpose Dam has been constructed in Galma, Kuzuntu to serve as a raw water intake for the treatment plant.

El-Rufai knows that Kaduna’s water crisis requires bold solutions which is why he made true on his commitment to complete the Zaria Water Supply and Expansion Project. He also knows that a sure way to deliver on his commitment while meeting the basic needs of the people is to progress into a holistic solution by implementing even smaller, low cost, community based solutions alongside the development and implementation of high cost solutions.

Prior to 2015, the Kaduna State agency responsible for adequate water supply to the rural areas, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA) was largely docile and underfunded. Presently, it has begun to engage community members in water supply and sanitation and has so far provided about 325 hand water pumps to various communities in the State as well as deploying ventilated and improved latrines to markets, primary health care facilities and schools.

One of its most proactive solutions is the provision of solar powered boreholes, this ensures that there are no power disruptions in the water supply process.

The understanding in community involvement is that in trusting local communities themselves to come up with local solutions, be part of managing and implementing the very same solutions, we guarantee that they have a say in dictating their living standards.

If communities are in charge of their irrigation and farming, they decide how much food security exists; because there is pipe borne water, school children who would have spent time gathering water can free up valuable time for schooling, learning and other productive activities, and families, because they control their water sources, they are guaranteed the right to proper sanitation.

El-Rufai knows the pivotal role access to safe water has on interrupting or wholly breaking the cycle of poverty, this is why early in his administration he designated completing this project priority and this is a great investment for long term success.

Abdulhassan Rabiu is an architect based in Abuja (rabiuabdulhassan@gmail.com)

The Broken Woman: Stranger Things By Blossom Obi

I stood there in shock as the doctor related my condition to me. Tears rolled down my cheek and for split seconds, I felt my throat tighten and the walls began to close in on me; my knees started to give way as I slowly fell to the ground.

The day of my cancer operation was due and my husband Chike whom we took solemn vows together: in sickness and in health and other related words that went with that statement. He was selfish and I understood that, but he had decided no amount of communication was going to make him come to see me as he saw nothing wrong with himself.

I was having one of my breast removed as a result of the cancer that had eaten deep into my system, so yes I needed all the support I could get. The process took a long while.

Some weeks had passed and still Chike hadn’t come to the hospital once. We had only a son whose presence became even when he just little. I felt very bad and depressed because I couldn’t place why on earth he didn’t come. Eventually I was discharged from the hospital and he didn’t even know that I was coming home that day or maybe he did, maybe our little boy had told him.

I held our little boy by hand as we strolled in and found him watching a football match; the surprise on his face meant two things and I wasn’t sure of one; was he surprised that I survived and was back much better or it could be that he wasn’t ready to see me. To me, we weren’t having problems; we were just fine or at least that was what I thought.

Sometimes we just have to embrace the situation at hand and transform it for the better. This might look quite challenging but not impossible, it’s like the saying life threw stones at you and you make a stone castle out of them.

Yes this person was supposed to be there in this case; Chike was supposed to be there, but he wasn’t.

Life doesn’t end; deal with what you’re feeling; embrace what you’re feeling; transform it and use it to find yourself. Create a well of positive emotions around you.

FREEDOM IN DEATH

I was so tired of all that was happening, I’ve been ill for so long it feels like a lifetime. In fact everybody at some point was expecting me to just die off, having spent a lot of resources on my ailment and still no improvement. I didn’t blame them because I was also tired of my state.

The unending pain I felt in my body would not give way, so there I was lying down and wishing that life would slowly drift out of me. Since I was a waste of space, why shouldn’t I just pass and give room for someone else with greater importance.

All these, I thought to myself as I closed my eyes and called on death to come take me. At least where he’d take me to my body won’t go through any traumatizing pain. I’d be free.


STRONGER; THE REAL YOU

We often forget that it’s our challenges that make life exciting and then there’s a reality and value check of the things we have and the things we do not. This valuation in turn makes us grateful for the little we have. There’s always someone out there whose case is much worse than yours and you even find them more excited and at ease.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling like giving up; that’s what makes us human. Seeing a stronger you is like waking to see the whole world wanting to hear your story and be inspired by your very living situation.

So rise! Rise like the army inside of you as the chains of what you’re feeling give way for a new feeling of hope and wholeness that should surround you, the real you.

When all you feel is lost and miserable, know that you are at the defining moment where you should stand and fight with the army inside of you, because you have always been stronger and just didn’t know it. Now you know it,  you have that power to push, push till there are no more dark clouds; push for hope; push for life; push for you. That’s what matters

Blossom Obi writes from Owerri, Imo State. For comments and responses, reach her via obiblossom8@gmail.com

It’s About Noon In Chibok, By Raymond Inkabi

 

It is about noon in Chibok, north eastern Nigeria, with the sun just a little overhead the community where 276 school girls were infamously abducted by the Boko Haram sect three years ago.

I had gone to Borno to witness first-hand the damage done by the insurgency for a report on internal displacement in the three states of North eastern Nigeria of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

As the news filtered in, one by one people started gathering around, with more women coming. At first, they all looked grim and bland, uncertain and not too sure if what they heard was true. Then the men came, and then the children. They had just received the news that 82 of their daughters had been released by Boko Haram and are being taken to Abuja the nation’s capital to meet with the authorities.

There was wild jubilation, singing, making and answering of calls as they confirmed it was true. They will be invited to Abuja to confirm their daughters, and also meet with the authorities.

However, these parents at the same time were not happy, had mixed feelings and expressed their fears of not being allowed to come home with their daughters. “Our daughters won’t be allowed to come home. The government will keep them. We’ve waited so long to have our children back” they said. While we are happy to receive the good news some have been rescued, the parents are not, because they fear the government won’t let them have their daughters.

Last October, both Nigerian and Swiss Governments with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) secured the release of 21 Chibok girls. And on Saturday, the ICRC acting as a “neutral intermediary” again “facilitated the safe return” of 82 of the kidnapped Chibok girls who were freed from Boko haram captivity in exchange for several militant commanders of the jihadist group. This release was confirmed by a press release by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity. This swap came amidst continued calls for action globally by various governments, organizations and individuals.

We have seen this happen before, last year, in Abuja, after the 21 Chibok girls were released in the girls were immediately sequestered and taken to a safe house in an unknown location for fears of their safety. And the only time they came home was a short stay during Christmas.

Rather than trading one form of captivity for the other, the girls need to return to their families, many of whom no longer live in their previous locations where they were kidnapped. Their families should be informed on the reasons for having their daughters held again, this time by their own government. If the Nigerian government can’t keep the girls safe or assure their reintegration into society, it is just because they have not completely succeeded in keeping anyone safe from Boko haram.

The reality is if no one can guarantee the safety and of these children with their parents, then no one is actually safe from terrorist attacks which raise serious concerns on how much premium placed on security. We must ensure the government reunites these separated families as soon as possible. As Boko Haram have been known to change tactics to carry out terrorist activities, with the most recent the use of child suicide bombers which are an increasing threat, with this year having more children; with most of them being girls according to UNICEF.

In Nigeria, the Bring Back Our Girls campaign has continually mobilized and raised their voices at various times to the government to immediately secure the release and safe return of the remaining girls from captivity. But sadly, the Chibok girls are not the first and only ones to be forcefully abducted, by Boko Haram in the North east. Are these girls going home to their families? Sadly this question remains answered and uncertain from precedence, and because attention has focused primarily on getting the girls back and not back home to their families which should rather be a top priority.

Many men, women and children have been kidnapped, some of whom have been rescued at various times by the Nigerian military, in spite of this there are many others who were not lucky to be rescued and were sold, killed, married off, sent on suicide missions by the sect at various times unnoticed or unreported by the media and the government. Till date the north east have been ravaged, a looming food crises, threat of climate change, loss of livelihoods and millions displaced the insurgency.

He complained bitterly of the seeming neglect, himself and other IDPs who managed to escape to Abuja and other places by the government and the international relief and aid agencies who have focused mostly all their attention to the North east. He says “the government doesn’t care about us. They all go to Borno but we that survived are still suffering here”

At Durumi IDPs camp in Abuja, where I met with Ms. Carolyn Ronis a Legislative aide who have worked in the US congress and now run a non-profit; the International Coalition for the Eradication of Hunger and Abuse founded in the wake of the Chibok abduction but now focuses primarily on IDPs and other vulnerable populations in Nigeria. “The suffering is too much for these victims and survivors of Boko haram, many who have been displaced, since 2014, the government and well-spirited individuals need to come urgently to their aid” she stated.

There are serious concerns about the state of IDPs outside the north east Nigeria both in camps and host communities.

Abuja alone has about 32 IDPs camps and host communities nestled in the capital, where living conditions are of the lowest unimaginable scales with little or no hope for these survivors.  This is the same situation with Lagos, Nigeria’s former capital where most IDPs from the north head to for safety and in search of better life.  Many IDPs are found living in uncompleted buildings, under bridges, parks and other open spaces, engaging in all sorts of activities to make ends.

We have to realize that these displaced persons are Nigerians, and who have to be looked out for, and protected by the government whose responsibility it is to do so. There is a need to look inwards and build stronger institutions, create sustainable peace, and aid to those affected by the insurgency. While tackling the root causes of terrorism; the government should provide safe homes, education, water, employment, security, reduce inequalities and improve on other basic necessities of life in the north. In this way the triggers and underlying causes of Boko Haram, the cycle poverty and the perpetuation of social violence can be stopped. But firstly, one great step will be the government allowing the released Chibok girls home to their families, then can the healing process and joy be complete.

Raymond Inkabi is a Nigerian writer, social activist and humanitarian. He tweets @rayinkabi

 

Adopting Models That Have Worked: The Kaduna Example, By Kareena Arabi

In running a government, one point which can never be over-emphasized is the need for a clear economic policy and direction. This economic policy, if inexistent, or when the realities are changing, brings up the issue of economic reforms. These reforms are meant to place the economy of the State in an upward direction growth-wise. The bedrock to such a reform has to be in Planning and Budget, as that is where the numbers are mooted and arranged, plans are conceived and forwarded for execution, and directions are decided as to where the State is going/wants to be. Mal. Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai has become synonymous with audacious reformation and it is only right that I take his Kaduna State as an example.

After the 2015 elections ended in a resounding victory for Mal. el-Rufai and his party in Kaduna State, all eyes were set on what names will be included in his team; economic, political, and social, and true to type, he delivered a master list. The most interesting of the members of this team was a young Development Economist Muhammed Sani Abdullahi, nominated for the Budget and Planning ministry. He holds two master’s degrees, one in Development Economics and Policy, the other in International Affairs and Diplomacy. Dattijo, as he is fondly referred to, worked at the United Nations as an adviser to SG Ban-Ki-Moon on designing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That was a statement of intent from Kaduna State.

Arguments for or against Politically-driven economic reforms and the resultant policies have been as old as reforms themselves. The IBON Foundation, a Filipino non-profit development organization, in criticizing President Duterte’s 8-point economic agenda posited “…is good for big business at the expense of majority…and long term national development”. It brings to fore the delicacy of economic policy and reforms and the need for a thorough assessment of compatibility and workability. In a social media chat with Japheth J. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) the Commissioner of Budget and Planning Kaduna State, Muhammad Sani (@Dattijo) stated “We’re not stuck on any ideology. We are pragmatic. Anything that works…” this is a very good approach to economic planning and policy reforms. The Commissioner also made mention of a few policies they modeled after those in other countries that have worked. Papua New Guinea as a model for their tax policy, a mix of Ethiopia and China for Infrastructure, “Healthcare is a bit of UK NHS”.

THE MODELS

The Papua New Guinea Tax Policy described by Dattijo is one that is pragmatic in all its ramifications. The policy has been presented in a document published by KPMG. The policy has very clear provisions on Corporate Tax, Indirect Tax, Personal Taxation, and other Taxes while incorporating Income Tax treaties for the avoidance of double taxation. These treaties have been concluded with Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Canada, Korea (Republic of), Singapore, China, Malaysia,and the United Kingdom while those with Germany, Indonesia and Thailand were at various stages of ratification. If Kaduna State adopts this model, adjusting for local realities, the Tax framework of the State will be in a good shape in no time. The State Governor, Mal. Nasir el-Rufai has announced an increase in the State IGR, without any increase in Taxation. Therefore, one will be right to hope that when next the IGR of Kaduna is talked about, the Tax policy must have contributed in the perceived increased IGR.

The Ethiopian Model for Infrastructural growth is predicated on improved roads, power generation and rail transportation. This was contained in Ethiopia’s First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I, 2010-2015) and reinforced in the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II, 2016-2020). The Plan yielded positive results with visible results apparent at the expiration of the tenure of the GTP I in 2015. In power generation, of any nation in sub-Saharan Africa,Ethiopia is experiencing one of the fastest rates of growth.

Starting with a mere 2,000 megawatts- (MW) of electricity in 2009, GTP I had hoped to increase output to 8,000 MW,this was not reached but with the completion of the Gilgel-Gibe III almost 1,900 MW hydroelectric plant in 2015, Ethiopia had doubled generation. Access to electricity was increased from 41% to 54%, and targets above75% upon completion of the Grand Renaissance hydro project. On road networks, the GTP I set a tall target of 136,000km from 49,000km of roads, but was able to achieve about 61,000km and an additional 39,000km of unpaved all-weather roads. In rail transport, a 34 km (20.5 mile) Addis Ababa Light Rail Tram, the first of its kind in sub-Sahara Africa became operational in 2015. The 753 km (481 miles) Addis Ababa–Djibouti railway, financed and built by China, also began transporting food to alleviate the effects of Ethiopia’s severe drought. This is a very people and result oriented model that if well leveraged on by the Kaduna State Government, the people will be better served by the outcomes of.

The Chinese model of Infrastructural reform is best discussed from the point of view of the stimulus package of 4 trillion Yuan (RMB) announced in 2008. The package dedicated 1.5 trillion RMB to infrastructure including roads, railways, irrigation and airport construction. The rest of the stimulus package was allocated to be spent on post-quake reconstruction, social welfare, technology advancements, rural development, sustainable development and educational and cultural projects. The above stimulus package is to fund new projects and also projects already included in the PRC’s 5-year plans, which was then in its 11th round; the 5-year plan is in its 13th round now. Though Kaduna State does not have the economic wherewithal to have such a massive package, not helped by the low and unrealistic lending conditions of the country, it can however copy the plan rounds adopted by the Chinese government. There is evidence that Kaduna has since launched its first State Development Plan (2016-2020), a five-year plan, this is a step in the right direction, if continuity issues do not arise. Another aspect that Kaduna State should be able to copy from the Chinese model is the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) concession. The model was used by China and it has over 70% of the world’s toll roads but on a brighter side, it has also successfully accelerated the number of roads constructed. Kaduna can build malls and public buildings using this concession and will stand to benefit long term. Hopefully, the Galaxy Mall, to be anchored by Shoprite, in a PPP, is built under this model.

Finally, the Healthcare system planned to be adopted is the UK-NHS. The flagship model for the NHS is England’s NHS which is similar to those of the rest of UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Wikipedia article on National Health Service (England) does enough justice to this wonderful system, excerpts:

“The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded national healthcare system for England and one of the four National Health Services of the United Kingdom. It is the largest and the oldest single-payer healthcare system in the world. Primarily funded through the general taxation system and overseen by the Department of Health, the system provides healthcare to every legal resident in England, with most services free at the point of use. Some services, such as emergency treatment and treatment of infectious diseases are free for everyone, including visitors.”

“Some specific NHS services do however require a financial contribution from the patient, for example eye tests, dental care, prescriptions, and aspects of long-term care. However, these charges are often free to vulnerable or low income groups, and when not free, often lower than equivalent services provided by a private health care provider.”

“The NHS provides the majority of healthcare in England, including primary care, in-patient care, long-term healthcare, ophthalmology, and dentistry. The National Health Service Act 1946 came into effect on 5 July 1948.”

This system, about 70 years old has been described as one of the best ran social services in the world. There is abundant literature and readings on the workings of the NHS, if well studied and adopted, the Kaduna State Healthcare system may, after all, become the model for other Nigerian States.

The Kaduna State Government has identified wonderful models to emulate in Taxation, Infrastructure, Healthcare, Budgeting and Treasury and I feel other Nigerian States should adopt those models too. They have started implementing some, like the Zero-Based Budget and Treasury Single Account. It is my since hope that the planned adoptions are done with the utmost care and adaptation to prevalent peculiarities are made. My hopes are high because of the team that is carrying this out and I hope to come to you, one day, bearing tales of the success of these adoptions.

Dr Kareena Amrah Arabi wrote this piece from Kaduna.

 

Osinbajo: Who is Scared Of A Professor? By Eniola Opeyemi

The rise and rise of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, no doubt has shown the result of Hardwork and loyalty, giving hope not only to the academia but also to professionalism in the nation. Nigeria’s political terrain have harbored the best script writers, actors and actresses whose precedent have put the nation as one of the politically tensed country in the world, owing to the sectionalism, evidential that we are divided across various beliefs.

Professor Oluyemi “Yemi” Oluleke Osinbajo (born 8 March 1957) is a Nigerian lawyer and politician who is the current Vice President of Nigeria, in office since 29 May 2015. He is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Professor of Law and until his inauguration as Vice President, a Senior Partner with SimmonsCooper Partners, a commercial law practice.

Osinbajo a key player in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s ?led administration, saving the former military head of state of major crises to put the economy and the unity of the nation back on track, while Buhari’s absence has kept the rumor mill spinning, his vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, has been quietly effective in addressing some of the crises affecting the country. Among other things, the 60-year-old former lawyer has met with stakeholders in the volatile yet oil-rich Niger Delta and addressed protesters demanding economic reform and an end to government corruption.

The Redeemed Christian church of God pastor has not shied away from difficult topics. The vice-president has visited the Niger Delta, the country’s oil hub, and tackled the issue of militancy head on. Osinbajo has said that young men in the region must be “properly engaged” to stop them falling into militant groups or participating in illegal refining of crude oil. Osinbajo also confronted rare public demonstrations in Lagos and the capital Abuja earlier in February, where hundreds of protesters decried the state of the country.

Nigeria’s economy is struggling to become less dependent on oil—which makes up more than 70 percent of GDP—while various security threats continue to plague the country. These include the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast: the group has been largely contained by Nigerian and regional military forces, but continues to launch guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings on a not-infrequent basis.

Earlier in 2017, Osinbajo met with protesters who marched on the presidential villa in Abuja and put out a reassuring statement. “To those who are protesting…we hear you loud and clear. You deserve a decent life and we are working night and day to make life easier,” said Osinbajo.

The cabals influence in Nigeria’s politics can’t be underrated as they perform more functions behind the scene than most elected and appointed officials,  some of these cabals surrounding the President has constantly choose to put the Vice-president under their control, owing to avoidance of seeing him overshadow their prowess in the affairs of the nation. But rarely would you see Osinbajo comment on this, showing maturity, professionalism and the figure he presents in the church, consequently, the vice – president have continually pay his loyalty to his boss which have payed off over his continous popularity waxing stronger in the Nigeria’s political scene.

Just recently, the powers around the President prove to have something hidden as regards the Vice – President, in every political and non – political setting, it is expected that the deputy acts in the absence of his/her boss, hence, it’s another scene here in the country. The President’s letter to the senate notifying the hallowed chamber of his medical trip has causes stir among the people of the nation, kudos to the leadership of the senate for preventive measures to put the matter to rest. In his letter to the National Assembly, to inform the lawmakers of his medical leave and to transmit power to his deputy, is generating controversy.

Buhari had stated that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo would coordinate the affairs of the nation while he was away instead of writing that Osinbajo would act as the President.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, at the plenary read the letter from Buhari, informing the legislature of his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.

?The letter read, “In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

‘‘While I am away, the Vice-President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

By this letter, it’s a clear indication that there are powers that are willing to sabotage the constitution because of the fear of Osinbajo who has done no wrong in wishing his boss success, hitherto, there I need to beef up security around the scholar so as not to play foul in the hands of the saboteers.

Nigeria would be great irrespective of the tribe or powers that make, so there is no need to be scared of a professor.

Eniola Opeyemi writes.
eniolaopeyemi@gmail.com

Buhari’s Letter vs The Law; Acting President or Coordinator? By Baba Isa

President Buhari’s letter to the Senate has opened a debate. Some persons are of the opinion that it wasn’t properly worded, that what the letter made the Vice President was a mere coordinator not an Acting President.

Is this true?

First, let’s look at President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly.

“In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away for a scheduled medical follow-up with my doctors in London. The length of my stay will be determined by the doctor’s advice.

While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the government. Please accept, the distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

– President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly

Now let’s dissect the wordings of this letter with the scalpel of the Constitution, the highest law of the land.

  1. Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended states thus: “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

Pause. Read that section again. Have you? Because most people who are making a mountain of the President’s letter are those who are neglecting to grasp the import of this section.

All the president’s letter has to say or needed to say or required by the Constitution to say is that he will not be available. The letter has no power to say what the Vice President will become in the president’s absence; the constitution has already said that.

Any such letter from any president is simply to state that the president will not be available to discharge his duties and why. Buhari’s letter above did that. Any other thing is superfluous. But as usual, we are distracted by the superfluous.

Whatever the president’s letter said the vice president will become is null and void if it is not in tandem with the constitution. In the absence of the president the Constitution is clear on who will take over and in what capacity. It is the Vice President that will take over as Acting President. QED. The president has no constitutional powers to name any other person or group of persons to take over; he also has no powers to assign a nomenclature by which the Vice President will be called in his absence. The constitution says he will be known as “Acting President”. Period.

We are giving the letter too much importance. The letter cannot override the constitution. No law in this country can override the constitution. So assuming without conceding that the said letter is at variance with any section of our Constitution, the letter will be null and void and the Almighty Constitution will prevail.

  1. We are not in the Yar’adua era anymore. The Constitution has been amended after that saga. Section 145 now has a new subsection 2. Let’s look at it “In the event that the President is unable or fails to transmit the written declaration mention in subsection (1) of this section within 21 days, the National Assembly shall, by a resolution made by a simple majority of votes of each house of the National Assembly, mandate the Vice President to perform the functions of the office of the President as the Acting President until the President transmit a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is now available to resume his functions as President.”

That’s it. The letter is not that important anymore. In the absence of the President, with or without him transmitting a letter to the Senate, the Vice President will eventually be mandated to Act as President. Point is, don’t lose sleep over a letter. The Yar’dua days are long gone.

  1. Please go back and read the President’s letter to the Senate as captured above. Done that? Good. Now, to be fair to the President, is there really anywhere in that letter he said that the Vice President will assume the office or carry out the functions or take the title of a coordinator, whatever coordinator? Check again. The truth is, the letter never said that. The president knows he has no power to say that. If he had said that it would have been null and void as I pointed out earlier. But the truth is Mr President never said that in his letter. Please.

“While I am away, the Vice President will coordinate the activities of government” is different from saying he will be a coordinator not an Acting President.

The President even said in his letter: “In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I wish to inform…” The President’s letter directed the Senate and Nigerians to the Constitution to get the full meaning of his letter. Why are we refusing to go there? The President by referring us to the constitution in his letter, agrees that the words of the Constitution are more powerful than the words of his letter. If anyone is just trying to construe words out of the letter while refusing to look at the words of the Constitution concerning the issue, then such a person is just being mischievous for political reasons. Or maybe it’s just deliberate and willful ignorance.

  1. And yes, one of the functions of the President is to coordinate the activities of government. It’s in the Constitution.

See what section 148(2)b says, look out for the word “coordinate”: “(2) The President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice-President and all the Ministers of the Government of the Federation for the purposes of-

(b) CO-ORDINATING the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities”.

So, if the Vice President assumes the office and functions of the President as Acting President he is also mandated by the Constitution to be “Co-ordinating the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities”.

You see, so much ado about nothing.

In a country where governors travel without transmitting powers to their deputies, where a sitting President shut down this country when he went for medicals abroad, President Buhari should me commended for always transmitting powers to his Vice. You might have your issues with the Buhari administration but we should never miss opportunities like this to teach ourselves the ropes of governance and the law.

First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja.

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Electing Adeyemi Odubiyi As MD: Shareholders And Sterling Bank Perilous Journey To Golgotha By Fejiro Oliver

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning” – Henry Ford

I look through my hotel window two hours after being released from alagbon police station this day of March 2017 by the bribe taking police officer, DSP Kenneth ogbeifun who conspired and connived with sterling bank to frame Dennis Ukpabi and I up, and wonder what the future holds for the bank

Except there is a last minute political game at play, Nigeria’s financially struggling Sterling Bank will be picking a new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer to head it for the next ten years. This ultimate decision will be reached on May 11, 2017 by the shareholders. Months before now, the rumour mill from the bank is that the current MD/CEO, Mr Adeyemi Adeola, has positioned his alter ego, Mr Adeyemi Odubiyi, to be his successor. It is only when this financial coup fails that Adeola will fall back to his second option, in the person of Abubakar Suleiman, the Executive Director, Finance and Performance Management. His first option of Odubiyi is not likely to fail going by the horse-trading already going on.

For ten solid years, against moral and financial ethics, he has groomed Odubiyi into his perfect choice of MD, even though he is the least qualified and has the worst CV among the contenders. To prepare him towards the journey of covering up whatever illicit financial dealings he carried out, such as the Diezani election money saga, he caused his godson Odubiyi to enjoy rapid promotion, such that is unprecedented in the history of Sterling Bank since the merger. From a Group Head, he was made a General Manager and quickly made a Chief Operating Officer in 2013. Obviously aware that it takes only and Executive Director to contest for Managing Director, he was made Executive Director, Operations and Services in 2014. In 2015, Adeola introduced him to the board for ratification which was done. At 41, he became the youngest Executive Director in Sterling Bank, without merit but obviously for this deciding moment. This is compared to Kayode Lawal, who was also made Executive Director same time with him, even though it should been earlier. Lawal, a Chartered Accountant is said to have the most impressive CV and has achieved numerous marketing feat that increased both bank and customers’ deposit bases. The only achievement credited to Odubiyi is changing the core banking application from BANKS to T24, which has failed both the bank and customers, as its mobile and internet services is the worst ever in Nigeria. For a bank MD whose first word should be integrity and credibility, Odubiyi has lost every iota of it. For the first time in Nigeria banking history, he may be the first bank MD/CEO that will stand in the dock and cross examined by a group of ten lawyers and captured by the media for his role in the now infamous N100 million Deposit Mobilization Fraud. That a CEO of a bank will not only be cross examined, but also his integrity called to question, it begs to ask how customers’ monies can be safe under him.

Odubiyi’s statement acknowledging the fraud alone nails him and disqualifies him from being an Executive Director in the bank, not to talk of a Managing Director position. The only thing close to the truth is that they faced disciplinary actions because of their involvement in the Deposit Mobilization Fraud is his inglorious statement to the police. Anywhere all over the world where a top banker is allegedly involved in fraud, he steps aside to clear his name and not getting rewarded with the post of Managing Director. Odubiyi has not denied the fraud, neither has he denied telling his godson, Adekanlu Desalu, and his female staff, Eguru Nyenke, who he is alleged of having an affair with, to run to the police for obvious protection that has now boomeranged. The heavy allegation by this journalist and Dennis Ukpabi, who blew the cover off the fraud and Odubiyi’s attempt to cover his two staff, will only make the bank spend money in image laundering.

The first code of conduct in banking is integrity. The moment your integrity is called to question, the door is left open to walk out. Will the shareholders turn a blind eye to this brewing integrity storm that is about to consume the bank? Will they dance to Adeola’s political drum to make Odubiyi the Managing Director and face the worst media crisis since their merger? Or will they throw away this financial Jonah into the sea to save the bank’s image? As they sit for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday and take that crucial decision that will either make or mar the bank, they must have it at the back of their hearts that Odubiyi carries with him baggages of problems that are unheard of in a bank, from financial integrity to alleged sexual immorality with staff. Every Managing Director of a bank must command respect among staff, but this cannot be said of Odubiyi who is secretly divided by staffers nationwide and hated by even the gatemen. Will the shareholders turn dear ears to the murmuring of the staffs and top customers who are already feeling ashamed that from June 12, 2017, their new Managing Director will be embarrassed as he stands in the dock?

In 2015, Fidelity Bank MD, Nnamdi Okonkwo, arrested a top journalist in Chris Keheinde Nwandu (CKN) even when he was advised against it by the Group Head of Corporate Communication. His cup was full with Seun Oleketuyi and CKN spending few weeks in Ikoyi Prison and then the bubble of his involvement with Diezani busted. Efforts to keep the story out of the media failed as CKN and co were determined to fulfill their constitutional duty of questioning Okonkwo’s involvement. Unable to save his neck, the bank shareholders in shame replaced him. This is what Sterling Bank shareholders must know, that, like Nnamdi Okonkwo, Odubiyi will not last long as Managing Director, as Adeola’s sins which were obviously covered up by PR including frantic mails sent to the staff by management to remain calm when he was picked by the EFCC and was weeping like a baby while pleading will be made public. The epic event that happened on the Sterling Towers will have the records opened as well as the N363 million Gbagi fraud that has been kept away. To prevent this, the shareholders should beware the ides of May 11 and June 12; they should look beyond Adeola and save the bank’s future.

Kayode Lawal commands respect among Sterling staff nationwide, with his integrity never called to question. Lanre Adesanya who was beaten by Adeola to be Managing Director is a better person that Odubiyi even though he may not be contesting. Suleiman as the Managing Director will serve the bank and her customers with years of professional banking. The mistake of electing Odubiyi can best be described as the gloomy days ahead of Sterling. His emergence will see him groom the arrowhead of the N100million fraud, Adekanlu Desalu, as the next Managing Director or Eguru Nyenke as another successor.

The shareholders have a date with history to wreck the bank by allowing Adeola have his way or build the struggling pretending bank by electing a man with impeccable record as the next Managing Director. Whatever happens after then will determine if Arsenal Football Club will continue to partner with them or sever their partnership. No foreign organization wants bad press and affiliation with a notorious institution that Sterling Bank and its staff are fast becoming.

The One Customer Bank may just be bidding goodbye to Nigerians if Odubiyi, who may be docked alongside his three protégé, is stamped on the bank. May Sterling Bank not begin the nailing of its coffin on May 11. Ise!

These little things matters…

 

Fejiro Oliver, a journalist writes from Lagos. He can be reached on secretsreporters@gmail.com and tweets @fejirooliver86.

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page is solely those of the writer and does not necessarily reflects the views of Abusidiqu.com or its associates.

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