Is Administrative Committee to Investigate the Suspended SGF And NIA DG The Best Option? By Okoi Obono-Obla

NOTE: The views expressed are my personal opinion.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, April 19, ordered the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke. He also constituted an Administrative Committee to investigate their actions under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, SAN. The other two members of the Committee are Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno. Lawal was alleged to have through the Presidential Initiative on the North East awarded contracts to companies in which he had interest, while Ayo Oke’s troubles are linked to his claims the NIA owns the monies recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission during a sting operation in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos last weekend.

However, despite the fact that Nigerians greeted the suspension of these highly placed officials questions have been asked why the Federal Government constituted a Committee rather than referring the matter to the EFCC or ICPC or whichever law enforcement agency it deemed appropriate. This question also surfaced during an interview I had with Channels Television. The answer to this questions is the essence of this essay.

In administrative law, it is a correct procedure for an Administrative Committee to be set up when evidence of criminality or allegation of criminality against a public servant is not very clear or blurred or when infraction of Public Service Rules are made against a public servant.

The erring public servant (no matter how grave the allegation against him) is entitled to be given a fair hearing if the commission of a crime is inferred in the allegation against him. The Administrative Committee is usually a fact finding Committee. It is not a Court of Law in any stretch of imagination, and has no jurisdiction to hear a criminal allegation against anybody alleged to have infracted the law. It has no jurisdiction to investigate corruption or crime. It jurisdiction is restricted to establish whether or not the erring public servant has committed administrative infraction or contravene the Public Service Rules.

The main duties of such a Committee is to review the allegation and making findings of fact. If in the course of it investigation, it found any evidence of criminality against the erring public servant, it would recommend to the appointing authority to refer the matter to appropriate law enforcement agency. On the other hand, if the Committee found that the erring public servant breached any provision in the Public Service Rules, the Committee will recommend that such a public servant should be published administratively. The punishment can be a reprimand, dismissal or retirement.

In this instance, there is no allegation of crime against Ayo Oke, even though he allegedly failed to divulge to the President the money seized in the apartment which he claimed was given to the National Intelligence Agency two years for a covert operation. The Administrative Committee will determine whether or not he committed by a crime by his failure to divulge or that he breached the Public Services Rules by his failure to divulge.

Also, the allegation against Babachir David Lawal is still blurred. Did he breach Financial Regulations or Public Service Rules or the Code of Conduct or financial laws when he allegedly awarded contract to his own companies? It is these grey areas the Administrative Committee will clear and advise the President to enable him take an informed and balanced decision, which is the hallmark of President Muhammadu Buhari – due process and fair hearing.

We may recall President Muhammadu Buhari had also constituted a Presidential Committee to probe contracts awarded by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) from 2011 to 2015 whose recommendations led to the EFCC investigating and charging to court, the former National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and others found culpable. The present situation is a re-enactment of earlier committees by the present administration in situations like this.

Okoi Obono-Obla

Riding On The Runway, By Olusegun Adeniyi

For a government that thrives in propaganda, it is just as well that the operatives of the Muhammadu Buhari administration did not understand the significance of what happened on Tuesday at the Abuja International Airport. If they did, they would have moved beyond just regaling us with their cemetery tales.

Ordinarily, the rehabilitation of an airport runway should be no big deal. However, given the circumstances surrounding this particular project, the Buhari administration has not only recorded a major landmark, it has also shown that if our public officials apply themselves, we can easily overcome most of our challenges as a nation. By proving many naysayers wrong and in the process, solving a national problem that has lingered for several years, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has also distinguished himself.

Against the background that Abuja usually hosts important events and meetings, the idea of closing the airport for six weeks made little sense when Sirika first anounced the decision. From British Airways to Lufthansa to Air France to Egypt Air to Kenya Airways as well as other stakeholders who generate sustaining income from Abuja airport, the option to operate from Kaduna airport was rejected outright. Only Ethiopian Airlines took the gamble and it must have reaped bountifully from the Kaduna adventure.

Even for those who were ready to give the Federal Government the benefit of doubts when the decision was first announced, there were so many questions begging for answers. Did they take into account the security implications of such an action at a period when kidnapping has become a national malaise? What if there was a need for an emergency health evacuation by air from Abuja? What of the sheer logistics of ferrying thousands of passengers to and from Kaduna on a treacherous road filled with pot holes? What about the economic loss of such a closure to the aviation, car hire and other businesses? What about the political implications of practically shutting out our federal capital from the rest of the world?

While nobody could offer practical explanations for some of these concerns, I came to my own conclusion on 30th January after driving to and from Kaduna to interview Governor Nasir el-Rufai for my book. On that day, I spent almost four hours on the road and that was just about four weeks to the closure of the Abuja airport. I didn’t imagine any miracle to change the state of that death trap of a road within weeks among other considerations so I narrated my experience to colleagues at the THISDAY editorial Board where we took a position that the whole idea of closing Abuja airport made no sense. And we made our position clear as did other media houses.

For sure, we took into account the fact that the old runway was built in 1981 with a lifespan of 20 years, which it had already exceeded by 15 years. We also noted the fact that in 2013, a Saudi Arabian cargo aircraft was damaged when it taxied though a section of the runway which necessitated a 24 hour closure of the airport with all the implications for other intending passengers and operators. That Emirates Airways decided to stop flying into Abuja airport was also because of the damaged runway.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, we were almost certain that closing the Abuja airport would create a chaotic situation that would be impossible to manage. We also did not believe that the six-week promise to complete the rehabilitation work would be kept. Knowing how things work in our country, many Nigerians believed that we would be lucky if the runway was completed within six months. For that reason, we suggested a gradual rehabilitation process that would not necessitate closing the airport but could take a very long time to complete as had been tried in the past and in other climes.

However, Sirika had a different idea and he stood his ground in the face of strong opposition from several quarters. He said those flying into and out of Abuja would be ferried to and from Kaduna airport by bus. He promised that the road would be fixed and that there would be adequate security. At a point, he also added some drama that if the airport was not ready by due date, he would resign his appointment. At the end, Sirika delivered on all his promises. The Abuja-Kaduna road was fixed, there was security presence everywhere (I travelled three times from Kaduna airport in the course of the six weeks) and 24 hours before the 19th April deadline, the Abuja airport was reopened for business.

The real point here is not about a runway but rather about how a government should respond to critical challenges. What Sirika has done was to apply common sense in dealing with a problem and that is far more productive than all the Jonathan-is-to-blame propaganda that has become the default mode of this administration.

First, Sirika identified the problem but he was not going to stop there as he also came up with possible solutions. He chose a more durable one that even he knew was contentious. But he was determined to push it through apparently because a lot of planning must have gone into his decision which accounted for his certainty that within six weeks a new runway would be delivered to Abuja airport. Fortunately, even nature was kind to Sirika as there was no rain in Abuja throughout the period the work was in progress but then, as football commentators would say, you make your own luck.

The strategic challenges posed by the Abuja airport closure are however not exhausted by the prompt execution of the project or Sirika’s sense of commitment and responsibility. It has for instance thrown up two pertinent questions. If this were not a problem that affect members of the political and business elite (poor people don’t fly), would there be this kind of prompt response from the authorities? If the project was for a facility used by the ordinary people on the streets, would some fat cats not adopt a do-nothing approach while blaming the problem on the “fornication” that necessitated the wrath of God?

While we must commend Sirika for displaying leadership when it was most needed, it is nonetheless sad that the capital of a nation of our size does not have an alternative airport that can serve in moments of emergency and even when aircraft bound for the main airport are in distress. This is therefore an opportunity to devote attention to putting that right. Again, there were also obvious dividends to the Kaduna airport and other infrastructure that were upgraded and pressed into increased national service while the Abuja airport was closed. The government should consolidate these facilities for future use instead of allowing them to relapse to their original state.

But the enduring lesson is that in the Abuja airport runway story, Sirika was bold enough to identify a politically sensitive project that touches the elite and commit himself and his portfolio to a prompt delivery. This project, and the manner in which it was carried out, enhances the credibility of the Buhari administration in general while paying tribute to the capacity of our bureaucracy to facilitate the commitments of government especially on projects where the targets and goals are very clear.

At the end, the template provided by the manner the Abuja runway repairs was executed offers something of a model that can be replicated in other departments of national life where there are low hanging fruits of infrastructure rehabilitation and rescue. We hope that will ginger the Buhari administration to forget Jonathan and face the future. With the reopening of Abuja airport on Tuesday, Sirika has proved that a clear headed public official can identify and deliver a socially and economically desirable outcome on schedule.

Yemi Ogunbiyi @ 70

Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, if you ever encounter Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, you will leave with the impression that you have just met a friend. How he does it is really difficult to fathom so it must be a gift from God. That perhaps then explains why he looks so youthful that he would easily pass for a man of 50 rather than the 70 years now ascribed to him. And there can be no better tribute to him than the one paid yesterday in THISDAY by his friend and co-conspirator, Dr Chidi Amuta.

With a Yoruba father and an Igbo mother, Ogunbiyi was raised in the North which makes him unique within the context of our country’s tripodal politics. But it is also a testimony to Ogunbiyi’s brilliance that he can speak the three WAZOBIA languages (Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo) fluently. It is not everybody with his kind of experience and exposure who can do that with as much dexterity as he does.

That Ogunbiyi has had a distinguished professional career is not in doubt. From the academic world where he excelled as a teacher of literature and drama at Ife, Ogunbiyi moved to the media in Lagos where he would hit it big before going into private practice as a consultant. Yet, despite his accomplishments, Ogunbiyi has remained humble and is ever supportive of younger professionals. That is why he deserves all the accolades that have come his way in the past week.

Happy birthday to the great Balogun of Ipara Remo!

Against The Run of Play

…In David Mark’s view, the problem arose because the First Lady kept alleging that (Aminu) Tambuwal had presidential aspirations and for that reason, could not be relied upon to support her husband. The former Senate President shared his own insight on the First Lady’s suspicion: “I guess she had the same fear about me even when she never said it to my face. She once accosted Senator Joy Emordi to say, ‘Joy, I hear you are the manager of David Mark Presidential Campaign Organization’, which was a baseless accusation. I had to meet the President to clarify issues with him. So, I would say it was President Jonathan and his wife who radicalized Tambuwal and turned him into a political foe.”

 My book, “Against The Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria” will be released next week Friday after a public presentation in Lagos. To chair the event is former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar while former Cross River State Governor, Mr Donald Duke will do the unveiling. I have in recent weeks been receiving so many questions about the book and they will all be answered next week. But I can assure that the book will be affordable and it will also be available on relevant platforms for interested readers all over the world.

Benue Wage Bill: The Fraud Is Still On By Usha Anenga 

Benue State has a wage bill of N7.8bn (N4.2billion for state and N3.6billion for local government), the largest in northern Nigeria and, besides the oil-rich South-South states, the third highest (behind Lagos and Ogun states) in Nigeria.

In acending order, these are the figures civil servants wage bills for some states across the country…Kebbi: N1.02bn; Yobe: N1.3bn; Sokoto: N1.6bn; Plateau: N1.7bn; Taraba: N1.85bn; Adamawa: N1.9bn; Niger: N2.1bn; Nasarawa: N2.45bn; Ekiti: N2.6bn; Kwara: N2.8bn; Kogi: N3.2bn; Kaduna: N3.5bn; Osun: N3.6bn; Kano: N3.7bn; Ondo: N3.8bn; Benue: N4.2bn; Bayelsa: N4.5bn; Oyo: N5.3bn; Ogun: N6bn; Rivers: N7bn and Lagos: N9.1bn.

Benue State, one of the poorest states in the country is up there with economic heavyweights in the southwest like Lagos and other oil-producing counterparts. It will interest you to know that Kano state which has more than twice the population of Benue State with 44 local governments, still has a wage bill of N2.1bn for local government workers while Benue stands tall at N3.6bn.
Governor Samuel Ortom was the first to admit that there was fraud in the system on his first day in office. Benue State wage bill is obviously bloated by ghost workers since time immemorial, but efforts towards a solution have been, at best, drawn from a familiar book of lamentations.

After numerous unfruitful attempts to reduce the wage bill, the Governor’s latest effort was the constitution of a 10-member Salary Verification Committee with a charge on them to ascertain the authentic wage bill of the state. The Committee had Mr. Tertsea Ikyaabo as Chairman and Terhemen Jato as Secretary. Other members were Wondoo Atikpo, Jeremiah Ikuba, Iorpenda Tarnguhar, Regina Are, S.U Ikomon Peter Pa, Orindia Shie and Philip Nongo.

Inaugurating the committee, Governor Ortom urged its members to explore the bank verification number BVN and other ICT related measures to guard against future multiple payments to individual public servants. He also charged them to expose the syndicate within the civil service believed to be behind the ghost workers syndrome for possible sanctions and submit it’s report in three months.

It’s been eight (8) months already with no result. During this intervening period, this over bloated wage bill has sucked the state dry, gulping 8 months of federal allocation, budget support and first tranche of Paris Club debt refunds amounting to over N32bn and still counting. As I write, we have a backlog of unpaid salaries amounting to 5 months for state civil servants and almost a year for those of the local government.

News of a second tranche of Paris Club debt refunds is sure to bring some excitement, but with our over-bloated wage bill, it still won’t amount to anything. With all efforts haven failed to achieve any appreciable reduction, it’s fair to say, the big fraud concerning Benue wage bill is still on.

I’m however aware of some youths in the state who have challenged the government, saying, if there be a political will to do right, that they be given the opportunity to fish and wipe out ghost workers within two months for free. Perhaps, if we heed and appreciate ourselves, we would realise that what we seek in China is right here.

 

Still On The ‘Bastard’ Loot At Osborne Towers, By Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN

Just as many Nigerians were preparing for Easter, not a few were expecting something quiet. On Wednesday 12 April, 2017 news began to filter in that some money were found in a flat allegedly belonging to former Bauchi state Governor and People’s Democratic Party National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. When the news came in, I ruminated over a lot of issues concerning the “recovered” loot, a phenomenal in the range of $50 million!

First, I came to the conclusion that Nigeria is not one of those countries to be classified as being in “recession”. For a while, I have avoided using the word “recession” because I know Nigeria does not fit into the category of economies that are receding, if it truly is. Those who use it to describe the Nigerian situation, in my opinion, either do not know the meaning of recession or are just being mischievous. A nation where $50 million cash is hidden in private apartments cannot be in “recession”. I insist Nigeria is NOT in a recession but wallowing in the effect of the damage caused by untamed Corruption!

Second, while doing my research for my MSc (Political Science) last year, I came across a country named Tuvalu. Tuvalu is one of the former British colonies in the Pacific. It gained independence from in 1978. That is not even the interesting part, Tuvalu’s total GDP is USD $38 million according to World Bank/IMF data (2013). This figure is far less than the USD $50 million found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi last week ALONE. Yet, somehow, some people what us to believe the nation is in recession!

Third, and about the most dramatic part, is who owns the money? This question should have been easy to answer, but like many other things surrounding the fight against corruption, it is politicized.

Things would have been easier had we been a nation of record keepers. But since we are below poor in record keeping, the controversial money became an orphan or better still, a bastard. Everyone started denying ownership of the tantalizing sum like an unwanted pregnancy. Soon, the money became “ownerless”. Like faeces, no one wants it anymore after it passes out of the anus. Trust politicians, accusations and counter-accusations soon turn partisan, effectively beginning a new phase of the drama.

Suddenly, Femi Fani-Kayode, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign spokesman, came out with an unsubstantiated claim on Twitter that the money and the flat in which the money found belonged to Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport. The political media went into frenzy and President Buhari’s opponents could hope again. The house belonged to Amaechi’s girlfriend and ace broadcaster, Mo Abudu. The money was used to finance the 2015 president election, they added.

One doesn’t need to be too intelligent to see the emerging patterns. After Fani-Kayode played his part, one Lere Olayinka the special assistant to Governor Ayo Fayose on new media, also joined in the excitement making unsubstantiated claims to justify the lousy Fani-Kayose’s claim even though both presented no evidence whatsoever.

After then, Amaechi’s archrival, Nyelsome Wike, Governor of Rivers state took his turn. The money belonged to the Rivers state Government since it was stolen by Amaechi who was governor of the state during the 2015 presidential elections. The money must be returned to the state.

The claims by these persons came when the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), an executive body tasked with overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations,  has claimed ownership of the money stating that it was approved by former President Jonathan for some unnamed “covert operations.” I guess it was at this point the anti-corruption agencies went beyond their mandates. They have touched the “anointed” of Buhari’s opponents. How dare they touch their “Hero”. They must do all they can to protect their “Hero” come what may, even if it means coming out with obvious lies. Even if Amaechi will sue them for libel for N500 million each, they will be ready to pay so long as there are fools like them who believe them. Who cares?

On the role of the NIA in the whole matter, if I were President Buhari the Director-General of the NIA, Ayo Oke (who was appointed originally by President Jonathan in 2013) should by now be answering some serious questions as to how such huge sum of money supposedly meant for “covert operations” should be in a private apartment. If the money was approved two years ago by the former administration for a nameless “covert operation”, why was I not briefed as the new President? I will also want to know which “covert operation” has taken over two years to execute and with such amount of money, IN CASH!

My position on the “bastard” money found is quite clear. To expand the discussion further, I will ask the following questions: Why is it difficult to get the owner of the building or flat? Who bought (?) the flats from Adamu Muazu who claimed he developed and sold the property? Can we say the property belong to ex-governor Amechi said he is not the owner of the flat or the money and has even sued his accusers for libel and slander? Should we just take it on the face value that the property belongs to Amaechi just because characters like Fani-Kayode, Lere Olayinka and Wike made an allegation and WITHOUT EVIDENCE?

The best clue to this puzzle is to find the owner of the property which I think Adamu Mu’azu and his estate agents can answer. But from what I know about estate agents, they are a dubious and shady set of people. Maybe an investigation like this can expose the shady deals in the profession.

 

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and an independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria. His write-ups can be viewed on his website http://olalekanadigun.com/ Tel: +2348136502040, +2347081901080 Email: olalekan@olalekanadigun.com, adgorwell@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @adgorwell

 

Transparency, Accountability, Open Government And The Fight Against Corruption, By Celestine Okeke

CAVEAT.

This is not intended to be a reader’s delight rather an attempt to chronicle our experiences applying for information from government agencies using the Freedom of Information (FOI) ACT 2011. We intend to provide weekly updates until all our FOI requests are attended to.

MSME-ASI has within the last two years undertaken a project to understand why despite government budgeting and releasing several billions to its agencies for interventions in job creation and economic development not much seems to have happened. In doing the above, we have applied for information that ordinarily should be in the public space and sadly, despite the much acclaimed fight against corruption and the Federal governments signing up to the open government partnership, FOI requests are still been treated as a no issue.

FEDERAL INLAND REVENUE SERVICE (FIRS)

MSME-ASI is of the belief that governments’ ability to create jobs and provide infrastructure that will improve the ecosystem under which private enterprises will thrive is largely dependent on its ability to earn revenue commensurate to its need and in this regard, we have a more than casual interest in what FIRS does with the revenue it collects on behalf of government.

We wrote FIRS first on the 26th October, 2016 asking for the following information;

Details of all new offices built, leased or rented by it between 2011-June 2016.

Cost of set up of each of the offices, the cost should include cost of property acquisition or rental/lease, cost of furnishing and every other cost incurred in setting up the offices.

Indicate via detailed breakdown, volume and value of all taxes collected in each of the new offices since their set up.

Detailed breakdown of the total number of times the board of FIRS has met between 2011-June 2016 and the total cost incurred for hosting all the meetings.

The request was made with a view to understanding how FIRS manages the revenue it collects on behalf of government and to identify leakages within the service and sadly, we got no official response from the service in clear contravention of the provisions of the FOI ACT. A reminder was sent to the service on 13th April, 2017 and we intend to commence legal action should FIRS decline the request.

ABUJA ENVIROMENTAL PROTECTION BOARD (AEPB)

The inability of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to manage street trading/hawking within the city centre led to its mandating AEPB to enforce its ban on street trading/hawking and years after, street trading is obviously not abating and enforcement activities still on-going.

We wrote the agency on 4thJuly, 2016 asking for the following information;

Breakdown of funds allocated for the enforcement activities from date of its inception till January 2016.

Breakdown of total funds spent on the enforcement activities from inception till January 2016. The breakdown should include cost of legal services for cases pending in or concluded in the law courts.

Breakdown on number of street traders/ hawkers arrested since the inception of the enforcement activities till January 2016.

Breakdown of total number of cases instituted against the arrested hawkers/ street traders, courts where they are/ were arraigned and total conviction obtained till date.

The agency has refused to release any official information rather, it has asked for a couple of meetings which we declined having not gotten the information we requested for at the first meeting. We have written a reminder to the agency on 3rd August, 2016 asking for same information and will pursue legal actions should the request be declined again.

OUR POSITION

FIRS have continued to build/buy/lease new offices all over Nigeria in an age and time where revenue collection is done via improved techniques. We believe there is more to the surge in building new offices other than improving its ability to collect taxes as there is no evidence that having new offices will improve on its ability to collect more taxes.

AEPB has over four hundred (400) enforcement officers and a couple of military/ para-military officers on the enforcement team and spends undisclosed amounts of money on the ban on street trading/ hawking but rather than have street trading/ hawking abate, the opposite seems to be.

It is becoming common knowledge that several enforcement teams now collude with street traders/ hawkers to evade arrest or unofficially “bail” themselves upon arrest and year in year out, FCTA continues to vote hundreds of million on enforcement activities.

We call on both agencies of government to support the fight against corruption, respect the provisions of the FOI ACT 2011 and provide the sought information.

Celestine Okeke

Lead Partner, MSME-ASI

celestine@msme-asi.org

The Abuja-Kaduna Airports: A Testimony, By Reuben Abati

I have just returned from Abuja travelling through the Kaduna airport. As we disembarked from the aircraft and moved towards the arrival section, I could hear an announcement being made. The diction of the announcer was clear. She didn’t sound like those On-Air-Personalities (OAP, they are called) who speak as if they have hot water on their tongues. Airport continuity announcers in Nigeria tend to imitate these OAPs.

This has been for me a great source of irritation. The last time I travelled from Lagos to Abuja, for example, I missed my flight because I just could not figure out what was being said. I was stranded because someone chose to speak fake English. The electronic boards at Nigerian airports where they are available, are unreliable and so, you invariably have to rely on those announcements.

The way I go round this sabotage is to keep asking people, or going to the departure gate to find out if the flight had been called or not. So, when I got to Kaduna and found a difference, I was glad that the bad habit at the Lagos and Abuja airports had not yet been exported to Kaduna. It was also the first time I would travel in that direction since the Abuja airport was shut down and traffic was diverted on March 8, to Kaduna, to allow the Federal Government repair the damaged runway in Abuja. Six weeks, they said it would take. I found myself in Kaduna five weeks later.

I met an upgraded Kaduna International Airport. The upgrade is not yet completed but I hope when the diverted traffic from Abuja disappears, the uncompleted parts of the airport will be sorted out and the airport can be put to better use, and not abandoned, and the investment would not be allowed to waste. At the arrival section, a group of persons reiterated the announcement that had been made as we arrived. “Free buses to Abuja are available, please join the buses outside to take you to Abuja, show your ticket and boarding pass please”.  Another lady said: “if you want to travel by train, please join the buses outside to take you to the train station, it is free.”  This got me curious.

It turned out that the Federal Government had indeed made arrangements to make life easier for persons who had to travel from the Kaduna airport to Abuja. I took a look at the buses. Chisco buses. Coaster buses. I also spoke with a few persons who had travelled through the Kaduna airport en route Abuja. The feedback was positive. I was told the bus ride takes about three hours, the train ride about one hour, twenty minutes. But one guy differed.

“I think,” he said, “it is better to charter a cab. If you take a cab, you can get to Abuja in about two hours. If you take the bus, you may have to wait for the bus to fill up, and then for security reasons, the drivers will not drive fast, if you are not careful, you could be on the road for four hours.”

“I guess security is more important than speed”, I said.

“But they will go and drop you at the Abuja airport, and you will spend another one hour getting to the town, and in that case, you will still have to take a cab and pay.”

“Why Abuja airport?”

“That is what they do”

“But come to think of it, is it possible they will go and drop people in front of their homes?”

“Well, I am a man in a hurry. Time is everything. I don’t take the bus or the train. I just take a cab and move.”

“What of the helicopter shuttle?”

“I am sorry I don’t know anything about that. It is better and cheaper to take a cab.”

“And how much is that?,” I asked.

“Between N25k and N30k. But you can also join with other people. If two other persons join you to take a cab, you’d end up paying at most N10k.”

“But is it not better to go with what government has provided, for security reasons?”

“There is no serious danger on the road, particularly if you travel during the day, and not wait till it gets dark. There are policemen and FRSC men keeping watch all the way to Abuja. You don’t have to worry about anything. I have been on this route every week since they shut down the Abuja airport.”

I had an appointment to keep in Abuja and time was not on my side. I could not afford a four-hour journey, so I embraced the guy’s advice, and took the cab option, and just as I had been told, the road to Abuja was safe and stress-free. I made it in good time and did not miss my appointment.  On my way back, two days later, the trip was even smoother and faster. But I ended up not travelling after spending so much time at the airport. My return ticket was wrongly booked: instead of Kaduna to Lagos, I had a Lagos to Kaduna ticket! This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though.

It gave me opportunity to take a better look at the airport. At the VIP section, and elsewhere, the staff appeared polite and helpful, obviously delighted with their assignment. Free drinks, coffee and water, were offered at the VIP section. The missed flight also gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my friend and colleague, Umar Sani who lives in Kaduna. Umar Sani the Cat as I call him, is the Media Adviser to former Vice President Namadi Sambo.

I spent the night in his house, and as always we shared reminiscences. We exchanged views about the present and worries about the future.  This was accompanied by day-long enjoyment of dollops of pounded yam, freshly prepared pepper soup with fish from Kogin Kaduna, delicious ram suya, and Hausa music from the old masters. One particular Hausa musician caught my attention, he actually sounded, beat by beat, like the late Yusuf Olatunji were it not for the difference in language.

But the night became darker when we received the news of the sudden and untimely death of Gordon Obua, our former colleague who served as Chief Security Officer to President Goodluck Jonathan. Obua, like many of the Jonathan boys, went through a lot in the last nearly two years. Umar Sani and I tried to reach many of our other colleagues. One said he was scared about tomorrow and what else would happen. Another said he was so sad, he just chose to go to bed. The grief was deep and widespread; the shared emotion was touching. Everyone worked with the CSO. Nobody could access the President or any part of the Villa, without an encounter with the CSO and his team. The Presidential Villa is not an ordinary workplace, it is, every part of it, a security zone.

Our return journey to the airport the following morning was less excitable, marked as it was by unspoken thoughts and pregnant reflections. I made it to Lagos.

Looking back, the Federal Government and Kaduna State Government, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other stakeholders who were involved in managing the process of diversion of traffic from the Abuja airport to Kaduna deserve our commendation. They have not done badly at all. The airport handled many flights daily, including international flights by Ethiopian airlines – the only foreign airline operating in Nigeria that embarked on a voyage of faith and support to Kaduna. I am aware that some travellers have had cause to complain about the lack of a seating area at the ticketing section in Kaduna, the insistence of the airlines on cash payment, the absence of restaurants and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), and the relatively relaxed security around the airport at certain periods of the day. Nonetheless, I offer a pass mark.

Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation and Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State both promised that there would be no problem. They have so far kept their word. We may just have found in the management of the rehabilitation of the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, and the diversion of traffic to Kaduna, a template for inter-governmental co-operation and government-civil society strategic interface on key national issues.

When the idea of the diversion was first mooted, we were all skeptical. Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria kicked, other stakeholders in the aviation sector protested, the general public was worried. I wrote a piece titled “Before the Abuja airport is shut down” (January 10) in which I gave voice to these concerns. I accused the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria of incompetence and inefficiency, citing the mismanagement of the renovation of the Port Harcourt and Owerri International Airports. In other countries, airport runways are not abandoned for 21 years, and if they have to be repaired, the entire airport is not shut down and travellers put through discomfort. In Glasgow, Scotland, an entire runway was fixed within weeks of off-traffic operation, at night. I later wrote another piece – “A visit to the Gusau Institute” (February 7) in which I complained, parenthetically, about the horrific nature of the Kaduna-Abuja road and the likely threat to travellers.

Criticism obviously helps but that is if the concerned party is willing to listen. Optics also matters. Stakeholders complained previously about the shambolic state of the Kaduna airport. I met a better airport, in varying stages of improvement. I wrote about the bad state of the road linking Kaduna and Abuja. The potholes seem to have been fixed. It also seems as if the state Governor has appealed to the bus drivers on that road to drive more carefully, the motorcyclists to stay off the highway and the trailer-drivers to be more circumspect. I also complained about how difficult it was to get information on the purchase of train tickets between Abuja and Kaduna. The Nigeria Railway Corporation may still have a lot to do to improve the quality of its services, but it managed in the last six weeks, to attract significant interest and patronage.  Governance is not as difficult as it is made to appear- just do what is right and put the people first.

What remains all things considered, is the need to place greater emphasis on the value of maintenance culture as an element of the infrastructure management process. We tend to wait until everything breaks down in this country before we attend to them. We prefer the fire-brigade approach and although we love infrastructure, we do not have in place a system for maintaining assets. We have problems because we run government with the mentality of children. Children love new things, and are impressed by toys. But in due course, they spoil the toys or they get distracted and abandon them. In the same manner, government sets up structures, impresses itself and the public and then moves on until everything collapses.  This institutionalized culture of waste and leakage is deplorable. It falls short of best practices elsewhere.

Minister of Aviation says Abuja airport is now ready and that it will be back to business on the promised date of April 19. He has taken journalists to the airport to assess progress. Vice President and Minister of Information also visited.

The promptitude with which the Abuja airport renovation has been handled is un-Nigerian. I actually don’t mind if the Ministry of Aviation takes additional two weeks to get everything properly in place. When eventually traffic returns to the airport, the Federal Government and Kaduna State Government should work together to ensure that the hopes that have been raised about the Kaduna airport are not dashed. The investments made there in the last six weeks should be well-managed and the still on-going upgrading of the airport should be completed.

Rejoinder: The Misinterpretation Of Muhammadu Sanusi II By Mu’awiyyah Yusuf Muye

Man has been known to abhor his savior since the beginning of time. When Prophet Isa (Jesus) (PBUH) was sent to the Israelites as their savior, he was heckled, harassed and beaten by them after rejecting his message. In the same manner, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) whose message was to all of mankind was rejected by his people in Makkah and had to emigrate to Madinah to be appreciated and for his message to take root. Here, the most important thing was these messengers of Allah remained steadfast and unrelenting in their teachings to mankind, and today, many centuries after, the messages have struck a chord and their religions have growing followers.

Today, they are two of the most celebrated and revered humans to ever live. Their messages and teachings have survived the times but profound is the practice of rejecting both the message and the messenger; this is bound to remain with us till eternity.

The greatest mistake our generation has made and is continually making is the fact that we have refused to carve a niche for ourselves and speak out in our own voice, we have refused to make our own path and walk on it, instead, we have chosen to continue to abide by and preserve the societal rules made by the people before us, forgetting that those rules were made by humans like us. The world is forever evolving and unless it’s a rule made by God, they should be capable of change.

We are so fixated on reading books such as “48 laws of power” and practicing what’s in the book with occultic fervor as if it is some supreme rule sent down by God, forgetting it was a man who wrote those laws, alas making us treat life like a game.

The truth is, until we stop treating life itself like it’s some sort of game, we will never escape being in this pitiful state or get things right.

It is high time this generation make their own path according to the realities of our times. The Einsteins, The Aristotles and the Shakespeares etc were all visionaries of some sort, of their times; today, even though it is necessary to study these people, we have refused to produce those kind of legends in our own lifetime.

The Emir of Kano, HRH, Muhammadu Sanusi II, some days ago, made a presentation at Kaduna State Investment promotion summit, in which he addressed an array of societal problems bedeviling Northern Nigeria.

I was among the audience during his speech, my first time in the presence of the revered emir, who by the way, is one of the few role models I have.

In his speech, he reprimanded conservative northern leaders who discourage attitudes and activities that he said, would have developed the region. The highlight of his speech to me was the criticism of Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state for his controversial gibberish on the meningitis outbreak in his State and others as God’s punishment for the peoples’ sins.

It was one of the most courageous act I have personally seen a traditional ruler engage in in this country, in my lifetime, criticizing a Governor who is presumably your superior as far as our constitution is concerned.

I was speechless the next day when the social media was awash with criticism of Emir Sanusi’s speech, while I though to myself and asked if I missed anything,

Because, as far as i was concerned, there is this adage in Hausa “Gyara Kayan Ka, bai zama sauke mu raba ba” Which roughly translates to, “telling you to tidy your luggages doesn’t mean, I am saying, bring it down and let’s share them between us”. I couldn’t understand what the hullabaloo was all about.

Someone telling you to improve yourself doesn’t translate to them telling you to come and fight them.

While the rage continued, I said in my mind that Emir Sanusi as a person, is accomplished; he and his family, as far as the present reality we are in as a nation is concerned, are set for life, he is wealthy and highly educated and I’m pretty sure, he is going to pass that level of education on to his kids, but for him to lead a society that is socially and economically backward, will also be a disaster to his reign and legacy.

Emir Sanusi’s outspoken and fearless nature together with his intelligence are reasons I consider him my role model. I needed to see people like Emir Sanusi to reassure myself I’m not mad or abnormal especially when I’m going on about any matter I feel strongly about.

A lot of people tell me I am an activist, but they have no clue about how much I hate the activist tag. its a tag that make people feel too important about themselves, makes them feel like they are doing an extraordinary thing when infact, they are being normal and human.

But Emir Sanusi’s blunt criticism of our successive leaders who have been responsible for the underdevelopment and Impoverishment of Northern Nigerian, was perceived to be too harsh and some people assume the criticism was aimed at ordinary Northerners and Emir Sanusi is arrogantly looking down on the poor, a ridiculous assumption if I may add, when in fact, he was putting his throne and elitism on the line to fight for the common man. But again, a large number of people also supported the emirs assertion, so I concluded it’s a normal thing for people to always stand for or against an issue of that magnitude.

However, after reading Gimba Kakanda’s piece, it became clear to me how we try to interpret issues based on our emotion and sentiments. While I agree with most of his piece: I equally wanted to write about it since that episode, but I felt, it would make little difference  given that our people always turn against those that stand with them anyways, it’s a fact that, some humans are always emotionally attached to their abusers, something I will never ever understand as a person, but there were equally a lot of people from the north that stood with Emir Sanusi, so there was no need to make it look like the entire north was demonising Him because of his statements.

Before this new episode, the Emir was equally one of the few highly influential Nigerians from the North who were able to muster the courage to criticise President Buhari in the open. I’m aware, a lot others might have done that privately, but His criticism then came at a time when it was business of some sort to barrage the President with misguided antics in the name of criticism. It was so overwhelming, we had to defend the President against every tom, dick and harry spewing Inane trash in the name of criticism. Some of these critics were known to be agents of opposition politicians and since it was no longer business as usual for them, they found new trade in bashing the president for a fee. also certain saboteurs in the APC because they have ambition to succeed PMB, while some of them were just disgruntled elements that were bent on painting the government of Buhari bad, wanted to be noticed.

So it was actually a breath of fresh air to some of us “Buhari fanatics” to see some one in the calibre of Emir Sanusi actually speak truth and become a credible critic in the midst of pretenders, to draw the President’s attention to some of his shortcomings as Nigeria’s President.

Some of you might actually see us as blind supporters, but our support for President Buhari is candidly because we believe having him as our President is a golden opportunity we need to fix nigeria and without the necessary support he needs to succeed against agents of anti reforms in nigeria, he will never succeed, so there is no way in the world, we will get in the way of credible criticism of his govt. And even though the critics always ignore our massages, we have always told them, we are not against them criticizing the president, we don’t have any right whatsoever to deny people from criticizing him, but we equally have the right to criticize their style of criticism.

It was so invigorating to some of us, even though Emir Sanusi’s allegations about forex dealings in the central bank then was astounding as well as an eye-opener, I personally never doubted him for once, I wanted the President to act by either summoning Emefiele or even showing him the way out.

A lot of us Buharists welcomed his criticism of the president openly, some were silently in support of it while few misguided, blind and ignorable ones did lambasted the Emir.

Now, President Buhari is human and has a lot of supporters, both informed and uninformed ones, as like every other leader that has cult following.

Prophet Muhammad and Jesus (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon them) both have followers, both good and bad, some commit heinous crimes in the name of their religions, but those people should be blamed for their actions, since we all know the people they support will never endorse their actions, but some of you seem to hide behind these actions to express your hatred for these prophets and leaders.

I was taken aback when i read my brother, Gimba Kakanda’s piece about the misinterpretation of Emir Sanusi, I was actually tagged on the piece by one of my closest friends who due to our different political views and engagements online some times, people think we are like enemies, unknown to them, he is one of the closest friends I have.

After reading his nearly apt piece, I noticed, he was still hung up on the narrative they tried to paint when the Emir criticized PMB, I thought to myself, why ruin a beautiful piece by smudging it with a sentimental perception.

If he was truly sincere about this issue, Most Buharists shared Emir Sanusi’s view when he criticized the president, but He mischievously decided to ride with that of misinformed supporters who I doubt have a stronger voice than the informed supporters. But Since the misinformed one’s view fit perfectly into the narrative they were trying and still trying to paint, a narrative we renounced then by the way, he chosed to go with it. Which I found preposterous. For the record, most of the Buharists I know, value Emir Sanusi’s view, I know I don’t speak for all of them officially, but most of the ones I know share the same view and am pretty sure Gimba knows this. So it always appear to be like they are trying to force that negative narrative on us. Personally, I am a Buharist and I have always supported almost every thing Emir sanusi’s does, you need to understand that it doesn’t mean the emir is always right or perfect and won’t meet some form of opposing views, even if they are illiterates, they are people too that are bound to have their own views.

My problem with most social intellectuals is, there are more pseudo intellectuals than genuine ones, the problem stem from the fact that we tend to rate people based on the number of followers they have on and off social media and their social media verification badge, in the process, we give conceited individuals with jarring attitudes and buncombe views significance. We massage their egos and they in turn become intellectual dictators, that don’t like being challenged, once you challenge them, they either block you on social media or feel they are superior to you. Forgetting that, in life, your ability to engage others successfully is actually your measure of intelligence. Disagreeing with some one doesn’t mean they are entirely wrong, it means, let’s disagree and learn from one another.

But as long as you don’t use all the sophisticated words in the dictionary to communicate, you are unintelligent, a lot of people get misled because of sophisticated words.

Honorable Patrick Obahiagbon became famous because of his big words, people never cared if he is making sense or not, he is like an entertainer to them, Honourable Gudaji Kazaure too became famous because of his poor English vocabulary, it wasn’t the sense he was making that attracted people to him, but his poor vocabulary which he has continually used humorously to communicate with Nigerians, but in the process they got to know he is atleast one of the most credible and vibrant members of HOR, I know for a fact, there are many people that will name him among their best representative in the parliament, ignoring his spoken English. It then mean, even though it’s necessary to be sound in English, your refusal to used big words doesn’t mean you are not making sense, and likewise, using big words doesn’t mean you are making sense either.

As much as I agree with a lot of things Emir Sanusi does and say, there are bound to be people that will disagree with him, and rightfully so.

I read Jaafar Jaafar’s scarthing article accusing emir Sanusi of financial misappropriation, I have no right to doubt his sincerity in writing such scrutinising piece about his ruler, he is his subject and has every right to question the emirs finance dealings as his leader, I might not agree with him but I have to respect it. That’s the beauty of criticism, and we can’t really place him among the uninformed ones, can we? so it’s important we understand that entertaining opposing views is something that whether we like it or not we have to get used to. The emir in criticising the northern leaders have in the process, invited other people, even informed ones like Jaafar Jaafar who aren’t religion conservatives questioning his sincerity in his activities as a monarch, rightfully so, even though a lot of us believed he is one of the best and sincere ones we have around. It then means, he can’t be perfect himself, no man can be.

Emir Sanusi’s daughter, Princess shahidah Sanusi, Represented him during the third anniversary of the abduction of Chibok Girls and BBOG, I watched as it generated a lot of hoopla on social media, some people like myself didn’t have problem with it and were in support of it, as it acted as a shift in the norms of traditional institutions in northern nigeria, a young princess representing a respected arewa king like emir of Kano in an official capacity, while a lot of conservatives were infuriated, as to them, it’s a taboo, it’s a dent in a well respected traditional institution like Kano emirate, to me, even though I support the emirs action, I respect and understood their rage, they are radical semi educated conservatives, besides, it’s a tradition that dates back to more than two centuries ago, only for a “westernized” emir to come and “disintegrate” their institution. to them, it’s like smudging the sanctity of their institution, sending princes and princesses in their early 20s instead of your traditional title holders to represent you might be normal in monarchies like United Kingdom, United Arab Emirate, Sweden and Monaco etc, but in Kano emirate, it’s a new thing to them, the king is not a dictator to expect not to have opposing views about that.

It’s new to them, it will take time for them to get used to it, but the bottom line is, The king can do whatever he pleases, provided, he believes in his reforms and they are within the confines of the law, some of these reforms were welcomed by these same set of people he leads, they are bound to reject some, that’s the beauty of life. We can never agree on everything.

Even though I have always been a believer in mild criticism, I feel you get better result with it, but there are scenarios that require harsh criticism, the socio-economic underdevelopment of northern nigeria and the plight of the common man in the region requires harsh criticism, but the fact that Emir sanusi is a leader there and some of us support this perception doesn’t mean others that disagree with his views shouldn’t Air theirs too, they might have strong point to back up their views too. We can always agree to disagree

The Emir himself I am sure is open to criticisms, that’s what makes him a leader, he might know more than a lot of his followers, but he doesn’t know it all.

Dr Ibrahim Dooba told a story of how his article criticizing the emir was shared by his friend who happens to know the emir into a whatsapp group the emir belongs to, even though Dr Dooba is a respected columnist, the emir can decide to equally block him in life as his status as the emir of Kano, even though constitutionally, Even a local Govt chairman is above an emir, traditionally, even a governor respects emirs because of the sanctity of our traditional institutions, because of the respect they command as they are the custodians of our society, but the emir (Unofficially ofcourse) decided to clarify some issues He raised in his write up, and Dr dooba understood and even apologized for the ones he was wrong about the emir.

If people that criticize others can’t accept criticism themselves, that makes them unfit critics, as it means, they feel they know it all, and no mortal knows it all. Only God and to some extent HIS messengers know it all.

Criticising the way others lead or criticise shouldn’t be mistaken for hatred, we can’t continue to be on each others throats if indeed we are all fighting to improve our country and the living conditions of our people.

I have had people that have stopped engaging, talking to me and even blocked me because we have different political or even social views, The problem is with our generation not wanting to entertain opposing views for the sake of learning.

So I want Gimba to understand that People having opposing views from yours or criticising your ways doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be great, probably hundred years from now, students will be studying Emir Sanusi in universities across the world.

 

Mu’awiyyah Yusuf Muye Is on twitter as @MP_Muye

Of Vision And Tragedy Of Victory: The Dilemma Of President Buhari’s Change Agenda

The place of vision is so paramount and essential to every aspect of life, perhaps in an individual’s personal life, that of a group or that of a nation in general.

Going by reports, statistics, and available records, president Muhammadu Buhari has been described as incorruptible leader with zero tolerance for corruption. It will therefore be easy to conclude that such remarks are the reflection of the hallmark of president Buhari’s visionary leadership and his estimable qualifies.

The ‘vision‘ of president Buhari over the years is to bring change to Nigeria in a bid to transmogrify the country and empower the great people of the nation.

It was this vision that made him contest the presidential seat three different times before being elected on the fourth trial as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on March 28th, 2015 — about two years ago.

Conversely, this vision of president Buhari-led Federal Government has turned the victory of the much ‘expected messiah’ into a tragedy.

“To call a spade a spade and not an agricultural instrument,” this is one of the worst periods in the history of our dear nation — economically, socially, and politically.

Things have gone from bad to worse and we must now rise in unison irrespective of our sex, race, creed and religion to save the Nigerian nation from worse to worst or total collapse in the face of the rigid nature of president Muhammadu Buhari.

Deservingly, to those who may be unsuspectingly misled by the seemingly radical rhetorics of ‘Change Begins with Me’, they need to understand that what we have today is nothing but sterile activism, puerile rascality and infantile phrase-mongering of these sycophantic agents within the government circle trying to be more catholic than the pope.

The dilemma of this administration is that there is a disconnection between the leaders and the led. This disconnection is responsible for the tensions across the country and the rise in violent crimes, because the situation of an average Nigerian has been worsened by the obnoxious policies of the government which are despicable, banal and inconsistent.

In fact, there is an urgent need to redefine poverty, lack and want using Nigeria as a case study. The minimum average of $2 on feeding one per person each day is no longer realistic in Nigeria, even as unemployment rate has doubled and the prices of food and essential commodities needed for the sustainability of mankind have risen.

Change connotes reforms and reforms are to be used in the correction of imbalances. That is why the only thing that is constant in life is “change”.

Unfortunately, the change being experienced in this country has brought about agonies, pains, despairs, tribulations and horrific experiences to the masses and the average Nigerian public.

Two years is short to reposition Nigeria to the orbit of her Glorious past with a prosperous future. No doubt about that, but the situation of things shows lack of direction because 2 years is actually enough to set the nation on the path of recovery and redemption, but we are still far from being on the right path.

Just as Proverbs 29:18 has it, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”, the lack of clear vision in the present administration is visible for all to see. It is not too late for the president to get it right by ensuring that round pegs are put into round holes.

If Nigeria must get it right, there is urgent need for President Buhari to reshuffle of his cabinet because most of the appointees are intellectual vegetables who are absolutely unfit, both morally and socially, to take on the positions that they are presently holding. President Buhari should act now and act well!

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Sheyi Babaeko, a social commentator, policy analyst and a counter-terrorist strategist, writes in from Leeds, U.K.

Jaafar Jaafar And The Construction Of History, By Hassan Alhaji Hassan

The person in question has earned a reputation for the construction of reality that exists in his own mind only. Jafaar Jafaar, one writer – I  don’t regard him a journalist— known for his stray ideas about strong personalities, has carved a niche for himself in the gullible, ignorant north, as a master of an art. In the latest display of the usual dance, he is up against the Emir of Kano, someone who is the opposite of the writer in every sense of difference.

I am sure he has been commissioned by mischief makers or some royals in the house’s other half of Bayero to do the job—to divide the House and to incite anarchy for some power claim.

Am happy he is exposing himself this much to the gallery.

I am also happy that his readers will now see his patterns of writing and inviting the big question: Why is Jafaar Jaafar’s pen sharp only when he is writing about ‘money scandals’? He has engaged in many such writings to depict governors, in particular, in bad light. I remember one bitter piece on Yobe and when the Adviser to the Governor called his attention to correct some impressions, he didn’t listen, and broke into insults. I called the friend and asked him to ignore him. Ignoring is the best.

He is the typical thug of the pen among many redundancies of their type, who are maddened by the locks on the loopholes of corruption. There is no stray money for them and their job doesn’t pay regularly – mischief contractors are discouraged too— and so they have to go into blackmail to get bribes. They are not journalists. No. Not by any measure. He collected some 200k recently though he denied it.

There are many of their types all over Kano, Kaduna and Abuja. They are a clique of the same north-westerners that have strangulated the north to the very menace Emir Sanusi is trying to help the political leadership understand its dimensions and the dangers of further neglect of the problems.

Jafaaf jafaar and co are bystanders for politicians who lose elections. They pay them to cook lies against the incumbency just to raise dust and create crises, distracting governments from work and delivery. They have cheated our people for long. They are still on it, until Allah injects them with terminal diseases.

It is unfortunate that same group of pen blackmails frustrate our attempts to educate proper journalistic skills. When our diplomates and graduates take up jobs in their organisations and would want to apply current skills, they pull them back and say, ‘we have been doing this job before you were born. Sit down.’  Deep-seated bottlenecks for modern practise.

Their many types have put a lot of issues on the new government at the beginning, making all sorts of noise, claims and accusations. Some of them have pushed themselves and got some junk appointments in the federal government. Now they are silent because they are eating. Stupid potbellies.

Jafaar Jafaar talks like he is a Kano prince and writes that much to want his own share of the riches of the Kano Emirate. What concerns a slave with this surpassion on matters of princes?

He would have been the worst even just as the Emir’s Chief of protocol. That’s not how to get there, please. The era of dogma is over all over the sectors. Go and be decent and remake yourself more relevant.

But thank Allah some will never be anywhere near benevolent leaders again, even if they can claim royalty but have no royal hearts, even if they have to torch the Emirate.

Because we have come to the crossroad and even if persons like them must die, the poor of the north has Allah’s mercy now.

Hassan Alhaji Hassan, Dept of Mass Communication, Federal Polytechnic Bauchi.

abuna2406@gmaiol.com/08032829772

Do We Really Need The Nigerian Senate? By Abdullahi Malumfashi

About last month or so,the senate has been embroiled in a lot of news. This started with the non-confirmation of Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC Boss, to the summoning of Hameed Ali over the uniform issue (which even the speaker of the house deemed as a non-issue), Dino Melaye certificate scandal, the Chairman senate committee on Customs’ letter to the Customs boss, Andy Uba’s forged results, Saraki’s 290 million car, to the suspension of Ali Ndume and so on. The list is just continuous.

Even though they have been on the good side with the recent amendment of the INEC, the Senate has frequently found itself in the limelight for all the bad reasons. Looking at the issue of Dino Melaye for example, which generated a lot of uproar in the media, and later culminated into the suspension of Senator Ali Ndume for 181 legislative sittings (a minimum of a year’s sittings). It has been blown out of proportion, and many people have had their say on it. Even though the issue is somewhat controversial, politically themed and complicated, I didn’t expect the so-called Ethics and privileges Committee (which coincidentally, Dino happens to be part of, even though Sahara reporters claimed he failed a Moral Philosophy course in his undergraduate days) to recommend the sacking of the Senator who appealed that the matter be investigated! When an Online source reported that Ali Ndume would be suspended by the Senate, I didn’t expect it to be so soon. Even though I am not in support of him, because he reaped what he sowed, I am simply amazed at the level of ineptitudes those charged with making laws are. Even the constitution mandated INEC to conduct elections in case of vacancy in less than a month! One may wonder the relevance of this institution to our country, apart from perhaps sentencing the country to a lot of ridicule.

As far as I am concerned,I view the issue of Dino Melaye’s certificate issue from another level. To me whether Dino Melaye graduated from ABU or not is no big deal,(even though he showed evidence of his 3rd class degree last week). After all, it is normal to be in the Senate with just a Secondary School certificate. You heard me right, currently 5 Senators parade O-level as their highest qualification in the red Chamber,including the Chairman on Customs and excise, while many others are involved in certificate case forgery.

The main idea of a bicameral legislature is to have lesser people with much experience and also to provide internal checks to one another. In the United States and other bicameral States, the Senate consists of sound people who love their countries and work hard to serve them diligently. Most are also Professionals who intend to let the Country benefit from their vast knowledge of experience, while the reverse is the case in Nigeria. The senate is a den of former Governors, former party Chairmen, retired Army Generals, former Ministers, Drug baron(s), corrupt individuals and others who are simply there to remain politically relevant, at the same time benefitting from the country’s treasury. As if that isn’t enough,almost all the former Governors and others including the Senate President and his Deputy are being trialled in court for criminal offences. I never cease to wonder if this is a Senate or “a bunch of old Criminals”.

According to an analysis conducted by the Economist magazine in 2013, the Nigerian legislature is one of the highest paid legislatures around the world. Apart from that,they also receive numerous allowances including those not covered under the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, in addition to the constituency allowances, which is much and the constituencies have nothing to show of it. Approximately,the Senate is said to gulp a whooping sum of N60 billion a year! The Senate has”only 109 members”. As I write today, the Senate is yet to approve the 2017 budget submitted to them by the President since December,2016, even when the current budget shall expire by May 5th. Other important bills like the PIB and the anti- corruption bills were also shoved under the carpet. These and so many other reasons led to calls for their sack, as they have not imparted the life of the ordinary Nigerian.

Unicameralism is not a new thing. As of 2016, almost half of the World’s States are unicameral : having one House of legislature only. Countries like Egypt, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Ghana in Africa all practice unicameralism. Some countries have even sacked their Senate chamber before. Since the current Senators have clearly shown that it does not have the interest of the nation at heart, and only bothered with furthering their politics or after the lucrative sum they get, maybe it’s time to abolish them. After all, it would save us at least N50 billion annually that can be used on more important projects. A stumbling block however,is that for the bill to be abolished,it is required to pass through the Senate itself and the State House of Assembly. I doubt if they will ever pass such bill. But who knows? Maybe we should expect a miraculous referendum from the President calling for its sack. The people would have no problem in accepting, having called for its sack and held numerous protests before. One thing is clear, that most of the Senators would be voted out,come 2019, if not sooner as some Constituencies have already initiated processes to recall theirs.

The question however still remains; do we really need the Senate?

Abdullahi Malumfashi can be contacted via abdalladamfashi@gmail.com.
Abdallah Malumfashi

Another Word For Emir Sanusi, By Jaafar Jaafar

While the hyperbolic lyrics of the legendary Sarkin Kotson Kano Abdulrahman’s magnum opus – Sir Sanusi Sarkin Yaki Zakin Daga Na Abashe – turned the late Sir Sanusi’s inborn hubris into believing that he was above his peers and superiors, his grandson chose to take inspiration from a tribe of cyber buskers cheering him to banishment.

Barely three years after his ascension to the Kano throne, the present emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has dumped a set of etiquettes laid down by Muhammad Al-Maghili during Emir Muhammadu Rumfa’s reign in the 1480’s to inspire awe and instil respect for leaders; demolished the century-old Soron Ingila built by Emir Abbas and used by colonialists shortly after Kano conquest in 1903 and; squandered at least N4billion bequeathed to him by Emir Ado Bayero in 2014.

Let me make it clear to people who think I was paid to write against Emir Sanusi that my conscience is the mainspring of my actions. For the sake of making a point, on Wednesday last week a notable personality who marvelled at my last article on Emir Sanusi sent me a ‘gift’ of N200,000. I declined to accept the gift in order to clear my conscience that I have NEVER collected money from anybody to write against the emir.

Well, I really do not bother about the effete challenge of a clan of Internet meerkats, tying to challenge an armadillo of a journalist. What I am more concerned about is setting the records straight with fairness but without fear or favour.

There are certain traditions a traditional office holder is expected to adhere to. That is the reason it is called traditional institution. Traditional rulers are chief image-markers of their people, chief custodians of culture and traditions, ambassadors of their people, etc. But Emir Sanusi chose to drift from this tradition. I have never heard an Eze saying the Igbos are 419ers or drug-traffickers, nor heard an Oba denigrating the Yoruba people.

While I have my reservations about Ganduje’s light rail project, Emir Sanusi’s conclusion that tens of thousands of enterprising stall owners in Sabon Gari Market, industrious traders of Yankura, dutiful traders at ’Yan Lemo, resilient vendors of Kurmi, venturesome grain dealers of Dawanau, billionaire merchants of Singer and Kantin Kwari Markets are all there to attend “wedding and naming ceremony” is abusive. And I am being charitable.

Emir Sanusi’s Financial Recklessness

About six weeks after becoming emir, Sanusi began the butchery of the emirate council’s life-time savings in fixed deposits in First Bank, UBA, Zenith, FCMB, AfriBank, Access, etc.

On July 24, 2014, the sum of N400m fixed by his predecessor was first broken from First Bank to the transaction account of the emirate council at the same bank. Less than three weeks after, on August 13, 2014, another fixed deposit of N200m was recalled to the main account. The recall of the fixed deposits continued steadily until December 8, 2016 when about N4billion he inherited were drawn into the main/transaction account and mercilessly exterminated.

Following his visit to former President Goodluck Jonathan on July 24, 2014, and subsequent release of his travel documents by the SSS, the emir began criss-crossing the world. On August 1, 2014, Emir Sanusi approved the payment of N152,624,723 to a now sanctioned bureau de change operator, Dabo Gate Ideal. Twelve days after, on August 13, 2014, the same company was again paid N15,458,660. On December 10, 2014, Western Union Travels and Tours Limited, a travel agent to DELOITTE, was paid N6,993,203. Three weeks after, precisely on December 31, 2014, the same company was paid N5,566,235 from the emirate council account. Two weeks after, the company was again paid N9,071,000 from the emirate council account on January 14, 2015. This payment trend to Western Union Travel and Tours and Classic Air Service for chattered flights and foreign travels continues till date.

Contrary to reports that the emir’s expensive cars were gift from friends, documents available to me show that on August 27, 2014, Nigeria’s famous exotic car dealers, Triple K Investments, were paid N142,800,000 from the First Bank account of the emirate council for the supply of exotic cars. Still on August 27 and October 16, 2014, Emir Sanusi approved the payment of another N154,873,000 and N36,223,000 respectively to the same Triple K Investment for the supply of exotic cars. Again, the same company was paid N5,060,000 on December 17, 2014.

In my last article, I hinted that the emir spends a lot on Internet bills. Now to prove this assertion, here is the breakdown of his expenditure on calls and Internet. On June 29, 2015, Airtel was paid N2,639,185.19; on July 22, 2015 (N1,471,163.49); on August 31, 2015 (N4,954,883.61); on September 29, 2015 (N2,638,626.18); on November 9, 2015 (N1,012,077.36); on December 21, 2015 (N8,697,900.09); on March 11, 2016 (N3,640,356.14); on April 26, 2016 (N1,000,000); on August 22, 2016 (N3,000,000) on September 21 (N2,000,000); on December 19 (N5,000,000) and; on February 9, 2017 (N2,000,000).

I couldn’t believe when I once heard the emir once spent N7m on Internet in ONE month! Now imagine this: The total amount the emir spent on Airtel from June 29, 2015 to February 9, 2017 is N37,054,192.06. This amount alone could build a modest school or a cottage hospital with equipment as a way of matching his words with action.

While the salary bill of the emirate was in average of N7million (usually defrayed by the interests accrued from over N4billion fixed deposits Emir Ado Bayero made), the emirate received a steady grant from local government deductions of N127,898,110.07 every quarter – about N42m monthly.

While he buffeted the savings on his expensive lifestyle, to be fair to him, he increased the salary to N17,078,441.56 in September 2014. The salary bill further ballooned under Sanusi to about N23m after the emir put his distant cousins, uncles and other relatives on salary.

When recession bit harder, grants decreased and balance in the account fell to as low as N800,000 at a point, the emir now slashed the salary to the status quo ante, but he never stopped lavish spending on foreign and local travels, Airtel data/calls, questionable NEFT transfer of about N12m monthly, cars, sartorially hyped up outlook, etc.

In monthly grants, the emirate council received between July 30, 2014 and March 1, 2017, the sum of N1,672,953,660. While the total debit from June 8, 2014 to April 11, 2017 is about N6 billion, the current balance in the account as at April 11, 2017 is N23,487,406.12.

For someone who is preaching the gospel of economic management, financial prudence, I wonder why he woefully failed set example in his tiny fief.

Let me, as obedient subject, once again remind my emir, a monarch who does not mind deposition on the alter speaking the “truth”, that when certain Sanusi Lamido Sanusi escaped firing squad by whiskers and jailed for about two and half years under Abacha’s Decree 2 in Sokoto Prisons for “inciting violence”, his rights to both movements and free speech were trampled.

I hope somebody will take some lessons.

Muhammad Sanusi II: The Philosopher Who Became King — And Reformer By Nasir El-Rufai

We must love our children, but never be afraid to teach them. We must be prudent and economic, but never with the truth. We must be diplomatic, but never with the taboos that underdevelop our people.

This is the philosophy of Muhammad Sanusi II, the emir of Kano, who ruffles feathers anytime he puts his opinion in the public domain.

On Wednesday, he delivered the keynote address at the second edition of the Kaduna Investment Forum. As always, he raised the bar of public discourse and got the nation talking about the people, again. Who is this Sanusi with arguably the loudest voice of reason in the country?.

He is a teacher, a banker, an economist , a religious leader, a father, and a king. An attempt to profile him would exhaust an ocean of ink and dry a river of oil-paint. His controversies are too strong to ignore, the dusts he raises are too potent to disregard and his perception of sensitive issues are too brilliant to walk over.

Born into the Fulani Torobe (Sullubawa) clan of Kano on the July 31 1961, Sanusi is the son Aminu Sanusi, a career diplomat and technocrat who served as the Nigerian ambassador to Belgium, China and Canada. His father later served as the permanent secretary of federal ministry of foreign affairs. He is also the grandson Muhammadu Sunusi, the 11th emir of Kano, who was deposed for, basically, speaking his mind.

THE KING WHO BECAME A TEACHER:
As Sanusi said on Wednesday, King’s College, Lagos produces all the Nigerian progressives and intellectuals — while Barewa College produces the conservatives.

Sanusi learnt from the class of teachers who produced Adetokunbo Ademola, former chief justice of Nigeria; Keem Belo-Osagie, chairman of Etisalat Nigeria; Alex Ekwueme, former vice-president of Nigeria; Anthony Enahoro, former minister; Ibrahim Gambari, United Nations representative; Lateef Jakande, former governor of Lagos State and former federal minister of Works and Housing; Odumegwu Ojukwu, head of State of the defunct Republic of Biafra and Atedo Peterside, former chairman of Stanbic IBTC.

Sanusi graduated from King’s College Lagos in 1977 and attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria where he bagged a bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1981. Like many other kings from Kings College, Sanusi obtained a master’s degree in Economics at ABU (1983) and was an instructor at ABU from 1983 to 1985.

THE ECONOMIST WHO TOUCHED DIEZANI ‘THE UNTOUCHABLE’:
Sanusi was nominated as governor of the central bank of Nigeria (CBN) by former president Musa Yar’Adua, and confirmed by the senate in June 2009. After his confirmation, Atedo Peterside, founder of IBTC, who introduced him to a team of bankers in London said Sanusi is known to speak the truth at all times.

“Sanusi Lamido Sanusi a seasoned and knowledgeable economist and professional banker/risk manager with impeccable credentials, including, notably, integrity and a penchant for telling the truth at all times,” Peterside said.

In his capacity as the governor of the apex bank, Sanusi introduced the concept of Islamic banking, a non-interest oriented banking system, which raised a lot of controversies, especially from the Christian fold.

This was at a time where there was religious tension and unrest in the country as there was the belief that there was an attempt to “Islamise” Nigeria. However, Sanusi maintained that the initiative was that of Chukwuma Soludo, his predecessor, adding that he was only building on the foundation.

He stood his ground, asking anyone who was not satisfied with the concept to challenge it legally. His defiance saw the birth of Jaiz bank, the first non-interest bank in Nigeria.

Sanusi penchant for the truth would later put him in trouble with the leadership of former president Goodluck Jonathan. Sanusi had discovered that many billions of dollars were missing from government coffers and he wrote the president.

Diezani Alison-Madueke was at the centre of it all, and according to him, “nobody who had touched Diezani had survived”. Knowing this, Sanusi went ahead to touch the untouchable.

REFUSED TO RESIGN BUT ‘SIGNED’ HIS DEATH WARRANT:
After raising alarm on the historic “missing $20 billion”, Jonathan called for Sanusi and asked him to resign. He said Sanusi will leave government or he (Jonathan) will leave government.

“From then I knew I had signed my equivalent for death warrant. But I said I was not resigning. He got very angry and said whether you like it or not, you’re going to leave that office, I cannot continue to work with you, either you or I will leave government,” Sanusi revealed after leaving office.

His journey as the CBN governor came to an end in February 2014, when Jim Obazee, the then executive secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) championed his suspension.

Former president Goodluck Jonathan had sacked him on recommendation from the FRC, which accused Sanusi of financial wrecklesness. Jonathan, Obazee and Sanusi are all out of government — one gracefully, others otherwise.

THE EMIR IS AN ACTIVIST:
In June 2014, Sanusi succeeded his grand uncle, Ado Bayero, as the 14th emir of Kano, following the death of the latter. His appointment which raised much controversy was termed a political attempt to save him from alleged fraud charges during his term as CBN governor.

It was also argued that Bayero should have been succeeded by his son. But Sanusi, who is of a royal lineage was also due to be king, and was deemed fit to lead his people.

Old habits die hard. As a king, Sanusi has not repented from his manner of speaking truth to power at all times. Despite reservations from the Royal Clan and the presidential quarters, the activist in this King is not giving up any time soon.

CONTROVERSIAL REFORMER RUFFLING FEATHERS IN NORTHERN NIGERIA:
Though a Muslim and a forefront leader at that, Sanusi has made some calls that clerics have referred to as a challenge on the jurisdiction of Islam. But the Emir would not stop ruffling feathers in norther Nigeria.

Poor men should not marry more than one wife:
He has called for a reform of northern Islamism, asking the region to denounce its 13th century practice of the religion

One controversy raised is his proposition to enact law that prohibits “a poor man” from marrying more than one wife. His justification was that they breed children who become thugs, due to lack of care.

“We have all seen the economic consequence of men who are not capable of maintaining one wife marrying four, producing 20 children, not educating them, leaving them on the streets end up as thugs and terrorists,” he said.

This stance was confronted by heavy criticism. Aminu Daurawa, Kano state commandant of Hisbah, a religious police outfit, said it violates the Quran.

Don’t build mosques build schools for the girl-child:
He is also a staunch girl-child education advocate, who has asked the northern elites to stop building mosques but focus on building schools for the girl-child.

“I’m just tired of people coming to me to say I want to build a new mosque. You know, we keep building mosques and our daughters are illiterates,” he said in January, 2017.

“So, my appeal is that if you really want to help Kano, don’t come to me with a request to build a N300m mosque because I have enough mosques everywhere. And if I don’t have a mosque, I’ll build it myself. If you really want to help, go and educate a girl child in the village.”

He stated that over 50 percent of girls between the age bracket of 18 and 20 given out in marriage in the north cannot write or read, emphasising that the state has enough mosques and there is no need for new ones.

Sanusi to Imams, traditional rulers: Beat your wives, lose your titles:
The no-nonsense king had also told religious and traditional heads in Kano, that wife beating is now an offence, and anyone who does so, will lose his or her titles.

“You should all come back to your senses and stop these barbaric acts because we will not allow this to continue in Kano,” he was quoted to have said.

“I have warned all district heads, village heads, ward heads and imams to also desist from the bad habit of beating their wives and whoever among them is reported to me to have beaten up his wife, would out rightly lose his title.”

Calls for birth control and family planning
How dare you call for birth control? How dare Sanusi not call for all he adjudges right and developmental for his people. Sanusi has also called for birth control and taming population explosion in the north.

“The age at which girls get out of school and married, the number of children that they have; having babies every year.The number of wives people marry when they cannot maintain them and their children,” Sanusi said in Kaduna on Wednesday.

“These subjects have been tabooed, but we cannot fix the north and get investments into the north until we confront these subjects”.

Northern Nigeria Must abandon the 13th century mindset of Islam:
Less than 24 hours ago, Sanusi added the last straw of controversies; he told northern Muslims that the rest of the Muslim world has moved on. He urged northerners to desist from creating an “Islamic society that never existed”.

He said books preaching love were being burnt in northern Nigeria, calling for better interpretations of Islamic views, which can drive a better life for women and the girl-child.

“We need to understand the roots of the problem of northern Nigeria. Burning books, it happened in Kano, what is the crime of those books? They were writing about (love), and love apparently is supposed to be a bad word,” he said.

“In a society where you don’t love your women and you don’t love your children, you allow them to beg, you beat up your women, why should anyone talk about love?

“We have adopted an interpretation of our culture and our religion that is rooted in the 13th century mindset, that refuses to recognise that the rest of the Muslim world has moved on.”

PREACH WHAT YOU PRACTISE: SANUSI’S WIVES ARE WELL EDUCATED
Sanusi was accused of marrying an underage himself, when he married the teenage daughter of Aliyu Musdafa, the Lamido of Adamawa in 2015.

A family source however told TheCable at the time, that “to call an 18-year-old woman a child and spread propaganda about ‘child marriage’ is nothing but mischief taken to another height. In Nigeria, the legal age for marriage is 18?.

Despite the fact that she was of marriageable age, according to Nigerian law, Sanusi decided not to consummate his marriage until his new bride is done with her studies in the UK — by 2019.

She is currently studying a computer science related course at a UK University.

Also true to his preaching, Sanusi three wives before Sa’adatu Barkindo Musdafa are all well-educated.

Sanusi II’s first wife, Sadiya, who is a daughter of the late emir, Ado Bayero, holds a bachelor’s degree in education (history) from the Bayero University Kano (BUK) and speaks Arabic.

The second wife, Maryam, holds a BA (combined honours) in Arabic and Islamic studies also from BUK and is about completing her dissertation for a master’s degree in education from the University of Abuja. She speaks Arabic and Italian.

The third wife, Rakiya, has an LLB (law) from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and an LLM from the University of London.

Love him or loathe him, men like Muhammad Sanusi II are rare diamonds in our pool of stones.

 

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