Investigation: How Thugs Extort Businesses in Abuja in The Name of Govt

Abdullahi Adamu Candido is the Chairman of AMAC

If you are a resident of Abuja or a regular visitor, you’d have noticed this often fierce looking young men wearing bibs stand on select road points in Abuja disturbing motorists. They are often dressed in their mufti with a bib over that or dressed in green for those who chase after Abuja taxi drivers. The most notorious of this lot are the ones that go to offices looking to extort and obtain money from the business owners. This is often done in the most crass of ways.

Speaking for a tax consultant in Abuja, they came to his office saying he’d pay N150,000 for his premises allowance, right there and then, he negotiated that same amount to N50,000. He is yet to pay this sum but that is not the issue. The issue is, if this was a fee set out by law based on certain parameters, how was it possible for someone posing as a collection agent to just negotiated it with the business owner, just like that? On whose authority?

Another friend with an office in one of the plazas in the Jabi area of Abuja narrated how five hefty looking men, dressed in no uniform knocked on the door of his office. What ensued could easily have passed for a regular armed robbery case except for the fact that these ones had no guns, they came claiming to be collection agents from the now notorious AMAC. Five of them, then one of them told the representative of the business that their money was N150,000. According to him, “because you have a large office.”

This person was yet to enter the office, he determined the size of the office by merely imagining a sum, then spewing same out. He was then asked how he determined the cost, only for him to say “that is how we do it!” In the argument, after a round of arguments, the same man who started out from N150,00 right there and then raised it to N300,000 and issued a document to that effect. He went further to say, “I can see you are a media firm, so you definitely have money!” If this is not EXTORTION, we might as well change the meaning of the word in the English dictionary. Again, this was done based on the discretion of the collection agent who signed off as Bulus Aba. Mr. Bulus Aba also made it clear the stipulated amount was different from other AMAC charges, which he promised would come later.

There are several more cases of AMAC and/or those claiming to be AMAC victimizing shop and business owners in Abuja. The earlier the authorities look into this, the better for the ease of doing business in Nigeria’s capital city. As it is, Nigeria is currently one of the toughest places to do business in the world and if the AMAC extortions from business owners in Abuja are anything to go by, it is a well-earned unfortunate position.

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Team Change: Before It Is Too Late, By Japheth Omojuwa

In just over two months, we’d have had one year of the administration that was voted in on the strength of its claim to make change happen in Nigeria. Is it too early to judge? Compared with the five disastrous years of the last administration, you could say that nine months is too small to judge a wholly new administration.

Against its promise to hit the ground running and against the ruling party’s claim of understanding what needed to be done to fix Nigeria, nine months is certainly enough time to see traction or, at least, the possibility of same. At the moment, it is either that I need better glasses or I see no signs of traction.

Save me the story on the fight against corruption. There is time for everything. There was a time to tell the previous administration the truth about its failures and a time came to make it pay. That administration did not only refuse to listen; it demonised the critics of its actions by describing them as tools of the opposition.

The time has come for the ruling All Progressives Congress to read some hard truths. You can take it as the ranting of one who knows not what he is saying, or you can take it as the reality of your last nine months in office.

Ours is a country where survival, even for the so-called big men and women, is often dependent on being connected to power. This essentially means that many would rather say to power what would keep them connected to power than they would what power needs to hear. I am not about that life. Those who can’t handle the truth can leave it hanging in the air. This government needs to know a few things or it can choose to ignore them and wait for the consequences in what is now just about three years from now.

Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo is an essential part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. This is not just because he is the Vice-President. Namadi Sambo was VP, but I doubt if anyone expected him to be useful beyond just making cosmetic appearances that added zero to the country. On the contrary, it is because the President was voted in based on his avowed commitment to clean the Augean stable, not on account of his economic know-how or acumen.

Whether or not it has been clearly stated to the general public, the direction and state of the Nigerian economy depends and will continue to depend on Mr. Vice President. I have the utmost respect for him. He was the one that finally convinced me to support the APC during the 2015 elections. Even I appeared in a one-episode reality show with him in a last ditch attempt to rack up votes from the undecided.

Osinbanjo embodies passion, competence, character and capacity in more than enough dose to last several lifetimes. On top of that, he is hard working in a classic sense of the word. He is used to working tirelessly without consideration for time or space.

Prof. Osinbajo’s work as Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Lagos State continues to define the reality of the judiciary in Lagos to this day. He changed the process of recruitment, training, discipline and made sure to automate the court process. Today, the judiciary in Lagos is miles apart from the rest of the country, including Abuja.

The Vice President is the same man, whose work and pedigree cuts across our continent and the entire global community. Something seems to have changed this time. As an observer from outside, I’d think he does not have the same team that he probably had going for him.

It has been stated over and again that the most defining secret of a great leader is a great team. The same goes for performing companies and organisations. This is not to take anything away from the current individuals attached to the Vice President. You can have a team of stars but just not have the right manager to make them work in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Where is Babatunde Irukera? He organized the VP’s team during the campaign and few will argue against the value ‘Act Now’ brought to the APC then. He lost out in his bid to become Governor of Kogi State. But a man like that, who obviously understands the VP’s ideas and vision, should be organizing his present team.

I have probably exchanged less than 30 words with Mr. Irukera, but anyone who understands the workings of the Vice President pre-Aso Rock would see how much of a space his absence has left in the VP’s team. In his absence, can the Vice President get his current team to understand the vision and the mandate? What is the team busy with? If they spend a year preparing to deploy policies to fix the economy, how many years do they think they have before the elections?

Joe Biden and Barack Obama complement one another in a sense that one brings something to the table that the other does not readily have. That is what I see when I look at the Buhari-Osinbajo team.

The fact that this piece has not focused on the President’s team should not be assumed that his team is working. The less said about that end, the better for me. Better to deal with these things one after the other because there are consequences to articles like this. But what needs to be said has to be said and all of us cannot keep quiet, especially as I know that many feel the same way but they are constrained by different factors from speaking out.

Where is the economic team? The current Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has received knocks from different quarters. Instead of defending herself, she should look within. She needs help. The Nigerian economy needs help. Aso Rock needs help.

Our country boasts some of Africa’s best economists. How can we make their expertise count? When are we going to relegate politics and let necessity decide for us? I believe that we need an advisory team on the economy. They need not be paid. Nigeria has been great to some of these world class citizens of ours and some of them will feel privileged to be called to serve, even if in advisory capacity. We can have a roving/non domiciled economic advisory team composed of the likes of Chukwuma Soludo, Emir Mohammed Sanusi II, Oby Ezekwesilib and Shehu Yahaya. We already have them and we can make their expertise count for our country at this time.

The world’s greatest institutions have backroom think-tanks that are able to assist those at the helms of the affairs of this country to make the right decisions. This writer is not an expert. So, don’t invite me to the table.

I had to make that clear. In our country one is always guilty of speaking the truth to power because he is often suspected of wanting something from those in the corridors of power. Let us even say that one wants something, at least take a critical look at these issues and make amends before it is too late. And the clock is ticking so fast that the long run will be here soon enough and we will all be gone. Should we then say that we did the very best we could for Nigeria? You have the power that you always craved, so tone down on the ceremonies and deliver the change you promised Nigerians. This is not a note of impatience; it is a reminder of the ticking clock.

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Omojuwa Sues Twitter User for N450m, To Press Criminal Charges Over Death Threat

Celebrated Nigerian Blogger, newspaper columnist and well travelled speaker Japheth Omojuwa appears set to take the first legal step against the revelations over a group of people who allegedly gathered to discuss his person, with death threats allegedly issued against him by the parties involved.

In a document made available to us, which is pictured here, Mr. Omojuwa represented by Abuja based “Kech Ford Lawyers” is suing one Osita Duru behind the @RadicalYouthMan Twitter account for N450million for impugning on his character and defamation.

The libel case appears to be a smaller issue compared against the criminal prosecution promised in the document.

According to the document, the Twitter user has been given 5 days to retract and apologise to avoid a criminal prosecution amongst other issues.

The Nigerian authorities have since been alerted as indicated by the statement and the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase and the Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami were both copied in the document.

It remains to be seen the steps to be taken by the accused but from all indication, Mr. Omojuwa will not be taking the death threats with kid gloves.

Omojuwa has been under constant attack from supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan over what they deemed as his influential role in the defeat of the president by President Buhari at the March 2015 polls.

His name was discussed alongside the Nigerian government and president Buhari in a WhatsApp group “PDP SM THINK TANK” allegedly led by one Adeyanju Deji who himself was allegedly prosecuted for murder in Kano between 2005 and 2009.

We will keep you posted as things unfold.

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Omojuwa Gets Death Threat From PDP Group

The 2015 elections have since come to an end but it appears a lot of anger remain in the hearts of many. A WhatsApp group allegedly called “PDP SM Think Tank” and according to allegations led by one Deji Adeyanju, was unraveled yesterday by savvy Nigerians on social media.

Parts of the chats in the group include conversations around trending topics meant to discredit the government of President Muhammadu Buhari such as #SufferingAndSmiling.

A sizeable number of the chats appeared to have been dedicated to Japheth J. Omojuwa, a blogger and social media influencer, whom many credit for former president Jonathan’s disastrous media image, especially online.

4As at the time of going to press, death threats were issued against Mr. Omojuwa in the group chat apparently after the revelations and some of the members in the group issued death threats via their Twitter pages. Specific death threats were allegedly issued by one Amonia Stewart in the said group as the number has since been narrowed down to the name. The said personality was very vocal in promising Omojuwa a horrible death as a result of the leaked chats. Deji Adeyanju, who was allegedly convicted for murder in the early 2000s also promised to deal personally with the insider who they believe posted their messages online for Omojuwa to see.2

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It didn’t stop there. Other members of the group took to Twitter to threaten Omojuwa, who they accuse of exposing their secrets even though he was never a member of the group. One Anthony Ehilebo and another who calls himself RadicalYouthman threatened Omojuwa with violence via their Twitter handles.

Deji Adeyanju, the group admin, in 2014 admitted to going to prison, although he denied being convicted for the murder crime he was alleged to have committed.

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It remains to be seen whether Deji Adeyanju and his co-travelers will carry out their threats while hoping the security agencies concerned will step into the situation and grant Omojuwa some protection to avoid any loss of live.

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Wailing Wailers, Buharists and That Disgraceful 2016 Budget By Japheth J. Omojuwa

Before I address the essence of this piece, I will start by addressing the reaction. There are two main elements that are likely to ignore rationality when reading and commenting on this piece; the so called Wailing Wailers and the group of people who are still voting President Buhari despite the fact that he is already president. They are often both irrational groups who hold on to opposite sides of an issue mostly based on where they stood during the last polls.

Of the two, the Wailing Wailers are of course the most disgraceful, colourfully shameless and with zilch credibility. The reason being that, everything they criticize today, they once cheered and supported. Their only anger with anything today is that Goodluck Jonathan is no longer president. For most of them, they would cheer the stealing of billions of dollars, defend same and even protest if you start the prosecution process of the suspects, all because they supported Goodluck Jonathan. They do not love Nigeria and even if they wail from now till 2090, those who know better will never take them seriously.

The other group, those who are still voting President Buhari, are held back by the desperation not to be seen that they made a mistake at the polls. That is an unfortunate state to be in because of the two major options before Nigerians last year, Mohammadu Buhari was a no brainer. Goodluck Jonathan had supervised Nigeria’s longest oil boom, despite that, he left Nigeria with its lowest foreign reserve in a decade, less than 1000 MW of power supply, some 112 million poor souls, over 10 million school kids out of school, gargantuan corruption of which Nigeria would still be recovering the stolen funds 10 years from now.

Buhari was the better candidate of the two and Nigerians rightly settled that argument. What Buhari does with that mandate does not make the Nigerians who voted him the wrong party. If doing the right thing eventually results in a bad thing happening, you do not regret doing the right thing.

But Nigeria is bigger than the so called Wailing Wailers, Nigerians already proved that on March 28, 2015. End of. Nigeria is bigger than the Buharists too, Nigerians proved it three times before the 2015 elections. Buhari became president because non-Buharists voted him. Let this be clear before people get swept off by the wind and tide that swept Jonathan and his “best president ever” court of jesters.

The 2016 budget is a joke, a disgrace and a representation of the unwholesome reality of governance in Nigeria. What that budget simply shows is that we simply are not ready for the change we so mouthed during the last elections. Government officials are speaking of austerity measures and the need for Nigerians to make sacrifices, yet our Budget Office is proposing to spend some bizarre sums on some irrelevant, good for nothing materials that contribute zero-value to the average Nigerian.

The 2016 budget has N1 billion for the purchase of tables and chairs. We cannot introduce PDPian reality into governance and then pretend things have changed. N1 billion? For what? That amount will start a big furniture company with the capacity, not only to make enough chairs for the federal government, it will also create jobs. I don’t believe in government starting companies but I’d rather N1 billion spent that way than spent buying tables and chairs.

Almost N7 billion will be wasted on the Senate President’s residence and some joke consultancy distraction. If we want to run Nigeria down, let us be frank with Nigerians, instead of telling them now things will be different while continuing with the inanities that led us here in the first place.

As we speak, no one knows how the National Assembly spends its allocation. It collects its share and spends it without accounting to Nigerians. We can fool one another, but we cannot fool those watching from outside. So far, nothing has changed here! N4.8 billion has been proposed for operational vehicles for Nigerian Prisons. Let us assume these new vehicles are being bought in anticipation of the billionaires that will be jailed by president Buhari, should they then have access to the same exotic vehicles in prison as they did when eating out our collective wealth out of prison? N237 million was spent in 2015 – at least according to that budget – to purchase kitchen equipment for the state house. Now, another N89 million has been budgeted for same. How is it that kitchen equipment that cost almost N237 million cannot survive beyond a budget cycle? Haba!

We cannot stay repeating the same mistakes – should they be called mistakes if they happen every year? – and expect that somehow things will change for the better. The biggest indication of a government’s direction and intention is its budget. If this budget represents the change the APC promised, we might as well now agree that the disaster that was the “Transformation Agenda” has a match in the joke that this is turning out to be. The most part of this is that those who ought to speak are scared to speak out, they would rather speak angrily against the budget privately, then go into the Senate chamber to praise the very same document they tore apart just minutes before.

If we continue to make government about individuals, our country will not move an inch forward. What has been stated above about the budget is not a finger at who is wrong, it is a finger at what is wrong. The 2016 budget is wrong. Capital Expenditure at 30 per cent, despite an expanded budget essentially means the reality of recurrent expenditure against capital expenditure remains as it was under the Jonathan years. The difference is too marginal to be emphasized as “change.” President Buhari presented a great speech at the National Assembly when presenting the 2016 budget but if he had actually gone through some of the items in that budget, he would have instead sent those who prepared the budget to present it.

This is the first budget under a new party since the PDP’s 16-year reign. It was not expected to be markedly different from theirs because reforms need to be gradual to be sustainable, and to avoid shocks on the economy. Having said this, some items on the 2016 budget could easily have been avoided altogether. Lessons must be learnt, the Buhari administration must do better. If there is one thing this administration can learn from the last, it is this; those who are seen as critics are better than those who praise your every move. We cannot afford to get carried away by the praises of those who will not be there when we are out of power. Those who hailed the last president, as the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria could not even spend a few thousands to wish him a happy birthday just months after he left office. It is the nature of power, it is transient and it carries sycophants along with it, in droves.

Let it not be said that we did not speak when things go wrong. Let it not be said that our voices went dead when the very things we criticized under one government reared its head under another. The Wailing Wailers will say this is being done because people like us were not rewarded with government positions, but those with the power to share the offices know those who are begging them for same. And those who do not care who became what or didn’t. May we know to do better!

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Omojuwa, Linda Ikeji, 10 Other Nigerians Named In Africa’s 50 Movers And Shakers

World-leading financial services company, Credit Suisse has named 12 Nigerians as part of its 50 Movers and Shakers on the continent.

“These 50 people personify modern Africa: entrepreneurs and artists, athletes, politicians and activists,” Credit Suisse said in a report.

Popular bloggers Linda Ikeji and Japhet Omojuwa made the list that had Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka and Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote and serial entrepreneur Tony Elumelu.

Other notable Nigerians on the list are Mo Abudu, Chimamanda Adichie, Davido, Raji Fashola, Genevieve Nnaji, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Michael Akindele.

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The New Deal: How To Deliver The Change – Japheth J. Omojuwa

When most of us voted on March 28, we did so with at least one conviction: our country needed to change. We realised we either re-focused our politics and governance or watch the whole house go down under the crushing weight of the previous government’s unheralded incompetence, corruption and zero sense of purpose. Some people do not like to hear it because it nails down the guilt of the previous administration; we have never been this indebted, it is our lowest foreign reserves in a decade, the naira has never known a worse year, we could be on our worst ever deficit…even if we choose to be deluded, we’d say things are bad. If we prefer to face the truth, the Nigeria house has been battered.

There is work to be done! If we leave the re-building in the hands of politicians alone, then we have not even begun to appreciate the enormity of where we have found ourselves.

Where do we even start from? Let us begin from ourselves. Nothing will change if we assume that because some politicians campaigned on the slogan of “Change” they will just come and do things totally different from the old ways, we’d miss it. The same way this change would have been impossible without the commitment of millions of Nigerians, nothing will change if we do not now commit to putting those we have voted to deliver the change. The election was a won battle, the quest for a Nigeria that works goes beyond that, it is a lifelong battle against the forces that would rather this country continues to enrich a few at the detriment of the majority. We cannot sleep now and assume that one “righteous” Muhammadu Buhari would wave the magic wand and deliver the change. As Americans are wont to say, that ain’t gonna happen.

Take the salaries and allowances of our lawmakers for instance. The Nigeria Labour Congress only came up with a statement after Nigeria’s now active everyday citizens rose up to the challenge. With hashtags like #OccupyNASS, #UndressNASS, and #OpenNASS, they challenged the right of the lawmakers to draw such outrageous salaries and allowances. Note that it was not that the Eight National Assembly had suddenly increased its salaries and allowances, it was the same numbers from the previous ones but the “office of the citizen” decided not this time, the lawmakers would not get away with earning that much in the midst of all the nation’s current economic woes. They got something out of it even before their scheduled public march as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, immediately met with the head of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. At the end of the day, the RFMAC has now committed to a review of the salaries and allowances of the lawmakers. Note that had the citizens kept quiet as of old, nothing would have happened. This time round, they screamed and something happened! The onus remains on these active citizens to keep their eyes on the ball till the right thing is eventually done by the RFMAC. That is how change will happen. In silence, forget it, nothing will change.

Ministers and heads of parastatals will soon be announced. Trust the President to reiterate the fact he needs them to focus on their jobs, avoid corruption and commit to the change agenda. That would not be enough, because we the people must set out to make sure they deliver on the agenda. We do that by keeping them on their toes from the onset. We can even start with their salaries and allowances too and how much it costs to run each of them, apart from their ministries and agencies.

If there is something we need to change immediately as a country, it is the opaqueness around government. We must open up the government. The Freedom of Information Act should only be necessary when an interested party has doubts about what is already in the open. Enough of running government like a cult. Nigerians want to know the address of Aso Rock. And if it does not have an address, they want to know what it looks like. If at all it exists. Is this too much to ask as a citizen of a free country?

We need a new deal, citizens and governors. We need to set about building a country where the interest of the people overrides parochial interests. Privileged people will always exist in every country but nothing says they cannot exist in the midst of a largely prosperous majority. It is high time Nigeria’s political class understood that this country belongs to us as much as it belongs to them. Let us not forget what Nigerians did on March 28, 2015. To forget is to dare our people to do it again and we will vote out another incumbent government if it fails to deviate from the old ways. This change will not end with winning elections, we will demand it and see to its delivery across the board.

Sacrifices will be necessary but it must start from the top. It is refreshing to see the governors of Kaduna, Kano, Abia and the likes reduce their salaries and allowances. It is a good start but it is only a start. The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, also got to save about N150m by deciding not to share Ramadan food and foodstuffs with the usual privileged few that got them in the name of the poor in times past. The governor has also decided not to sponsor any pilgrim to Mecca or Jerusalem. Anyone interested in performing religious rites in both holy lands must bear the cost. That is a step in the right direction and such steps must be replicated across the board. The era of the system working for a few while failing the many should end and it will not except those who promised us to change things get the movement in progressive motion.

There will be political costs to some of these decisions but such costs will be insignificant if we the people continue to support our leaders who make the bold moves and take the bold steps. Plus a restructuring of the electoral system would also eliminate or at least reduce the powers of godfathers to the barest minimum. We have work to do but what really matters is to get started. Some have already started, others are still wondering if they really are the ones in power. Morning will come, night will roll over and 2019 will be here soon enough. Whatever happens, no matter the hunger in the land, no one will buy excuses, not even if the failed leaders who try to sell the excuses decide to offer them free of charge. Excuses will not fly. Results or nothing!

Those who are still asleep should wake up! The times have changed. The Nigerian citizens they said couldn’t be bothered about governance now obviously care. Those who defied them paid with their jobs during the historic presidential and governorship elections. Those who learn from the past are in a position to avoid pitfalls that ruined those who went ahead of them.

We, the citizens, must stay vigilant. As it is already obvious, the organisations that used to stand for us sold their birthrights during #OccupyNigeria and from the look of things, they remain burdened by that moral flaw. Nigeria is ours to rebuild, build we must!

This piece was first published in The PUNCH Newspaper. Re-published here with permission from the author.

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What Cost Jonathan Power In The End, By Japheth Omojuwa

First impressions, they say, are everything. Not the same for anyone who is president of a country like Nigeria. With Nigerians, last impressions are just as important as first impressions. Goodluck Jonathan’s last week as President has seen Nigeria shut down due to power cuts and fuel scarcity. Lives have been lost, airlines cancelled flights, media houses and banks closing early, telecom companies declaring their services would be hampered by the scarcity of diesel. One could argue, despite the turmoil that characterised his tenure, that this has been Jonathan’s worst week as President. In the midst of what has looked increasingly like a national security issue, the government has offered nothing in terms of explanations or an attempt to offer the way forward.

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But to sum the Jonathan administration up through the events of the last one week would be unfair. It would amount to saying a President who led a country for five years can be judged according to what happened within just a week. Yes, there has been a clear display of government failure over the last one week but the truth is, this administration has been failing for the better part of the last five years. It is only expectedly signing out, looking to clear the minds of those who ever doubted its incompetence to have such doubts cleared.

President Jonathan will be remembered as that man who appeared uninterested as Nigerians battled a cabal to have him installed as acting president, and eventually president. He was that politician that Nigerians, ignoring the platform he ran on, instead assumed they could vote for him without regard to the party he was representing.

Many will remember President Jonathan for insisting the October 2010 Abuja Independence Day bombing had nothing to do with MEND despite the group insisting it carried out the terrorist attack. Between 2010 and 2011, Jonathan was clearly the most loved politician in the country. His seeming harmless mien combined well with a good messaging had him win the 2011 election despite claims by certain people the election was rigged. Maybe, the election was indeed rigged but he really was the most popular candidate in 2011, hands down!

That didn’t last. By January 2012, the President had burnt all the goodwill he enjoyed with the people. Allowing marketers and corruption combine to milk the country of N1.6tn subsidy payments was bad enough, the President was now seen as working with the same cabal to transfer the cost of corruption and the inefficient subsidy system to the people. The revolt lasted for weeks but the President had his way by increasing fuel prices to N97 from N65.

He had his way then, many Nigerians simply bided their time. Maybe, things would have turned out differently had the administration prosecuted and jailed those mainly responsible for the 2011 subsidy heists, we will never know. Maybe, doing something about the increasing cost of governance would have made a difference will be hard to guess but things only got worse for the administration from there.

Boko Haram’s bombing activities became intense and persistent. If some thought he could not have done much about the bombings, a few would forgive him for the things he did just after some of such bombings. Two Nigerian states, Kaduna and Yobe, were under attack when the President departed the country to attend the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio, Brazil. The smoke from the previous day’s bombing of Nyanya had not disappeared while the President was already in Kano, not only receiving an Ibrahim Shekarau defecting for the umpteenth time but indeed captured on camera dancing! The President was dancing while the nation mourned! Things simply kept piling up.

Fifty nine boys got butchered at Buni Yadi while the President and his handlers partied on, under the guise of a centenary celebration. Several more gaffes like that became the norm rather than the exception. If the President cared about the predicament of the North-East and its endless devastation in the hands of Boko Haram, his actions showed the exact opposite.

Then came the abduction of the Chibok girls in April. What followed is unforgivable and Nigerians indeed refused to forgive the administration on this one. Several acts of negligence, indecision and outright carelessness have simply meant that over 400 days after, the Chibok girls remain abducted. You better not even try to imagine what life would be for them now, for those of them that survived the snakes of Sambisa Forest and the terror of mad Abubakar Shekau and his fellow gang of murderers. The government was desperate to wish the Chibok issue away so it adopted the Bring Back Our Girls advocacy group as its opposition. It should never have done that; it lost that particular battle because at each turn, #BringBackOurGirls always showed the President and his government as not as interested in rescuing the girls as it was in making it look like the group was an enemy of the state.

Many things went down under the administration, that if Jonathan ever decides to reflect on his time as president, without the burden of office and the stanching miasma of sycophants, he’d see that he was the one person responsible for his own fall from power. Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke stayed on forever as Minister of Petroleum Resources, while each new day she spent in office helped to further deplete the President’s political capital. She was an unnecessary liability he should have done away with strategically; she stayed on so they would both deservingly leave together this Friday. Princess Stella Oduah was eventually eased out of office but it was already an act too little – no prosecution – and too late. Seeing as it was apparent she had ordered two cars with N255mn of taxpayers’ money. There’d be no need to state that Abba Moro, Minister of Interior, who was culpable in the death of some 19 National Immigration Service job applicants in March of 2014, will this week exit government in the very same position.

That was an identity of the Goodluck Jonathan administration: incompetence was fine as long as loyalty was guaranteed; corruption was permission as long as usefulness to the government via election donation was on the cards. Heck! Embattled Buruji Kashamu was President Jonathan’s main ally in the South-West in the run-up to the 2015 elections. Things were really that bad.

When your administration has to deal with endless reports of missing money, missing children and adults, missing accountability and have that combined with endless political battles against the likes of Olusegun Obasanjo and governors of your own party, you’d have needed more than luck to retain power.

In the end, luck could only take Goodluck so far. In 48 hours, Nigerians will be saying goodbye to Goodluck Jonathan. You can bet most of them will not care about a farewell, there is proof of that, they made him the very first casualty of a loss by an incumbent president in the history of Nigeria.

For Jonathan though, his concession call to Buhari was probably the most important thing he did as President. That call was not just about him conceding the election, it did help to quell tension across the country. History will not be fair if it forgets to credit him for this. So then, Jonathan was a very bad President who somehow did a very good thing on his way out of power. Goodbye Jonathan!

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Buhari’s Tough Choices By Japheth Omojuwa

Going forward, Nigeria will have to swallow some bitter pills to heal itself of its current and impending malaise or it’d go crumbling down like a pack of cards. We must come to a place of realisation, that we either set this country aright and enjoy the fruits of its progress together or we continue in our ways and have it crumble on all of us. Those who think having houses abroad or having spare passports will exempt them from the shame of that happening should think twice again; as it is today, despite your foreign houses and spare passports, Nigeria finds a way to get to you, wherever you are, the world over. We cannot escape Nigeria altogether, we can only pretend to escape it. The incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari holds the last card towards Nigeria’s future prosperity or God forbid, continued state of poverty.

We have indebted generations yet unborn– President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration alone has racked up $18bn in debts over the last four years – to get them started with being burdened with debt payments instead of wealth creation. We have been a very irresponsible country. We pay our lawmakers one of the fattest allowances in the world to make laws that have still not changed our general state of poverty in 16 years of sustained democracy. Our presidential fleet has about 10 jets, more than enough for our President to travel the world looking for investors to come and not invest in Nigeria. Ours is one of the most difficult places in the world to do business – see the Heritage Freedom Index – yet we annoyingly assume that investors will come just by meeting with our leaders abroad. Somehow, we assume that investors are jesters like us. We think they are about emotion and “beggy-beggy” attitude. We want them to come and invest here almost out of pity for us. Investors are rational; if you create the right environment, institute respect for property rights, de-emphasise the obsession with cronyism, drastically reduce the number of days it takes to register businesses, focus on making power available, commit to improving the transport network while developing new options of transport, we’d not need to go all out to look for investors, even the visually challenged investor would smell the reforms and dash to Nigeria to make gains. We have a market of 170 million people, you do not joke with that.

The fuel subsidy must go. There would be no better time to yank it off than now with much reduced global oil prices. It will come at a political cost to remove subsidies but that must be managed. Nigerians will not accept subsidy removal under any guise except public officials demonstrate their own readiness to make sacrifices. The people cannot continue to wallow in poverty while their leaders are getting “armed robber” salaries and allowances. A reduction in the pay of public officials must be done through the right channel, in this case, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. When this happens, Nigerians will not be in doubt about the fact that their leaders are making sacrifices. No matter how much we try to argue that petrol subsidies do not reach the poor, that argument will never connect with the poor. The Jonathan administration faced stiff antagonism when it tried to remove the subsidies but the attempt by the administration to do it was thoughtless. It was just going to yank it off, it had no plans what to do with the people’s reaction or questions.   It immediately went back to what was supposed to be the drawing board and returned with SURE-P. That ended up becoming a pipe to generate campaign funding for certain elements. The SURE-P turned out a scam. It was as though, while corruption reigned supreme through the subsidies in 2011, the stealing was transferred to SURE-P for subsequent years.

Buhari should engage all stakeholders on this; Nigeria cannot continue to subsidise consumption while production suffers. The President-elect has a lot more believability than the outgoing President. I doubt anyone would accuse him of wanting to steal money, hence his attempt to cut the subsidies. Let us hope Buhari and his economic strategists are working something out.

If we make power work, we’d have freed up more production time and more resources to invest more into production. This simply means that we’d be automatically creating more jobs just by getting power to work. Some 50-60 per cent of the cost of production goes into generators and other sources of alternative power. The government claims it has liberalised the sector but how can you liberalise a sector without competition? We only have privileged companies holding sway in different regions of the country. Liberalisation is nothing without competition. That the players in the power sector were already in enough dire straits to require and get government bailout showed that this was nothing but a glorification of government control. The process of deregulating the power sector has not started and if it has, it has not really moved away from the old order of having consumers get burdened by one company. It was NEPA, then the PHCN and now consumers just have smaller versions of the old devil domesticated in the regions.

Education and jobs are connected because once you get both right, you automatically are fixing the prevalent social vices in the society. If children go to school, they are not likely to be available as tools in the hands of bad elements. That we currently have the world’s highest number of out-of-school children is enough cause to declare an emergency and that we haven’t declared an emergency on that front is an emergency in itself. We are killing the future by borrowing from it today but even worse is the fact that we are not even equipping the future we are borrowing from with the right education to help them pay the debts accrued by their irresponsible progenitors. Double “wahala”.

“Baba now that you are there,” the party of nonsense, incompetence and corruption should end. Our country is in dire straits and these are desperate times. Our people believe you, they trust you and your would-be Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. They will be counting on you to take tough decisions that’d affect us all. They’d trust you to put the interest of Nigeria above your political and personal interests. They trust you not to put your second term ambition in the way of decisions that must be taken to set Nigeria aright. You saw their faces during the campaign tours; you already know those are the faces of hunger and poverty calling for your help. They have been through tough times and hard realities; they await your coming with high expectations. We know our country is a mess now, we know a lot of money has been stolen by a lot of people to make a lot of us poorer. Now is the time to make governance count for our people; now is the time to make that change happen. We hope to celebrate your legacy for decades to come. It will be yours to earn if you help Nigeria birth this much desired change. It will take making tough choices, you are a tough man; you can!

Omojuwa, a social media entrepreneur and political commentator, wrote this article for Punch via mromojuwa@gmail.com

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There Was No Assassination Attempt On Me, Ifeanyi Ubah Speaks To Japheth Omojuwa

Capital Oil and Gas boss, Ifeanyi Ubah has debunked certain media reports that he was the target of an assassination attempt over the weekend.

Ubah debunked the report in an exclusive chat with Japheth Omojuwa in Abuja.

“There was nothing! There was no assassination attempt on me whatsoever. Please help me let people know there was nothing. I don’t know why they are making these things up,” he said.

He went ahead to state that only yesterday he was on a visit to Taraba State to watch his football club Ifeanyi Ubah FC play Taraba FC.

According to him, he also took the time to visit the governor.

This puts paid to reports he and his team members were the targets of an assassination attempt.

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