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Posts tagged ‘Olusegun Obasanjo’

A Government From Boko Haram By Emeka Asinugo.


By Emeka Asinugo

When, some months back, President Jonathan of Nigeria said that Boko Haram had penetrated his government and federal government agencies, he knew exactly what he was saying. He was right. In a way, the prolonged and mindless Boko Haram killings in the eastern parts of Northern Nigeria seem to be playing out that time-tested song by Jimmy Cliff titled ‘the harder they come, the harder they fall.’ The harder Boko Haram attacks come on the villages of Northern Nigeria, the harder Nigerian citizens of northern extract fall. The destructive presence of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria can only be compared with the merciless mission of the Janjaweed militia of Darfur.

What Nigerians need to know, at this point in time, is whether these attacks still have religious or political undertones or whether they have turned out to become pure brigandage. For, in these Northern villages which Boko Haram attacks with measured frequency, the people’s cattle, their foodstuff and even their beautiful young daughters are catered away by force, by unknown gunmen, to unknown destinations where, no doubt, the young damsels are subjected to sexual abuse. If this is not brigandage, what could possibly be? Come to think of it! What have foodstuff, cattle and pretty girls got to do with people who claim they want to establish a pure Islamic state, even in a country that embraces a secular and not religious constitution?

Some scholars have, as it were, posited that Boko Haram sect believes some members of a contaminated school of Muslim thought, in tandem with a highly corrupt cabal of Northern politicians, have succeeded in high jacking political dispensation in the Northern part of Nigeria. That is why they are determined to wrestle power from them. They want to see the North return to fundamental Islamic teaching and tradition.

It all sounds good and well.

But if that is their desire, why then are they are killing their own people? Why are they are spilling the blood of their own young and innocent children? Why are they are destroying their own innocent women? Why are they mowing down their own innocent men? What have those being killed got to do with the aspirations of Boko Haram? People no longer have homes in the villages Boko Haram has sacked. They are refugees in their own country, driven away from their homesteads by a mindless sect that claims to be working for their interest.

Boko Haram is the vampire that has kept sucking the blood of Northern Nigeria’s future generations. The sect members have continued to cut down on their own Northern population. They have continued to limit their voting power by reducing their own number. So, someone should tell me: what sort of government can possibly emerge from the rubbles of such recklessness?

Just think about it. This is a wake-up call. How can Boko Haram, if ever they succeed in becoming a government of their own people, dry the tears from the eyes of thousands of women they prematurely turned into widows, and the many more children they turned into orphans? How can they say ‘sorry’ to all those families they threw into grief or left in agony after they mowed down their breadwinner? With what face will they meet their subjects after the battle is fought and won?

If all this is part of the alleged plan to make governance difficult for President Jonathan, then honestly, people from that part of the country should have their heads examined. I am sorry: I am not being rude, but I am almost convinced that this group of rascals cannot possibly stand the ground against a united Northern elders’ forum which endorses government as a democratic dispensation and not a cabal of the rich and mighty shoving it down the throats of the weak and vulnerable.

Boko Haram has caused so much pain to so many families across the nation. They have killed the Yoruba. They have killed the Hausa and the Fulani. They have killed Christians. They have killed Muslims. They have killed students. They have killed people in the marketplace. They have killed people during events. They just don’t care who they kill. They go for vulnerable people in strategic places.

Now, assuming that tomorrow a Muslim northerner becomes President of Nigeria, will these mindless killings stop?

Maybe it will be good for Nigerians to know. It is obvious that any government emanating straight from the ashes of Boko Haram’s killings will either be an autocracy or another Taliban type of government which will enforce strict Islamic Laws that tend to deny women of their human rights – a government that will dry the women’s tears with fire, and not with handkerchiefs. Will a Northern President be able to placate the Boko Haram sect and bring their nefarious activities under control? In other words, can a Northern President heal the wounds inflicted by Boko Haram on so many families in the North and in the South?

Nigerians should learn from the history of their country – both ancient and contemporary history. When two-time Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was in power, Niger Delta people were agitating so much about being marginalized in the scheme of things in the country. The bulk of the oil which sustained the economy of the nation was coming from their land. And they were being neglected. Basic infrastructure was obsolete and in some cases, non-existent. No good roads. No clean drinking water. No affordable medical care. No standard schools. Electricity supply was epileptic. There was general poverty in the land. The oil companies which were exploring oil from the Delta Region were said to have turned a blind eye to all the suffering the people of the region were passing through. They were not doing much to alleviate the level of poverty that was eating deep into the communities that made up the Delta Region. In the midst of the excruciating poverty that was ravaging the region, their top officers and chief executives preferred to live in palatial mansions in the big cities wining and dining with Governors, walking tall on the corridors of power.

Overwhelmed by their circumstances, the people of the Delta Region began to make trouble. They kidnapped oil workers. They kidnapped indigenes. They kidnapped foreigners. They kidnapped members of the families of public office holders. They vandalized oil pipelines and oil installations. They stole crude oil and refined them in makeshift refineries within the creeks, far away from government’s scrutiny.

It was all telling on Chief Obasanjo as Head of State because he is a man who loves his country but who, from experience, knew how difficult it was to please every Nigerian at the same time from the Presidential Villa. Obasanjo thought out a plan.

He was convinced that a President coming from the Delta Region would be in a better position to sort out Delta people and bring relief to the country. So, he sponsored the late Musa Yar ‘Adua as President and Jonathan as Vice President under the auspices of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, which at the time was largest and the ruling party.

Jonathan had become Governor of Bayelsa State after his predecessor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, had been indicted for money laundering by a London court and was impeached by Bayelsa House of Assembly on that account. The elder brother of Governor Musa Yar ‘Adua, Major General Shehu Yar’ Adua, had been a successful businessman, soldier, and politician. His father was a former Minister for Lagos during the First Republic. Shehu trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England and participated in the Nigerian Civil War. He was Vice President of Nigeria when Olusegun Obasanjo was military Head of State from 1976 until 1979.

In 1995, the older Yar ‘Adua was sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal after he called on the military government of General Sani Abacha and his Provisional Ruling Council to re-establish civilian rule. Obasanjo was also imprisoned at the same time. Unfortunately, Shehu Yar ‘Adua died in prison two years later, on 8 December 1997. When eventually Obasanjo was released from prison, he wanted to see justice done to the family of the Yar’Aduas. So, he sponsored Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua, the younger brother of his late prison mate, Shehu, to be elected as President of Nigeria in 2007 while Goodluck Jonathan was Vice President.

Everybody knew that Musa Yar ‘Adua was a sick man. Twice, during his tenure as governor, he had gone for medical treatment abroad, which kept him away from work for several months at a time. But because he was loved, not only by his people from Northern Nigeria, but by almost every other Nigerian both from the East and the West, he didn’t have any problem getting back into his office on return.

Whether by accident or by design, the pressure of work killed Musa Yar ‘Adua after three and half years as President. Jonathan succeeded him in office.

But since Jonathan, a son of Delta Region, became President, the troubles in Delta State have not ended. No. Rather, they have escalated. The level of impunity has gone up. Members of the families of government officials are no longer safe. Even members of the family of the President himself are not safe. Recently, the step-father of President Jonathan was kidnapped right from his village home, and the kidnappers are asking for a ransom amount of N500 million (£2 million).

That level of impunity!

So, assuming that by tomorrow, Boko Haram succeeds in “wrestling power from the democratically elected government that is in control in the North”, what sort of government will they be able to form? Will the fact that a Northerner has become President stop the agitation of Boko Haram? Just as having a Delta President could not stop the Delta rebellion, so a Northern President may not be able to twist the arms of Boko Haram insurgency.

In that case, will it not be an indication to Eastern and Western Nigerians that it is time for them to decide for themselves if they still want this do-or-die leadership style of their militant northern brothers or to go their separate ways because things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold? If that is what Nigerians need to know – and react to – this is the time to speak up, the National Conference, the opportunity.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

A National Insult Rejected By Okey Ndibe.


 

Okey Ndibe
Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

For those unaware of its source, I might as well state from the outset that the title of this column is not original. It’s adapted from a statement released last week by Wole Soyinka. The statement, which bore the Nobel laureate’s stamp of revulsion at moral impunity, chastised the Goodluck Jonathan administration for its bizarre line-up of 100 personalities worthy of honor at a ceremony marking the centenary of Nigeria’s amalgamation.

The centenary list, typical of such rolls in Nigeria, was a hodgepodge. It bracketed imperial personages, so-called “contributors to the making of Nigeria”—including Queen Elizabeth 11 of England and Lord Frederick Lugard, first British overseer of the forcibly amalgamated territory—with such notable nationalist fighters as Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Anthony Enahoro. It squeezed Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Michael Imoudu, Aminu Kano, Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, John Pepper Clark, Chike Obi, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Dagogo Fubara, and Moshood Kashimawo Abiola into the same tent as Sani Abacha. In an even weirder development, Mr. Abacha shows up—along with Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida—under the category of “Outstanding Promoters of Unity, Patriotism and National Development”.

How did we quickly forget that Abacha’s looting of public funds from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria was a patriotic act? Or that he gave his cronies licenses to import toxic fuel into Nigeria because he so fiercely loved Nigerians and fervently desired their development? Or that Babangida’s annulment of the June 12 presidential election was a recipe for Nigeria’s unity?

Anybody who only followed the Aso Rock version of the centenary could have run away with the impression that Nigerians are ever grateful to the coalition of British merchants, bureaucrats, adventurers and royals who cobbled their country together—and named it Nigeria. But the deeper truth lies elsewhere. There were two sets of memory at play last week, two attitudes to Nigeria—a so-called nation bereft of a national spirit, a space that is unformed, ill-formed and malformed.

Those who preside today over the looting of billions of dollars of Nigeria’s resources may deceive themselves that the 100th anniversary of the amalgamation of Nigeria is an occasion for celebration. Many—I’d argue, most—Nigerians think otherwise. For several months, the Internet was abuzz with speculations that the legal instruments of amalgamation stipulated one hundred years as the event’s expiry date. With a great sense of expectancy, many looked forward to the formal cessation of the tragic, nightmarish, and blood-soaked experiment called Nigeria. Was the Jonathan administration unaware of this swell of hope that Nigeria should cease?

In the build-up to the centenary, the band of Islamist extremists known as Boko Haram carried out one of their most savage and outrageous attacks yet. They stormed a secondary school in Yobe under the cover of darkness, slaughtered 60 boys, and set their victims’ dorms on fire. In any serious country, one such act would forever scar the collective conscience, provoking a resolve of “Never again!” Not in Nigeria, a place where a human life is worth far less than a chicken. How did Nigeria’s “transformational” leadership respond to this latest callousness by Boko Haram? It responded in its accustomed soft, indifferent manner. It issued the same tiresome, obligatory condemnation of the carnage, nothing more. The Presidency did not consider the shocking abbreviation of so many innocent lives an occasion to devise and announce a bold, effective plan to assure the safety of all citizens, especially school children, in the Boko Haram-plagued, terror-infested areas. It was, as usual, a do-nothing stance.

But then the government did something even worse than habitual abdication. Apparently, Reno Omokri, Mr. Jonathan’s point man on social media, orchestrated a release that sought to link Nigeria’s suspended Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, with a spike in Boko Haram’s gruesome activities, including the Yobe slaughter. Apparently Mr. Omokri did not reckon with the fact that many Nigerians are quite adept at cyber intelligence, deft at the kind of detective work that can unmask those who exploit the seeming anonymity of the Internet to slander others. Mr. Sanusi is the Jonathan administration’s Public Enemy Number One. The sacked CBN Governor committed the unpardonable sin of telling the world that a major agency of the Nigerian state had failed to deposit $20 billion earned from crude oil exports. In response, the government accused Mr. Sanusi of squandering the funds of the bank he ran, awarding contracts without following requisite laws, and dispensing Nigeria’s funds as if they were his private treasury.

If Mr. Sanusi committed these crimes, I’d like to see him prosecuted, convicted and punished. I’d also like to see the administration account fully for the funds that Mr. Sanusi alleged to be missing. Here’s what the government doesn’t have a right to do: sending Mr. Omokri, its cyber warrior-in-chief, to concoct and disseminate horrific lies against Mr. Sanusi or any Nigerian. Unless Mr. Omokri can demonstrate that he did not mastermind the craven forgery, he ought to resign immediately. Or be fired.

It’s tragic that the Nigerian government, from the president to his aides, continues to fiddle while the country burns. It’s shameful that President Jonathan and Nigerian legislators prioritize a phantom war—going after gays—when the country is besieged by mindless, well-armed zealots who see unarmed Nigerians, including children, as fair game. How does the targeting of gays solve Nigeria’s infrastructural problems? Are gays the reason elections are massively rigged in Nigeria; public funds looted with depraved greed; our educational system a shambles; our healthcare system ghastly?

Nigeria fought a civil war that claimed anything from one to three million lives. It was a war to defend a British-made idea, to uphold the sanctity of a space wrought by British imperial fiat. The mantra was: To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done. To their credit, the British had an excellent reason for keeping Nigeria one. Nigeria was their largest holding in Africa (and their second largest anywhere, after India). It was a prodigious source of raw materials for British firms as well as a huge dumping ground for British-made goods. It made sound sense, from the British point of view, to keep Nigeria one.

As British rule ended, the Nigerian elite who inherited the spoils of the state adopted as an article of faith the idea that Nigeria must remain one entity. But they shied away from asking the hard questions. What’s so sacred about Nigeria? Why should we remain one? What ends are served by remaining one? What does Nigeria represent? And—if unity was not negotiable—then what must be the irreducible terms of our engagement?

I’ve argued before that a central part of Nigeria’s tragedy arises from the fact that the country fought a costly war, but has never permitted the lessons of that war to inform its conduct, to shape its ethos. It’s as if we went to war to defend the right of a few to continue to plunder, to continue to feed fat at the expense of the rest of us, to perpetually rig themselves into power, and to add their contemptible names to every roll of honor, even though they refrain from doing anything that is remotely honorable.

As Mr. Jonathan feted the so-called giants of Nigeria’s centenary, a different, oppositional narrative played itself out. The collective memory of the vast majority of Nigerians beheld Nigeria, not as a splendid monument, but as a sordid, wretched edifice. They saw what Mr. Jonathan and his ilk refuse to see: that the Nigerian state is a provocation, a moral affront, a failed, misery-dispensing state.

Soyinka captured part of the spirit of that deep split in the way Nigeria is regarded. He acted bravely by excusing himself from the insouciant official ritual that amounted to an insult to the outraged sensibilities of the majority of Nigerians. In a statement of renunciation titled “Canonization of Terror,” Mr. Soyinka called attention to the wasted lives of the students in Yobe. He drew our attention to “the entire ethical landscape into which this nation has been forced by insensate leadership.” He would not succumb to the summons to collective amnesia, the only condition under which an ogre like Sani Abacha would be invited to arise, ghost-like, to accept national veneration as a patriotic champion of Nigerian “unity and national development.” Stated Mr. Soyinka: “Under that ruler, torture and other forms of barbarism were enthroned as the norm of governance. To round up, nine Nigerian citizens, including the writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, were hanged after a trial that was stomach churning even by the most primitive standards of judicial trial, and in defiance of the intervention of world leadership.”

In the end, Soyinka spoke for me—and I suggest, for many other enlightened people—when he stated, “I reject my share of this national insult.”

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

 

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Dear Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala II By Sonala Olumhense.


Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

I thank you for acknowledging my article published last week.  I trouble you with this follow-up only because of the dangerous debris left behind by your Special Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.

First, on the “Abacha loot” recovery, let it be clear that my advocacy concerning Nigeria’s “recovered” funds is neither new, nor limited to your story.

In “Whatever Happened to the Abacha Loot?” (June 22, 2008), I wrote, “The national interest would be well served by a transparent picture of what has actually happened…The indications are that some of the funds recovered from the man and his family may have been re-stolen, or misused.”

In terms of numbers, my case is that Nigeria seems to have recovered between $2 and $3b from Abacha.  You say $500 million.

I know that the realistic number is mine because that is what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, reported in 2006.

In a statement in London in November of that year, Mr. Ribadu stated that “Abacha “took over $6 billion from Nigeria,” and that $2 billion had been recovered during his term of office.  He repeated that figure that same month during the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemala.  In Dakar at the 2nd Annual High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy in Africa, just three months ago, Mr. Ribadu repeated the claim that Nigeria recovered $2 billion.  Nobody has ever challenged him.

It is also significant, Madam, that one year before Ribadu went on record about the $2 billion recovery for the first time, you said the same thing.  The event was a press conference in September 2005 in Switzerland.  Up till that point, Nigeria had recovered “about $2 billion total of assets,” you said.

Nonetheless, the $2 billion recovered in the Abacha hunt that was referred to by Mr. Ribadu and your good self in 2005 and 2006 is without prejudice to the $700 million that former Finance Minister Michael Ani said in November 1998 had been recovered from Abacha.  Ani described $1.3bn in illegal withdrawals discovered to have been made by Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Adviser for Abacha.

To Gwarzo belongs one of the sadder chapters of the loot recovery story. At the end of 1998, Abdussalam Abubakar said the government had recovered $1 billion from the Abacha family and another $250 million from Gwarzo.  When Obasanjo became president, at least $500 million more was recovered from Gwarzo in 2000.

The foregoing might explain why you said in a speech after you left the Obasanjo government, “General Abacha looted about $3-5 billion from the Nigerian treasury in truckloads of cash in foreign currencies, in traveler’s checks and other means.”

My point is: much more than $500 million was recovered from Abacha, some of them before, and some of them in-between your tenures as Minister of Finance.

Perhaps you refer only to $500m because the specific subject of your September 2005 Switzerland press conference was $458 million, which you said Nigeria had recovered.

That $500m is supported somewhat by an account of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Bank, which said at the launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery in September 2007 that Nigeria had recovered a total of $505.5 million from the Swiss government.   On that occasion, at which you were present, it was also stated that up to $800m had been recovered from Abacha domestically.

Before all that, in November 2003, you personally announced that Nigeria had recovered $149 million from the Island of Jersey.  In case you may have forgotten, you clarified that the $149 million was not part of a $618 million trip you had just made to Switzerland at that time.

Nonetheless, in December 2006, La Declaration de Berne, a Swiss humanitarian body, alleged that Switzerland had repatriated $700 million to Nigeria, but alleged irregularities in Nigeria’s use of the money, claiming $200 million was unaccounted for.

That $700m figure seems to be in harmony with the statement made by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria at a press conference three months ago, during which he gave that figure as what his country returned to Nigeria.

Similarly, on 10 March 2008, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) announced at a joint press conference they had recovered “over N600 billion” in five years.

That sum seems somewhat conservative, but a lot more than $500 million of it came from Abacha.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • In May 2000, Luxembourg confirmed it had found and frozen $630 million in eight bank accounts in a private bank, in the names of the Abachas, awaiting Nigeria’s claim.
  • In August 2000, Nigeria asked Liechtenstein to help recover 100m British pounds.
  • In October 2001, a British High Court asked the government ahead to help Nigeria trace over $1bn in Abacha loot.
  • In May 2002, President Obasanjo struck a deal with the Abachas under which the government was to recover about $1.2 billion.
  • In February 2010, the British Government announced in Abuja it would repatriate 43 million pounds recovered from the offshore accounts of various Nigerian officials.

Some of these happened when you were not in the government, I know, but we are not talking about your personal life.  The point is that as a people, we cannot move forward unless there is true and full transparency.  Where is all the money?  Can you tell us?

Your over-reaching spokesman illustrates my point.  “On the NNPC oil accounts issue…Dr Okonjo-Iweala has called for an independent forensic audit to establish the facts of any unaccounted for money and ensure that all every Naira that is owed the treasury is returned to the Federation Account…the fundamental problem of determining the facts as a basis for action must still be tackled. Is there room for more action on corruption? Of course the answer can only be yes. But action is needed to achieve change. Talk is cheap, action is crucial.”

Exactly, Madame Minister, let us have a forensic independent audit.  But may I propose three productive caveats to your government?  The audit must be international; cover the NNPC and the recovered funds; and date from 1999.   This is the only scenario that can guarantee that the full story will be told.

Let me illustrate the depth of our depravity with a graphic example made by Ribadu in 2009 to the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.  “Mr. D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha, governor of oil rich Bayelsa State. He had four properties in London valued at about £10 million, plus another property in Cape Town valued at $1.2 million. £1 million cash was found in his bedroom at his apartment in London. £2 million was restrained at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London and over $240 million in Nigeria. This is in addition to bank accounts traced to Cyprus, Denmark, USA and the Bahamas.”

This is the kleptocracy in which Nigerian leaders have stolen over $380bn since independence, as the same Ribadu told the BBC in 2006.  Yet, that Alamieyeseigha, like others, has been pardoned by your government.  This is why we will never get real answers by putting your “independent” audit in the hands of a pre-programmed Abuja panel.

Finally, you bristle at my reference to the issue of the recurrent budget.  You say I have no moral authority to comment on the matter.

So let us talk about moral authority.

Following your negotiations of Nigeria’s foreign with the Paris Club in 2006, Audu Ogbeh, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, publicly said that one “top member” of your government had walked away with a personal fee of N60 billion.  I had expected that President Obasanjo or you would be outraged, and challenge the allegation, but nobody ever has.  I would have defended my father’s name.

I repeat my support of your campaign finance proposal, in principle.  But a cafeteria approach to reform never works, and your forensic audit is bound to be eaten alive in the all-purpose impunity and kleptocracy that currently masquerades as governance.  The answer is banging on the front door.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Jonathan’s 2015 Onslaught By Charles Ofoji.


By Charles Ofoji

Only the naive would still be waiting for President Goodluck Jonathan to formally declare his intention to seek reelection in 2105. The body language of the president and his calculated speeches, inactions and actions leave no one in doubt that he will not only ask the Nigerian people to renew his mandate, but in fact he has started campaigning for reelection. The firing of his Chief of Staff and four ministers last week are unmistakable canons, kick starting a reelection bid.

At last, Jonathan, albeit reluctantly, sacked his controversial political ally, Stella Oduah. Undoubtedly, if not the fact that 2015 is dangerously too close, he would never have fired the woman, who not only played a pivotal role in his emerging as president in 2011, but also, despite her malfeasance, arguably did a good job in the aviation industry as minister. Jonathan was awfully disinclined to sacking Oduah for the two reasons I have mentioned. Her discharge is a loss to Jonathan personally and the Nigeria people. The Aviation Industry will miss the vision this ambitious woman had for it. She wanted to reform the rotten industry and she did well in this direction. I guess her greatest undoing was that she failed to realize that no matter how well you mean or how well you might be doing your job, public service has rules which are sacrosanct.

Oduah got carried away. In that way, she unwisely played into the hands of her enemies, who are predominantly the cabal holding aviation industry hostage – those who want business to remain as usual. At the end, she paid the price for not playing by the rules and her enemies rejoiced. Her greatest mistake was that you cannot be a reformer and live below board. Reforms hurt special interests. The owners of such interests would naturally fight back to retain the status-quo which guarantees their profit.

I was one of those who personally admired Oduah. I had wished she did well, being a woman. It would have gone a long way in bridging gender inequality in Nigeria. I also, on a personal note, wished her well, being a friend of her brother during my times in Cologne, Germany. Nevertheless, her misbehaviour was not tolerable, neither was it pardonable. You don’t bend the rules because people you like broke them.

Jonathan had tried to bend the rules for Oduah until he found out that the heat was unbearable. She had only become an agonizing political liability. This is why I refrain from congratulating this president for sacking those enmeshed in corruption, who dined with him. There is no sincerity in their sacking. They were not sacked because Jonathan was interested in ethics or in the fight against corruption. It was only onslaught towards 2015 – a selfish move aimed at winning back the trust of the Nigerian people.

It is useless to inquire if Jonathan would be successful in getting Nigerians to trust him again. Even if Nigerians would not trust him again, who would they? The so-called Alliance for Progressive Change (APC) has not presented Nigerians with a viable alternative. It takes only an extraordinary candidate to defeat an incumbent anywhere in the world, more so in Africa, where it rarely happens. The names I hear of in the APC do not come near to even being average candidates. In fact, they are worse than Jonathan.

Based on the covenant between Nigerians and Jonathan and his performance as president, he should not bother asking for another mandate. He failed to deliver on his promise – a breath of fresh air. The air got worse under his watch. For those who love Nigeria, it saddens to know that he would remain president beyond 2015. There is simply no credible challenger.

This cast a big question mark on Nigeria’s recruitment and reward system. The mere fact that all those within a touching distance of challenging Jonathan are people of questionable character simply goes to underline that something is terribly wrong with the country. No thanks to a dubious recruitment and reward system bequeathed on the Nation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, those who are competent and those who genuinely love Nigeria and have something to contribute to her forward-march never get a chance to serve their fatherland. As a result of godfatherism, mostly unqualified people and charlatans ambled their way up Nigeria’s political ladder.

Recently, I listened once more to the brilliant speech of former Prime Minister, late Tafawa Balewa before the United Nations. Again I cried for Nigeria. You could only ask yourself, where did people like Balewa, Azikiwe and Awolowo go? Nigeria did not stop producing such people. The truth of the matter is that there is an abundance of people like them. The only thing is that the sycophants the military handed over power to, so that they could protect their interests, hijacked the country. And they would do all, including assassinating, to make sure that people like Balewa are prevented from coming close to power.

Jonathan is the biggest beneficiary of a system that encourages mediocrity. He should never have been president in the first place. He was propped up by a dubious system. Unfortunately, as he said recently, he is still better than those calling him names.

*checkpointcharley@yahoo.de

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Aliyu Gusau: The Real Evil Genius Returns By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo.


 

Columnist:

By Rudolph Okonkwo

Sometime in the late 1980s, Okey Ndibe wrote a cover story for the African Guardian magazine where he labeled the then military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Maradona- after the Argentinian football player. Ndibe did so for the way Babangida dribbled the political class with his transition to nowhere.

The tag soon entered the psyche of the military president. In early 1990s, Babangida had become so cocky that he declared in a newspaper interview that he was an evil genius. The Nigerian political elite and the hordes of commentators bought into it. But as President Goodluck Jonathan would say, “that’s not korrect.”

The real evil genius of Nigeria is Gen. Aliyu Gusau, retired or not.
I came to that realization after a piece on Gusau by Dr. Perry Brimah compelled me go back and re-read the Wikileak cables where Gen. Gusau, as the National Security Adviser under President Olusegun Obasanjo, was blabbing in front of American Ambassador to Nigeria. Gusau’s encounter with the ambassador says a lot about the man and his regard for Nigeria, a country that for the last 30 years he has played a major role in what it is today. His mastery is in using the intelligence he is in possession of to get what he wants from people in power. His only failure is in his inability to translate it into his ultimate goal- being the Oga Kpatakpata at the Top.

For the record, the primary reason for Gusau’s return is President Jonathan’s last ditch effort to placate Babangida and Obasanjo, all friends and allies of Gusau. With Gusau in place, he hopes to also assure the North that their interest will be taken care of while he runs out the clock for another 4 years when power will definitely return to the north. As is always the case, the interest of Gusau is being interchanged with the interest of the North.
As Gusau prepares to return to power as a possible minister of defense, I looked back at something that I wrote about him and others like him over 14 years ago. The piece is called, “Aliyu Gusau and other Untouchables.” It’s telling that in Nigeria, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Enjoy.

Behind every throne, the philosopher says, there is something bigger than the King. The Nigerian presidency is a throne presently occupied by Olusegun Obasanjo. But behind that throne are people who are bigger than the King. None of them has been on the spotlight lately as Lt.-General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. He belongs to the exclusive club of the Nigerian untouchables. Currently, he is under attack by a section of the Nigerian media and he is fighting back with great fury. And when an untouchable fights back, it is not a pretty sight.

Mohammed Gusau is Nigeria’s National Security Adviser. He was the Chief of Army Staff during Shonekan’s Interim National Government of 1993. Just like many people around Obasanjo, he has been on Nigeria’s political scene for a while. He was a royal friend of Babangida who was retired by Abacha. He is credited to be the man who “sold” Obasanjo to the north. Before Gen. Babangida paid the famous courtesy call to Otah farm, General Gusau was the forerunner.

As the National Security Adviser, General Gusau is one of the most powerful people in Nigeria. He knows what ordinary Nigerians do not know. He is in control of both the military and civilian intelligence network, so he can make things happen. And he does with impunity. He knows who is writing fake checks and who is wearing dirty underwear. He knows who is sleeping with another man’s wife and who is stealing Nigeria’s money. He knows a lot. Obviously, more than the King, Obasanjo, knows. That is why he is something behind the throne that is bigger than the King.

One of his special assignments in this current administration is the recovery of public funds stolen from Nigeria’s treasury by past governments. Whether that assignment includes looking at the activities of his friend Babangida from 1983 – 1993, we may never know. By all indication, Gusau is on the heels of the Abachas. Like everything Nigeria, Gusau’s problems seem to be coming from all the complications that follow anyone who ever dined with the devil. And in his case, he dined with a short spoon.

As Nigeria’s security agencies uncover loots and fingerprints, the Nigerian press uncovers footprints. Sometimes, the footprints of the untouchable are seen in areas where the devil stepped on. Which is not totally unexpected considering the fact that the untouchables have the habit of hanging around the devils. In defense of the Nigerian press, the press like the police does little profiling. It also believes that birds of the same feather flock together. The press thinks there is no smoke without fire. That is the premise from which the press begins to work until stories are confirmed and published or unconfirmed and discarded. So it is not difficult to understand why a sector of the Nigerian press will begin by labeling Gusau as the ring leader of the cabal trying to impose Obasanjo on Nigeria and ended up calling him the principal actor trying to destabilize Obasanjo’s administration.

Nigerians are beginning to discover that the man Babangida embraced is more dangerous than the man Abacha did. I would first have as heroes men Babangida rejected before I would accept those Abacha rejected. Abacha was crude, evil and insane. He surrounded himself with sycophantic fools who displayed their pathetic ignorance. The same could not be said of Babangida. He was tactical, evil and cancerous. He surrounded himself with intelligent idiots who displayed their criminal foolishness. In the long run, it would be proved that friends of Babangida did more damage to Nigeria than friends of Abacha. Abacha’s men took away our cash but Babangida’s men took away our cash and something more expensive- our soul.

So the tragedy of General Gusau goes back to the tragedy of his master, Babangida. Like most men around Obasanjo, he came in with heavy luggage and it is beginning to wear him down. Surrounding himself with a legion of untouchables was Obasanjo’s first mistake. Those Warren Christophers of Nigeria, those Henry Kissingers of Nigeria who ought to have retired into private life are busy parading themselves along Nigeria’s corridors of power with all their luggage as the untouchables. The Asiodus, the Ciromas, the Ogbemudias. Men, whose names I learnt in Social Studies classes in primary school are the same names that my children would be learning. And it wasn’t that they did such a wonderful job in the past to warrant a return journey. When Babangida brought in Philip Asiodu to serve in his Interim Government, the press asked Asiodu how he felt about the enormous task facing him. Asiodu told the press it was just a routine assignment.

To the untouchables, the Nigeria project is just a routine assignment. They have been there, and they have done that. On pieces of papers where Nigeria’s money were signed away, their signatures abound. They know the system very well. They have traveled the road many times. They are well connected. They were there when it all began. There is nothing really that anybody can do to them. They can blackmail. They can open a can of worm nobody wants to open. They can pull the right strings and people will start falling down. Yes, they can. They have all the apparatus of state power in their hand. Each day the untouchables spend around the corridors of power, they are busy covering their footprints.

Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of ThisDay newspaper now knows what it means to look for and discover the footprint of an untouchable along the unholy path of Nigeria’s public life. The paper has the audacity to pursue stories about possible links between Aliyu Mohammed Gusau’s Paris account and the loots recovered from the Sani Abacha family. They were looking at possible kick-backs in the 12 billion naira paid to Julius Berger before Obasanjo visited Germany and if it is responsible for the current in-fighting between government officials. The paper was also looking at Vice-president Atiku’s claim that retired Generals were behind Sharia crises.

How dare you ask questions about the untouchables? For that reason, Obaigbena has to explain to the State Security Service (SSS) the circumstances behind an unsettled bill of $23, 407.39 owed to Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, in Washington DC during IMF/World Bank meeting with Nigerian officials in DC. Mr. Obaigbena has since stepped aside as the publisher and Editor-in-Chief of ThisDay while he fights to clear his name. He would be fighting amongst others, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) who he claimed owe his company, Leaders and Company Limited $150,000 for co-ordinating dinner/briefing of the 1999 World bank/IMF annual meeting held at Marriott Wardman Park House.

If there is a non-criminal way of qualifying Abacha’s name with the word credit, it is in relation to the untouchables. Abacha, in his brutal nature, showed no respect for the untouchables. He dethroned Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki. He put Obasanjo in jail- something Babangida only dreamt of. He also put Yaradua in jail. A move that even shocked Yaradua himself. And he succeeded in replacing the old untouchables with his cronies whom he devoured, as he seemed fit.

The first goal of any Nigerian that hopes to contribute to Nigeria’s development is to get ready for a battle with the untouchables. These symbols of Nigerian entrenched power must be demystified if the new breed will have any chance. Until we sweep them all out of power, into retirement, there would not be any change in attitude. The greatest danger the untouchables pose to the Nigerian nation is that they are contaminating another generation of Nigerians who are struggling to find their way into positions of responsibility. That is the deepest cuts of them all.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Besieged by the Police By Okey Ndibe.


 

Okey Ndibe
Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

President Goodluck Jonathan is notorious for moving at slower than the speed of a snail when called upon to address issues that rather demand alacrity. Yet, Nigerians are besieged by a terrible plague that Mr. Jonathan can—and should—address immediately. It’s the plague of the “privatized,” lawless police.

Last week, a friend telephoned me from Lagos. Alarmed by his dispirited tone, I feared that something grave had happened. He acknowledged that he was downcast. “It’s about the way that the police are now used,” he explained. “Anybody with some money or political contact can buy himself a few police officers. They then use these officers to harass people everywhere, including in traffic.”

He described how commuters in Lagos trapped in the city’s hellish gridlock are constantly beset by the blare of police sirens. “These sirens go off so frequently, and you are expected to make way for the police-led convoy. Mobile police men hang out of the doors of the blaring vehicles, brandishing guns and koboko (horsewhips). If you don’t get out of their way fast enough, they can smash your car’s windshield or beat you up. Here’s the most annoying thing: more than 90 percent of the time, they’re not escorting any government official. They’re clearing the traffic for some private individual with money or connections.”

I was quite familiar with that nightmare scene. During my last visit to Nigeria, I spent time in Lagos, Calabar, Awka, and Enugu—and I saw that ugly scene play out numerous times in each city. I came away with the impression that police officers, whose orientation ought to be the combating of crime, had been deployed to serve as mai-guard (private security guards) for the country’s well-heeled—including those who had accumulated their huge nests in illicit ways.

Indeed, one saw two classes of police officers in Nigeria. One class—those on private deployment whose job is to harass the rest of us on behalf of their wealthy “owners”—struck me as clean and well dressed, their boots shiny, a sheen to their skins. The other class—who stood in the sun worrying motorists for bribes of N20 or more per car—appeared scruffy, their uniforms dirty or torn, their boots dusty or spattered with mud when they did not wear flip flops.

This misapplication of police power compounds the atmosphere of lawlessness in a country where might frequently usurps the place of what’s right. Each police officer in Nigeria is paid from the collective resources of all Nigerians. It is bad enough that the Nigerian police are scandal-prone, that they hardly know the first thing about solving serious crimes, that their training equips them to view Nigerians, not with any sense of civil regard, but as legitimate sport for all manner of violent impulses. To now “privatize” police officers, especially the dreaded ones called mopol (for mobile police), to lend these police officers to do the bidding of private citizens who happen to have mortgaged their senses for a haul of cash—to do this is to worsen Nigeria’s state of anarchy.

Mr. Jonathan ought to order the police to immediately stop the practice of deploying police officers on private duties. There’s a precedent for such a directive. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was no great custodian of law and order, saw fit to instruct the police to pull officers who were seconded to non-government officials. President Jonathan should tread the same path.

Like the country’s National Electric Power Authority (NEPA)—re-baptized the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)—the Nigerian police have an awful image. Billed as an electric power company, NEPA spent years earning a reputation for plunging Nigerians into darkness. Years before the government officially changed NEPA’s name, Nigerians had creatively refashioned the acronym, making linguistic games out of it. When in a generous mood, they rendered it as “Never Expect Power Always.” In moments of forlorn exasperation, they called NEPA “Never Expect Power At all.”

Nigerians’ most benign epithet for the police remains “Wetin you carry?” It grew out of the lazy question that police officers pose to hapless motorists they stop at ubiquitous police road blocks all over the country. These road blocks are ostensible crime-fighting devices, but any Nigerian kindergartner knows that they are, in reality, bribe-collection points.

In fact, Nigerians know that their police are allergic to fighting crime. Quite often, the police seem enamored of criminals. There are accounts of criminals who menaced their innocent victims with guns supplied by the police. Many Nigerians would say that, frequently, they can’t tell the police apart from criminals: both are so deeply, so inextricably embedded.

Nigerians know or tell some version of a joke that’s the product of despairing experiences. The kernel of the joke goes like this. A horde of armed robbers descends on a neighborhood, shooting sporadically into the air whilst going from apartment to apartment to haul away cash and valuables. A distressed victim makes a frantic telephone call to a nearby police station, breathlessly describes the harrowing event, and asks that police officers be sent to combat the robbers.

“Is that right?” says the police officer at the other end, his tone calm and manner unhurried. The officer sucks his teeth, as if he’d just worked through a heavy meal of spicy goat meat escorted by two large bottles of Guinness. “We fit come now now, only say vehicle no dey. If you can fit to bring car, we go follow you there quick quick!”

In some countries, the point is made that the police are the citizens’ best friends. Suggest that to Nigerians, and you’d provoke guffaws. The Nigerian police are nobody’s friends. Some Nigerians would say their police are friends only of criminals. The Nigerian police offer little or no help to law abiding citizens. Some Nigerians would contend that ruthless criminals receive plenty of help from the police.

There’s—to cite one example—the case of Lotachukwu (Lota) Ezeudu, a 19-year-old accountancy student at the University of Nigeria who has never been seen since he was kidnapped on September 26, 2009. The main suspects in his abduction include Sam Chukwu, a divisional police officer (DPO), and Desmond Chinwuba, a sacked police officer who was standing trial in an earlier armed robbery. Both men have been on the run for several years. Some believe that Mr. Chukwu was the mastermind, that he ran a criminal ring whose nefarious menu included assassinations, armed robbery, and kidnapping. Among those in custody are Ernest Okeke, fired alongside Mr. Chinwuba, and Nnaemeka Chukwu, the DPO’s son.

Rogue officers like the fugitive Sam Chukwu further taint the already unflattering image of Nigeria’s police. They are one reason some took to calling the country’s law enforcement agency the Nigerian Police Farce.

Nigeria’s police are trapped in a crisis that demands long-term remedies, addressing in a fundamental way how police officers are trained, equipped and paid. For now, however, President Jonathan has a duty to spare Nigerians from some of the excesses of the police. He should order that no police officer should be seen working “private” shifts for Nigeria’s deep pockets.

 

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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