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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.

Why The South-West Did Not Vote For Me In 2011- Ribadu.


 

Nuhu Ribadu
By Sani Tukur

“…if I was doing Obasanjo’s bidding, how comes those opposed to him are the ones who asked me to come and run under their platform?”

Nuhu Ribadu worked in the Nigerian Police Force where he rose to become the Chief prosecutor and Head of Legal Unit of the Force. In 2003, he was appointed the pioneer head of the newly formed anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He was forced out of the agency in 2007 for failing to do the biddings of the then President Musa Yar’Adua.

In 2010, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, selected him as its presidential candidate for the 2011 election. He lost the election, but continued to be a member of the ACN which has now merged with three other political parties to form the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In this chat with Ashafa Barkiya, editor of the well-regarded Hausa newspaper, RARIYA, Mr. Ribadu speaks about his life, career, politics and why he accepted to serve as Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force. The interview was translated to English by PREMIUM TIMES’ Sani Tukur.

Excerpt:

You were not well known prior to your appointment as Chairman of the EFCC. How did you join the Police, and why?

Thanks to Allah, I joined the Police after I completed my first degree in 1984.  I also went to law school and qualified as a Barrister. We were some of the earliest to join the Police after qualifying as lawyers from the North.
Certainly, there were reasons why I decided to join the police, even though I was offered direct employment by the NNPC, UBA, PZ and Corporate Affairs Commission after I completed my youth service. Many people were surprised at my decision to join the police. They thought my lean frame disqualified me from being a police officer. Secondly, no one in my family had ever worked with the police. Thirdly, people thought the police was not for the well-educated.
In fact, even in terms of pay, I was relegating myself because what I would have earned from all the other organisations that offered me employment was twice what I got as police officer. But I felt it was important to work where I would get fulfillment from the job, achieve some aims like helping the people, and shape my own philosophy of life.
Honestly, I grew up passionate about protecting people’s rights, to help the weak and helpless. I want to see the truth upheld. I always want fairness to prevail all the time. So I felt I could only achieve those goals in the police more than any other place.

Were you always been like that or were you ‘radicalised’ at the University?

I am not sure it’s about ‘radicalism’. I think it has to do with wanting to see things done right and with the fear of God. I can say that I grew up seeing it practiced in my family home. Our father, Alhaji Ahmadu Ribadu, was well known in Yola, and people attest to the kind of life he lived. He was a politician and always stood by the truth.
Well, I can tell you that I shared the ‘radical’ philosophy at school, but what really is the radicalism? It is just about knowing your right and standing up for it as allowed by the laws. In the university I was a member of the Peoples Redemption Party. I was part of those who demonstrated against the impeachment of former Governor Balarabe Musa in Kaduna state. We were the ones who went to Kaduna House of Assembly to protest and they kept sending us away, with the police beating us. We were the boys of Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman. Don’t also forget that my family members were in the National Party of Nigeria then.

What was your first posting as a policeman, and what were the challenges you faced?

The first place I worked was Mushin Police Station in Lagos in 1986. From there, I was posted to Apapa Area Command and Police Station. From there, I worked at Ajegunle as Crimes Investigations Officer.

So what were the challenges you faced, since there were frequent robbery incidents then?

I also remember that was when the police faced the challenge of the renowned armed robber, Lawrence Anini.
Certainly there were lots of confrontations with armed robbers at Ajegunle, Apapa and Mushin. I personally used to carry my gun and engage the robbers in exchange of fire. It’s really a long story.

After all the confrontations; did you regret joining the police?

It happened once shortly after I joined the force and it happened at the first place I was posted to. When I reported for duty at Mushin Police station, the DPO asked me to lead an operation to a place we received a report about. I took three policemen with me and when we got there we saw someone who was killed by armed robbers and they took away his car.
As soon as we alighted from our car, the policemen that came with me began to search the dead man’s pocket and were removing money to stuff in their pocket. One of them removed his wristwatch and put it in his pocket.
So, I processed the corpse and we took it to Ikeja Hospital. I also found out where he was staying and how to contact his family. When we returned to the office, I noticed that these policemen did not submit all the stuff they took from the dead man, and I asked them why. They simply said I should ‘just forget there is no problem’. I was so angry because I saw them steal from a dead man.
That incident disturbed me a lot. I just left for home and refused to come the following day and the day after. There was a policeman called Musa Dan Gombe, he was also a Fulani man like me, who came looking for me at home. He sought to know why I did not go to work for two days and I told him that I honestly can’t do this work because it was contrary to my objectives. What I saw really demoralised me, and I just couldn’t do it.
But Musa told me that the force needed people like me because without people like me change will not come. His advice strengthened me and that was why I stayed and resolved to fight these types of ugly behaviour. I resolved and pledged to God since that moment to fight decay in the police force. I began the crusade since then and as God would have it I was getting successful such that I even arrested a sitting Inspector General of Police for graft.
Throughout my service in the police, I just concentrated on upholding what is right. A lot has happened that often made me contemplate leaving the force, but with God’s help I withstood the challenges and continued my work. Some of them I don’t even want to recall. But you also know that we have some very good people in the police, and I worked with a lot of them.

Where were you when Anini was arrested?

I was in Apapa. I was the one who first set up the road block at Tin Can Island. That was when the order came for senior officers to also man roadblocks.

In your position as police prosecutor, how did you feel when a judge released a hardened criminal on bail two days after his arraignment and the case died thereafter?

That is actually what spoils our work and bastardises the constitution and rule of law. It comes about because of corruption, which usually happens either during investigations or prosecution. But I don’t accept bribe and my lieutenants also dare not accept bribe. If you are prosecuting my case, even if you are mad you will not collect money. It so happens that apart from being a policeman, I am also a lawyer. So, I know how everything works. Both the policeman prosecuting the case I investigated and the judge cannot therefore accept money to bastardise the case. That is the reason why we had the highest number of prosecutions when we were at Alagbon.
Releasing criminals, especially armed robbers, is very dangerous especially to the policemen prosecuting the case. When we were working, there were several cases of policemen who were killed by the armed robbers they arrested earlier. So the judges demoralise police prosecutors by releasing hardened criminals.

You made history in the EFCC especially with the arrest of Tafa Balogun, your boss, James Ibori, as well as some governors and highly placed individuals. But did you ever face threats or attacks while you held sway as chairman of the agency, like your successor, Farida Waziri, said she faced?

A. Is this anything worth recalling? It would seem as if I don’t know the job if I go back to recounting all these stories. Whoever does what is right and fight the bad eggs in the society knows that he would face a lot of challenges. There was no kind of plot that was not hatched against me while I was in both the EFCC and the Police, but I feel it would be demeaning for me to start talking about them now.

The Federal Government appeared to have confidence in you and appointed you to head the Committee on Petroleum Revenue. Your committee completed its task and submitted a report to government, however, nothing appears to be have been done about it. How do you feel?

I am unhappy about it especially because I worked tirelessly with the fear of God, for the good of your country. I suffered for eight months doing that work without receiving a kobo. And I left my job in Afghanistan where I was heavily paid. They asked me to come back for the job and I told them I would not receive a dime. I said I would do it as service to my fatherland.

Were you offered compensation and you refused?

I refused the money I was offered. I told them I did not need money to do that kind of service for my fatherland. When I accepted to do the work, some people were saying why should I accept to work for a PDP government since I was in the opposition. I said then that I was working for the Nigerian people, not the PDP government. If I could work for Afghanistan to shape up things, I see nothing wrong in my coming back to work for my country.
I accepted to do it because I knew I could bring out facts that someone else may not be able to. In our report of eight months, we brought out the damages being done in the Oil and Gas industry, the kind of money being stolen and ways to block the theft and strengthen the sector.
We submitted our report, but there was an attempt to sabotage us even while we worked because surprisingly, some members of my committee were appointed into the board of the NNPC, a parastatal we were investigating. They tried to sabotage the work we did.
But thank God, all Nigerians have seen what we did. God exposed them, and the president received the report and promised to work on it. But over a year later, he has not uttered a word to me, not to talk about implementing the report.

You have been facing the challenge of refusing to accept bribe or gratification since you started your working life. Seeing how people get rich while in government; people ask what is wrong with Ribadu, doesn’t he like money? Do you abhor or fear money?

I thank God for the way I live my life. I was properly brought up in a way that shaped my life. I am naturally not materialistic. For instance, I have never worn a wristwatch.
Even those small….
Any type at all. That is how I am. I leave a simple life. Go into my house and see how I live.

May be you find it heavy…?

No. I even noticed that it is used for fashion these days

Or you put it inside your pocket?

What will I do with a watch inside my pocket? There is a clock inside the car, office, at home, cell phone, why should I worry myself tying it around. In fact I just hate all these bling bling lifestyle.
I have one wife, my kids are here, six of them, I am satisfied with whatever God has given me. I can take care of my needs you know?
It’s not as if I don’t like money, but I am just afraid of taking what is not mine, forbidden ones. If you cling to this life style, God will give you your own. I love seeing rich men, so it’s not as if I hate the rich. I like to see people make progress. But as for me, I never consider making so much money a priority in life.

The Federal Government recently entered into a pact with the British Government to exchange prisoners, and already some people are speculating that the pact was simply aimed at returning James Ibori back to the country. What do you have to say about it, since you were the first to arrest him?

Well, I really don’t know what to say. It is really confusing since they said it was prisoner exchange. The question is how many Britons do we have in our jails here? None! But we have so many out there; so with whom are we going to exchange?  I understand that Britain will even give us money to build prisons. In fact, I am not going to say anything on this matter yet. In my opinion it is a wrong arrangement since no prisoner will be transferred back to England.
Ibori offered you a bribe of $15million, which is over N2.5 Billion, which you received and handed over to the CBN. Why didn’t you have a second thought and pocket the money since no one knew you were offered that money?

But it is not my money, it was ill-gotten and I do not see myself benefitting from ill-gotten wealth. The God I serve forbids that. I can’t take stolen money.  In fact, apart from the $15 million dollars, I was offered much higher amount as bribe while I was in the Police, but I refused to accept. I have jailed many lawyers who collected large sums of money from their clients to bring to me. It is not as if I don’t need those monies, but, but I cannot be the one to benefit from stolen funds, when I was given the mandate of fighting such crimes, God forbid.
Let me tell you something, life is very easy.  God has been faithful to me, because without searching, job opportunities kept coming from many countries that help me to keep body and soul together. I also have many rich friends. Even when I decided to join politics, these friends from all over Nigeria gave me maximum support by contributing enough funds to help me run my campaign.
This house was my official quarters and the government decided to sell most of its houses at subsidised rates. They said occupants could pay for the house in installments. Should I have said I don’t need it? Isn’t that a way of acquiring wealth legally without recourse to dubious means?
Apart from this house, the only other one I have is my home in Yola.

Because of your anti-corruption stance and your sojourn in the EFCC, it is believed you know many corrupt people; so, many people thought that your political aspiration in 2011 will improve our politics. Things did not go as planned; what do you have to say about your experience in politics and the 2011 defeat?

Firstly, it is wrong to assume that I know more thieves than anyone in this country. I just worked to fight bribery and corruption. May be it was because of what we did, which people saw, that was why they keep making such assertions. It may also be because I was the first person to head the EFCC and our efforts were simply aimed at making things right in all aspects of our country’s development.
It was because of our efforts that the international community agreed to start having financial dealings with Nigerians via the internet. They used to fear transacting with us through that channel. We have also helped in getting respite and respect for the country in many aspects, especially as it relates to reducing to the barest the scourge of 419 and money laundering.
We also almost stopped oil theft in the Niger Delta and it only resumed with higher intensity after we left office. All these were aimed at returning our country to the right pedestal and economic prosperity.
As for politics, I never imagined myself being a politician, it was simply meant to happen.
I actually belong to a political family. When I was about to come back to Nigeria, I was persuaded by not just the ACN, but many others, including the government. But I was more convinced with the party I eventually joined, because I had a dream of uniting all opposition parties under one roof. I am a Northerner, yet the strongest party in the South decided to trust me. Like you rightly pointed out, in less than ten months after I joined politics, I ran for the presidential election. It has never happened before. Here I am, not rich and just returning from exile, yet people said they trust me to be their
presidential candidate. All these happened within a short time; but I saw a lot.
Although I withdrew for General Muhammadu Buhari on the eve of the election, when all of us were called to a meeting with General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau, Buhari himself and Atiku Abubakar, as well as Tinubu and Akande. The meeting was aimed at finding a consensus, and I promptly told them I will withdraw for Buhari. It was actually from that moment that a form of alliance and understanding was reached among opposition parties. After the talks, I did run under ACN, but merger talks had already kick started.

But what many in the North said at the time was that the ACN drafted you to run, but refused to vote for you; what do you say to that? You have said so before, that you are still in this merged party, don’t you think what happened before can be repeated?

As far as I know, they did not abandon me. What happened was that before Election Day, I had told them that I withdrew from the race and they agreed. There were witnesses also, such as General Babangida, Aliyu Gusau, Buhari, Atiku, Sule Yahaya Hamma, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, and the rest.
But there was misunderstanding between the CPC and ACN, even though I had withdrawn. The two parties failed to agree. That incident discouraged a lot of people especially in the South West because as far they were concerned, they had no candidate. Since they had no candidate, they did not even appoint agents to polling units, and so did not spend a kobo at the time. So people were allowed to freely elect who they wanted. You cannot blame them since they failed to reach an agreement with CPC.

But many were already of the view that you came to divide Northern votes?

It’s not true. I pray to God not to let me live that kind of life. I will never do anything that will shortchange the people of this country, because whatever I do, I put the fear of God first. And as God would have it, what I had set out to achieve is what eventually happened because the opposition parties have now come together.

It can be argued that the APC stands a good chance of forming the next government, but there appears to be internal crisis in the party, especially between PDP governors who joined the party, and ex-governors who were original members. Recently also, we understand that Governor Fashola of Lagos said he is supporting Adams Oshiomhole of Edo to run for president. What is your view about these hiccups?

As for me, I know that we all have to be patient with each other. You should expect these sorts of things in a mega party such as ours. But with God on our side, all will be sorted in due course, all those who are in the party, and those willing to join, should know that PDP is our problem in this country. So we must all keep our prejudices aside.
I ran for the office of the president, right? But, did you ever hear me say anything in Adamawa? Did you hear me fight anyone? So why should anyone do it? We should all be patient; if God said something is yours, no one has the power to deny you. If we know that we are doing this for the good of the land and our people, we should know that selfishness cannot take us to the Promised Land.
If we are all patient with each other, everyone will know their position in due course. I think people tend to misunderstand the situation, I just urge us all to be patient and build the party first.
If everyone insists on getting his way, we cannot go anywhere; it means PDP will continue to hold sway and misgovern the country. As for Adams Oshiomhole, I guess everyone has the right to run for anyone office, right?

In a situation where everyone who wants to run comes out, but a consensus was reached because politicians look at certain things, and for instance say General Buhari is getting old and has run three times, and it is observed that Buhari has a successor in one of the states, and they consider that he had been a loyal member of the ACN in spite of everything and they choose you; will you accept?

This question is too strong for me to and I don’t know how to answer it. My prayer is that God should decide what is right for us, and I am sure he will decide on the best for us. When we get to the bridge, we shall cross it Insha Allah.

What is your ambition in 2015?

Today I am a member of the APC, I have the hope that we will build a party that will salvage our people and I am just focussed on ensuring that we build it to achieve that purpose, especially in Adamawa state, North East, the North in general and Nigeria as a whole. I pray that we produce the right leaders that will take this country to the next level.
I am a contented person and I am grateful to God for what I have achieved in life. All I can tell you is that I will work assiduously as I used to anywhere I find myself.

Those of you who worked in PDP government and find yourself in opposition afterwards really know that the party is in shambles. What can you tell Nigerians you are trying to do?

Firstly, I have never been a member of the PDP. After I left the EFCC, I decided to join the opposition. I do not agree with what the PDP has done in Nigeria. I saw the way the PDP operates and they even nearly sacked me while I worked in the EFCC. I did not leave the job on my own volition.
It means your achievements in the EFCC were not appreciated?
The truth is I feel the PDP has not kept its promise to the Nigerian people. The country has witnessed underdevelopment since the PDP assumed the mantle of leadership. The country made more than expected in terms of revenue, which if handled well would have ensured that we have stable power supply, good roads and the rest.
We should have no business going outside the country for medical attention; our schools are depreciating. We should be living in peace, with an effective police force and a strong army. There should be harmony among us beyond what prevails now, but the PDP has failed to achieve all these. The country’s wealth is in the hands of a few people, we have rich people all over, but the country is struggling. So in essence, I do not like the way they are handling things, that is why when I decided to join politics, I refused to join them.  I have never joined it; never supported it and never liked it for once.
I joined politics with the philosophy that this country requires change because those given the mandate in the past have abused it.

Some are also of the view that you only went after the opponents of President Obasanjo when you were at the EFCC, what do you have to say?

That is also not true, because I have never done anything just to make the president or the PDP government happy. If you check well, most of the people we arrested were PDP members, and were mostly close to the president.
A minister cannot be arrested and you will say it was because he was fighting with the president because he was his minister working under him. Police IG was also his own. These are just mere accusations since they lacked any basis. It was not the case at all. And no one can say we lied against him because it was very open for all to see.
Up till today, no court has quashed any of the cases we prosecuted while I was at the EFCC. No one has ever taken me to court for wrongfully accusing him and the court agreed. We were successful in all appeal cases against us. There was no single case in which I was found wanting. Besides, we recovered billions of people’s money and the country was on the way to getting things right, things were changing for the better.

I am sure you now interact with some of the people you arrested in the past. Do you exchange pleasantries, or do you just shun them?

There is no disharmony between us. Some of them have said to me that they know I just did my job with the fear of God. I am surprised when I get these comments. I am in perfect relationship with most of the people I arrested because they know it was not personal.
I am still waiting for someone to come out and say I did something to him because of politics, or abuse of power; I have been saying this for quite a while now, and I am repeating it, if there is anyone who felt I wrongfully arrested him, he should narrate his own side of the story.
Incidentally, those who thought I was arresting people because of them are the ones now fighting me. Also those ones I arrested or their allies are the ones who supported me while I ran for office. And if I was doing Obasanjo’s bidding, how comes those opposed to him are the ones who asked me to come and run under their platform?
My advice is that everyone should just do everything according to their conscience and with the fear of God. If you do that, no matter how long, the truth will bail you out.

PREMIUM TIMES got the permission of the Hausa newspaper, Rariya, to translate and republish this interview in English.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

We’ll not support autonomy for ethnic nationalities at confab — ACF.


The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has said that the North would not  support autonomy for ethnic nationalities during the proposed National  Conference in the country.

ACF, however, expressed support for devolution of power from the centre  to the states in such a way that ”the centre is strong enough to keep  the country one, but, not too strong as to push the country towards a  unitary system.”

The National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Mr. Anthony Sani made this known in a statement in Kaduna, yesterday.
Sani was reacting to reports that the Yoruba would push for ”ethnic autonomy” during the conference.

The statement read: ”We have read the reports that the Yoruba will push  for some form of ethnic autonomy during the coming National Conference  that is reminiscent of con-federal arrangement.
“As we have repeatedly made clear, ACF did not canvass for the Conference.

”This is because of the forum’s belief that the problems of Nigeria lie  on the collapse of national ideals, fall in moral values, collapse in  social contract and fall in sense of what is right and what is wrong.
There is no problem in the structure of the country in the constitution  and in the form of government or in the type in ethnic nationalism that  promotes cleavages of the country.

”But since some sections of the country believe that coming together in  the conference is capable of furthering the cause of a united Nigeria  when issues of national importance or  real issues of real concern to  Nigerians are discussed; we have said, so be it.

”Surely, if such issues are raised in the conference, delegates from the  North will not lack what to say. It must be noted that there is no  system of true federalism that is accepted universally. And that is why  no two federal systems are clones of each other.

”This is because, a federal system has a lot to do with the  circumstances of its emergence. For examples, the 13 American Colonies  came together to form USA while in Nigeria, the national government  formed the federating units.

Source: Radio Biafra.

The National Conference; Opportunity Or Distraction? A Program Of Action By Jaye Gaskia.


By Jaye Gaskia

Since I wrote the piece of the National Conference and the January Uprising, and particularly since the press briefing of which I was a key part announcing the intention for a robust engagement with the National Conference process while welcoming it as an opportunity, a lot of views have been expressed both for and against the National Conference, and any form of engagement with it as a process.

While I do not intend to enter into any direct debate with any one single critic and or critique of engagement in this piece, I however intend to provide some more clarity on my position, and on the positioning of others with whom we made the declaration of engagement.

So I will here engage with the general trend of the body of critique, not with individual critics! The first issue for me is that of whether this particular National Conference process is a distraction or is an opportunity as some of believe and assert. This is the primary issue for me, because it goes to the heart of the debate. It is a strategic issue at least for those who wish to engage in a frank but also genuine debate, and not for those who think they have particular axes to grind with particular individuals.

The first thing to state very clearly is that it is both a distraction as well as an opportunity. How is this so? For the presidency for instance, it is an attempt to distract popular attention from a failing and failed presidency, as well as from the problems and rapidly declining fortunes of the once very dominant ruling party. But it also represents an opportunity to reclaim some popular support and good will, by seeming acceding to the long standing demands of the popular movements.

For ordinary Nigerians, the ordinary citizens, and their organisations, who since the January Uprising of 2012 have achieved an altered balance of class forces, not yet completely in their favour, but so much so that it can at least no longer be business as usual for some time to come; the National Conference becomes a distraction if we stand aloof from it, and allow that space to be occupied and dominated exclusively by the representatives of the factitious light fingered ruling class, whether they go by the appellation of ‘ConservaThieves’ or ‘ProgressThieves’.

It becomes an opportunity however if these organised popular forces intrude on this space, seize it, and impose their demands and their aspirations on the National Conference as a process.

Furthermore, let there be no doubt about it; the National Conference is not a gift from a benevolent ruling class or presidency, neither was it willingly given; it is a concession wrested from the hands of a ruling class that is now witnessing an internal crisis of existential proportions, a ruling class whose antagonistic competitive drive towards treasury looting and primitive accumulation of wealth is now precipitating an implosion.

And because this concession was wrested out on the eve of a general election is actually much more an indication of the weakness of the ruling class, than of its strength. It is a measure of its internal crisis.

The treasury looting ruling class is in the throes of self immolation, a crisis that is shifting the balance of power within the ruling class, while also generally temporarily accelerating the general weakness of the class rule.

It is because of all of these reasons and factors that the National Conference represents an opportunity, rather than a distraction.

Now let us also very quickly take on the issue of a Sovereign National Conference; or the Sovereignty of this particular National Conference. It is important to state clearly that this is not a sovereign national conference, which is what we have always demanded for. Nevertheless, we have always been very clear too that no regime that is still in power convenes a Conference or assembly whose authority is going to be sovereign, and which therefore constitutes a new centre of power, and alternative power to the regime. We have always insisted that a Sovereign National Conference can only be convened by a victorious uprising, and it is in this sense that we have always insisted that the demand for a Sovereign National Conference is an insurrectionary demand, a legitimate demand, which can only be actualised by mass movement which is at the head of an uprising that is poised to take power.

Nevertheless, let us also take a quick look at history, the history of national and or similar conferences. Every National Conference that has eventually declared itself sovereign were called by weakening and weakened regimes, who were making concessions to the mass movement. And as the crisis in society, within, and between the main classes deepened in the course of the conference deliberations, the balance of power between the social forces became altered enough for the conference to declare its sovereignty, and go ahead to assert its autonomy from the government of the day.

This was the case with the National Conferences in Benin Republic, as well as in DRC, formerly  Zaire – which by the way had to be dispersed by the force of arms.

Our contention is that the balance of power between contending social forces was significantly altered by the January Uprising; and that is why we have witnessed heightened levels of popular awareness and increased popular consciousness, and spikes in acts of protests and successful workers’ strikes since then.

This altered balance of power within and between contending social forces manifests in a weakened presidency and declining ruling party, the rise of an opposition that is still weak with respect to its internal structures and cohesion; the rise in confidence levels of ordinary citizens and workers in challenging the excesses of the system; and the general atmosphere of popular disaffection and dissent.

It is this altered balance of power that renders this National Conference an opportunity for a Robust, Sceptical, and Critical engagement with the process in order to influence its outcome while also ensuring that we build a mass movement that is sufficiently strong enough to run with the popular issues that will be raised at the conference, and that will be strong enough to dictate the agenda for the 2015 General Election.

So what is our program of action to engage with the National Conference: Raise the banner of all our historic popular demands on the floor of the conference; contest every anti-people issue with the ruling class; insist on a Social Charter that will be based on a comprehensive listing of the entire body of Human Rights; civil, political, economic, and socio-cultural, in the same chapter of the constitution; enforceability of every human right.

This is our minimum transitional demand to the conference; in addition to which we add the nonnegotiable requirement that the outcome of the conference can be validated only through a general referendum of eligible Nigerian citizens, who are registered to vote in any normal general election.

The fact that the regime has left the decision on how to deal with the outcome of conference to  the conference itself, is also a clear indication of the relative weakness of the regime, and a clear indication of the level of concessions that are being, and that can be, wrested from this regime and the ruling class.

Let there be no doubts about it, all fractions of the ruling class, including the APC will eventually take part in this National Conference, because they understand that no political space can be left uncontested. Part of our goal is to ensure that this time around when Nigeria is being discussed, unlike at all the previous times since the 1914 amalgamation, ordinary Nigerians will be part of these discussions, not just merely the objects of the discussions.

This is our program of action. We challenge those critical of our engagement to present their own alternative program of action.

Finally it is preposterous and indeed smirks of insincerity to promote and actively engage with the APC, the current Labour Party or APGA who are mere appendages of the presidency and the rump PDP; while insisting that a robust, critical, and skeptical engagement with the National Conference amounts to some sort of betrayal. The National Conference is a contested space, one that will be contested not just by political parties and politicians, but also by citizens’ organisations and their activist leaderships.

Follow me on Twitter: @jayegaskia & [DPSR]protesttopower; Interact with me on FaceBook: Jaye Gaskia & Take Back Nigeria.

 

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

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