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Posts tagged ‘Diezani Alison-Madueke’

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.

Lamentation To The Cows Of Bashan – By Izuchukwu Okeke.


By Izuchukwu Okeke

It is 9 am as I stepped finally into the long-stretched passage. It was empty; no teacher, no students; only me. I was late, quite unfortunately. The lectures start at 9 am, and it is expected everyone be in the class at least 8:55 am. And, surely, here, once it is 8:55 the lecturers all file out to the various classes. And once it is 9 am, the classes start. If you arrive a minute past 9, you are late, as I was this day.

The reality of this empty passage sent my mind back to the country I was coming from. I was not even comparing the punctuality of the academic cadre or the standard of education itself. I was thinking of the massive collapse of its essence, its availability and the poverty of its prospects.

The night before, I read it on the Internet that lecturers in the Polytechnics were still on strike. They had been before the University lecturers joined in the middle of last year and continued till early this year. University students sat through 6 months dining with the two worst devils of life: idleness and boredom. The Polytechnic lecturers took few months break and had resumed strike again. And, as it seems, politicians are busy carpeting and cross carpeting; somehow they are not interested in the rants of these distracting academic hordes. So when will the students in Polytechnic go back to class? It is not even known.

I live in Korea, and in this country education is everything. I think it is not necessary to blow anymore horn about the strength of this nation’s economy, standards of their infrastructure and quality of their living standards; all hinged on the power and value of their education system. But it is worth mentioning what I found to be the major discrepancy between these two nations. Here, psyche is the central and most respected national resource; human resources are the strength of the government, the economy and the society, which is why education is everything. Every effort is invested and legitimately dispensed at developing the individual to become a global brand, to earn the capacity to compete with his mates anywhere they are found in the globe.

This country situated on the peninsula betwixt China, North Korea and Japan squat on a total of 100,210 km sq area of land. But unfortunately 72 percent of this land is hills, plateaus and mountains. Meaning that their populations of a little over 50,000,000 people live within the remaining clusters, in relatively higher density, 501.1/km2, higher than most nations of the world. From the shackles of Japanese domination in 1950, this country has risen in leaps and bounds. Among its endearing statistics is the fact that within these decades that followed its independence South Korea economy has been transformed into a G-20 major economy and has the second highest standard of living in Asia, having an HDI of 0.909.

Yes, South Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy and the world’s 15th (nominal) or 12th (purchasing power parity) largest economy. But Korea has no Crude Oil, Tin, Iron Ore, Gold or Diamond Mines. This economy is export-driven. South Korean corporations like Samsung and LG (ranked first and third largest mobile phone companies in the world in the first quarter of 2012 respectively) dominate world markets, among the many beautiful, yet daunting stories of their transformation.

Behind this testimony of exemplary 50 decades of industrial development is an educational and social philosophy that underscores, perfectly well, that the true wealth of a nation is not its natural resources as much as it is its human resources. And each new day as I walk towards the class in Sunkyunkwan University, I am reminded of this philosophy. And also of wholly dedicated, hard-working, cheerful teachers who can go to any length to impart knowledge to the students. How many times I pity the extent of their personal sacrifice to advance the academic goals of their students. But they all work according to this country’s educational philosophy.

The classes are fully equipped with advanced learning infrastructure. The chalkboard a long time ago had given way to a board fully equipped with Power Point presentation facility, digitalized and connected to the Internet. Our test books are online and everything we have to do is online based and of the best standards compared to anywhere in the world.

Here, sadly, a 60 mark/grade after an exam is just a pass! Not even a credit. So any score less than 70, you have to go through a review to step you up and you have to write an exam to prove the review produced the expected result. And this and other factors have driven this nation from the brinks of poverty to industrial heights.

But, somehow, as I entered the class with these thoughts, I began, once again, to nurse that deep gorge of guilt that comes to me when I remember my country, Nigeria. That feeling also comes along with a certain gnawing pain of the advanced nature of ignorance spawned by our system on both the leaders and the lead that seems to suggest nothing will change soon. Since I was born the story has always been that the situation is bad for the common man. It had gone from worse, to worst, until there is no relative adverb to describe the situation now.

I did not cause Nigeria’s problem. I did not steal anybody’s money to be here. My father until his demise was a poor village farmer. My mother is still living off her labour in the farm. I am only a fortunate candidate of a scholarship programme. But this feeling when it comes doesn’t leave me soon. It keeps digging deep hole on my moral fibre. I keep wondering if there is a way I may have contributed to making Nigeria what it is. Leaving over 70 percent of her human population disillusioned and gasping for life, not knowing how and from which source the next meal will come. Seeking miracle in anything mentioned to possess divine power.

I was also keep wondering how Nigerian students abroad whose parents are part and parcel of this system that created the rot feel. How do they feel knowing their parents have left many of the nation’s youths disoriented and confused? How do they feel when their parents pay so much for them to study in this kind of environment, and knowing that this money, by every legitimate standards their parents cannot earn it? How do they feel when they remember that having messed up the system and exported them abroad to acquire the best education their parents left the system back home in total pell-mell. How do they feel to learn that their mates down in the villages are giving up legitimate endeavors and making career prospects in kidnapping and robbery? How do they really feel? Worse than I do? Or maybe they do not feel anything at all?

In the last one-month a drama has been playing out between the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi on the one hand and Ministries of Finance, Petroleum and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, on the other. As it were the whole nation focused on it, because of the whopping amount of money involved. And as that drama played out, the reality of the hopelessness of the Nigerian situation dawned so much on me. That drama defines us in the mean time. Nobody in Nigeria’s governance system has an alternative thinking—or may be just a tiny minority of wayward thinkers who do not even possess the gut and grit to make it to the positions of governance.

To many of them there now at the corridors of power, be it political or bureaucratic, all they want is money. Everyone is talking money, oil money; how it is stolen, how it is not stolen! No one else is thinking. To Nigeria and Nigerians this oil money is everything. You have it, you have everything, you don’t have it, and you don’t have anything. That charade at the House of Assembly also defines the 2015 and the slapsticks of cross-carpeting that have become a daily news menu. Because everybody, everybody politician, wants to place himself at the vantage position to have a bite of the piece of the cake come 2015. They have been eating, and they want to keep eating.

Google, two regular guys’ idea is about to worth more than our oil. The Facebook founder is just 24 years old. But where are Nigerian youths? Is anybody concerned at the mess we left him or her? Of the frustration we are building up among them? Just education! Give them education, a qualitative one, so that they can on their own change their world, compete with their fellows elsewhere. No! Nigerian politicians do not see the resource in the youth. They are only tools used and dumped during elections.

In this generation Nigerian leaders are wired in pursuit of oil blocks and loots because in our clime ideas do not sell and if ideas sell, regular guys will become threats to Nigerian politicians. May be that is the fear. Because I do not see the big deal in investing 30 percent of our resources in revamping the educational system, and establishing it on the best standards and employ it to eliminate this endemic poverty in our clime.

As I sit in the class this day carrying this feeling and thinking these thoughts, the pain gnaws even harder that nothing will change. What will I write more than have been written these years, and what will I say that that has not been said? Like Amos in the bible called their likes, they are cows of Bashan. But we will keep lamenting to their ears. Even when they refuse to change, heaven will bear witness that we told them, as our fathers did.

Izuchukwu Okeke Job
KGSP Scholar
Sungkyunkwan University
Suwon, South Korea

 

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

Why A Northern Christian Candidate For President Won’t Work By Sheik Ahmad Gumi.


By SaharaReporters, New York

Outspoken Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi has said that a Northern Christian candidate for President under the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) would not work in Nigeria’s 2015 elections. He made the comment while analyzing the political developments in Nigeria in an interview with SaharaTV on Saturday.

Northern Christians he said needed to rebuild confidence with other Northerners before they would be taken seriously.  Instead of a northern Christian candidate he suggested that a South West Muslim presidential candidate and an amiable Northern Muslim candidate as a combination that would rather guarantee a landslide.

“Because the Northern Christians, unfortunately for them, during the 2011 election … all went to Jonathan, they need to build the confidence back for the northerners to show that they believe in being northerners before they will be taken seriously,” he said to SaharaTV’s Rudolf Okonkwo.

The sheik also said he would not accept the offer to be president of Nigeria if asked by any party but would rather support someone acceptable to the majority of Nigerians to assume office.

“I cannot be a president of Nigeria,” he said. “Why? Because of the diversity of Nigeria. Let everybody maintain his diversity. I don’t want to impose myself on people who are ready to reject me. So we should find natural people who are acceptable to everybody so that we can have peace.”

He described President Jonathan’s firing of former Aviation Minister Stella Oduah as too little too late.

“Already the nation has characterized the regime as tolerant to corruption,” he said. “The image has not yet been corrected. It would have been a better image if the president had sacked that woman.”

On the controversy over the $20 billion the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is alleged to have failed to remit to the federal account, Sheik Gumi called for a combined team of auditors from Russia, China and Germany to come and audit the corporation’s account. Handing the audit over to a Western auditing firm he said would not work because the money in question is in western banks and there would be conflict of interest. He recommended that the Senate and the House of Representatives should select the auditors and not the Minister of Finance.

Sheik Gumi also observed that Muslims were the first victims of the fight against terror. He said that the way the president fights terror had the whole of the northern region subjugated to draconic laws; a situation which he reckons has brought resentment against President Jonathan. “The imagine of  Jonathan now in the North has gone bad,” he said.

Gumi rejected the president’s pronouncement last week that his government had left Nigeria better and stronger than he met it pointing at corruption and insecurity across the land as an example. “He (Jonathan) didn’t make Nigeria better,” he said. “He made it worse.”

He also commended Saharareporters for breaking stories around Stella Oduah’s corruption and sustaining the story, leading to her eventual dismissal. “If the press in Nigeria is as good as Saharareporters, Nigeria will be better” he said.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Senate Hearing: Sanusi Insists $20b Is Missing, Okonjo-Iweala Unable To Prove How $10.8b Was Spent.


Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
By Saharareporters, New York

Day Two of the investigative hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance into the alleged missing $20 billion oil money has concluded in Abuja, with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, insisting the money is missing according to a live blogging of the hearing by Premium Times of Nigeria.

Speaking to the committee, he said that despite the explanation tendered by Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, there is an outstanding $20 billion between what NNPC oil shipments and what it paid to government.

Mr. Sanusi insists the outstanding $6 billion given by NNPC to the NPDC should have gone to the federal government, but that it disappeared into private hands from there, and offered to bring in lawyers to defend that claim on the basis of three advisory opinions the CBN has already received.

Testifying earlier, Okonjo-Iweala aligned herself with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC, despite declaring her Ministry lacked the capacity to validate the claims contained in NNPC documents from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) showing how the initial outstanding $10.8 billion was spent.  She said an independent forensic team was needed to examine the documents.

Concerning the $6 billion which Mr. Sanusi said the NNPC diverted into private pockets, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala also said that finding out who owns the money would require an independent legal opinion.

But also testifying Andrew Yakubu, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, basically advised Nigerians to forget about ever seeing the N10.8 billion in question or wasting their time looking for it, declaring it has been “spent on subsidy, pipeline maintenance and other losses.”

“The impression Nigerians have is that $10.8 billion is seated in the four towers of the NNPC [offices],” he said, underlining that the money is gone.

SaharaReporters gathered that  representatives of the Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had agreed to present a united from today at the Senate claiming that the ministry was “satisfied” with the NNPC explanations regarding the missing funds.
However, they could not carry out the plan as CBN officials refused to sign the agreement; also the minister of State for Finance, Lawal Ngama reportedly refused accepting the reconciled figures. He was fired yesterday by President Goodluck Jonathan.

President Jonathan, the Finance minister, Okonjo-Iweala and the Petroleum Resources minister,  Alison-Madueke , who rushed back from London yesterday, have reportedly resolved to prolong the investigations by bringing in forensic expert pending the time the CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi could be completely sidelined.

 

Below is the Premium Times Live Blog from today’s hearing:

Nigeria: Missing $20 billion oil money Senate hearing – Day Two live blog By Ini Ekott

 

CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

Welcome to our live blog of Day Two of the investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Finance into the alleged missing N8 trillion [$20 billion] oil money.

12:04 -Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says NNPC has supplied documents from the PPPRA(Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency) showing how the initial outstanding $10.8 billion was spent.

The minister however said the finance ministry had no capacity to validate the claims. As such, she said they need an independent forensic team to examine the documents.

On the $20 billion- which includes a $6 billion which CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, said should have gone to the federation, but the NNPC, through the NPDC, pushed into private pockets- Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said that will require an independent legal opinion to know who owns the money.

12:11 – Finance committee chairman, Ahmed Makarfi, asked the finance minister: As the custodian of the federal government’s money, if you feel unsatisfied with what NNPC puts forward, and you said will require a forensic team, what stops you from commissioning a forensic team to verify the documents?

The minister said she hasn’t said anything has stopped her ministry from doing so. “This thing is a process,” she said.

The senate committee presses the ministry why there is need for a forensic validation now if the same PPPRA is vested with the responsibility of signing off subsidy payments.

Minister: “These are extraordinary times, otherwise we would not be sitting here. These are not ordinary times.”

12:16 – The senate committee has tasked the finance ministry to commission a forensic team to examine the PPPRA/NNPC documents within one month in the first instance.

The PPPRA is called upon now to present to the committee the subsidy claims documents it has certified, which the finance minister said requires forensic validation.

12:43 – The NNPC is called to make presentation. But Mr. Makarfi, the senate finance chair, insists that whatever happens, the PPPRA certification will undergo a forensic evaluation.

CBN governor: Sanusi Lamido, said regardless the explanations from the finance minister, as far as the CBN is concerned, there is an outstanding $20 billion between what NNPC shipped and what it paid to government.

Mr. Sanusi insists the outstanding $6 billion given to the NPDC should have gone to the federal government. He said the CBN has received three legal opinions on that position, and offers to bring in lawyers to defend that claim.

12:55 – Sanusi: PPPRA says subsidy on kerosene is legal and that certain amount was paid. PPPRA is the agency authorized to determine that. But I have a letter from the PPPRA in 2010 telling me that they do not pay kerosene subsidy. In the end, it is left for the committee to determine whether such letter was later withdrawn. It is left for the committee to decide.

Mr. Sanusi reads a part of the PPPRA letter on stopping kerosene subsidy. The letter was signed by a former Executive Secretary, Abiodun Ibikunle.

13:08 – Mr. Makarfi said it would be wrong for Mr. Sanusi to delve into the responsibilities of other agencies. He advised the CBN governor to limit himself to what he is legally empowered to do. The comment came in respect of the PPPRA’s decision to pay kerosene subsidy despite a purported presidential directive. Mr. Makarfi said it is for the PPPRA to so decide.

Petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke speaks…

13:22 – Diezani Alison-Madueke said NNPC stayed action on the presidential directive on kerosene to save Nigerinas the hardship of buying at exorbitant rates.

She said if there must a forensic auditing of the PPPRA documents, then it should go all the way back to 2004 when the entire process started. She said there has been no problem since.

13:25-Mr. Makarfi asked petroleum minister if the government will continue with kerosene subsidy. The minister declines response. But Bukola Saraki, a member of the committee, said the senate is concerned about what happened not about the future. He said the question did not arise in the first place.

13:36-Ibrahim Gumba(Bauchi state), a member of the senate committee said it was a clear illegality to have continued with the kerosene subsidy which someone must account for.

Diezani Alison-Diezani shakes off responsibility for the kerosene subsidy. She said she was not in office at the time, but was only relating to the committee what happened. However, Mrs. Alison-Madueke said despite the presidential directive, it was no law because the directive was not gazetted.

That claim draws a murmur from the audience here.

13:43-NNPC Group Managing Director, Andrew Yakubu, speaks…

“The impression Nigerians have is that $10.8 billion seated in the four towers of the NNPC,” he says referring to the NNPC’s corporate office.

He said to put the records straight, the money is not seated anywhere. He explains the $10.8 billion as having been spent on subsidy, pipeline maintenance and other losses.

13:51-“Nigerians believe NNPC is sitting on money. But I want it known that these monies we are taking about are not “realizable flows”- NNPC GMD

14:11- Finance minister, Okonjo-Iweala, takes exception to a comment by a senator, Isa Galaudu, that the finance of “this country is messy”

Okonjo-Iweala claims Nigeria has one of the most transparent budget in the world that allows citizens to know how much is spent on “forks and spoons in state house”.

Mr. Galaudu said Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala must take charge and be in control. Ngozi appears emotional, and is telling the senate committee that the finance ministry has been doing its work and that it believes in transparency. “That is why we are seeking an independent forensic team for this to satisfy Nigerians,” she said.

14:58-The hearing has ended. The committee will receive a legal opinion on the NPDC $6billion next week while the finance ministry will commission a forensic examination of NNPC/PPPRA claims.

After Sack, Melaye’s Group Ready To Press Corruption Charges Against Oduah And Orubebe.


 

Dino Melaye
By SaharaReporters, New York

Former member of the Federal House of Representatives, Dino Melaye has praised the sack of Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, describing it as the long-needed opening to institute corruption charges against the two former ministers.

Speaking on behalf of his civil society group, the Anti-Corruption Network (ACN), Melaye described the sack as validation of the age-long cliché that the voice of man is the voice of God.

“I am vindicated; power truly belong to the people”, he said. “When we protested against two of these criminals, many abused us. But today, we are happy. We salute the courage of Mr. President, although he delayed too much because they ought to have been fired since”.

He recalled that his group submitted the corruption history of three ministers to the United States of America last year; and with the sack of two, the third must be relieved of her ministerial position as soon as possible.

“Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison Madueke must go, too. The president must take hard decisions in the interest of Nigerians”, he said.

“Now that they have been sacked, we will institute criminal charges against Orubebe and Oduah. The voice of the people is the voice of God.

“We encourage Nigerians to continue to protest vehemently against mal-administration, ineptitude and corruption. For me it is a no retreat, no surrender. No amount of arrest, intimidation, blackmail or name-calling will detract my attention from fighting all forms of injustices”.

Last year, SaharaReporters exposed Oduah’s involvement in the scandalous purchase of two BMW armoured cars for $1.6m and a web of certificate scandals.

Meanwhile, Melaye’s ACN has consistently accused Orubebe of abuse of office and illegally diversion of funds and contracts, as well as demanding gratifications for award of contracts to companies.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

$20bn Stolen: Now We All Cannot Buy Shoes! #OccupyNigeria.


By Peregrino Brimah

Before attempting to digest what $20 billion is, it is important to mention what the $20 billion missing is not. $20 billion Nigeria’s income missing/looted is not all that was looted in just 19 months from the nation’s coffers. This sum is at best half the actual total figure that is looted from oil revenue and internal projects and bogus contracts. It is ‘crazy’ to realize that more than half the nation’s income is stolen by those in power and their handful of world acclaimed billionaire cabal co-conspirators.

What is the value of $20 billion?

$20 billion represents one eighth of Nigeria’s total oil derived income. That is one quarter of our yearly earnings.

$20 billion equals 10 million $2000, that is one million $20,000!

With $20 billion, every Nigerian individual, including the poorest in Bama and Baga and the old and dying in all villages, will get N10,000.

With $20 billion, every single Nigerian can get 5 new pairs of shoes.

With $20 billion, which these unconscionable people have pocketed, every 100 Nigerians could have been allocated $20,000 for capital projects. Every 100 Nigerians could get a school built, a clinic, a playground, a park, a community center, etc.

With $20 billion looted, every household in Nigeria, including every mud family home in every single village could get either a $1000 generator borehole or an inverter-solar panel system!

With $20 billion stolen, every home in every village and town could have a $500 laptop computer.

With $20 billion dollars stolen in 19 months, 2 children in every family could be sponsored throughout their education right up to university.

With $20 billion looted, one child of every family of 5 can be sponsored to a good college even in America.

With $20 billion stolen, Nigeria could have purchased 40,000 Armored Personnel Carriers, APC’s to successfully finally decimate Boko Haram and be prepared for any future battles within and outside our borders.

With $20 billion stolen, Nigeria could have bought a million drones, for tracking every single robbery and moving terrorist.

With $20 billion, we could have purchased 150,000 helicopters for all our police, hospital and other emergency departments across the nation.

Brazil, São Paulo’s automated modern subway lines cost $1.6 billion. It had 11 stations, with fully lit automatic trains. In Singapore, 22 miles of track cost $4.8 billion, at $130 million per kilometer. With the $20 billion stolen, 10 states in Nigeria could have had fully functional, ultramodern subway systems!

With $20 billion stolen, Nigeria’s transport system could have had 200,000 luxury buses ferrying Nigerians around the nation.

Nigeria’s oil minister, Diezani Madukwe has blurted that if this stolen money is to be investigated, the Obasanjo government (in power in 2004) too must be investigated since this looting started since then. We have no problem with that. Late Yar’adua (in power 2007-2010) is dead, and though PremiumTimes reports revealed that Yar’adua actually repeatedly executively blocked this cold-blooded robbery, they can investigate him too if they want. We will find our money, every last kobo of it, no matter what it costs us. Many of us Nigerians will never rest till the culprits of such humongous theft are all thrown in jail and the key tossed in the ocean. May this investigation spiral to all old regimes all the way back to our first, we will investigate this!

This is very depressing. Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi told us that it is because we do not protest like every other nation on earth that such insane robberies can occur in broad day light. Are we sitting down with this wicked nonsense?

Let the FGN/NNPC be prepared for a full public investigated investigation and #OccupyNigeria! The thieves who stole our $20 billion will spit it out! Enough is Enough!

Dr. Peregrino Brimah
http://ENDS.ng [Every Nigerian Do Something]
Email: drbrimah@ends.ng Twitter: @EveryNigerian

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

In Quest Of Foreign Technical Administrators By Nehemiah Ikoba.


That public administrators, in general and sports administrators, in particular, have been found wanting in the discharge of their duties in Nigeria over the years, is a fact that is well established. This gross lack of performance by public officials can be seen as one of the leading reasons why Nigeria continues to decline, development-wise. The sad fact is that most of these officials, who have been handed the administration of Nigeria’s resources, see themselves as fool-proof repository of knowledge, not willing to imbibe new cultures and ways that will produce positive results, still willing to continue in their corrupt tendencies at the expense of the beloved masses of Nigeria.

The media has been awash with news that the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is planning to force a foreign technical assistant on Super Eagles tactician, Stephen Keshi, even though Coach Keshi has insisted that he is okay with his present back room staff. According to some media reports, the NFF members have expressed strong worries on the ability of the former Eagles captain to lead the team creditably at the 2014 World Cup, although the coach insists that he can operate at the highest level without any such fresh staff whether foreign or local.

The call became more vocal after the conclusion of the CHAN 2014, where these officials claimed that the Nigerian team lacked technical support, as shown in our performance in the semi-finals against 10-man Ghana and Zimbabwe in the third-place match. They allude that the inability of the Nigerian team to make its numbers count in those two matches were largely due to dearth of tactical inputs that would have led the team to resounding victory on those two occasions.

There were other allegations bordering on Keshi’s team selection and other sundry actions and inactions taken by the technical crew, including the team’s performance during the Confederations Cup in Brazil, last year.

Why is it that foreign assistants are only needed in the coaching front and not in the administrative sphere? Is the NFF claiming that they are performing their duties in the best possible way and moving Nigerian sports forward? The evidence in the public domain, as well as the views of concerned Nigerians is that sports administrators are not doing enough to move our sports to greater heights.

If one is to chronicle the numerous shortcomings of sports administrators in Nigeria, this write-up will be hugely inadequate. It should be noted that some of the actions of these acclaimed all-knowing eggheads of sports in Nigeria, clearly expose them as extremely inefficient, bereft of progressive ideas, highly unappreciative of Nigerian talent, extremely shortsighted and downright selfish.

The NFF has been always finding ways to put the proverbial spanner in the works of the current coach. This was clearly shown during the 2013 African Cup of Nations. These self-professed administrators of our football should try, through their actions, to clear the impression by Nigerians, who view them to be working more often than not, at cross purposes with the development ideals that would catapult the game to dizzying heights.
While not saying that these administrators should not make constructive criticisms, they should be careful, lest our treasure be snatched by those who value it more than we do.

That Keshi is a shrewd tactician is beyond perhaps, the earlier our football administrators give him his due regards, the better for us all. His performance at CAN 2013, where he showed tactical savvy to take Ivory Coast, with their coterie of global stars, and Mali to the cleaners, and won the competition should be brought to the fore. Even his performance during CHAN 2014 after the opening loss to Mali is also commendable.

The uncommon spirit and determination instilled in his wards at half time when they were being pummeled by the Moroccans is also worthy of mention.
It is an insult to insist that Africa’s current best tactician does not know his onions when he said he has no need of a foreign assistant.

When Keshi was owed his dues for upwards of seven months, did Nigerians request for a foreign administrator to take their jobs from them, even when it was obvious they have been found wanting in the discharge of their duties?
It is the height of extreme myopia for our football administrators to tie Keshi’s stay in the national team to Brazil 2014. We should be able to look beyond that. Such quick fire quest for results in the absence of a robust groundwork has done us greater harm than good. What prevents us from copying the model of Manchester United, who kept faith with their Manager for close to three decades and reaped bountifully? We should emulate such model of stability.

Come what may, if our football administrators make the mistake of sacking Keshi at the conclusion of the World Cup, methinks he will have more willing suitors even within a short time. As the Good Book says: A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.

We should respect the decisions of our coach and stop interfering unnecessarily.

Nehemiah Ikoba, University of Ilorin, Ilorin. Email: ikobanehemiah@yahoo.com

 

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

Again, A Case of Uncounted Billions By Okey Ndibe.


 

Okey Ndibe
Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

To a first-time visitor, much of Nigeria is likely to appear like the wreckage of a long war, what with its gutted roads, rutted infrastructure, the near-absence of electric power, and the paucity of pipe-borne water. It’s a developmental nightmare, a relic of the misshapen monuments of small-minded men and women, a patchwork of ill-conceived, abandoned projects.

Given Nigeria’s shape—or, more appropriate, its lack of shape—you’d expect a certain sense of urgency about transforming the space. You’d expect politicians and experts to focus at every opportunity on ways of creating a healthcare system worthy of human beings, revitalizing the educational sector, creating jobs for milling youths, providing basic facilities, and changing the moral tone.

Instead, what you find is a deranged obsession with a rat race whose sole goal is the primitive accumulation of riches. The country’s political leaders, who incidentally lead the rat race, seem to miss the point that the winners of such a race remain rats! Yes, a lot of them amass obscene sums of illicit wealth, but lucre merely raises their rating as ridiculous figures. The more they steal, the more they consolidate their contemptible quotient.

But Nigeria’s political “leaders” are far from the only problems. If anything, they seem to reflect a broader cultural malaise. Many Nigerians, one suspects, are hostile to the deep thinking that is a precursor to remarkable transformation. We’d much rather muck around in sectarian, ethnic and partisan baiting. Confronted with evidence of systemic collapse, many of us are content to blame Christians or Muslims, Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, the North or South. We fail to realize that, where it counts, so-called Christian and so-called Muslim figures collaborate in schemes that impoverish the rest of us; that Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa politicians are not averse to acting together to corner looting opportunities; that men and women from the North and South work together daily to abort Nigeria’s promise.

The reportorial priorities of the Nigerian media mirror, I suggest, Nigerians’ little tolerance for substance. Despite Nigeria’s abysmal condition, it’s hard to see any serious debates in the media. It’s all about PDP this, APC that. Nobody, least of all the two parties’ top officials, can articulate what either party stands for. In lieu of any sustained presentation of ideas for making Nigeria a habitable address, both parties settle for parading personalities. What’s worse, the advertised political henchmen (and women) have pedigrees defined less by ideas than their possession of stupendous wealth.

You’d expect Nigerians to pay attention when somebody who ought to know talks about billions missing from the national treasury. But perish the thought!

Last week, Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank of Nigeria appeared again before the Finance Committee of the Nigerian Senate, and spoke about huge frauds in the oil sector. Mr. Sanusi’s presentation rang with grave claims. Speaking with a directness hardly ever used by any past occupant of his seat, he accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of failing to account for $20 billion from crude oil exports. According to him, the NNPC sold $67 billion worth of crude oil, but deposited only $47 billion.

He told the committee that two companies, Seven Energy and Atlantic Energy (which he said were owned by the same persons), were beneficiaries of a curious deal with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). The deal enabled the ostensible private investors to pocket billions of dollars that ought to belong to Nigeria, the CBN head asserted. He also spoke about “leakages from the system through opaque and complex Swap transactions between PPMC [Pipeline and Products Marketing Company] and some counter parties.” He added: “The Agreements signed by PPMC contained a troubling clause that permits the destruction of documents after one year.”

These are startling allegations, worthy of particular attention by Nigerians and their media. When I googled Mr. Sanusi’s presentation, I found that it received relatively tepid reportage in Nigerian newspapers. It was played up more by online media, especially those based outside of Nigeria.

Even if Mr. Sanusi were talking nonsense, the proper response would be for reporters versed in oil transactions to thoroughly dissect his presentation and expose his misrepresentations. Besides, President Goodluck Jonathan and his aides ought to debunk Mr. Sanusi’s allegations by providing proof that no money is missing. It’s far from an adequate response to point to the fact that the CBN governor’s figures have shifted since September, 2013. The discrepancies may point, in fact, to the complex, labyrinthine nature of the schemes used to defraud Nigerians.

The role of the media has been shameful—but let’s put it aside for now. How about labor unions, student organizations, and such professional bodies as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), and the Nigerian Guild of Editors? What explains their astonishing silence on the matter? Is Nigeria so affluent—so awash with cash—that $20 billion don’t count?

On the Internet, some anonymous commentators fixated on the fact that Mr. Sanusi, bearer of a disquieting message, is a Muslim and a Northerner. Some accused him of awarding billions of naira worth of contracts to his cronies. Others raised issues about his personal life. Mr. Sanusi’s faith and ethnicity have nothing to do with anything here. If he illegally awarded contracts, he deserves to be called on it—and prosecuted, if he broke the law. If there are lapses in his personal life, they should concern us only if he meddled with public funds. Otherwise, it is up to the stakeholders in his personal life to hold him to account, or choose not to.

If students, lawyers and editors didn’t find the case of the missing billions worthy of a single raised eyebrow, who would blame the rest of the populace for going on, unconcerned? It was as if most of us yawned and quickened our stride to that pepper soup joint! Few, if any, bothered to contemplate all the things that $20 billion could do for Nigeria.

I can’t help contrasting the collective indifference to Mr. Sanusi’s expose with the hysteria over former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s decision to leave the PDP and enlist in the APC. Nigerian newspapers not only rushed to cover this relative non-event, they have also offered their readers numerous follow-ups.

You’d think that the answer to Nigeria’s crises of underdevelopment lie in Mr. Atiku’s choice to register with a party that has yet to spell out how it differs from the PDP, much less what answers it has for Nigeria’s worsening state.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

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