IS IT NOW SAI BABA AND THE 40 THIEVES? –2
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IS IT NOW SAI BABA AND THE 40 THIEVES? –2
“Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.”
The first part of this series ended last week with the promise to start with facts already established. One of the indisputable truths in the book I am already writing titled APC: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED is the fact that Oshiomhole and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu after accepting Akpabio into their party, called all the leading members of APC in Akwa Ibom State and ordered them to turn over the party structures in the state to Akpabio and regard him as their leader. Akpabio, it turned out had convinced the two leaders that he could single-handedly deliver the state to the APC. Well, as the American circus master, P.T Barnum, said “A sucker is born every minute.” Oshiowhole and Tinubu actually believed Akpabio’s false self-advertisement. I could have told them free of charge that with the blunder, APC lost Akwa Ibom State which it would have won if the original leaders were left strictly alone. More on that in the book which is now work in process.
Oshiomole’s recruitment of Akpabio paved the way for his appointment as Minister. One must wonder why Buhari and APC chose to reward a person who lost every election including his own race for the Senate. That dreadful error and its consequences could have been avoided if any other candidate from Akwa Ibom State had been made Minister.
In reality Buhari could not have made a more serious blunder if it was his intention to paralyse the NDDC which Akpabio supervises as Minister. Like a bad chess player, Akpabio, in turn persuaded Buhari to jettison the Board of NDDC which the Senate had approved and to replace it with an Interim Management Committee, IMC, whose legality is in serious doubt. Right now, information reaching us from our scouts in the Niger Delta indicates that the members of the IMC were selected deliberately to do just what we are now finding out about NDDC. More on that later. We now know that among the measures taken by the IMC, which Akpabio invested with great trust, was to award N1.3 billion to themselves and the staff of the Commission as “COVID palliatives”. So far, they have told us how much the IMC, directors and staff got. But, the figures don’t add up. Somebody else not mentioned got some of it. And from sources inside NDDC, I know who.
“How, NDDC paid staff N655m for training, foreign trips during COVID-19 lockdown..” PUNCH, July 25, 2020 p 14.
Just as Buhari is responsible for Akpabio, the Minister is also responsible for the actions of the IMC he recommended for appointment and still defends – however incoherently. Now, the public knows that “the total cost of the trip was N85.6m paid to 14 staff members to travel the United Kingdom…the travellers include the MD/CEO, Prof (Daniel) Pondei, the Executive Director, Projects, Dr Cairo Ojuogboh and another Director, Mr Luke Ibanga”. How any officials will travel to see students they have left stranded and turned to beggars is an unresolved mystery. How they flew out and returned during airports’ lockdown worldwide is a puzzle to unravel. One other enigma is why the Minister is defending the NDDC IMC. The figures presented still don’t add up. Did the Minister also travel or receive “COVID palliatives”? If so, how much? Nobody defends grand larceny so strongly without benefiting from it. As late Chief MKO Abiola had once observed: “Nobody stands all day in the rain for nothing”.
Last week I made it clear that despite the overwhelming evidence that Buhari has failed in his war against corruption, there is no evidence available to me that he benefited from the monumental APC corruption. Buhari reminds me of President Shehu Shagari of the Second Republic. After an exhaustive inquiry by Buhari’s military junta, Shagari and his Vice President, late Dr Alex Ekwueme, were totally exonerated from any taint of corrupt self-enrichment while in office.
In the same manner, I want to declare that there is no credible evidence in my possession to think that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has so far benefited from corrupt practices. But, the exoneration of the two leaders does not extend to their subordinates. Ranking higher than the NNDC in my league of corruption-ridden agencies of the FG is the Social Investment (aka Intervention) Programme, SIP. More public fund has disappeared without trace through this programme alone in four years than in all the years of the NDDC or OMPADEC which it replaced.
Only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, can furnish us with more names of public safe-crackers than SIP. Like Buhari and Shagari before him, Professor Osinbajo trusted his subordinates absolutely and gave them a free hand to operate. It was a grave error. If ever a comprehensive audit of the SIP is conducted, it will reveal more rogues than Buhari could have imagined possible. The senior staffs of the agency and their contractors have robbed the poor and the school children mercilessly.
Remember that silence always means consent. Below is what was written about SIP before. No rejoinder has been received. None will ever come.
“SIP: POOR NIGERIANS SWINDLED AND NOW ABANDONNED
“It was beautiful and simple; as all truly great swindles are.”
O. Henry. 1862-1910. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p 239.
“You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest”.
Louis McHenry Howe, 1871-1936, VBQ p 192.
Have you heard the great good and bad news delivered in one line of the 2020 Budget presented by President Buhari? Well, let me tell you. The budget for the Social Investment (or Intervention) Programme, SIP, introduced to alleviate poverty, provide N5000 per month for five million poor Nigerians, feed the nation’s school children and engage over 100,00 graduates as teachers – among other false promises – had been reduced to N38 billion. That is part of the good news. At least the monumental fraud will not continue. From 2016-2018 and 2019 respectfully, N500bn, N500bn, N500bn and N350bn were the budgets for SIP which was the biggest scam in Nigerian public history – never mind Professor Sagay. His clients at Abuja have perpetrated the biggest financial scandal involving any one programme since independence in 1960. This article is partly meant to educate our dear Professor of Law – on Economics.
The bad news is that without coming out and confessing it, Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, after using the SIP gimmick to achieve second term, have now completely abandoned the poor people. Not even Lai Mohammed can now deny that N38 billion cannot possibly help Nigeria’s nearly 100 million poor. The APC had used the alimanjiris to win the second term and in its very first budget after the elections had stabbed them in the back. There will be hell to pay for that. The entire episode actually now demonstrates how cynical and ruthless Nigerian politicians can be. Granted, only a fool will believe the utterances of those who take up a profession which in Nigeria has become a hybrid of prostitution and banditry. But, to toss out millions of people at the first opportunity after “stealing” their votes with false promises smacks of the sort of heartlessness seldom seen in Nigeria. Wahala will follow. Mark my words.”
That was the prediction last year when Buhari presented Budget 2020.
“There are only two families in the world; my old grandmother used to say. The haves and the have-nots. Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616, VBQ p 87.
And BIG WAHALA has followed the fake and unfulfilled promises. Instead of lifting millions of people out of poverty as Buhari promised on May 29, 2015, he has added so many more millions to those he found in dire need such that Nigeria has now during his tenure become the Poverty Capital of the World. Consequently, all over Nigeria now, the Have-nots have taken control – especially in the North – where bandits call governors in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara to negotiate the ransom the government must pay as a condition for temporary peace. The peace invariably last until the bandits run out of money and it dawns on them that there must be more where the last batch came from. It has never occurred to the governors that they are actually providing funds with which the bandits procure more weapons!!! At any rate, the bandits are keenly aware that the amount given to them is often less than the figure claimed by government officials. The Northern Invisible Market consisting of corrupt government officials, bandits and gun runners is a very active one.
“Justice delayed is justice denied.” US Justice Louis Brandeis, 1856-1941.
Brandeis, an Associate Supreme Court Justice, who has an elite Jewish university named after him in Waltham outside Boston, USA, was a strong believer in the prompt dispensation of justice. He frowned on litigants seeking long and needless adjournments when they had a weak case – irrespective of who was dragging their feet. Brandeis would have been livid with rage with regard to how Nigeria’s current Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, had delayed cases involving former Governors and other highly-placed and politically-exposed individuals since he ordered all the case files transferred to the Ministry from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Some individuals, who have cases with the EFCC, are now Ministers or appointees to top position. One of them is now busy messing up his Ministry and its major agency with atrocious revelations.
Meanwhile, the EFCC, which the AGF supervises is neck deep in charges and counter charges with the AGF himself being fingered in some of the corrupt atrocities like appointing a company already charged with grave crimes as auctioneer for seized assets in the company’s sector. We cannot quickly forget Malami’s role in bringing back and reinstating Maina charged with embezzling billions from the pension scheme.
Malami is number three in ranking in government after Buhari and Osinbajo. He is by our constitution, the nation’s chief law enforcer. But, a situation in which the AGF of Nigeria appears to be more sympathetic to enemies of the state should worry us. Top law enforcers, like Caesar’s wife are expected to be above reproach. And, once again we are reminded of the observation by late Chief MKO Abiola. “Nobody stands all day in the rain for nothing.”
What is Abubakar Malami getting out of these suspicious activities which delay justice?
IS IT NOW SAI BABA AND THE 40 THIEVES? –1
“Trust is a matter of bets about future actions based on experience. A track record of keeping promises is a good predictor.”
Rosabeth Kanter, Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct 1992.
Increasingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria now resembles the modern version of ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES. One of my late uncles who worked for ELDER DEMPSTAR LINES – one of the largest shipping companies in the pre-independence days – was in the habit of bringing me small pamphlets of story books from England. He introduced me to Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesops Fables and Tales of the Arabian Nights – in which my favourite story was Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Those of us who utter the words “Open Sesame” without knowing its origin, now can add to our knowledge. It came from that story; it was the password of the rogues. The story merely reminds us that anywhere there is great wealth a gang of thieves will invariably emerge aiming to carve out more than their own fair share of the cake. That explains why most Nigerians are prepared to do anything to get government appointment — including selling Mama. After all, “Money makes everything legitimate; including bastards.” (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 163).
I have no evidence or even sufficient reason to doubt that President Buhari has not benefited directly from any corrupt practices under his administration. In fact, while collecting materials for my book IBRAHIM B BABANGIDA 1985 – 1992: LETTING A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM,
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I interviewed a retired General who did not hide his dislike for Buhari for several reasons he stated. But, he made one point which was recorded for posterity about our President from 2015 regarding his honesty. “You can leave your money, bottles of hot drinks or packet of cigarettes with Buhari; go away for several months and find nothing would be missing (p 10)..” If a man’s self-declared antagonist can say that, I am satisfied that Buhari is honest. But, there, my trust ends. It does not extend to any member of his family, friends, associates or subordinates.
In fact, the closer the individual is to Buhari the more he/she enters my list of “usual suspects”. Mrs Patience Jonathan provides my first evidence in this regard. The wife of the former President is now facing charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in various courts for a lot of reasons having to do with her exposure politically from 2010 to 2015. While prosecution does not imply guilt, it at least means that the security agency has what it regards as sufficient reason to go court. Wives of Presidents who thrust themselves into the lime light, unlike Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s, risk getting smeared with dirt. Mrs Aisha Buhari has already followed Mrs Jonathan’s footsteps. She risks being hurled before a court if Buhari is replaced by a PDP President in 2023. A word is enough….
Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” was an adage drilled into our skulls as children. I once found myself behind the counter at Denton Street, Police Station, Ebute Meta, Lagos at the age of nine. I was coming from Lagos Island on one of the regular errands I ran for my mother 45 Denton Street. Like all young lads, it was always an occasion to play street football with the boys living in the big compound. The memorable day was not different except that before my arrival one of the boys had “lifted” ten shillings from a co-tenants pocket and was observed by another tenant replacing the trousers after the deed. The witness did not at first know that a theft had occurred until the owner raised alarm. Thereafter, a search was on for the boy – who had led other boys to a different playing ground and treated everyone to chicken wings and legs before returning to the usual playing ground. I arrived just in time to join them when the two Policemen arrived with the tenant robbed. We were all herded to the station. Thus, I became an accused without even tasting chicken. Fortunately, it was still mostly true that “You can’t cheat a honest man.” The chicken seller was also apprehended and made to identify her customers. She pointed to all of them and said emphatically, in Yoruba, “the one in red shirt [me] was not one of them.” Buhari might not realise it yet, but, some of his appointees are already roping him into the web of suspicion surrounding the inquiry into the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. Tongues are already wagging; people are wondering why a man with integrity can appoint and retain so many crooks at the top levels of a government which parades itself as being anti-corruption. Let me provide a few examples from reports reaching us and facts available to us that indicate that Buhari might be surrounded by cut-throats and financial cannibals.
“The whole NDDC probe exercise is a waste of time. Why don’t they probe NNPC? It is clear now that few people in government owe Nigeria any obligation. They will continue to purloin its wealth and rape it over and over again.” Idowu Akinlotan, NATION, July 28, 2020, back page.
“How then on Friday, it emerged that the House will now also probe the mismanagement of N100 billion within one year at the North-East Development Commission, NEDC.” Sonala Olumhese, PUNCH, July 26, 2020.
For me a Sunday without reading Akinlotan and Olumhense is no Sunday. I can forgo food, but not those two – even when I don’t agree with them. Unless I am not at home, nobody touches the bundle of papers brought by the vendor before me. And, it is always a race to the back pages for my Sunday-to-Sunday delights. On Sunday July 26, 2020, the two eminently delightful writers summarised the sense of despair surrounding Buhari’s increasingly lost battle against corruption. It would appear from the hottest scandals – Magu-gate, NDDCwood and NEDC – that the President of Nigeria has a knack for appointing the worst public safecrackers he can find into the most strategic commissions. The NDDC and the NEDC are situated on the eastern flank of the country. The development commissions designed to lift their zones have been handed to their own people to manage in trust for the general welfare. But, what is rapidly emerging is the fact that those appointed by Buhari regard the opportunity as their own chance to overtake Dangote on the rich list with nothing to show to justify the wealth. When Ghandi, 1869-1948, the father of modern India, wrote that among the things that will certainly ruin us are “Politics without principles/Wealth without work”, (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 245), he had a country like our present day Nigeria in mind.
Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, are in the news for all the wrong reasons – some of which derive from the appointment of Adams Oshiomhole as the party Chairman. I was surprised that Buhari and the rest of the top leaders of the APC failed to disassociate themselves from the call by Adams to political opponents to “join APC and your sins are forgiven”. The cardinal sin which elected and appointed officials wanted forgiven was related to alleged corruption. Many had cases to answer with the EFCC. So, they jumped, mostly from PDP to APC and almost soon after their case files were ordered transferred from the EFCC to the Ministry of Justice – under Abubakar Malami. Nothing has been heard about those cases since then. Uuum!
“Nigerian Students now beggars in UK, Dabiri-Erewa tells NDDC.”
PUNCH, July 29, 2020, p 7.
The report went on to state that “the students had turned beggars following the non-payment of their tuition and allowances by the NDDC.”
Yet, the Interim Management Committee, IMC, spent N81 billion.
One of the most famous among those who accepted Oshiomhole’s call to bail out of PDP is Senator Godswill Akpabio – the transient warmer of the seat of Minister for Niger Delta. Because I intend to write a longer article on Akpabio and Oshiomhole in order to warn, not only Buhari but Nigerians to be very careful about these two characters, for now, I will restrict myself to the linkage between Oshiomhole, and Akpabio and the circumstances which led to Niger Delta students in the UK becoming almajiris abroad. I want to point out that a letter was dispatched weeks ago to the Minister when the first hints of scandal became news. The Minister was given a chance to defend himself against all allegations. Till today, there had been no reply. I hope the Minister knows that silence means consent. So many unsavoury things have been said and written about him. A small fraction of it is sufficient to brand anybody as unworthy to be a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I will start with facts already established beyond doubt.
To be continued…
TRIBUTE TO MRS NGOZI NKIRUKA CHUKWUKA AT 60
Mrs Ngozi Nkiruka Chukwuka, who turned 60 on July 28, 2020, retired from the Federal Civil Service, FCS, in October 2019 after 35 years of glorious service to her fatherland. As a female and Igbo Federal civil servant, she suffered discrimination in four ways – as a woman, as a Southerner, Christian and as an Igbo woman. She might even have been victimised for coming from the “wrong state in the South East – Imo. It is very difficult to know which form of discrimination worked most against a woman in her position. Had she been a male, Northerner, Muslim, MSc holder public servant from Sokoyo or Katsina state, she would certainly have retired as a Permanent Secretary. She represents thousands of well educated and talented Southern women who belong to her class of Nigerian civil servants who watch in despair as numskulls are promoted over them to higher offices. They have lost a lot; but Nigeria has lost a lot more.
Yet she persevered until she attained the rank of Deputy Director in the National Youth Service Corps scheme. She was born a few months before Nigeria became independent in 1960 with all the promises now unfulfilled.
She holds an MSc in Industrial Sociology and Personnel Management. She has written an interesting book titled INNOCENT NIGERIANS; full of insights gained from 35 years in the cesspool which the Nigerian public service had become under Nigerian rulers. Yet, she retained her Christian virtues. We met face to face only once; we communicated often and we are on the same page on most issues. She will be a positive asset to any government for years to come.
You can read her book on our site.
Kindly join me in wishing a woman who gave her entire working life to Nigeria and was not corrupted by the system very many happy returns of July 28, 2020.
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