Thursday, 25 February 2016



The collapse of ethical and professional standards in virtually all aspects of our national life cannot be more profound in other sector than the civil service. This is because as the largest employer of labour in the country, its efficiency and effectiveness has an over-arching effect on the state of the society. It is a major administrative section of government responsible for policy formulation, implementation and regulation. 
Public service all around the world like other professions is guided by set of rules and norms. These rules often referred to as code of ethics are the standard with which professionalism is measured. Notable among these codes are; impartiality, neutrality, objectivity, transparency, frugality, high level of integrity, confidentiality, loyalty to state, efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery.
The civil service which of course is a reflection of the present Nigerian society is bedeviled by various unprofessional and unethical practices. A large number of the Nigerian civil servants cannot be said to be disciplined, professional nor efficient and effective in the exercise of their duties. Corruption, wanton waste of public resources, deplorable state of public utilities, nepotism and favoritism seems to be the prevailing values of today’s public service in Nigeria.
Ironically, various control mechanisms have been put in place to guide the conduct of public service in Nigeria. These include the fifth schedule of the 1999 constitution, the Civil Service Rules, Guidelines for appointment, promotion and discipline issued by the civil service commission, the code of conduct bureau etc. However, while the concern is not majorly the presence or suitability of these restraining measures, it is rather the seeming non-enforcement and apathy on the part of the public servants themselves that is of great concern.
Citing the latest ministerial appointments by the present government, we cannot categorically state that this guidelines and rules were followed to the latter. Since the president seemed to appoint ministers base on geographical and political reasons.
Even at the continental level, the Charter for Public service in Africa, adopted by African Ministers at Windhoek, Namibia, including Nigeria in 2001 is one of such initiative. The charter was developed to achieve three interrelated purposes of; Defining the principles and general rules governing African public services with respect to transparency, professionalism and ethical standards; Giving concrete expression to the commitment of African States to promote such values in the public service; and Serving as a policy framework for the public service administration of all African countries and a source of inspiration for the development, strengthening or updating of national codes of conduct. However, successful domestication of this charter remains to be seen.
So what are the challenges associated with implementing these rules? The Nigerian society is culpable. The pervading cynical and despairing nature of the populace has rubbed off on the public service significantly. The Nigerian society presently suffers a great value and ethics lacuna. Hitherto age-longed values of hard work and integrity which were hallmark of the Nigerian society have been eroded greatly. Mediocrity, hypocrisy, nepotism, favoritism, corruption and idolation of material wealth are now the order of the day. How then do we expect an “angelic” public service to emerge from such a society?
One of the innovative ways we have designed to combat the scourge of corruption which has been elevated to the status of acceptable mode of behavior in Nigeria today is to begin to identify icons of hope in our public service who have against all odds remained epitome of integrity, honesty, neutrality, frugality and untainted. These are individuals who have managed to hold on to their heads when others have lost and increasingly loosing theirs, individuals who have not given to inordinate pursuit and love of material acquisition from questionable means. Such individuals have the moral pedigree to inspire, motivate and encourage a number of other public servants who are also tired of the general stereotype that has rubbed off on their integrity too. They have the moral standing to push these reforms collectively forming themselves into “vanguards of hope” in the public service. Such vanguards would serve as reinforcing communities within the public service encouraging value-laden, ethical and professional conducts.
The effects of these will be far reaching. It would not be limited to the public service as it would have a multiplier effect on the private sector, civil society and also the image of the country globally.
The effect will be an increase in number of individuals who are collectively committed to the highest standard of conducts in their activities. Service delivery in the most efficient and effective manners will take centre stage. General consciousness to avoid wastage, corruption, nepotism and other ills will become the basis of the renewed society. The incidence of corrupt practices will begin to reduce drastically.


Over the years, Nigerian women have been relegated to the background especially in issues of political representation. This is largely due to the fact that the Nigerian political system (both pre-colonial and post-colonial political system) is highly patriarchal in nature with men often in the lead of the political affairs and women occupying very insignificant roles.
Factors such as social, cultural and religious factors coupled with the complex nature of the Nigerian political process have been identified to be largely responsible for the marginalization of women especially in the issues of public service, political representation and governance. The appointment of the present ministers in Nigerian showed that gender equality in public service and political participation still lags behind. For instance, the present serving ministers in Nigeria, women occupy only 6 seats out of the 36 ministerial seats.

The way forward

The pace at which the numbers of women participate in public service has not been quite impressive; the percentage of women in active political participation is still below the threshold. This slow speed has led to various wake up calls, awareness campaigns, conferences, increased agitations for a more effective and efficient method of achieving gender balance in politics all over the world- Nigeria is not an exception. Nigeria being a signatory to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa (Maputo protocol) and the millennium declaration of September 2000 made a pledge among other things to tackle gender issues and women empowerment with a set –out dead line of 2015.
The introduction of quota system for women represents one of such means of achieving gender balance in electoral process. The rationale behind the quota system is to recruit women into political position and ensure that women do not remain at the bottom of the list. Quota system aims at ensuring that women constitute a large minority of 30-40% or even achieve a true gender balance of 50-50%. Quota system proposes that women as a matter of necessity form a certain percentage of the members of parliament.


The civil service in 1990 consisted of the federal civil service, the 21 autonomous state civil services, the unified local government service, and several federal and state civil services including parastatals and corporations. The federal and state civil services were organized around government departments headed by ministers (federal) and commissioners (state), who were appointed by the President and government, respectively. These political heads were responsible for policy matters. The administrative heads of the ministry were the directors general, formerly called permanent secretaries. The ‘chief’ director general was the secretary to government. Until 1988 reforms, the civil service was organized strictly according to British traditions; it was apolitical, civil servants were expected to serve every government in a non-partisan way unlike the present dispensation were ministers are appointed base on geographical and political affiliations, and the norms of impersonality and hierarchical authority were well entrenched.

Functions of the federal civil service

The federal civil service commission (FCSC) is responsible for;

  1. Representing of the civil service commissioners at senior staff committee meetings of ministers.
  2. Review and approval of recommendations on disciplinary cases of senior officers.
  3. Recruitment of senior officers.
  4. Ratification of promotion of officers to senior positions, including conducting promotion, interviews and exams.
  5. Hearing appeals on matters of appointments, promotions and discipline.
  6. Providing guidelines on appointments, promotions and discipline.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Finding Meaning in a Material World

Finding Meaning in a Material World

By Ken Taylor

Modern science tells us there are no souls and nothing transcendent. There’s only dumb matter and energy, swirling aimlessly through the void. We humans are nothing but temporary arrangements of such matter – gone and forgotten in the blink of the cosmic eye! But what, then, is the point of it all? What, then, is the meaning of human life? That’s the question we’re grappling with today. 
It’s an urgent question. But I do worry that it may lead us into a lot of anguished wailing and gnashing of the teeth. What if life really does have no meaning? 
We’re in good company with that worry. Kierkegaard says that if there is no God, life is nothing but despair. Dostoyevsky thinks that if God is dead, everything is permitted. Even that strident atheist, Nietzsche, believed that once we reject God and see the universe as nothing but dust and gas, we need a total rethink of human existence. He predicted that once we follow Darwin’s lead and turn the methods of science completely loose on the human animal, we’ll end up torching just about everything that supposedly makes us special--freedom, morality, autonomy, self-consciousness, rationality. 
Nietzsche was actually pretty prescient. Modern science -- especially the science of mind, casts a great deal of doubt about our most cherished beliefs about ourselves.
Now I’m a huge fan of science. But it’s hard to abide a science that has nothing to say to us but “You’re nothing special! You’re just a soulless, selfless hunk of meat!” Give me science, but give me science that affirms life!
But Nietzsche loved science too, and wondered, as he put it, “whether science can furnish goals of action after it has proven that it can take such goals away and annihilate them”. He was wise enough to recognize that in revealing the truth about our natures and the nature of the universe, science threatens to leave us completely disenchanted. 
So why even look to science to provide us with enchantment or with goals for action? Well, science got us into this mess – the least it could do is tell us how to live in the glorious new universe that it has so graciously bequeathed us. But science can only tell us what is and what isn’t. It can’t tell us what to do or feel about what is or what isn’t. Scientific questions are questions of fact, not questions of value. Science pulls the rug out from under religion and offers in its place -- what? A stony silence.
And yet science isn’t nearly as destructive of the sources of meaning and value, as you might fear. Sure, science undermines religions that posit spooky things – along with our notions of freedom, autonomy, the self. But even if that’s right, science still leaves lots of things standing -- art, literature, philosophy, politics, morality, intimate human relations, even certain kinds of spiritual practices. 
If that sounds uncharacteristically optimistic, it’s because I think the meaning of life was never really located in the things that science has progressively torched in the first place. Meaning isn’t something we find -- or fail to find -- in the universe. It’s something we make. Making meaning is a matter of what we do with what we find in the world. We find things like love and fairness that we value. We have visions of peace and the end of world hunger that we devote ourselves to. That’s what it is to make meaning. 
So can we just make up any old meanings we choose? Not exactly. Thanks to science and technology, our world is different from the ancient world, where so many of our cherished ideas were developed, along with stories to support them. So what if the stories that worked for them won’t work for us? That doesn’t show that science has foreclosed the very possibility of new stories. And if we somehow fail to create new stories, we shouldn’t blame science, but the limits of our own imaginations. 
As Nietzsche commands, “Embark, philosophers! Create new moralities, a new justice, and new meanings!”

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

When anger drives politics, leadership and justice

When anger drives politics, leadership and justice

Posted By: Dayo Sobowale
Image result for obama osinbajo pic
Coincidentally this week Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and US President Barak Obama spoke to a Muslim audience in their respective nations to drive home their commitment to justice and the objectives of their governments. The Nigerian Vice President reportedly told a delegation of Muslim Congress of Nigeria that although some elites were trying to put pressure on the Nigerian government to relent on its anti corruption war, he insisted that this would not happen because the President and himself are focused on the war and know that that is the wish of the ordinary Nigerians who elected them to office and not the elites alone.
Similarly the US president visited a mosque in Baltimore for the first time in his presidency and called on those preaching hatred against Muslims to stop as American Muslims are part of the American dream and heritage. Today I want to observe that there is a common thread that knits the utterances of these two statesmen together. It is my contention here that for now anger drives world politics as we know it today and that is the context in which I will look at the two statements made by the two leaders in their respective nations.
Undoubtedly in Nigeria anger is driving the anti-corruption campaign and the reason is not far fetched. The campaign had hardly started before the leadership election in the senate stole the thunder of the ruling party that won the 2015 presidential election. Then came the unbelievable revelations that $2. 1bn – which is money meant for the purchase of arms for the prosecution of the Boko Haram insurgency – had been diverted for other purposes by the office of the National Security Adviser from where key members of the last administration collected campaign funds while the armed forces lacked funds and equipment to confront the insurgency. Obviously a mood of righteous indignation has pervaded the whole nation ever since with the masses calling for the heads of culprits who had betrayed the nation in its hour of need in nailing Boko Haram which has been killing thousands of Nigerians with impunity and had even kidnapped the 200 Chibok girls without trace till today. That was the argument of the Nigerian VP before his Muslim guests and that is quite important in that Boko Haram has been condemned by all reasonable Muslims both in Nigeria and globally. The VP’s observations therefore tally eminently and realistically with the mood of Nigerians on crushing both Corruption and Boko Haram simultaneously or concurrently as a clear deterrence to both real and potential rebels or insurgents as well as treasury looters and others who have made it their way of life to feather their private nests at the expense of the commonwealth of the Nigerian nation and people.
Similarly President Barak Obama’s speech at the Baltimore mosque was a sermon on tolerance and justice for US Muslims at a time when no less a person than Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump had called obviously in anger that Muslims should be banned from coming to the US on account of the rise of global terrorism especially that of Islamic state and the terrorism that has reared its head on the hitherto safe and sancrosant US homeland. Obviously the emergence of a candidate like Donald Trump in the Republican Party and even Senator Bernie Saunders challenging Hillary Clinton very competitively for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, has been predicated in the US media on anti – establishment politics bordering on hatred for Washington which is US government in broad terms and Wall Street which essentially means big business and banks. Even Bernie Saunders this week accused Hillary Clinton of being beholden to banks given the huge money — $675000 – Goldman Sachs a leading US investment bank paid her for speeches she made on US government activities during her tenure as Secretary of State. Hillary was miffed and asked the Senator to be bold to accuse her of corruption which she vehemently denied.
Indeed l stumbled on an analysis on the internet which listed five reasons why the mood of the US electorate is anti- establishment and fuelled by anger at present. The first is that most US citizens feel that the politicians have short changed them on the economy and that the rich are getting richer while the middle class and the masses are worse off. The second is the issue of immigration which Obama promotes but which given the Migrants crisis outbursts across the Mediterranean to Europe has created panic in the western world including the US and has made some state governments in the US to clash with President Barak Obama on providing refuge for those fleeing foreign wars. Which again clashes with the US political values as a leading democratic nation or champion and exporter of global democracy. The third is that government in Washington looks after the interests of public servants to the detriment of outsiders and those not in the political class. The fourth is the global hatred for the US that the war on terror has created globally especially in the Middle East fuelled by implacable Arab anger over US age long policy of support for Israel against the Palestinians and the concomitant rise of Islamic state and its bloody, beheading borderless caliphates now horrifying the world and showing special hatred for the US and its citizens globally. The fifth is the deep division in ideological terms between the two main US political parties –the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It was stated clearly that the Republicans have become more conservative while the Democrats have become more liberal leading to a deep division or gulf between the two now threatening the social cohesion that has sustained the political stability of the US hitherto. Given these scenario it is not surprising that a politician like Donald Trump who claims to be angry with the establishment has emerged on the political scene.
However what I find commendable is the way the US president has confronted the systemic anger that Donald Trump is fuelling for political purposes. In reacting to Obama’s visit to the Mosque in Baltimore, Trump was even more aggressive and contemptuous. He said he – Obama- has more important places to go and he went to a mosque. But Obama has stood up for the underdog which Muslims have become because of the terrorism and security threat created by Islamic State globally. If one recalls that Obama in his biography recalled how he followed his step father to a mosque in Djarkata, Indonesia for which some later called him a Muslim sympathizer and some mischief makers also called for a fatwah on him as a former Muslim, then one should appreciate his courage in taking on Donald Trump and stemming the anger against Muslims while soliciting for tolerance for them in spite of the horror and terrorism of IS. President Obama has shown rare courage on this Baltimore mosque visit. He has shown clearly that when duty calls or danger no leader worth his salt should be found wanting. That is a lesson that Donald Trump should learn in spite of his anger against Muslims coming to the US which he called a security issue and not a religious one. Obama has shown leadership against all odds and at great personal risk. That is an example worth emulating by good world leaders and he has my undiluted admiration this time around . Again long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Nation

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Mr. President, can you tarry awhile?

Mr. President, can you tarry awhile?

By: Yomi Odunugaon

Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, pardon the route through which this open letter gets to you. I know that as one of those people who damned the consequences and risked everything in the bid to make possible your presidential ambition, it wouldn’t have been unusual to have an opportunity to discuss the issues I am about to raise here in the corridors of power, away from the prying eyes of the wailing wailers. By that, I refer to those who see absolutely nothing good in your emergence as President, especially the way you thrashed an incumbent who had no option other than accepting defeat. Let me hasten to note too that you genuinely appreciated the way former President Goodluck Jonathan swallowed the humiliating defeat with inexplicable equanimity while you moved into that palatial edifice called Aso Rock.
Needless to say that some of us were truly shocked beyond expression at the aplomb with which you shrugged off your decades of Spartan lifestyle and embraced the stupendous luxury and splendour that the Presidential Villa offers. I guess, in life, certain things cannot be hidden. The difference is getting clearer by the day. For instance, we read that Your Excellency ‘improved’ on Jonathan’s use of Mercedes-Benz S 350 that costs $135,000 for the non-bulletproof edition of Mercedes-Maybach S600 which non-bulletproof version is around $258,000. That’s okay. After all, we know it is the responsibility of the state to do everything within its might to protect you.
However, we knew from experience that there is something beyond our understanding about that place that changes otherwise humble men into arrogant demi-gods. We are living witnesses to how easy it was for certain past occupiers of that seat to lose their humanity; they not only get corrupted by power but got corrupted so absolutely. If we may excuse the despicable reigns of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha based on their foundation of jackboot mentality, what do we ascribe to the irascibility of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo or the detached cluelessness of Jonathan? Though we may not have seen enough of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to properly place him in our long history leadership crisis, the little that we could remember of him speaks volume about the failures in our recruitment process. Naturally, we were worried that in due time, you may join the bandwagon of leaders who loaf around in aloof manner in the luxury of government houses while the populace wallow in poverty, realising at a late hour that nothing has really changed enough to give them hope.
Mr. President, it is just some eight or so months into your four-year tenure and hope is already fizzling away. That is the crying truth. Unfortunately, it is a bare-knuckle fact those who mill around you might not be able to tell you. Baba Buhari, there is anguish in the land. The people in the streets are beginning to ask critical questions about the form and shape of a change that seems to be in perpetual motion without movement. The excitement of a new dawn wanes daily. It is not that these hapless Nigerians have not read or heard about your spirited battle against corruption and corrupt practices. They know how deep the sore is and how painful the blisters can be. They are equally abreast of the earth-shaking details regarding the unbelievable looting bazaar that was freely perpetrated by some privileged Nigerians during the last administration and that ultimately resulted in the economic quagmire the country has found itself. Our people fully support your efforts to trace and recover the entire stolen commonwealth running into trillions of Naira no matter where they are hidden. Even your harshest critics would attest to that objective as non-negotiable, going by your famed zero-tolerance for corruption.
Be that as it may Mr. President, quite a number of your staunch supporters think you have started derailing too early in the day. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that you are increasingly treading the same path to perdition that Jonathan ignominiously trod with astonishing naivety. Somehow, you are gradually losing touch with your base, the constituency of the voiceless majority that voted you into power against all odds. Question – a big one for that matter – equally hangs on your humanity. No matter the spin your very media-savvy aides put on it, there is something wickedly wrong with that visit to Ogun State earlier in the week, to felicitate with its people, on the 40th anniversary of the state. It was, to say the least, a bad time to party. It was a cruel insult on the memories of the over 80 lives lost to the Dalori massacre perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect. The grim pictures of burnt children, scarred limbs and body parts should have been enough to sober the President on the need to tread with caution. Besides, the grisly details of the Dalori attack as recounted by eyewitnesses and many other narratives from the North-East call for a sombre reflection on the part of the government instead of the tasteless declaration of a ‘technical’ defeat of a group that routinely persists with its callous campaign of deadly attacks on defenceless citizens.
Unless you have chosen to flourish in self-deceit like your predecessor did, it is jejune illogic to whine that the Dalori incident and several others were aimed at embarrassing the administration. Hian! Even Jonathan did not run away with that sacrilege when he hugged the sky and frolicked with party faithful in Kano shortly after the deadly bomb blast in Nyanya, Abuja. Then we reasoned, and quite rightly so, that such tendentious excuses were meant for the marines. So, whosoever lifted that dumb gambit from the Jonathan tales of woeful whingeing for you did this administration no good. It is even more pathetic that, as I write this, the President is on a four-day junket to France and the United Kingdom while survivors of the Dalori massacre are chewing their pain in isolation. If we accused Jonathan of dancing on the graves of the slaughtered students in a school in Yobe State, why shouldn’t we marvel at the way you shook your head to Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey’s live performance in Abeokuta? Question is: Whither the humanity that was the thrust of the campaign era when nothing has manifestly shown that this administration is poised to do things differently?
Baba, as some people call you, do you know that an ominous pall of doubts hangs over your Presidency? To be honest, it is not just a mere gloating by those who don’t like the presence of an old man on that seat. It is more about glaring failed expectations. How was it possible that the 2016 budget comes with such humongous padding, even in the appropriations for The Presidency? What has changed if more money would be spent on buying exotic animals for the Villa Zoo, rehabilitating previously rehabilitated buildings and tending the culinary buds of Aso Rock tenants and their friends with hundreds of millions of naira? Why, for example, should Aso Rock Clinic get an allocation of N3.8bn to buy some unspecified medical equipment when the entire allocation for all teaching hospitals serving Nigeria’s 160 million populace gets much less than that amount for a similar purpose? How many sick Nigerians have access to such exotic health resort called Aso Rock Clinic anyway? Apart from the lower cadre staff, how many ‘big men’ in Aso Rock would entrust the clinic medical experts with the treatment of toothache or even minor flu?
Mr. President, you may need to tarry awhile and reassess the steps you have taken so far. While pointing an accusing finger at perceived enemies especially those who allegedly looted the country, it is important to avoid a situation where the remaining four fingers directly point back at the dreadful indiscretion of the Presidency. This Presidency is becoming estranged and alienated from the masses it claims to serve! Of course, Nigeria did not deserve a sit-at-home leader who loiters around while the international community beckons; it does not also require one that jumps into the presidential jet at every occasion travel opportunities come up. By the way, what happened to the vow by the President to reduce the number of jets in the presidential fleet? We heard that the United States’ President and the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister put together, have lesser number of aircraft than that of the Nigerian Presidency. Do we take it as one of the trickeries of electoral campaigns that becomes unrealistic immediately after the administration of the relevant oaths? By the way, is anyone taking an inventory of the President’s foreign travels, including the grave injuries such must have inflicted on the national treasury in this era of belt-tightening for millions of less-privileged souls? Of course, the cost might not be as high as the $1m per trip credited to it by the errant Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose. It is nonetheless important to know if the country gets value for countless junketing across the globe. By the way, your aides call it diplomatic shuttles but we are beginning to feel that the frequency of it in the last eight months is, to put it mildly, diplomatically irritating. Tarry awhile President Buhari, tarry awhile!
Past occupants of our Presidential villa have become people we hardly understand, even as they scoff at our criticisms and anxieties, which they perceive as mere indignities. For all the trials that many of your diehard supporters suffered to arrive at this auspicious occasion in which Sai Baba is now at the top, they just hope that President Buhari has not overshot the runway leading to the redemptive bend! They would like to believe that you have not become yet another victim of that virus in Aso Rock. They wait on time for the answer, your Excellency sir!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

'British values' at their best?

'British values' at their best? 92yr old widow to be deported from UK to South Africa

© Ruptly
A 92-year-old widow, unable to care for herself and hoping to stay in the UK with her daughter, has been ordered to return to her native South Africa. A Home Office decision to deport Myrtle Cothill has sparked public outcry.
Over 54,000 people have signed a petition calling for the elderly woman, whose father fought for Britain in WW1, to be allowed to stay in the UK. Nonetheless, Myrtle has been ordered to turn up at Heathrow next week on Tuesday to catch a flight to South Africa, where she has no relatives, and no one to take care of her.
Myrtle cannot walk unaided, has an enlarged heart and poor vision. She has been living in Dorset, with her 66-year-old British daughter Mary Wills, a qualified carer, since her arrival in Britain in February 2014.
“My mother just cannot live on her own,” Mary wrote in a statement on the petition, “and emotionally, to her as well as for myself, it would really tear strips out of our heart and probably would kill my mother (and maybe myself as well).”
Mary Wills told the Guardian that officials insist her mother should return to South Africa and seek help from the Red Cross there. They told her that the government would pay for the elderly woman's flight, and reportedly promised to give her“£1,000 to tide her over.
“The thing is my mother gets a private pension from my late father so she wouldn’t qualify for assistance from the Red Cross. But really that is beside the point. She should be with her family,” Wills told the Guardian.
“If she doesn’t go to the airport on Tuesday, they will probably come here and remove her and take her to detention center. That will be signing her death certificate,” she added.
Neither Mary, nor her 61-year-old British husband David, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, can move to South Africa to look after Myrtle as they, among other things, have no right to live in South Africa.
Myrtle has fought a battle to stay with her daughter in Poole since last year. The Home Office informed the family in December that Cothill’s application had been rejected as her “condition was not deemed to be life-threatening” and that“suitable medical treatment” was available in her country of origin, the Guardian reported.
The upper tribunal also rejected an application for leave to the court of appeal in October 2015. It alleged that Cothill had“obtained entry to the United Kingdom by deception, and that she and her daughter arranged their affairs with the deliberate intention of making her removal difficult.”
Former Conservative Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe has called for Myrtle Cothill, who was born under the British flag in 1924, to be allowed to stay in Britain.
"It is brutal beyond belief and I am deeply ashamed that a Conservative Government is doing this,” she told the Press Association, adding that the woman is “extremely frail.”
"And when I think that people who climb in on the backs of lorries and they are allowed to stay, but this old lady in her 90s, wholly dependent on her daughter, is being forced back to South Africa, it just beggars belief.
"I want to know if this is David Cameron's idea of British values."

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Our elite and politicians

Our elite and politicians

By: Dele Agekamehon

Since President Muhammadu Buhari got to office in May last year and declared a fierce war on corruption, it has been revelations galore on a daily basis. We all knew that things were very bad, quite well, but what we probably didn’t know was the degree of rot that had pervaded the system. In truth, from the revelations so far, which, I am sure, is still just a tip of the iceberg, the system reeks of an offensive odour that could make any sane person easily throw up. The figures being reeled out are frightening and the methodology employed by these crooks to fleece the treasury is cheap and unbelievable. Companies are incorporated overnight, bank accounts are opened within the twinkle of an eye and before you can say Jack Robinson, the accounts begin to overflow with huge, mouth-watering cash. The implication is that the system appears too porous and vulnerable to abuse as if there are no safety nets. But safety nets or not, Nigerians are just incredibly criminally intelligent. From the messengers in the ministries to the small, medium and big “ogas at the top”, it is a close-knit web of conspiracy and bare-faced stealing all the way.
It is now clear to Nigerians that the real enemies of the country are the elite. It is the elite who have stolen the country blind that are responsible for our myriad of problems – economic backwardness, lack of infrastructure, appalling health care system, poor educational standard, terrorism, insecurity et al. The reason for this is that the money meant for sustainable development in the country has been embezzled by these smart Alecs. This is not to say that it is everybody up there that is a thief, but the preponderance of our so-called elite is engaged in one shady deal or another. There are those who are involved in the actual stealing, while many more profit from the proceeds of crime and criminality in one way or another.
Now that it seems that there is no more hiding place for these thieves, quite a good number of them are getting increasingly uncomfortable because of the fear of the unknown. That brings us to the recent widely circulated statement credited to one of Nigeria’s former leaders, Olusegun Obasanjo, who was at the helm of affairs as President from 1999 to 2007. The former President recently accused the political class, especially the National Assembly members, of being very corrupt, self-centred and greedy. As usual, his assertion has not gone down well with many people. One of them is Bukola Saraki, the embattled Senate President who is currently enmeshed in a battle for his life at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT. Only last Friday, his bid to stave off his trial over certain discrepancies in his assets declaration way back while he was a state governor, was rebuffed by the Supreme Court who ordered him to keep a date with the CCT.
After Obasanjo or Obj’s statement went viral, Saraki quickly replied that “all Nigerian leaders from 1999 were corrupt”. That insinuation means that Obj was also corrupt and that he equally presided over one of the most corrupt governments the nation has ever had. Saraki’s words: “We’ve all been here since 1999 up to the recent past when things were not done right. We are all part of it. I was there, you were there, every other political office holder in different capacities were there as well”. Of course, many Nigerians cannot agree less with Saraki.
In the first instance, from what we all know now, it appears that the lure of public office in Nigeria is not to render anything close to selfless service, but an opportunity to dip one’s fingers into the public till. Perhaps, that is why it is almost impossible to see anybody who has passed through the corridors of power in Nigeria at whatever level and remained poor. If some exist, they may be too infinitesimal to make any difference in a country where people are aggressively desperate to make money even if it means that some other people lose their limbs or lives altogether. Who cares?
After all, those who are involved in the scandalous bazaar now known as armsgate knew quite well that one of the direct consequences of their actions is death and destruction to lives and property in the North-east. But that was not enough to deter them from misappropriating the money meant for procuring arms and ammunition to confront the senseless terrorists and human butchers prowling the North-east. What those people have done is tantamount to committing grievous war crimes which could be visited with death by firing squad. Yet, you still find some people talking about human rights and all that.
Regrettably, the irony of the whole situation is that the human rights that so easily allow these people to steal and create untold hardship in the society, is the first thing they invoke as a defence mechanism when the chips are down. You now have a situation where somebody stole so much and he is manacled and some people are crying to the roofs about presumption of innocence until found guilty. Whereas a common man steals just pepper or some tubers of yam and he is chained hands and feet and dumped in jail. So, that one has no human right? Abi.
It is a good thing that Buhari and his team are desirous to get to the bottom of the rot in this country, but they should know that it is never going to be a tea party. Like the cliché: “When you fight corruption, corruption will certainly fight back,” a statement credited to the Presidency last week indicated that the government had been under severe pressure from some members of the Nigerian elite urging him to take it easy. These people, the statement added, “cut across all tribes and religious differences”. This is not strange at all. It is quite expected. In actual fact, the heat is certainly on and things cannot be the same again.
Nigeria harbours many hypocrites parading as leaders. Tales abound at our police stations especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, and the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, formations, of how these same elite, including highly-placed traditional rulers, religious leaders, present and past political office holders and others in that bracket, mount pressure on officers and men of the formations every now and then to let go of hardened criminals in police net. These people shamelessly go to the stations with their regalia and paraphernalia of office to stand bail for armed robbers, murderers, rapists and all such dangerous felons. That is the depth of the rot in the society.
So, ordinarily it is no news that pressure is being mounted on the government to slow down the anti-corruption war. It is because more and more of these so-called elite who are nothing more than common criminals, are daily being dislodged from their comfort zones. The government should continue to appraise its strategy to rid the country of this endemic corruption while also ignoring those interceding on behalf of their thieving friends and relations because this war must be taken to its logical conclusion.
However, my fear is that those who are coming cap-in- hand now to beg for leniency could resort to some sinister plots if all their entreaties fail. In that case, there is need for eternal vigilance. The public too, must help the government to win this war. The bottom line is that Nigerians don’t want all these to end up as circuit shows. They want to see these white-collar thieves in jail. However, what is worrisome is: If Buhari cannot do this conclusively, who else will clean the Augean stables?

Olajumoke...Clothier Uche Nnaji writes letter to Nigerian Banks

Olajumoke...Clothier Uche Nnaji writes letter to Nigerian Banks

The man behind Ouch Clothing, Uche Nnaji writes below..
I am still excited and happy that TyBello allowed God use her to turn around the captivity(circumstance ) of Olajumoke, But I am shocked at the sudden awareness by corporate bodies to jump on the band wagon to bless and celebrate her with all sorts of "Gifts" from Apartments to Endorsements...
As if this act has or will take away all the other MILLIONS of "OLAjumoke's on our streets searching and waiting for their own TYBello. The shocker for me is seeing a Nigerian bank rushing to make Olajumoke a brand ambassador when they would not move an inche to SAVE a dying Nigerian MSME. This action has further shown that most Nigerian Banks seldom grasp their role in growing the economy, Olajumoke is 1 individual, but a business or an idea the Nigerian bank supports /Celebrate can become a new Facebook or Dangote which would create jobs and feed families . but clearly most of these bank won't find a student who invented something and take a gamble of supporting the lad, not to talk of taking risk with established growing businesses all because there is no sensation to it. Dear Nigerian banks when you support Small growing businesses they will create more jobs and get more OLAJUMOKE,s off the streets.
My name is Uche Nnaji and I create JOBs​

Hope: Starving Akwa Ibom child branded a 'witch' is looking much healthier

Starving Akwa Ibom child branded a 'witch' is looking much healthier

The little boy who was left for dead in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State after being branded a witch has begun his recovery after he was saved by Danish aid worker, Anja Ringgren Lovén. Photos of the boy, named Hope, being fed a drink of water by Lovén went viral in early February. The aid worker has since posted photos of Hope looking much healthier.
Lovén wrote posted a photo of Hope on Facebook revealing that he had gained weight and would hopefully begin talking when he left the hospital to to join the other children in an orphanage run by charitable organisation.
"Hope is getting so much better. Already gaining a lot of weight and looking so much more healthy. Now we only need him to talk. But that will come naturally when he is out of the hospital and starting his life among all our children. Children become stronger together" she wrote.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Budget 2016

Again, Budget 2016

By: Olatunji Dareon

It is probably just as well that the National Assembly has suspended discussion and deliberation on President Muhammadu Buhari’s budget proposals for fiscal 2016. There is simply no way to move forward on a document so gravely flawed and so lacking in the basic integrity with which Buhari is widely credited.
The more one learns about the budget proposals, the more one is distressed that it was ever presented as a Budget of Change. For it is nothing of the sort. It is in many ways a budget of Continuity – continuity of the feeding frenzy, the financial recklessness and the sheer rapacity of the Jonathan years. And it tests sorely the public’s faith in the capacity of the Buhari Administration to set Nigeria on a new path.
A budget of change would have questioned rigorously the fundamental assumptions on which previous budgets were grounded. A budget prepared at a time revenues from oil exports had fallen by more than 60 per cent would have rejected out of hand the business-as –usual approach in favour of something lean, even mean, if only to signal indeed that hard times are here and will be with us for quite a while.
It would have scrutinised every proposed expenditure unsentimentally, cutting out whatever is not absolutely necessary and demanding, if an expenditure is warranted, that it be met at a cost that takes into account the nation’s diminished financial circumstances. It would have resonated with a call for sacrifice and prudence.
Thus, it would have questioned whether the President and Vice President and their families should for all practical purposes be wards of the Nigerian state, with their every need and desire and fancy met from the public purse, in a country where the anaemic minimum wage of N18, 000 goes unpaid for months.
But what do we find?
To take one scandalous example: The budget makes outrageous provisions for the kitchen equipment and cookware and ancillary stuff on which the previous year’s budget – and the one before it – had received outlays that bordered on the obscene.
What happened to all the kitchen equipment and cookware and related stuff provided for in the State House budget every year Dr Jonathan was in office? Were any purchases made? What happened to last year’s purchase, and the previous year’s? Was the material ever inventoried?
They probably did so much cooking and preparing cassava bread in the place that at year’s end, the equipment purchased only the previous year for tens of millions of Naira – junk stuff most likely, like the military hardware acquired during the same period, were no longer serviceable.
But with a new resident in the Villa, one not given to the bacchanalia and the gastronomic proclivities of the previous resident and his train, there is no excuse for such profligacy.
This is indeed the time to consider privatising the entire catering operation at the Villa, in keeping with the public-private partnership strategy that has become obligatory for solving national problems. That way, the government pays a charge on the catering, without having to buy a new set of kitchen equipment every year.
Take, as a second example the more than N4.9 million earmarked for books for the office of the Vice President for fiscal 2016. It is considerably less than the previous year’s outlay of N7.5 million, though the incumbent is a legal scholar and practitioner of the first rank, unlike his predecessor, an architect who never pretended to be a bibliophile.
Though relatively small, the expenditure on books for the former vice president’s office for fiscal 2015 year cries out for justification, as does the proposed expenditure in the 2016 Budget for the current vice president.
Were books actually bought in 2015? Who determined what books should be bought? What subjects do they cover? Where are the books now? Are they in safe custody, properly catalogued and available to staffers of the Vice President’s office and officials in other bureaus of the Presidency? Or did the former vice president take them away as personal effects, to be read in the leisure he never enjoyed in office?
Who determined that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s suite should boast a library crammed with books worth nearly N5 million? What subjects will the volumes cover? Even if he is inclined to read them all, he will never have the time. They may even constitute a distraction. So, whom are the budget planners trying to impress?
But the puzzle does not end there. A cable linking one part of the Presidential Villa to other drivers’ rest room is to be installed for some N322 million, and another linking a Guest House to the generator room is to be installed for N213 million.
How did these come to be budget priorities in these hard times? If they had hitherto run the place without these cables, why install them now when the cost could serve more urgent needs?
Then there is the allocation of N618.6 million for electrical lighting and fittings at the Villa, and another N37.7 million for electrical distribution boards and other cables. What happened to the electrical lighting and fittings and distribution boards and cables that previously served the Villa? All of them went bust in one fell swoop? Or were there none to begin with, in which case it is necessary to ask: What then makes them so urgent now?
In testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Professor Isaac Adewole stopped just short of calling the budget document for his ministry a forgery. He disavowed it, saying that it had been doctored in such a way as to upend the ministry’s priorities.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, discovered a “strange” provision of N230 million and N168 million for the purchase of computers for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and the Film and Video Censors Board.
The budget proposals for the Investments and Securities Tribunal, it has turned out, were copied word for word from the previous year’s submission.
These are just some of the willful errors, duplications, inflated prices, misplaced priorities and shoddiness with which the 2016 budget documents are strewn. The Federal Government blames it on a “budget mafia,” entrenched civil servants who have made a career of gaming the system for corrupt self-enrichment.
This will not do. Members of the so-called mafia report to superior officials who in turn report to the President, who is on record as saying that he took so long to name a cabinet because he wanted to be sure that he had the right officials in the right places.
With regard to the 2016 budget, this seems not to have been the case. By their negligence, indifference and complicity, Buhari’s senior officials have caused him and the nation great embarrassment. They have also undermined public faith in his commitment to change, and in his administration’s capacity to break away from the failed habits of the past.
They should not go unpunished.
What this budget fiasco has revealed is in a fundamental sense a failure of auditing. Public institutions operate for years on end without being audited. Errors, witting and unwitting, go undetected and become self-perpetuating.
No effort to combat official malfeasance, however spirited, can succeed without a strong and responsive audit mechanism.

Monday, 15 February 2016

APC and the moral high ground

APC and the moral high ground

By: Segun Ayoboluon

It is beyond dispute. President Muhammadu Buhari is a man of rock solid integrity. His sense of honour and high moral values are great assets to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) today. But ironically, it was not integrity that won Buhari the 2015 presidential election. He had that virtue aplenty when he lost his bid for the presidency on three previous occasions despite his massive grassroots support in the far North. There were at least four key reasons for his victory at last year’s presidential polls
Related image
Firstly, was the emergence of the APC as a pan-Nigerian political party that could match the spread and depth of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Secondly, were the sophisticated and creative political marketing strategies that radically transformed the Buhari persona and made him for the first time sellable to the Middle- Belt and South-West political zones. Thirdly, was better funding and logistics support that enabled him campaign more effectively across the length and breadth of Nigeria. And fourthly was the abysmally poor governance of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP that led to a steep appreciation in value of APC’s change slogan.
Today, however, Buhari is clearly the most adored and admired politician and leader in Nigeria across a large swathe of the country’s political landscape. His stock has risen largely because of his single minded and unflagging commitment to fighting corruption as he promised during the campaigns. Most Nigerians are impressed that the anti-graft fire still blazes in his belly at 73 as much as it did when he was a young military Head of State over three decades ago. Buhari is quite unlike some of his very loquacious, annoyingly hypocritical, perennially letter-writing predecessors who endlessly mouthed anti-corruption slogans in office while feathering their nests with ferocious glee. The sheer lunatic scale of the looting frenzy engaged in by the PDP, as is being revealed daily, has also sensitised many Nigerians to the clear and present danger that this menace poses to the very existence of Nigeria and helped to galvanise more support for Buhari.
Yet, the APC and President Buhari must tread very carefully. When you promise radical change from a decadent and fetid past as well as an all- out war against corruption, you must yourself stand on the highest moral pedestal possible. Let us not forget the piercing words of the fiery St Paul in the book of Romans: “Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you do it? You condemn idolatry, but do you steal from pagan temples? You are so proud of knowing the law but you dishonour God by breaking it”.
What really is the defining essence of corruption, which for our purposes can be characterised simply as the criminal and illegal privatisation of collective resources by individuals and groups in positions of public trust? Yes, it is a violation of moral norms and values but that is not it. Yes, it is a negation of lofty philosophical and ethical principles but that is not it. Yes, it is an assault on elevated religious sensibilities but that is not it. Yes, it manifests as a denudation of the integrity of the human conscience but that is not it. Yes, it can lead to human suffering on an industrial scale but that is not it. Yes, it can result in harmful social inequality on an epochal dimension but that is not it.
What then, I ask again, is at the very core, the centre, the quintessence of corruption? I think the answer is simple. It is, first and foremost, a brutal rape of stipulated rules and regulations. It is a calculated assault on the rule of law. It is a veritable coup against due process. It is a wilful, if insidious. snapping at the binding chords that prevent a descent from society to anarchy. In one word, corruption is but just another variant of impunity.
This is why I am astounded that there is even any debate at all as to whether Buhari’s anti-corruption war must be conducted within the bounds of the rule of law or not. There is simply no alternative. You cannot fight impunity with impunity. The rule of law exists to protect us all from the tendency of power to corrupt and absolute power to corrupt absolutely. Let no mistake be made about it. No occupant of public office, no matter how saintly or well-intentioned, can be immune from the corrosive moral effects of exercising powers without restraint.
Impunity is not a copyright of the PDP. Even the APC must be inoculated against this virus by strict adherence to constitutionalism and the rule of law whatever the circumstances. Thus, the boundaries of separation of powers must be respected. Court orders must be obeyed and the integrity of the courts protected. Nobody, no matter how much you hate his face, can be pronounced guilty in the media without following the due process of law no matter how laborious. Impunity is the common factor that binds the thieving public official, the Boko Haram terrorist, the armed robber and the elected office holder who defies court orders in one sinister brotherhood of evil.
Yes, ‘Dasukigate’ involves the criminal diversion of $2.1 billion of funds meant for the purchase of arms for our military into private pockets purportedly for political purposes. But then, ‘Kogigate’ involves the felonious conversion of votes from the duly elected AbubakarAudu/James Falake ticket to the illegal Yahaya Bello sole candidacy, which is completely unknown to the constitution. Yes, ‘Dasukigate’ involves the stealing of humongous amounts of money. But ‘Kogigate’ involves the stealing of an entire state! Pray, which of these atrocious crimes is better? No sir, one form of impunity is not better than another.
In ‘Ekitigate’, leading PDP politicians are accused of illegally colluding with security agencies to manipulate the 2014 governorship election that brought the feisty Ayo Fayose to power. But in ‘Kogigate’, can leading APC politicians swear that they did not collude with INEC officials to contrive a so-called inconclusive election that enabled them to foist a candidate of their choice on the state against all rhyme and reason? So it is only when PDP elements pervert state institutions that it is a crime? I tire o!
There are two emerging trends in the APC administration that I find worrisome. First, is the creeping cheap campaign of blackmail against journalists and media houses who question the administration’s methods in prosecuting its war against corruption. Columnists are routinely described as ‘hack writers’ or agents of corruption fighting back. This is unwarranted. The administration must not cultivate the image of intolerance. The intelligent, experienced and resourceful Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has a duty to guide the administration on a better path in this regard. Incidentally, the minister is highly regarded in media circles.
Secondly, is the frequency with which the integrity of judicial officers is being attacked without the slightest scintilla of proof as being cogs in the wheel of the anti-corruption war. It is my view that if any judicial officer is alleged to have engaged in corrupt practices or abused his or her office in any way, such a person should be reported to the anti-corruption agencies which can investigate and prosecute in accordance with the law. But nobody should expect court judgements to be based on public opinion or media reports. Otherwise, we could as well abolish the courts and set up popular tribunals to summarily execute anybody accused of corruption in the media.
In the simmering controversy over the alleged rigging of the 2014 Ekiti State governorship election, popularly christened ‘Ekitigate’, I vote neither for Governor Ayo Fayose nor Dr Temitope Aluko, ex-Ekiti State Secretary of the PDP. Both men have no scruples. They lack character even though Fayose appears the more decent. Aluko testified before the Ekiti State Election Petition Tribunal that the election was free and fair. Now, he is singing a different tune because he says Fayose demurred on his earlier promise to make him Chief of Staff. There is absolutely nothing new that Aluko said which was not already in the public domain. Yes, money was voted for the elections. But which elections are fought without money? Yes, Security was illegally deployed to intimidate APC leaders and members. But does that explain Fayose’s victory in all Local Government Areas of the state including that of the incumbent governor? Does that explain why there was not a whimper of protest anywhere in Ekiti State at such alleged massive rigging? How did the PDP, despite Hurricane Buhari, convincingly win the 2015 Presidential, National Assembly and House of Assembly Seats in Ekiti? The Ekiti APC should simply stop chasing shadows, look inwards and begin rebuilding itself for the future.

Sunday, 14 February 2016



The lost children of Banking Zuwo

The lost children of Banking Zuwo

By Tatalo Alamuon

•Government House
As the interrogation and frisking of economic predators get under way, Nigeria is awash in dark comedies. There are unconfirmed and unconformable reports of money hidden away in the most unlikely of places and in the most delicate parts of the human anatomy. As Ibrahim Magu and his people close in, cemeteries, forsaken graveyards, solitary grain silos, soak-away and abandoned water reservoirs are reported to be brimming with various currencies.
A notorious female socialite has let it be known that she is carrying an eight month pregnancy which will not terminate until the return of the great prophet. The Yoruba call such monster children, “Omopeninu”, (The one that tarries in the womb). It was also said that an infamous carpetbagger in one of the provincial capitals recently celebrated the “turning of the grave” of his parents by summarily exhuming and expelling the remains and reburying them in gold caskets filled with Nigeria’s looted patrimony.
Thereafter, the sepulchre Bureau de Change was walled round and electrified. Another was known to have hurriedly constructed a modern Plaza with a secret underground floor filled with cash. Another dug up the soak-away and replaced the human waste with more expensive inhuman waste. It doesn’t get more ghoulish and it all reminds one of the last days of the Roman Empire. If retired General Buhari is looking for a way of balancing the budget deficit, it is obvious that he doesn’t need to look farther afield. It can be internally sourced.
The Nigerian grave yard is an El Dorado brimming with filthy lucre. This is the way of Black people. Mother Nature has gifted them with prodigal resources. After clumsily extracting, they return to bury the proceeds alive. The grave yard cries, and so do the living dead. This is the sacred ritual of the eternal hunter-gatherer. With Nigeria in the last stages of a regression to the Stone Age, who will save the Black person from himself?
But how will the founding patron of private state banking in Nigeria view this development? Very dismally indeed. Barkin Zuwo would have dismissed these unworthy descendants as cowardly banza who could not make an economic kill and stand by it, waiting for any impudent state interloper to dare query them. These are not valiant repositories of state funds but ordinary garden variety robbers who could not hold a candle to their illustrious forebears.
So, God bless good old Barkin Zuwo, and may Allah grant his commodious frame a fitting repose. It was said of the late King Farouk of Egypt that he was a man of much weight but little substance. Farouk, it will be recalled, developed an enormous, Pavarotti-like girth and phenomenal bulk from polishing off a whole lamb at a single sitting. When Nasser finally overthrew him, the obese hulk had to be wheel-barrowed into a waiting ship.
Our own Barkin Zuwo cannot be accused of such gastronomic impunity. Although rumours had it that the late beloved governor of Kano was partial to a huge bowl of Tuwo Shikanfi which he munched with an agrarian relish, he could not be accused of gluttony. The second executive governor of old Kano might have been educationally challenged in the western sense, but he was nobody’s fool. He was as sharp and shrewd as a political marksman, and keen –witted to boot.
For the three months he governed good old tempestuous Kano, there was no shortage of drama, and of the electrifying stuff, too. With his furry Fez cap, the former NEPU stalwart of Nupe extraction could have been mistaken for a Black actor impersonating a pre-Gorbachev era Communist Party supremo, or a royal extra hand in the film, Trading Places.
It was however in the department of creative misprision that Barkin Zuwo courted real immortality. It will be recalled that when good old Barkin was asked about which mineral resources his state could boast of, he growled: “ We get am for Phanta, Coca cola, Sphrite and Miranda”.
Please recall that around the same time, another colleague of Barkin from the old wild, wild west, a dedicated strongman who could prise open an iron fortress gate with bare fists, was asked what he thought was behind the whole phenomenon of students unrest. Infamously, the celebrated stalwart from Erunmu agrarian community near Ibadan was said to have retorted: “How can they rest when they are always fighting?”—or words to that effect.
When the soldiers eventually struck putting an end to the shenanigans of the Second Republic, Barkin Zuwo marched to military detention camp with plenty of aplomb and pizzazz to spare. (Please note that snooper did not say pizza). Zuwo was not going to be fazed or cowed by some boy scouts pretending to be generals. He had after all known the dreaded and ferocious Abacha as a mere boy playing football in Kano, a feat that earned the future infantry general the appellation of“Obe the Pele”.
It was in brief detention that Zuwo finally earned his deserved place in the Guinness Book of records, and in the most bizarre of circumstances. It was put out to the world at large that a huge some of money was found under his bed. Zuwo could not understand what the fuss was all about. “It is govmen money in govmen house, shikena”, the old NEPU hell-raiser tersely noted.
The churlish press boys quickly nicknamed him “Banking Zuwo” to reflect his new status as the banker of the bankrupt. But Zuwo was not done yet. When it was let out what a staggering sum of money that was found in his house, Zuwo cried blue murder. “Barawo ne” (Thief!), he screamed at the NSO boys. According to Zuwo, there had been some creative accounting somewhere because the money he hid was far in excess of what had been declared.
Ibrahim Magu and the new firebrand no-nonsense EFCC should note this. Till date nobody has bothered to reconcile the differing accounts or the accountants for that matter. The man of the people chopped until the redeemer of the people came, oil flowed and blood flowed, but If anything, Nigerians had merely exchanged monkeys for baboons apologies to Sad Sam.
Twenty five years later, in the year of our Lord 2008 the “Banking Zuwo” drama replayed itself, which shows that in Nigeria, the more things change the more they remain the same. Enter Joshua Chibi Dariye, the former governor of Plateau state and a celebrated modern-day Croesus and fugitive from Metropolitan justice.
Ousted twice from office by forces loyal to the implacable General Obasanjo, the dapper Dariye survived by the skin of his teeth, with his elegant French suit dripping with the dewy mush and manure of the remote plateau. The old EFCC under Malam Nuhu Ribadu, like a vicious rottweiler, went beyond the call of duty to nail him. Disobliging the tenets of democracy and the rule of law, it finally assembled six members of the assembly to commit executive regicide.
It is understandable, then, if there was no love lost between the EFCC and the then embattled Dariye. In the heat of battle, and in a gory turn of metaphor, Dariye likened the EFCC to dogs which he said constituted a mouth watering delicacy among his people. It will be recalled that Dariye’s sturdy tribesmen once made a mince meat of the invading caliphate forces in a memorable massacre which turned the entire plateau into a grisly fountain of blood. In the event, wiser counsel prevailed and a bloody show down was averted.
But that was only an inconclusive battle in an unending war. The gladiators eventually returned to the ring. This time it was an embattled Dariye who moved rapidly to the offensive against his tormentors. In an allegation all too reminiscent of the late Barkin Zuwo, Dariye claimed that there was a shortfall of 741 million naira between money actually impounded from him and money actually declared. Phew!!!. Zuwo would have been barking mad.
Now, in international gossip circuits, as snooper noted at that material point in time, the British journalist is often the butt of cruel jokes for congenitally fiddling with expense accounts. The rich Americans are openly and brutally scornful of this hand wringing petty thievery. Snooper was not sure whether this vice has also caught up with the metropolitan cops. The British High Commission actually confirmed that only part of the money has been returned even as the Federal government of that period chose to hide under empty technicalities.
This did not assuage Joshua Dariye, and neither would Barkin Zuwo ,his patron saint, have been too pleased. With or without metropolitan reassurance, Dariye cried blue murder. That seems like ages ago, but we are again at a similar conjuncture in this endlessly gory tale of the gang-raping of a nation by its own privileged children. The tribe of economic rapists has multiplied. With so many notorious Nigerian economic predators taking refuge in Britain, let the Metropolitan Police beware of Africa as the new ethical graveyard of the white man. There is an evil spirit abroad.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

African wars, African woes

African wars, African woes

•The AU should step up its profile to save a broken continent

Africa is usually defined by pervasive property. But it can be defined just as validly by violent upheavals and civil wars that claim tens of thousands of lives, disrupt the livelihoods of millions and make national development, difficult even in more quiescent conditions, almost impossible.

In part, this is the unwholesome legacy of colonialism. Entire communities were partitioned for the administrative convenience of the colonial powers, without their consent and without regard to the history and culture of the people.
Rather than repair the damage, the post-colonial period consecrated it. At its inauguration in 1963,the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) made “non-interference” by member-States in the “internal affairs” of other member-States a cardinal principle. For all practical purposes, non-interference translated into indifference. And although the OAU Charter contained an elaborate mechanism for conflict resolution, it pertained only to conflict between or among states.
The African Union sought to correct this defect by instituting the African Peer Review Mechanism, designed to encourage conformity in regard to political, economic and corporate governance, values, codes and standards among member–States. But it has remained largely ineffectual.
At a special summit of the Committee of Heads of State and Government two weeks ago, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kenya’s president and chair of the African Union Peer Review Forum, Uhuru Kenyatta, spoke of the challenges that have undermined the “vitality, visibility” and success of the APRM, among them waning enthusiasm and commitment, dwindling financial capacity, and what he diplomatically called the “slowdown” in operations.
Image result for african conflicts
Unless and until these challenges are addressed, the APRM could not be expected to fulfill its mandate, Kenyatta said.
At the 26th Summit of the AU which followed the APR Forum’s meeting, President Muhammadu Buhari and President Idriss Deby, of Chad, the AU’s new chair, spoke in the same vein.
“Everything that we are doing now will be in vain and without purpose if we allow Africa to go through these perpetual crises,” Deby said, citing specifically the upheavals in South Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Burundi, and the Lake Chad region.
He could have added Uganda, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Congo DR, and Zimbabwe.
“Through diplomacy or by force,” Deby continued, “we must put an end to these tragedies of our time. We cannot make progress and talk of development if part of our body is sick. We should be the main actors in the search for solution to Africa’s crises.

Burundi, convulsed by murder and mayhem, evoking frightful memories of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, presented the AU with a test case of this new resolve. In April 2015, mass protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s design to hang on to power beyond the two terms stipulated by the country’s Constitution, and a failed coup attempt to stop him, drew savage reprisals that moved the AU to resolve to dispatch a contingent of 5,000 peacekeepers under an African Prevention and Protection Mission.
Nkurunziza would hear none of it. He warned severely that his forces and Burundians in general would attack the peacekeepers if they ever set foot on Burundian soil. In the face of this bellicose response the AU has had to drop the plan.
But the AU cannot give up its efforts to end the conflicts that blight the lives and hopes of millions of Africans and call into question its reason for being. It should explore diplomatic options to the fullest. But when such efforts fail, the AU should consider military intervention, to protect the civil populace.
The wholesale slaughter of innocents cannot be the” internal affairs” of any country.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Buhari’s many travels: How not to govern from abroad

Buhari’s many travels: How not to govern from abroad

In from Timothy Enietan-Matthews

Who is a criminal? What is the difference between an average criminal and a Nigerian? According to Nigeria’s number one citizen, they are one and the same. This has thrown up a national debate, querying the governing style of President Muhammadu Buhari who seems to be more comfortable making strong statements about Nigeria and its citizens from outside the country.

In what may qualify for a record breaking move, the President after his inauguration on May 29, 2015, soon embarked on what has come to be known as his globetrotting activities, visiting four countries, namely Chad, Niger, Germany and South Africa in his first month in office.

If Nigerians thought the President’s foreign trips in the month of June 2015 was an isolated case, they were primed for gross disappointment, as President Buhari has shown no sign of slowing down.

As at the last count, President Buhari has also visited the United States July 2015; Benin Republic, August 2015; Ghana and France, September 2015; India, October 2015; Iran, France and United States, November 2015; South Africa and Benin Republic, December 2015; United Arab Emirate, Kenya, Ethiopia, France and United Kingdom in the less than two months of 2016.

While it is important for the country to continue to play its part and be active globally, the way and manner the President is handling this is beginning to make Nigerians apprehensive. Aside former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no Nigerian leader has committed so much time and resources to frequent foreign trips like President Buhari.

While it is important for the country to continue to play its part and be active globally, the way and manner the President is handling this is beginning to make Nigerians apprehensive. Aside former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no Nigerian leader has committed so much time and resources to frequent foreign trips like President Buhari.

Reacting to the President’s foreign trips, vocal governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, knocked the President, alleging that a huge amount of the nation’s resources is being spent on these trips.

In his reasoning, it was better the President stayed back in the country to solve the many problems facing it, adding that most of the trips were unnecessary.

“Conservatively, about $1 million goes into every of the foreign trips and the way the President is going, foreign trips alone might gulp 20 percent of the Federal Government budget and that will be disastrous for the dwindling economy of the country.

“It is even more worrisome that while the economy is already in shambles and insecurity pervades the land with Boko Haram burning Nigerians, including children alive in the North East, our President is busy globetrotting.

He noted that “Out of his eight months as President of Nigeria, two months have been spent outside the country, and one wonders how a country like Nigeria can progress with its president spending the better part of his time abroad.

“Mr President is therefore advised to focus more on governing Nigeria from home because foreign countries won’t solve our problems for us. He should fulfill his promise of leading the fight against Boko Haram from the front. Most importantly, the President should pay more attention to the ailing economy of the country while he carries on with genuine fight against corruption.”

Conservatively, about $1 million goes into every of the foreign trips and the way the President is going, foreign trips alone might gulp 20 percent of the Federal Government budget and that will be disastrous for the dwindling economy of the country.

With the huge resources that are being committed to the foreign trips of the President and his entourage, what has it benefitted Nigerians? Can Nigeria confidently say it has benefitted, or is benefitting from the President’s trips abroad, to justify the resources committed to the journeys?

For many, there is nothing yet on ground to show that the country has benefitted or is benefitting. For many, the trips are nothing but waste of resources and the time the president should have used in governing the nation, while many others, feel that instead of benefits, the nation’s reputation and that of its people is constantly being damaged.

It is instructive to note that President Muhammadu Buhari has either consciously or otherwise chosen to make his most important and controversial statements abroad. Every trip of the President comes with its own controversial statement that Nigerians believe are damaging their reputation while de-marketing the country and its economy.

The President’s fixation on the fight against corruption, though commendable, has provided the greatest avenue for damaging statements from him while abroad.

The President has recently branded every Nigerian as corrupt and a thief, who by implication, foreigners should be wary of in carrying out transactions with.

President Buhari also, in the United Kingdom, stirred more controversy when he described Nigerians as criminally minded people. Not a few Nigerians were shocked by the President’s latest goof, wondering why a president who should be the country’s number one image maker is the one doing the greatest damage.

This notwithstanding, the Presidencybelieves the foreign trips are critical to the implementation of the administration’s key policies.

It is instructive to note that President Muhammadu Buhari has either consciously or otherwise chosen to make his most important and controversial statements from abroad. Every trip of the President comes with its own controversial statement that Nigerians believe are damaging their reputation while de-marketing the country and its economy.

Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, in a recent statement, said the trips have started yielding fruits in terms of turning the tide in the fight against the insurgents who have been most active in the North-east, attracting investments in the range of billions of dollars, and securing global support for the administration’s anti-corruption fight.

According to Mohammed, “He was in Germany at the invitation of the G7 to solicit support from the Industrialized nations for the war against terrorism. No one who has witnessed the killings and maiming in the past seven years by Boko Haram will call such trips frivolous. After all, the security and welfare of the citizens are the reason for the existence of any government.

”The President’s visit to South Africa was to attend the regular summit of the African Union; the trip to Ghana was aimed at fostering better relations with a brotherly country; the trip to India was for the India-Africa summit that provided the opportunity to explore ways of enhancing Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from Indian investors, while the trip to Iran was to attend the forum of Gas Exporting Countries, a veritable platform for discussing how to better harness Nigeria’s abundant gas resources for industrial/domestic consumption and export, at a time of dwindling oil prices.

”The President also travelled to Malta to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, from where he travelled to Paris for the UN Conference on Climate Change. The President’s second trip to South Africa since assuming office is for the China-Africa forum. On the few occasions that the President has embarked on a State Visit, he has tied that to an agenda that will further the quest for support for the war against terror and the efforts to enhance FDIs, thus stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.”

Nigerians are yet to see or feel the impact and are beginning to object to being governed from abroad, or being tagged criminals from abroad, for that matter.

”President Buhari is well respected on the global stage for his high integrity, his transparency, his patriotism and his purposeful leadership. It is important to leverage this respect in such a way that Nigeria can become a major player, either in the realms of economy or global diplomacy,” the Minister said.

However, many Nigerians, including Fayose are of the view that a good number of the trips embarked upon by Buhari could be delegated to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, or a minister, giving the president more time, energy and resources to dedicate to solving the many problems plaguing the nation.

As to Mohammed’s claim that the trips have attracted help from some of the visited countries in the fight against terrorism, especially in the decimation of the Boko Haram group, this may not be totally true, as the Senator representing Borno Central, Senator Baba Kaka Garbai, who should know, put a lie to the claim.

Senator Garbai said recently that claims by the Federal Government that terror group no longer controls any part of Nigerian territory and that they have been “technically defeated”, was a big lie. The federal legislator while on a visit to Dalori, after an attack by Boko Haram in which at least 65 people were killed, said the insurgent group still has control of 50 percent of Borno State.

According to him, the truth about the accomplishment of the military in Borno State has never truly been said as the Boko Haram and the Nigerian nation are presently administering about the same territories in the state.

But the truth is; no matter how frantically the presidency and Mohammed continue to justify the president’s many trips abroad as being purposeful and targeted at specific goals, Nigerians are yet to see or feel the impact and are beginning to object to being governed from abroad, or being tagged criminals from abroad, for that matter.

culled from: RipplesNigeria …without borders, without fears