Let me begin by telling a story. On June 1, 2015, the day I resumed work as adviser on media to President Muhammadu Buhari, he had admonished me: “Adesina, always tell me the truth. That is what I want from you. In this type of position I have found myself, it is very easy not to be told the truth. People will just tell you what they think you want to hear. But from you, I want the truth. As a General, I may argue, but please argue with me. Tell me the truth always.”
Based on that blank cheque I’d been given, I went to the residence one evening last year to see the President. That was the time there was deafening talk of hunger from different parts of the country. I wanted to be sure that the talk was not being filtered from the President. Of course, I know him as somebody who reads newspapers religiously, and wherever we are in the face of the world, he asks for media highlights from Nigeria. So, he would not be unaware of what Nigerians were going through. But I still wanted to raise it with him.
“Mr. President, there is hunger in the land, and people are complaining. I know government is doing its best, but I just want you to be aware,” I said.
Mr. President responded: “I know, I know. I am aware of what people are going through. I have people in my own constituency back home, and I know the messages they send to me. But it is a passing phase. Our country was vandalized, and we found ourselves in this problem. But now that we are here, we will do our best. We will bring change to this country, and we are already seeing it in agriculture. This period of hunger will pass.”
It was prophetic. The season of hunger will pass, and is indeed passing. Anyone that is honest will admit that things are looking up in Nigeria. The ravening clouds shall no longer be victorious. They shall not long possess the sky.
I went away with one conviction from that night’s meeting: the poor matter very much to this President. He is not the type that people would tell they had no bread to eat, and he would tell them to eat cake instead. This is a friend of the talakawas, a man who loves ordinary people, and who wants their station in life to be improved. And those people know it. That is why they gravitate towards him and repose so much confidence in him. He is their hero. Our hero.
President Buhari turns 75 years on Sunday 17 December. But some six months back, how many could confidently say this day would come for the ramrod straight man from Daura? How many believed the President would come out of the severe medical challenge that had confronted him? It all began as a routine vacation cum medical check up in January, and few days after, the rumour mill was on overdrive. The challenge lasted till August before the President returned home finally, and since then, he has been looking better by the day. Each time you now see him, there is a fresher glow, and you cannot but give glory to God on his behalf.
But why was President Buhari kept alive, so much so that he is turning 75 today? Why did he pass through the sea of infirmity, and he was not swept away? Why did he pass through inferno, and the fire did not kindle against him? Big question. I don’t have the answer, but I can hazard some guesses, based on divine principles.
Rigobert Song. Remember him? Song was the Cameroonian defender who played many years for the Indomitable Lions. He appeared at eight African Nations Cup tournaments, five as captain, and stood between Nigeria and victory many times. He became an idol, venerated by his countrymen and women. He retired to become a coach.
Then late last year, Song was not on song again on the soccer pitch. He had a near death experience on October 20. He went down with brain aneurysm and was in coma for two days. Doctors battled to save his life, and he was eventually evacuated to France.
While the travails lasted, the social media was abuzz with news of Song’s passage. As someone who had followed his career over the years, I felt very sad. But this is the season of fake news. Song was not dead, he miraculously rallied back. He narrated his experience, which I found instructive, considering what our President also passed through:
“I did not know what was happening to me…I did not even know I was fighting between life and death…All these people, they put God in trouble. Because everyone in this situation, they were praying-this is what I keep in my mind-God would have been in trouble. Everyone was praying, asking, ‘God, please don’t do that, don’t take Rigobert.’ I say thank you, everybody, for making me come back.”
What song was Song singing? One of thanksgiving. Cameroonians who loved him bombarded God with prayers, ‘Please, don’t take Rigobert now.’ And God heard. He showed mercy.
That is the same reason President Buhari is alive today. Nigerians bombarded Heaven with prayers. With supplications, intercessions, pleas for mercy. Muslims prayed in mosques. Christians prayed in churches. President Alpha Conde of Guinea declared 24 hours prayer for his Nigerian counterpart. Prayers were going on everywhere, both at home and in the Diaspora. I can imagine God telling Himself: ‘I must answer these prayers. These petitions are too many. I must answer.’
And God had mercy, a fact attested to by President Buhari himself. He said his return was a miracle, which only God could have done.
Why did God keep our President alive? The Holy Books answer:
“Blessed is he that considers the poor;
God will deliver him in the day of evil.
God will preserve him, and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed upon the earth;
And deliver him not unto the will of his enemies,
And raise him up from sickness.” (Psalm 41:1-3).
And this one in Surah At-Tawbah 9:128:
“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer, for he is concerned over you and to the believers he is kind and merciful.”
President Buhari is concerned about Nigerians, particularly the helpless, the ordinary people, and he has dedicated his life to serving them. And when he was near unto death, those ordinary people besieged Heaven with prayers. That Christian hymn says “dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.” And God truly answered.
There is power in goodwill, we have seen it work. It worked for Rigobert Song, and it has worked for our President. Have a heart for men, particularly for the poor, the lowly, and the downtrodden. And see God rise on your behalf.
Consider Tabitha (Dorcas in Greek), who lived at Joppa. She was full of good works, always doing good, and helping the poor. One day, she took ill and died. Peter, one of the apostles of Jesus, was invited. He came, prayed, and said: “Tabitha, arise!” And the woman came back to life. That is what is possible when you have a heart for the poor.
In his New Year message last year, President Buhari told the country: “Living in the State House has not alienated me from your daily sufferings. These challenges are only temporary, we are working to make things better.”
When news came a couple of months ago that Nigeria had exited from recession, what did the President say? “Until coming out of recession translates into meaningful improvement in peoples’ lives, our work cannot be said to be done.”
In another broadcast, the President had stated: “All my adult life, I have always earned a salary and I know what it is like when your salary is simply not enough.”
That is the man we follow and serve. Millions would today follow him into battle blindfolded. Millions upon millions would vote him again and again if he throws his hat into the ring. Happy birthday, Mr. President. You have shown us how to care for the lowly and the poor, how to bear them in our hearts at all times, and how such pleases God and brings mercy our way. Thank you for coming this way, thank you for offering yourself for service.
*Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari
By Emeka Ejere
Lawyers and judges hoping to make a fortune out of post-election litigations in Anambra State may have had their hope dashed as nothing shows their services will be needed.
Three days after INEC announced a result that gave Gov. Willie Obiano, a landslide victory in the November 18 gubernatorial election in the state, there are no indications that any of the losing parties is planning to go to court.
The major rivals have all conceded defeat and congratulated the winner. While Dr. Tony Nwoye of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to leave it to God, Osita Chidioka of the United People’s Party (UPP) has noted that he lost to the highest bidder.
Oseloka Obaze, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who earlier rejected the result citing irregularity, has made a U-turn.
With the major contenders not contemplating seeking judicial interpretation of the election outcome, it is a lot more unlikely that the underdogs will do so.
By this development, Gov. Obiano has written his name in the book of history as the first incumbent, at least in Anambra, to win in all the local government areas of his state.
Also historic is the fact that he is the first person to record such a landslide, at least in recent times, without anybody challenging it in court.
What this means is that Gov. Obiano has the whole four years to deliver good governance (no time to waste on court cases), and he must not let the people down.
The people of Anambra have demonstrated that they love him and want him to continue with his good work.
He must reciprocate the uncommon gesture by departing from the norm of seeing second term as a period of jamboree when performance no longer matters.
Rather, he should make another history by becoming the first governor to maintain the tempo of transformation even in second term.
Adams Oshiomhole, disappointed Edo people in his second term. Godswill Akpabio (now senator) failed Akwa Ibom people in his second term. Theodore Orji, ( now senator) failed Abia people in his first term and was a disaster in his second term.
Even the highly celebrated Babatunde Fashola, (now minister) was not quite impressive in his second term. Obiano must not toe this line.
I sympathise with my lawyer and judge friends, who may not be smiling to the bank this time unlike what has been the practice. But as patriotic Nigerians, they should be happy that at last the country is beginning to get it right.
There is no doubt that a good lawyer can make a good living with or without electoral disputes.
By accepting an Igbo running mate and granting pardon to Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu in 1981, former President Shehu Shagari showed commitment to Gowon’s 3R – reconciliation, rehabilitation and reintegration –which was announced after the civil war of 1967–1970. Unfortunately, Shagari’s government was truncated.
Actually, as part of Gowon’s 3R policy, dismissed Nigerian soldiers and police officers, who were members of Nigeria’s security service before joining the Biafran side, were neither tried nor executed for fighting against the federal army after the war.
In trying to heal the wounds of the war, in 2000, former President Obasanjo granted amnesty to these officers who were conscripted into the Biafran Army. Ordinarily, these officers would have been declared deserters. Unfortunately, pardoned police officers were not paid, even after the military integrated all the pardoned Biafran soldiers into its pension payroll system.
With Buhari’s order that the pensions of these police officers be paid, he used a low hanging fruit to douse the notion that he hates the south easterners.
Critics, who argue that the gesture of paying about 219 Biafran police officers and their relatives is nothing compared to the quantum of demands from marginalized Igbos, seem to forget the effect a similar gesture had on Ojukwu.
On collecting his pension in 2008, Ojukwu remarked: “This is one of the rare occasions, but it is one of those occasions that makes one really feel proud to be part of this country. We have come together again as a body and we can’t fail mentioning the singular honor that I have been made subject of throughout this morning here…’’
An excited Ojukwu went on to remark: “In ending our civil war, all I ask is for everybody to live up to the pregnant expectations of Gowon’s saying about this war that there is no victor, no vanquished. Those who think there have been vanquished I ask my colleagues on this side to forgive them because on our own part we have forgiven everybody.”
However, Ojukwu lamented that it was improper to still refer to him as a Lt. Colonel when he was a four star general in the Biafran Army. But this was not enough for him to reject the check.
Just as Ojukwu’s spirits were elated by the payment of his pensions, the Nigerian policemen who had defected to the Biafran side would have their spirits rekindled when they receive their retirement benefits.
But they are not alone. Many Igbos lost everything during the civil war. For instance, many Igbos who had abandoned their properties in various part of the country came back to them and found new occupants. Since Gowon had approved and pursued the policy of abandoned property, many of these properties, especially in Port Harcourt, were declared abandoned properties and the new owners refused to hand them over.
Many had their careers and education truncated. Many victims of the civil war, in the south east, withdrew from school and never had the opportunity to go back after the war. Some are still carrying wounds from the civil war, while many are still suffering post-traumatic stress disorders.
President Buhari could do a little more to address the some of the impact of war on the south easterners in order to douse the resounding cries of marginalization. Some could be low hanging fruits which could be similar to the payment of pensions he just ordered.
One place to look for low hanging fruits is in the 1999 Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission (Oputa Panel) report. The commission was to establish the nature and extent of human rights violation from January 1966 (the civil war was inclusive) with the aim of pursuing justice and preventing future occurrence. The commission produced volumes of reports – which contained atrocities committed during this era and recommendation — and handed it over to government.
Unfortunately, this commission was later declared unconstitutional. But the euphoria the payment of pensions generated in the case of Ojukwu and other Biafran veterans shows that some little reconciliation gestures – such that would have been recommend by the Oputa Panel — could have lasting impact on the psyche of many.
The psychological effect of these amends could go a long way in healing the country.
IF a war foretold does not take the cripple by surprise, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, is in a situation worse than physical handicap. He’s a victim of his own naivety but his appointer could be in a bigger dilemma.
The warning shot was fired one year ago when Kachikwu was removed as Group Managing Director and kicked upstairs as junior minister. He was cosseted in a nice office, given plenty of room to travel and such other pleasures that deaden any sense of danger.
Maybe he didn’t want to rock the boat. Or perhaps he thought that with time, everything was going to be all right. But how wrong his optimism – or innocence – has turned out to be!
As GMD, Kachikwu had sidelined Maikanti Baru, the highest-ranking insider, and quintessential corporate vulture, that patient bird. If Baru’s appointment as Kachikwu’s successor didn’t send a message to the latter that he was on borrowed time, the far-reaching changes that Baru made within a few months of his dramatic appointment should have made clear where the new man was going to bury the hatchet: in Kachikwu’s back.
Now, the junior minister has no one but himself to blame for the embarrassingly difficult situation in which he has found himself.
His leaked memo is dead on arrival and any commentary on it, including this one, is only a funeral.
I’ll explain why. No serious government – and Muhammadu Buhari’s may not look it but there are insiders who still man the post – will allow a memo to the President to pass without taking care of the most potentially damaging aspects of such a correspondence before it reaches him or the public.
It’s more so when the two fighting owe their jobs to the central figures in this memo – one named and the other unnamed.
In the over one month that it took the memo to leak, there’ll hardly be enough bang left to nail the matter the way Kachikwu had planned it. To worsen matters, The Cable reported on Wednesday that Kachikwu submitted the memo to the president after it was leaked – compounding the misery and embarrassment of the junior minister.
But no matter, it can’t get worse – a funeral is a funeral.
In an article, entitled,“Who is in charge of NNPC?”, after Baru made major changes last November, I wrote, “The way things stand today, the man (Kachikwu) is just a piece of furniture. He’s not in charge.
“If Kachikwu still has any illusions, the unilateral appointments made this week by the GMD, Maikanti Baru should settle the matter. Baru reversed virtually all the appointments made by Kachikwu six months ago and left his boss to find out what had happened in his backyard from newspapers.”
The junior minister’s leaked memo to Buhari complained bitterly about pretty much the same thing. But it went further.
Kachikwu claimed, among other things, that apart from sidelining the Board in decisions about key appointments, contracts valued at nearly $25 billion had been awarded by Baru without reference to him or the approval of the Board.
Baru replied that under the law, the Board is just, well, a board. He said the costs that Kachikwu assigned to some of the contracts were arbitrary and that wherever approvals were required, due process was followed and all such approvals obtained either through the Tenders Board, the President or the Federal Executive Council.
Kachikwu’s memo suggested he didn’t know that the Board had no role to play in contract awards. Or perhaps he conveniently forgot what the rules were in an office that he occupied for 10 months, during which he infamously said the NNPC was not a public institution.
Yet, Baru’s reply raised more questions than answers. Who prepared the council papers on the basis of which the contracts in question were either being considered or have been approved?
Was Kachikwu present in any or all of the FEC meetings at which the contracts were discussed and did he receive any of the council papers as customary?
Baru’s reply also put Buhari on the spot. From a Premium Times report on Wednesday, if we are to believe Baru, Buhari signed off two contracts valued at about N640 billion ($1 billion and$780 million) – on July 10 and 31, 2016 – when he was supposed to be away in London on medical leave and after he had delegated powers to the Vice President.
That’s ridiculous. Those trying to fudge the issue will have to do better than tell the public that the NNPC Board is not involved in contract awards. They’ll have to do better than say due process has been followed and then rush to turn the page. They’ll certainly have to do a whole lot better than making Kachikwu look helpless, incompetent and foolish. Or, even worse, complicit.
The public needs to know the truth about how – and if – Buhari indeed signed off an N640 billion contract on his sickbed when he wasn’t supposed to do so.
Interestingly, neither Kachikwu nor the NNPC named the companies that won the crude term contract valued at $10billion or the AKK pipeline contract, valued at $3 billion, leading to sinister insinuations about Presidency-level links.
Buhari can’t be silent. He has been silent on the outcome of the probe of$43 million found in a private residence in Ikoyi and the scandal involving former SGF, Babachir Lawal; silent on the civil war in his cabinet that is threatening his anti-corruption war; and silent on two court orders that he should publish the names of treasury looters and the sums recovered.
Silence on the NNPC can only make Buhari look increasingly not just like a member of the odious crowd troubling Nigeria, but more tellingly like its mastermind.
His intentions may have been right, but it was never a good idea to imitate former President Olusegun Obasanjo by combining the posts of President with that of oil minister.
The reason why Kachikwu is in tatters, while Baru is hiding under the formidable shadows of the President and his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, is because Buhari is involved.
And that’s why when all is said and done, no NNPC Board, no Tenders Board, no FEC and, believe me, no National Assembly, can unravel the messy feud between Kachikwu and Baru.
The buck stops with Buhari and he has a moral burden to deal with it swiftly and openly.
Ishiekwene is the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview and member of the board of the Global Editors Network.
Opinion/ By Ebuka Nwankwo
There is no doubt that perceived marginalization by some ethnic groups has exacerbated hate speeches in the country. Sometimes, this perception of marginalization takes dangerous dimensions when government fails to explain the rationale behind certain actions.
On this wise, it is extremely important that the NNPC explains the rationale behind its just concluded reshuffling process, where 55 appointments were made at the managerial level. A breakdown of the topmost 15 positions published shows domination by one ethnic group and no presence of any south easterner.
Ordinarily, we shouldn’t be having this conversation in a country where merit is supposed to be the order of the day, but Nigeria has its peculiar way of carrying all ethnic groups along. Besides, alleged unfair distribution of appointments has been a resounding rhetoric from critics of the current administration.
A little background would help at this juncture. Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the restructuring of the NNPC into five core business divisions and two services divisions: upstream, downstream, refining group, gas, and power, as well as the ventures’ groups; the other divisions are finance and services groups.
Some of the very strategic subsidiaries in the five core divisions are: Upstream — Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL); Downstream Retail — Nigerian Product Marketing Company (NPMC), which was formerly PPMC; Gas and Power– Nigerian Gas Pipeline and Transportation Company (NGPTC), Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC), and gas and power investment; and the Refineries — Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC), Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC), and Port Harcourt Refining and Petrochemical Company (PHRC). The ventures’ company includes medicals, property, pensions, shipping, and wheel insurance.
An analysis of the reported postings to these top subsidiaries in the just announced reshuffling shows a skewed distribution of appointments, with no south easterner in the list of the topmost 15 appointments.
For example, the just announced appointments had Dieprieye Tariah as the managing director of IDSL; Umar Ajiya as managing director of NPMC; Malami Shehu as managing director of PHRC; Muhammed Abah as managing director of WRPC; Adewale Ladenegan as managing director of KRPC; Farouk Ahmed as managing director of product marketing; Adeyemi Adetunji as managing director of retail. And for the recent appointment at the ventures we have Ahmedu-Katagum as group general manager for shipping; Shaibu Musa as managing director for medical services.The boss of NPDC was not affected in the recent reshuffling and he still remains Yusuf Matashi.
With these appointments, there is already fury in the social media about their skewed nature. Even though the NNPC said it made 55 appointments, it is believed that the topmost 15 appointments announced in the media are key and strategic to the operation of the cooperation. And with the fury in the social media, the debate is already getting messy.
The authorities in the NNPC needs to rebuff this rhetoric about skewed appointments. This is not a time to give restless youths in the south east more reasons to be restive. The analysis that the south eastern are scarcely represented – or rather unfairly represented – in one of Nigeria’s biggest cooperation would be difficult to explain to them.
The NNPC needs not waste time in clarifying issues here. It has to tell its own story.
SBM INTELLIGENCE ADVICES GOVERNMENT ON BOKO HARAM
One of Nigeria’s most enterprising consultancies and think tanks, SBM Intelligence, has beamed its torchlight on the resurgence of Boko Haram in the country.
SBM Intelligence, in its recent report, highlighted the success of the present administration in coordinating the activities of Lake Chad countries and the fantastic work done by the theatre commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major-General Leo Irabor. SBM’s intelligence also highlighted other successes in the war against terror.
Sadly, the think tank notes that the collapsed coordination of the activities of Lake Chad countries and the transfer of Gen Irabor appear to coincide with increased attack by Boko Haram.
The consultancy advised government to get other security outfits, such as the DSS, more involved in intelligence gathering and also admonished that government should avoid over politicizing the success stories in the war. The numerous announcements of the death of Shekau is an example of exaggerating successes in the war against terror.
Not a few tongues had wagged over the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was outside the country on medical vacation for weeks on end, and no member of his media team was with him. Many times, we had been confronted by journalists on why we were sitting pretty in Nigeria, while our principal was confronted by severe health challenges in London.
How did I feel about the situation? I had always told the media, and others who cared to listen, that whoever is on a presidential entourage at any time is the prerogative of the president. In the first 20 months of this administration, the president had made scores of trips, both locally and internationally. There was none, and I repeat, none, in which the media team was excluded. We were always there to keep the world abreast with what the president was doing.
When President Buhari first needed to travel for holiday and medical attention in January this year, it was deemed a private trip, in which the media was not needed. On such journey, you naturally would need security details, your personal physician, protocol and domestic aides, and those were the ones who went. Media aide? It depended on the principal. What was essential was that the channels of communication be kept open.
When the fuss came that the media handlers of the president were transmitting at best third-hand information to the public, it did not bother me as much as it did some people, particularly, journalists. The discretion to have anyone with him at a given time is that of the president, and there was nothing anybody could do about it. I was in direct contact with those who were around him, and that was the best in the circumstances.
When the rumour mill went into overdrive sometime in January that the president had passed on, the first person I called was his personal physician. He laughed, saying nothing of such happened. I was thus confident enough to debunk the malicious information.
Before he returned on March 10, in what turned out to be the first leg of his medical treatment, President Buhari had spoken with me personally on the phone, the details of which I made available to the public. That was sufficient for me.
The president left again on May 7. I was with him at home till he left for the airport. Information dissemination followed the same pattern as on the first trip. The aides on hand told me whatever was necessary, and I communicated the same, never for once making it appear that the information was firsthand. It was the best and the honest thing to do. You work for a straightforward man, it would be a disservice to him for you to begin to spin and bend information. Never!
Not once did I agitate to visit London to see the president. I was trusting enough to receive whatever information was passed to me, knowing the kind of man we serve. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.
A lot of people were using paracetamol for what they considered my headache. They continued to fret that I was not in London, but it didn’t bother me a bit. Ask my wife and children, they would tell you that I am never in unnecessary hurry. I don’t push things, but the lines always fall for me in pleasant places. I have learnt to take all things in my strides, and let the divine powers work out the rest. Some people will erroneously call it a laid back approach, but those who are discerning would see that I had always excelled in whatever I did, physical, professional, spiritual, domestic etc. No need to sing my own praises. Not unto us, but unto Him, be all the glory and praises.
And then, on Wednesday last week, ‘come came to become’ (apologies K.O Mbadiwe). I received a communication to proceed to London to see the president, along with other members of the presidential media team. To lead the delegation was Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, while others included myself, Mallam Garba Shehu, Lauretta Onochie, Bayo Omoboriowo, and the Nigerian Television Authority team of Adamu Sambo and Emmanuel Anrihi. Senior Special Assistant on International and Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who was in London on another official matter, eventually joined us to see the president on Saturday.
President Buhari told us he seldom got sick, something he had told Nigerians on March 10, at his first return. When we told him millions of people were praying for him at home, in Africa, and even beyond, I saw the glow in his eyes, and he said :”May God reward them”…
Leaving the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Friday morning, one was as conspicuous as a tiger in a tea shop. All who knew me, and saw that I was headed for London, naturally said: “Please give our greetings to Baba o.” They just took it for granted that I was going to London to see the King, and not the Queen this time, as made popular by the pussycat in the nursery rhyme.
The trip aboard the British Airways Boeing 777-200/300 was pleasant and pleasurable. It was like a whole city in the sky. The Nigerians who saw me and my colleague, Mallam Garba Shehu, onboard, also jumped to the same right conclusion as those at the airport: “Please greet Baba for us o.”
On Saturday afternoon, we were ferried from our hotels at the appointed time. At Zero Hour, we were at the Abuja House, Nigerian High Commission, London.
As we strode into the living room, I saw with infinite pleasure, the great object of my mission. Standing tall and ramrod straight was President Muhammadu Buhari, with that ubiquitous smile in place. He was looking a lot better than he had ever looked in the past eight months. My heart leapt for joy and sang praises to God. Was this not the man they said was on life support machine? Didn’t they say he could neither walk nor talk? But he was welcoming Alhaji Lai Muhammed and calling him by name. I was next. I shook the hands of the man I had admired since his days as a military head of state, a man I am not ashamed to call my leader and president today, and any day.
Seated, the president had words for each member of the team, which showed that he had been following events back home very keenly. He commended the minister of Information and Culture, saying, “Lai, you are all over the place. I see you virtually every day. You have been working very hard.” Pointing to Abike Dabiri-Erewa, he said, “She is here in her constituency. But me, I am here reluctantly.” We all laughed, and Dabiri-Erewa jocularly issued what you could call a quit notice, saying she didn’t want the president in her constituency again.
How are you, Mr. President?
“I am okay now. I feel I could go home, but doctors are in charge here, and I’ve learnt to obey my doctors. I’ve learnt to obey orders, rather than be the one giving the orders.”
If you have met the president personally, he is usually full of wisecracks, and this day was not different. He told us he had enough time to watch television, and commended the NTA particularly, and Nigerian media generally, for bringing him up to speed with what was happening back home.
He said he had been watching the protests by people who wanted him to return home post-haste or resign. He mentioned one of the leaders of the protest by name and laughed. I did not discern any malice in the laughter.
President Buhari told us he seldom got sick, something he had told Nigerians on March 10, at his first return. When we told him millions of people were praying for him at home, in Africa, and even beyond, I saw the glow in his eyes, and he said:”May God reward them,” after noting that what Nigeria did in The Gambia in January, which forced a sit-tight Yahya Jammeh to quit office, “fetched us a lot of goodwill and latitude.”
The health status of our president, as earlier attested to by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, during his visit, was a testimony to the healing powers of God. This was a man gravely ill, but restored miraculously. It can only be God. In spite of what haters, wailers, and filthy dreamers imagine, and which they spew out, God remains merciful and immutable.
We talked about many issues, some of which are not due for public consumption yet. The president was obviously enjoying our company. Then the state chief of protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, popped up (as he always does) and indicated that the allotted time was over.
“Oh dear,” the president exclaimed, reluctant to see us go.
It was time for photographs, and we walked into the garden. The president was spry, as he joined us. Bayo Omoboriowo clicked away, and those were the pictures you have seen. The president even almost sprinted, while going back inside. Omoboriowo captured that rare moment.
And to the dining room, we proceeded. We sat at that famous table, laden with different kinds of fruits; banana, apple, pear, water melon, and many others. It was a setting which a man blinded by bile and suffused with hatred, had described as a previous fast breaking session at Aso Villa during a Ramadan season. Father, forgive him, for he knows not what he says.
We ate, heartily. Our appetites had been stimulated by the state in which we met our principal. Wife of the president, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, was at hand to attend to us, urging us to eat as much as we wanted. Halima, daughter of the president, as well as Yusuf, his son, were also there.
It was a pleasure meeting all the presidential aides once again, and we greeted one another warmly: Yau and Lawal (trusted security details), Sunday (the personal cook of many decades), the ADC, SCOP, CSO, CPSO, the personal physician, Tunde Sabiu, Sarki Abba, and many others. It was a grand re-union.
Lunch over, the president bade each person goodbye, with a handshake. We said to him, “See you soon, sir.” But when Dabiri-Erewa uttered the same, the president laughed, and declared: “No, we will leave you here, as this is your constituency.”
The health status of our president, as earlier attested to by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, during his visit, was a testimony to the healing powers of God. This was a man gravely ill but restored miraculously. It can only be God. In spite of what haters, Wailers, and filthy dreamers imagine, and which they spew out, God remains merciful and immutable. He has the final say. If I were a hater, I would repent now, in sackcloth and ashes.
Yes, I’ve been to London to see the King. The Lion King. But unlike the pussycat in the nursery rhyme, I didn’t frighten any mouse under the chair.
Femi Adesina is special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said it has traced at least N47.2Billion and $487.5Million in cash and properties to former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
“This followed painstaking investigations by operatives of the EFCC,” two staff of the anti-graft agency wrote in an article.
The former Minister is also being investigated for corruption and money laundering in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The article, written by Tony Orilade and Aisha Gambari of the EFCC Media Department reads:
By Tony Orilade & Aisha Gambari
From time immemorial, precious metals – gold, silver and sparkling stones such as diamonds have delighted women. Relationships have been built and destroyed, wars fought for and reconciliations cemented with gold and precious stones. Not too far back in history, Liberia was the theatre of war over Blood Diamonds.
Unlike Liberia however, the Nigerian nation is not at war. But, it seems Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, until recently, Minister of Petroleum Resources, going by the sheer amount of her acquisition of gold and diamonds, may have been fighting a spirited war against millions of compatriots who are heavily and unevenly yoked by crass poverty. To boot, the former minister is accused of having stolen – in broad daylight – the money that funded her acquisitive binge.
A search of one of Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s palatial residences in Abuja, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), turned up boxes of gold, silver and diamond jewelry, worth several million pounds sterling.
Apart from the jewellery, the EFCC, Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption agency, has traced N47.2 Billion and $487.5 Million in cash and properties to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources in Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The former minister who has been in London since the birth of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has however continued to deny any financial misdeed. She insists she is being severely maligned and persecuted by the EFCC.
But, on the strength of weighty evidences placed before Nigerian courts, there are a string of judicial pronouncements ordering the forfeiture of all allegedly ill-gotten wealth to Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s former employers, the Federal Government of Nigeria.
One of the constitutional requirements to be appointed to public office in Nigeria is the total declaration of all personal assets. It does seem like that provision was observed more in the breach by Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
The EFCC, in the course of investigation, traced another property valued at $37.5m to the former minister in Banana Island, Lagos. She was said to have purchased the 15-storey building, which comprises 18 flats and six penthouses, between 2011 and 2012from the developers, YF Construction and Real Estate.
The property was allegedly acquired in the name of a shell company, Rusimpex Limited, which is managed by one Afamefuna Nwokedim, Principal Partner, Stillwaters Law Firm, Lagos.
On August 7, 2017, Justice Chuka Obiozor, a vacation judge sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered the final forfeiture of a $37.5m (N11.75bn) (Eleven Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) property on Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos allegedly belonging to Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The order followed an exparte application filed on July 17, 2017, by the EFCC.
At the last adjourned sitting on July 19, 2017, counsel to the EFCC, A.B.C. Ozioko, while moving the ex-parte application, had urged the court to order the forfeiture of the total sum of US$2, 740,197.96 and N84, 537,840.70 respectively found by the Commission in Rusimpex USD account No. 1013612486 domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities. Ozioko had also urged the court to order an interim forfeiture of the assets and property. Ruling on the applications, Justice Obiozor had ordered the respondents- Deziani, Afamefuna Nwokedi, and Rusimpex Limited- to show cause within 14 days why the properties should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.
The judge had further ordered the publication of the interim order in any national newspaper for the respondents or anyone who is interested in the property to appear before the court to show cause within 14 days why the final order of the property should not be made in favour of the Federal Government.
At the resumed hearing on August 7, counsel to the EFCC argued that the failure of the second and third respondent, Nwokedi and Rusimex meant that “they are not willing to contest the application”.
In his ruling, Justice Obiozor ordered the final forfeiture of the property to the Federal government, in view of the failure of any interested parties or persons to contest the interim forfeiture order as published in a national newspaper by the Commission. The court also ordered the permanent forfeiture of the sums of US$2, 740,197.96 and N84, 537,840.70 respectively realized as rent on the property.
But, by far the most numbing, record-shattering acquisitions of Alison-Madueke, is to be found in the ritzy, nouveaux riches playground of Banana Island, Lagos. It consists of two apartments at the Bella Vista Court.
The apartments which are Penthouses are located on Block C-5, Flat 21, Plot 1, Zone N. For them, a $350 Million (Three Hundred and Fifty Million US Dollar) hole was allegedly dug in the Nigerian treasury on November 22, 2011, by Ms. Alison-Madueke.
Also in Lagos, Ms. Alison-Madueke allegedly bought a block of six units serviced apartments at Number 135 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, just a few hundred metres away from the EFCC zonal operations hub. The apartment has a standby power generating set, sporting facilities, play ground and a water treatment plant. The property was bought at the rate of N800 Million (Eight Hundred Million Naira) on January 6, 2012.
Other properties in Yaba, Lagos, also discovered by the eagle eyes of the Commission’s operatives, are located at number 7, Thurnburn Street and 5, Raymond Street. The Thurnburn Street property consists of 21 mixed housing units of eight 4-bedroom apartments, two penthouse apartments of 3-bedrooms each and six 3-bedroom (all en-suite) terrace apartments.
The Raymond Street property is made up of two en-suite 2-bedroom apartments and one 4-bedroom apartment.
The Yaba, Lagos properties, which dug a deep hole of an eye-popping N1 Billion (One Billion Naira), were paid for on May 30, 2012. The same day Alison-Madueke splashed N900 million for the Port Harcourt estate.
In Lekki Phase one, an upscale neighbourhood of Lagos, operatives found a twin four-bedroom duplex. The duplex is located on Plot 33, Block 112, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme Phase 1, Lekki, Lagos, with an estimated value of over N200 Million (Two Hundred Million Naira).
Also in Lagos, a large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos has also been traced to the former Petroleum Resources Minister. The land, which is located in Oniru Chieftaincy Family Private Estate, Lekki peninsular, Lagos and currently being utilized as a dumping site, was bought on February 16, 2012, for N135 Million (One Hundred and Thirty- Five Million Naira).
Plot 8, Gerard Road Ikoyi, Lagos, another property traced to Mrs. Alison-Madueke, is a penthouse on the 11th Floor in the Block B Wing of the building. It was bought for N12 Million (Twelve Million Naira) on December 20, 2011.
On Plot 10, Frederick Chiluba Close, in the serene, upscale Asokoro district of Abuja, lies a tastefully built and finished duplex. In the compound, there are also a Guest Chalet, Boy’s Quarters, an elegant swimming pool, fully equipped sports gym and a host of other amenities.
Investigators have discovered that the property acquired by the ex-minister in December 2009, at the cost of N400 Million (Four Hundred Million Naira) was never declared in any of the asset declaration forms filed by Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
Also linked to the former Minister in Abuja is a mini estate at Mabushi, Abuja. The estate located on Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi Gardens Estate, houses 13 three bedroom terrace houses, each with one bedroom en-suite maid’s quarters. It was purchased on April 2, 2012, at the princely sum of N650 Million (Six Hundred and Fifty Million Naira).
In Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja, Mrs. Alison-Madueke reportedly acquired a 6-bedroom en-suite apartment made up of three large living rooms, two bedroom Guest Chalets, two bedroom Boys Quarters, two lock up garages and a car park. It was bought on July 20, 2011, for N80 Million (Eighty Million Naira).
Down South in Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt, the former minister’s acquisitive appetite took her to Heritage Court Estate, located on Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu Government Residential Area, Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt.
The Estate which is made up of 16 four bedroom terrace duplexes is equipped with among other facilities, a massive standby power generating set. Mrs. Alison-Madueke did not blink as she shelled out N900 Million (Nine Hundred Million Naira) for it on May 30, 2012.
In neighbouring Bayelsa State, an apartment with two blocks of flats, all en-suite, and with a Maid’s Quarters were also traced to her. The house located on Goodluck Jonathan Road, Yenagoa, is sitting on a large expanse of land. Realtors spoken to by EFCC investigators have placed estimated values running into hundreds of millions of Naira on the property. The apartments have four living rooms, eight bedrooms, and gold-plated furniture.
Aside from jewelry and property, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, EFCC operatives charge, has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) in various Nigerian banks.
Based on evidence presented by the Commission before the court, Justice Muslim Suleiman Hassan on January 6, 2017, ordered the funds’ temporary forfeiture to the federal government.
The EFCC again, on January 24, 2017, urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to order the forfeiture of yet another N9 billion allegedly laundered by some bank officials for Alison-Madueke.
A month later, on February 16, 2017, Justice Hassan ordered the final forfeiture to the federal government, of N34 Billion naira which has been traced to the former minister.
Earlier in May 2016, the sum of over $100 Million (One Hundred Million US dollars) were traced to the accounts of several Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staffers, who were allegedly bribed by Alison-Madueke to compromise Nigeria’s 2015 general elections.
Justice Mohammed B. Idris of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on April 27, 2017, ordered the final forfeiture of the bribe money traced to one staff of INEC, Christian Nwosu, who was arraigned on April 5, 2017.
In the course of the trial, Mr. Nwosu pleaded guilty to receiving the sum of N30 Million (Thirty Million Naira) from Mrs. Alison-Madueke. Upon his confession, the court ordered the final forfeiture of his landed property situated at Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State. Also forfeited by Mr. Nwosu to the federal government was the cash sum of N5 Million (Five Million Naira).
Going by the continued unearthing of hard-to-ignore evidences of unexplained acquisitions, coupled with Justice Chuka Obiozor’s rulling on the final forfeiture of a $37.5m (N11.75bn) (Eleven Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) to the federal government, ex-minister Alison-Madueke’s evidence-free counter-charge, that she is a victim of EFCC persecution, may be ringing hollower and hollower.
Orilade and Gambari are officers of the Public Affairs Directorate of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
By Mayowa Tijani
I have followed Pastor Tunde Bakare, presiding pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly (LRA), for over a decade now. I have watched his passion for national development get misunderstood repeatedly.
I was much younger then, but I heard how Gbenga Adeboye, the great multi-talented entertainer (God rest his soul), spoke about this same Bakare. I have heard of his escapades during the military era, his role in the aftermath of the June 12 election of 1993. Nothing to hide; I have strong interest in Pastor Tunde Bakare.
In my estimation, Bakare is not an activist born by democracy or driven by present gains; his activism and prophetic insight predates Nigeria’s fourth republic. A man who has stood against Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and Olusegun Obasanjo at difficult times, sure deserves our ears — if not our respect.
In 2011, when he was named to run for office alongside General Muhammadu Buhari, Bakare, to the surprise of many, took up the challenge and ran — against all odds. He travelled the length and breadth of this country speaking about his idea of a new Nigeria. I was at one of those rallies in the southwest, listening to the ideas that the Buhari-Bakare team was proposing. I thought they were brilliant, but like they say, the rest today is history.
Born before Nigeria’s independence, Bakare has seen Nigeria in its best and worst forms so far, and he says there is nothing new in what Nigeria is going through.
After President Muhammadu Buhari won the elections in 2015, Bakare was one of those persons who prepared some policy directions that President Buhari could consider for the navigation of Nigeria to the heights originally promised in 2011. According to Bakare, an executive summary of his state of the nation address in January 2016, was sent to the president as recommendation for action.
Long before restructuring became the order of the day, Bakare had told the president on live TV that “the summary of our assessment of the entire framework of governance and public policy is that without restructuring, this administration may achieve little or no significant and sustainable success”. Today, we are seeing the express image and consequences of the lack of restructuring. The Buhari administration has definitely done so much, but with little to show for it.
THE 42-PAGE MEMO AS ANTIDOTE FOR AGITATIONS
Bakare said very early in the life of this administration, he presented a 42-page memo to President Buhari on how to restructure Nigeria for effectiveness. He, like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, believe restructuring or diversification is not a quick job. Okonjo-Iweala suggests that diversification may take up to 30 years. Bakare, on the other hand, says restructuring-cum-diversification should take about 10 years, but the results will be sure.
“Those in government and leadership position who truly love this nation know within themselves that we must restructure as soon as possible in order not to further impede the growth and development of our nation,” Bakare said only last month.
“At the long last, APC has now formed a committee to define restructuring… two months into this administration, we prepared a 42-page document for the restructuring of Nigeria and gave it to the president; this is the way to go, now they are forming a committee to define restructuring.”
I have not seen Bakare’s 42-page document to Buhari, but I have heard him speak of the central idea.
As I understood it; there must be a convergence of the people in a discussion that is done without fear. The north must not approach the table of brotherhood with threats of chasing the Igbo out of the north. The south must not come to this fellowship of brothers with the secession at the back of it mind, everyone must come with the mind to seek a collective solution.
In summary, the plan suggests that Nigeria can set a new sharing formula, which is not so different from what currently exist, but this time, a particular portion of allocations given from the federal purse will be used in the development of every part of the Nigerian state.
So, If Ondo state gets N7 billion for the month of July, a particular portion (say N2 billion) will be set aside for the development of resources in Ondo state, towards financial self-sufficiency. So N2 billion may go into cocoa cultivation to ensure the state generates income from cocoa. If Osun gets N5 billion, N2 billion can be set aside for mining gold in Ilesha. This process goes on for years, and when everyone has achieved some self-sufficiency, then the nation can reduce the power at the centre. At this time, every state keeps what they make and remit only a small portion to the centre.
What are your thoughts? Can this be Buhari’s magic wand for quelling this noise of restructuring? Can Bakare’s 42-paged memo be the antidote for the Biafra agitation?
I’m overwhelmed by the love I have received in the past 24 hours. The UK government Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) was gracious enough to choose over 40 Nigerians as scholars for the prestigious Chevening award for the 2017/2018 academic year.
Upon announcement yesterday, I have received tons of messages, calls, and other acts of love.
I just want to seize this opportunity to appreciate the fairest queen of them all, the team at TheCable, friends from across the world, Anuoluwapo Adelakun, a worthy partner through this path, the UK government and of course the God who cannot lie. I am forever grateful to be #ChosenForChevening.
You can reach Tijani across major social media platforms @OluwamayowaTJ.
By Fredrick Nwabufo
I distilled the title of this article from a portion of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – where the writer described Brutus’ perfidious stabbing of the emperor as the “unkindest cut”. Brutus was a close friend of Caesar, but he betrayed him by driving a dagger into his torso, sealing his doom.
Spousal rape is no different from what Brutus did to Caesar. Why? Spousal rape is treachery. It is a mortal violation a woman may endure in a marriage unless she pulls out of it. It is the unkindest rape because here, the victim must live with the enemy.
I read a report of the proceedings of a magistrate court in Akure, Ondo state on a case of “conjugal assault and rape” recently. A housewife asked the court to dissolve her marriage because her husband beats her up whenever she refuses to give in to his phallic desires. According to the woman, her husband forces his rabid tool into her whenever she does not want it. For me, when sex between two adults, is devoid of consent – whether in marriage or not – it is rape.
I have also read a couple of arguments for and against spousal rape, of course, on social media. Where else can one find a jumble of unblemished and raw thoughts and views, if not on social media? For the protagonists, there is no such thing as “spousal rape”. Why? Married people are bound by oath to give their bodies any day, anytime to their spouses. This is the faulty construction I would like to deconstruct.
Marriage does not mean an erosion of the individuality of spouses. Each party in a union is first an individual with inalienable rights of which that of consent is one. The problem, I think, is the age-long patriarchal conceptualisation of women in marriage. Wives are seen as chalets of their husbands and must submit to the commands of their libido without compulsion. Let us get this straight, a man or woman in a marriage has a full right to his or her body. Without consent sex becomes violence.
Sadly, spousal rape is considered as normal in this axis of the world. I dare say, many married women are raped by their husbands daily, but this goes unreported. They cannot cry out because it is “weird” to do so, and because it is taught from the pulpit that a wife must always “submit” to her husband as if marriage was only made for women.
I knew a man years ago in Abuja who bragged about “physically disarming” his wife before having sex with her. According to him, sex is sweeter when a woman is subdued. He acquired this perversion from watching violent pornography. He also often complained about how unadventurous and “smelly” his wife was. And one day, he left without returning. Just like that. Perhaps, he needed a willing object to cure his perversion.
At this point, I would like to say that rape is rape no matter who does it. We need new thinking in marriage and relationships, and this should start from the basic unit of society – the family.
In conclusion, I urge civil society to raise its voice for women who endure spousal rape, it is equally a social menace, though we do not realise it. One does not need to be a feminist to know that women bear the crushing weight of an unequal world.
Again, I do not wish to be subsumed under the categorisation – feminist. I am just a citizen who believes humanity should speak to and for humanity.
Ronke Ojo’s “if I am a breadwinner and I cannot cook”
Ronke Ojo, a Nollywood actress, drew the ire of patriarchal Nigerians when she said if she was the breadwinner in her home she would not cook. Though she recanted, I would have preferred that she maintains her position despite the caustic criticism. It is man’s world here. But seriously, how many men who are “breadwinners” cook?
The patriarchal Senate
The eighth Senate has shot down every bill which seeks to give women some semblance of equality with men. From the gender equality bill to the recent “35 percent affirmative action bill”, none survived at the upper legislative chamber. It is my belief that this senate is not attuned to the wishes of women.
Twitter: FredrickNwabufo; Facebook: Fredrick Nwabufo; Emai:firstname.lastname@example.org