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Who owns the monies?

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The late Sonny Okosun it was who crooned: “Who owns the land? I want to know who owns the land. Papa’s land; Papa’s land” Of course, Okosun’s was a rhetorical question because everyone knew who owns the land in question, that is, southern Africa, which at that time, was under colonial rule.

The land belongs to the Black race but was taken over by the White colonial masters. The last of those countries, South Africa, got its Independence in 1994 and the whole of the region is now ruled by Black leaders.

What we are up against in this country at the moment is not who owns the land as that is settled but who owns the monies being found or picked up all over the place by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In Kaduna and Lagos especially, billions of Naira had reportedly been uncovered and recovered by the EFCC. Whistle-blowers, we have been told, have tipped the authorities about the finds.

While the uninformed have been elated about these discoveries, the discerning public has asked troubling questions. Who are the owners of these monies? Why were the monies abandoned?

How did the EFCC get to know about their exact locations? Why all these sudden discoveries immediately after the Senate’s second rejection of Ibrahim Magu as the EFCC boss? And why the opaqueness surrounded the recovery of these monies?

The suspicion is that there is more than meets the eyes with the timing of the discoveries. It is like they have always known that these monies were there but have suddenly decided to go after it now for reasons best known to them.

There is also the suspicion that the owners of these so-called recovered monies are known to the authorities but they are deliberately shielding them. Nigerians desire, deserve and demand full disclosure. How can you not know who did what at an international airport like Kaduna’s?

And at a time like this when all international flights have been diverted from Abuja to Kaduna?

In fact, those who trucked that consignment into the airport should have been arrested within the airport vicinity; what if it were bomb that they trucked into the airport? Is that how they would have got it right up to the screening point and then escape arrest?

The purported discoveries in Lagos were no less intriguing. The first of such discoveries in a so-called bureau de change office, left unused for years, is ridiculous.

What kind of a person leaves billions of Naira in an unused office for years without going back to check on it? Is this a mark of how stinking rich such a person is? How can we not know the identities of the owners of the bureau de change and the owners of the facilities?

How can neighbours not know who owns the office? Certainly, we have not been told the truth on this matter. The one that has generated much heat is the loot discovered in an apartment in Lagos.

Apart from the humongous amount involved, the attempt to cover up the real owners of the monies has generated a lot of heat. Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, supported by his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayo Fayose, is alleging that the money belonged to Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transport in the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Wike had, before now, accused Amaechi of stealing Rivers blind as governor; in the same manner that the Fayose administration has been pointing accusing fingers at former Ekiti governor and now Minister of Solid Minerals and Development, Kayode Fayemi.

Wike had made allegations and set up panels that Amaechi refused to appear before to clear his name. So there is a background to the allegation that Wike is making, liking Amaechi to the discovered loot.

Those who are asking Wike to produce evidence miss the point. Why, I must ask, is Wike the only governor laying claim to this money and not Lagos State where the monies were discovered or my own native Ondo? As they say, there can be no smoke without a fire.

There must have been some information at the disposal of Wike before he can make the accusation that the monies belonged to Amaechi.

The beautiful thing about corruption is that it can never be perpetrated single-handedly. There must be accomplices and when relations go sour, as they often do, between partners-in-crime, one or more accomplices will squeal on their comrades. That is the logic behind whistle-blowers.

There is always someone who is aware of a crime that has been committed, either as a partaker or as a discrete watcher or third eye. The block of apartments in which the latest discovery was made has an owner; who is he or she?

The owner of the property must also know the person or persons who rented the apartment: Who is the tenant? Perhaps more absurd is the purported claim by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that the monies belonged to it. How can this possibly be?

We heard of one-time illiterate governor of Kano State, Barkin Zuwo, keeping lorry-loads of “gofment money in gofment house” but how can NIA keep government money in a private apartment?

From whom did they rent the apartment? For how long have they put the monies there? Who gave approval? And, if I may ask, whatever became of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of this administration if an agency of government can keep billions without the TSA tracking?

And if an agency of government can keep this huge amount outside of the banking system, what becomes of the cashless policy of the same government?

This was how millions of dollars were stuffed in briefcases and flown to South Africa during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, ostensibly to buy arms, and the money was seized by the South African authorities. By the way, have we recovered that money?

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That PDP snoopiness in APC’s internal affairs

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Jesus, in Matt 7:1-2, teaches: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
And in Luke 6:41-42 (and Matt 7:3-5), Jesus warns: “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while you yourself fail to see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We are having recourse to these biblical injunctions because of the antics of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which fails to remove the log in its eye, and yet sees the speck in the eye of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Since its loss of power in 2015, the PDP has been prying into the internal workings of the APC – a situation akin to “taking panadol for another man’s headache.”

First, the party criticized the APC for not constituting its National Working Committee (NWC); lampooned it for failure to hold its National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings regularly; and slammed it for its inability to convoke a national convention since assuming the party in government in 2015.

Second, the PDP claimed that the APC was factionalized due to its alleged marginalization of its general members, and the relegation to the background of many of the stalwarts that propelled the party to victory in the 2015 general elections.

Third, it mocked the states controlled by the APC for failing to conduct local government council elections, alleging that the party was afraid of losing out because it had “lost its popularity” and the “goodwill of the people” since 2015.
And now this: The APC, which the PDP said was in turmoil, has set up a reconciliation committee, headed by its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to resolve the issues at play, and the PDP has ironically predicted that the committee would meet with failure, as aggrieved APC leaders were “irreconcilable.”

The PDP leaders also amused themselves with a supposed marginalization of Chief Tinubu and his members in the legacy movement that formed the APC. They cited an alleged quarrel that Tinubu had with the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in regard to the governorship elections in Kogi and Ondo states, where Tinubu’s surrogates lost out to a so-called President Muhammadu Buhari/Odigie-Oyegun bloc of the party.

They attributed this Tinubu “humiliation” to his reported boycott of the APC national secretariat in Abuja, and his non-participation in many of the party activities, querying, “why should the same APC ask Tinubu to reconcile aggrieved members and groups in the party?”

The begging question is: Why should the disparate voices and tendencies in the APC, and efforts at bringing them together, become the concerns of the PDP? Why should the party approbate and reprobate at the same time?
Aren’t polarization, factionalization, division, and “irreconcilable differences” what the PDP has prayed for and hoped should befall the APC since it (PDP) lost power in 2015, and especially ahead of the 2019 elections it has boasted it would use to stage a comeback to Aso Rock?

It seems to me that the PDP is missing the point. Has it been able to take care of the intra-party schism, which resulted from its manipulated Abuja national convention that threw up hand-picked candidates for all the posts in the contest?

After the “reggae blues” dance by its new hierarchy was over, didn’t the PDP, realising that the aggrieved national chairmanship aspirants and other contestants it shortchanged could sink its fortunes in 2019, set up the Governor Seriake Dickson’s National Reconciliation Committee to return “sanity” to the party?

The fallout from the PDP convention was a tip of the icebergs; there are more fundamental and intractable divisions in the party’s state chapters, especially the daggers-drawn tussles between and among party heavyweights over elective positions in 2019.

Similar auguries are affecting the APC, which prompted President Buhari to establish the Tinubu “Consultation, Reconciliation and Confidence Building Committee,” whose mandate was relayed by presidential spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu.

“As part of on-going efforts to improve cohesion within the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari has designated Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence building efforts,” Shehu said in a statement, adding, “The assignment will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the federation.”

The committee has taken off. Tinubu has visited President Buhari, whom he promised to do a good job of his assignment; and also led the committee members to the APC national secretariat, to confer with the Chairman, Chief Odigie-Oyegun and members of the NWC.

At that parley, he said: “I came for consultations… and I am all here to listen to the various challenges that we have. My mission is to seek opinions and advice on the various conflicts we have in some states, or if there is any national one to reconcile, move the party in a cohesive manner, and reposition it​​.”

So, why should this assignment the president gave to the Tinubu committee be a burden to the opposition PDP if not that, in legal parlance, the party has become a “busybody,” a “meddlesome interloper” or, to use a local lingo, an “amebo”?

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To cure the Police of its illness

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Last year The Guardian newspaper carried a report as a rider on its front page. The title was, Zaki-Biam: IGP Briefs, Absolves Fulani Herdsmen. As at the time the story was published, I remember that I had bought the paper but didn’t give the report much thought. I was mostly carried away with the photo of the newly commissioned Ojota Bridge which was the cover photo that the Guardian published on this fateful day. I once lived and worked in Lagos, and part of the experience of commuting to and from work was that I had to risk my life on that mechanical skeleton. Most of us braved arrest by LASTMA to using that bridge for fear that it might give away and convey us to untimely eternity.

 

 

But with the killing of 73 and more people in Benue and others in Nasarawa state over grazing cattle on peoples farms, I had to run right back to that publication and look at it closely again. On page 2 of that publication and to quote the words right out of the paper as credited to the IGP of Police, Ibrahim Idris. In briefing Mr. President (concerning the killings in Zaki-Biam in Benue state) he had said: No, I don’t think it is Fulani herdsmen. It was an activity of a criminal who is using some of his criminal gangs in the state to harass people. That, I have assured the governor when I met with him few days ago. Continuing, the IGP said he told the President that ‘we are police officers. Crime has no tribe; if you are a criminal, you are a criminal; we don’t look at crime in the identity of where you are coming from (sic).

 

I doubt the IGP on that last part. French biologist and writer Jean Rostand (1894 – 1977) once said that if you kill a man, you’re a murderer; kill millions of men, you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god. I do not understand which among the statuses arrogated to killing of innocent Nigerians it is that the Nigerian police intend to subject Nigerians. In the recent case in Benin City, a policeman seeking bribe from an innocent Nigerian and perhaps seeking to establish the police as a good friend just thrust the adamant young man he was haranguing in the direction of an oncoming truck. He was hit and his head was crushed by the truck. Then there was the case of a media aide who issued a press release on behalf of his principal. Apparently because the content of the press release did not urge Mr. President to contest for a send term, the police immediately declared the media aide a wanted man. That as far as most Nigerians are concerned established the Nigerian police not as friend but as a sycophantic body seeking the perpetration of the tenure of Mr. President.

 

But it was in the Benue case that most Nigerians believe that there must be a sinister plan to kill millions of Nigerians ostensibly from a temperament of an emerging conquistador. Otherwise, how can anyone explain that an institution which is saddled with the protection of lives and property and which generally wants to be seen as a friend of the people stand akimbo, askance as hundreds of people are murdered in broad day light and in peace times? If perhaps the Nigeria Police would be reminded how their antics would compare to certain events in the past, let me refer them to an article in the archive of the Microsoft Premium Encyclopedia 2009. In that article reference was made to the fact that IBB overthrew Muhammadu Buhari because of the increasingly dictatorial nature of the Buhari regime.

 

 

The article said that there was suppression of critical commentary and of various interest groups had gone against the pluralistic structure of Nigerian society and its people’s deep attachment to personal freedom. ‘Particularly unpopular had been the Buhari government’s Decree 4, which forbade publication of anything that might ridicule or denigrate government officials. The decree had shackled Nigeria’s vigorously independent, increasingly sophisticated press and led to the arrest of a number of prominent journalists. Also bitterly resented was Decree 2, which provided for the detention of any citizen deemed to constitute a security risk. Under this sweeping provision, the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO) was given a virtual blank check to arrest critics and dissidents. The regime further alienated the populace by banning all public discussion of the country’s political future. In addition, the coup was precipitated by the conservative economic policies of the Buhari regime, the article said.

I verily believe that the Nigerian police has contributed much more to demonizing our beloved president than anyone else. If the president does not do something about the police, posterity will consign him to the dustbin of history as a second-time dictator. A certain US politician, Al Smith (1873 – 1944) once said that you can cure all the ills which democracy brings by giving the people more democracy. Buhari can cure the police with more democracy.

•Written by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, is communications manager ANEEJ.

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BBN: The phony moral brigade is out again

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There is every chance that we all have friends or acquaintances, who are convinced they have a divine warrant to tell us how a piece of music should make us feel. Those so persuaded ignore the fact of differences in tastes and orientation. As a rule, they consider their own tastes divinely-approved, not personal preferences. They are the moral brigade. I was not surprised to see members of the brigade back on the podium immediately the hit show, Big Brother Naija (BBN), returned on 28 January.

 

They are easy to spot. They lurk on internet discussion forums or take spaces in the print media, acting like magistrates with the power to tell others what or what not to watch on television and what show sponsors should put their money on.

 

The BBN, without fail, gets the moral brigade into fits of red-eyed rage and on the same limp arguments. In an article, Big Brother, Small Minds, published by Daily Trust on 13 February, one Eugene Enahoro, blamed virtually all the challenges of Nigerian youths, including unwillingness to launch street protests at every opportunity as well inability to dislodge older politicians from the scene and establish a “youthocracy”, on BBN. The view is not original to him. I have seen people blame the English Premier League for Nigerians’ reluctance to make bonfires and block the roads for fun. I consider this an insult. Young Nigerians have participated in many protests and keep doing so since BBN and the English Premier League started airing in Nigeria.

 

The BBN, according to Enahoro, “is a clear example of the idleness, lack of focus and intellectual poverty amongst our youth”. He claimed that when the show debuted years ago, “those who watched it were written off as people who have nothing to do, watching other people doing nothing!” Perhaps, he was talking about himself and his ilk. I know many people, who watched and were mightily entertained (their right). Social media platforms also provide an uncomplicated indication of how much interest viewers have in BBN. Further proof of that is the return of the show with other editions. Had it been rejected by the audience, the show would have been ditched after debut.

 

These days, claimed Enahoro, housemates do nothing other than engage in “in immorality of the highest order and discuss the most mundane unintelligent issues.” I am yet to see hardcore porn on or naked violence on BBN. A few indiscretions, maybe, but I strongly suspect that the writer knows that the BBN House is not a monastery and the show is unscripted. I am equally aware that no one is forced to watch. And very importantly, those who consider goings-on in the house unsuitable for viewers of certain ages should take advantage of their education and use the time and channel blocking features available to prevent access. Those features are not decorative in purpose.

 

If the writer wants activism-oriented reality show, one drenched in Marxist rhetoric and Bob Marley’s ‘Stand Up, Get Up’ playing relentlessly as the soundtrack, he should come up with an idea and pitch it. Intelligence, it must be made clear, is not exclusive to politics and activism. Both platforms, DStv and GOtv, on which BBN is aired, offer programming for diverse tastes. They include news, movies, sports, religion and general entertainment. Simply take your pick and as they say on the street, “eat the rice and leave the stones”.

It is curious that the writer can describe a show that guarantees the winner N25million and a brand new SUV as one with no real value. Well, it has monetary value. More than that, it has career advancement value. The careers of some of the previous housemates have been helped by their participation. Bisola Aiyeola, the first runner-up at last year’s BBN attended the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York as an Ambassador of One Campaign Initiative, which advocates improvement of access to and quality of education for girls in Nigeria, especially in the Northern states.

 

This followed her winning presentation on BBN, where she highlighted the barriers to girl-child education in Nigeria. In any language, what she did would spell “seminal”, a word the author may not be familiar with. She has also featured in a number of television commercials and is a celebrity, facts that obviously leave the writer baleful. Uti Unachukwu cannot be said to have been hurt by participation in BBN except in the mind of the author.

 

Enahoro wants the N25million for the winner of a mathematics or essay competition. I concede to him the right to hold his belief. What I find unacceptable is that he thinks that knowledge in mathematics (and you can add other subjects of study) is the only means of being useful in the society. This is not the case.
I do think every activity not deemed illegal is useful to the society. Jamaica is better known for its reggae and athletics icons than her poets and mathematicians. Brazil is better known for football than anything else. That is not saying that poets and mathematicians are inferior, but you cannot legislate preferences for people.

 

Education is fantastic, but if the writer is sufficiently educated, he would understand that education does not have one strain and is not restricted to school subjects. Interacting with people of different backgrounds and performing various tasks at a single location for three months must count as education and must be considered useful for personal development.

 

And for the authors’ education, some of the BBN housemates have second degrees. Many have first degrees. Branding them as unintelligent is reflective of the minds of the members of the moral brigade, not those of the housemates. And you can find intelligent people among those who have never worn academic gowns. BBN sponsors, MultiChoice, remain among the biggest investors in education through the MultiChoice Resource Centres in over 400 public schools across the country. This fact is well known to except to the moral brigade. The sponsors’ support for journalism in Africa and in Nigeria through the CNN/MultiChoice African Journalism Awards, in the author’s bizarre world, does not come across as noble. Presumably, the organization’s support for Sickle Cell Society Nigeria also counts as less than noble.

 

The author’s anger at the size of the cash prize on offer to the eventual winner is, to say the least, laughable. Top-tier actors, musicians, footballers and boxers, to name a few, earn more than professors, scientists or economists et al. That the chaps in the “noble” professions do not earn as much as those in the presumably less noble ones has nothing to do with how important their fields are to society. They are mightily important.

 

The truth is that only the top actors, musicians, footballers and boxers are highly paid. The vast majority never get the jobs they seek. Very few top-tier scientists, educators, professors and economists are paid relatively little. Some turn their work into products and services that earn them eye-watering sums.

 

Everyone’s remuneration is based on what someone is willing to pay them. They key is to find the right employer. Footballers get better paid than doctors because the clubs that pay their wages are not public corporations and they are ‘for-profit’ organizations. A footballer’s wages, for example, come from the deep pockets of a billionaire or a club with big-money sponsorship deals, massive ticket-sale and merchandise revenues as well as competition prize money intake. The author is unable to understand this, obviously.

 

 

You don’t want to watch BBN? Stay off it and stick to what thrills you. Others want to watch, deal with it.

•Umunna writes from Port Harcourt

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