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Love, relationships and homicide

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The government, religious, traditional and community leaders and social workers should as a matter of national emergency begin to address more concretely and honestly the growing incidents of culpable homicide and related offences committed in the course of relationships and marriage.

Related to the issue of culpable homicide are the ever recurring and ever present incidents of open and closet spousal abuse and violence. Although incidents and occurrences of murder and spousal abuse are ever present in our relationships, it seems to me that the number keeps increasing by the day and we only know of those that are reported and those the police and other security agencies have unravelled. I decided to return to this topic because of two different but interrelated incidents that occurred in two villages in Katsina State.

The incidents are not trending in the social media because of the low circumstances of the victims and the alleged perpetrators. Of course, we know that circumstances of birth and standing and status in life have a bearing on how some incidents are reported and the type of attention that is paid to them.

In the first incident, the Police in Katsina arrested a 15-year-old bride in connection with the death of her husband. Dausiya Abdulmumin of Unguwar Danmayaki Village in Bakori Local Government Area of Katsina State was alleged to have poisoned her husband, one Saminu Usman (27) and her eightyear- old brother, Muhammad Abdulmumin with the only survivor from the incident being one Shafa’atu Usman, younger sister of her husband. Dausiya Abdulmumin in her interrelation with a section of the media claimed that she poisoned her husband because she was forced to marry him. She stated that: “I was forced to marry him, and weeks to the marriage he had an accident that deformed him which compounded my woes.

More so, I am pregnant ahead of the marriage to one Abdurrashid, our neighbour in the village whom I love. I sent for N40 rat poison which I spread in the rice and beans I cooked which they ate, I never imagined it will be like this.” In the second incident that took place in Tamawa Village in Kurfi Local Government Area of Katsina State, the Police arrested one Abubakar Sule (23) for attempted homicide.

He was alleged to have attempted to kill his girlfriend because she jilted him. The suspect told newsmen that his former girlfriend Aisha Dikko (21) whom he had dated for close to five years jilted him and started seeing someone else. The Commissioner of Police Katsina State, Besen Gwana, stated that Abubakar Sule took the said Aisha Dikko from Charanchi on a motor bike into a bush in Tamawa Village in Kurfi Local Government Area and attacked her with a knife and inflicted serious injuries on her. The suspect then abandoned her in the bush thinking she was dead.

The Commissioner of Police stated that the “victim was later found by a Good Samaritan and rushed to the General Hospital Kurfi. She is currently on admission and responding to treatment.” As I pondered on these two incidents, I reflected on an incident and proceedings I witnessed almost 20 years ago in an Area Court in the Malali Area of Kaduna State.

The young bride instituted divorce proceedings before the court praying for the dissolution of her marriage. She anchored her grounds on irreconcilable differences with her husband. She insisted that her husband deceived her into marriage only for her to find out that the man’s “instruments of performance” cannot sustain the marriage.” The presiding Area Court Judge kept adjourning the matter and urging the couples to reconcile.

The husband kept claiming that the love between him and the wife is unbreakable and on no account should the court dissolve his marriage. On this particular day in court, the young bride with a placid and “expressionless expression” informed the court that she has attempted to poison her husband on two occasions and failed and that she knows why she failed and that on the third occasion it will be a done deal. Amazingly, the husband stood there in the witness box smiling and telling the Judge that he still loves his wife and that the Judge should give him a further chance to reconcile with the wife.

The Judge sensing danger and realising that the issue had moved beyond the question of love quickly dissolved the marriage. Culpable homicide punishable with death or culpable homicide not punishable with death or the infliction of life threatening injuries on a friend, a spouse or a relative or on anybody for that matter is a very serious social issues and a grievous offence.

No amount of provocation can justify the taking of the life of a spouse while the person is sleeping or the poisoning of the food of an unsuspecting husband or wife. Although love and hatred seem inseparable, the taking of the life of another in the name of love or hatred cannot be justified.

Of all the rights listed as fundamental in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) (herein referred to as the Constitution) the right to life is listed as the first. This shows the centrality and fundamentality of the right to life.

Section 33 of the Constitution provides that: “Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.

Section 33(2) goes further to give the exceptions to the general rule that every person has a right to life. It provides that “A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary – (a) for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property; (b)in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or (c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.”

There is no doubt that so many families are facing challenges and holding the family together in a manner that is rational, just and acceptable is becoming increasingly difficult. A lot of young girls are demanding more independence and more involvement in choosing a life partner and believe that the society can no longer insist that what worked in the past must work in the present circumstances. Economic hardship and challenges are also putting a lot of pressure and strain on families. Some of our ladies go into marriage expecting “nollywood” bliss and expectation and end up in disappointment and depression and getting out becomes difficult.

Some of the men construct their relationships on false and unattainable foundations and at critical moments, such foundations collapse like a pack of cards. On the other hand, some spouses envy their better endowed colleagues and use false standards to assess their circumstances at home.

All these turn the family into a theatre of war where peace and love are in short supply. The rising incidents of spousal abuse, murder, intolerance and impatience cuts across religious, ethnic and geographical boundaries and the newspapers, the broadcast media and social media are awash with such incidents and stories. It is important for spouses that cannot endure difficult circumstances to find the means and courage of walking away and starting life afresh rather than take the life of their partners in bizarre and unacceptable circumstances.

I understand that walking away has its own social and economic implications especially where one of the partners is educationally and economically crippled and disadvantaged. Walking away in such circumstances is like walking into slow death. We as a people and as a nation must get involved in this new but old fight of spousal violence and homicide through sensitization on the virtues of tolerance, patience and moderation in the choices we make.

The government and civil society groups should also collaborate in setting up functional and properly funded half way homes where people in difficult marital circumstances can check in and reassess their lives before taking a decision on their future.

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Uprising in APC, who is surprised?

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“Blind party loyalty will be our downfall. We must follow the truth wherever it leads.” – DaShanne Stokes

What the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has been displaying to the country in the last three weeks ahead of its long overdue National Convention merely gives credence to the assertion of a British statesman Benjamin Disraeli that “There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour.”

But in the case of APC only persons handicapped in political punditry will express shock and surprise at the ongoing “war” in the ruling party. The squabble has yet again popularized the word parallel. The same way “inconclusive” was popularized by the Independent National Commission (INEC), under this regime.

When clouds gather the weather man tells us, the next thing is for the rain to pour and they dispatch advisories alerting us to travel dry. APC cloud have been gathering for the past three years and it’s just about to pour. All efforts by experienced hands in their system to proffer what to do to avoid the rain, fell on deaf ears as the system got hijacked by some cabals whose understanding and scope of national politics is pigeon holed in their narrow ethno-religious view point. Suddenly here we are the chicken is home to roost and the party is now right inside the rain already. In fact, it has been drizzling all the while ahead of 2019.

The inability of the ruling party to hold serious National Executive Council (NEC) meeting for over two years derives from this reality that the foundation of the house wrongly laid was cracking.

The early declaration of second term intention by President Muhammadu Buhari was intended to avert it, but from all indications it has failed to achieve the desired result. Aware that it must pour some “rain makers” wearing the garb of 20 APC state governors were brought in to prevent its pouring by proposing tenure elongation for National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun and his team a way of shifting the evils day, but the other higher forces led by President Buhari and former Lagos State Governor Ahmed Tinubu routing for former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiohmole for the national chairmanship refused, saying they won’t mind it pouring. Buhari and Tinubu had their way and a congress was ordered and here and now the party is soaked in their own blooper.

It is pouring in torrents, the grounds are all wet, fear of slipping off the ground now grips everybody, the movement is now gingerly to avoid the great fall. The arrogance is now giving way to reason, the rebellious new PDP in their fold hitherto written off before as inconsequential is now getting a hearing, reality is now downing. Will APC survive this their new disease called “parallel congress” will it be able to reduce its 72 state chairmen emerging from its parallel congresses into 36 states as required by the constitution of the party?

How would it be able to contain the anger of some of its henchmen being inconvenienced by these developments?

We have seen from APC congresses that even the rich are also crying and that master riggers can also be rigged out.

In Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha who was at the forefront of the anti-tenure elongation group because he wanted the state executive not loyal to him removed so that he can replace them found himself not at the commanding position where he yells orders but at the lamentation table crying for whoever desires to listen. What it takes for the best village dancer to lose his crown in the village square is just for somebody to study his dancing steps and add one or two more calisthenics and you are an edge ahead.

 

Governor Okorocha the Generalissimo of Imo politics suddenly is running helter-skelter in search of platform. His inordinate desire to enthrone his son in-law as his successor and the daughter as the successor to the wife in the First Lady position appears seriously threatened. The Owelle who had crowned himself the face of APC in Igboland is now a crying baby.

In the neighbouring Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi’s unhidden agenda to inflame the state all in desperation to stop Governor Nyesom Wike appears hooked in internal squabbles as he is dagger drawn with his own strongest ally Senator Magnus Abe. The gun movie in Port Harcourt a forth night ago by Amaechi’s supporters to shot down law court remains yet another sour point of this administration in its relationship with the judiciary.

Not even the almighty Jagaban himself, the Asuwaju of APC is having easy ride as the party’s National Legal Adviser Muiz Banire insisted on creating parallel structure in Lagos.

The fragile romance between Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, established in 2015 to enable the minister scale through Senate screening has crumbled and they have all returned to their trenches as shown in the parallel congress from Kwara State.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara who has had poor relationship with his state Governor Mohammad Abubakar was hit below the belt as not even his ward was he able to influence despite the yeoman job he is reported to be doing in his constituency.

In Enugu the hitherto apolitical Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, literally suspended his diplomatic gentleness and went about with thugs in yet another parallel congress.

Nothing less was expected from Kaduna State because of the high level of animosity already between the diminutive state governor, Nasir el rufai, and the irrepressible senators from the state led by the “deodorant and insecticide” Senator Shehu Sani.

The crisis rocking the ruling APC as validated by the ward, local government and state congresses, and most likely to be seen at its National Convention is pervasive and reflects the status of the party at the moment.

Since June 9, 2015 when it could not agree as a party on who should head the legislative arm controlled by it, APC has been jumping from one problem to the other.

Even right inside the Presidency, the much-expected cohesion and harmony have not been seen.

When early in the administration the President was accused of filling the whole position around him with his ethnic and religious allies refusing to recognize the nationality of his positions, he reacted angrily by saying he was appointing those he knows and who can do the work for him. But despite that this Presidency has been the most divided since 1999.

Few samples will suffice here; we have all witnessed the infighting among two security bodies, the EFCC and DSS all reporting to the President. Nigerians saw how the President submitted for confirmation twice Ibrahim Magu and twice DSS wrote a report that he was not eligible for the job. We all saw the show of shame when the operatives of the two agencies came on the streets of Abuja before camera with weapons flexing muscles.

Therefore, if we are not expecting biologically that a goat gives birth to a sheep why are Nigerians surprised that a party that produced such elementary performance in governance amidst apparent confusion would turn overnight to have a smooth and transparent political congresses?

It’s perhaps against this backdrop that the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other political watchers are crying from the roof top, to the international community and all lovers of democracy that this administration is incapable of conducting a free, fair and credible general election.

The party is relying on some empirical points already on display lately to even warn that democracy is seriously under threat and the prevailing circumstances are not providing an enticing signs.

What has come very glaring from the APC impasse is that the great conspiracy of 2014 to grab power at all cost that gave birth to APC has crumbled? It was intended to metamorphose into a political party to change our society for the better, but all the manifestations have been showing otherwise. No wonder great players in the conspiracy like former President Olusegun Obasanjo are chickening out and the pack appears to be fragmenting. God help Nigeria.

 

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Legal, constitutional ignorance in voters’ registration

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The framers or designers of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) envisage that those that will be elected and eventually assume office under the constitution must be elected through the legitimate votes of the Nigerian people. The legitimate voters on Election Day are qualified registrants whose names are on the voters’ row. The legitimate voters are those that have attained the majority age of 18 years and do not suffer age disability and other disqualifying conditions.

Fidelity to the constitution and the law presupposes that on no account must anyone including the political parties, candidates in an election, the electoral management body and other stakeholders in the electoral process manipulate or skew the voters’ register in such a way as to deliver predetermined outcomes. A fraudulent voters’ row anchored on strange names, unqualified registrants and those that suffer registration disability can only deliver predetermined and strange outcomes.

Electoral democracy demands and envisages that that those that must exercise their democratic franchise are those that understand the process and the values of electoral democracy and have the capacity to make informed choices. Conscious, informed and rational choices can only be made by those that understand the electoral process, understand the demands of democracy; understand the programmes and policies of candidates and political parties; are able to decipher the real from the unreal and understands the truth as opposed to propaganda.

Unfortunately, sometimes, democracy and the electoral process can deliver bizarre outcomes and those that are seen to be rational and can make informed choices make choices that are difficult to understand and explain. But having attained the age of 18 years, the law and the constitution ascribe maturity to those that are 18 years and above and ascribe the ability to make choices to them whether those choices are really informed or not.

The Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) (designed to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Council elections) has made elaborate provisions for the registration of persons qualified to vote. The framers of the 1999 Constitution and the designers of the Electoral Act built in safeguards that will ensure that only qualified Nigerian registrants are able to register. The designers of the Electoral Act understand the diversity of the country and took into consideration this diversity in the formulation of the registration procedures. The designers of the Electoral Act understand that society is dynamic and that population movement and other emergencies may affect registered voters requiring them to move from one place to the other. The designers of the Electoral Act know that some persons may decide to undermine the voters’ registration process and prescribed stiff punishment for such elements.

Section 9 of the Electoral Act gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the exclusive right to compile, maintain, and update on a continuous basis, a National Register of Voters which shall include the names of all persons entitled to vote in any Federal, State or Local Government or Area Council elections.

More importantly, the Electoral Act recognises the fact that Nigeria is a big country and that on a continuous basis, the youth of our country attains the age of 18 and are qualified to be registered and to vote in an election. The designers of the Electoral Act know and appreciate the fact that it will be unconstitutional and undemocratic to insist that those that attain the age of 18 years immediately after a general elections cycle must wait for four years before growing up as voters. The issue of continuous voters’ registration is more germane with the institutionalization of “off season” elections that have become a permanent feature of our electoral process.

Election Petition Tribunals and the courts in the exercise of their constitutional, judicial and electoral duties and functions have more or less permanently rescheduled elections in some of the states of the federation. The states include Edo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti. The National and State Assemblies have recorded deaths and removals of members and the vacancies created in these states must be filled. On the basis of these, section 10 of the Electoral Act provides that there shall be continuous registration of all persons qualified to be registered as voters.
Each applicant under the continuous voters’ registration system shall appear in person at the registration venue with any of the following documents, namely, birth or baptismal certificate; national passport, identity card or drivers licence; or any other document that will prove the identity, age and nationality of the applicant.

Ordinarily, a person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person is a citizen of Nigeria; has attained the age of 18 years; is ordinarily resident, works in, originates from the local government/area council or ward covered by the registration centre; presents himself to the registration officers of the commission for registration as a voter; and is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule or regulation in force in Nigeria.

Furthermore, no person is permitted to register in more than one registration centre and any person that registers in more than one registration centre commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N100, 000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

The framers of the constitution recognise that Nigerians are entitled to freedom of movement and association. The movement of Nigerians from one ward, local government or state may be voluntary or involuntary. The movement from one place to another may be involuntary in the case of natural displacement caused by natural disasters or environmental factors. The movement of Nigerians may be due to conflict arising from ethnic, communal, pastoral and religious issues. The movement may be due to other factors not envisaged by the lawmakers. It is in this wise that registered voters can transfer their registration from one registration area to another. Hence, a person who before the election is resident in a constituency other than the one in which he was registered may apply to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the state where he is currently resident for his name to be entered on the Transferred Voters’ List for the constituency. The REC shall enter the person’s name in the Transferred Voters’ List if he is satisfied that the applicant is resident in a polling area in the constituency and is registered in another constituency. Thereafter, the electoral officer of the new constituency on the direction of the REC shall assign that person to a polling unit or a polling area in his constituency and indicate in the list the polling unit to which that person is assigned; issue the person with a new voter’s card and retrieves his previous voter’s card; and send a copy of the entry to the electoral officer of the constituency where the person whose name has been so entered was originally registered and upon receipt of this entry, the electoral officer shall delete the name from the voters’ register.

It is not right and amounts to double registration and a criminal offence for a registered voter to throw away his/her Permanents Voter’s Card and queue for new registration simply because they moved from one registration area to another. Double registration may lead to the excision of the name of a double registrant from the voter’s register using improved technology that detects multiple registrants.

The INEC through the RECs and the Electoral Officers in the various local governments must use the platform of the schools, the churches, the mosques, traditional and religious leaders, the labour movement, the civil society groups and other professional bodies to educate and enlighten the public on the clear provisions of the law relating to the registration of voters.

Nigerians must not be allowed to lose their right to vote on account of legal and constitutional ignorance. It is well and fine if a person chooses not to register. It is well and fine if a person chooses not to vote. The question remains, why do certain persons and parties take special interest in manipulating and corrupting the voters’ register?

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APC’s transition to confusion

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The outcomes of the All Progressives Congress (APC) last weekend’s congresses present a familiar scenario of why political parties in Nigeria remain in their primitive stage. Across the states of Nigeria, it was a rehash of tendencies that have continued to detain our progress and stymie our political growth; impunity, imposition, coronation, selection, ‘unity list’, affirmation, and ‘carry-go’ mentality which breeds its own gang of godfathers and their hallucinatory godsons.

 

Democracy suffers in the hands of power oligarchs who have perfected the art and act of ensuring that the people remain in perpetual servitude like Machiavellian strictures to sustain their procured loyalty. Some godfathers decided to stay away from the execution hall, having been fully assured that their dictates would carry the day. And it does carry the day. I am pained at the reality we face in the APC.

I am troubled by the fact that APC is now being derisively ridiculed by public discourse suggesting the lack of internal democracy within the party. Going by the way and manner the party got itself into the consciousness of the Nigerian people and consummated an almost impossible merger in the history of Nigeria; the present reality undermines its democratic credentials. It is pointless reminding anyone of the attractions of democracy; free choice, credible processes, election, and freedom of speech, inclusiveness, participation, constructive engagement and collective bargaining. Democracy enforces the concept of majority in the decision making process and not the concept of godfatherism with their array of unpropitious godsons flirting around the political corridors deifying an individual and making him assume a conquistadorial status.

 

These days, the godfather approximates the collective powers of choice of the people, and decrees orders in magisterial incandescence to point at the direction of the sail. Those who try to raise objection easily get their fingers burnt with a caveat emptor hung on their neck to suggest they are no-go area. But democracy preaches a different thing from what we practice on a regular basis. I am pained that APC; an acronym for progressive-minded party has been dubiously reconfigured to read a different interpretation; “All Parallel Congress”. From the outcome of the congresses across the states, this description eloquently captures the scoring rubrics.

 

But it is bad news for the party especially on account of its self-proclaimed tendencies that heralded its formation. It is further disturbing when we are told that Katsina State APC, President Buhari’s home state, equally got itself into this potpourri of parallel congress and a faction of it already threatening to exit. That is not cheering news for the APC. If anything, the president, as a leader of the party should have been able to reach out to the organs of the party in the state, listen to their grievances, attend to them and create a level playing field for all.

 

A division in the party from Katsina State is a bad omen for the APC across the country. Everyone is bound to take inspiration from there in the typical Nigeria’s way of bandwagon effect.

 

This transition to confusion within the APC underscores the reality of its weak leadership, which also justifies the need to inject a new sense of energy into its mainstream. But my fear would be; I hope the successor leadership would not continue to blame the halitosis on his predecessor the same way the President Buhari has continued to blame the PDP for his rather slow leadership of non-performance. The man who will be succeeding the present leadership, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, will be inheriting a lot of divisions, crises, acrimonies, baggage, and factions across the states. It means the former labour leader would have to step in to resolve a lot of crises.

 

The Oshiomhole that I know has the uncommon ability to engage and sustain political discourse no matter how unassailable they may appear to be; even though some political pundits are wont to conclude that he has become more of a godfather that he fought so vehemently to dethrone in Edo State.

 

Even at that, he still gives room for a robust and constructive engagement and never shies away from interrogating issues no matter the pitch of the discourse. His native intelligence, intellect and wittiness are attributes that help him to dissect knotty discoursal issues. But beyond the façade of such intellectual strategy to win more friends and less foes, political engagements are dictated by interest common to all.

 

Rather than focus on the huge challenge of the 2019 elections, he will be bugged down by the unhealthy parallel congresses that have made APC a shadow of itself. But Comrade Oshiomhole would prove his worth if only to justify the confidence repose in him by President Buhari who is unable to reconcile even his home state APC crisis, and also needed the former governor’s energy to fire up the APC weakened adrenaline.

 

What is not too clear to me is whether Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s one-man reconciliation committee will automatically seize once Adams Oshiomhole comes on stream or whether it will be part of the holistic efforts aimed at repositioning the party for the all-important task of the 2019 elections.

 

Either way, the decision will be for the party to take, but I am rest assured that Oshiomhole will bring new dynamics into the party that may help it to mitigate all the crises threatening the very foundation of a party that ought to be a model for all.

 

I would have also expected that the way President Buhari is trying to energize the party, he should have also energized the presidency by simply displaying uncommon courage and patriotism to support someone else to succeed him within the party. Truth be told, the same reasons why Chief John Odigie-Oyegun is being eased out, are also domiciled in the presidency. Oyegun has been variously accused of not giving enough voice to the party. He’s also slow to act and take some far-reaching decisions.

 

The organs of the party hardly meet. There is no cohesion within the party because of competing interests. And above all, there are sharp practices within the party that do not augur well for a government known for its anti-corruption rhetoric.

 

The APC-led government has also not shown enough utility-driven leadership to give a sense of direction to Nigerians. There is no national cohesion and the country appears polarized along ethnic, religious and political lines. There is palpable fear in the air as well as intimidation and harassment. The president hardly interacts with Nigerians. The Monthly Media Chat has been suspended. There is no way Nigerians can connect with their president because he’s a man of few words.

 

But for the Vice President who has been engaging the public through his numerous crosscountry travels, the situation would have been worse. You hardly hear of Economic Team meeting, and the anti-corruption fight has been skewed along political party lines.

 

There is fear everywhere even though killings and kidnappings have dominated public discourse for sometime now. When you dare say anything, you get phone calls from people expressing concern about one’s safety. You get anonymous threat calls questioning how dare you raise concerns about untoward issues affecting the country. In the fullness of such reality, Mr. President can simply prove bookmakers wrong by throwing up another candidate within the APC to energize governance and leadership of the country.

 

That way his name will be etched in gold for taking the best decision, in my view, both for the party and the nation. That way also, we will forever remember him as a truly patriotic and altruistic Nigerian leader, but those who are profiting from this present skewed arrangement would shout blue murder

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