President Buhari must not die in office

By Muyiwa Olayinka

To match Interview NIGERIA-BUHARI/
President Buhari

It is no longer news that the Commander in Chief of armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Buhari is ternminally ill. The recent picture showing our dear while praying with Governor of Amosu of Ogun and Gov El Rufai of Kaduna states respectively says it all.

While exchanging pleasantries with the two governors in the mosque, I saw his “Figure Now No More Than Skin & Bones” according to Perry Brimah. Birmah said and I quote “The videos of Buhari walking to Friday prayers bring tears to eyes. His asthenic figure, now no more than skin-and-bones as he sat down for the Jumat service, was heart-wrenching”

See the picture below:

el-rufai-amosun-pray-with-buhari
President Buhari with Gov El Rufai

I want to support Birmah and all other well meaning Nigerians to advise the President to go for further treatments. He told the nation shortly when he came back from medical vacation, that he will soon be going back to run further tests. One wonders why he has not gone back for futher treatments.

It seems the President is caged in Aso rock by the cabals and his handlers are doing more damage to his image and health. The rigours of office is taking its toil on Mr President and has a debilitating effect on his health.

We know that power intoxicates. There are people benefitting from Buhari’s presidency and they are not willing to let go easily. They are enjoying the aura, power, perks and the allure.

In Nigeria, I recognise the fact that the system does not take care of anybody, it has become a rat race for every Nigeria to struggle for survival. So if fortunately, you find yourself on the corridors of power, one is tempted to exploit the situation to a maximum advantage. This is applicable to the cabals holding Mr President against his will.

The President has not been seen publicly in recent times, it is rather confounding  who is in charge. We have heard a lof of appointments being made in recent times. Boards of parastatals, heads of MDAs were routinely changed.

The weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided by Mr President did not hold. The previous meeting was presided by Vice President Osibajo. It says a lot about the precarius health of Mr President.

With the benefit of hindsight, we have had a situation like this in Nigeria. Late General Sanni Abacha died in office under a similar circumstance.

The nation was shocked at the sight of their leader when he publicly addressed the nation. He was looking frail, weak, stressed and sickly. His handlers made spirited effort to douse the public outcry, but evetually he lost his life.

                     General Sanni Abacha

History should not be repeated again. All well meaning Nigerians should cry in unison and exert their influence,  urging Mr President to do the needful. He must  attend to his fragile health, either to embark on another medical vacation or resigns from office, if his condition is worse or irredeemable.

It is better he spends the latter part of his life in the midst of his love ones, family and friends than  die in office in the company of power mongers and bucaneers.

Why Nigeria Can’t Break Up

By Chris Ngwodo

biafran flag

No bad idea is regurgitated as constantly as the notion that the solution to chronic violence in Nigeria is for her to “break up.” The case for Nigeria’s disintegration surfaces routinely after tragic episodes of violence and has emerged following the recent increase in sectarian terrorism. Some perspective is necessary. Since the days before the Civil War, beating the drums of separatism has become a sort of pre-programmed response to national calamity. Rumours of our impending divorce attended the 1964 elections, the June 12 1993 crisis, the death of Moshood Abiola in 1998 and the Sharia controversy in 2001. In 1990, a gang of over-ambitious soldiers attempting to oust the Babangida regime even purported to evict five northern states from the federation. Thus, current debates about the durability of Nigeria are nothing new.

It is intellectually lazy and astonishingly parlous thinking to suggest that the solution to our national crisis is disintegration. It is true that much life has been expended on the Nigeria project to no apparent redemptive effect but what we owe the dead and the unborn as well as ourselves is clear-minded thinking on the fate of our union rather than just emotive polemics.

The usual suggestion is that Nigeria be divided between a “Muslim North” and “Christian South” or among its so-called big three – the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Beyond these imprecise propositions, there is little specificity as to what shape post-Nigerian nations would look like except perhaps for the preposterous suggestion that every ethnic group should become a nation. These arguments are fallacious. Nigeria is not and has never been a country of monolithic religious halves. Christians and Muslims are scattered in substantial proportions and ethnic variety across the country. There are Fulani Christians and Igbo Muslims. Millions of Yoruba families contain adherents of both faiths. Nigeria is far more complex and diverse than the Hausa-Yoruba-Igbo tripod. Making each ethnic group a nation throws up problems. What would we make of Ijaw communities who hug the coastline stretching from the south to the south west? The sheer diversity and interlocking spread of hundreds of ethnic nationalities makes tidy disintegration a virtually impossible proposition.

lord lugard
Lord Lugard

A popular fallacy is that prior to the advent of the colonialists, Nigeria’s ethnic groups existed in self-contained cocoons of utopian bliss unburdened by the necessity of interaction with others. But many of the ethnic and regional identities which are now presumed “sacred” are in fact colonial creations. For instance, it was only after colonization, that the term “Yorubaland” began to be applied to the realms of all rulers who claim descent from Oduduwa, instead of only to the Oyo Kingdom. Before the British came, the Egba, Ijebu, Ekiti, Ijesha and Ilorin peoples fought costly interstate wars among themselves. The longest pre-colonial civil war was the sixteen year Kiriji war which was fought between Yoruba city states. Yoruba nationalism was forged by Obafemi Awolowo who rallied the descendants of Oduduwa as a political force in the new nation. Similarly, Igbos were organized into separate and autonomous republics. Many of them had scant contact with each other with some entirely oblivious of others before the advent of colonialism. Consequently, Igbos fought no wars as a collective. Igbo national consciousness was largely the handiwork of Nnamdi Azikiwe who at one point preached the manifest destiny of the Igbo in Africa. Hausa city-states co-existed through times of war and peace. Even when Uthman Dan Fodio’s jihad established the Sokoto Caliphate, the new emirates were never synonymous with “the North” which was a later British invention and was fortified as a political identity by Ahmadu Bello.

Significantly, pre-colonial societies were not based on ethnic units but rather on age groups, occupations, residence and settlements. Instead of monolithic tribal blocs competing for a share of the national cake, city-states, inclusive kingdoms and republics for the most part made up the area that was eventually christened Nigeria and experienced centuries-long commercial links and cultural cross-pollination.

ojukwu and gowon

Dissolving the Nigerian federation will not resolve the violence that bedevils places like Jos, the conflicts between the Ife and Modakeke in Osun, the Aguleri and Umuleri in Anambra or the Ezza and the Ezillo in Ebonyi, the Jukun and the Tiv or the Itsekiri and the Urhobo. Nor will it end conflicts between nomadic Fulani pastoralists and agrarian communities stretching from the north to the south. These are essentially either local or intra-ethnic conflicts.

Ethnic homogeneity cannot indemnify society against conflict. Somalia, the world’s poster child of failed statehood, has only one ethnic group, the Somali, only one language and is one hundred percent Islamic. South Sudan which only recently celebrated its divorce from Sudan is now embroiled in inter-ethnic conflict within its borders. Back home, we need only look at Bayelsa State and other ethnically homogeneous states to establish conclusively that ethnic homogeneity is not a predictor of peace, social justice or smart governance.

While prodigal political elites practise divisive politics, the Nigerian people themselves live in a socio-economic reality of interdependence and integration. The use of oil wealth from the Niger Delta in sustaining state bureaucracies all over the country may be the most obvious example of this. Less remarked is the dependence of southern urbanites on northern produce for food. The Fulanis are the main custodians of Nigeria’s livestock population, holding over ten million cattle, twenty million goats and millions of sheep. Their industry significantly accounts for protein consumption in the south. The north remains Nigeria’s food basket.

We are so captivated by the witchcraft of separatism that we fail to appreciate the fortuitous or providential alignments of ecological, geographical, cultural and economic factors that have fostered interdependence and integration. For example, if violence in the north was simply about anti-Igbo hatred then it would be saner for Igbos to stay home in the east. But the east is disadvantaged by its erosion-prone poor soil which cannot sustain the population density of the area and which accounts for the comparatively high level of migration of Igbos to other parts of Nigeria. Despite everything, Igbos (and other Nigerians) continue to migrate and mingle because human coexistence dictates it. No man is an Island. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man is from Kano but has most of his investments in the south and employs more southerners than northerners. Millions of Nigerians have become socio-cultural hybrids through intermarriage, cultural adoption and transplantation.

Nigeria’s problem is not her diversity but the failure of the state to affirm Nigerian citizenship as the ultimate identity superseding all other allegiances. It is our failure as citizens, intellectuals and politicians to articulate an all-embracing Nigerian ethos. Rather we waste valuable time and energy rebooting hackneyed definitions of Nigeria as an artificial creation or a mere geographical expression. Yet all nations, possibly except Australia, being creations of human political will, are artificial and begin as geographical novelties; they are not received from heaven. It falls on succeeding generations to transform them from mere geographies into socio-political moralities; to create transcendent solidarities where none existed before. This is what nation-building is about and this is what we have failed so spectacularly to do. Sectarian politics thrives largely because of the dazzling scale of ignorance that Nigerians demonstrate about their history, geography and each other.

It is foolhardy to believe that the failure to treat ourselves as citizens rather than as ethnic and religious partisans will disappear if we dissolve Nigeria. If we cannot treat each other humanely now that we are compatriots, how on earth are we going to do better if we become foreigners? Last year, the Abia state government fired thousands of Igbo-speaking “non-indigenes” from its employment to make room for equally Igbo “indigenes.” Significantly, most conflicts in Nigeria are between so-called “indigenes” and “settlers,” a dichotomy that at times seems to defy ethnic or religious solidarity. These petty bigotries and manifestations of apartheid will not disappear with the Nigerian union. The challenge of civic security is inescapable for there is no possible post-Nigerian construct that would not contain either religious or ethnic minorities. It is worth noting that Biafra, the most serious separatist effort in our history was undermined both by the superior power of the federal forces and the reluctance of ethnic minorities who feared for their own prospects as citizens of Biafra. The problem remains creating a just, fair and equal citizenship that shelters all of us regardless of creed, ethnicity, class or gender.    Nothing suggests that new ethnic republics would in any way be more peaceful, stable or more prosperous than the current Nigerian reality. In short, it would require less effort to renew the Nigerian enterprise than to construct afresh new polities.

Having said all this, nations are not eternal but finite, expiring when they have outlived their usefulness to history and humanity. Nigeria is no different. Nigeria does not currently face immediate disintegration but a slow and steady erosion of federal authority by sundry paramilitaries, warlords and terrorist gangs, until the nation slips inexorably into failed statehood. Already we see signs of this in the brazen terrorism of pseudo-religious extremists who seek to establish alternate governments as well as the rise of oil-bunkering pirate gangs in our southern coastal waters.

It would be a pity if we were to let Nigeria fail. No one who has studied her history, encountered her acute humanity, sampled her cultural riches and researched the dreams of her founding fathers can fail to sense her ordination for higher purposes. For us to abort this purpose would be nothing short of cosmic treason. As Eme Awa once remarked, “If we were to dissolve the federation, a future generation of people will pass the verdict that the Nigerian elites committed suicide while of unsound mind.” Nigeria has not been tried and found wanting. We simply have not invested enough of our intellectual and moral energies into actualizing her promise.

Knotty issues surrounding the Malabu oil deal

By Olusegun Adeniyi

How will you deal with Malabu?

When I posed that question to the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu last week Wednesday afternoon, I was watching out not only for what he would say but also for how he would say it. I had my reasons. As someone who rose to the top in one of the multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria, Kachikwu must know a lot about the management of our oil and gas sector. But he did not dissemble. “Malabu is a mess”, he volunteered, “But it has also presented us opportunities to deal with a lot of issues. We will not destroy the project but clearly, the terms have to be renegotiated.”

My interaction with Kachikwu was at his office, having been invited to meet him by a mutual friend. I listened as he explained the challenges he has had to confront in the sector ever since he was appointed, first as the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director in August 2015 before he got the additional responsibility of a ministerial portfolio four months later in November. He said when he assumed office, things were going smoothly such that by the 29th of January 2016 the national oil production peaked at 2.38 million barrel per day.

However, trouble started on 14th February 2016 when the Forcados oil export line was attacked by some Niger Delta militants under the name “Avengers”. Despite a 30-day ceasefire brokered in the course of the crisis, the next target of attack was the Nembe Creek Trunk line resulting in further shut-in such that by May 2016, the national oil production had been brought to an all time low of 1.4 million barrel per day. That translated into a shut-in of a million barrels per day at a time the price of crude had gone down with Nigeria practically brought to its knees.

With that, Kachikwu developed the Niger Delta Development Action Plan involving dialogue sessions with critical stakeholders while collaborating with the security agencies which, with the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, became the roadmap for achieving a temporary truce. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has played a critical role in that effort to restore peace in the Niger Delta.

From the issue of militancy in Niger Delta, (including what to do about Tompolo) to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the management of the Federation Account to the infrastructural decay in the oil and gas sector, I had an interesting chat with Kachikwu who explained the challenges that plague the sector as well as the efforts being made to redress them. But against the background of the revelations now coming from the international media about the controversial OPL 245 otherwise known as Malabu, it is evident that Kachikwu has his job cut out for him and he knows.

According to Kachikwu, given the international scandal that the deal has thrown up, it is in the interest of Shell and ENI to sit down with the federal government of Nigeria to chart a clear path forward. “I believe that at some point, the Petroleum Ministry, the Ministry of Justice, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as representatives of Shell ad ENI would have to sit down in the bid to put a closure to this sordid matter. But to do that, the federal government must extract not only a better deal but also some payments”, said Kachikwu.

That the Malabu scandal is back in the news is no surprise to me. In my piece titled, “Malabu & the $1Billion Bazaar” published on this page on 15th August 2013, I made three important points. One, I predicted that the fight over OPL 245 would be long-drawn, messy and dirty because of the interests involved. With the case now instituted at a Federal High Court in Abuja that has the fingerprints of Mohammed Abacha who was outplayed by Dan Etete, it is clear that this battle has only just started. Two, I said that if after receiving the settlement claims from the Federal Government escrow account at JP Morgan, Etete was found to have paid out bribes to some people, it will not be difficult to establish those involved since money trail is very easy to trace. Three, I argued that Malabu was not an exception in an industry that lacks transparency, it was the rule. In fact, had Abacha not died, there probably would have been no story about Malabu today.

Unfortunately, while the Malabu scandal should compel a rethink on the way we manage our hydrocarbon, I have not seen evidence of that, especially if snippets from the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that may soon be passed by the National Assembly are any guide. And because of that, I am republishing my earlier intervention on Malabu with minimal editing, not only because it explains what the entire deal is all about but also because it raises fundamental points about why it could yet happen again, essentially because as a nation, we hardly learn from our mistakes.

===============================================================

Based on a subsisting motion sponsored in 2012 by former Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi and 46 other colleagues, the Senate in 2013 directed its committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Finance, then chaired by Senators Paulker Emmanuel and Ahmed Makarfi respectively, to probe the controversy surrounding the payment of $1.092 billion to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited over OPL 245 oil block. The Senate decision came barely a week after the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee which investigated the same deal concluded its assignment with damning conclusions.

While the Malabu controversy remains a business deal gone sour in a sector that is lacking in transparency, the circumstances surrounding a tri-partite transaction involving the Federal Government, Shell/Agip and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in respect of OPL 245 is what has generated the current furore. At the centre of the deal is former Petroleum Minister, Chief Dan Etete and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep (SNUD), a company incorporated in January 2001 for the sole purpose of operating OPL 245 as a fully-owned subsidiary of Shell. The block in question is located directly between the two major commercial oil discoveries of Agbami (OPL 216/217) and Akpo (OPL 246). OPL 246, for the uninitiated, was awarded also by Abacha in March 1998 to South Atlantic Petroleum (Sapetrol) of which Lt General T.Y. Danjuma is the major stakeholder.

To be sure, the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee report on Malabu is very revealing of how the resolution arrived at by the federal government may not be in our national interest. But stories making the rounds also suggest that the current rash of probes may be more in the interest of some characters who lost out in the dirty deal than in the interest of Nigerians who were practically gang-raped. For instance, one of the key recommendations of the House report is that Mohammed Abacha, and not Dan Etete, owns the controlling shares in Malabu Oil and Gas. That may indeed be true but it appears that the former Oil Minister has already out-swindled the Abacha family and it should not be our business that people who helped themselves to our national wealth are fighting over the spoils.

What should be of concern to critical stakeholders is that nobody should have the powers to singularly allocate national assets to themselves as it was done by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha and his minister, Etete, with regards to OPL 245. Yet it would seem that we don’t learn any lesson from our experience which then explains why the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) still retains the clause that enabled the duo to award such juicy oil block to themselves. Notwithstanding the subterfuge, Section 191 of the PIB is a clever replication of Section 2 of the 1969 Petroleum Act which vests unrestricted powers in the hands of the Petroleum Minister with regards to “Oil exploration licences, oil prospecting licences and oil mining leases”.

Against the background that it is the abuse of such discretion that has created several idle but rent-dependent overnight billionaires and associated corruption in our system, certain provisions in the current PIB fail the test of credibility. For instance, Section190  states “There shall be no grant of discretionary awards, except as provided under section 191 of this Act.”Unfortunately, that exceptional clause in section 191 stipulates that “Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (3) of section 190 or any other provision of this Act, the President shall have the power to grant a licence or lease under this Act.”

Clearly, this new lever for another discretionary power endangers a fair and open bidding process that the Nigerian oil industry truly requires. The discretionary award of oil production licenses that put the Nigerian oil blocks in the hands of Abacha and Etete will happen again if we still vest such powers in the hands of individuals.  When Nigerians say that their president “is the most powerful in the world”, what they mean essentially is that he/she has control over the oil industry and can turn a pauper to a billionaire by the stroke of a pen. But is that the way to run a country in this modern era? That is a critical question we need to answer if we are desirous of ever institutionalizing a government that will be both transparent and accountable.

It is indeed instructive that Mrs Oby Ezekwesili provided the institutional template, first with the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) of which she was founding Chairman (this reporter was also a member) and then later as Solid Minerals Minister where she was also instrumental to writing the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 which detaches the office of the Minister and his/her Principal from the award of mining licences. Incidentally, between 2004 and 2007 when we were drafting NEITI Bill as members of the National Stakeholders Working Group under Ezekwesili, discretionary power in the award of acreages was of serious concern to us.

 Unfortunately, while the NEITI Act that we eventually succeeded in getting passed requires the Federal Government to conform with the provisions of the Global EITI (which includes a transparent bidding process for acreages), the same NEITI Act added a caveat that all existing long-term contracts must be respected, a last-minute insertion following pressure from the IOCs. But to properly situate how discretionary power has created a culture of rent seeking behaviour that has in turn made our oil and gas sector largely unproductive, we may have to trace the trajectory of the controversial Malabu deal.

The story began in April 1998, about three months before Abacha’s death when he decided to manipulate the Indigenous Exploration Programme Policy to award certain oil blocks to cronies who would act on his behalf and themselves. By the filings at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on 18th April 1998, the share capital for Malabu Oil and Gas Company that was handed OPL 245 was N20 million, divided into 20 million ordinary shares of N1 each. The shareholdings were distributed as follows: Mohammed Sani, better known as Mohammed Abacha, son of the late Head of State: 50 per cent or 10 million ordinary shares; Kweku Amafagha, representing the interest of Dan Etete: 30 per cent or 6 million ordinary shares and Hassan Hindu, wife of the Wakili Adamawa, Alhaji Hassan Adamu: 20 per cent or 4 million ordinary shares.

However, with Abacha’s death and the emergence in 1999 of a “Pharaoh that knew not Joseph”, to borrow a Biblical expression, the story became interesting in 2000. At a period Olusegun Obasanjo was now President and Atiku Abubakar Vice President, the entire documents for Malabu got missing at the CAC and a new one surfaced: Enter Munamuna Siedougha and Fasawe Oyewole with the shares redistributed as follows: Munamuna Sidougha, 10,000,000 and Pecos Energy Limited, 10,000,000. It was at this point that Mohammed Abacha’s name disappeared from the Malabu manifest and Etete more or less became the sole proprietor.

Meanwhile, by a letter dated 29th April 1998, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited had been directed to pay N50,000 application fee, $10 million bid processing fee and $20 million for signature bonus, all within a period of one month as stipulated by law. But it was a year later that the processing fee of $10 million would be paid while only $2.04 million was paid as signature bonus. Interestingly, the April 6, 2001 cheque for the balance of $17.96 million for the signature bonus by SNUD as the technical partner of Malabu actually bounced.

Three months later in July 2001, there was a directive from President Obasanjo to cancel the deal and with that, OPL 245 was put on offer by the Federal Government. At the end, Shell (that was to have been a technical partner for Malabu with a stake of 40 percent), now had control of OPL 245. But since it is not an indigenous company, the signature bonus had to change and the company was asked to pay $210 million. But with Etete feeling back-stabbed by Shell, he sought legal redress.

In November 2006, while the court process was still on, there was another twist in the tale when the federal government decided on an out-of-court settlement with Malabu which led to the restoration of OPL 245. The oil block was thereafter re-awarded to the company with a new signature bonus of $210 million. A letter to that effect dated 2 December 2006 was signed by Dr Edmund Daukoru, then Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.

With Malabu back in the picture regarding OPL 245, Daukoru wrote Shell that “following a review of expert legal opinions on respondents’ prospects in the legal appeal by Malabu Oil and Gas, Government has decided that the best option against exposure to substantial damage is an out-of-court settlement. That Shell is to forgo block 245 to Malabu while Government provides a mutually acceptable substitute of comparable potential against the $210 million, which Shell has already paid or will be expected to pay as signature bonus”.

However, Shell would not relinquish the block without a fight. Having apparently seen how  commercially rewarding OPL 245 could be and unwilling to accept the promise of another block, Shell took the Federal Government before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an arm of the World Bank in Washington DC. The case was on throughout the tenure of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua but on 2nd July, 2010, the Jonathan administration wrote a letter allocating OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas. That followed an out-of-court settlement brokered between the Federal Government and the contending parties.

Now, the House report clearly states that the terms of settlement of the Malabu deal are unfavourable to the country with regards to our oil assets, especially when compared with our stake on Danjuma’s OPL 246. It is also on record that the then Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Secretary, Professor Yinka Omorogbe, a respected academic with solid integrity who was cleverly eased out of the system, was critical of certain aspects of the agreement. Yet the federal government still nonetheless went ahead to conclude the deal. That has led to all manner of insinuations and allegations that some officials may have acted beyond the call of duty in the transaction.

While I am also of the view that the manner in which Dan Etete edged out Mohammed Abacha from the Malabu deal smells fraud, I do not believe that should be the business of those who superintended the transaction on behalf of the federal government. Since all the Malabu documents and court papers have always listed Dan Etete and not Mohammed Abacha as the prime promoter of Malabu, the two of them should go and sort themselves out. What I think should be of concern to our lawmakers is whether indeed our officials acted in good faith. That is what interests me.

With the intervention by the United Kingdom authorities to probe allegations that Etete made some curious payments into several onshore and offshore private accounts after receiving the settlement claims from the escrow account at JP Morgan, it will not be difficult to establish if any official was indeed involved in financial impropriety, since money trail is very easy to trace. And if any official is found to have been paid from the Malabu account not only should such public officials lose his/her job, they should face criminal prosecution.

However, my main concern really is not that the government acted as intermediary in the transaction but rather that it has chosen not to learn anything from the whole controversy. Of course, there will always be questions in an industry where the more you look the less you see, but there can be no doubt that Shell indeed had a good case before international arbitration.

According to the company’s statement of claim at the arbitration, Malabu in March 2000, came with “a farm-in proposal. Malabu was looking for an international oil company to take a 40% equity stake in the OPL 245 licence itself and ‘carry’ Malabu in developing the block, i.e the international oil company would take all the exploration and development risk by funding Malabu’s share of the costs (including the acquisition, exploration and development costs of the block) as well as its own. Those costs would then be recovered by the international oil company from Malabu’s share of oil production.”

Given that several other oil exploration and development licenses allocated by the Abacha regime had been withdrawn by the Obasanjo administration at the time, “Shell made enquiries of the Assistant Director of the DPR, Mr. Andrew Obaje, on 31 March 2000. He confirmed to Shell that OPL 245 had been owned by Malabu since April 1998 and was currently in a good standing. Mr Obaje told Shell that the FGN did not intend to revoke the allocation because Malabu had paid all the required fees and part (US$ 2.04 million) of the US$ 20 million signature bonus for the block. The map of allocated concessions obtained from the DPR also indicated that Malabu was the owner of OPL 245. On 4 October 2000, Shell was approached by a new Malabu representative. He was known to Shell, because he had been employed as the Managing Director of Texaco in Nigeria until his retirement in mid-2000. Shell received verbal assurances from the then Vice President of Nigeria that there was no objection from the FGN to Shell acquiring an interest in OPL 245.”

With all the agreements signed between Malabu and Federal Government and the requisite documents ceded, Shell on 24 May 2001, received the signed title deed of OPL 245 together with the co-ordinates of the licence area. “However, in approximately mid-June, reports appeared in the Nigerian press suggesting that notwithstanding the assurances Shell had received from Malabu and the results of its own due diligence – certain individuals whose names were not contained in any official records were claiming an interest in Malabu and/or OPL 245. In early July 2001, Shell received news that the FGN had withdrawn the allocation of OPL 245 to Malabu. The FGN’s revocation was a shock to Shell, as no explanation was given, but Shell continued to hope that Malabu (together with Shell’s assistance) could reverse the FGN’s revocation. Shell did all it could do to assist Malabu to reverse the FGN’s decision. On 25 March 2002, a Shell representative was suddenly and unexpectedly summoned to meet with President Obasanjo in Abuja the following day.  Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (the President of the FRN), Mr. Obaseki , Mr. Kayode Are (the Director General of the State Security Service), Mr. Funsho Kupolokun (Special Assistant to the President of the FRN on Petroleum Matters) and a representative from ExxonMobil were all present. At the meeting, the President of the FRN informed Shell and ExxonMobil that OPL 245 would not be returned to Malabu and that Shell and ExxonMobil would instead be invited to bid competitively not for the role of licence-holder (as Malabu had been) but rather for the role of Contractor for OPL 245 with NNPC holding the licence.”

Quite naturally, Malabu kicked, accusing the federal government of breach of contract and Shell of underhand dealing. But with the award, Shell commenced operation to develop OPL 245, spending in the process, according to its figure, “over US$ 535.9 million” while exploration work had already resulted in two significant discoveries. But on 30 November 2006, there was yet another twist when the Federal Government again canceled Shell’s contract and re-awarded the block back to Malabu. With that, Shell took the case to international arbitration until it was finally resolved in July 2011. But has it really been finally resolved?

 With so much money involved and several contending interests (including Mohammed Abacha claiming he registered Malabu before Etete allegedly defrauded him), we have definitely not heard the last of the Malabu controversy. For sure, the case will drag on for years both in local and foreign courts, especially since Energy Venture Partners Limited (a British Virgin Island company) and International Legal Consulting Limited (a Russian company) have already joined legal issues with Malabu. Our security agencies should also be interested in the current investigation by the UK Proceeds of Crime Unit to ascertain if any of our officials was paid bribe following the consummation of the tripartite agreement. But as far as I am concerned, the critical issue to deal with is: How do we ensure it doesn’t happen again?

The Malabu controversy is coming at a period our oil and gas sector is seriously challenged on all fronts: from the massive oil theft that threatens the national budgets to the discovery of shale oil in the United States and now there are reports that our once-promising multi-billion dollar Olokola (OK) LNG project might end up another waste with the withdrawal of the foreign investors. What the foregoing indicates is that there is much to engage the attention of our lawmakers and other critical stakeholders so that we do not continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The OPL 245 deal which led to the payment of  $1.092 Billion to Malabu was the result of a systemic abuse of discretion in which an oil minister and his late boss, taking powers from military decrees, subtly allocated a fruitful oil block to themselves even though Etete has succeeded in playing a fast one on the Abacha family. But the core question in the Malabu deal lies in the process of awarding oil licenses and leases which is placed at the discretion of the Oil Minister or President. That is the critical issue we must deal with.

If the PIB merely transfers the powers of the Minister in the 1969 Petroleum Act to the President who can now grant licenses outside the bid round, then nothing has changed. The President should not have such transactional powers which he/she could then easily delegate to the minister who acts on his/her behalf anyway. The lesson we must learn from the Malabu scandal is that NO ONE SHOULD HAVE discretionary power to grant oil licenses and leases outside a competitive and transparent bid round.

Olusegun Adeniyi was a member of NEITI business working group that fashioned the NEITI act

2019: THE SURVIVAL BATTLES OF BOLA TINUBU

By Remy Oyeyemi

My father had a common saying, “Òde l’ó ndá omo è l’abò.” I am actually at a loss on how to appropriately translate this aphorism without making it losing its substantive meaning. But my best shot is as follows: “An incorrigible child would be taught a lesson from outside.” The current manifestations on Nigeria’s political landscape have lent credence to the truism of the above aphorism, in relation to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It is no longer a secret that things are not going well between President Mohammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu. Things are “no longer at ease” between them and their followers. The battle line between Aso Rock and Bourdillon is drawn. Things have fallen apart, apology to Chinua Achebe. The road to 2019 suddenly has become more interesting; for those who are invested in our politics, grab your popcorn and get ready for a buster of a movie.

After series of insults, slights and snubs from Aso Rock, Bourdillon has finally had it. It could no longer pretend that things are okay. It could no longer hide its frustrations. Asiwaju Tinubu and his followers are no longer able to tolerate the disdain and disrespect with which they are being treated. President Buhari, on his own, is acting as the Pharaoh King that knew not Joseph. The president is not enthusiastic at coming to the defence of Asiwaju Tinubu. He is prepared to sacrifice him to achieve whatever goal he has in mind. Evidentially, President Buhari has consciously encouraged the undermining of Asiwaju Tinubu’s political fortunes across the country, especially in the Southwest.

The betrayal of Asiwaju Tinubu by the Chairman of the All Progress Congress, (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun who has gone to every length, including crooked means, to undermine his former benefactor, seems to be the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Before then, there has been a conscious effort to sweep every humiliation of Bourdillon by Aso Rock under the carpet by the Bourdillon faithful.

The need for this arose from the obvious concomitant shame deriving from painful regrets of the unmitigated support deployed to bringing President Buhari to power. From being the “greatest political strategists of our time” to the “greatest political simpletons of our time”, the Bourdillon faithful are now scrambling for existential survival and political relevance, not just across Nigeria in general, but particularly in Southwest.

The emergence of Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu as the APC candidate in Ondo State and eventual winner of the governorship election is seen by analysts as a new feather to the cap of anti – Tinubu forces in Yoruba land.The alignment of Akeredolu with the Oyegun against Tinubu guarantee him the ticket of the party while collaboration with Aso Rock enemies of Tinubu ensured his victory at the polls at all costs.

The quiet roles of Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi in deploying federal might to ensure the victory of Akeredolu to spite their erstwhile benefactor in Tinubu has been deliberately underplayed for obvious reasons. But all the players themselves know the truth of what transpired.

To this extent, competent sources have confirmed to this writer that Chief Bisi Akande is presently working “day and night” to bring back to the fold, the rebellious former members of the Bourdillon Group, particularly former governors Babatunde Fashola and Kayode Fayemi. The need for them to come back home has been seen as the next step in rescuing the downward spiral of Asiwaju Tinubu’s political fortunes stemming from the deadly blows being dealt to him by President Buhari and the cabal that has taken control in Aso Rock.

A prominent Yoruba leader to whom the two former governors of Lagos and Ekiti states could not but defer to has been given this assignment. This writer has also been able to confirm that a meeting to this effect has been held in Lagos just recently to ensure the success of this effort. Prior to this development, this writer was affirmatively informed that one of the duo spent his entire Sallah holiday at Bourdillon to review the subsisting situation, heal old wounds and strategize for the future.

This is a follow up to a meeting that was held in the Bourdillon Residence of former Governor Segun Osoba of Ogun State. The meeting which was held at the instance of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, according to media reports was also attended by Chief Bisi Akande and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the current governor of Osun State. The purpose of the meeting was to plead with Aremo Osoba to come back into the fold of APC and forget the hurt that has been inflicted on him which drove him to creating another political party in Ogun State.

Competent sources, close to the former governor of Ogun State informed this writer that Aremo Osoba who had been under intense pressure from Asiwaju Tinubu to “come back home”, did not intend to be stubborn, and decided to agree to the meeting. It was underscored that the former governor however was not “completely happy” with the efforts of Asiwaju Tinubu who has not been able to normalize the relationship betweenAremo Osoba and the current governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun. Asiwaju Tinubu is believed to have been the cause of friction between Governor Amosun and Aremo Osoba because of the roles he played in the months leading to the 2015 elections and ought to know how to rectify the situation.

Meanwhile, Governor Amosun has become more intractable for Asiwaju Tinubu. Governor Amosun’s direct linkage with President Buhari, a product of previous relationship has irked Asiwaju Tinubu. Asiwaju Tinubu seemed to see this Amosun’s relationship with President Buhari as an act of disloyalty and has not taken kindly to it. This attitude on the part of Asiwaju has complicated his rapprochement efforts with Aremo Osoba because Governor Amosun appeared not ready to kowtow to Asiwaju’s expectations. Or give due deference to the elder statesman and former governor of his state in Aremo Segun Osoba.

Asiwaju Tinubu has followed up his rapprochement with Aremo Osoba with the re-cultivation of the old Afenifere Guard that he had relentlessly disrespected, insulted and denigrated. Chiefs Ayo Adebanjo, Olanihun Ajayi (now late), Ayo Fasoranti and others of their ilk have been at the receiving end of these ignominious acts from Tinubu and his henchmen despite being the ones that paved the road to Alausa, Ikeja for him. Tinubu had let loose his goons in a conscious effort to discredit these heroes of the Yoruba Nation in an effort to make him the numero uno and the de facto leader in the politics of Yoruba land. He constantly had his goons attack and call them names. Now that he has got burnt politically, he is seeking their help to get rehabilitated. He had gone to plead with them for forgiveness and sought their cooperation in building unity in Yorubaland. The media reports have confirmed that a couple of meetings have been held to this end.

Asiwaju is still having difficulties with the Gani Adams leadership of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress. The leadership of Gani Adams believes that it has been subjected to unfair propaganda from Asiwaju Tinubu’s operatives. The feelings in the camp are as visceral as the ones within the Old Afenifere Guard. There is a lot of bitterness by the followers of Gani Adams towards Asiwaju Tinubu who is deemed to have made repeated efforts to destroy their leader through chicanery, blackmail, subterfuge and funding of disloyal members within the group. Despite the detestation of Gani Adams by Bourdillon, a lot of Yoruba leaders that Asiwaju Tinubu is currently courting their cooperation who spoke with this writer expressed serious and solid confidence in Adams leadership of OPC.

Asiwaju Tinubu has also been making frantic efforts to make up with other political powerhouses in the APC. This writer could confirm that he has held meetings with some leaders within the APC in the North and in the East who are also very disenchanted with not only the way President Buhari has been allegedly “messing up” the country but more importantly, for having turned them to outsiders in the house they built.

Some of these groups include the Attahiru Bafarawa group from the Northwest; the nPDP under the leadership of Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje which abandoned President Goodluck Jonathna to join with Buhari and APC to win the last elections are also on their way out of the APC. Though, the nPDP seemed currently divided since some of its members are strong cabinet members in President Buhari’s administration, but majority of them are really dissatisfied with the APC. The Bukola Saraki group has had rapprochement with Aso Rock cabal to fight the Ibrahim Magu led EFCC.

There is also the Abubakar Atiku bloc of the APC which is considered the most formidable of all the blocs because of its national spread. From the feelers coming in, all eyes are on this bloc as the possible anchor for a new direction towards 2019. Many disaffected blocs in the APC (including many from the factionalized PDP) who though, do not dislike Bourdillon, are expressing more trust and confidence in the anchorage of Atiku Abubakar bloc. Sources at Bourdillon confirmed that Asiwaju Tinubu would not mind to work with Abubakar Atiku in the months to come for possible new realignment. Another source from Atiku bloc noted that Chief Oyegun has destroyed the APC.

 Despite the vilifications of Asiwaju Tinubu by his detractors, it is evident that he still has a lot of support from the North of the country. Some Northerners believe he has been given a short end of the stick and has been treated unfairly. This writer is aware that a number of Governors from the Northwest have secretly visited the Southwest in the last couple of weeks to plead for rapprochement with Asiwaju Tinubu through third parties who are powerful Yoruba leaders. Some of these governors could not approach Asiwaju directly for reasons presently unclear. Some of the meetings to this effect have taken place in some innocuous cities/towns in the Southwest where it had been difficult to draw any serious attention.

Presently, majority of the APC governors are already coalescing for a new political outfit. They are upset with President Buhari’s handling of the country and are particularly irked that consultations are never made on critical issues. Some governors are very upset that many advices given to the president have been ignored despite the fact that things are degenerating. While some of the governors are open to working with Bourdillon, they are concerned about Asiwaju Tinubu’s notoriety in backsliding on agreed terms and his big ego at dominating others who are considered his peers. Some of these governors are also being courted by other power blocs in the party towards forming a new alignment of equal partners in lieu of 2019.

For those who are paying attention to the unfolding events, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti is already working with Asiwaju Tinubu on the platform of ensuring Yoruba unity. He seems to have become a new damsel to the suitors of Bourdillon. There is a working relationship between Bourdillon and Ado-Ekiti government house. The visceral attacks that used to come from the APC operatives in Ekiti state and elsewhere would soon become an aberration. How this would pan out remains to be seen.

Former AD Governor ‘Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State has maintained a dignified mien in all this. A very decent and quiet personality, he appears unwilling to lick anyone’s boot. He seems guided by the primary interest of the Yoruba Nation. He is ready and willing to work with any one or group of persons to elevate and advance the interest of the Yoruba Nation as well as the country called Nigeria. He comes across as a man not desperate to be anything. This seemed to have created a challenge for Asiwaju Tinubu to work with him because he does not seem to have any price. An authentic Ekiti man, he is reported not to be aversed to Bourdillon, but he is unwilling to compromise his independence, dignity and self respect.

Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has not proved difficult to convince to remain cooperative with Bourdillon. Though, he has been very “slippery” and his loyalty difficult to pin down, his reported respect for Chief Akande has ensured a working relationship with Bourdillon. Governor Ajimobi’s alleged “slippery” streak has been a source of friction with Asiwaju Tinubu. He is also believed to hold the grudge that his increasing unpopularity in Oyo State has something to do with the machinations of Asiwaju Tinubu. But political operatives in Oyo State consider this view as “balderdash.” “Ajimobi is sleeping on the bed he has laid for himself,” a political operative insisted. On the whole, Ajimobi is considered not antagonistic to Bourdillon.

There are reported plans in Aso Rock of letting loose the EFCC on Asiwaju Tinubu. And with the reputation of all our politicians, none of them is a saint. Something, somehow, someway could be found against anyone. The reported plan, according to some Aso Rock inside sources, is aimed at destabilizing Asiwaju Tinubu in order to take him out of politicking for 2019. As far as Aso Rock is concerned, President Buhari would be going for another four years in 2019 and there are indications that they have lost Asiwaju Tinubu. “If he won’t be for us, he can’t be for anyone else,” the source reiterated, insisting “It is politics 101.” Asiwaju himself is reported to be aware of the “sinister’ plans and is reported to be ready for the battles ahead. It is being speculated in some quarters that his frantic efforts at rapprochement to bring the Yoruba Nation together is aimed at consolidating and becoming more formidable in case Aso Rock comes through with its plans to humiliate him.

One major good news report for Bourdillon is that several power blocs within the APC share its disgust for Chairman Oyegun. They think he is “too cheap” and does not have as much integrity as he has been invested. All the major power blocks within the APC consider him a weakling that could not be trusted with a serious task. Chief Oyegun is being blamed for weakening the party organization and as a result destroying its virility. Even, some forces within the CPC bloc of APC, where he still seems to have little support still view him with suspicion. Those who currently place a modicum of value on him from this bloc are those described by the First Lady Aisha Buhari as having no voters’ cards. They have no electoral value within the party or from their home base.

Though, Asiwaju Tinubu is not exactly a darling of other power blocs in Yoruba land right now, President Buhari had better be careful in making any moves against him. Buhari is being advised not to make the mistake that Ibrahim Babangida made about the assumed unpopularity of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. This is because of the Yoruba belief that “Olómo burúkú kò le fi fun ékùn pa je,” literally meaning “Parent of a bad child will not feed him to the tiger.” The feeling across Southwest right now is that Asiwaju is a victim of an ungrateful Aso Rock and President Buhari. Despite his assumed unpopularity right now, the Yoruba would rally round and defend Asiwaju Tinubu regardless of party affiliation. Signs of this are already manifesting.

Some political analysts are trying to link the recent complaints of the First Lady Aisha Buhari to the grumblings from Bourdillon. But there is no evidence that there is a working relationship between the First Lady and the Bourdillon bloc of the APC. But there is no denying the fact that there are complaints from several blocs – Northwest, North Central, Southwest, Southsouth, Southeast and Northeast against the politics and governance of President Buhari – and the First Lady seemed to be acutely aware that things are falling apart. Sources close to Bourdillon informed that Asiwaju Tinubu is set to appropriate the disaffections to his own advantage.

However, the challenges of Asiwaju Tinubu in making a success of his efforts remain daunting. The first challenge is Asiwaju Tinubu himself. How he has to save himself from himself is a major task. His need to be a “god” or the only “decision maker” for the political process in Yoruba Nation is a serious impediment. His lack of intellectual understanding of the way and manner the average distinguished Yoruba man approaches politics remain his Achilles heel. This challenge is extended to the national level where he has to see others as partners rather than protégés.

Asiwaju’s moral challenge coupled with inability to consult with others before making pronouncements remains a consistent source of injury to his acceptability. His lack of belief in collegiate leadership and collective responsibility is unacceptable to many others who would be inclined to work with him. His fear that he would not be able to call the shots the way he wants when he wants has been the force driving a wedge between him and his ability to be a truly acceptable leader, despite his several shortcomings.

A powerful traditional ruler in Southwest very close to Asiwaju Tinubu informed this writer that if Tinubu could be saved from himself, he has the prospect of being the leader he so much wants to be. The traditional ruler pointed out that if Asiwaju could moderate his ambition, recognize the worth and contribution of others, accept the fact that his views would not always be taken hook, line and sinker, desist from “backsliding” from the deals he reaches with others, check his arrogance and accept the limits of money in Yoruba politics by recognizing that not everyone has a price, thing could improve for him.

As our forefathers contended, “Alátise l’o nmo àtise ara re.” A word, they say, is enough for the wise.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

– John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

Please, follow me on Twitter: @OyeyemiRemi

NB:

This is an updated version of an article published on October 26, 2016.

THE “STONING” OF ROTIMI AMAECHI

By Remy Oyeyemi

“You have stoned nobody; that is why we are stealing………” – Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers State in PUNCH December 15, 2013

“If you don’t take your destiny in your hands, we will go and other leaders will come and continue stealing.” – Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers State in PUNCH December 15, 2013

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” – Frederick Douglas (1817 – 1895)

Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has created a reputation for himself as being against impunity and corruption. He has at one time encouraged Nigerians to stone those of them who parade themselves as leaders as evident in the quote above. He believed that the political leaders, himself inclusive, have been taking Nigerians for a ride. He believed and still probably believes that he and his fellow politicians have been stealing our commonwealth because we let them. He felt that until we begin to stone them as thieves are supposed to be stoned, they would continue to steal, loot and cart away our commonwealth without let or hindrance. Essentially, he is echoing Frederick Douglass that their tyranny as thieves and professional kleptomaniacs would only end when Nigerians are fed up with them and begin to take reprisals against them.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State is a fighter. He is outspoken, bold, and brash. He takes on all comers without concern for consequences. His loquacity is bewildering and beyond imagination. His fearlessness has become legendary and this has recommended him to many Nigerians who love to hate him or hate to love him. He has a large following as a result of this. Listening to him, you could get the vibe that he essentially wants good for his people but does not have the discipline to conquer his environment. As a result he is due for stoning as one of those who looted our commonwealth and mismanaged the rest they decided not to loot.

It is now a matter of psychoanalysis if his brashness and famed “fearlessness” is not a sign of some inner insecurity. An insecurity that stemmed from a nagging conscience because of the way and manner he has stolen the commonwealth of the Rivers State people. A sign of a mind troubled by the iniquities that he has engaged in secretly. His garrulity has been deemed to be a cry for help because he has betrayed himself and his people. He is a telltale of a mind that is not at peace and is having trouble living with itself for atrocious acts of corruption.

Several times, during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, Amaechi presented himself as the champion of the poor and the deprived. He created a false image of himself as the defenders of the people against the impunity of President Jonathan. The fact of the matter is that if the devil had come around to defend Nigerians from the impunity of GEJ, Nigerians would have accommodated him. That is what happened to Governor Amaechi, a vagabond at a point in time who is now a corrupted billionaire reportedly worth almost 14 billion.

It should be made clear that it is a legitimate expectation for every human being to work hard and elevate him/herself from the fangs of poverty to comfort. It is what is expected of every reasonable human being to work hard and accumulate resources in the most honest way possible. What is not acceptable is to pilfer the public purse and appropriate the commonwealth to your own exclusive use while pretending that you are a messiah and “champion of the poor.”

It is amazing that a person like Amaechi, whose video of packets of wads of dollars was mistakenly exposed from the suit of his pocket during an interview has gone viral on the Internet, could sit in judgment of another human being as being corrupt. In addition, another video made by a “Common Man” is already making waves on the Internet alleging an 864 billion naira fraud against our “man Friday” Amaechi. Well, this is Nigeria, where the cow thieves are always sitting in judgment over the hen thieves. It is disturbing that these are the kinds of people in whom Nigerians have put their hopes of being redeemed. Definitely, it is a hope that would never be realized.

Governor Amaechi is a traitor to the people of Rivers State. He sold dummies to them, betrayed their trust and confidence. While his people are not able to receive salaries for their sweat, he was flying around in an $18 million jet and allegedly spending money on the campaign of Muhammadu Buhari so that he could be considered for the Vice Presidential slot or at worst, a ministerial appointment. Hardworking men, women, and vulnerable children were going hungry in Rivers State while Amaechi was gallivanting around Nigeria and the world in a private jet allegedly bought for the state.

If one may ask, is the purchase of a jet the most important priority where all the children are not in school? Is a jet a priority in a state where many children go to bed unfed? Is a jet a priority in a state where there are no modern health facilities available? His rail project that was abandoned has been a source of ugliness and a reminder of a dream unfulfilled. Yet billions of naira had been appropriated for this project that, at present, is of no use to the people of Port Harcourt in particular and the Rivers State people in general.

Amaechi was pissed off by President Jonathan and he fought him to a standstill. I have no problems with that because Goodluck Jonathan was an embarrassment as a president. Amaechi also has been pissed off by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and he is engaged in a cat and mouse battles against him. I have no problem with that either because he and Tinubu are birds of the same feather who robbed their people blind. Amaechi is very upset that for all the reasons that he has betrayed his people in Rivers’ State, Asiwaju Tinubu has not allowed the realization of his ambition to become the Vice President of Nigeria under the Buhari Presidency. Amaechi was one of those who championed the rejection of Tinubu as the Vice President to Buhari. He was hoping that if Tinubu were played out he would have a better leverage. But unfortunately for him things did not turn out as he anticipated.

On one occasion at a meeting of the stakeholders of the APC, he had been very rude to Asiwaju Tinubu and insulted him virulently. His rudeness and aggression was so shocking that Buhari and other elders at the meeting were speechless. They could not control him or did not know how to control him. All politicians are ambitious. Nothing is wrong in that. But what is wrong is an ambition that lacks moderation and sense of appropriateness. Amaechis’s ambition had led him to betray the Rivers people and caused him to offend some of his benefactors, even if those benefactors were less than perfect.

Some Nigerians hold the view that it was a good thing that Asiwaju Tinubu did not become the Vice President to Buhari because of varied allegations of corruption against him and the threats posed by a Muslim/Muslim ticket to the religious stability of Nigeria. But if allegations of corruption should disqualify Tinubu from being the Vice President, it should disqualify anyone in this dispensation from holding any position in Buhari’s government including Rotimi Amaechi or any other governor that has looted his state. This is why the attitude of the Presidency to the emergence of Bukola Saraki, an alleged certified bank robber, as the Senate President is still flabbergasting. All a presidency determined to fight corruption needed to do was just to make a public statement about its abhorrence of such a situation.

Amaechi has sought to come to equity some of the times but with reeking hands of corruption. The question subsisting right now is whether Amaechi would become a federal minister under the Buhari Presidency without explaining how he came to be worth almost 14 billion? If Buhari rejected the purchase of Mercedes Benz cars for his use in Aso Rock, how could someone who used the funds of his state to purchase a Jet while he did not pay the salaries of his workers be qualified as a Minister in a government trying to fight corruption?

Some governors are richer than their states. They have left impoverished their people through stealing. They have looted the commonwealth of their people. Children in their states are dying. The sick in their states have no succor. Able-bodied men in their states have no jobs because of mismanagement and looting. This set of governors could and should not be allowed to go scot free. It would amount to monumental injustice for Buhari not to step in and give justice to the people of Rivers State and other governors involved in these heinous crimes.

Rotimi Amaechi is the postal boy of this genre of governors. He is ripe for stoning as he suggested. It is the only way to stop others from repeating the follies of his ilk in stealing our commonwealth. Is he going to find succor in a ministerial position under President Buhari? Or would he be made to account for his stewardship? The people of Rivers State are watching and waiting. Nigerians are watching and waiting.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.” – John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

Please follow me on twitter @OyeyemiRemi

NB: I wrote this article on August 6, 2015.

MAGU’s EFCC, LOOT DISCOVERY AND DECEIT!

By Remy Oyeyemi

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by Mr. Ibrahim Magu is engaged in a game. And it is a game of deceit. It is a game of duplicity. It is a game of treachery against the people of Nigeria. It is a game that would eventually have high costs for his masters. It is a game that would also be costly for the polity of Nigeria. It is a dangerous game. Without any doubt, it is a political game. But this is a different genre of political game with deadly dimensions.

First, it was N49 million found at the Kaduna Airport. The EFCC in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren noted that “the bags were left unattended to and without tags.” The PUNCH newspaper reported that the bags “were found to contain crispy naira notes with seals purportedly emanating from the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting PLC seen on the sacks.” According to Ibrahim Bappah, the money sacks were discovered at the baggage check-in at the Kaduna International Airport “ready to be taken out of the country.”

Now the question is this, what kind of investigation is this? Is this not planted money by the EFCC? In an Airport with security camera, how come there were no recordings of those who brought in the bags of money? If the money was a “proceed of crime,” would the objective not be to catch the criminals? How about monitoring the sack from a safe distance to see who comes in to take it (they call it surveillance) and have him arrested to explain the source of the money?

How is it possible for someone to bring such large amount of money into the Airport for whatever purposes and leave it unattended? Was the owner of the money tipped off that EFCC was on the way so that he could run away and abandon the money? What really is the true position of things? Since then what has EFCC done investigative wise? What update does EFCC have for Nigerians?

Then it was the N.5 billion found stashed in a shop 64 with a Bureau De Change signage at LEGICO Shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. The money was reportedly stashed in several Ghana-Must-Go bags and was in N500 and N1000 denominations. And further questions remained again: What is the explanation of the EFCC for not putting surveillance on the shop? What did EFCC do to identify and locate the owner of the shop? Was EFCC able to interview the landlord before making this public?

Or was the intention of the EFCC to ensure that the owner never came forward to claim the money? What makes the EFCC think that the owner would show up after the place has been raided, even if the money was legitimate in the climate that pervades Nigeria presently? What due diligence did EFCC do? What investigation has EFCC done since that incident? Any update for Nigerians? None.

And next….! In an apartment in Ikoyi, the EFCC reportedly discovered $38 millio, N23 million and 27,000 pounds. All the pictures of the monies showed that it has not gone through many hands. It was neatly arranged. And the questions again: Who is the owner of the property? Who is the owner of the apartment? Did the so-called whistleblower not identify the owner of the money for EFCC? How come the owner was not caught unaware? Was he tipped off by the EFCC or the whistleblower? How did the whistleblower know that the money was there? Was he or she complicit in any manner? Or the motive was to escape the wrath of the law by squealing on the owner?

Either way, the EFCC ought to have a culprit to prosecute, unless this is a game to confuse Nigerians, mislead them and divert their attention from pressing issues of poverty facing them from the incompetence of this Mohammadu Buhari’s administration. How come no one has been identified as the owner of the money? How come the source of information was so incomplete? How come there was no surveillance to see who goes into and comes out of that building and the particular apartment? What rapport, if any, did the EFCC have with the owner of the property as part of their investigation?

The building has to belong to somebody. The apartment has to belong to somebody. The Shop 64 has to belong to somebody. The Airport in Kaduna had to have security camera that could reveal the smugglers of the money found. How come we do not have answers to these questions? Is this not a stunt being pulled on Nigerians? Is Magu engaged in a game of grand deceit of Nigerians?

If this is not a game, what kind of investigation do you call this? Is this just an issue of incompetence? Or Magu and his men are engaged in their own form of corruption? What exactly is going on?

Yes, Nigerians want to fight corruption. But obviously, this is not the way to do it. Magu is patently incompetent. He does not know what he is doing. He is not investigating anything. He is not prosecuting anyone. He is an egomaniac. He only wants publicity through grandstanding. Honest, sincere and credible investigations are not done via the media. Prosecutions are not done in the media but in the courts. He is only playing on the desire of Nigerians to get rid of corruption and catch the thieves. But Magu is betraying Nigeria and Nigerians. He is doing nothing.

I do not know how you justify two years on a job without any evidence of productivity. How do you justify a war on corruption that has not convicted a single person in two years? And this is despite reported overwhelming evidence against some of the accused? How do you justify a war on corruption that is selective, unbalanced and inequitable? How do you justify a war on corruption that is unfocused? How do you justify the competence of a Commission that spends so much resource without any result?

To make matters worse, Magu and if EFCC do not even know how much they have recovered! Haba! For Eledumare’s sake, how can you retrieve money from looters and not keep account for the people? How could you not have proper records of what you have collected and where the loots are located? Are the retrieved monies in the EFCC offices in Abuja? Or Are they deposited in the Central Bank? If the looted monies are deposited in the Central Bank, why not publish the records for the public to see and convinced the country that you are honest and dilligent?

Why the secrecy about the retrieved loots? How much has been collected and from whom? Why is the records not made available to Nigerians? So, after all, this is a fake anti corruption war? Is this EFCC not a vehicle of political vendetta? Is EFCC meeting the expectations of the Nigerians fatigued about corruption? Is this not a game being played? Is this not a script being acted out?

It is time to stop this deadly game that Magu is playing on behalf of his masters with the psyche of Nigerians. We may all not be smart, but we are not all idiots. It is time to shove Magu aside. There is need for a more competent hand. Or we should just forget the whole anti corruption war altogether. No use deceiving ourselves.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

– John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

Please, follow me on Twitter:@OyeyemiRemi

Can the EFCC do with less noise?

By Abimbola Adelakun

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was set up as a crime fighting agency, but it glories in photo-ops and media sensationalism. From its first chairperson, Nuhu Ribadu, to the present one, Ibrahim Magu, crime fighting activities have been treated more like a gladiatorial show than about justice. In jurisdictions and climes that take corruption seriously, dedicated crime fighting organisations do not crave media attention as the anti-graft agency does. That is why it battles many rounds against alleged criminals but hardly gains conviction.

A comparison of the EFCC’s website with its counterpart in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, reveals differences in value. The FBI lists mainly cases that have been concluded and the main suspect(s) sentenced. In the instances when they are still at the initial stage of arraigning the suspects in court, they note that investigations have been concluded already or they have substantial material to go on. They do not do flowery languages, grandstanding or hectoring. Crime fighting is treated as a sober act; a necessary demeanour for a job that strives to counterbalance the pernicious effects of crime.

While the EFCC has fewer success stories on its websites, its self-reporting is mostly about arrests, arraignment, on-going trials, ongoing investigations and a general report on its activities. There is something to be said about the seriousness of an organisation tasked with the responsibility of stemming financial crimes that spectacularly publicises news of the cases it has not convincingly investigated. By starting out with raucous noise, they set a moral tone for the way the case that they plan to prosecute would be perceived by the public and be subsequently adjudicated.

EFCC’s tweets on Tuesday left much for one to agonise over. Frankly, I do not see how engaging citizens in a back-and-forth manner advances the fight against corruption. Trial by social media is not successful prosecution and threatening citizens concerned about their procedures or cognate policies is merely faffing around. The EFCC should be too big and too busy for such puerile games. Justice is not court jesting; it is serious business.

Since the present administration berthed, the EFCC has arrested folks – especially people who served in the last administration – and made a sport of their trial. For instance, we were told by ‘sources’ inside the EFCC that when the spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, was being questioned over his role in the Dasukigate Arms Scandal, he tore up a statement that he had made to the agency and stuffed the bits of paper in his mouth. That kind of gossip is unbecoming of officials who are supposed to be handling serious and confidential materials that border on crime. What does that detail contribute to public edification that it must be shared with journalists? By the time Metuh was being tried in court for tearing and eating “government property” the joke was already on the EFCC. If your case is predicated on a suspect’s confessional statement, maybe you are simply not trying enough.

That was just one instance.

There has been an endless stream of reports about the EFCC’s activities: while they were investigating the judges whose doors the DSS broke down in the middle of the night, they got a lead about a phone financial transaction by another judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia. Mind you, what they claimed they found was a lead, but it still made the news. What if the lead leads nowhere?

Since 2003, the EFCC has ‘invited’ CBN directors, former governors, former senators, a former president’s godson, a speaker of the legislature, a speaker of a state house of assembly and a host of others whose cases have quietly faded from the public consciousness.

The EFCC has detained a former presidential aide over a missing N50m that allegedly came from Dasukigate. Weeks later, they quietly released him while no one was looking, making one wonder what sense it ever made to pursue an amount that is only a minuscule chunk of the $2.1bn “missing money”. Does the EFCC have endless resources to pursue every loose detail without exhausting themselves? Is the EFCC pretending to be busy without being busy or are they completely clueless about forensics and how to go about it? Are they just messing with the public?

When the anti-graft agency seals properties and goods that belong to allegedly corrupt people, they do not need to turn it into an event for the public to feast on unless there is an absolute need for it. I do acknowledge the need for openness and the necessity of opening the lines of communication with the public, especially in a tense society such as ours where fault lines explode when struck with the match of ethnicity and religion.

Yet, the EFCC needs to learn to curb its narcissism, be temperate in all its dealings, and not play for the cameras. The agency’s job is to prosecute, not persecute. If its officials must investigate someone, who they suspect has had his/her fingers in dirty deals, they should learn the habit of politely and discreetly inviting the suspect to their office and not taint the integrity of their investigations with over-reporting a case that has not started and might never do.

For one, politicians everywhere like to preen before the camera and when the EFCC turns their trial into a spectacle, they are in fact, helping them to celebrate their crimes. Discounting 419 and yahoo honchos, how many politically exposed persons have been successfully clamped in jail?

The EFCC has failed woefully to win more than it loses because its activities are too much in the public space, too much in our faces and too much of pander to public hysteria. When the duty to establish justice turns into an owambe party, the inevitable setbacks experienced along the way will erode public confidence in the possibility -or virtue- of justice being done. This breeds the kind of civic cynicism that makes it impossible for the nation to summon the energy to advocate for its own ideals.

Since the two times humiliation of Magu by a recumbent legislative cabal, the EFCC has suddenly been discovering huge stashes of money without a proprietor. One wonders why they could not have scaled back the information until they have a clue. First, it was N500m and later, N250m cash. Going by the precedent, it is likely that nothing more would be heard about the monies thus giving the public one more reason to believe that the discoveries were staged by an organisation desperate for victories.

Set against the ‘discoveries’ of the stash, the EFCC, equally, suffered some major setbacks recently. First, the court ended the high-profile case of Justice Ademola, his wife and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria by dismissing the 18-count charge against them. Two, the court unfroze the withheld funds belonging to the ‘human rights’ lawyer, Mike Ozekhome. Three, another court unfroze some money belonging to former first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan. The three cases, coming at the same time, must have been disheartening for the agency, but maybe there is a lesson here for them.

The EFCC needs to be more restrained and focus on building convincing cases before putting out details for the public to sniff. The agency should rein in its self-importance and the temptation to play with every case to score some cheap points with the public. The more it courts public hysteria by entertaining other Nigerians with the news of the despoliation of the public purse by officials, the more they valorise impunity and enthrone a sense of helplessness in the public.

Since the Muhammadu Buhari administration began, Nigeria has felt like a crime and investigation channel. The difference is that on TV, they follow through their investigations. Nowadays it feels as if the EFCC – and in fact, the ICPC with their own Godsday Orubebe and the phone N1.9bn contract fraud – exists merely to entertain us with lurid stories of crime.

 

Aliko Dangote: The African Icon at 60!

490_Aliko-Dangote2
Alhaji Dangote

By Kashim Ibrahim-Imam

Forbes described him as “the face of new Nigeria”. In reality, this doesn’t even begin to sum up the essence of the Dangote phenomenon. “The spine of industrial Africa” would be a more fitting description, but even this tag is only a starting point.

In itself, the name “Dangote” evokes so many distinctions that it is difficult to produce a fitting tribute in a mere thousand word article. But then it is impossible to let a moment like this one pass without penning at least a modest acknowledgment of the man’s extraordinary accomplishments.

To some, it may seem like the Aliko Dangote story happened by some stroke of good fortune, but in truth there was nothing fortuitous about this remarkable African success story. Even as a starry-eyed teenager, Aliko was very clear in his mind about his mission, travelling abroad to acquire university education in entrepreneurship, returning to Nigeria to establish his own private venture at a very young age. It would have been nothing short of fantasy to have imagined back then that, thirty years after establishing a modest reading company with just N500,000 he borrowed from his uncle, Aliko’s brainchild would transform into a sprawling $22 billion (valued by Africa Business Magazine in 2014) international conglomerate spanning 18 African countries. To put this in perspective, this valuation was worth more than the GDP of Zambia, Cyprus, Georgia, and even oil-rich Gabon.

Four of his companies listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of N3.8 trillion reportedly constitute almost half of the stock exchange in March 2016. Aliko Dangote seemed to have aimed only for the top on almost all the indices of business. Rated as the biggest quoted company and the largest conglomerate in West Africa, the Dangote group was the only Nigerian company listed on the “Fortune 2000” in 2011.

Beyond the soft data, the Dangote brand has straddled the market and towered above the competition in almost every sector he has touched. In cement production, the 13 million metric tonnes Obajana Plant is the biggest in Africa. With a combined capacity of 43 million MTPA spread across Africa, no other producer in the continent has either the size or the reach. Ventures Africa recently labeled Dangote “Africa’s King of Cement”.

Perhaps a greater significance of the comparison lies in the role which Dangote’s cement plants play in Nigeria’s economy. The Obajana plant alone is one of Nigeria’s single largest investments outside the oil industry. Collectively, the combined domestic production by Dangote’s plants currently exceeds domestic consumption of 20 million MTPA, making Nigeria a net exporter.

By this feat Dangote appears to be taking Nigeria’s long standing dream of economic diversification and import substitution beyond the realm of national development planning. With the refinery project, he seems to have taken it squarely on his shoulders. With a refining capacity of 650,000 bpd, the Dangote Lekki Refinery, petrochemical and fertilizer project has been described as “the largest single train of its kind in the world”. It dwarfs the total installed capacity of Nigeria’s four refineries, while its petrochemical unit is 13 times the capacity of the government’s Eleme Petrochemical.

For all that have been said about Dangote’s sprawling empire, the refinery project remains, in my humble view, his most audacious venture to date. It is about the sheer size, but is also about the way the project is shaping current policy and future projections for Nigeria’s economy. Both the government’s Economic Recovery Plan and the oil & gas sector road map projects to end importation of fuel and become a net importer of value added petrochemicals by 2019. Without any doubt, the Dangote refinery will play a crucial part in this massive repositioning of Nigeria’s economy. The refinery will save Nigeria at least $10 billion per annum in products importation.

From foods and beverages to construction and petrochemicals, Aliko has always had the proverbial “Midas Touch” – everything he touches has simply turned to gold.

Aliko may come across as a man who is not just obsessed with making money, but making lots of it. In truth, the man’s heart is as large as his purse. Looking closely, you get the impression that making deals is simply his day’s job, while making society better is his life’s obsession. In a TIME Magazine tribute in 2014, Bill Gates described Dangote as “Africa’s richest man who does good in addition to doing well”. Obviously, Mr Gates must have been struck by the sheer size of the man’s charity – what he commits to good works is not just peanuts or spare change. The Dangote Foundation, set up in March 2014, is the largest in Africa. It has a $1.25 billion endowment. So, whether he is making money or giving it away, Aliko doesn’t do anything on a meager scale or in half measures.

The Foundation has made crucial humanitarian interventions in Nigeria and abroad. Whether committing to the eradication of polio or contributing to the North-east rehabilitation or intervening to halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa, Dangote has proved that doing good is worth doing well. On a single occasion, he donated 130 trailers of assorted foodstuff to victims of the Boko Haram insurgency, for which my Governor, Kashim Shettima, led a delegation to thank him. The Dangote Foundation was the largest private donor to the African Union Ebola Trust Fund, with a donation of $3 million.

In promoting good causes around the world, Dangote has not only given his money, he devotes his time as well. He is a member of UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative steering committee, the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, the Global Business Coalition for Education led by Gordon Brown, and sits on the board of the ONE Campaign. For him, minding social causes is equally serious business.

It is easy to see how Aliko Dangote’s twin passions – free enterprise and social development – converge in his current involvement in global policy advocacy. One of such project is a global energy policy initiative which Dangote is promoting in collaboration with other leading entrepreneurs and African leaders on the platform of the World Economic Forum. He is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and sits on the board of the Corporate Council on Africa. There are several other platforms on which Aliko Dangote is using to advance global economic and development policy agenda.

In spite of his vast wealth and extensive global presence, despite being named by Forbes as the most powerful man in Africa, Aliko Dangote has largely stayed above the fray of partisan politics. It is indeed a testament to this that he has stayed largely above controversies and has fared equally with successive administrations. He made his forays into manufacturing largely under Obasanjo’s administration, served on Yar’dua’s economic team, but was awarded the prestigious national honors award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by President Jonathan. Dangote remains the only Nigerian to have received the award, who did not occupy the top three political offices in the country. In January 2016, Aliko Dangote was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to serve in the Presidential Committee on North-East Rehabilitation.

On a personal level, I have tried hard but unsuccessfully to drag him into the murky waters of politics. Particularly on two occasions I tried to persuade him to run for president, but he would not budge. Privately, we usually call him Mr. President. But to me in particular he would quickly reply with the qualification: “of Dangote Group”.

For all his achievements, what strikes you most about the man is his unassuming personality. For a man of such immense wealth, it is remarkable how easy it is to miss Aliko in a small crowd. With modest luxury and almost no ostentation, Dangote cuts the image of one who is immune to the lure of material acquisition. He has no fancy cars – just a reliable Toyota Landcruiser; no fancy dresses – designer shoes or diamond wristwatches; no sprawling mansion in the US, in South Africa or in London. Not even in Kano or Abuja. I do not know who convinced him to put up the structure on Karimu Kotun Street, but that is all that he has.

Whenever he is in Abuja he stayed in the house of our friend, Senator Gbenga Ogunniya, in Apo legislators’ quarters, and subsequently in Femi Otedola’s house on my street, Aso Drive. In other cities, he stays in hotels. He calmly explains that it helps avoid the need for personal security, domestic staff and maintenance.

He also eats simple. We had breakfast three weeks ago and I ended up not eating anything even after the menu was re-jigged – half raw egg, chicken sausage and plantain.

He has one cell phone and has maintained one phone number since GSM technology was born in Nigeria. He answers all his calls and would always return missed calls.

Given his near-austere lifestyle, his legendary humility and ability to mingle effortlessly with all classes of people, one forgets easily that we are describing the richest black man.

Aliko’s astonishing humility was by no means the product of any humble origins. Born in Kano on April 10, 1957 to Alhaji Mohammed Dangote, a wealthy trader and Hajia Mariya Sanusi Dantata, also a wealthy business woman in her own right, Aliko was surrounded at birth with privileges. Yet, today, the most consistent testimony of his life is that he is both humble and a self-made man.

As Aliko Dangote celebrates sixty remarkable years of a very extraordinary life, there is no doubt that many people will be celebrating the man for a multitude of reasons. For Sani Dangote, his immediate younger brother, “Aliko is a humble family man, very dedicated and focused. He is passionate about success, and goes goes out of his way to assist others to also succeed”. Femi Otedola, arguably his closest friend, described him as “simply a legend and God-sent to Nigeria. Imagine what the cost of a bag of cement or sugar would be if we had to import all we need. Also imagine the critical role his refinery will play in the economy. Otedola advises that as Dangote clocks 60, he should “take it easy, rest and sleep more”. Our friend, Nduka Obaigbena, sums up the essential Aliko in just two words: “rich but humble”.

Our mutual friend and brother, Samad Rabiu, chairman and founder of BUA Group, had this to say: “Aliko is one of the best friends you can ever have – simple, humble, polite, down-to-earth and fun to be with – provided you don’t venture into his kind of business. He is a blessing to Nigeria and indeed the whole of Africa.”

Perhaps the most touching testimony on Aliko comes from Fatima, his daughter: “he is simple, loving, very hard-working, generous and forgiving. What is generally not known about him is that, despite his serious mien, he is very sensitive and emotional”.

To these moving testimonies I will add that Dangote is reliable and dependable; he is passionate about project Nigeria, which we discuss frequently.

May the Almighty continue to keep him for us, for our country, for Africa and for the rest of the world.

Happy Birthday Mr. President.

• Ibrahim-Imam, an entrepreneur, farmer and politician, was the Presidential Adviser on Senate Matters to President Obasanjo

Lady’s worth is more than being a sex object

When I was growing up, two of my brothers had two remarkable girlfriends.

One was called Martha and the other Gwendoline. Martha was pretty, clean and humble while Gwendoline who was the senior prefect of her school was very intelligent and pretty too. Whenever one of these girls were to visit, there will be general sanitation. My brothers will make up their beds with special bedsheet that were meant only for visitors, decorate their rooms with bottles of mineral that you dare not drink, buy cupan biscuits or short cake and top grenadine.

They always had this white towel that they never use but will sprinkle water on it and sun it outside in front of their rooms so that the girls will think that is the towel they use. Hey how can I forget the Elitis and Tony Montana perfume all over the room?

Did I mention the bottle of Musk or Beldam body lotion on the shelve. The truth about this body lotion is; what was actually in those bottles were not musk or beldam. It was actually lamo or Fidel. Now talking about these girls, my brothers loved them not only because of their beauty but because of their brains. They were intelligent, smart and pretty.

Older boys and men do you remember those days when a woman’s worth was far more than her figure? Do you remember the girl you tripped for just because she was reading a novel at the bus station? What about that clean girl whose white socks and clean sandals gave you sleepless night?

Wait did I mention the one who swept you away just because she challenged you and answered a question. What about that humble and decently dress girl that was the woman of your dreams. Do I have to name the one who refused talking to you because she thought you smoked cigarette? That one made you go crazy.

The other one you admired because she always helped her parents at home and was so respectful. The one who wanted to be a doctor. You remember her? Her ambition made you go crazy for her.

What is happening today? Why has the society reduced a woman to nothing but breast and butt? The society has made women so cheap.

Guys think all what makes a woman is the shape of her breast and the size of her butt. Unfortunately this has made some of us girls with very low self-esteem to concentrate on our looks more than our being.

No doubt we have slay queens with lay heads. For those who can’t afford a surgery, artificial breast and butt gives them fake confidence. The sole aim of most girls now is to be sexy. A girl will do everything possible just to be called sexy. You spend hours learning how to twerk or drop it like it’s hot.

Every girl wants to be a stripper. We all want to buy dresses that show our figures. Even when we want to take a picture, all our poses look sexual. Why have we allowed society to make us sexual objects?

You watch a music video clip today, the men are properly dressed and dancing responsibly while the woman is half naked making sexual moves. I refuse to be sexualized. I refuse to be seen as an object of pleasure.

As a woman, there is more to us than our figures. Our figures will not and cannot define us. We don’t have to walk half naked to beautiful.

All them classy ladies out there it’s time we show the world our worth. Our figure has little or nothing to do with our worth. And for the older boys and men out here, It’s time you teach these boys that there is more to a woman. I refuse to be sexy and I choose to be classy. Please let’s have a rethink its becoming alarming

#Teamdecent

The Fall and “Rise” of Saraki

By Remy Oyeyemi

A number of weeks ago, I had posted a very brief analysis of the on-going struggle for power within the Nigeria’s rapacious political elite on my Facebook page. In the brief but cold analysis, I had put aside my dislike for Senator Bukola Saraki and noted that from information this writer is able to garner and from the way things have been unfolding and one’s understanding of how people who want power would likely behave, predicted with a caveat that Senator Saraki may win this battle. It is the only way to do it hoping that coming to terms with this reality will cause truly positive forces to checkmate him.

I had explained that a battle is just a face of a war. There are still so many battles to be fought before 2019. But as Saraki continues to win battle after battle, it would be foolhardy to dismiss the possibility of him winning the war. Winning the war may be that he would be the decider of the eventual president in 2019 or he might go for it himself. Whichever would be the case remains to be seen. But this is how things currently stand.

The APC is currently divided into four warring camps as follows:

a) The Aso Rock Cabal Camp (ARC)

b) The Buhari Political Friends Camp (BPF)

c) The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Camp (BAT)

d) The Bukola Saraki Camp (BS)

a) The Aso Rock Cabal Camp (ARC) currently is about the most powerful of all the four camps. The reason this camp is the most powerful is that they are the family members of the President. The President is loyal to them 120%. The President would rather die than question their decisions. They determine who sees the President and who gets the favours of and from the President. This group is led by Mamman Daura, the invisible visible hand who is actually doing the governing of this country in practical terms.

Other members include the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari who was raised by Mamman Daura. He would defend Daura with his blood. In this inner circle is the boss of Directorate of State Security (DSS) Lawal Daura. They are so powerful that they sent out the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari out of United Kingdom, away from her sickly husband and she could not bat an eyelid. They did it and nothing happened and President Buhari was very happy about it. It is being suspected that General Yusuf Buratai and Minister of Internal Affairs, retired General Dambazzau are members of this camp.

For the ARC, the fear of Bola Tinubu is the beginning of wisdom. This camp lives in perpetual fear of Bola Tinubu and is ready to go to any length to emasculate him. The members believe that Tinubu has to be rendered ineffectual by all means, especially with eyes on 2019. For this reason, they are keeping more than an eye on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. They are praying that President Buhari does not give up the ghost for obvious reasons.

The ARC has made an alliance with Senator Bukola Saraki. And they bent on convincing the President to come out for him and support him publicly regardless of the cost to the faked integrity of the President. President trusts the ARC more than any group. The DSS already told Nigerians that Senator Saraki is “not corrupt.” The ARC hates Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the EFFC, with passion. That passion could only be matched by Senator Saraki who has been humiliated repeatedly by Magu. They have common interest to see that Magu never emerges as the de facto and de jure chair of the EFCC.

The need to keep Bola Tinubu ineffectual is another common interest between the ARC and the BS camp. More on this issue later.

b) The Buhari Political Friends Camp (BPF). These are political friends of Buhari who are considered no threat to the control of the presidency by the ARC. They are largely tolerated and allowed their space to do what they wanted to do as long as they understood their boundaries. This group have no influence whatsoever on the President. The president does not show any dislike for them but he is in no way committed to any of them. He has not expressed any form of lack of confidence in them but has not expressly showed any form of confidence in them. Members of these group include Ministers such as Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola and their ilk.

Some of them are not antagonistic to the Bukola Saraki camp. Though, they have not shown openly their loyalty to Bukola Saraki. This group is secretly interested in clipping the wings of BAT camp but is not openly expressing that desire. This has put them in the good book of the ARC. For those of them that are of Yoruba extraction, they are in a quandary. They have no choice but to tread carefully because the Yoruba consensus now is that Bola Tinubu should not be allowed to be humiliated by the ARC and others gunning for him.

It is not clear if this current protective support of Bola Tinubu by the Yoruba leadership would translate to votes in 2019 across Yoruba land, but it would be better to allow time to tell, as things continue to unravel.

c) The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Camp is arguably the smartest but currently the weakest of all the groups. This camp has been suffering from lack of vision and proper planning and is paying dearly for it. In the days leading to the election, the leadership of the group failed to pay attention to a lot of pointers showing them that the group could be at risk in a Buhari administration.

Right now, the leadership of the group is playing “good boy” to the administration as much as it could. It recognizes the threat of ARC and it is not willing to dare the cabal. This group is compelled to show its loyalty to the President at all times even in absurd situations such as the killing of the Yoruba people in Ile-Ife in Osun State. Even when one of the leading members of this group, Senator Ali Ndume was suspended from the Senate by the Saraki camp, there was not a whimper from any other member of the group or its leadership. The leadership of this group is busy trying to save itself and its political relevance rather than worry excessively about a member suffering “only suspension” for six months.

This group has been on a losing spree since Buhari took over power despite its enormous contribution to installing this administration. It lost the Senate Presidency to its rival Saraki camp that described the Vice President Osinbajo as an “ordinary commissioner.” It lost many of the principal positions in the Senate and has been reduced to spectators in the body.

The group also suffered the same fate in the Lower House as all its candidates were left in the rain soaked without recourse. It won some negligible principal positions in the lower chamber and that was it. The lower house is more loyal to the Saraki camp without any question and the leadership of that arm of the government is working with the ARC too as an extended arm of the Saraki camp.

Even in the appointment of Ministers, many nominees of the group often hit the swimming pool with their clothes on. They could not be considered seriously because of the stance of ARC against the leader of this group.

This group also seems to have become an albatross on the neck of Ibrahim Magu because of its support for the EFCC acting chairman. The Saraki camp and the ARC seemed to believe that Magu is a pawn in the playbook of Bola Tinubu and are determined to frustrate him.

It is however believed that this group could bounce back in 2019. How this would turn out is not clear yet as Bola Tinubu has been going around begging for forgiveness for disrespecting the Afenifere leadership and some Yoruba Obas. Indications are that he has been listened to in order to save him from humiliation by the ARC. “Olomo buruku”, the Yoruba often say, “ko lee fi fun ekun paje.” Whether this forgiveness would lead to votes from the suffering Yoruba people who are now asking themselves whether Tinubu’s judgment could be trusted, remained to be seen.

d) The Bukola Saraki camp in comparison to the ARC may not appear to be the strongest of all the groups, but without any question, it seems to be the most formidable of all. It is the only camp that has a leg in every group except the BAT camp. It is amazing that despite the media war against him, he has been able to survive, resurge, recalibrate and realign his forces to become more formidable than he was at the beginning of Buhari administration.

A major factor for his survival is his ability to plan ahead, unlike the BAT camp that keeps exuding embarrassing naivety about politics. This is because, the BAT camp believed their own lies that Buhari has “integrity” and is “incorruptible.” Hmmmmmm! But Saraki camp did not give and still does not give a damn about any stupid “war on corruption.” He probably knows that Buhari is a pretender as this writer has been pointing out for years. He must have recognized that Buhari is a dedicated and committed member of the family of the corrupt political leadership and went for the jugular. He was right. And Buhari, the “Mr. Integrity” has his DSS come out to endorse Saraki publicly, insisting that the Senator “is not corrupt.”

While the BAT camp engaged in media war against Bukola Saraki, the latter knowing the truth about Buhari as a committed comrade in corruption and thievery, allied with him with the help of the ARC. From that point, he had an excuse made for him as the DSS provided the template for him and his ilk to refuse to confirm Magu as the EFCC chair. Other members of the Senate who see themselves in their leader, Saraki, became blindly loyal to him. They worship him. They adore him. They daily seek his footsteps and walked in them. They banded with him and fought back Magu and the media which they concluded were biased against them.

With Saraki firmly in control of the Senate, he has the power to do a few things to Buhari. But he did not. Rather he went for the soft spot of Buhari and hemmed in. He came out with an alliance with ARC. Meanwhile, he was carrying the Speaker of the House along with him and they became a formidable force together. The members of the BPF, mostly Ministers, would not do anything to antagonize the Senate leader otherwise the budget of their Ministries could be in jeopardy. They know where their bread is buttered so they could also help themselves while the parody lasts.

INTANGIBLES:

Other variables in the staying power of Saraki, is the silent but very effective and strong support of the Northern Emirs across the board. They do not consider him corrupt. He takes care of them. They had supported him from the beginning and were instrumental to his becoming the Senate president. There are also other party big wigs silent but in active support of Saraki. They are operating from behind the scenes. The way Saraki has been able to hold everything together, so far, explains why he has been so strong in Kwara state for so long.

It is difficult to place former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku. Available information shows that the ARC does not see him as an enemy. In fact he has kept communication with the President and they speak not infrequently. He is also reported not to be unfriendly with the Saraki camp. The BAT camp is playing hide and seek with him. And some members of the BPF are friendly with him as with some powerful members of the Northern establishment.

Nasir El Rufai is a loser all round in this. He shot himself in the foot with that secret memo to President Buhari. The ARC is gunning for him. He has also stupidly engaged in open fight with Vice President Atiku. The Saraki camp has no love lost for him. The Emirs are also not very impressed with him the way he has handled the Southern Kaduna imbroglio in which he has shown flagrant and dangerous zealotry. Senator Shehu Sani has also done his own damage to Rufai’s fragile reputation.

While the BAT group still has the loyalty of some Northern political big wigs, it is difficult to gauge their political value as of now. Things would become clearer as events unfold. Many believe that it would be unwise to write off the BAT group as a factor in 2019. .

Time, as usual, always tell!

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

– John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

Please, follow me on Twitter: @OyeyemiRemi