Our capacity to investigate, arrest, prosecute and convict those found guilty of contravening the laws of Nigeria is evidently weak and compromised. Yet no one is held responsible. There is no objectivity in national discourse. More than ever before in the history of Nigeria, the scourge of terrorism poses great challenges to the Nigerian state! Our slide into anarchy has assumed dangerous dimensions, perhaps beyond the capacity of our security agencies to deal with the menace effectively. Boko Haram insurgency, political violence, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, indiscipline, abductions, and kidnappings, armed robbery, murder and extortion, bombings of places of worship and of innocent Nigerians - are all indicators of a failed State (Ex Chief Justice of Nigeria - Dahiru Musdapher)
Continued from Part 1
any ex-governors stole their respective states dry, but, where's the outrage, where's the humiliation of those criminals, what did the suffering public do to register their grievances? Rather, the brainwashed poor Nigerians accused EFCC of witch-haunting their criminal politicians because of where they are from. Can you imagine what's going on in Nigeria?
The Vanguard of Friday, December 7, 2012 wrote that the ambiguity in the anti-corruption war in the country could not have been better reflected than the recently reported move by the immediate past governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, to organise an anti-corruption summit for African leaders early next year. During an advocacy visit on the proposed summit to President Sirleaf Ellen Johnson of Liberia scheduled to hold in South Africa, Kalu bemoaned the manner of African leaders who he claimed would amass wealth at the expense of their citizens. The irony of it is that Kalu as at the time of the declaration was under bail from the court on allegations of corruption. On 27 July 2007, Kalu was arraigned before an Abuja High court on a 107-count charge of money laundering, official corruption and criminal diversion of public funds in excess of N5 billion. EFCC accused Kalu of transferring billions of Naira belonging to the Abia State government to his Slok Airlines.
Kalu remains innocent until proven guilty (we will look at other pending cases in subsequent article). But the irony is further stretched by the case of Senator Ahmed Yerima, the former governor of Zamfara State who was accused by erstwhile boss of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, of practically stealing Zamfara funds, stepping into the Senate and becoming Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption in 2007. Many other high profile politically exposed persons have emerged from one office to another with the baggage of corruption going with them and living on public funds.
There was a damnation of Jonathan's anti corruption crusade recently when the Punch of Wednesday, December 19, 2012 noted that the Anti-Crime Programme Coordinator of the United States Embassy in Nigeria, Diane Kohn, says corruption is affecting Nigerian security. Kohn, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja, challenged the authorities to do more to deal with proven cases of corruption among officials even as the United States continues to provide support. Kohn said, "One thing that we have found and is very apparent in Nigeria is that corruption affects not only your economy, it directly sucks money out of your economy. Things that the government should be doing like building of roads, providing power etc, they are sucking money out of all of these things. In addition, because of the high exposure to corruption, foreign companies are nervous about investing in Nigeria because they are afraid they are going to be approached for bribes and they know what will happen if they pay the bribes when they are found out. We've already seen what happens to companies that pay bribes." While making a case for better funding for the police, the envoy said, "The police should be fully funded to protect Nigerian citizens. Their training facilities are in very poor shape, the police are not being trained to do everything they are supposed to do to keep Nigerians safe. "It is in the interest of every person and those in official positions to want those portions to be funded as much as they should be so that everybody is kept safe here. Corruption also takes away opportunity for young people and as we've seen, when young people don't have economic opportunity that is legitimate, they will go for what ever opportunity that will present themselves."
Femi Falana also said: "With respect to corruption, we have never had it so bad. In the First Republic, it was 10 per cent. In the Second Republic, it graduated to 20 per cent. Under the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida junta, corruption was institutionalised. President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration consolidated corruption. For reasons best known to him, President Umaru Yar'Adua allowed the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the EFCC to be taken over by very corrupt aides.
Some of the governors under investigation posted their police orderlies and relations to man departments in the EFCC. While President Goodluck Jonathan has re-organised the EFCC, corruption is now carried out with impunity to the extent that the battle against corruption has been lost completely. It is as if no one is in control. Can you imagine that an ambassador of a foreign country has dragged a minister to the Presidency for corruption?
Apart from the loss of over N2tn to the fuel subsidy scam last year, the Auditor-General of the Federation has just disclosed that N4.2tn collected by MDAs was not remitted to the Federation Account from 2006-2009. The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative reported that oil companies have failed to pay into the Federation Account about $10bn from 1999 to 2008. The Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue & Special Task Force claimed that the nation has been short-charged to the tune of almost $100bn. All the people indicted in the cases of Siemens, Halliburton and other scandals are walking freely.
A reputable economist, Mr. Henry Boyo, said last week, that duty waivers running into several billions of Naira are granted to the rich by the Federal Government, while the poor people are burdened with all kinds of taxes and levies".
A report posted by Biola Savage says this: "The government is not helping matters with its kid-glove handling of established cases of corruption. Indeed, there seems to be a form of legitimization of corruption with the introduction of plea-bargaining to our judicial lexicon, which makes apprehended corrupt Nigerians to walk away with their loot after paying peanuts from the misappropriated national patrimony. Our legal system, too, has not helped our circumstance as all forms of judicial bottlenecks are deliberately put forward to truncate dispensation of justice. It has gone so bad that there have been calls for the empanelling of special courts to try corruption cases. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has lost its bite, unlike a few years past when it did sting anyone who was implicated for committing any economic or financial crime. Government's attitude towards battling corruption is so weak, unserious and reeks of duplicity. Those who bleed this country through all sorts of nefarious activities are friends of those in the corridors of power, especially the Presidency whose officials backslap with corrupt public and private Nigerians. There is no doubt that citizens of other countries look at us with scorn and relate with us like everyone here is a criminal".
During Obasanjo or Yar'Adua's era, the Niger Militants wrecked havoc in the creeks; the militants were well dealt with until amnesty was offered to them. But, now, that Jonathan is in the saddle, the Boko Haram is riding a roughshod over Nigeria, it can infiltrate even places which are supposed to be bulwark, to carry out their operations, and the government of President Jonathan has been treating it with kid's glove while the Niger militants or MASSOB were treated with heavy handedness. President Jonathan has been sleeping on the wheels. Nigeria thought it will never see a president as clueless and inept as Yar'Adua again, but, lo, Goodluck Jonathan has overtaken the late president in those regards. President Jonathan should have declared a state of emergency immediately after the bombing of the police headquarters, or at worst, after the UN building bombing. What he did was to declare state of emergency in some local governments in the north, an action that was belated and inconsequential. As Nigerian security outfits are incompetent to handle many things (we are told that there's no equipment to investigation the helicopter crash that killed Governor, Yakowa, General Azazi and four others), this government missed a great opportunity after the UN bombing when many foreign intelligence gathering outfits were in the country. Why did the government allow those intelligence outfits to leave so soon without dismembering Boko Haram? The foreign intelligence services should have been used to "decode" Boko Haram and its modus operandi. The President knows the powerful individuals behind the Boko Haram. He should have gone after them or exposed them just as Bob Dole (1923) said "Those who cultivate moral confusion for profit should understand this: we will name their names and shame them as they deserve to be shamed".
Sarah Fielding (1710 -1768) wrote that "Tis this desire of bending all things to our own purposes which turns them into confusion and is the chief source of every error in our lives". As if to concur (with the quote), the Guardian of Tuesday, July 3, 2012 wrote that "PARTICIPANTS at a forum organised by the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) have fingered the recurring insurgency in the country to the struggle for political power by the elite. The forum said the South-West and the South-South zones have been rewarded with the country's Presidency via armed agitations. The participants believed that a united Nigeria could be achieved through the review of the current power sharing arrangement, which is skewed in favour of the major ethnic nationalities. The activities of OPC to a large extent saw to it that the South-West was compensated (for the annulment of June 12) with the presidency of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. Then Niger Delta started its agitation for resource control and environmental degradation; it could be said that the campaigns by Niger Delta militants contributed to the emergence of the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency. And now there are indications that the current Boko Haram insurgency has political undertones. The presence of ethnic organisations with possible violent militias raises the issues about Nigeria's unity and security, adding that corruption, dishonesty and rigged elections had made trust to be in short supply in the polity. Politicians presuppose that there are no other professions or vocations; youths join politics as thugs and after elections there is a rise in criminality. What can we do to secure Nigeria? Why must we always be forced to accept somebody as leader?"
What Nigeria and its people need as from 2013 is a president who will be forceful in taming corruption, and, will be able to safe Nigerian lives and property. A president who will not only do the talking but will follow it up with actions! A president who will bring the different peoples of Nigeria to a table to decide how they will live together by the convocation of a sovereign national conference! The president can go round about it, but, that's the only panacea for peace and progress of Nigeria. Make no mistake about it; there are no two ways about it. Nigerians need to talk about everything from A-Z. This writer was talking with his friend who rightly pointed out that what Nigeria needs in addition to the sovereign national conference is a comprehensive tax system. Because, with an enforced tax system, the manipulation of censuses or the inflation of government invoices or contracts would stop, and then, corruption would be tamed a bit. With a tax system, those states like Kano, which do inflate their figures during censuses, would be required to bring in more tax returns into the government coffer. With this, next time there is a census, nobody would inflated figures again by counting cows, goats, sheep, fowls etc as human beings. With a new tax system, anybody who inflated the purchasing invoice would then make the company where the product was purchased to pay more tax at the end of the year. Any company that inflated its invoice will have to bleed at the end of the year, when the Revenue Service calls for tax declaration, thereby preventing those acts from happening in the first place.
Prof. Dora Akunyili warned recently that nobody should brag that the country cannot disintegrate. Delivering the Convocation lecture of the Benson Idahosa University, Benin, with the theme "Quest for Security and National Integration: The Hope for Nigeria," the former Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, said: "We need to work hard to ensure unity of the country. For peace to prevail, various groups must talk about it. We must negotiate our unity and togetherness because we are a diverse people. We have to agree on how best we can come together to achieve unity."
Mujaheed Dokubo-Asari also noted that "the National Assembly, as it is presently, does not have the moral ground to amend the constitution because this exercise can only be done by the people themselves. This is why a sovereign national conference is important." He said further that "the 1999 Constitution is a fraud, going by its preamble," noting that "the constitution needs the input of every Nigerian before it can be acceptable."
The President should take control of his cabinet; because, some ministers are the most corrupt ones. The SaharaReporters noted that "An anti-corruption group led by former House of Representatives member, Dino Melaye, has revealed five properties purchased by the Minister of the Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe. The choice properties were acquired in the last three years that Mr. Orubebe has been a minister, first under the late President Umaru Yar'Adua and later as one of the most powerful figures in the cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan". Orubebe and all the ministers having corrupt allegations hanging on their neck should be investigated or be relieved from their posts pending the conclusion of investigation into the allegations.
Even if we forgive past Nigerian rulers for their incompetence, we will find it hard to forgive Goodluck Jonathan. Because, as the most educated Nigerian ruler so far, much was expected of him, but, he has failed woefully and made corrupt rulers like Obasanjo look like Saint Gabriel. What went wrong that a man with a PhD, no matter from which field, can't get his act together and deliver quality services to Nigerians? Even if he doesn't have the magic wand, his education should have thought him to surround himself with the best around, which are in abundant, but, he only succeeded in surrounding himself with sycophants who are only interested in confusing him while lining their own pockets. Few days ago, the President was so distressed by the death of his junior brother. Also, we learnt that the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has lost his elder brother, Chukwuemeka to a road accident. Chukwuemeka, 52, died in a fatal road accident along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway few days ago. This column commiserates with the bereaved families; but, the President and the Deputy Senate President should feel what it means to bury a family member, more especially when such a person died because of government's lackadaisical attitude through one way or the other such as not caging Boko Haram and allowing it to run amok in Nigeria (killing unhindered); or because the person died because the hospitals were unable to treat his or her case due to lack of equipment, qualified manpower and drugs; or because the person died on the road because the government failed to repair or maintain it; or because the person died through air crash because the aviation authorities were compromised and they looked the other way when safety rules were broken. Few days ago also, the mother of Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the finance and co-ordinating minister was kidnapped. It's a pity that the old woman had to go through that harrowing experience, but, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala and all those in authority positions should know how it feels to have a relation kidnapped. So many Nigerians have been kidnapped, some died in the kidnappers' den, and, even this writer was almost a victim last January when he travelled to Nigeria.
Nigeria and Nigerians need a new style of governance that would be more humane and people oriented. As of now, the government of Nigeria is only there for the few rich and highly connected. May all Nigerians start reaping the dividend of democracy, as it's supposed to be, as from 2013! In 2013 and beyond, we want Nigeria to be there for all Nigerians and not only for a few; we don't want only a few to be getting richer at the expense of the majority because they are helping themselves with the country's resources unhindered. In 2013, we want the Boko Haram to be finally defeated; the president must take the initiative even if means going after the powerful individuals who may be covertly behind its operations. In 2013 and the years ahead, we don't want our aircrafts and helicopters to be falling off the sky like rain drops; those who are incharge of the aviation sector must do the right thing to make our airspace safe. In 2013, the government should create policies that would enable the private sector to create jobs for the army of the unemployed young people. In 2013 and beyond, the government should start building and maintaining roads, infrastructure, second Niger Bridge, and, Enugu International Airport and other international airports should be equipped to meet their challenges. Finally, the power, education and health sectors should be upgraded to deliver high quality services to the people (these are why governments are there).
From 2013, this writer wishes that the Nigerian people should choose:
To live by choice, and, not by chance; to be motivated, and, not to be manipulated; to be useful, and, not to be used; to make changes, and, not excuses; to excel, and, not only to compete. Nigerians should choose self-esteem, and, not self pity; they should choose to listen to their inner voice; and, not to the random opinion of others (optimism revolution).
I, Temple Chima Ubochi, want to use this opportunity to thank you, the publisher, my friends and all my esteemed readers, for standing by me through the years. You have been my source of inspiration and strength. Even at times when the hands are weary, the thought of you kept me going on. I appreciate you and do pray that we continue from where we stopped in this 2013 and the years ahead. I will be happy to always receive your comment(s), even the ones which are not favourable, as they would help put me in line. May this 2013 be a better year for all of us, and, these songs are especially for you.
Wishing you a Happy New Year!
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!
Continued from Part 1