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Thursday, 24 October 2013

My President, This Is My Story: Minister Of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah





The embattled Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has written to the president to explain her side of the purchase of N255m BMW 760 cars story.

We gathered that the President on Tuesday issued query to her to explain her role in the purchase of the armoured cars. Her defence titled: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ON THE PROCUREMENT OF NCAA OPERATIONAL VEHICLES, she wrote: “The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, is the statutory regulator of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Industry.

Consequently, the NCAA is charged with oversight responsibilities over all civil aviation operations in the country, including safety, security and strict compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, SARPs, and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCARs.

 2. Towards the effective implementation of its statutory regulatory responsibilities, therefore, it is imperative that the NCAA is fully equipped with highly specialised tools and facilities, including adequate operational vehicles to cover all 22 national airports and over 400 airstrips. In keeping with standard practice, provision is therefore made annually for the replacement of obsolete, inadequate and unreliable monitoring equipment.

3. In the 2013 budgetary appropriation, provision was made for the procurement of specialised equipment (including operational vehicles) to complement and in some cases replace obsolete ones.

Furthermore, the fact that NCAA, as the regulator of the industry, often plays host to dignitaries from ICAO, IATA, US FAA, AFRAA, AFCAC BAGASO, CANSO, ACI and a host of others makes it necessary to have specialised operational vehicles.

4. With regard to the procurement of additional operational vehicles (including BMW Security Vehicles), the following due process was observed:

(I) By letter dated April 15, 2013, NCAA officially requested authorisation from the Federal Ministry of Aviation to procure 56 operational vehicles through lease financing. This option was proposed to the ministry to enable the NCAA make 36 monthly payments based on receipts from Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.

Approval

The Ministry therefore granted due approval.

(ii)Based on the ministry approval, the NCAA invited Expressions of Interest from all Banks in Nigeria for the financing of the said vehicles. EOI was adopted because the procurement is two sided. First, the financier would have to be selected before the supplier is determined. This is in line with procurement best practices.

(iii) On May 24, 2013, the response received from the various banks to the Expression of Interest, EOI, request was opened publicly and minutes of the opening exercise was duly documented. During the EOI opening exercise, NCAA got commendation from one of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, approved by BPP who were invited for the opening exercise.

(iv) The evaluation of the expression of interests was held on May 31, 2013 during which First Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC emerged most responsive. On the June 10, 2013 the above three banks were invited to submit Financial Proposals. Thereafter, First Bank emerged the highest rated responsive bidder.

(v)Between June 20 and 25, 2013, invoices were received from various accredited motor vehicle dealers during which only Coscharis Motors Limited quoted for BMW Security Vehicles. Tenders Board

(vi) On June 28, 2013, NCAA Parastatal Tenders Board approved the selection of First Bank Ltd for the Lease Financing as well as Metropolitan Motor Vehicles and Coscharis for the supply of the vehicles. All necessary approvals were duly sought and obtained accordingly.

(vii) Between July 8, 2013 to August, 12, 2013 various meetings were held with First Bank Ltd, contract agreement was signed and necessary documentation executed.

Your Excellency is respectfully invited to note:

(i) The crucial statutory role of the NCAA in regulating civil aviation operations in the country, including safety, security and strict compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs).

(ii) The need for NCAA to be fully equipped with highly specialized tools and facilities (including operational vehicles) to enable the effective implementation of its statutory functions.

(iii) The procurement of specialized operational vehicles is duly provided for in the NCAA 2p 13 (IGR) Budget and the need for adopting instalment lease payments over 36 months.

(iii) That Due Process was followed in the procurement of the said operational vehicles.

Please your Excellency my continued loyally and esteemed regards.

Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, OON, Honourable Minister.

BMW Scandal: Oduah Responds To President Jonathan’s Query, Keeps Mum On Cost Of Vehicles-PREMIUM TIMES


Embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah and President Goodluck Jonathan 
 
By Ben Ezemalu
The Aviation Minister, on Wednesday, insisted that the procurement of the two armoured BMW vehicles at the cost of N255 million followed due process.
In a quick response to the query issued to her by President Goodluck Jonathan, Stella Oduah said that there was provision in the 2013 budget for the procurement of specialised equipment (including operational vehicles) to complement and, in some cases, replace obsolete ones.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the two armoured BMW exotic cars were bought outside budget provisions, and in violation of procurement processes.
But Mrs. Oduah maintained that there is always an annual budgetary provision for the replacement of obsolete, inadequate and unreliable monitoring equipment.
“The NCAA (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) is charged with oversight responsibilities over all civil aviation operations in the country, including safety, security and strict compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, SARPs, and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCARs,” Mrs. Oduah stated in her response.
“Towards the effective implementation of its statutory regulatory responsibilities, therefore, it is imperative that the NCAA is fully equipped with highly specialised tools and facilities, including adequate operational vehicles to cover all 22 national airports and over 400 airstrips.”
The minister, however, failed to provide details of the cost of the two armoured BMW vehicles whose N255 million price has shocked Nigerians, with some civil society groups calling for her resignation.
Mrs. Oduah said that with the NCAA being the regulator of the aviation industry, it often plays host to dignitaries from ICAO, IATA, US FAA, AFRAA, AFCAC BAGASO, CANSO, ACI and others making it necessary to have specialised operational vehicles.
On Wednesday, President Jonathan set up a three-man administrative panel to investigate the armoured car scandal.
The panel, which has two weeks to submit its findings, is to investigate whether the procurement of the vehicles for about N255 million followed due process or not. The panel is also to look into the main reasons for procuring the vehicles.
In letter dated April 15, 2013, the NCAA officially requested authorisation from the Federal Ministry of Aviation to procure 56 operational vehicles through lease financing, according to Mrs. Oduah.
This option was proposed to the ministry to enable the NCAA make 36 monthly payments based on receipts from Internally Generated Revenue, she added.
“Based on the ministry’s approval, the NCAA invited Expressions of Interest (EOI) from all Banks in Nigeria for the financing of the said vehicles. EOI was adopted because the procurement is two sided. First, the financier would have to be selected before the supplier is determined. This is in line with procurement best practices,” Mrs. Oduah said.
“On May 24, 2013, the response received from the various banks to the Expression of Interest, EOI, request was opened publicly and minutes of the opening exercise was duly documented. During the EOI opening exercise, NCAA got commendation from one of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, approved by BPP who were invited for the opening exercise.
“The evaluation of the expression of interests was held on May 31, 2013 during which First Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC emerged most responsive. On the June 10, 2013 the above three banks were invited to submit Financial Proposals. Thereafter, First Bank emerged the highest rated responsive bidder.
“Between June 20 and 25, 2013, invoices were received from various accredited motor vehicle dealers during which only Coscharis Motors Limited quoted for BMW Security Vehicles.
“On June 28, 2013, NCAA Parastatal Tenders Board approved the selection of First Bank Ltd for the Lease Financing as well as Metropolitan Motor Vehicles and Coscharis for the supply of the vehicles.  All necessary approvals were duly sought and obtained accordingly.
“Between July 8, 2013 to August, 12, 2013 various meetings were held with First Bank Ltd, contract agreement was signed and necessary documentation executed,” Mrs. Oduah added.
The minister further urged President Jonathan to note the need for the NCAA to be fully equipped with highly specialised tools and facilities (including operational vehicles) to enable the effective implementation of its statutory functions.
She also maintained that the procurement of specialised operational vehicles was duly provided for in the NCAA budget and the need for adopting instalmental lease payments over 36 months.

Igbo Southeast Political Appointees Are Sitting On A Keg Of Gunpowder


In Nigeria: Administrative Investigation Into  Oduah’s Alleged Fraud A 
Bold First Step, But Not Enough
(Public Information, 24th October, 2013)-It has again come to the
knowledge of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties &
the Rule of Law that the Igbo Southeast political appointees occupying plum offices including ministries, parastatals and

agencies at the federal level, are sitting on a keg of gunpowder in Nigeria. Almost all key Igbo Southeast appointive public office holders serving under the present
administration of President Jonathan are under threats. Already, the likes
of former Minister of Power, Prof Bath Nnaji, former Controller General of
the Nigerian Immigration Service, Mrs. Rosemary Uzoma and the immediate
past Chairman of the National Population Commission, Mr. Festus Odimegwu,
have either been sacked or forced to resign. The major weapon used for
this “ethno-centric warfare” is the Nigerian media, controlled and
sectionalized by the Southwest Nigeria.
Apart from thickening plans to restore the age-long Hausa-Fulani/Yoruba
political slavery in Nigeria, whereby  other ethnic nationalities
including the Igbo Southeast will remain politically and economically
enslaved under them ad infinitum; extensive sectional media warfare has
been massively deployed to weaken and frustrate the priceless
contributions of  eminent sons and daughters of other nationalities to the
national development. Nigeria has three major tribes of Hausa-Fulani, Igbo
and Yoruba and two major concentrations of minorities of southern and
northern Nigeria extractions. In 1957, “the fears of the minorities”
forced the outgoing British colonialists to enshrine the “fundamental
human rights code” into the Independence Constitution of 1960.
In other to address these fears of political and economic domination by
the three major tribes, particularly the Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba
nationalities, the 1994/5 constituent assembly divided Nigeria into six
geopolitical zones with the mindset of creating two zones for southern
and northern minorities. While the minorities of the south were
successfully given one geopolitical zone, their northern counterparts
were further Balkanized. The mainly Christian minorities of the north are
supposed to be composed of southern Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Taraba,
Adamawa, Kogi, Kwara and a part of Niger State. It was expected that the
last States and LGAs creation exercise of 1996 would have addressed
these. But the State creators and boundary adjusters of 1996 twisted the
whole thing and included Taraba and Adamawa States in the Northeast
geopolitical zone instead of North-central zone where most of others were
included.
These arrangements were gazetted and included in the Decree 24 of 1999,
which is now called “the Constitution of Nigeria 1999”. Section 14 (3) &
(4) was inserted into the Constitution to ensure that no particular zone,
area or tribe dominates Federal and State appointments and revenues. This
was followed by the establishment of the Federal Character Commission to
ensure strict adherence to the geopolitical equity principle. Yet, these
provisions have been observed in reckless breach. The Nigeria Police Force
and the Police Service Commission, for instance, now promote senior police
officers without disclosing the names and geopolitical identities of those
promoted. While the Hausa-Fulani nationalities use violence and political
suppression to dwarf Igbo-Nigerians resident in the north as well as its
mainly Christian minority nationalities, the Yorubas of the Southeast make
extensive use of its media to hunt down top Igbo political appointees at
federal levels. The Yoruba media canonize Igbo clowns and destroy her
upright personalities.
Even where there is no stain or scandal, one will be created using traps
and sectionalized media reports. To have their way if no scandal is seen,
malicious subordinates and personal aides are induced with scripts aided
by malicious media arrangements to blow open the scripted scandals. Today,
Southwest political appointees at State and federal levels are shielded
from public scrutiny and where it rarely occurs, media formations and
legal technicalities will be massively and consistently deployed to shield
such appointees from criminal investigation and prosecution.
In the case of, some say, disgraced former Court of Appeal President, Ayo
Isa Salami, the highly sectionalized Nigerian media was strongly believed
to have been massively deployed to shield him, despite being reportedly
caught in the act electronically. Instead, the media attention was
massively beamed on Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu; a former CJN over
his alleged unethical roles in the Sokoto State governorship litigation.
The learned jurist came from a northern minority Christian nationality.
Similar case was the in thing in the aborted trial of one Tinubu Ahmed by
a Code of Conduct Tribunal. The said ex public office holder is neither
guilty nor innocent because of mass deployment of sectional media and
legal technicalities. The trial was stalled and inconclusive.
Stella Oduah’s Alleged Fraud:
Though, we believe strongly that Aviation Minister Stella Oduah is being
hunted in the immediate by the Yoruba media and their sponsors because of
her efforts in making the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu an
international one, but if at the end she is competently indicted over
rumors of fraud, not by the highly sectionalized Nigerian media, but by
competent administrative and criminal investigative agencies, then she
should not only be administratively sacked, but  should be diligently
prosecuted as well. The intervention of the Federal Government of Nigeria
in this respect is a bold first step. The promise made by the FGN to “set
up 3-person administrative investigation committee” is not enough. While
the administrative enquiries or investigations only serve the purpose of
“administrative punishment or exoneration”, they do not serve the
fundamental purpose of criminal law. The issue of fraud is not purely an
administrative matter in Nigeria. Its mother name “corruption” is
mentioned in about 22 anti corruption agencies in Nigeria. In other words,
corruption be it fraud, bribery, over-invoicing, kick-backs, contract
inflation, theft or extortion, is a criminal offence in Nigeria.
Our Advice:
The entry gate of media is report and the exit gate of media is also
report. Punishment of any citizen whether criminal or administrative based
on media reports without proper investigation, is the height of injustice.
Many Nigerian egg heads, who volunteered to serve their country, have been
destroyed by the highly sectionalized Nigerian media. This has scared away
others who want to assist in rebuilding their battered country. Nigeria
has over 25, 000 professorial and doctorial experts in US alone. The
limits of media involvement in the scene of crime and criminal
investigation managements are universally pronounced. This is because the
potentials of the media to distort facts and destroy pieces of vital
evidence because of vested interests and unprofessionalism are very high.
In the world over, any reports solely based on “media reports” are dead
on arrival. Once media uncovers a presumed social deviant act or crime,
it stops and allows an in-depth ethical and criminal investigation to
unravel proper parties to crime or deviant act and related others. In the
eyes of criminology and criminal law, no matter how investigative a media
report is, it cannot be prosecutorial and judgmental. It does not quality
as basis for administrative or criminal punishment, except where the
accused openly admits. Other than the latter, it amounts to “trial by
ordeal” or jungle justice. Such an investigative media report must be
surgically operated by criminal or ethical (administrative) investigative
detectives. Keeping the NPF’s Force Criminal Investigations Department
redundant and inoperative is totally condemned. The Force CID should go
into the matter to look at the criminal aspect of it dispassionately.
Therefore, the Federal Government of Nigeria must be careful and refrain
from punishing Nigerians including its political appointees based on
highly sectionalized media reports without proper investigations be they
administrative or criminal. In Stella Oduah’s case, all the characters
mentioned in the alleged scandal or fraud must be administratively and
criminally investigated. The idea of forcing any political appointee with
tenure of office to resign on the basis of planted subordinates’
disloyalty or uninvestigated media reports must be done away with.
The unceremonious and forced resignation of Eze Festus Odimegwu as the
five years tenured chairman of the National Population Commission as a
result of his vow to make a difference in the forthcoming census
exercise, which has been mired in roguery since Independence, is roundly
condemned.  The idea of replacing any sacked political appointee with
another from the same geopolitical zone, as was the case in the NPC and
the Power Ministry, is very commendable. But it is our condemnation that
this was not the case in issue of the Nigerian Immigration Service boss.
We call on top political appointees of the Igbo Southeast to always watch
their backs because “their enemies are within”. While they must be upright
at all times and stay away from any frauds, they should also be careful
with the type of personal aides they recruit to work for them including
media aides. They should also work harmoniously with their subordinates,
but at the same time, watch them very closely to thwart any moves by their
hunters to plant or instigate any scandals that may bring their downfall.
All the those from the zone holding any command, administrative and other
appointive positions should have effective media counter forces including
reaching out to those in the social media to fight back when under
malicious attacks. They should also establish periodic constituency
consultations with formidable CSOs and other upright figures in their
zone.
Signed:
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Board
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
08033601078, 08180103912
emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk


GlobalReportersVienna

Students, prompted by massacre, design emergency lock to thwart shooters

InvenTeam team picture
Benjamin Banneker High School
A team of high school students from Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington, D.C., is developing an emergency door-locking system to protect classrooms from active shooters. Pictured: Front row, left to right: Jennifer Omekan and James Poindexter; Back row: Jed Paolo Delatore, John F. Mahoney, Anjreyev Harvey, Chidinma Idika, Tiffani Lewis, Jide Omekan, Deonté Antrom, Khalonji Bulluck and Paprika Berry.
The killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in suburban Connecticut last December sent a chill across America. If the unthinkable happened there, it could happen anywhere. The concern prompted a team of high school students in Washington, D.C., to design an inexpensive and effective emergency door-locking mechanism to prevent active shooters from entering their classrooms.
Like many schools around the country, the doors at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School lack classroom-side locks, a building code regulation leftover from a time when fire was the biggest threat to student safety. Unlockable doors mean students can escape a burning classroom quickly. Yet in today's world, students also worry about intruders coming into their classrooms and firing bullets.
"So many kids and adults were killed (at Sandy Hook). So we got together and we wanted to know how we could stop intruders from entering our school," Deonté Antrom, a junior at Benjamin Banneker, told NBC News.
Both Antrom and classmate Anjreyev Harvey, also a junior, have spent time working with younger kids in a nearby elementary school, so their reaction to the massacre was personal. "It is really troubling," added Harvey. "It was mostly our connection to kids that drove us to come up with this project."
"We decided to create something called a DeadStop," said Antrom.
Shut outThe device is designed to clasp around the closed arm-like hydraulic hinge at the top of the school's classroom doors (see image). An early prototype was made with PVC tubing that slips over the hinge and is held in place with a nail. But the pipe itself bent too easily, allowing the door to be opened enough for a shooter to stick a gun through the crack. A newer model will be more like a clamp.

Image of DeadStop prototype
Benjamin Banneker High School
An early prototype of the DeadStop was a piece of PVC tubing that was slipped over the hydraulic hinge of classroom doors. A newer model will be metal.
"It will be made of metal so it clamps on (the hinge)," Harvey told NBC News.
"The metal won't be able to bend. We will have a lock that is already made into it so you just clamp it on and it automatically locks. Therefore, it will be installed in just a second or so."
Harvey, Antrom and their teammates were awarded up to $10,000 in grant funding from the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams Program earlier this month to help develop the locks. A law firm from Denver has already offered the team pro bono services to patent the invention. When completed, individual units should sell for between $10 and $15, cheap enough for wide adoption.
Most other emergency door-lock devices on the market require permanent attachment to the door frame, which could be maliciously triggered to, say, lock out a teacher who steps into the hallway for a second. These are also relatively expensive — costing about $35 a piece, according to the project team. Another device made of seatbelt webbing closes the hinge shut, but it too is expensive — about $50 — and permanently attached.
"The device we have is detachable. It will just be in the teacher's desk and when there is an announcement that there is a shooter in the building, they will be able to take it out and simply install it on the hinge," Harvey explained. "And how we have it designed, no matter how much the shooter shoots through the glass, or shoots at the hinge, he won't be able to open (the door)."
Fostering invention
This is the second year Benjamin Banneker has been selected to receive the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams grant, which is designed to foster student skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, the field known as STEM, and thus prepare them to make a social and economic impact with their future career choices.
In 2006, students from the school worked on an invention called Cell Mate, which was envisioned as a locker for cellphones, providing students a safe place to stash their mobiles and comply with school rules banning the gadgets from classrooms. A patent application for the invention was denied, noted John Mahoney, a math teacher at the school who leads the invention teams.
The DeadStop project, he told NBC News, also strikes a chord in the modern American psyche and he's hopeful it will find a home in the marketplace. But at the end of the day, he added, the InvenTeams "process is actually more important than the product — we are turning people on so they can make changes in their future.
NBC

Nigeria 1, Corrupt 6th Republic 998 : Jonathan Forced By Media To ‘Probe’ Minister Stella Oduah

minister-Stella_Oduah



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President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday set up a three-man administrative panel of enquiry to probe the embattled Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, over the purchase of two bullet-proof BMW cars worth $1.6m (about N255m) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on her orders.
Members of the panel are Alhaji Sali Bello, a former Head of Service of the Federation, who will serve as chairman; Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.), the National Security Adviser; and Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenebere (Rtd.).
Bmw_760liBriefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said the panel would, among others, ascertain whether the procurement of the vehicles followed due process, ascertain the purpose of procurement and inquire into any other incidental matter.  He did not say what others it would look into.
The panel has two weeks to submit its report.
Analysts say this is the first time that President Jonathan has shown any interest in the conduct of privileged government officials facing allegations of corruption.  In the past, such highly placed officials as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, have faced serious and well-documented corruption allegations, but the President has ignored them all.
“This probe is a triumph for the media, especially SaharaReporters which broke the story,” a newspaper columnist said in Abuja this afternoon.  “The question is: Why Stella Oduah, and why now?  What of all the other corruption stories broken by the media against various government officials since 2010 when Jonathan first assumed office?  I think that spectre of the 2015 election, more than the need to do right, has pushed Jonathan into this.  Does he suddenly give a damn?”
Another analyst told SaharaReporters he consider’s the President’s response to be a gimmick.  “Why did Jonathan not ask Mrs. Oduah to go on suspension while she is being investigated?   How do you leave her in the same seat that she has allegedly been using to maneuver and manipulate?  Jonathan is merely playing games and buying her time while they figure out how to ride this out.”
Jonathan leaves for Israel tonight on what has been described as a pilgrimage. He will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and return to Nigeria next week.
Mrs. Oduah did not attend today’s cabinet meeting.  – SaharaReporters
Minister of Aviation BMW 760 Li HSS Armoured car documents

President Jonathan Flies Ex-Convict Al-Mustapha In Presidential Jet On ‘2015 Campaign’?

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Oct. 23, 2013
NewsRescue- In continuation of the exposure of top Nigerian government officials’ diversion of public funds and assets for personal use and political campaigns in preparation for the race in two years time, 2015, liberated ex-convict Al-Mustapha is allegedly being flown around Nigeria in Dornier 328 government jets for campaigns for Mr. President. Al-Mustapha was along with Lateef Shofolahan, former aide to the late Chief MKO Abiola was tried and convicted of murder of Chief Kudirat Abiola by a Lagos High Court in January 2012.
This revelation from NewsRescue informants, follows a breaking story about the gross misappropriation of Nigeria’s funds by Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah in which she was reported to have purchased two BMW bulletproof cars for N255 million. The cars were allegedly purchased for use in political campaigns. Following the exposure and dutiful media pursuance of justice in the case, Nigeria’s president finally Yesterday constituted a 3-man panel to ‘probe’ the Minister and Coscharis for wrongdoing. EFCC and ICPS were surprisingly not drafted to investigate the matter of official embezzlement and misappropriation, thereby raising questions on the honesty of the government ‘probe.’
Punch news just published a story about the 10 planes in the presidential air fleet (PAF), which is emerging as Nigeria’s second largest fleet, with a combined estimated value of the PAF at $390.5m (N60.53bn). Only Arik airlines and struggling Aerocontractors have more planes. Evidently the large fleet is valuable to the president for such transportation of his campaigners as are bulletproof BMW cars, all purchased publicly or secretly on funds of poor and dying Nigerian masses. It would be rather depressing if government jets are used to transport such people on campaigns for the president of Nigeria.

NewsRescue

The “Goodluck” Called Nigeria, By Femi Aribisala


Nigeria is the only elephant in black Africa.
However, the onus is on us to ensure that
this elephant does not die of elephantiasis.
As Nigerians, we are all acutely aware of
what is wrong with Nigeria, especially since
we are all part and parcel of the Nigerian
affliction. It is quite amazing that when you
visit that uncle who stole government funds
to build his mansion at Banana Island, he
sits you down to talk about the problem of
corruption in Nigeria. When this happens,
you find it difficult to resist saying: “But,
uncle, you are also a thief! I know you stole
the money to build this house when you
were the Commissioner for Youths, Sports
and Culture.”
Where two or three Nigerians are gathered,
you can be sure we are busy running down
our country. What we don’t do enough is
talk about some of the things that are right
with Nigeria. Let’s face it; there are quite a
few of these as well, even if they are often
quite enigmatic.
The genius of Nigeria
One of the things right with Nigeria is
Nigeria. It does not matter how the country
came about. It does not matter if Nigeria is
an accident of history. It does not matter
that Nigeria is several countries
haphazardly lumped together into one.
Irrespective of the ifs and the buts, the fact
remains that Nigeria is a pure genius of a
country. The very existence of a country
called Nigeria is a masterstroke of
providence.
As a graduating doctoral student at Oxford
University, England, I was interviewed for
jobs I did not apply for. Multinational
organizations, including the World Bank
and Bank of America, came on campus to
interview us for jobs. In the case of the
World Bank, I was even flown to Paris.
There was always a sticking-point in the
interviews I agreed to attend: my insistence
on returning to Nigeria after having spent
thirteen years abroad.
What precisely is the attraction of Nigeria?
Why is Nigeria is such a difficult country to
live in and yet, once we are out of the
country, we cannot wait to get back? One of
these days, I may be able to answer that.
One thing I can say right now is that,
without Nigeria, the world would be a
much poorer place.
Black man’s Prometheus
The first casualty of a world without Nigeria
would be the black race. Never mind the
fact that Nigeria remains one big mess, and
has been for the longest time. This is
perhaps inevitable, as we work out the
curious alchemy of this peculiar nation of
over 250 nationalities. The fact remains that
the black man would be absolutely
insignificant in the world without Nigeria
and Nigerians. With a population of over
160 million and growing, Nigeria is difficult
to miss on the map.
As the most populous black nation, soon to
be the third most populous in the world,
Nigeria and Nigerians cannot be ignored.
Nobody wonders why Barack Obama, the
President of the United States, did not visit
Burkina Faso on two different trips to
Africa. But every student of international
relations wonders why he did not visit
Nigeria. If Obama visits Nigeria, he makes a
statement. If he does not visit Nigeria, he
makes a statement. The reason is simple:
Nigeria, by its very essence, is a major actor
on the world stage.
The country, and its people, command
attention and demand attention. If a
Nigerian is somewhere, you will know. You
will hear his voice because he will be loud
and outspoken. It is not easy to pretend
not to see the elephant in the room, and
Nigeria is the only elephant in black Africa.
However, the onus is on us to ensure that
this elephant does not die of elephantiasis.
Nigerian politicians
Don’t let me get carried away. Nigeria is
important because it exists. Nigeria is a
brilliant masterstroke, even if created by
colonial happenstance. But one other thing
that is fantastic about Nigeria, but that
Nigerians themselves fail to realize, is that
coupled with the enormous resource
endowments and potentials of the country,
Nigeria has some of the best politicians in
the world. Yes, yes, yes; Nigerian politicians
are thieves. They are crooks. They have
stolen the country blind. They are leading
the country into the ditch. Yes indeed!
Nevertheless, they are excellent at what
they do best. Nigerian politicians are
devilishly excellent politicians. This country
cannot do without them.
Precisely because Nigerian politicians are
crooks, they have a vested interest in
Nigeria. That vested interest is in the
continued existence of Nigeria. If Nigeria
ceases to exist, the politician crooks of
Nigeria will not have Nigeria to steal from.
Since there is oil in Nigeria, nobody will
secede from Nigeria. To secede from
Nigeria is to secede from Nigeria’s oil.
Neither can anyone be allowed to secede
from Nigeria with Nigeria’s oil. When that
happened, even thieves and robbers fought
that Nigeria must be one. Make no mistake
about it: we were not fighting because we
believed in Nigeria. We were fighting
because we believe in Nigeria’s resources.
We believe in Nigeria’s wealth. I have yet to
meet a Nigerian who does not truly believe
that Nigeria is a country with huge
potentials.
Accordingly, our politicians form and join
different political parties, but it is all one
big lie. All Nigerian politicians belong to
one single party: Politicians Party of Nigeria
(PPN).
Northern nationalism
The Nigerian military, on the other hand, is
reckless. It was under the military that the
East seceded as Biafra. It would not have
happened under civilian politicians. The
patchwork quilt that is Nigeria would have
been mended and amended. There would
have been a lot of debating and horse-
trading. Odumegwu Ojukwu might have
been elected President of Nigeria by a
landslide. He might even have been the
sole presidential candidate. The Igbo would
have been mollified for the wrongs done to
them; and Nigeria would have remained
one.
If you don’t believe me, think back to what
happened when the troublesome military
annulled the free and fair election of 1993.
The matter was resolved by a political
masterstroke of the Nigerian political class.
The decision was taken that a Yoruba man
should become the president of Nigeria. In
that process, the much-vilified North
emerged as Nigeria’s greatest nationalists.
It was Northerners, after all, who voted
overwhelmingly for a Southerner, M.K.O.
Abiola, in 1993; instead of their own
Northern favourite-son, Bashir Tofa. It was
also Northerners who fished out a
Southerner, Olusegun Obasanjo, from
prison and then secured his election as
president in 1999.
So what am I saying here? There is more to
Nigeria than meets the eye. There is an
invisible hand guiding the affairs of this
nation, and our politicians are its
instrument. Yes, we are going through fits
and starts. We are seemingly floundering
from one problem to the next.
Nevertheless, there is a method to the
madness that is Nigeria. When you stand
back and take a deep hard look, you cannot
escape the fact that, in spite of all our
palaver, we are nevertheless on the
trajectory of becoming a nation.
Nigerian “goodluck”
We have been fighting against a
determinate providence out to create a
united states of black excellence out of
Nigeria. That invisible hand put Hausas,
Ibos, Yorubas, and a host of other unlikely
ethnic bedfellows, in the same Nigerian
melting-pot. So doing, it gave us Maitama
Sule, one of the greatest orators of his
generation. It gave us Aliko Dangote, the
most enterprising businessman in Africa. It
gave us Chike Obi, one of the greatest
mathematicians the world has ever seen. It
gave us Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s Nobel
laureate in Literature. It gave us a country
with by far the most enterprising people on
the entire continent of Africa.
That invisible hand also gave is Goodluck
Jonathan. The message is written in his
name. I am convinced Goodluck Jonathan
never imagined, growing up, that he would
one day be the president of Nigeria. I
doubt if he ever thought he would even be
the governor of Bayelsa State. As a doctoral
student, he probably aspired to become a
university professor or even a university
vice-chancellor. However, “Goodluck”
propelled Goodluck Jonathan to be
Nigeria’s president literally overnight.
What are we to make of this? A decision
was taken somewhere and somehow that a
South-South man needed to become
President of Nigeria at a precise moment of
our history. For some absolutely ridiculous
reasons, a terminally-sick man was
“installed” as president. He promptly died
in office. That unfortunate comeuppance
was Nigeria’s “goodluck.” There is
something incongruous about having the
whole country benefit from South-South
oil, without thinking it imperative to have a
South-South president at some juncture.
Therefore, the time for Nigerian
inclusiveness of the South-South was
decreed. Out of the blue, a South-South
man, by the name of Goodluck Jonathan,
became president of Nigeria. We must not
lose the message of this inclusiveness. If
pioneering Barack Obama was re-elected as
president of the United States in 2012,
pioneering Goodluck Jonathan should be
re-elected as president of Nigeria in 2015.
Misguided militancy
This has nothing to do with the nonsense
of some South-South militants who declare
that if Jonathan does not remain president
until 2019, Nigeria will cease to exist. That
kind of bombast and blackmail should be
ignored. Nigeria is not going anywhere. But
in the interest of Nigeria, the South-South
should retain the presidency until 2019.
Even the APC should also consider fielding
a South-South man as their presidential
candidate in 2015. Nigeria belongs to all
Nigerians. Therefore, our acceptance of a
South-South president should not be
grudging. As a matter of fact, Jonathan’s
South-South presidency is well-positioned
to advance the Nigeria project significantly.
Jonathan’s biggest legacies are already
unfolding. He is the first South-South
president. Under him, giant strides are
being taken in Nigerian agriculture yet
again. The perennial problems of power
shortage are beginning to be addressed
with appreciable results. Under Goodluck
Jonathan, Nigerians will finally get the
opportunity to determine their future,
under the aegis of a Sovereign National
Conference.


Vanguard

IRRESPONSIBLE PEOPLE BEGET IRRESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP BY FREDRICK NWABUFO



In society responsibility is customarily shared between the people and the government. Responsibility is also implicit in social contract which wards off anarchy. Going by this unconvoluted truism, it therefore follows that the blister-inflicting twine of irresponsibility too is tugged between the government and the people. Irresponsibility is a shared lapse; a damnable testament to people-government failure.
As a matter of fact, everyone, that includes people in the saddle, go through the gestational stage of socialisation, after which parturition
of idiosyncrasies, bias, views, beliefs and predilections, occurs. Indubitably, the role of society in character formation is significant. Therefore, everyone is a sculpture of the moulding of society.
Again, society is people governed by traits of culture- progressive or regressive. The dominant cultural aura or vibe of a given society determines to an extent the behavioural output and proclivities of the people in that society.  That is, if corruption is a permissible cultural aberration, it becomes dominant among other cultural deviations in the genome of that society. This is in no way a sociological absolute, but a verifiable claim that can be exhumed from comparatively examining peoples of different societies and their behaviours.
Hinging on this dialectical plank, it is therefore apt to aver that the Nigerian leadership is a grotesque representation of the Nigerian people and society. The leadership is as bad as the people. The anodyne expression, “you cannot give what you do not have” captures picturesquely the Nigerian situation in this purview. Nigerian leaders are the scions of Nigerian society. Their odious discharges are from the malodorous miscarriages of the society they are born and forged in. Even those that are contaminated (in a good way) by the la dolce vita and pheromones of the better world still carry albeit regrettably, the Nigerian stink. This is not making an argument for the lamentable ineptitude of Nigerian leaders; rather it is to espouse the logic that the Nigerian leadership is a manikin of the Nigerian people and society. There is just no shade of difference between the two- the Nigerian leadership and the people.
Both the Nigerian leadership and the Nigerian people bear the ignominy of culpability in driving the country to the Paleolithic precipice. Inter alia, what is more sickening is the discomforting fact that none in the enterprise of running Nigeria aground takes responsibility for its irresponsibility. The Nigerian leadership indiscriminately throws blame at past governments and obverse groups; the Nigerian people in turn see the distant Nigerian leadership as the provenance of their woes, thus they blame it for even fiddling discomforts such as the angry army of mosquitoes that torpedoes them in their sleep at night and the sour taste of balls of "kwuli-kwuli" in their mouths.
In the same symmetrical logic, not taking responsibility for actions, inactions, situations, problems, and faults seems to be in the Nigerian genome. To illustrate this, some Nigerian parents take pugilism to their children’s school with the uncouth aim of battering their teachers for failing them. They induct their children into the “hallowed hall of irresponsibility” at a nascent age by wittingly or unwittingly encouraging them not to take responsibility for their failures and actions. There must always be someone or something to blame.
In the same vein, when such children from “molly-coddled” homes fail in WAEC, their parents become their feisty advocates, barking to all who care to listen to their racket that their children have been robbed of their true results or failed unfairly by WAEC; You hear, " WAEC sold my son's result". This is usually against the back drop of dereliction of study and laziness of their children. The same thing happens when they fail in JAMB. The excuse is usually that JAMB is corrupt, and that they have been marginalised for the sheer reason that they are not from a particular part the country. So it is when they are finally at higher institutions. The excuse for their failures in this case is that their lecturers are victimising them because of their relationship with some “fine girls” that the lecturers too are “eyeing”. And so the tradition of not taking responsibility for their irresponsibility progresses to points of rude disregard for ideals of excellence, hard work, discipline and performance.
As pointed out tangentially earlier, the Nigerian leadership and the Nigerian people share morsels of garbage from the entrée of irresponsibility. The irresponsibility of the Nigerian people is visible in the corruption of the most unlikely person of the rabble, plebian malfeasance, celebrated ignorance, denuded scruples, unabashed disrespect for simple rules and regulations, veiled peccadilloes, and the culture of low expectation according to Okey Ndibe. In fact, to be ignorant of fundamental rights; to stand and defend those rights, and to have high expectations of the government smack of gross irresponsibility on the part of the Nigerian people. On the other hand, irresponsibility of the Nigerian leadership needs no adumbration. It is evident in the insalubrious and gangrenous state of the nation. The Nigerian leadership here implies all the governments that have failed to give Nigeria the elixir of even marginal development.
Having drawn the Nigerian leadership and people irresponsibility quadrant, it is germane to etch in the minds of Nigerians the need for the evolution of a new thinking; a thinking that the Nigerian leadership mirrors them. They are as good as the leadership and they are as bad as the leadership. Therefore corrective, surgical operations must be performed on the national body to remove the decayed arm of irresponsibility; that is by taking responsibility for their individual and collective predicaments and finding solutions to them.
Finally, Nigerians are fighting multidimensional battles which coalesce into a single armageddon-like war; they need to join hands to form a giant fist to deal it a coup-de-grace. In all,  the country's quandary proves emphatically that irresponsible people beget irresponsible leadership.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and poet. Email:fredricknwabufo@yahoo.com 08167992075

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