Google+ Followers

Friday, 31 July 2015

Anti-graft war:Many people are now scared of Buhari – Gbagi


Former Minister of State for Education and Delta State governorship aspirant, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi is a lawyer, criminologist, industrialist and one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is unhappy with the level of stealing among elected and appointed public officers, especially in recent times and wants President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that those found guilty of graft are logically prosecuted or his regime will be at the mercy of justice-thirsty Nigerians. He shared this view in an interview with Vanguard where he also spoke on why former President Goodluck Jonathan lost the last presidential election and Buhari’s performance so far among others.
By Clifford Ndujihe
Gbagi, Minister of State,Education
Gbagi, Minister of State,Education
On why Jonathan lost the presidential polls to Buhari
I am one of the founders of the PDP, a lawyer and a criminologist, which means that I have friends and brothers across the nation. What I did was to get to the nooks and crannies of the country to find the true situation. At the end, my finding was, it was certain that Jonathan was not going to return.
This dates back to when Jonathan and former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s fight started. It is sad that that situation was allowed to play out the way it did.
I tried my best to ensure that the situation was nipped in the bud because Obasanjo and I had a meeting where I saw a clip of what was going to come out and it turned out to be that permutation that Jonathan would lose.
Then, I called my father, Chief EK Clark, and said this is what is going to happen. He was in Delta State that day and he was quickly going to meet President Jonathan and said there was need for us to have a quick meeting.
It is one of the things I respect Obasanjo for. I said to him at the end of our meeting that day, ‘please send for Jonathan to come to this house and talk to him.’
Obasanjo responded, ‘Kenneth, Jonathan is the president of this country. I am not going to send for him, I will go and look for him.’
That was what happened. Why didn’t they give him access? Why didn’t they allow him to do what he needed to do? In any case, certain persons in the entire Jonathan administration constituted an embarrassment because Jonathan did not speak to any of his ministers.
We were the ministers, who did the ground job that brought Jonathan to power. Soon after that election, Jonathan was held hostage. And he rather picked people of questionable character at the expense of those of us who built the house and the government was hijacked by criminals. That was the beginning of the catastrophe and downfall, that was how we dissipated. We used our own money to fight in our various localities for Jonathan to be elected as president. At the end of it, people who had nothing to do with it became the owners of the government and friends of government. It was prediction foretold. The government was not allowed to breathe. Merit was not the basis of it and so we lost direction and everything.
So, when I predicted that Jonathan was not going to win, it is because I was stating the fact. People were deceiving him. Thank God, he finally accepted that he was caged by the criminals. With the benefit of hindsight, I think if Jonathan were president today, he would think differently.
On allegations that the elections were rigged
The election of Buhari was done three, four years before the actual election. The persons that worked Buhari’s case out were mainly the journalists in Nigeria. They had moulded the peoples’ mind and thinking and made Jonathan to look like total and complete failure. So, the country and people were yearning for change because their mind had been so driven in such a direction that Jonathan was no longer the president even though he was there.
Take for instance, a very stupid publication about a northern president dying in office. That was the rudest shock I had. And that Buhari was going to die in office. That was very rude.
The press won the election for Buhari. They started digging Jonathan’s loss. It got to a stage when Jonathan was not the president but persons in his cabinet and persons around him. He was just like a prime minister in a presidential system of government. He was not a politician. How he allowed himself to be taken over by some miscreants was a very painful situation.
On the implication of Jonathan’s loss to the South-South
Jonathan has ended the slot. Given the geo-political structure of governance in Nigeria today, Jonathan has taken a shot at our slot. Regrettably, the way it all ended is very sad. A lot is yet to come out. I am a proponent of we must get it right.
It is sad that people who have no business eating breakfast in Nigeria are eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time. When such a situation occurs, the country is not encouraged, the youths are restless, the people don’t want to go to school because they rather believe that mediocrity, lies, theft, forgery, etc, is a way of life. It is very sad that in the months ahead of us we are going to see a lot of embarrassing revelations. No nation thrives in the way and manner these criminals who held Jonathan to ransom ran the country.
On Buhari’s decision to limit his probe of past governments to Jonathan’s regime
Whatever was done in 1999, there was a president before this president. It was the duty of Jonathan to have probed the government that he took over from. Buhari has no business going to a government which is not back-to-back with him. The Jonathan administration is back-to-back with him.

Wrong
assumptions

Whatever negativity there was with regards to the Jonathan’s government will have effect on the Buhari government. Buhari cannot be going to the 1999 regime. What concerns him by law and every fact of life is this one.
On Buhari’s perceived go-slow approach
People made a lot of assumptions that are wrong. When Buhari became president people expected that as soon as he gets in he will retire everybody and send them away. He didn’t do that. I think he took the right step. He did not do anything before he changed the Department of State Services (DSS) director. As soon as he changed the DSS director it means he has a grip on the security and information gathering system of the nation and has got the head and the neck of the country in his hand. It would have been senseless going to take a lot of steps when the DSS director is not with him.
After that, he has moved to change the service chiefs. He is looking at what happened. People are giving him information and briefing him as to where they are with affairs. So he has facts as to how to handle issues.
Having grabbed those issues, is he a feared man? A lot of people in the country are quite scared because they don’t know where we are going. You can’t go to Buhari and say you want to offer him money as it used to be in the past. All those impunity has gone to the dust. Auditing has started. All the world leaders have pledged that they will support and repatriate Nigeria’s money.
Nigeria is in a state of coma. I pity the president. I pity some of the governors, like the governor of my state (Delta). Government was run with reckless irresponsibility.
The only thing that will give us and the greater majority of Nigerians succour is that these persons are brought to book. Not the cosmetic arrangement of just taking people to court, they get lawyers to bail them and they start branding in our eyes the looted wealth. If such arrangement happens under the Buhari government there will be catastrophe. We must see a logical trial. We don’t want to see monkey trials by the EFCC and ICPC. They themselves will have themselves to blame. The Nigerian populace will this time haunt them and the Buhari government will be cut short if we do not come to logical conclusion with the trials. Anybody, who has held public office and has stolen money must be made to return the money.
On comments that President Buhari is being selective in his anti-graft war by going after PDP people and leaving those in his All Progressives Congress, APC
That is not correct. His party was not in government at the centre. We are a federation with federating units. Buhari is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which means his area is that of government of the federation not the states or the local councils.
However, when you from Anambra or any other state have issues with facts, you take it to the relevant agencies for prosecution and such governors or local council chairmen will be prosecuted.
So it is the governors that should go back to their predecessors in office and say you committed so, so and so offence and take it up.
On impressions that the fight against Boko Haram is waning under Buhari
Let us give Buhari and the service chiefs, DSS Director three months, in my reckoning, given the fact that a lot of people who are prosecuting this war, who are now Boko Haram, are ex-soldiers, ex-policemen, ex-navy, ex-air force. Their sponsors have become so spread all over the country that it requires tact and strategy to achieve.

Police confirm Senate forgery

 




Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu
The Nigeria Police have concluded their probe into the forgery of the Senate Standing Order and given a copy of the report to President Muhammadu Buhari, SUNDAY PUNCH can authoritatively report.
The President received a copy of the report last week, a highly reliable source in the presidency told one of our correspondents on Saturday.
The Police report confirmed that the Standing Rules used to inaugurate the 8th Assembly were forged, our source said.
In the report, the Police recommended the prosecution of those found culpable of forging the orders, which had been used in the controversial election of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on June 9, 2015.
The report was said to have indicted the management of the National Assembly, especially the Clerk, Salisu Maikasuwa and recommended the prosecution of the suspects.
Acting on a petition by Senator Sulaiman Hunkuyi (All Progressives Congress, Kaduna State), the Police had on July 6 quizzed Ekweremadu and Maikasuwa over an alleged forgery of the standing orders.
The petition alleged that some parts of the 2015 Senate Orders were different from the one ratified by the 6th Senate in 2010, which was used by the 7th Senate, as Standing Orders 2011.
The Police, on the strength of the petition, had subsequently quizzed the leadership of the 7th Senate, including former Senate President, Senator David Mark; his deputy (now Saraki’s deputy), Ike Ekweremadu; former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba; and the former Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang.
ADVERTISEMENT
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Maikasuwa, who is the custodian of the Senate Standing Order was also invited for questioning by the police.
According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, handed over copy of the investigative report to Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja last Sunday.
The source said, “I can confirm to you that the President has a copy of the Police’s investigation report on the Senate forgery and I can also authoritatively tell you that the report confirmed that the Senate rules were forged. Notable among those recommended for prosecution in the National Assembly is the Clerk because he is the one that keeps the Standing Orders.”
When asked if the Directorate of Public Prosecution had received a copy of the Police report, the source said he couldn’t confirm that.
SUNDAY PUNCH’s study of the controversial 2015 Senate Standing Orders, Rule 3, as contained on page four of the document, which has to do with the election of presiding officers, had shown that it is different from the 2011 Senate Order.
Rules 3(e) (i) and (ii) have been included in the 2015 document to accommodate electronic voting and secret ballot, whereas secret ballot and ballot papers were not specifically mentioned in the 2011 Standing Orders.
The Senate Order 3 (e) (ii) of 2011 states, “Voting shall be conducted by the Clerks-at-the Table, using the Division List of the Senate with the Tellers in attendance. The Clerk of the Senate shall submit the result of the division to the Clerk of the National Assembly.
“(iii) The Clerk shall then declare the Senator-elect who has received the greater number of votes, elected as President of the Senate.”
The same section in the 2015 Senate Order however reads, “Voting by secret ballot which shall be conducted by the Clerk-at-Table using the list of the Senators-elect of the Senate, who shall each be given a ballot paper to cast his vote with the proposers and seconder as Teller. The Clerk of the Senate shall submit the result of the voting to the Clerk of the National Assembly who shall then declare Senator-elect who has received the highest number of votes as Senate President-elect.”
Apart from the ‘alteration’ to the procedure for election, Order 95 of the 2011 rule on the chairmanship and membership of the committees is also different in the 2015 version.
In the 2011 document, provisions in Order 95 read, “The membership of all committees shall not be less than 11 and not more than 13 senators. (2) No senator shall serve in more than three committees (3) No committee chairman shall serve in more than one other committee.”
However, a new insertion in the amended version reads, “The appointment of Senators as Chairmen and members of committees shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the six geopolitical zones of the country and there shall be no predominance of senators from a few geo-political zones.”
In SUNDAY PUNCH’s exclusive report on the scandal, which was published on July 19, some senators who served in the 7th Senate had disowned the 2015 edition of the Senate Standing Orders (as amended).
Similarly, members of the current 8th Senate across parties had also denied being part of any amendment process.
The senators, who were from both the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, said they were not aware of any amendments to the 2011 Senate Standing Orders.
For instance, Senator Victor Lar (PDP, Plateau-South) had declared, “As of the time we left the (7th) Senate, there were no alterations (to the Senate Standing Orders).”
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business in 7th Senate, Senator Ita Enang, stated that the Standing Orders that was used and closed within the 7th Senate was the Standing Orders that should have been used for the inauguration of the 8th Senate.
Enang, who was in the PDP when he was in the Senate but later defected to the APC, had stated, “I made proposal for amendments between 2011 and 2015, I laid the report on the floor, but we did not consider the report. We did not amend the Standing Orders.
“Before we left, I had approved the reprinting of the Standing Orders and the reprinting did not include inserting anything which was not in the old one. Reprinting is, simply reproduce what we have because there are no more copies.”
Some senior legal practitioners had told SUNDAY PUNCH that forging a document like the Standing Rule of the Senate was a felony, which, according to them, is a criminal offence against the state that attracts a penalty of three years jail term, a fine or both.
However, when contacted on Saturday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, did not confirm if the President had received a copy of the report.
“The Police are still working on the report. Investigation is still going on,” he said.
Director (Information), Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Charles Nwodo, responding to an inquiry by one of our correspondents on Saturday night also said he was not aware of the if the DPP had received a copy of the report

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE ON ANSElM OJEZUA:


Edo State Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has condemned as a bad omen, recent vote of confidence purportedly passed on its State Chairman, Mr. Anselm Ojezua by his Edo Central Senatorial District.
Rising from emergency meeting in Benin City today, the Working Committee declared that to hail the leadership of Mr. Ojezua as exemplary for losing his unit, ward, Local Government Area and Senatorial District in the Presidential/National Assembly elections portends doom for the party for as long as he remains Chairman.
The Working Committee therefore urged Mr. Ojezua to resign his chairmanship forthwith having glorified himself in failure.
 They also called on the Senatorial Chairman, Chief Henry Okoror to tender unreserved public apology to the party for hosting and presiding over the meeting in which failure and betrayal were celebrated otherwise face sanctions.
It was the view of the Committee that the outcome of the meeting where the offensive vote of confidence was passed vindicated those who accused the APC leadership in that Senatorial District of selling out to their kinsmen, Chief Tony Anenih and Tom Ikimi both of PDP during the elections.
The Committee lamented that the only three seats APC lost to PDP in the State Assembly election were in the same senatorial District where it earlier lost all National Assembly seats to PDP. It therefore wondered why they embarked on the self-praising jamboree as if failure was what they set forth to achieve in the elections.
We rebuked Mr. Ojezua as a never-do-well, lazy, lousy, and shameless leader who gloats at his own failure.
The celebration of such woeful failure could only be as a result of monetary gains realized from the sell-out and as such, tantamount to jubilation over the successful betrayal of the party. APC therefore appealed to all those who worked hard to achieved the victory recorded in the Edo North and South Senatorial Districts not to be discouraged by the attitude of the traitors in the Central Senatorial District.
The Working Committee also challenged Mr. Ojezua to defend the allegation that he sold all APC poll agents identification tags for the Presidential/National Assembly elections to his masters in PDP, hence there was no tags for APC, a situation that weakened the party  representation at the polling boots.    
It also lamented how Mr. Ojezua misled the State Executive Committee to adopt Chief Tom Ikimi against Chief Oyegun ahead of the National Convention only to rush shamelessly to Chief Oyegun at the venue of the convention when Chief Ikimi was nowhere to be found without carrying along, those he had misled.
Comrade Godwin Erhahon
State Publicity Secretary

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

President Buhari’s Great Diplomatic Feat For A Change




No doubt the four-day official visit of President Muhammadu Buhari came
 off so successfully on every count that the country, struggling to effect
 mitigation from the wreckage the immediate past government and indeed all
 other past governments made of it, stands to soon reap from that important
 visit. President Buhari’s visit not only resonated in its spectacular
 success but re-integrated the country to the comity of serious nations
 where it had been cast as a pitiable outlaw via the humiliating conducts
 of the immediate past government.
For the six years the outgone government was blubbering so miserably from
 one policy mistake to the other, the country was taken as an unserious
 joker in the comity of nations. From all practical indices the developed
 world saw the past government as a huge parody and spared nothing to pass
 that demeaning message. Nigerians were sorely embarrassed as a fidgety and
 dense government stumbled from one mediocre pit fall to the other and
 dragged the country down a disappointing maze. Nigerians watched in awe as
 the country became a regular butt of the ribaldry of the entire world who
 missed no opportunity to tell us in cryptic and unfamiliar non-diplomatic
 terms that we had a misfit as a government.
These were very huge liabilities that vitiated the capacity of Nigeria not
 only to fulfill its roles to her citizens but also to play a notable role
 even in the African continent. While these lasted, Nigeria’s image
 plummeted to such abysmally low level that negatively robbed off on its
 citizenry. Its capacity to carry out any meaningful activity in the
 international orbit waned so considerably such that nations ran from doing
 even perfunctory businesses with Nigeria on account of the low grade
 leadership that drove it.
These were the huge garbages President Buhari inherited as he zoomed into
 power on the wings of a fervent pan-national mandate in May. As President
 Obama welcomed President Buhari with that hilarious acclamation thus; ‘“
President Buhari came into office with reputation for integrity and a very
 clear agenda, that is, to make sure that he has been bringing safety,
 security and peace to his country”, it was obvious that the heads of
 Nigerians in every part of the globe swirled with pride and nostalgia for
 the good old days when the country was reckoned with in the comity of
 nations. It was certain that this rare testimonial had been given by the
 US of very few African leaders in world history and marks the
 re-admittance of Nigeria to the hallowed orbit of serious nations where it
 had been missing for a very long time.
For his visit, the American government rolled out the red carpet and
 spared nothing to underscore the importance of that visit. This was a rare
 privilege reserved for only few leaders in the conduct of American affairs
 and this was not lost on either the Americans or the Nigerians that
 watched with keen interest. The field was Buhari’s to prance and he did
 that so majestically, so magisterially, so professionally and so
 familiarly, with assured gait to the delight of Nigerians. For each
 session he undertook, he spoke with measures of traditional seriousness
 and deep introspection that assures. These have been critical nerves that
 had been lacking in the conduct of the country’s leadership for a very
 long time. As this show of respect lasted, the departed pride of Nigerians
 and their lost faith in officialdom returned and the promises of a newer,
 fresher and well-burnished relationship between Africa’s biggest nation
 and the world’s biggest economy and most powerful nation unfurled a
 specter of positive expectations for the citizens of a nation humbled by
 inept and ethically rusty governments. For Nigerians, the pointers of a
 more stable, more assured and more secured polity became reified as we
 eagerly followed every of his measured engagements.
President Buhari was to get fully engrossed in his very busy itinerary
 that included:  a breakfast meeting with the US Vice President Joe Biden,
 a US Government lunch on power to be hosted by the Secretary of State John
 Kerrry, a bilateral meeting with Deputy Secretary of State (Defence),
 Robert O. Work, a meeting with the United States Secretary of Commerce,
 Penny Pritzker, an audience with ECOWAS Ambassadors and a meeting on
 tackling corruption in Nigeria with the US Attorney General, Lorreta
 Lynch.
Also, President Buhari had a meeting with the Secretary of Treasury, Jack
 Lew, met with potential investors in Agriculture, a meeting with the
 Chamber of Commerce, an interactive dinner by the US Chamber of Commerce
 and the Corporate Council for Africa, a meeting with the President of the
 World Bank, as well as the representative of the Bill Gates Foundation. He
 also met with the Nigerian community in the United States.
 President Buhari was hosted by the US Department of State at a function to
 be attended by the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),
 and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Buhari even had the
 honor of receiving the  Class of 1980 of the prestigious US War College of
 which he was a participant.
 As his tour of duty came to an end, President Buhari played Nigeria back
 to the decent club of serious nations where it had long been rusticated.
 He secured so much political, military, economic and social mileage for a
 country that has long neighed for responsible government but got a horde
 of irresponsible and rouge leadership. These include; US commitment to
 assist the country recover stolen funds cruelly plundered by past
 government officials and key into Buhari’s pet anti-corruption fight,
 commitment to the Nigerian fight against insurgency, commitment to invest
 in agriculture, wider bilateral relationship and investment in industry,
 commerce and trade and fostering deeper diplomatic relationship between
 the two countries. The President got resounding approval for his work so
 far in arresting the drift of a nation and place it firmly on the paths of
 recovery. Indeed President Obama minced no words to state that President
 Buhari has greatly impressed with his performance so far in office and has
 a clear agenda for taking the country far from the very canvass where it
 was dumped by previous regimes.
There is little doubt that Nigeria and Nigerians will savour the fruits of
 this well delivered diplomatic feat as we warm up to the realities and
 promises of the Change we hungrily neighed for, worked fervently for and
 got as the locusts ravaged this country.
Peter Claver Oparah
 Ikeja, Lagos.

How Tinubu lured five govs out of PDP — Tony Momoh


By Bashir Adefaka
Former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh in this interview speaks among others on the import of President Mohammadu Buhari’s visit to the United States of America and the deals high-wire politicking that landed the All Progressives Congress at the presidency.


What do you think  Nigeria stands to gain from President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the United States of America?
Nigeria is looking up to the world in securing and stabilising the country through development.  That is one of the things  President Buhari’s visit will achieve for Nigeria.  Being in the US with President Barack Obama,  Nigerians have been able to discover that Buhari  is not stubborn and rigid but  simply a man with disciplined mind and a high sense of putting things in proper shape.
With that visit, America will assist Nigeria.  Americans knew about the  thefts  that we are talking about.  They knew about them before now but they were unwilling to relate to Nigeria because, apparently they knew more than us.  They knew about the indiscipline and corruption in the land but, Buhari is ready to fight corruption because he never indulged in corrupt practices.
Corrupt practices
So, the visit to the US has provided diverse opportunities for Nigeria to achieve stability and development.
Are you in support of plans to probe  ex-ministers over alleged oil theft?
President Buhari is not going to investigate and is not going to set up any commission of enquiry.   He will allow the security agencies to  do their work and they are already doing that.  Is it not because the security agencies are doing their work that  these revelations about oil theft and missing funds are becoming known?  The security agencies should be allowed to do their work.  Nigerians should be ready for the cleansing job that is going to take place.
But in doing what you regard as cleansing, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Jonathan’s people are seeing it as witch-hunting.  What about that?
Are you saying that what these people are alleged  to have done that they did not do them?  If the rules are there and then Buhari says, ‘follow the rules,’ is that witch-hunting?
Many have been complaining that the Buhari administration is slow. When you hear complaints like that, how do you feel?
People  cannot say that the government is slow or not working because, even without the ministers, the permanent secretaries have shown that the civil servants are the major officers concerned with the business of government. They have really been performing since Buhari became President.
President Buhari is a man that I have been with since 2003.  I was the head of his campaign organisation in 2003, 2007 and chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) where he contested again for presidency in 2011.  I know him so well that he is never a push over.  He does his own things at his own pace.  So, he doesn’t bother about  detractors.
Smooth performance
Don’t forget that Nigerians will not ask those detractors who are complaining about not appointing ministers.    Buhari  needs to carefully prepare the ground for smooth performance. Nigerians should be patient.  They will be proud that Buhari is their President.
He came in 1984 and this is 2015.  He needs to understudy things properly.   He is trying to secure the ground and then fight the enemy of good governance which is corruption.  It is only then that  he can appoint ministers.
How confident are you that Buhari will  fight corruption, insecurity and still  have his feet on the ground to handle other functions of government?
I have confidence in  Buhari and I believe strongly that he has all it takes to achieve all those things that you have listed.  He  is the only elected President of Nigeria that started by wanting to become President.
In 1960, Sir Tafawa Balewa was made Prime Minister.  His  ambition was  to become a broadcaster.  In 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari became President.  He had wanted to be a senator.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was made President in 1999.  He was in prison and his thought was to be free and not to die in prison.
In 2007, Yar’ Adua was made President by those who chose him.   He had wanted to finish his eight-year term as governor of Katsina State and thereafter return peacefully to his job as lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was very comfortable with his job as governor of Bayelsa State.  But he was brought to Abuja first as Vice President and later as President.  None of them ever thought of being President.
But when you talk of somebody who started out by really wanting to be President, it is President  Buhari.  Some people had put a book together and the book was titled, “Project Nigeria.”  In the  book, they had spelt out how they wanted to rebuild and develop Nigeria.  They gave it to Buhari to look at and when he looked at it, he made some jottings out of the book and then made up his mind about it. It was put together by a group of Northerners, who are very  intelligent.
Meanwhile, President Buhari had always said that he was feeling sad seeing little children selling pure water and running around in the streets at a time they should be in school.
Interest in politics
All these put together motivated him into developing interest in politics.  He had the vision  to change the existing lifestyle of Nigerians  particularly the little children. And because he is the only one who is in politics to become President, he contested 2003, he didn’t make it.  He contested 2007 and in 2011 when he couldn’t make it, he said, “ Nigerians have opportunity for their lives to be made better but they lost it.”  And he was about quitting but I said to him, “don’t stop. You will wait for your time and the time will come.”
On Tinubu
That is why we can never underrate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the success that we achieved in the 2015 election that produced this government.  Tinubu is an excellent crowd mobilizer, very highly proactive and exceptionally digital politician.  He was the one who knew how he wooed the five governors of the New PDP  and brought them into the APC.   You cannot underrate Tinubu’s contribution to the success of the emergence of this government.
I only pity the PDP who are thinking that the so called crisis in the National Assembly is to their favour.  There is no problem with what  happened in the Senate and House of Representatives because we cannot say because Saraki emerged as Senate President that he is PDP or that because Dogara emerged as Speaker of the House he is a PDP person.
On Ekweremadu
The  House voted in  Ekweremadu as  Deputy Senate President.  We thank God that David Mark did not emerge the Senate President because they would have said that it is constitutional.
We should give kudos to Tinubu because of his role in the influence that brought the PDP governors into  APC.  He wooed Saraki and Atiku and he knew how he went into the PDP and played all those games. I would tell you that two politicians that should be respected most in Nigeria today are Tinubu and Bisi Akande.
But I will also blame Tinubu for the crisis because having brought Saraki, Atiku and the five governors, you should know that it is not proper to think that Saraki, Dogara, Atiku, Kwankwaso will ever still be thinking of being PDP in APC.  No.  None of them is PDP any longer and they will ever remain APC.  So, they should be so treated. What we owe Nigerians is delivery on our change mandate.
Change mandate
APC was just lucky to be the vehicle used to drive the change because, even without the APC, the Nigerian people would still have overrun the system and achieve the change by themselves.  I congratulate the APC for being  lucky to be the vehicle for driving the change.  It is sad that the debt Jonathan plunged us into as a nation will take a  long period to repay.
On planned probe of Jonathan’s government
If anybody had done anything bad in the past, it is the business of the security agencies to investigate.  President Buhari won’t be the one to do that.  He believes that the security agencies should know what to do to anybody, who has committed a crime, be it financial or whatever.
So, the security agencies should not wait until the President tells them to go after such a person because Buhari will not ask any security agent to do so.  He believes that the constitution has stated  clearly the roles of security agencies.  If they now see an offender, who committed a crime and fail to handle such a person according to the law, then the law enforcement agents should be blamed.

How God, US made me — Buhari


By Garba Shehu
Shortly after the August 1983 military coup that brought a 40-year-old Muhammadu Buhari to power, he received a phone call from a top personnel in the United States Army.  General Smith was the Commandant of the U.S. War College from which General Buhari graduated in 1980. The school’s 1979 set had graduated its first Nigerian, General Wushishi, who was the Chief of Defence in the just ousted Shehu   government.
Obama and Buhari
Obama and Buhari
“Please, be kind to him,” General Smith said over the phone. The essence of the phone call was not just to congratulate Nigeria’s new Head of State, but to ensure that the first Nigerian to graduate from the U.S. War College would not suffer any indignity under the government of the second Nigerian to graduate from the same school.
Former classmates
On Wednesday, July 22, members of the U.S. War College Class of 1980 gathered at the Blair House in Washington, DC, to welcome the man they had selected as their football team referee 36 years ago. “Being referee all those years ago taught me to be fair and just,” President Buhari said during the meeting.
Among the former classmates gathered were Lt. General Granrud (Commander of the U.S. forces   in Japan Rtd), Brigadier General Jack Pellica, General Ronald Griffith (Former Vice Chairman of the U.S. army central command ), Colonel Lany Gordon and Colonel Paul Summerville. General Smith has since passed on, as have all the directing staff and a larger percentage of the old students from the set. “This just shows that all of us are on the queue,” President Buhari said, “waiting for our turn.”
The Nigerian Commander-in-Chief said he hoped that the U.S. would continue its tradition of training Nigerians in the war college. At the time he attended the school, he was the only African in his class. The only other foreigners were from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, France and Japan. The Japanese student went on to become the head of his country’s army.
President Buhari then went on to update his classmates on his life since he last saw them: his different appointments, his accomplishments and his family.  “I have just received my 13th grandchild,” he said.
He added that the wife they knew him with at the time had since died, and that he had also lost a son and a daughter from his new wife.  “Of all my eight children,” he said, “only one is a boy.” Some of his former classmates were curious to know if President Buhari would place his only son, Yusuf, in the army.
“I stopped him from joining the army,” President Buhari replied.
He explained that the military he joined was very different from what it is today, adding that he was the second Nigerian to be sent to the U.S. War College—based on his records alone, without connections. “Things took a wrong turn in Nigeria,” he said. “Your records no longer mattered.”
Some of the former classmates present at the meeting stated that at the time they met President Buhari back in 1980, they knew little about Nigeria or Africa. They credited the Nigerian leader with giving them their initial enlightenment about the continent. Others recalled how he always overworked himself.
However, President Buhari described   his war college experience as being responsible for his subsequent life of hard work, endurance and perseverance. “I contested for president three times and failed,” he said. “Then I did it the fourth time and won.” A roar of laughter followed the president’s apt illustration.
He then rendered his narrative of the collapse of the Soviet Union, breaking into 18 republics and how that influenced his decision to join politics.
“The collapse of the Soviet empire in 1980 without a single shot being fired convinced that the multi-party democratic system was the best for all countries.”
President Buhari then expressed appreciation to President Barack Obama and to the U.S. for the role the country played in Nigeria’s successful elections, recalling Secretary of State, John Kerry’s visit to him and to former president Goodluck Jonathan, as well as to Attahiru Jega, the electoral commissioner at the time.
Electoral commissioner
“Kerry read the riot act to all of us,” he said, “saying that the conduct of the election must be free, fair and in line with the Constitution.”  He added that, without US intervention, the electoral malpractices of the past   twelve years would likely have happened again. “God made me but America made me,” he said.
The Class of 1980 gave President Buhari the full assurances of their support, stating that they were willing to use their experience to assist him in any way they can, particularly with tackling terrorism in northeast Nigeria. They promised to put together and forward to him a compendium of their thoughts on the security situation in Nigeria.
In September, President Buhari will be meeting once again with his former classmates, at another event scheduled to take place at the United Nations.
Garba is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

We’ll arrest, prosecute some former ministers for oil theft — Buhari

 

Buhari CNN
President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday that his government was examining pieces of evidences that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of some former ministers and other government officials for stealing Nigeria’s crude oil.
Mr. Buhari said this at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington while answering questions at a session with Nigerians in the Diaspora. He said it will take at least 18 months to revive the economy.
He lamented that some of the affected officials were involved in illegal sale and diversion of crude oil monies belonging to the Federal Government to multiple private accounts abroad.
“We are now looking for evidences of shipping some of our crude, their destinations and where and which accounts they were paid and in which country.
“When we get as much as we can get as soon as possible, we will approach those countries to freeze those accounts and go to court, prosecute those people and let the accounts be taken to Nigeria.
“The amount of money is mind-burgling but we have started getting documents.
“We have started getting documents where some of the senior people in government, former ministers, some of them had as much as five accounts and were moving about one million barrels per day on their own.
“We have started getting those documents. Whichever documents we are able to get and subsequently trace the sale of the crude or transfer of money from Ministries, Departments, Central Bank.
“We will ask for the cooperation of those countries to return those monies to federation accounts and we will use those documents to arrest those people and prosecute them. This, I promise Nigerians.”
The President frowned at the way and manner the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was mismanaged, saying his administration would check the excesses of the corporation.
He said his administration was carefully studying the issue of oil subsidy.
Mr. Buhari said he would not be a party to taking decisions that would further impoverish Nigerians in the name of removing oil subsidy.
“When people ask you to remove subsidy ask them to define it. Who is subsidizing who? Let me make it clear. The people are gleefully saying ‘remove subsidy’.”
“They want petrol to cost N500 per litre. If you are working and subsidy is removed, you can’t control transport, you can’t control market women, the cost of food, the cost of transport.
“If you are earning N20,000 per day and you are living in Lagos or Ibadan, the cost of transport to work and back, the cost of food. You cannot control the market women they have to pay what transporters charge them.
“If there is need for removing subsidy, I will study it. With my experience, I will see what I can do. But I’m thinking more than half the population of Nigeria virtually cannot afford to live.
“Where will they get the money to go work? How can they feed their families? How can they pay rent?
“If Nigeria were not an oil producing country – all well and good. Our refineries are not working. We have a lot of work to do.”
On the appointment of ministers, Mr. Buhari dismissed those accusing his administration of being too slow in taking crucial decisions relating to governance and appointment of political office holders.
He cited the immediate past PDP government, which he said spent more than two months to settle down during its 16-year rule.
“In some quarters they are now calling me `Baba Go Slow’. I’m going to go slow and steady.’’
Mr. Buhari also pledged to study the Diaspora Bill with a view to signing it into law as requested by the Nigerians in the Diaspora.
He advised Nigerians living abroad and searching for government jobs back home to suspend their ambition as the nation’s economy is in a bad shape as it would take his administration at least 18 months or more to resuscitate it.
The president, however, promised that some of the job seekers would be engaged by the Nigerian Government as consultants to enable them contribute their quota to the nation’s development.
All those who spoke at the interactive session expressed their readiness to assist the APC-led administration of Buhari to achieve its campaign promises for the benefit of Nigerians.
They also called on Mr. Buhari to sign into law the Diaspora Bill.

PremiumTimes

Onaiyekan to Buhari: Tread softly on corruption probe

 

Onaiyekan to Buhari: Tread softly on corruption probe
The Catholic Arch-Bishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, on Tuesday night advised President Muhammadu Buhari to go slowly on his anti-corruption drive so that his actions are not seen as “persecution.”
He gave the advise during an evening dinner organized for Catholics in Politics at the Church of the Assumption, Asokoro, Abuja.
Pointing out that fighting corruption goes beyond making “few arrests here and there” he urged President Buhari to carry out his anti-corruption fight in a way that will not be seen as selective.
He also said that fight against corruption can only succeed where there is transparency, just and honesty.
He said: “This challenge obviously lies squarely on those who now have the power to rule our nation. I want to beg them, and I am glad the Chairman of the ruling party is here, to resist the temptation to rub in the plaques of defeat on the losers and try to avoid policies of persecution, some even talk of execution of losers.”
“We have to tackle dishonesty and I believe we need to retrieve stolen goods, especially those that are just piling up other peoples money. While we do that, it is my strong feeling that we should try to avoid as much as possible humiliating or disgracing people who may indeed have tried their best to serve the nation.
“How to do this and keep these two elements together requires a lot of sagacity and clear mindedness. But we should pray for our leaders to be granted the grace.
“We must be clear minded on this matter and not allow ourselves to be naïve thinking that it is just enough to make few arrests here and there and the matter is settled. Let us pray that God will guide our nation.”
On insecurity, he said that Nigeria needs to go beyond arms and ammunitions in order to reconcile minds and hearts for genuine peace.
The time, he said, has come for all to link hands and seriously tackle the problems facing the country.

President Buhari receives indicting documents on ex-Ministers and others.

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja





President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday confirmed that he had started receiving some documents which indicted some former ministers and other top government officials of massive fraud, including oil theft.
While describing the amount of money involved in the shady deals as mind-boggling, the President promised that his administration would use the indicting documents and others still being compiled to clamp down on the culprits and prosecute them.
He also said while many Nigerians nickname him ‘Baba Go Slow’ because of the delay in forming his cabinet, he would prefer to be ‘slow and steady’ in taking decisions.
The President stated these while speaking at an interactive session with Nigerians in the Diaspora at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC, United States, in continuation of his four-day official visit to the country.
Buhari said the documents revealed that some top government officials moved as much as one million barrels of crude oil per day for their personal purposes.
He said such officials also opened as many as five bank accounts abroad for the purpose of laundering money.
He said by the time the process of compiling and identifying the shady deals and those behind them were completed, his administration would approach countries where the loots were kept to assist in repatriating them.
The President said, “We are now looking for evidences of shipping some of our crude, their destinations and where and which accounts they were paid and in which country.
“When we get as much as we can get as soon as possible, we will approach those countries to freeze those accounts and go to court, prosecute those people and let the accounts be taken to Nigeria.
“The amount of money is mind-boggling but we have started getting documents. We have started getting documents where some of the senior people in government, former ministers, some of them operated as much as five accounts and were moving about one million barrels per day on their own. We have started getting those documents.
“I assure you that whichever documents we are able to get and subsequently trace the sale of the crude or transfer of money from Ministries, Departments, Central Bank, we will ask for the cooperation of those countries to return those monies to Federation Accounts.
“And we will use those documents to arrest those people and prosecute them. This, I promise Nigerians.”
Buhari faulted the mode of operation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, saying his administration would check the excesses of the corporation.
The President restated his position on the removal of subsidy, that it would bring more hardship to Nigerians.
He however said he would study the debate and take a decision based on his experience.
“Who is subsidising who? But, people are gleefully talking, ‘remove subsidy’. They want petrol to cost N500 per litre.
“If you are working and subsidy is removed, you can’t control transport, you can’t control market women: the cost of food, the cost of transport.
“If you are earning N20,000 per day and you are living in Lagos or Ibadan, the cost of transport to work and back, the cost of food. You cannot control the market women because they have to pay what transporters charge them.
“If there is need for removing subsidy, I will study it. With my experience, I will see what I can do. But I am thinking about more than half of Nigerians, who, virtually cannot afford to live.
“Where will they get the money to go to work? How can they feed their families? How can they pay rent? If Nigeria were not an oil producing country – all well and good.
“Our refineries are not working. We have a lot of work to do,” he added.
Buhari decried those he said had started calling him ‘Baba Go Slow’ because he had yet to form his cabinet, weeks after his inauguration.
He cited the example of previous government under the Peoples Democratic Party which spent more than two months to settle down during its 16 years of ruling the country.
He said he would prefer to go slowly and steady in administering the country.
The President, however, said though his administration might be accused of being slow, it would be steady in fulfilling its campaign promises to Nigerians.
Buhari said, “Within the past two weeks, I am being asked when I am going to form my cabinet. And in some quarters they are now calling me ‘Baba Go Slow’.
“I am going to go slow and steady. Nigerians should be patient to allow this administration put some sense into governance and deal with corruption.”
He also pledged to study the Diaspora Bill with a view to signing it into law as being demanded by Nigerians in the Diaspora.
The President advised those Nigerians in the Diaspora looking for government jobs back home to suspend their ambition as the nation’s economy was in a bad shape and it would take his administration about 18 months or more to resuscitate it.
He, however, promised that some of them would be engaged by the Federal Government as consultants to enable them contribute their quota to national development.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

You can’t judge Buhari in two months — Fred Agbeyegbe


Call him a playwright, lawyer, author or activist and you will not be wrong. Chief Fred Agbeyegbe, who turns 80 years on Wednesday is many things to many people depending on the angle you are viewing him from. In this engaging interview, he speaks on the state of the nation, his experience in the last eight decades, how to check graft and the way forward for the country.
By Japhet Alakam & Gbenga Oke
AT 80, how do you feel?
I thank God for keeping me this long and I owe him all the gratitude.
Fred Agbeyegbe
Fred Agbeyegbe
Activities have been planned for your birthday celebration, what can you say about that?
I was given an award by the National Association of Theatre Practitioners, NANTAP. The award was called the Grand Living Legend of Nigerian theatre. They said they were tired of waiting for people to die before they celebrate them. So, they wanted to change the tide by giving me the award. Some of them have said to me that it is their prophecy that is taking place now that I am going to make 80. Let us celebrate people while they are alive so I am happy to be one of the pioneer celebrities for this new philosophy in Nigeria.
You are a playwright, lawyer, activist and so on. How exactly can we describe you?
I don’t know. So many times people ask me what I do. I, too, am confused as to what to tell them but there are people who know me in certain regards. For example, not so long ago I got into a waiting room where people were arguing about who Fred Agbeyegbe is and I sat down and joined them. They didn’t know me, a lot of people don’t know me but they know my name. In fact when some are talking to people about the Agbeyegbe family, they say they know one of them and they mention my name even in my presence because they don’t know me personally. Some described me as a journalist, some have described me as a civil defence person, some have described me as a lawyer and some as a business man. Whatever they call me, provided they don’t call me a thief there is no problem.
Do you think the judiciary is leaving up to expectations?
When I came back from England 45 years ago, things were not like this. I think that the mistake started from 1999. It is from 1999 that things became even more rotten.
Corruption in Nigeria is not by accident. Even the 1999 constitution that we are operating today is a corrupt document. To start with, it is a lie that Nigerians made a constitution for themselves. It never happened. The contents of that constitution cannot be something that a willing people would impose upon themselves.
Root cause of corruption
Therefore, all attempts at stopping corruption might even be a waste of time until you tackle the root cause of corruption. I am Itsekiri, I have never heard the word ‘corruption’ in my language. Is corruption a Nigerian word? No! Corruption is an English word.
Those things that make it impossible for Nigeria to progress are what I call corruption.
Having said all these, are you trying to say Nigeria was built on falsehood?
I have written poems and several articles on it. One of the books is called Budisco. It was a play that was commissioned by the Nigerian Bar Association when they celebrated 100 years of law practice in Nigeria. I was the one they picked to do something to celebrate that period.
Buhari, Idiagbon and Sowemimo, that is what Budisco means. It also means something vulgar in Yoruba language. Who is the President today? The same Buhari. So what explanations are you looking for? A people get a government that they deserve. Nigerians are getting what they deserve because when it is happening to you, the other person says it is not happening to me, by the time it comes to happen to you, all the people who could have stood behind you will be gone.
n 2011, my movement came out to say Nigeria was a failed state, those who thought they can patch it and repair it, by the time the Americans said 2015 is going to be a terrible year, they started calling them names. Thank God, Jonathan saved all of them. If Jonathan had stood up and said that election was rigged against him this country would have been in flames.
On NADECO
We live under this illusion that we are operating a democracy. And the way this country is organized is that when any issue comes up, Igbo man, Yoruba man, the Ijaw and Itshekiri, and other groups would have different interpretations.
This country is organized such that there will never be consensus. For example , I am an Itsekiri man and my neighbours are Urhobo and Ijaw, but these ethnic groups hardly live in harmony. NADECO fought against the trampling of the right of Nigerians.
So we did not come out in NADECO to show that we are brave, we came out to fight against the military because we felt they forced themselves on us. NADECO can function now because it was put together for a purpose.
How will you rate this administration putting in mind some of the decisions that has been taken so far?
From what I have told you, you don’t expect me to be a pro-Buhari person. But I am neither anti-Buhari. Like I said earlier, he was the people’s choice and they voted for him. Whether I voted for him or not does not stop him from being our President and he also said it that he is the President of everybody and that is how it ought to be.
But I can say that is it too early to judge him, it was the same type of judgement that Jonathan got. From day one, even before he won the last elections, he was told not to contest. Some said they will make the country ungovernable for him. And he dared to contest and he dared to win. And what happened to him, they made the place ungovernable for him and behold it is the same people who came back to judge him on performance after they had told him they will make it impossible for him to govern. That was what they did. So the guy had no opportunity.
Achieving change
I say the same thing about Buhari, give him a chance. I called him a magician and the media also called him a magician. People think he will just come and change things overnight, he is no longer a military man. We cannot achieve change in two months.
He has been criticized for the appointments he has made so far. I laughed because a lot of people do not understand the politics of this country. All the people he has appointed so far are all Northerners from his area of this country, I don’t know if the guy has a choice because psychologically, he cannot feel comfortable with anybody else.
He doesn’t know what people are going to do to him if he comes to Warri to pick me. But I will tell Nigerians to wait, if he then continues in that line of appointment then you can begin to blame him.
Do you think the proposed merging of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and Independent Corrupt Practices and other relataed Commission, ICPC, will strengthen the fight against corruption?
When I heard that President Buhari is trimming down the number of ministries from 40 to 19, I concluded that the man is truly a magician. The ministries are one of the ways we fritter away this country’s resources.
Why do you need over 40 ministries? Is it that the work load is so much such that a few people cannot do it? Is that what government business is all about? Thank God somebody has come and has seen reasons to reduce them.
Prosecution of governors
The EFCC and ICPC, were they actually meant to work? How many governors have they prosecuted? Is it that there are no more corrupt governors? What has ICPC done? What examples have any of those two entities given to us? This is a situation whereby the institutions are used to serve the whims and caprices of individuals.
What do you then think needs to be done to move this nation forward?
There are many issues that divide us in Nigeria. And it is my hope that those issues will disappear for things to get better.
Our beliefs are not the same in every aspect. Sadly, religion has become a divisive tool.
You remember at a time, I lost a cousin to assassins. He was Captain Jerry Agbeyegbe, how can you convince me that Nigeria is not a place where people are killed any how? You may convince some other people but not me. Also, the one document that is supposed to bring all of us together called the constitution is itself a lie. Any document that tells a lie against itself is forgery. The 1999 constitution is not our constitution. We had no agreement on it.
Having criticised democracy as being practised in Nigeria, what form of government will you recommend to make the country work?
To make democracy work, we need to have a redefinition of the content of that word ‘democracy.’ I recently wrote an article that the Europeans came here last time and certified our last elections saying democracy is now thriving in Nigeria.

Meaning of democracy

What did they know and what did they see? I lived and worked in England for so many years, I know the meaning of democracy as an English word and I know the meaning of democracy as a Nigerian word.
The only thing Nigeria accepts about the word democracy is that the majority must have its way. They don’t even buy the other half of that same statement which says the minority must have its say.
So those things God has given me as of rights as an Itsekiri man in Warri, democracy makes it easy for somebody to come from the desert in Sokoto to teach me how to swim in Warri river where God has put me. The time Mandela started fighting their oppressors and they eventually got to where they got now, did they change the definition of democracy?

Buhari to Privatizatise Telecommunication, Energy, Solid Minerals, Health and Infrastructural Facilities





Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington on Tuesday invited American business people to come and invest in Nigeria by taking advantage of the liberal trade and investment climate in the country.
The president, who gave the challenge at a business forum organized by the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa, said his administration would go ahead with the ongoing privatization programme with improved moral architecture.
According to him, the privatization exercise will be expanded to include aviation, telecommunication, energy, gas, solid mineral, health and infrastructural development.
Buhari also enjoined the business communities in the United States and Nigeria to take advantage of the excellent political relations between the two nations to expand trade and investment activities including joint venture projects in priority sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He said: “It is my intention to create the necessary environment for future investment in Nigeria. We are the most populous nation with the largest market in Africa with vast human and natural resources and blessed with abandoned young skilled workforce.
“We are therefore proud candidate to become the destination of choice for United States investments in Africa.
“I work assiduously to welcome new investors to ur country.
“I will like to remain you all that we are continuing in major privatization programme with sectors ranging from telecommunication energy, gas, solid minerals, aviation, health and infrastructural development but with improved moral architecture.“

Phantoms of the country! Buhari disgraces CBN gov, Godwin Emefiele, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Wale Tinubu in America

  

· What are you guys doing here...Did I invite you people? - Buhari
By Femi Ajayi
Time was, when phantoms in scarlet persistently passed as men of honour while the righteous faded in obscurity or lay spent in trenches of blood. Hence it was no surprise that Nigerian businessmen, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Wale Tinubu and Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in desperate bid to dig their claws into President Muhammadu Buhari, bought first class tickets and flew after him to the United States of America.
But the snag was, they were uninvited; even so, they embarked on a desperate quest to establish themselves as Nigeria's top businessmen and cronies of the incumbent president. Back when Goodluck Jonathan was president, they would have gotten away with such brazen disregard for protocol; in fact, they would have constituted a crucial part of the former president's travel plans. But a new sheriff is in town and the businessmen are yet to get with his programme. 
Thus they had sheepishly gone to attend a meeting with Buhari in America and Buhari on sighting them reportedly asked, "My friends, what are you doing here? Did I invite you people? You are not needed here," Buhari allegedly told them. Shamefacedly, they gathered their folders and left the meeting. Their steps became very heavy as they trudged out of the venue.
It was indeed a big disgrace to these businessmen who once formed a ring around the former President Jonathan. They quietly left the venue with their tails and gargantuan pride tucked between their legs.
All around the world, presidential politics has always been a game of the wealthy, for the wealthy and by the wealthy. Men of means have always had a say and in several instances, determined the course of political and socioeconomic affairs in the country. This becomes imperative in their desperate bid to establish their dominance and affluence sustainably. The need to maintain their controlling grip on their country's economy, rather than ensuring that the nation's commonwealth is equitably distributed has always been the only ideological and selfish motive driving their political participation.
 Consequently, the superrich of the nation's high society are continually seen as the arrowheads of plots and movements to institute and sustain political hegemony via a puppet leader or party. Political pundits are of the opinion that the President Buhari needs to stay away from these men and women who have perfected the knack for soiling the hands of any President and sullying the his administration by their self-serving pursuits which often manifests devastatingly on the lot of the citizenry and to the detriment of the country.  

Two APC Reps sue Dogara over leadership crisis

  John Ameh, Abuja   


The leadership tussle in the House of Representatives has crossed over to the courts, as two All Progressives Congress members have sued the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.
Joined in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/625/2015, filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yusuf Lasun; and the Clerk to the House, Mr. Mohammed Sani-Omolori.
The members, Mr. Abubakar Lado-Abdullahi from Niger State; and Mr. Olajide Abdul-Jimoh from Lagos State, are praying the court to restrain the defendants from stopping the announcement of the names of principal officers recommended by the leadership of the APC.
In their prayers, the members argued, “it is an indisputable fact that the positions in question are party positions; that is, principal offices of the APC, albeit that they concomitantly are also principal positions within the House of Representatives.
“Consequently, the 1st and 2nd Defendants (Speaker and Deputy Speaker) shall in accordance with Article 9.2 of APC Constitution, which states, ‘members of the party shall be obligated to affirm the party’s aims and objectives’, implement the party’s aims as contained in the party’s nomination letter’.”
ADVERTISEMENT
Findings showed that the court process was reportedly served on Dogara and the co-defendants on July 16.
A copy of the process was made available to The PUNCH about 5.26pm on Tuesday.
Specifically, the plaintiffs urged the court to determine whether Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, dealing with the Principle of Federal Character, was applicable to the sharing of principal offices in the National Assembly.
However, when The PUNCH sought the reactions of the Speaker’s office on Tuesday, it got a “not aware” response.
His Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Hassan Turaki, simply said “not aware” in a reply to a question whether Dogara had received the court’s summons.
He declined to respond to a second question what the speaker would do about the case.
The House, which began a forced break on June 25 after fighting broke out on the floor over the sharing of the principal offices, was scheduled to resume on Today(Tuesday).
But, on Friday last week, the resumption was suddenly put off by one week without any official explanations.
However, findings indicated that the unresolved leadership tussle was the reason for the abrupt postponement of resumption.

PRESIDENT BUHARI HAILS WORLD BANK'S DECISION TO SPEND $2.1 BILLION IN REBUILDING NORTH-EAST


The World Bank has unfolded a package which would see it spending up to $2.1 billion in rebuilding the badly devastated North-eastern part of Nigeria, ravaged for the past six years by the Boko Haram insurgency.
At a meeting in Washington today with representatives of the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization (WHO), President Buhari said apart from rebuilding the region in terms of infrastructure, priority must also be given to the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who now number over one million.
He urged the World Bank to send a team, which would work in concert with a team from the Federal Government, so that a proper assessment of needs could be done.
The World Bank will spend the 2.1 billion dollars through its IDA (International Development Agency), which gives low interest rates loans to government. The first 10 years will be interest free, while an additional 30 years will be at lower than capital market rate.
The World Bank is eager to move in quickly, give out the loans, and give succor to the people of North-east, long at the mercy of an insurgency that has claimed over 20,000 souls.
WHO is also to invest 300 million dollars on immunization against malaria in Nigeria, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will collaborate with Dangote Foundation to ensure that the country maintains its zero polio case record of the past one year. If the effort is sustained for another two years, Nigeria will be declared fully free of polio.
FEMI ADESINA
SPECIAL ADVISER, MEDIA AND PUBLICITY
JULY 21,2015

How U.S. will help Nigeria recover loot, fight corruption – Presidency

 

Muhammadu Buhari in handshake with Barack Obama
Muhammadu Buhari in handshake with Barack Obama
The United States government has agreed to assist Nigeria recover all identified ill-gotten wealth within the U.S., and from other nations where it has jurisdiction, the Nigerian presidency said Tuesday.
The American government will also train Nigerian judicial staff and prosecutors as part of efforts to tackle corruption in Nigeria.
The assurances emerged from a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the United States Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch, on the subject of support for the war on corruption in Nigeria.
A statement by Mr. Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the two nations agreed that the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between the two countries in 1985 which came into effect in 2003 be given some teeth.
“There will be collaboration. Each of the two countries will receive legal assistance from the other on criminal matters and that should cover the recovery of ill-gotten wealth. On extradition, we already have a treaty with U.S. By virtue of being a former British colonial territory,” the statement said.
“There is however the possibility that Nigeria might negotiate a new extradition treaty to meet our other requirements. The negotiation will be done under the auspices of a ‘reenergized’ U.S-Nigeria Bi-National Commission.”
President Buhari is on a four-day official visit to the U.S. He met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday.
Mr. Biden assured of the goodwill of his country in rebuilding the Nigerian economy, but observed that corruption and weak institutions must be tackled, if Nigeria was to benefit from reforms.
He advised President Buhari to appoint only seasoned technocrats to manage key sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Inside the oil deals that cost Nigeria billions

 By: Adekunle Yusuf

Inside the oil deals that cost Nigeria billions
Despite elaborate efforts to sweep it under the carpet, facts have shown that a strategic alliance agreement between the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited Limited (AEDCNL) has helped parties in the agreement to swindle the country. After wide-ranging investigations, Assistant Editor ADEKUNLE YUSUF uncovers the details of the deal that set back the country by about $2b
It is an adventure laced with shoddiness. That perhaps is the most fitting silhouette for the Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) between the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Nigeria Limited. From all available documentary evidence, the SAA, which paved the way for Atlantic Energy to operate some oil blocks during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, has left the country short-changed of about $2billion, excluding hundreds of millions of dollars as bank loans and money owed to workers and contractors. After four years of the alliance, everything suggests that NPDC and Atlantic Energy owe Nigerians a lot of explanations regarding how some oil blocks – OMLs 26, 30, 34, 42, 60, 61, 62 and 63 – were handled between 2011 and 2014, including outright theft of proceeds from all the millions of barrels of crude oil lifted during in the four years.
A portfolio company
Like a well-choreographed movie, it all started on a measured pace. On July 19, 2010, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited (AEDCNL) was incorporated as a portfolio company. That was barely three months after Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, assumed office after her redeployment from Mines and Steel Development Ministry. Curiously, the company changed its name to Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited (AEDCNL) on October 27, 2011. However, Atlantic Energy, even without prior record of successful experience in the oil and gas sector, announced that it had entered into a Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in April 2011. That was exactly six months before AEDCNL was legally born. In a capsule, the company that claimed to have signed the SAA with NPDC was not legally in existence when the deal was shoddily consummated in April 2011. As unknown portfolio company, Atlantic Energy was operating from a temporary office accommodation before it opened office in 2012 at 32a Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, after the NPDC fortune had smiled on it. With the NPDC contract in its kitty, Atlantic Energy embarked on a massive recruitment exercise, poaching good hands in the oil industry, which it used to actualise its planned scheme to play big in Nigeria’s highly shady oil and gas sector.
But all that never dissuaded partners in the deal from embarking on a hot business romance at the expense of the country. The SAA covered 4 Oil blocks: OML 26 – FHN; OML 30 Shoreline; OML 34 – Niger Delta Oil, and OML 42 Neconde, all sold by Shell /Agip and Total. It was obvious that the NPDC granted the SAA in absolute secrecy without following any due process as stipulated in the government procurement laws and policy. With the sale of the four oil blocks, in which the Federal Government owns 55 per cent, the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), which oversees national investments in Joint Venture Companies (JVCs), Production Sharing Companies (PSCs), and Services and Services Contract Companies (SCs), transferred the ownership to NPDC as the upstream producing arm of the NNPC. Although the NPDC should have paid NAPIMS a signature bonus, no payment was made, leading to a loss of asset by the federation and loss of revenue that should have accrued to national coffers. This was confirmed by the recent PwC audit report, which audited remittances from NNPC to the Federation Account after the allegations by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who is now the emir of Kano. The audit findings showed that remittances into the Federation Account were not up to date.
An unholy alliance?
The SAA is to enable Atlantic Energy provide fund and technical services and lift oil. Being a funding mechanism, the SAA is meant to enable the owner (NPDC) to accept its strategic partner (Atlantic Energy) to partake in the production sharing of the oil field at a fee called signature bonus, while the strategic partner is expected in return to fund the operations and provide technical support so that it can be reimbursed directly from the production in subsequent periods. Although a good idea that is said to be critical to the survival of the country’s oil and gas industry, the SAA was obviously not managed in the national interest, for it has helped parties in the deal to embark on a stealing spree of public fund after production liftings.
Up till now, industry watchers are still in a shock over how NPDC, which is peopled with some of the best engineers and technical experts, granted the SAA to a company that paraded no track record of requisite experience in the sector – all without following any process as stipulated in the government procurement laws and policy. Besides documentary evidence, findings within the sector showed that the deal was an unholy arrangement between Alison-Madueke, top NPDC officials and the duo of Kola Aluko, who is a known business ally of the ex-Minister, and Jide Omokore, a controversial business mogul who is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, financier and kingmaker to some governors as well as many senators and members in the House of Representatives. Aluko and Mrs Alison-Madueke have denied any business ties.
NewTable New1Of the two promoters of Atlantic Energy, Omokore had no easily traceable previous experience in the oil and gas industry, while Aluko had.
However, drawing on its connections in high places, Atlantic Energy swung into plum business, having won the hearts of those at the helms of affairs – from the ministry and the Presidency. As contained in the SAA document, Atlantic Energy was supposed to pay a signature bonus of $245 million to NPDC, but it ended up paying $135 million – no thanks to legal terminology and simple mathematics that only parties in the deal could explain. The balance was remitted to the account of unknown people.
Inside the raw deals
Atlantic Energy approached two Nigerian banks for loans. Going by the books of Atlantic Energy, the loans were meant for the payment of signature bonus and cash calls to NPDC. Therefore, in 2011, it took a loan of $490million, with First Bank contributing $370million and Skye Bank $120million. At the beginning of the deal, Atlantic Energy actually paid the signature bonus of $135 and cash calls of $68 to NPDC from the loan, totalling $203 million out of $490million lifeline provided by the two banks.
But another weighty, if not damning evidence that was to expose the shoddiness of the SAA came in the early life of the deal. In 2011, shortly after securing the juicy contract, it was NPDC that lifted crude oil (947,096 barrels) on behalf of Atlantic Energy and remitted $102m into the coffers of its strategic partner; instead of Atlantic Energy to lift oil and remit proceeds. Why? It was because Atlantic Energy, a mere portfolio company at the time it was handed the sweetheart contract, was still too new and untested to even secure an export permit for such a venture as at the time, thus showing the level of involvement of the top echelons of the Petroleum Ministry and NPDC officials.
A detailed scrutiny of the cash calls schedules and other papers also showed that the plundering galore continued till 2012 and 2013. For example, in 2012 alone, Atlantic Energy paid cash calls worth $168m, but lifted crude oil of about 3million barrels valued, conservatively at over $350 million. Despite the differentials in remittances, NPDC continued to look the other way as Atlantic Energy lifted about 2million barrels of crude oil in 2013, valued at about $240million, but paid cash calls of $68million. In 2014, records also revealed that Atlantic Energy paid zero cash calls and lifted about 500,000 barrels of crude oil, valued at $54 million, with all the funs siphoned abroad as payments for vendors sources say are phony.
Table2Again, the promoters incorporated the Atlantic Brass Development Company Limited on February 5, 2013. As usual, it was hurriedly granted another set of SAA. The SAA covered another set of 4 blocks: OML – 60; OML – 61; OML – 62; OML – 63. Unlike in the previous deals in 2011 and 2012, when it paid a fraction of obligatory funds, the company simply pocketed all the proceeds, paying pay no signature bonus or any cash calls at all despite lifting about 8 million barrels of crude oil, valued at $800 million at the time. Instead various amounts of money were transferred to the accounts and investment companies in UK, Dubai and Switzerland. They also opened mirror accounts of Atlantic Energy Brass in the UK and Switzerland (see the table on foreign accounts).
However, with the fall of the administration of Jonathan, the chicken seemed to have come home to roost, as the NPDC, which seemed to have condoned all the infractions of its strategic partner, has suddenly woken from slumber. In a letter from NPDC, dated May 6, Atlantic Energy was asked to pay its outstanding indebtedness OMLs 26, 30, 34, and 42, totalling $573,668,090 (five hundred and seventy three million, six hundred and sixty eight thousand, ninety dollars).
“This is to inform you that we have not yet received any payment on outstanding cash call obligations after our reconciliation sign-off, dated August 28, last year. Kindly remit the sum of $573,668,090 (five hundred and seventy three million, six hundred and sixty eight thousand, ninety dollars) only, being amount due to OMLs 26, 30, 34, and 42,” said the NPDC.
An analysis of the reconciliation sheet revealed that the $573,668,090 was just a fraction of the cash calls, as some huge returns that were yet to be subjected to technical and financials by the two parties were not included.
But the bad state of finances on OMLs 26, 30, 34, and 42 paled when compared with that on OMLs 60, 61, 62 and 63 where Atlantic Energy owes NPDC a staggering $1,250,644,474.54 (one billion, two hundred and fifty million, six hundred and forty four thousand, four hundred and seventy four dollars).
In another letter from NPDC, dated May 6, Atlantic Energy was reminded of its outstanding indebtedness.
Table3“This is to inform you that we have not yet received any payment outstanding cash call obligations after our reconciliation sign-off, dated August 28, 2014. Kindly remit the sum of $1,250,644,474.54 (one billion, two hundred and fifty million, six hundred and forty four thousand, four hundred and seventy four dollars) only, being amount due on OMLs 60, 61, 62 and 63,” the letter said.
Atlantic Energy has also defaulted on the bank loans from First Bank Plc and Skye Bank. Instead of moving the proceeds of the liftings to the two banks to repay the loans and pay the obligatory cash calls, Atlantic Energy has transferred the funds through various related party companies. As at now, the loans have not been paid while the mounting interest element is also long overdue.
In a letter from Skye Bank, dated April 10, Atlantic Energy was reminded of repayment its outstanding obligations ($39,232,428.16) on the $120 million loan facility it took from the bank.
“Kindly refer to our various correspondence and discussions regarding your outstanding obligations on the above subject facility ($120 million). This is to remind you that the total sum of $39,232,428.16 plus accrued interest is past overdue for payment on your facility,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Tutu Alu, manager, corporate banking group, and Tosin Faniro-Dada, relationship officer, corporate banking group.
Another letter from First Bank, dated February 20, tacitly refused a request from Atlantic Energy seeking to restructure the loan facilities it has received from the bank, hinging it on some stringent conditions.
“We refer to the meeting held on 19th February 2015 and your request for a restructure of your facilities coupled with lenders’ consent to change the ownership structure of Atlantic Energy. We wish to state that, even as we are mindful of the set timeline, we are constrained to progress your request further until we receive the following documents: (1) copy of the executed NPDC/Atlantic Energy reconciliation, (2) copy of executed NPDC repayment plan, (3) addendum to the SAA, (4) NPDC consent to the restructure of the company.”
The FBN letter also included the following conditions that must be met before considering Atlantic Energy’s request: “provision of standby Letter of LC to secure crude oil liftings, and payment of all overdue obligations, coupled with the injection of $100 million to reduce exposure to lenders.”
The letter was signed by Deji Abisola, business manager, corporate banking group (energy and utilities), and Jide Ayeronwi, group head, corporate banking group, (energy and utilities).
Also, in spite of the billions of dollars it has enjoyed over the years, Atlantic Energy has not filed its accounts with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as stipulated by law. Using an influential lawyer, who sources said is the company’s legal backbone, Atlantic Energy has continued to hold on to the legal advice that it is not liable to tax.
In a letter from FIRS, dated February 17 , Atlantic Energy was warned of the consequences of its refusal to submit the accounts and returns within the next ten days. It was signed by the duo of Okeowo Taiwo, and Ocheja E.F., FIRS’ manager (tax) and deputy manger (tax) respectively.
It reads: “It is worrisome to note that we are yet to receive the draft accounts/returns as promised. Let me remind you that the accounts/returns are long overdue for submission. You are advised to submit the accounts/returns within 10 days from the date of receiving this letter, failing which FIRS shall enforce compliance with the relevant tax laws.”
Transfers, cash withdrawals
Sadly, a company that could not meet its financial obligations was on a spending binge, with its directors living ostentatiously (owing private jets and armoured jeeps) and transferring huge sums – sometimes in billions and millions of naira and dollars – into accounts of both local and foreign organisations. And if the local transfers raised some red flags, so were the numerous transfers of millions to foreign accounts (see a table on foreign accounts) of Expedia Marine Company Limited, Energy Property Development Ltd, Petrochemicals Offshore, SPOG Petrochemicals Limited, Premium Aviation Services Ltd, Ibalex Nigeria Limited, and numerous others, where funds were paid at different times.
Interestingly, Atlantic Energy is enmeshed in huge debts – albeit self-imposed. But it seems the embattled company is not ready to go down alone. Not only has it closed its office, it also did not pay its staff for more than one year. It has equally defaulted in the payment of workers’ pension and PAYEs, leading to a mass resignation crisis that swept the company even before it closed its shop recently. Even business partners were not left out, as Atlantic Energy, which kept booking flight tickets and enjoying services from international and reputable companies, did not meet its obligations to its numerous clients, wrecking havoc on several businesses. Now, Atlantic Energy owes NPDC about $2billion, banks $550million, workers $5million, and other vendors $20million. This explains why the banks as well as NPDC appear helpless, as Atlantic Energy is frantically looking for investors to buy the company and the massive debts to boot.
The Nation learnt that the promoters of Atlantic Energy are negotiating a soft-landing with some people that are very close to the corridors of power with a view to refunding a paltry amount. Their stratagem is to sway the new administration to avoid the “unnecessary controversies” that a probe may generate so that they can be asked to go and sin no more. As part of a grand strategy to achieve their objective, some foot soldiers have been enlisted, including some highly-placed Nigerians, to reach out to President Muhammadu Buhari to strike a deal on their behalf, fearing that any inquiry into the books of NPDC and other agencies in the highly opaque oil and gas sector will most likely unearth a can of worms. Will President Buhari, who is widely revered as an incorruptible man, allow them to walk away free after what seems like clear financial crimes against the country? Time will tell