Buhari: Those Who Want To Flee When I Take Over Are Free – Newspaper Interview


Buhari… Without a strong and clean leadership, Nigeria cannot be stabilised In this second part of General Muhammadu Buhari’s interview, he touches on the very essence of his challenge against the elite in the country. Just check out this exchange: General, that is why I asked about the lessons you’ve learnt in politics. ANPP was your party that time and see how they treated you. Do you know what? The decision to withdraw the case from court was not taken by the appropriate organs of the party saddled with that responsibility. Do you know that the decision to join the so -called government of national unity or unity government was not taken by the appropriate organs of the party saddled with that responsibility? Even the people to be appointed into that government, the decision ought to have been taken by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), and, more importantly, by its National Executive Committee (NEC). None of the party’s constitutionally-recognised arms took part in taking those decisions. So, what would I be doing in such a party? It was total anarchy. That is why I had to leave. We then formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). But, ACN was very hopeful that it would get you on board; that, too, did not work. ACN, even before it became ACN, when it was just AC, we were talking and there was indeed, hope. Yes, AC was thinking of even giving me the party’s presidential ticket. But, here we were, after getting a political party registered, I felt that the least we could do was to get the structure of CPC to be on ground first. There was no way I could have gotten a political party registered and then I would dump it the next moment because another political party had dangled its presidential ticket before me. That was never going to be the case and I do not have any regrets about that. People seem to forget the custom of loyalty. The custom of loyalty is a two-way thing. It has to go both ways. Your party chairman explained last week that there was nothing strange in the position you took by sticking to your CPC for the presidential ticket. But, there are some other people who insist that you are just too rigid, that there are certain approaches that you could adopt in achieving the same objectives without being seen to have compromised. Why are you so rigid? Well, I will try to answer you with what happened in ACN. When I didn’t accept AC’s ticket after registering CPC and making them understand that I was a party to the registration of CPC, the least I could do was to see that the party should be on the ground. And, if you believe that loyalty is a two- way thing, then you wouldn’t blame me for that. They kept saying that they had the structures, that their party was more firmly rooted and that they would mobilise more easily. Yes, I agreed. But, we, too, in CPC, we were already building our structures gradually and we were also mobilising massively. Okay, initially, we said we could go into an alliance, a sort of working alliance for the presidential election. The arrangement was such that we would provide the presidential candidate and they would provide the vice-presidential candidate. But, that did not work. But, why? That was because we had our congresses and we came out with a presidential candidate. We offered that they could have the vice- presidential slot and then we could discuss how to fill the other offices. But, then, again, this took a long time. January 15 was beginning to get too close. And, I needed to nominate a vice-presidential candidate. But, then, again, you would wonder, since we had our own presidential primary before they had their own, if they wanted to make any sacrifice, they wouldn’t have had their own presidential candidate too.

 Why, since the alliance talks were not really conclusive?

The truth was that they didn’t need to do that if they needed to make sacrifice based on the on-going talks about the possibility of an alliance. In any case, the reason is that you cannot have two presidential candidates in an alliance. That is not how it is done, it would never work. You would recall that in 2006, six parties, PAC, NAP, NCP, PRP, PSP and DPA did their primaries and conventions and adopted me. So, it is not something unique that ACN would have done to come into an alliance with us. There was nothing new in that. And, when you include ANPP, then you’ll end up with seven political parties. There was nothing unique in that had ACN adopted me if it was about good faith. We could have won that election but Nigerians know how that election went. PDP stole the election. There are fears in some quarters and it is serious. Some people say a General Muhammadu Buhari becoming President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria would spell doom for a section of the elite. There are even talks that some people would just head for exile. I’m sure you’ve heard this talk before. Well, it would appear that individuals are free to live wherever they choose to live and live comfortably. Individuals are also very free to leave the country if they so choose, especially since they would be able to afford it. Those of us who are sentenced to live in Nigeria will continue to live in this country because for us, we do not have any other country than this and we would not leave the country and go and seek comfort in another country. Well, if people would feel unsafe, they can leave the country. We would continue here. What I’m trying to say relates to a possible witch-hunt; some people may be afraid based on past deeds. If people feel unsafe to live under some leadership in Nigeria because of what they have done or because of some atrocities they have committed in the past and, therefore, would not feel safe to live under some type of leadership in the country, then may be they are using their sixth sense.

I ask that as a preamble to the issue of corruption in Nigeria. At a point, the index gave hope but at some other time, the index showed the opposite, went down again and some people say the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is not doing enough to fight corruption. How would you tackle the issue of corruption?

 One of the things that CPC would do is to strengthen the institutions. We already have the police.

In CPC, we have said that security, prosperity will bring stability. We have been harping on these three things before.

 If we empower the police, they will do their work very well.

There are too many boards or commissions handling this or handling that. We would look at the ones that would still be relevant to strengthen the police. We will make the military more efficient by training and re-training and also by providing equipment and machinery.

In EFCC, there are volumes of representations which they cannot cover because of inadequate manpower or lack of resources. We would do our best to strengthen the institutions by managing resources judiciously. We have financial regulations in every department and every ministry and, in every state and they have to work.

There must be a proper accounting of public funds in all the three tiers of government and what is lacking is that judicious use of public funds. This is the aim of CPC.

People say you are a good man and that you mean well. (Cuts in) Thank you very much.

 The question then is: You would not be in every ministry or every government department or agency to properly monitor these things. So, how much confidence would you have in your points men because you gave an instance of politicians attempting to highjack elective tickets even in CPC?

The laws and regulations on accountability in all these places you have talked about are not lacking at all. People just choose to do what they like. People just refuse to respect the laws of the country.

What CPC would do is to ensure that there is a proper and judicious use of the country’s resources for the good of the people. The laws are there.

You look like a man too much in a hurry and when you interface your person with the slow wheel of democracy, especially recognising that CPC may not have an absolute majority in the National Assembly, how would you tackle the challenges of achieving results within this context?

Let me answer your question like this: You remember when Obama went to Ghana, he said what Africa needs are strong institutions and not strong people. In the case of Nigeria, I dare to say that we are unique.

We need strong people to create those institutions and strengthen those institutions for effectiveness.

The truth is that, without a strong and clean leadership in the country, Nigeria cannot be stabilised.

The other side of the coin is that you may not even be able to strengthen the institutions if you are not strong and firm as a leader.

Followership and leadership: Which one should come first?

 Look, Nigerians cannot be taken for granted any more. As a state governor, you cannot be stealing state funds and then you expect the people to fall in line and be disciplined. It will never work. Everybody responsible for some part of the treasury would also be pocketing the money because they know what the governor is doing. If the president of the country is spending monies outside the approved budget or acts outside the approved regulations from the Office of the Accountant-General, Nigerians would rise against such a person and would not even obey such a leader and they’ll do whatever they like. That is why we have had this mess on ground since 1999. The infrastructure we met, we refused to build new ones and even the ones on ground were not being properly maintained. Don’t forget, we used to have four functional refineries in this country with more than 480,000 bpd capacity. We had more than 20 depots. I don’t know how many pumping stations. We had more than 3,500 kilometre length of pipelines. In 12 years, the PDP government could not maintain them and instead we are importing petroleum products at world market prices, something that we produce in this country!

This is the height of corruption, by killing the petroleum industry which the country depends on. Why can’t we refine our own crude and sell in our own country?

Instead, we give people contracts to import products and sell to Nigerians at world prices. You chose as your running-mate, a Christian. Would I be right to say you are gradually coming to terms with the realities of the Nigerian polity by not being too rigid and picking not just a Christian, but a pastor as your running-mate? It all started with the problem of the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was then ill. Some people wanted to capitalise on that to create political crises and unconstitutionality and Pastor Bakare came all the way to Abuja to tell the people a piece of his mind that people needed to be careful and not plunge Nigeria into needless crises. He was determined. At the same time, I made two appearances publicly and I also sent a message across to say that the constitution was very clear on succession plan. From the National Democratic Movement (NDM), I signed a letter, counter-signed by Atiku Abubakar and we went to the National Assembly to caution them on what to do and what not to do regarding the matter – we sent copies to the Senate President and the Speaker. That was where our interests conjoined.From that time I realised I had met a patriot because our focus was purely Nigeria at that time and you could see the determination. So, when this opportunity came, I just knew that I had no better choice other than Pastor Bakare.

Finally on the issue of consensus, you turned it down because in the beginning, the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF), was presented as representing the North sans partisanship.

Look, even in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where they had their problem of zoning, that issue of consensus was tenuous. It was even said to be a northern consensus but in that same North, some leadership of the North-Central did not believe in it. I always said it and I mean it, it was mainly a PDP affair. They should go and deal with it since it is their problem

Salami Drops Suit Against CJN


President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami has instituted a notice of discontinuance of the suit he filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Iyorgher Katsina-Alu and the National Judicial Council (NJC). The suit challenged the controversial ‘promotion’ of Salami to the Supreme Court by the CJN.


This became necessary as the “res” or substance of Salami’s suit was removed,  when NJC reversed the purported promotion said to be masterminded by the CJN during it’s meeting last week .  NJC  equally set up a reconciliation  committee to mediate between the warring heads of the judiciary, Salami and Katsina-Alu.

 

The bid to withdraw the suit which also named the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) as co–defendants, was contained in a Notice of Discontinuance filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division yesterday by his team of lawyers led by Lateeef Fagbemi (SAN).

In the notice of discontinuance, the president of the appellate court said, “Following the intervention of well meaning Nigerians and stakeholders in the justice sector, I hereby apply to discontinue this suit”.

By the notice of discontinuance, Salami’s legal team is expected to pray the court to strike out the suit today.

It was learnt that some aides of the appellate court’s boss had disclosed recently that Salami was ready and willing to drop the suit he filed against the CJN and two key judicial bodies.

Salami’s resolve to withdraw the case is reportedly prompted by the progress made by the panel set up by the NJC to reconcile the warring topmost judicial officers, as well as “intervention of well meaning Nigerians”.

Salami had last Tuesday instituted the action against Katsina-Alu and others seeking a reversal of the contentious “promotion,” because it was out of the norm on such issues in the judiciary.

In an affidavit in support of the suit, which Salami deposed to personally, he alleged that Katsina-Alu asked him to compromise the Court of Appeal’s verdict on the protracted Sokoto State governorship election petition by either disbanding the original panel, which he (Katsina-Alu) believed was about to give a verdict against the governor or direct the panel to give judgment in the state chief executive’s favour.

Sources close to Salami confirmed that his decision to discontinue the action is in view of the outcome of the NJC meeting held last Wednesday, whereof the process for his appointment was terminated.

One of Salami’s aides, who sought anonymity, said: “The subject matter of the suit has been resolved at the meeting of the NJC last week. It would seem academic to insist on stopping an action that has been undone. And the courts do not waste time going on academic frolics.”

“The matter comes up on Wednesday (today) and it is highly likely, except something unusual happens, that oga (boss) will withdraw the suit on that day,” the source stated.

JUDICIARY IN THE HANDS OF JUSTICE SALAMI & OTHERS


All lovers of rule of law in Nigeria must be worried by the raging controversies in the Nation’s Judiciary in the last few days and we are compelled to alert the public on the well-thought-out plans to destroy the institution just to save the job of Justice Isa Ayo Salami, President of Appeal Court. This has been occasioned by an alleged move to elevate the Justice Salami to the Supreme Court. From the spirited defence already put up, especially in the media by groups and individuals who are known allies of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its sole-proprietor, Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is obvious that those defending Justice Salami are doing so firstly because of the “judicial favours” they had obtained from him (Salami), and secondly, because of the fear of the impending collapse of the house of fraud built for them by the Justice Salami-led Court of Appeal.

It is for these twin reasons that the entire judiciary is now being messed up by Justice Salami and his ilk with the intent that; “If Salami must go down, the judiciary, or at least, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Iyorger Katsina-Alu must go down with him.” It was therefore not a surprise that Justice Salami went to the most ridiculous level on Tuesday, dragging the CJN, National Judicial Council (NJC) and others to court and also accusing the CJN of compelling him (Salami) to compromise Sokoto State Governorship petition. But can anyone blame Justice Salami and his defenders for this onslaught on the judiciary? Obviously no! This is because in a saner clime, no one would be talking about elevating Salami to the Supreme Court.The man ought to have been sacked! Or how can Justice Salami continue to lead the Appeal Court whose justices he does not trust? Against all ethics, norms and rules of the Bench, Justice Salami had granted an interview that was published in Thisday newspaper of January 25, 2011 where he tried to defend why only few justices sat on the Appeal election tribunals out of over 60 Appeal Court Justices. Justice Salami had said in his answer’’…… Then he raised the issue of using a few Justices to determine appeals. Well, when it comes to that you must use people you trust, you can’t just empanel anybody.’’

Justice Salami’s trusted men that sat on Ekiti, Osun and Ogun States election petitions are; Ekiti State: Justices Isa Ayo Salami (Chairman), Clara. B. Ogunbiyi; O. Ariwoola; C.C. Nweze and Adamu Jauro. Osun State: Justices Clara B. Ogunbiyi (Chairman), M.L Garuba, Paul Galinje (was queried in the Sokoto case), C .C Nweze and Adamu Jauro. Ogun State: Justices M.L Garuba (Chairman), H.M Ogunwumiju, Adzira Gana Mshelia, and Adamu Jauro. It is important to note that Clara Ogunbiyi was in Ekiti and Osun, C.C Nweze was in Ekiti and Osun, Adamu Jauro was in Ekiti, Osun and Ogun, M.L Garuba was in Osun and Ogun while Paul Galinge was in Osun and Sokoto panels and was in fact, queried over that Sokoto case.

Out of over 60 justices of the Appeal Court, Justice Salami only trusted the above listed justices to handle election cases on Osun, Ekiti and Ogun States. In fact, Salami had to wait for Ekiti case to be concluded before constituting Osun State panel so that his trusted justices could handle the case! Curiously too, Justice Salami admitted in the interview that there were conflicting judgments from the Appeal Court under his leadership! Also, in his letter to the CJN, which was leaked to the press for obvious reasons, Justice Salami insinuated that some justices of the Appeal Court are minions or stooges when he wrote; “…and presumably replace me with his minion or stooge.” A minion is a slave, sycophant, bootlicker, hanger-on, lackey, lickspittle, parasite, yes man, servile or an unimportant person.

Those are the kind of people Justice Salami told us adjudicates over cases at the Court of Appeal – a Court that has the power of life and death over Nigerians! Again, on Tuesday, Justice Salami went to the most extreme by accusing the CJN of compelling him (Salami) to compromise Sokoto State Governorship petition! Justice Salami must therefore tell Nigerians who are those Appeal Court Justices that he cannot trust, and why? Was it that he cannot trust the justices to act according to the whim and caprices of his paymasters or that he cannot trust them to discharge their duties in accordance with their oath of office. And if the trust has to do with the discharge of their duties in accordance with the laws of the land, has Justice Salami called the attention of the NJC to this lack of trust?

Also, if the president of the Court of Appeal does not trust most of his colleagues as to empanel them in the Election petition cases, what is the fate of the common man who regards the judiciary as the last hope? Is Justice Salami’s statement not a confirmation that he has a ‘cabal’ or a ‘hatchet’ team that have been used to deliver ludicrous judgements that has made mess of precedence and established judicial decisions? Again, who among the Appeal Court Justices are minions or stooges? And if indeed, the CJN persuaded him to obstruct the cause of justice in the Sokoto matter, why did he (Salami) waited for this long to voice it out? Does it not amount to an afterthought and an attempt to drag the judiciary into the mud that Justice Salami is just raising accusation on the Sokoto matter that happened early last year? And when has it become the norm for Judges to discuss matters relating to the bench on the pages of newspapers?

Apparently, there is more to Justice Salami’s refusal to move up to the highest court in the land than meet the eyes, and it is obvious that Justice Salami knows that he is going down and he is desirous of pulling the judiciary down with himself. Therefore, it is important that the NJC conducts a thorough investigation into Justice Salami’s claim concerning the integrity of the Appeal Court justices that he refused to empanelled on election cases. The NJC must also investigate Justice Salami’s claim that some Justices of the Appeal court are minions or stooges with a view to assisting Nigerians on whom to trust with the handling of their cases among the Appeal Court Justices. Also, all the cases, especially election petitions handled by the Court of Appeal since Justice Salami became president must be reviewed and all petitions arising from the cases investigated without further delay. Furthermore, Justice Salami must be made to step-aside while these investigations are being conducted. Finally, if found to have deliberately denigrated the judiciary with a view to perpetuating himself in office, and also influence judgments to favour anyone, all sanctions available must be applied to Justice Salami so as to serve as deterrent to others and bring sanity to the bench. 

Dr. Adeyemo is the President, Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN).

Minister’s trial for alleged corruption begins today


 

The trial of Minister of State for Health Alhaji Suleiman Bello will go ahead today, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) said yesterday.

The Minister, who was served a notice of trial on Thursday, will face an eight-count charge for alleged corrupt enrichment of about N11.2million.

As the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Adamawa State, he was alleged to have conferred a corrupt advantage upon himself when he unlawfully solicited from Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State about N11,245,000 as ’hardship allowance.’

The offence is contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

The Federal High Court in Yola on December 21, 2010 granted leave for his trial. Investigation revealed that the fate of the Minister has caused a split in the Presidency with some powerful forces in the Presidency suggesting that the Minister ought not to resign.

The ICPC in a statement yesterday through its Resident Media Consultant, Mr. Folu Olamiti, said there is no going back on the trial of the Minister.

The statement said: “The Minister of State for Health Hon Sulaiman Bello and two former top government Officials of Adamawa State government will be arraigned on Monday (today) by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over their alleged involvement in a N268million bribe scam.

“Those to be arraigned alongside the Minister are a former Secretary to Adamawa State Government, Mr. John Eddie Mannassa and Former Commissioner for Finance in the State, Mr. Emmanuel Vahyala. The three accused persons are to be arraigned separately before the court.”

Ivory Coast: Laurent Gbagbo orders bank branch seizures


 The announcement came amid African negotiations, led by Malawi’s president (left), to end the crisis Continue reading the main story Ivory Coast crisisNo rush for military intervention Guide to key players Tensions simmer along buffer zone Q&A: Ivory Coast election crisis Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo has ordered the seizure of all local branches of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). The BBC’s John James in Abidjan says gendarmes and armoured vehicles have surrounded the bank’s HQ in the city. The bank has recognised Mr Gbagbo’s rival Alassane Ouattara as president after disputed polls in November. Over the weekend the bank’s governor, an ally of Mr Gbagbo, was forced to resign by West African leaders. Our reporter said this effectively gave control of state accounts to Mr Ouattara, who ordered that two offices of the bank close. Ivory Coast is part of the eight-country West African CFA monetary zone, with a single central bank based in Dakar, Senegal, but with national headquarters in each country. Without access to government funds, it is unclear whether Mr Gbagbo will be able to continuing paying the country’s military and security forces. Ivory Coast’s farmers provide a third of the world’s supply of cocoa Mr Gbagbo’s finance minister said BCEAO employees should answer to local officials in Ivory Coast instead of those in Dakar for a period of three months. Mr Ouattara condemned the move, which came amid an attempt by the African Union to negotiate an end to the crisis. “This illegitimate and illegal decision to requisition is null and void,” the Associated Press news agency quotes him as saying in a statement. “Thus, anyone who participates directly or indirectly in its implementation will be subject to sanctions and criminal prosecution.” On Saturday, Mr Ouattara called for a month-long ban on cocoa exports intended to increase financial pressure on Mr Gbagbo to cede power. Ivory Coast produces about a third of the world’s cocoa. Mediation efforts Meanwhile, a delegation representing West African nations is expected to meet US President Barack Obama later on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing Ivorian crisis. The talks will focus on what backing the US can give the regional grouping, Ecowas, which is considering military intervention. On Tuesday, the current chairman of the African Union, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, met the rivals in Abidjan. Last week, Mr Gbagbo’s camp accused Kenya’s prime minister of bias during his mediation efforts. “My brother and my friend [Gbagbo] has briefed me in detail of what happened and also he has briefed me in detail of his ideas,” AFP news agency quotes Mr Mutharika as saying. “I will take his proposals and his views back to African Union so that together… we can find the way forward.” The AU has previously backed the UN and Ecowas line on recognising Mr Ouattara as the winner of November’s presidential elections. But Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said this week that the UN should not have recognised him so quickly.

culled from BBC

Nelson Mandela ‘leaving hospital’ in South Africa


 South African former President Nelson Mandela is being discharged from a hospital where he spent two nights, a senior police source said. Mr Mandela, 92, is said to be in good health. He had flown from Cape Town to Johannesburg on Wednesday for what the government described as “specialised” tests. The move prompted renewed speculation about the former leader’s frail health. Friends and family visited him amid tight security on Thursday. The senior police officer said a convoy of vehicles was at the rear entrance of Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, preparing to take Mr Mandela to his home in the suburb of Houghton.

Obasanjo blames nation’s woes on regional politics


 

 

 By Ayo Okulaja

 September 30, 2010

  

As Nigeria celebrates its 50th independence anniversary tomorrow, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has blamed the nation’s underdevelopment on the regional politics played by such leaders of the first republic as Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello. He said if they had made proper efforts at nation building, the country would not have been where it is today.

 Mr Obasanjo who was the guest lecturer at the second convocation lecture of the Redeemer’s University, titled, “Nigeria@50 What celebrations?”, blamed the three key leaders of the nation’s regions in the first republic for our inability to get it right so far. “For a newly independent country, our weak political fabric, diverse and highly differentiated socio-cultural milieu, required a leadership with effective national mobilising capacity, ability to weave together the different ethnic groups, inspire them and provide a broad-minded leadership.

 “Unfortunately, Nigeria did not enjoy such leadership at independence and that leadership deficit and weakness of structure militated against Nigeria on independence.”

 He painted the picture of how a more nationalistic group would have improved the nation’s fortunes as he compared Nigeria with nations such as South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia which all had their independence at about the same time with Nigeria but have so far done quite well in comparison.

 Mr Obasanjo did not leave out the military in his retrospective, stating that the “most retrogressive era for Nigeria was from 1983 to 1999” when different military leaders steered the nation’s ship recklessly. He alleged that the military leaders did not, during this period, invest a penny in the critical power sector.

 He however said that the nation, with all its woes, has every reason to celebrate and he does not share in the rampant pessimism, “The nation has survived a number of challenges and can only move ahead for the better” he said. He also noted that what we are celebrating now is the 50th independence anniversary of the nation and not its existence. The former president traced the origin of the country to 1914 when the name Nigeria was coined during the amalgamation of the North and South protectorate.

 Zoning vs federal character

 Reacting to a question from a member of the audience who asked whether regional politics has not caused today’s clamour for zoning, the former president said, “zoning is unconstitutional, it is not part of our constitution. What is in the constitution is the federal character which preaches that if there are 30 spaces in an office 10 must go to Yoruba, 10 must go to the Hausa, 10 to the Igbo’s and so on. This is what all the political parties must have in their constitution as well.”

 He adds that zoning will compromise competence and merit which are crucial in evaluating the right people for political office. Further ridiculing the zoning concept, the former president said that, “if I as a Yoruba man, died during my tenure, will they have said the next president must be from the Southwest or Ogun state” he asked? “In the heart of hearts of those who are talking about zoning, I know they don’t mean it because they know it is not in the interest of our country” Mr Obasanjo said.

 Urging the students to ignore the old style of politics, he said that “Zoning is a vestige of the past and it will still go away, you young generations must do away with the vestiges of your fathers and grandfathers that have done Nigeria no good.” He also called on the young ones to speak out against bad governance as it is the only way to fight the menace. On the issue of high cost of governance in the country, Mr Obasanjo said that “the cost of government is high because those that are in government are incompetent,” blaming the people rather than the system.

 He said the late former head of state, Muritala Muhammed was killed because he refused to stay in Dodan barracks because “the house was over-furnished.” Speaking on the excessive salaries paid to members of the National Assembly, the former president alleged that “the cost of maintaining the national assembly has increased more than 10 times today from what it was in 2000” whilst “nothing has changed” he noted.

 “It is just the greed, corruption and insensitivity of these people who call themselves legislators.”

 Vociferous Obasanjo

 He called for vociferous protest against such expenditure saying that it the only way we (Nigerians) can fight it as “we can’t do away with them. They amend the constitution and will not do away with themselves. That is why I am raising my voice and your generation must take it up” he told the students. Painting himself as some sort of radical, Mr Obasnajo urged the audience to recall “when the late President (Umaru Yar’Adua) travelled out of the country and leaving the nation to drift astray, I spoke out when the entire nation kept quiet.” Mr Obasanjo challenged the students not to blame his generation anymore as “my generation has fought for the stability of this country and the entrenchment of democracy. You have to raise your voice now. If you are not prepared to be a patriot in your teens and 20’s, then you will be a disappointment to this country in your 40’s” he concluded to rousing ovation from the youthful audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agunloye picks LP’s senatorial form


 News Sep 29, 2010 By Chris Ochayi ABUJA—Former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr. Olu Agunloye, yesterday picked the Labour Party, LP, nomination and expression of interest forms to contest for Ondo North senatorial district under the party’s platform in the 2011 elections. Agunloye, while picking the forms at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja,declared that his decision to join the race was borne out of the desire to bring a change in the way public officers serve the people. He said he was in the race to support and complement Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s overarching programmes for the transformation and sustainable development in Ondo State. Explaining why he dumped the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP under which served as Minister of Power and Steel as well as Minister of State for Defence, Navy, he said the political party in vogue today in Ondo State is the Labour Party. According to him, yes I served former President Olusegun Obasanjo. I served under Obasanjo as minister and I became a PDP minister. Now you will also recall that in Ondo state there is a peculiar situation, where we believed that some issues were not done correctly. “And now if you are in Ondo State and you will understand that the mode of the people, then you swim along with the people. So at the moment, the people in Ondo State are saying we are not going be in PDP. So we have swim along them and that is why I am in the Labour Party.

Legislators’ pay and OBJ’s home truth


By Adebolu Arowolo, aarowolo@punchontheweb.com

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is no doubt a controversial figure. But I think he was bang on the nail when he recently spoke on the unacceptably jumbo remunerations of members of the National Assembly. He simply added his weight to the voice of many powerless Nigerians who had previously written or spoken in vain about the unjust and obscenely bloated salaries and emoluments which our lawmakers have been ‘legislating‘ for themselves since 1999.

Speaking at a retreat, the civil war hero had rightly called on the nation to ”look closely at the legislature so that they can be more open and transparent in the way they do their work. Nobody knows in details how much it costs us to maintain a senator. I believe it is more than N250 million (per annum). Compare what it cost in 1999 and 2000, it cost about $1.7 million compared to a quarter of a million in America… Now let us talk truly and seriously to ourselves; we can‘t continue to have a National Assembly that is consuming a disproportional part of our resources and then expect that we would be able to make progress. They pass budget that can‘t be implemented because it has to be beefed up to satisfy their (legislators‘) whims and caprices. Even what the ministries did not ask for, they add (in the budget).”

I have not read anything about the official response of the legislature to Obasanjo‘s statement. And I think it is not good for the National Assembly to continue to keep quiet and not have an official stand on the raging issue of legislators‘ unsustainably high remunerations. Some legislators that have reacted to Obasanjo‘s speech have spoken with anger. The messenger has been mercilessly vilified, leaving the message unaddressed. I saw Senator Roland Owie‘s response. It was a direct and virulent attack on the former leader. The ex-Senate Chief Whip said, ”How can the pot call the kettle black? He was the creator of corruption. Obasanjo introduced Ghana-Must-Go in 1999 into the National Assembly when he was calling senators into the villa to appeal to us to vote Enwerem instead of Okadigbo. It was the beginning of Ghana-Must-Go.”

Though acerbic, the response of the minority members of the House of Representatives also failed to address the issue of prohibitive cost of running the National Assembly which Obasanjo tried to bring afresh to public domain. Addressing the press on the issue the leader of the caucus, Mr. Alli Ndume of ANPP, said, ”Obasanjo is our father and grandfather in corruption. I cannot sit here and tell you that we are not corrupt… But was it not Obasanjo that bribed every member of the House in 2006 with N50 million to support his failed third term agenda? I want the Press to go and find out what was the asset and bank account of Obasanjo in 1999. Then go and check his bank account now and his assets, then you will understand what I am saying. Obasanjo should have said that all politicians are corrupt.”

These allegations of graft against Obasanjo are quite weighty. But I am sure the ageing statesman is very capable of defending himself. What I must note here is that the altercation between Obasanjo and the legislators has again brought to the fore the issue of worsening venality and its consequences in the nation‘s development. The legislators have not denied the allegation that the Assembly is stinking. What they seem to be saying is that all arms of government are wallowing in the cesspool of official graft and that nobody should single out the lawmakers for blame. Though there are specific issues in the allegations and counter allegations that should attract the attention of anti-graft agencies, the acceptance by all parties to the argument that the monster of corruption is ravaging the system reminds us of the urgent need of a freedom of information law.

We know that cleaner societies that have progressed with good governance have done so by promoting an open society through a FOI legislation which enables the public to peruse government files. Why has it been impossible, for 11 years, to have this important piece of legislation? Has its passage been deliberately frustrated so that access to the till by looters will remain wide and unrestrained?

The attack on Obasanjo should not be allowed to bury or obfuscate the important issue of legislators‘ unjust compensation. The response to Obasanjo‘s statement has been understandably acerbic because truth is bitter. Remember that he is not the only prominent Nigerian to have condemned the jumbo pay of law makers in recent times. At a recent book launch, eminent lawyer and elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, reportedly dismissed the legislature as ”House of thieves” and then called for a bloody revolution to sanitise the system. He said his first hand knowledge of the rot in the legislature came from his privileged position as a member of GJ‘s Presidential Advisory Council.

Prof. Itse Sagay even went further at a recent public event to compare our legislators‘ pay with that of their colleagues in richer nations and concluded just like Obasanjo that our lawmakers‘ pay was unacceptably high. In that well-researched paper, Sagay had stunned his listeners when he alleged that the Senate President ”earns N250 million quarterly or N83 million per month whilst his deputy earns N50 million monthly and that while N1.024bn was allocated as quarterly allowance to the 10 principal officers in the upper house collectively referred to as Senate Leadership, each of the other principal officers earns N78m every three months or N26m per month.

In other words, Sagay continued, ”Nigerian lawmakers in Abuja are the highest paid in the world. In 2009, a Senator earned N240m in salaries and allowances, whilst his House of Representatives counterpart earned N203m. A Senator earned $1.7m and a member of the House of Rep. $1.45m per annum.” He then compared Nigerian Senator‘s pay with that of his counterparts in America and Britain who earned $174,000 and $64,000 respectively during the same period.

While Obasanjo talked about the issue of constituency projects, Sagay spoke more forcefully about the issue of constituency allowance. In the past few months I have read the opinions of many prominent Nigerians expressed in interviews and public lectures. I have read the views of Prof. Anya O. Anya, Chief Philip Asiodu, Chief Tom Ikimi and many others. They all tally, more or less, with what Obasanjo said about the rot in the National Assembly. The consensus is that something must be done urgently about the legislators‘ bloated pay.

The National Assembly can no longer afford to keep quiet on the matter. The attacks on Obasanjo have so far failed to douse public interest on the issue. There should be an official statement on the controversial constituency allowances and what they are used for. Individual legislators should come out openly to tell the public what they know about the jumbo allowances and to clear their names. It is interesting that Obasanjo‘s allegation has now moved the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission to begin a probe on the alleged misuse of constituency projects funds and the alleged collection of huge sums of money illegally as constituency allowances. Nigerians are looking forward to the outcome of the probe. The simplest definition of corruption is the abuse of public office for private gains.

Still on $5bn question for Oniwon

It is gratifying that the issue of accountability in the management of the nation‘s oil and gas resources raised in this column last Monday has already attracted the attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. According to reports, the Halliburton scandal is now been revisited by the Ministry of Justice and five former officials involved in the case may soon be prosecuted. What remains disturbing is the silence of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke, on the issue of $5bn LNG remittances to the NNPC, which the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, said had not been properly accounted for. The various oil and gas committees of the National Assembly must not leave the matter hanging. Nigerians want to know why the huge sum of money has not been paid into the Federation Account as alleged by Bankole.

 

Debo Bashorun: IBB Wants Me Dead Because I Know How Babangida And Akilu Murdered Dele Giwa


Maj. Debo Basorun (retd.) was the military press secretary to an ex-president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.). In this interview with NIYI ODEBODE, he opens up on his ordeals in the hands of the former dictator and the death of Dele Giwa.

When did you leave the army?
I resigned on December 28, 1988. I joined the army as a private on September 1, 1967 and commanded two battalions during the civil war. I was an infantry soldier. My first station was the 17, Infantry Battalion Iwo Road, Ibadan. From there, I volunteered to go to the war front. I served with 72 Infantry Battalion at Asaba. I was in the Nigerian troops that crossed to Onitsha on the third attempt. After a few months in Onitsha, I was injured and brought back to Ibadan . From Ibadan , I was brought back to Lagos . In Lagos , I was attached to Rehabilitation Centre at Oshodi. From there, I was taken to the Third Marine Commando Division. In the Third Marine Commando Division, I served in the 12 and 14 battalions. In 1979, I was the spokesperson for the United Nations in the Middle East. My last unit was at Dodan Barracks. I was the military press secretary to Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

Under what circumstances did you leave the army?

There was a threat to my life and that is what this brouhaha is all about. I was privy to some of the terrible things Babangida and Akilu did when we were in the army. There was this determination on their path to silence me. I was surprised when I saw my name in the newspapers two weeks ago. They said I was wanted. That is far from the truth. I resigned from the army.

You said you were privy to some information. What information?

My problem is 2011. Babangida wants to become president again. I am not saying I am the only person, but I am one of those who know that he is connected to the death of Dele Giwa. That is why they have been trying to kill me.

What has happened since your return from exile?

There had been two chiefs of army staff since I came back from exile before the present one. I went into exile in 1989 and the first time I came back to the country was 2006. I stayed briefly in the country and went back. When I came back fully in 2007, I met with IBB at a social function. I have been in trouble since, because I did not exchange pleasantries with him at the social function. He has been sending people to harass me. I have been ignoring him up to a point. I had to cry out in the media and grant an interview to a newspaper. Since then, they have been saying that they will deal with me for trying to spill the beans. Is it because of 2011? The man is so desperate now. His think tank has warned him that if I am still circulating about, there is every chance that I will abort his ambition. Come to think of it. What is important about Debo Bashorun? Is the army trying to tell me that since 20 years that I have left the army, there has been nobody who has gone on AWOL (absence without leave)? How many people have they advertised that they are looking for? When they started this nonsense, they said that I stole money before I left the army. If I stole money, let them hand over their documents to the police; the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. Let me be tried in a court of law. I am not going to surrender myself to any of them. I am telling you authoritatively that Babangida has given instructions that once they grab me, they should poison me. I am not going to allow that to happen to me. Remember what happened to Chief Moshood Abiola. I want the world to hear what is going on. He has an ambition to be the president. One of his lieutenants know that I am about to publish a book. If I did not desert the army during the turbulent days of civil war, how would I desert when I was enjoying?

You have not explained how you left the army.

I was sent to do a dirty job in America in respect of Dele Giwa’s death. I was sent to cover up what they did. I refused to comply. When I came back they threw me into jail. Newspapers reported it that time. I protested. The press was on my side then. I was shouting on the roof top that “These people want to kill me.” They decided to send me to a unit in Makurdi, which was a Siberia then. I refused to go. Incidentally, the General Staff Headquarters, which was my unit (and Babangida’s unit too), issued an order that whoever wanted to leave the army should volunteer. It coincided with what was happening to me. So I volunteered and resigned. I quoted their order in the resignation letter I sent them. But out of those who resigned then, I was the only person whose resignation was rejected. I contacted some attorneys. Alao Aka-Basorun was my lawyer. Femi Falana was his two-in-c (second-in-command). I told them I wanted to leave the army because I was privy to what the two people (IBB and Akilu) had been doing. I said that I was tired of it and did not want to be part of it any longer. My lawyers reviewed the law and said that there was nothing preventing me from leaving the army. So I resigned, but they rejected my resignation. I am getting close to 70.

What efforts have you made to get your entitlements?

On my return from exile, I visited with two ministers of defence to discuss my entitlements. They are Alhaji Kwankwaso and Mr. Aguiyi Ironsi. They are still alive and will corroborate my story. I met them in their Defence Headquarters offices in Abuja . The current Chief of Army Staff, General Danbazzau, was a brigadier and the Principal General Staff Officer in that office. He was even the person who ushered me into the office. He knows me very well in the army, apart from being my neighbour at Ojo Cantonment when he was in the military police. We exchanged pleasantries like old buddies. Then you might want to ask him where did this idea of a deserter come from? Even those who staged coups have been absorbed back into society. They are currently collecting their entitlements. Let Danbazzau show the world where any of them was published in the newspaper as a deserter. My problem is with IBB and Akilu. He should stay out of it unless he wants to drag the army into the murky waters of politics.

If he has something against me, let him bring it into the open. He initially said I stole money when I was in the army. Because of that I have instructed my lawyer, Femi Falana, to drag him to court. We have filed a law suit against him for libel. This was somebody who professed to submit to the rule of law. Why can’t he wait for the final decision of the court before placing the advertisement? If they come to me and want to arrest me, they must be ready to arrest a corpse. They cannot arrest me. I would rather die. I have not left my house. I stay in my house all the time. If they want to arrest me, they will eventually arrest a corpse. I do not have a gun. They have guns. But civil rights society in America has sent us cameras. My neighbours have cameras. They want to see what the army will do. I am ready.

Why did the army say you are a deserter in spite of the fact that you resigned?

Even if I were to be a deserter as claimed by Danbazzzau, which is not true, can he beat his chest before the public to say that there has been no deserter since I went into exile over 20 years ago? If he denies there is no deserter, then we will expose him. Can he tell us how many of them have been published in the papers? You can bet that there is none. That should tell Nigerians that the smoke they are seeing is as a result of fire from IBB. What does Danbazzau want from a nearly 70-year-old man? Is he planning to capture the world which would be impossible without Basorun participating? Danbazzau should not be allowed to drag the name of the army in the mud but if he chooses that route, again that will be his choice because Nigerians will not fold their hands and look away while the country is plunged into a maelstrom of the dirty game of politics. Why their desperation? Of course, 2011 is the issue. Babangida has assembled a think tank of south-westerners who have warned him of my tell-all book that is about to be launched. They warned him that if I am allowed to launch the book, the expose contained there will totally destroy his chances of even gaining a foothold any where in the South-West. Those who even staged coup d’etats and fled the country for years were never classified deserters. Their names and pictures were never published in the dailies. They did not only come back and get re-absorbed into the Nigerian society, but apart from their benefits which were paid in full, all of them are collecting pensions every month. The country realised that theirs was a political problem brought about by a dictatorship forcing them to flee the country. That was exactly what happened in my own case. Why being singled me out?

What do you see to IBB’s call that Abiola should be immortalised?

Is it not shameful at this late time in the day for IBB to now be clamouring for immortalising Abiola? What does that tell you about him? He is desperate.

What do you think of Babangida’s presidential ambition?

That is a disaster waiting to happen. He is just coming for a vengeance. People that have criticised him will be in terrible trouble. What did he leave that he was coming to take? I know him very well. I was close to him. I was involved in his life. I was involved in his wife’s personal life. If he comes back, the county will be sold.

What was in your mind during IBB’s transition programme?

I never believed him. In fact, I told Chief Abiola, God is my witness, that he should not rely on him.

This interview was originally published in Punch Newspaper, Lagos