Malleable judiciary and executive recklessness in Nigeria

October 14, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

The executive arm of government controls the police and other security agencies. Somehow, it also controls the judiciary, which is supposed to be a separate arm of government. Being tied to the apron strings of the government in power, these handicapped institutions find it difficult to uphold the rule of law. This is the fundamental problem of Nigeria’s democracy. And unless we find a solution to it, we are going nowhere as a nation.

Take the police, for instance. After my intervention penultimate week on the Nigeria Police Force, a very senior police officer sent me a message. According to him, a lot of journalists and some Nigerians alike do not care to find out the challenges divisional police officers go through in maintaining their stations, patrol vehicles and getting their stationery.

“Casmir, could you believe,” the man lamented, “that government only provides the sum of N20,000 quarterly for maintenance of patrol vehicles, fuelling and purchase of stationery?” He challenged me to investigate further and write accordingly. 

My first reaction was to doubt the veracity of the story. How, I wondered, can the police survive with this kind of funding? And how can an average Nigerian obtain justice in this type of situation? Obviously, this scenario can only breed cash-and-carry justice or rule of force.

The same problem of underfunding militates against military operations. Those fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the North are the worst hit. With poor and insufficient equipment, they face terrorists who sometimes overwhelm them with superior firepower.

It is in the judiciary that the problem is more devastating. At the special court session to mark the commencement of the 2019/2020 legal year, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, lamented, “If you say that I am independent but, in a way, whether I like it or not, I have to go cap in hand asking for funds to run my office, then I have completely lost my independence. It is like saying a cow is free to graze about in the meadows but at the same time, tying it firmly to a tree. Where is the freedom?”

If I may add, where is the hope for the common man? Little wonder some powers that be recently charged some citizens who exercised their freedom of expression with phantom crimes, ranging from treason to insulting public officials.

The recent travails of some Nigerians like Omoyole Sowore and Agba Jalingo illustrate this better. Sowore, activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, is facing trial together with Olawale Bakare for alleged treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari. He has been in detention since August 3, 2019, when the Department of State Services (DSS) picked him up for organising “Revolution Now” protests in the county.

On September 24, 2019, Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted bail to Sowore.  The DSS bluntly refused to release him. To add insult to injury, the Federal Government threatened to drag Justice Taiwo to the National Judicial Council for granting bail to the activist. The FG apparently forgot that this same judge had granted the DSS the permission to detain Sowore for 45 days. The case was later reassigned to Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Justice Ojukwu imposed stringent bail conditions on the defendants. She granted Sowore a N100 million bail with two sureties who must be resident and have landed properties in Abuja. The sureties must deposit tax clearance certificate for three years and the original documents of their properties to the court registry. The judge also barred the journalist from travelling outside Abuja and asked him to deposit his passport with the court. The two are still languishing in DSS dungeon.

On his part, Jalingo, who is the publisher of online CrossRiverWatch, is facing treason charges over a report alleging that the Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, diverted N500 million. He appeared in court handcuffed to another inmate on October 4, and was denied bail by Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court, Calabar.

Before these arrests, there had been clampdowns on journalists and activists and suppression of freedom of expression, in contravention of the UN human rights treaties. Some media organisations like DAAR Communications Plc and Daily Trust newspapers were victims of this clampdown in recent times.

In Kaduna, blogger and human rights activist, Steven Kefas, has been in Kaduna Prison without bail for about five months now for alleged inciting comments against Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and the chairman of Kajuru Local Government Area, Cafra Caino. Last Thursday, Kefas reportedly filed a N500 million suit against el-Rufai, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu and four others at the Federal High Court, Kaduna, over alleged infringements of his fundamental human rights.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has decried the disturbing suppression of citizens’ human rights in Nigeria. In an open letter it sent to the CJN recently, SERAP noted, “These charges, refusal of bail and granting of bail on stringent conditions seem to be dangerous manipulation of judicial authority and functions by high-ranking politicians, something which the NJC and the judiciary under your watch should resist.”

It is this judicial loophole that some politicians exploit to buy and manipulate justice. They rig election and when the case gets to the tribunal, they rig it there as well with money. Recall that the late Justice Kayode Eso of the Supreme Court once described election tribunal judges as billionaire judges.

It is to prevent things like these and enhance the independence of the judiciary that First Alteration Act 2010 came into being. Essentially, Section 6 of the act amended Section 81 (3) of the 1999 Constitution by ensuring that funding for the judiciary goes directly to it. But it appears this too is not working.

An apparently frustrated CJN threatened last Friday that disobedience to court orders would attract grave consequences. Speaking at the launch of the 9th House of Representatives Legislative Agenda, the CJN, represented by Justice John Tsoho, said, “Justice must be served without fear or favour. Every law of the land must be obeyed. Let me assure everyone present here that the consequences of disobeying lawful court orders will be too grave to bear. We all should gird our loins to do our constitutionally-assigned duties with due diligence so that Nigeria can be the pride of everyone.”

Very good! The CJN should start by decisively dealing with all those who have disobeyed court orders to release former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik El-Zakzaky, Sowore and many others.

Re: Beyond Nigerian Army’s spiritual warfare  

Casmir, for us who believe in supremacy of God, the army’s spiritual warfare is a well thought act. David, the psalmist, believed it. That is why Ps. 127 vs 1, said, “If the lord does not protect the city, it is useless for the sentries to stand guard.” However, there are rules. The army must acquire the right trainings and gadgets. Again, they must have faith in God. If there is faith, the leadership must not deny the combatants their rights. A commander who buys inferior weapons for houses and cars at the expense of the armies at the warfront must not expect miracles. 

– Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

Casmir, it is crystal clear that the present military chiefs have overstayed their usefulness and exhausted their strategies because one can’t give what one doesn’t have. Hence, rejigging is long overdue. Does it mean that Boko Haram and bandits are more sophisticated and equipped? Also, what happened to the allowances, welfare and the families of the deceased soldiers? Of course, morale is supposed to be low. The military echelon should stop sending our soldiers to the warfront with obsolete weapons. For them to perform efficiently, there must be a carrot-and-stick approach, since there are bad eggs among them. Otherwise, the law of karma will be invoked.

– Smart, +2348134774884

If prayers and fasting will be solution to the insecurity in Nigeria, let security agencies embark on it now. Insecurity is threatening the unity of Nigeria and something has to be done. Every hand must be on deck to fight insecurity; not only security agencies will do the job. If there is security in Nigeria, everybody will enjoy it.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Re: Other side of Nigeria Police Force

Casmir, I was so impressed after going through your beautiful write-up and equally very sad. But why the mixed feelings? A lot of our journalists and some Nigerians alike do not care to find out the challenges DPOs go through in maintaining their station, patrol vehicles and getting their stationery. Casmir, could you believe that government only provides the sum of N20,000 quarterly for maintenance of patrol vehicles, fuelling and purchase of stationery? Kindly assist in finding out what I told you through your investigative journalism. Let it be your next write-up. Waiting patiently to read it. Wishing you the best. 

•Anonymous, +2348126125812

Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, October 14, 2019

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Beyond Nigerian Army’s spiritual warfare

October 14, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Like many Nigerians, most of our security agents are “deeply religious.” Last week, I went to a police station in Lagos to honour an appointment with a female inspector. Recall that I narrated my experience with that bribe-seeking inspector on this page last week. Her colleagues told me she was in a fellowship within the station. She later emerged from the fellowship with the two suspects I had a case with. They all clutched new Bibles and looked like angels. I wondered if they just repented or were simply being hypocrites.

It was with the same wonder that I read the story of a seminar on spiritual warfare against terrorists held by the Nigerian Army last Monday. The theme of the seminar held in Abuja was “Countering Insurgency and Violent Extremism in Nigeria through Spiritual Warfare.”

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, explained, “The fight against terrorism, Boko Haram and ISWAP, as well as other security threats, cannot be left to the troops in the battlefield alone. Yes, we will do our duties, but the need to tackle groups through spiritual warfare and re-orientating the followers against the ideology is also a necessity.”

The army chief noted that terrorism and terrorist groups could not be totally eliminated by mainly military actions. This, he said, meant focusing their efforts on the underlying narratives through ideologies that were employed by these terrorists to lure innocent citizens to their fold.

To an extent, Buratai is right. Extremist religious ideologies have caused more harm than good in the world today. In Nigeria, deviants of the two major religions, Islam and Christianity, are the worst culprits. Boko Haram adherents, for instance, believe that Western education is a sin. Some others believe that killing an infidel automatically takes one to paradise. These sects indoctrinate their members such that they constitute serious nuisance to right-thinking members of society.

Surely, religion is one way to get people to act without reason. Hence, many politicians and public office-holders employ it to maximum use. They sponsor religious pilgrimages when it should have been a personal affair. Sometimes, they sow the seed of discord among people by deploying religious sentiments to achieve selfish ends.

Unfortunately, many Nigerians have resigned themselves to fate. They hope and believe that only divine intervention will cure the country of its many maladies. Early last year, for instance, the then Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Konbowei Benson, reportedly hired a powerful man of God, Dr. Uma Ukpai, for a three-day crusade against ritual killers, kidnappers, rapists, pirates, armed robbers and other sundry criminals in his Southern Ijaw Constituency 4.

I am not sure how far that crusade went in eliminating the evildoers in Bayelsa. I am not also sure how far Buratai’s spiritual warfare will go in eliminating Boko Haram. What I know is that soldiers are trained to ward off external and internal aggression. It is not for nothing that they are called armed forces and not armed spirits. Just as terrorists conscript people by force and throw their ideologies down their victims’ throats by force, our soldiers should use maximum force to dislodge them.

Yes, engaging the citizens to counter the ideologies of terrorists is a good counter-insurgency strategy. But there are some questions we need to answer first: Are the soldiers fighting the insurgents well motivated? Are they well equipped with modern, sophisticated weapons? Do they go for regular training? Why has it been difficult for our professional soldiers to defeat this ragtag team of terrorists?

Only the military authorities and the Presidency can answer these. In the recent past, there were reports that the top echelon of the military supplied substandard equipment and starved troops fighting Boko Haram of some allowances. In 2014, the morale of soldiers in Maiduguri was so low that some of them attacked the then General Officer Commanding the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Ahmadu Mohammed. The man was addressing his troops when some disgruntled soldiers fired gunshots at him. He escaped narrowly.

Today, the morale of these soldiers is still low. Nothing much has changed. To solve part of the problem, members of the House of Representatives are tinkering with the idea of creating a special fund for the armed forces. But throwing money at a problem is never a solution to that problem.

This type of special fund is prone to abuse and diversion. Towards the end of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime, there was a special fund amounting to $2.1 billion. It was meant to procure sophisticated arms to fight the terrorists in the North-East. How that money was used remains a contentious issue till date. Today, a general is facing trial for allegedly ferrying about N400 million cash, which became public knowledge when the soldiers escorting the consignment hijacked it.

Before embarking on any spiritual journey, the military should first of all deal with every act of corruption in its system. It should critically monitor some of its officers and overhaul its intelligence network. Look at what happened in Taraba State the other day. The police arrested a suspected kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Wadume. But some Nigerian soldiers waylaid the policemen, killed three of them and a civilian and released Wadume. Luckily, the man was re-arrested.

Recall that, during the time of Jonathan, the American officers who came to help rescue the young Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014 reportedly said they would not share intelligence information with their Nigerian counterparts.

What were the American soldiers afraid of? What is it that actually makes them tick? How have the Israeli armed forces been able to subdue militants from hostile neighbours? Is it spiritual warfare that made the Russian and Chinese armies what they are today? I leave you to ponder over these posers, General Buratai.

Re: The other side of Nigeria Police Force

Casmir, your experience and many others have made mockery of the slogan ‘Police is your friend’. The leaders cannot claim ignorance of such actions. Hypocrisy! In the country we call Nigeria, you will see such in every facet of life. Only God will save us.

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

Nigerian police station is not a place where someone should pray to go because of what you will pass through if you have a case. But there is a slogan that says police is your friend and bail is free. All these things don’t work in Nigeria. With what is happening in stations, you should ask God not to allow ugly things happen to you that will take you to a Nigerian police station.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

My bro, this is just an eye-opener/part one to show you what ordinary people pass through in the hands of Nigeria Police Force. Secondly, if commuters narrate their own stories, you will agree with me that the system is rotten. NPF only specialises in how to go after defenseless citizens like IPOB, IMN, but facilitate the compensation of bandits and Boko Haram. Some people prefer to complain to God rather than the police.

– Smart, +2348134774884

Re: Now that Buhari is ‘eminently qualified’

Constitutionally speaking, Muhammadu Buhari is academically qualified, it is also a trite fact that he is eminently qualified, having had the requisite experience and even acquired certificates that surpass the minimum academic mark or platform as contemplated by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended. But the argument goes beyond this point! A combined reading of sections 131(d) and 318(a-d) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution discloses the meaning, intents and purposes of the framers of the Constitution regarding the minimum academic entry point for one who intends to vie for Nigeria’s presidential seat. Without further explanation, Section 131(d) merely states that ‘he has been educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent’.

Which school certificate level does the phrase refer to? In Nigeria, we have many school certificate levels such as senior secondary school certificate level, junior secondary school certificate level, primary six school leaving certificate level and the like. And does it mean the acquisition of the school certificate itself or reading up to the exams level and passing or failing same? Or reading up to the exams level but not partaking in the certificate exams? Section 318 (a-d) has generously supplied answers to some of these questions in the following order: S.318(a) secondary school certificate itself (b)education up to secondary school level (c)primary six school leaving certificate, though with additional ‘qualifications’ as stated in (c) (1-111).

Section 318 (d) has particularly thrown open a much wider and accommodating platform, which is subject to abuse by the leadership of INEC. It states thus: ‘Any other qualification acceptable by the INEC’. Having dissected sections 131(d) and 318(a-d),it can be observed that, while there is an academic qualification ‘floor’ for one who seeks the presidential seat, there’s no ‘ceiling’ attached to it. It is not now contentious that the minimum academic entry point for one to contest for Nigeria’s coveted presidential seat is primary six school leaving certificate.

The 1999 Nigeria’s Constitution with regard to the minimum academic qualification for a presidential candidate is too elastic to the extent that all and sundry are easily accommodated. And isn’t it a huge fraud that has needlessly opened the floodgate to today’s controversy? As contemplated in section 318(d) where a candidate’s fate is tied to ‘any other qualification acceptable by INEC’, can’t any ‘bread label’ that assumes the semblance of an academic certificate be made to pass this qualifying test? We need an amendment of our Constitution.

– Edet Essien Esq., +2348037952470

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, October 7, 2019.

The other side of Nigeria Police Force

October 3, 2019

Casmir Igbokwe

My experience at a police station in Lagos last week opened my eyes to the other side of the Nigeria Police Force. Some hoodlums had invaded a wedding reception in my town hall penultimate Saturday. In the melee that ensued, some people, especially women, lost their phones, wigs, shoes and other valuables. Some others were seriously wounded.

As the chairman of my town union in Lagos, it behoves me to make a formal report to the police. The moment I and those who accompanied me stepped into the police station, the female Inspector at the counter stretched her hand and bellowed, “Scratch my hand.”

She continued, “You will also mobilise the policemen who will go with you to make some arrests.” We did mobilise them as directed. Hence, they went and arrested one suspect from his place of work. When we came back from the arrest, the female hand-scratching officer demanded N5,000 for file. Five thousand Naira for a file! I wondered. “Don’t you know that police file is a special one? Even the sellers know this and that is why they sell it to us at a high price,” the woman said. After much argument, we paid for the file. But it didn’t end there.

We needed to effect the arrest of some other suspects. Again, mobilisation fee came up even when it was my car that was used. The officers who joined me on this particular trip demanded N5,000. According to them, they were a special team and they don’t go for such assignments. They said they accompanied me because those who should have done that were not available.

After the day’s hassles, we made to go. But the female officer instructed us to come back the following day with N20,000 mobilisation fee for the continuation of the case. Also, the matter was to be charged to court. That day, we had mobilised vehicles and some other logistics as we were asked to do. Suddenly, the same female officer came with one sheet of paper where she apparently wrote the charges. She demanded money for typing. I gave her N500. She flared up, “What is the meaning of this? Since you started coming here, you have not given me any money. You are not serious. I will tear this paper, if you are not ready for this case.”

When I reminded her of the file money and some others, she retorted, “Is it not only N3,000 you gave me for the N5,000 file? Yesterday, you gave me only N1,000. I can see you are not serious.” She walked out in anger. At this point, I lost my cool and lambasted her.

To cut the long story short, we paid for every little service the police rendered to us. Even the paper that was used to write the statement was paid for. They will tell you that government doesn’t give them anything. What baffles me is the shameless way they ask for this scratching of hand in the open. To them, it is normal.

This is even nothing compared to the atrocities some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) commit on a regular basis. The ones at the Benin section of the Benin-Ore Expressway appear to be more notorious. Stories abound on how they intimidate and extort money from passengers travelling to the eastern part of the country. They randomly stop people, especially young men, search their phones and woe betide you if they discover that you have some money. You must be ready to share that money with them, if you want your freedom.

Last year, I wrote about some evil methods of SARS on this page. I also mentioned some of their victims and the trauma they went through. These operatives can accuse you of anything. Amnesty International had detailed how they systematically tortured detainees to extract confessions and lucrative bribes. Their torture methods include hanging, starvation, beatings, shootings and mock executions. It was so bad that Nigerians moved to the social media two years ago to campaign for the disbandment of the unit. Also, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as Acting President, ordered the reform of the squad.

Even the Senate, earlier in the year, passed the Police Reform Bill. The bill aimed at establishing a service-oriented and modern police that would meet globally acceptable policing standards in a democratic setting. Like a typical Nigerian thing, the bill has gone into limbo. And from the recent lamentations of friends and relatives about SARS, it’s obvious a pig will always remain a pig, no matter how hard you try to bathe it.

Little wonder, the Nigerian police are adjudged to be the most corrupt institution in Nigeria. In a survey released in March this year, a civil society group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), gave the police the first position in corruption perception in Nigeria. The power sector came second. Others in the corruption web are the judiciary, education and health ministries.

The report partly reads: “Corruption remains a significant impediment to law enforcement, access to justice and basic public services such as affordable healthcare, education, and electricity supply. Several Nigerians have to pay a bribe to access police, judiciary, power, education and health services. Corruption is still a key concern in the country, with 70 per cent of Nigerians describing the level of corruption as high and in the same measure in the last five years.”

The report indicated that there was a 63 per cent probability that an average Nigerian would be asked to pay a bribe each time he or she interacted with the police.

You can hardly think of any institution in Nigeria that is free from this malaise. Is it the Immigration Service? Is it the Nigeria Customs Service? Is it the military? Is it the civil service? They are all entangled in this corruption web. And they all end up giving the country a bad image abroad.

When President Muhammadu Buhari came on board in 2015, a lot of people thought a messiah had come. He promised to tackle corruption. He still mouths eradicating it at almost every forum he attends. But the more he talks about it, the more it festers. Now, corruption even dines and gets fatter within and around the Presidency.

We are deceiving ourselves if we think the problem will go away soon. It will not. Only a tough and sincere leader can minimise it. It will take a while for that type of leader to emerge in Nigeria. In the meantime, police authorities in Abuja should seriously look into their Zone 5 in Benin. Why are these SARS absurdities too frequent in that zone? The Assistant Inspector-General of Police for Zone 5 has some questions to answer.

As for my town’s case, I am thinking of withdrawing from going to court. If we continue, it may come to a point they may ask us to bring mobilisation fee for the judge and the Divisional Police Officer. The case may even drag for 10 years, and we may never even recover our money in any way. Simply put, Nigeria’s justice system stinks!

Re: Wobbling economy, cash deposit charges and Vision 2020 

Casmir, thank you for your write-up. In a country where government has not done well in helping the private sector to grow, cash deposit charges are an indirect way of increasing hardship and insecurity. In the words of Fela, “When dead body get accident, na double wahala for dead body and the owner.” Surely, people and corporate bodies will not go to banks for deposits. People will change their money into pounds and dollars and store them in their homes. There will be job losses, as establishments will fold up. All sorts of crimes will increase as insecurity will go back to haunt the government.

– Pharm. Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

It is very unfair for Central Bank of Nigeria to introduce this policy that will bring hardship to bank customers. This policy will make people to keep their money inside their houses. CBN should revisit that policy and change its mind because it’s an avenue to make banks rich on poor people’s income. Nigerians have been complaining about charges banks impose on their money with different policies without any interest coming out of it.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

According to Karl Marx, capitalism has laid the seed of its own destruction. We are tired of the self-centred/trickle-down policies of Nigerian politicians. A responsible government always considers the effect of policies on the citizenry first. For the Vision 20-20, it is a mirage and dead on arrival, like the previous ones, because there is no specific plan of its actualisation, like the time we were promised Eldorado in 2010. On the issue of VAT/taxes, what have they done with the fund previously? Rather, the money is being shared among themselves, stooges and scions. This is a clarion call to our leaders. Anger/frustration is piling up in the land.

– Smart, Abakaliki, +2348134774884

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 30, 2019.

Wobbling economy, cash deposit charges and Vision 2020

September 23, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Last week, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was upbeat. It flashed a semblance of some seriousness in tackling Nigeria’s ailing economy. The President, for instance, appointed an Economic Advisory Council made up of renowned economists like Professors Doyin Salami and Chukwuma Soludo. The issues of the cashless policy and value added tax (VAT) also made headlines.   

With effect from 2020, VAT will increase from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent. For government, this increase will yield more money to its coffers, especially after huge campaign/election spending and dwindling oil revenue. But to average private and corporate individuals, this is like trying to treat a sore thumb by cutting it off.

Remember, there are also companies income tax, education tax, personal income tax, withholding tax, road taxes, land use charge and many others. Sometimes, government agents allegedly divert these taxes to the detriment of both the people and government. The Auditor-General of the Federation, for instance, reported some errors in the amounts included as the Federal Government share of VAT for 2016. 

Without tackling these errors, increasing VAT in 2020 will engender more problems. It will affect prices of goods and services. Many consumer goods companies that have been posting decline for some months now may be forced to lay off more workers.

Simply put, it is inconsistent with the current economic reality in the country. It will also make a mess of the now elusive new N30,000 minimum wage for workers signed into law by the President more than four months ago.

On top of this, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced charges on cash transactions from N500,000 and above for individuals and N3 million and above for companies. This means that withdrawals will attract 3 per cent processing fees, while deposits will attract 2 per cent processing fees for amounts above N5000,000 for individuals. For corporate bodies, banks will charge 5 per cent processing fees for withdrawals and 3 per cent for lodgements above N3 million. The charge on deposits took effect from Wednesday, September 18, 2019, in pilot states such as Abia, Anambra, Kano, Lagos, Ogun and Rivers as well as the Federal Capital Territory. It will take effect nationwide from March 31, 2020.

To the CBN, the charges would drive development and modernisation of the country’s payment system. This, it said, was also in line with Nigeria’s Vision 2020 goal of being among the top 20 economies by the year 2020.

Well, it is largely the economies of banks and some government functionaries that will likely improve. A recent media report indicated that, between January and June 2019, four leading banks generated N24.3 billion from account maintenance charges on their customers. In the corresponding period last year, they generated N20.39 billion. The banks also charge customers for card maintenance, automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawal, SMS alert, commission on turnover (COT), stamp duty and all that.

I am not sure how these charges will enhance the financial inclusion policy the apex bank is championing. Rather, people will naturally avoid putting money where it will generate huge losses than profits for them. Some will start multiple deposits and withdrawals to beat the charges.

Granted, there are risks involved in moving huge cash from one point to the other; granted, online transactions save time and cost associated with cash payments; but how many Nigerian traders are literate enough to use online banking services? And does the announced intention of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to impose VAT on online transactions not negate the drive for cashless transactions? Even if you want to impose charges to encourage cashless policy, do they have to be this high?

Small and medium-scale businesses will feel the impact more. Most times, government agents equate their turnover to profit. It is not necessarily so. Turnover may be high, but profit may be less than 2 per cent. When you impose heavy taxes or charges on the little profit, you are indirectly preparing grounds for high inflation and the liquidation of those businesses.

Already, the prices of essential food items like rice have increased. This is partly attributable to the closure of Nigeria’s borders. Banning some foreign food items is okay, if we have enough local and cheaper alternatives. But we don’t. We have not given enough incentives to local manufacturers. We have not provided the necessary amenities. We have not tried to better the low ranking of Nigeria on the world ease of doing business index. Little wonder some foreign companies now prefer to establish in Ghana than Nigeria that has a bigger market.

Government should consider entrepreneurs and manufacturers in churning out its policies. This is because what will move us closer to Vision 2020 is production, not increased taxation, and definitely not reckless accumulation of debts. As at March 31, 2019, Nigeria’s debt profile rose to N24.95 trillion from N21.725 trillion it was in 2017.

Before imposing heavy taxes on people or borrowing to service our leaders’ ostentatious lifestyle, government should first of all prune down the cost of governance. Many public office holders, for instance, go home every month with outrageous allowances. They change cars like clothes and acquire other choice properties with reckless abandon. That is why some of them are ready to kill to get to that position.

Recently, some civil society groups took legal action against the alleged plan of the Senate to buy exotic cars for principal members of the ninth Senate worth N5.5 billion. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT, Enough is Enough and 6,721 concerned Nigerians are asking the court to, among others, restrain and stop the Senate from collecting the said money until downward review of the amount proposed by the Senate.

I believe citizens will gladly pay their taxes if they discover that their leaders utilise the money well; if they find out that public officers live moderate lifestyle; if they notice that there is genuine fight against corruption; and if they see fiscal discipline among the three tiers of government.

Re: Now that Buhari is ‘eminently qualified’

My friend, Casmir, seeing how Walter Onnoghen, Sylvester Ngwuta and many others were subdued and humbled at their age and near the peak of their professional career, if you are in the position of the five judges at the Supreme Court, in a so-called entity, a fraud mine tagged Nigeria, won’t you hold your peace? Will you want your house broken into, vandalised before your wife and children and nailing exhibits planted therein to end your integrity? My friend, please forgive the five ‘wise’ judges. Nigeria’s destiny and glory is in perpetual chains by organised strong political criminals that were around at Independence and are still there. They have intimidating looted resources, unspeakable wealth, coordinated overbearing influence and ‘unlimited’ power to hold down the status quo – the system that frustrated our youth, pushed them to criminality worldwide and made us a laughing stock in the comity of nations. A land of wastage where nothing ever works but treasury or commonwealth looting and nepotism! I weep for Nigeria, my country, seeing her fragmented and dying every day in the hands of the mediocre!

– J.A. Solomon, Kaduna, +2348099577661

Casmir, as you rightly said, Buhari has been certified ‘eminently qualified’. However, the judges, Buhari and APC have made quality of our judiciary doubtful. Our democracy can be likened to Fela’s demonstration of craze. The fight for corruption is a ploy to destroy the opposition. The judgement will be sending a wrong message to the youths just like Ps 125 v 3 said, “The wicked will not always rule over the land of the righteous. If they did, the righteous themselves might do evil.”

– Pharm. Okwy H.A. Njike, +2348038854922

Sarcastically, Buhari is overqualified to rule Nigeria. Without a certificate! What a country! I am laughing o. He stifled the judiciary; the legislature is a rubberstamp; the security agents are the attack dogs. Nigeria will remain a pariah in the comity of nations. The evils men do live with them nowadays. Nigeria is reaping herdsmen, banditry, kidnapping, Boko Haram, robbery, and yet no lesson learnt. Nigeria is cursed and sick.

– Smart, Abakaliki, +2348134774884

I hold Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of PDP in high esteem because of his doggedness in politics and business. But now that the presidential election tribunal has declared President Buhari as rightfully elected President of Nigeria, my advice is that all opposition contestants should accept the decision by congratulating President Buhari. In every contest, winners and losers must emerge.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Casmir, I thank God Almighty for your guts over national issues. For the verdict of the presidential election tribunal, I was able to have clear verdict from the inception of the tribunal, and it became clearer to me when the former Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen, was intrigued out. This is Nigeria and Nigeria is eminently owned, and this cannot be disputed. Like you said, xenophobia has existed in our nation from far back and, if I may say, whatever xenophobic feelings the South Africans are displaying today on their soil is a carryover from their Nigerian counterparts.

Now to you our President, now that you are convinced of your mandate, relax to see Nigeria as your single constituency and make amends where needs be. With your security chiefs, let Nigerians travel on their roads, sleep at night and hear less of banditry, kidnapping, killings, armed robbery and the like.

– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibeku Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise, Imo State, 08036174573

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 23, 2019.

Now that Buhari is ‘eminently qualified’

September 18, 2019

Casmir Igbokwe

Last week, I wrote a piece entitled ‘Injustice is another form of xenophobia’. Published in NewsProbe, an online publication, the article compared the barbaric xenophobic attacks in South Africa to another version of it in Nigeria. It also commended the Nigerian government’s noble intervention but advised that while we attempt to remove the speck in South Africa’s eyes, we should not gloss over the log in our own eyes.

Part of the article reads, “In this country, justice is on vacation and the worst form of xenophobia is injustice. Or how do you describe the fact that in our unity colleges, for instance, a boy from Zamfara State who scores 2 will get admission before my son from Anambra State who scores as high as 139? They say this is to fulfil the federal character principle. Fair enough. But why was this federal character not observed in many federal and security appointments in the current dispensation? Why has the present government blocked its ears to the calls for restructuring which will give every section of the country a sense of belonging and justice? Why has the government shied away from effective reform of the country’s justice system?

“Look at what happened in the Osun governorship election of last year. The exercise recorded massive infractions. The Osun State election petitions tribunal noted those anomalies and ruled in favour of justice when the matter came to it. But the appeal tribunal murdered that justice on the altar of legal technicality. This drew our march to genuine democracy backwards. The nation eagerly awaits the judgement of the presidential election petitions tribunal.”

Last Wednesday, the five-man panel finally delivered their verdict. For over eight hours, the judges – Muhammad Garba, Abdul Aboki, Joseph Ikyegh, Samuel Oseji and Peter Ige – laboured to justify dismissing Atiku and Peoples Democratic Party’s petition. On the server issue, the tribunal ruled that no law in Nigeria allows for electronic transmission of results using card reader. They said based on available evidence, it was clear that the results were collated manually, saying “card reader machine has not replaced the voter register.”

On President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate saga, the Chairman of the panel who read the lead judgement, Justice Garba, said, “It is established that a candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to his Form CF001 before a candidate is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest the election. In effect, the 2nd defendant went through secondary education and then proceeded to military school. The military school is higher than secondary education. Thus, our conclusion is that Buhari is not only qualified but eminently qualified to contest the presidential election.”

The judges were also of the firm view that the petitioners failed to prove that Buhari submitted false information which is fundamental in nature to aid his qualification to contest the election as prescribed in section 35 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011. Buhari had claimed that his elusive certificates were with the military board. This turned out to be untrue.

In a bid to get this certificate, the President and his handlers procured some documents with variants of his name – Muhammadu and Mohammed. The petitioners felt they proved the perjury charge beyond reasonable doubt. But our wise judges felt otherwise. What this means is that I can procure a PhD certificate from Toronto bearing Cashmere Igbokwe and use it to get a job in the Presidency.

My only worry is that we are sending wrong signals to the world. I used to think that the only concrete evidence to show that one attended a school is the certificate. You can’t enter any Nigerian university, for instance, without tendering your secondary school certificate. And you cannot get a serious job without attaching and even physically showing your certificates. By the ruling of our wise judges, you don’t need that in election matters. Invariably, you can go to school and leave midway and still get the privileges of someone who toiled to finish with first class. All you need to do is to present a picture you took while in school, swear an affidavit and you will be cleared.

Injustice has no other better name! The PDP and its supporters rightly described the verdict as subversion of justice. The party expressed its intention to approach the Supreme Court to challenge the judgement.  

Nevertheless, stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress and their supporters believe the judgement is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria in recent times. Information and culture minister, Lai Mohammed, even asked the PDP and Atiku to apologise for “wilfully distracting” Buhari with their petition.

The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, boasted that the ruling party would always defeat the PDP even if it took the petition to the World Court. I don’t blame Oshiomhole and his ruling party. The Supreme Court of today appears essentially crippled. See the way the hitherto tough Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, were subdued to pave way for the current CJN, Tanko Muhammad.

Recall that Onoghen was hounded out of office for alleged false declaration of assets. Recall also that security operatives from the Department of State Services (DSS) invaded Ngwuta’s house in 2016. He was charged to court for money laundering and passport fraud. Though Justice John Tosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja freed him of these charges last year, Ngwuta appears to have been rendered impotent at the apex court.  

The hope of many Nigerians is no more in the courts. In the next four years, we may have to endure the misfortune of having this government in power. We may have to continue to endure the current economic trauma. We may have to continue to pay the price of a poor justice and electoral system.

Now that the tribunal has declared him eminently qualified to be president, Buhari should drop the toga of mediocrity and wear the cloak of eminence. He should surprise Nigerians by initiating the reform of our entire electoral system. In this modern age, electronic transmission of election result is the best way to go. It will minimise rigging and ensure that the votes of Nigerians count in subsequent elections.          

Re: Anambra and 2021 governorship va-va-voom

Dear Casmir, permit me to use metaphor of jumping frogs to highlight the beauty of your analysis. Only political bullies, and or diehards, will challenge or fault the existing APGA and even PDP Zoning; arrangement, which now favours Anambra South Senatorial Zone comprising Aguata, Ihiala, Nnewi (North & South), Ekwusigo, and Orumba (North & South). Serial or professional  guber candidates like Dr. Senator Andy Uba, Chief Godwin Ezeemo, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah,  and Senator Uche Ekwunife, or any other butterfly politician, should know that the nice “krom krom” sound of bitter kola, “ugoro”, or “aki ilu” in the mouth, is different from its bitter taste.  And that many of them may have qualified for public beating by our people in Diaspora.

This time round, our dear sister, Senator Iyom Uche Ekwunife, and her colleagues, should sit down and concentrate on successfully concluding their senatorial offices creditably. Literally speaking, it is true, traditionally, that too much jumping around can kill the Frog.

Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645.

Cas, you have opened up a new and fresh area many other writers have avoided. For sure, the race for the governorship seat in Awka will be hot and will be for the highly intellectual ones and no longer an all comers event. The erstwhile governor has raised governance in Anambra very high; so to measure up to his scale or to surpass him may be herculean. Let us keep our watch and see what plays out in a state that is blessed with great men of wealth in all areas. By reason of academic guru, they are surplus; when you talk of men with political know how, they are in large supply; even men who have rehearsed their dancing steps into the government house many years before are there. It is going to be intriguing. 

Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibeku Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise: Imo State, 08036174573

Casmir, I believe that the Anambra politics has gotten to certain standard that people who want to lead must be judged by such standard. People who betrayed the state when they were in government should not be involved. The development of Anambra state will be such that one can easily say welcome to paradise. APGA zoning formula should be retained. I see a battle line drawn between APGA (Prof. Soludo) and PDP (Uche Ekwunife or Godwin Ezeemo). Pharm Okwy Njike, Nawfia, Njikoka LGA, +2348038854922

Let there be no zoning in Anambra again which is synonymous with quota system in Nigeria because it may breed mediocrity. We want intelligent people and not third class holders with dual citizenship to rule us.

Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno, JP, 08063730644

My bro, va-va-voom is an understatement. But PDP and APGA should put their house in order because APGA is currently riddled with an intractable internal crisis. It’s like Obiano lacks the political dexterity to settle it. APGA is no longer what it epitomized! Anambarians should not allow herdsmen party to win any state in the South East, so that they will not execute their Ruga programme easily and other obnoxious agenda against us. APC is anti-Igbo.

Smart, Abakaliki, +2348160638941

The guber election in Anambra state come 2021 will be interesting because the type of people who are preparing to take over from Gov Obiano are well to do in their field of endeavours. All aspirants and candidates should do their home work well to get electorate votes by providing people-oriented projects before the election time.

Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 16, 2019.    

Injustice is another form of xenophobia

September 10, 2019

Casmir Igbokwe

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) calls Nigeria a zoo. From what has happened in South Africa in the past few days, it seems the former apartheid enclave is worse than a zoo. Animals in a zoo are under control. But South African animals are wild and uncontrollable. They have killed and still kill and burn innocent foreigners, including Nigerians, in their midst. They also indulge in looting of their properties. They call it xenophobia – intense hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers. It is barbaric and condemnable to say the least. But it is important to note that while we attempt to remove the speck in someone’s eyes, we should not gloss over the log in our own eyes.

First, let us examine the speck in South Africa’s eyes. A few years ago, the beasts in that country threw two Senegalese and a Mozambican off a moving train. In 2000, two Nigerians were among those who died in another attack. On April 18, 2015, some deranged beings brutally murdered Emmanuel Sithole from Mozambique and seven other people. Those who escaped death had their shops looted. About 10 people reportedly lost their lives in the current madness. Their only crime was being foreigners. There are many other instances.   

The major worry is that the South African government appears to be in tacit support. It has not taken any decisive action to stop it. And when a deputy minister of police, Bongai Mkongi, tried to justify the savagery, you need no soothsayer to tell you how their mind operates. Recall that the Zulu King, Goodswill Swelithini, also reportedly precipitated the 2015 similar attacks when he allegedly called on foreigners to go home.

No wonder the whites dealt with them during the apartheid era. Even then, the world, especially Africa, rallied round the country’s black population. Nigeria particularly played a prominent role in the fight against that obnoxious system.  And due to its noble role, Nigeria became one of the frontline states though it is not a southern African country.  

Unfortunately, South African youths have forgotten this history. These are illiterate and lazy youths. Unfortunately too, some Nigerian youths acted in similar manner. They angrily moved against some South African interests in Nigeria. They torched and looted some MTN offices and Shoprite supermarkets in some parts of the country. This action forced MTN to close its offices nationwide. South Africa also shut down its High Commission in Nigeria.

In response, the Federal Government took some commendable actions. It not only recalled the country’s High Commissioner to South Africa, it also boycotted the World Economic Forum held in that country last week. Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace, volunteered to evacuate our citizens willing to return from South Africa free of charge. It was good and reassuring breathing the air of patriotism coming out from many Nigerians.

However, it would have been more reassuring if we had frontally tackled our own brand of xenophobia. The other day, some beasts killed a Catholic priest, David Tanko, and set his corpse ablaze in Taraba State. The priest had gone for a peace meeting on Tiv and Junkun communal conflict. A few days ago, some Hausa and Yoruba youths clashed in Lagos over a minor misunderstanding. Terrorist herdsmen have also been killing and kidnapping people in different parts of the country. 

The South-easterners have particularly found themselves at the wrong end of the Nigerian equation. Any time there is crisis in any part of Nigeria, they are always the major victims. This is because of their itinerant nature. In 1966, there was a pogrom against them in the North. This resulted in a 30-month civil war. Millions of our citizens died. Intermittently, they face xenophobic attacks in different parts of the country.

In this country, justice is on vacation and the worst form of xenophobia is injustice. Or how do you describe the fact that in our unity colleges, for instance, a boy from Zamfara State who scores 2 will get admission before my son from Anambra State who scores as high as 139? They say this is to fulfil the federal character principle. Fair enough. But why was this federal character not observed in many federal and security appointments in the current dispensation? Why has the present government blocked its ears to the calls for restructuring which will give every section of the country a sense of belonging and justice? Why has the government shied away from effective reform of the country’s justice system?

Look at what happened in the Osun governorship election of last year. The exercise recorded massive infractions. The Osun State election petitions tribunal noted those anomalies and ruled in favour of justice when the matter came to it. But the appeal tribunal murdered that justice on the altar of legal technicality. This drew our march to genuine democracy backwards. The nation eagerly awaits the judgement of the presidential election petitions tribunal. It is hoped that justice will be served in the case and that the learned judges, without fear or favour, will elevate justice over technicality in their soon-to-be-announced verdict.    

This is not forgetting the economic injustices in the country. The rulers are busy amassing wealth and allocating resources to themselves while the masses live in penury. Currently, Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. This dire economic situation is partly what has pushed some of our countrymen to foreign lands to look for greener pastures. Even with free Air Peace ticket, many Diaspora Nigerians will not come back.

We pride ourselves as the most populous country in Africa. That is true. But big population without effective law and order confers no advantage. That is why serious companies now find Ghana a better environment to invest in than Nigeria.

In simple terms, we are gradually losing our relevance in the world. Today, South Africans are asking us to go. Tomorrow, Ghanaians may follow suit. Until we take the bull by the horns and tackle our variegated problems frontally, other nations will continue to take us for a ride.

Anambra and 2021 governorship va-va-voom

September 2, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Don’t mind the big word ‘va-va-voom.’ It simply means something that is exciting or vigorous. The word is derived from the sound of a car engine being revved. I consider it an appropriate metaphor that describes the great excitement over Anambra State’s governorship contest. The battle is in 2021. But the political machine of the state is already revving.

One big issue on the table is zoning. Some segments of the state want it. Some others vehemently oppose it. The incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, is from the northern part of the state. By 2021, the zoning proponents argue that it would be the turn of Anambra South.

The ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) agrees with this position. The party has zoned the governorship position to Anambra South. This is to conform to the action the party took when former Governor Peter Obi was about to leave office in 2014. Obi and the ruling party had reasoned that, since the inception of the state, nobody from the Anambra North had occupied the governorship seat. For equity’s sake, they went for a candidate from the north.

Today, one candidate who epitomises the drama and the dilemma trailing the zoning debate is Mrs. Uche Ekwunife. The woman currently represents Anambra Central in the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But for the purpose of the governorship contest, some of her supporters say she is from Anambra South. Yes, by birth, she is from Igboukwu in Aguata Local Government Area, which is in Anambra South. But by marriage, she is from Nri in Anaocha Local Government Area, which is in Anambra Central.

Dual citizenship is part of the beauty of being a woman. She can claim her birthplace, she can also claim her husband’s place, depending on where the bread will be better buttered.

On some social media platforms where this debate is raging, Ekwunife’s supporters readily refer you to women who have enjoyed this dual citizenship opportunities. Stella Oduah, for instance, is from Anambra but married to Edo. She currently represents Anambra North in the Senate. Florence Ita-Giwa represented her native Cross River South in the Senate. Daisy Danjuma is from Taraba by marriage but she represented her native Edo South in the Senate between 2003 and 2007.

Those against Ekwunife say, in Igboland, a woman has full rights in her husband’s place and not in her birthplace. According to them, that is why a woman does not partake in the sharing of her father’s inheritance. Her supporters counter this argument by citing the Supreme Court ruling that now empowers women to also inherit their father’s property. Whatever, the woman is watching events as they unfold as she also tries to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Professor Chukwuma Soludo is also watching. A strong member of APGA, Soludo is the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He is from Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of the state. He has not declared his interest formally. But it is an open secret that he is eyeing Agu Awka, as the seat of power is called. Like Ekwunife, Soludo’s supporters are also marketing his credentials.

In a recent article, one of his admirers, Joe Anatune, wrote, “We need a man tried and tested, with track records for big ideas and excellent execution in order to create prosperity and put Anambra on the world map. After Ngige, Obi and Obiano, more than 90 per cent of Ndi Anambra believe that the next big thing will be Soludo Solution.”

No doubt, Soludo has what it takes to make Anambra the Dubai of Africa. But the road to Agu Awka is filled with thorns. One major headache for the former CBN boss is Dr. Godwin Maduka, from Umuchukwu in Orumba South Local Government Area. Maduka, a United States-based medical doctor, is a philanthropist with deep pockets. The man has done a lot for his community and will attract many supporters if he declares interest. To his credit are world-class edifices such as educational institutions, 17-storey multipurpose skyscraper, high court, health centre, churches, civic centre, police station, roads and houses for indigent indigenes, especially widows, etc. Many people are already projecting him. Will he run? The situation still wears a hat.

There is another aspirant in the person of Comrade Peter Nwosu. He is Obiano’s Senior Special Assistant on Petroleum Matters. In a recent interview granted an online publication called NewsProbe, Nwosu, a native of Nnewi North, said it was time ‘Old Testament’ (old politicians) gave way for ‘New Testament’ (youths) in the governance of Anambra. How far he will go remains pregnant.

Nevertheless, these APGA aspirants have a major hurdle to cross – the opposition PDP.  Unlike the ruling party, the PDP is not taking the zoning route to 2021. Its priority is to field the best candidate who can recapture the state from APGA. And it has an array of aspirants who can do that.

Chief Godwin Ezeemo is one of them. This Umuchu, Aguata-born business icon was the governorship candidate of the Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) in the 2017 election in the state. Last month, he, together with the state and local government officials of the PPA, defected to the PDP. The man has not only announced his intention to contest, he is also silently working underground, visiting different towns to identify with them in one social outing or the other. His supporters have also been projecting his philanthropic activities.

However, Ezeemo has Oseloka Obaze, Ekwunife, Osita Chidoka and Chris Azubogu to contend with. Obaze was the governorship candidate of the party in the last election. He is a fine gentleman and an astute administrator. His major challenge is that he is from Anambra North. And if the sentiment to zone the position to the South does not subside, he may have an uphill task in the coming battle. The same zoning issue may also affect Chidoka, a former aviation minister, who is from Anambra Central.

This is not forgetting Ifeanyi Ubah, the enfant terrible of Anambra politics. He had moved from one party to the other just to realise his ambition of governing Anambra, all to no avail. In the last senatorial election, Ubah, who is from Nnewi in Anambra South, won on the platform of the new Young Progressives Party (YPP). He had invested a lot of resources in APGA, but felt short-changed when the party denied him the opportunity to contest the senatorial seat. I am not too sure on which platform he would want to contest the governorship position when the time comes. But suffice it to say that he is currently in the Senate representing Anambra South and would want to acquit himself well there first while watching as events unfold.

Andy Uba also represented Anambra South in the Senate. He wielded enormous power when former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in power. He was governor of Anambra for 17 days in 2007 before Peter Obi dislodged him through the court. I am not too sure what his present permutations are. But he has Tony Nwoye to contend with.

Nwoye flew the governorship flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election. Like Obaze, he is also from the North and may find it difficult to overcome the sentiment of zoning. Even Sharon Ikpeazu, whose name has also come up as a likely candidate of the APC, is from Anambra Central.

Many unknown aspirants will definitely emerge with time. Some of them will come out just to crave publicity and relevance. Some will eventually bargain for one political appointment or the other.

At the appropriate time too, we shall analyse the leading candidates, their strengths and weaknesses. Until then, va-va-voom!

Re: Multiple tax collectors, defaulters and auditors

The gap between the haves and the have-nots will continue to widen in Nigeria. Soldiers kill policemen to free a wanted kidnapper; corrupt people are fighting corruption. These are indices of a failed state. It’s like Karl Marx had Nigeria in mind when he advised the working class to allow capitalism to grow, so that people will see the evil inherent in it. They should keep accumulating! The working class is uniting in another form and things are falling apart! Revolution is inevitable if they don’t change because Rev. Fr. Odey contended that, if you want to stop criminality, kill what breeds crimes first.

– Smart, Abakaliki, 2348160638941

Casmir, thanks for your good work on the above topic. I want to see the issue of taxes from three sides. 1. Government, federal, state and local, that receives the tax and diverts some due to corrupt officers among them. 2. The collectors, staff and companies charged with the collection, who play the role of the biblical Zacchaeus and yet fail to show the true amount they got before government.  3. The payers, companies, small/medium businesses and those who want to pay but have no money to empower business. Government should first plan with banks to give out loans at good terms. Once done, defaulters will decline.

– Pharm Okwy Njike, +2348038854922

Those who are behind the financial mess in the ministry of finance should be brought to book as a deterrent to others. Some people feel that being in government is to loot the treasury for their selfish aims. It is very bad and uncalled for.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 2, 2019.

Multiple tax collectors, defaulters and auditors

August 28, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

The people of Jericho held Zacchaeus, the corrupt chief tax collector, in low esteem. The biblical story had it that when Jesus was passing through Jericho, the very short Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to catch a glimpse of him. People grumbled and looked at him with scorn. If they had their way, they would have pulled him down from that tree.

Many Nigerians still see Zacchaeus in our modern-day tax collectors. Be they agents of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), state Inland Revenue Service or even local government thugs, these tax collectors have a way of harassing corporate and private individuals over tax issues.

Last week, for instance, the FIRS released a list of 19,901 companies that allegedly defaulted in tax payment. Some of the defaulters include Obasanjo Farms, owned by former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Davido Music Worldwide Ltd, owned by popular musician, David Adeleke; God is Good Motors; Slot Enterprises; and popular supermarket chain, Addide. The FIRS placed the accounts of these companies under lien. It threatened that, should they fail, refuse or neglect to pay the tax due within 30 days of the notice, it would proceed and enforce the payment against all the directors, managers, secretaries and every other person concerned in the management of the companies.

For many of these companies, part of the problem is that they are confronted with up to 50 different taxes and levies in Nigeria. The Federal Government collects such taxes as companies’ income tax, education tax, and value added tax.

States collect such taxes and levies as personal income tax, withholding tax (individuals only), capital gains tax (individuals only), and stamp duties on instruments executed by individuals. There are also pools betting and lotteries, gaming and casino taxes, road taxes, business premises registration fees in respect of urban and rural areas, land use charge, consumption tax (hotels, restaurants and event centres) and many others.

The local governments, on their part, collect such taxes and levies as tenement rate, right of occupancy, market taxes and levies, merriment and road closure levy, marriage, birth and death registration fees and many others.

Multiple taxes have crippled operations of a lot of companies in Nigeria. In some cases, tax collectors reportedly compel companies that recorded losses to pay taxes from their turnover. Besides, the high rate of withholding tax charged on dividends reportedly scares many companies from listing their shares on the stock exchange. Fewer than 200 companies are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, whereas the country can boast of over 2,000 registered public companies. Little wonder Nigeria ranks low on the world ease of doing business index.

No doubt, tax is a good source of revenue for government. Hence, some people saddled with the responsibility of collecting it, like the executive chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, will not agree that there is anything like multiple taxes in Nigeria. They think more on how to generate better income from taxation and less on accountability and proper utilisation of the tax proceeds.

That is why the recent action of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, is commendable. Kyari queried Fowler over alleged discrepancies in tax collections from 2015 to 2018. In 2015, for instance, the budgeted target was N4.5 trillion, while the actual amount collected was N3.7 trillion. In 2016, the actual collection was N3.307 trillion, whereas what was budgeted was N4.95 trillion. In 2017 and 2018, the FIRS collected N4.027 trillion and N5.32 trillion, respectively. However, the budgeted targets for the two years were N4.89 trillion and N6.7 trillion, respectively.

Kyari’s query raised suspicions in some quarters. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, for instance, urged the National Assembly “to come to the rescue by holding a public inquest into the handling of taxes collected by the FIRS in the last four years, take urgent steps to recover the stolen funds and channel such to projects that have direct bearing on the welfare of Nigerians.”

To clarify issues, the Presidency quickly issued a statement. Fowler, it said, was not under any probe. The letter from Kyari, it explained, merely raised concerns over the negative run of the tax revenue collection in recent times.

Nevertheless, the Federal Government announced plans to audit FIRS and Customs’ revenues. These two agencies are money-spinners. Perhaps, the government suspects that to whom much is given, much could also be stolen. In Abuja, Lagos and some other places, people talk in hushed tones about how money realised from taxes is allegedly diverted.

It is expected that the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, which will likely conduct this audit, will do a good job of it. My only fear is that nothing much would come out of it. Recently, the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Anthony Ayine, indicted many government agencies for not submitting their audited accounts to his office. Ayine also accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Solid Minerals Ministry of poor/non-disclosure of receipts. In an audit report, the AuGF said, as at April 2018, 109 agencies had not submitted beyond 2013; 76 agencies last submitted for the 2010 financial year, while 65 agencies have never submitted any account since inception.

Besides, the AuGF reported errors in the amounts included as the Federal Government’s share of VAT for 2016.  The sum of N108,997,999,612.48 was recorded as Federal Government’s share of VAT without the full picture of the VAT earnings to the federation. From the auditor’s account, what was due the Federal Government from January to December 2016 was N116,783,571,013.35.  This posted a difference of N7,785,571,400.87. The Accountant-General of the Federation could not provide explanations for this difference at the time of the audit report. Despite concerns raised by the AuGF, nothing much was done to sanction defaulting agencies and parastatals.

Many Nigerians have resigned themselves to fate. To them, what matters most now is an improvement in their standard of living. They expect the government to initiate a review of the Taxes and Levies Act. This is to eliminate ambiguities and streamline the administration and collection of taxes by the different tiers of government.

Government may also consider consolidating some of these taxes to lessen the burden on individuals and corporate bodies. The re-enacted Lagos Land Use Charge Law (2018), for instance, is a consolidation of ground rent, tenement rate and neighbourhood improvement levy.

Undoubtedly, a good tax system would not only encourage savings and generate employment opportunities. It would also create an opportunity for tax collectors to escape the Zacchaeus treatment.

Re: Isuofia: New yam, spirit beings and other stories

You are correct Casmir. Some Igbo don’t know the difference between culture and paganism. We have lost our identity; that is why we are plagued from all corners, and religious bigotry is having a field day. My brother, keep educating Igbo on why we should internalise our culture and tradition, because it is our heritage and identity.

– Smart, Abakaliki, +2348160638941

We need to develop our cultural heritage to boost our tourism internationally.  New yam celebration in South East can boost local and state revenue, if it is well organised.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Re: What a country!

It’s very disturbing that Nigeria has remained a country persistently founded on a designed platform of the fraud of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs and for the benefit of the oligarchs who are in control of the security agencies, which they use at will to mow down all oppositional voices. Nigeria needs very serious constitutional amendments and restructuring of our mindset, with emphasis on suppressing tribalism and religion to an insignificant level. The leadership of the judiciary and legislature in Nigeria, just like the executive, must be allowed to enjoy constitutional immunity. If Onnoghen must go, let the law rule, not the rule of a corrupt process masterminded by interested parties. Our criminal jurisprudence is not accusatorial where one is pronounced guilty before prosecution: it is prosecutorial and anchored on presumption of innocence. Hack writers and emergency lawyers who either out of sycophancy or brazen display of their political direction have created a system of an all-knowing executive that does no wrong.

The peculiarity of Nigeria should also attract peculiar applications to our political problems. Or haven’t we observed with grave consternation the questionable and laughable decisions being churned out by our powerless and jittery courts and ‘yes sir’ legislature? Recently, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, usually in the news for divisive submissions, proposed the abrogation of zoning, citing the need for competence, as if that was the yardstick for his people’s recurring ascendancy to presidential power. His Excellency is aware that his proposal is a huge fraud. Have we had a Nigerian President of Igbo descent 49 years after the war?

Why shut the door of Nigeria’s presidency against a particular race through idiotic and annoying reasoning? The Igbo race must sit up and shun this Vee-Pee Syndrome, pick out the best from their lot, stand behind him or her, while reaching out to other sectors of the country and present that Nigerian President of Igbo descent to Nigerians for 2023 presidency.

Lastly, let me warn that the various ethnic settings in Nigeria must play the Nigerian card wisely, objectively, inclusively and respectfully, otherwise, we may soon wake one day and behold a scattered Nigeria in many identifiable and internationally-approved entities.

– Edet Essien Esq., Calabar South, +2348037952470

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 26, 2019.

Isuofia: New yam, spirit beings and other stories

August 21, 2019

Casmir Igbokwe

When you hear of Argungu fishing festival, what comes to mind is Kebbi State. When Osun-Osogbo is mentioned, a festival rooted in deep Yoruba culture brings nostalgic feelings. When New Yam festival is an item on the agenda, the gathering must be that of the South-Eastern people. And when mmanwu (masquerade) performance comes up for discussion, what you get are mixed feelings, heated debates and a clash between paganism and Christianity.

This is what played out penultimate Saturday at Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. The town, like many others in Igbo land, celebrated New Yam festival with pomp. The event afforded many indigenes from far and near an opportunity to commune with their ancestors. 

Tagged Unity New Yam festival, the occasion was the first of its kind in the community after over 20 years in crisis. The traditional ruler of the town, Igwe (Col.) Christopher A. Muoghalu (Retd) used the occasion to crown the new traditional prime minister (Onowu) Chief Ndubuisi Osele. The six villages which make up the town namely: Umueze, Ozalla, Isiaku, Ezioka, Okpoko and Akulu came with different side attractions. Akulu village shone brightly with her traditional Ekelemgba wrestling dance to the admiration of spectators.

The special day also witnessed the unveiling of some brand new masqueraders called Achikwu. Immediately the “spirit beings” entered the Isuofia Civic Centre where the festival took place, the arena erupted in ecstasy.

Igwe Muoghalu explains the phenomenon better: “Celebration of the feast of New Yam is deeply rooted in ancient Igbo culture, fore-grounded in the belief that yam is the king of all crops. And to underscore its prominence among all other crops, the feast of New Yam is celebrated to thank the gods of good harvest. Being an important event in the calendar of Igbo race throughout the world, it is very important to state that contrary to misrepresentation by religious zealots, the new yam festival has nothing to do with fetishistic and diabolic practices. It is simply the Igbo traditional way of thanking God for giving them the opportunity to plant and reap.”

That is true. But to some people, the introduction of mmanwu in this year’s festival amounts to drawing the town back to paganism and fetishism. They cite instances of the ruins some youths of a neighbouring town, Ekwulobia, faced in the recent past because of Achikwu. Some Christians also frown on the presumed magical powers big masqueraders display; the type which the late singer and traditionalist, Perrycomo Okoye, popularised in his lifetime.  

They believe such practices will corrupt the youths. According to them, what the youths need now are jobs and creative abilities that will make us match a country like China and the United States in technological wonders. Those who think this way have a point.

Nevertheless, it is worthy to note that culture is dynamic. There was a time killing of twins was in vogue. It is no more so today. In the days of yore, new initiates of the prestigious Nze na Ozo society went through some rituals. Today, it has been reformed such that ardent Christians are now members.

In those days, if you were not a full grown man or an initiate, you dared not come close to where big masqueraders were performing. You also dared not touch any economic tree dedicated to them. The consequences would be severe. These days, women and children even watch their performances at close range.

Mmanwu is part of Igbo culture. It energises any function or festival. Like other cultural performances, it is an occasional thing, not a daily affair.  To many local pub operators in some Anambra communities, it is merely a veritable form of entertainment. They make huge sales whenever those “spirit beings” perform on their business premises during festive seasons such as Christmas.  I don’t see how this occasional merriment will render our village youths useless as some people have postulated.  

Let us look more at the positive side of the coin and discard the bad aspects. Recall that the old Anambra State held the first mmanwu festival in 1986 at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium. For the period it lasted, the festival became a good source of entertainment and attracted many tourists to the state.

Reviving and reforming some of our cultural festivals could be money spinners for the country. About one million tourists from different parts of the world just witnessed Osun-Osogbo, arguably the most popular cultural festival in Nigeria. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has listed Osun-Osogbo groove among its world’s heritage sites. Not satisfied, the Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, seeks partnership of indigenes of the state in the Diaspora to further promote and project the festival.  

Nigeria spends millions of dollars every year to sponsor pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and Israel. While we continue to stone the devil and kiss the feet of Jesus at these “holy sites”, the host countries continue to smile to the banks with huge sums of money. We should learn to promote our own and invite foreigners to come and patronise us.

Re: What a country!

Despite your Column’s usually engaging intellectual disputations, you apparently flew off the handle last week, when you called for “localised protests”, to hold local leaders to account. It will not work, ten times over.  I will not protest against my LGA Chairman, who is from my town, even if he is a bum-sitter. This is because he is not the problem. Governors corner the allocated LGA funds, under their ubiquitous “Joint Account Allocation Committee”. They then give LGA Chairmen everywhere, some pittance to pay staff salaries. They get next to no money to buy laterite to confuse local roads. I appreciate your doing a yeoman’s job raising much of the ills and muck in a society that wages war against itself. Don’t you worry. Something must give.

Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645.    

The title, “What a country”, is so exciting and also intriguing. By 1999 as we waited for year 2000, we all had strong and very high expectations when the air was filled with the slogan everything for all by the year 2000: wives, houses, jobs. Contrarily, we never saw it that way at all. What we experience on a daily basis is nothing but a catalogue of woes and disheartening events. What a country! Perhaps, all hope may not be lost. We all must guard our loins, lie flat on the dusty or muddy soil and cry to Onyame, Chukwu, or Abasi, Allah, Oluwa, Soko, Shekwo, Osonobwa for His Mercies and forgiveness over our numerous offenses more especially for the killing of those three police officers and one civilian by our own soldiers. What an irony, and what a country!
Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibeku Okwuato, Aboh Mbaise, Imo State,
08036174573

Dear Casy, the present leadership in Nigeria, the Presidency, the legislature and the judiciary are products of corruption. The three arms of government are people of the same faith whose agenda is to take our ancestral lands and give to their Fulani brothers who migrated from other West African states on their invitation. The present government led by Buhari and its next level is nothing but chaos. Let every ethnic group prepare how to defend their lands, lives and properties because Buhari has failed. God bless you always.

Eze Chima C, Lagos, +2347036225495

Casmir, you will now agree with Nnamdi Kanu who stated that this country is a zoo, because what is happening in Nigeria will only take place in a zoo. I call it a failed state because Nigeria has all the characteristics. We have gone back to the state of nature where Thomas Hobbes stated that life was solitary, poor, short, nasty & brutish. But John Locke offered us a remedy – we should revolt when the government fails to protect our lives & properties. But my bro, keep telling the powers that be the truth. Don’t be deterred by their castigation.

Smart, Abakaliki, +2348160638941

There is no contradiction to the fact of general insecurity in Nigeria as contained in your article “What a country”. The issues of Boko Haram, militancy, kidnapping, banditry and assassination have become worrisome because they have grown in dimension and proportion. Let’s recall that kidnapping and assassination have taken a toll on our VIPs including Maj. Gen. Peter Ademokai, Major Gen. Alkali and AVM Alex Bade. President Muhammadu Buhari should do something urgently. This is because we don’t know whose turn it will be tomorrow.

Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno (JP) 08063730644

It’s very unfair for security agents to stop any protest since the law allows aggrieved or suppressed people to protest so that government will address their problems. Insecurity in Nigeria is very worrisome and the three tiers of government should find lasting solution to it. Truth of the matter is that investors will not come when there is insecurity in the country. Let’s tell ourselves the truth. Nigerians are not interested in hearing condolence messages from government officials over killings. They need solutions please.

Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535

First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 19, 2019

What A Country!

August 17, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Mr. Sunday Emenike left his base in Isuofia, Anambra State, for Taraba on a business trip. That was on July 17, 2019. Somewhere on Ukari-Zakibiam Road, armed robbers reportedly attacked the bus he was travelling in. The bandits allegedly brought him and one other passenger down from the bus and took them away. Till date, there is no information about him. His whereabouts remain unknown. His family is distraught.

No doubt, life in Nigeria has become what the Igbo call “agba ekpere chi,” (moving and praying to God). The number of those who speak in tongues has continued to multiply. Christians now plead blood of Jesus many times. Catholics have intensified their prayer for Nigeria in distress. Same thing goes for Muslims chanting Allahu Akbar! Prayer houses are booming. And the majority of the people have completely lost confidence and trust in their government.

True, insecurity is a global problem. In Europe, America and the Middle East, some demented souls sometimes turn their guns on innocent and defenceless citizens. My worry with Nigeria is the frequency of the attacks and the apparent helplessness of the people whose primary responsibility it is to protect life and property.

The situation is traumatic. The other day in Enugu State, gunmen said to be Fulani herdsmen gunned down a Catholic priest, Rev. Father Paul Offu, on Ihe-Agbudu Road. This prompted the priests in Enugu Diocese to embark on a peaceful protest. Last month, some killers also terminated the life of the daughter of Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, on the Benin-Ore Expressway.

Also, last month, a 16-year-old girl, Chinyere, left Lagos for Abia State University, Uturu, to write her post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. According to her story, some gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, stormed the Okada junction on Benin-Ore Expressway in Edo State about 6pm. They took her and some co-travellers away. For two days, there was nothing like food for them inside the bush. On top of that, the herdsmen tortured the men with sticks, guns and cutlasses. After five days, they regained their freedom after payment of different sums as ransom. The girl missed the exam she was going for and obviously missed her admission into the university this year.

Penultimate Sunday, a former Commissioner for Information in Abia State, Eze Chikamnayo, was reportedly travelling from Isuochi in Abia State to Enugu. About 5.30pm, after Awgu junction, on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, some gunmen emerged from the bush and started raining bullets on his vehicle. Miraculously, he escaped unhurt. When he parked later, he discovered over 20 bullet holes in the front fender of his car. The gunmen missed Chikamnayo but got the traditional ruler of Obom-Agbogugu in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Sunday Orji, and his wife. Luckily, the couple regained their freedom last Wednesday.

However, it is disturbing that Chikamnayo reportedly got to a military checkpoint about a kilometre from where the criminals were operating. He informed the soldiers there but they allegedly waved him on and did nothing.

The questions are, why didn’t the soldiers go after the criminals when they got wind of their operation? Was there no bullet in their guns? Were their own weapons inferior to that of the killers? Were they denied their salaries or allowances? Or were they sympathetic to the cause of the marauders? Many questions, few answers!

It was situations like these that pushed Omoyele Sowore to convene a protest last Monday. The Department of State Services (DSS) arrested and detained him even before the action took off. Security agents fired gunshots and teargas at protesters and even manhandled and arrested some journalists covering the protests.

Ironically, President Muhammadu Buhari and some All Progressives Congress stalwarts protested against insecurity in Nigeria in 2014. The then President Goodluck Jonathan did not send security agents to arrest them. Buhari also joined the leaders of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party in 2003 to hold a rally in Kano to protest the alleged rigging of that year’s general election.

The suppressed protests of last Monday, tagged #RevolutionNow, once again, brought out the complexities of the country called Nigeria. In Algeria, France, South Korea and many others, popular protests of this nature are the norm. As Algerians would say, the power of the people is greater than the people in power.

In Nigeria, the present people in power appear to be greater than the power of the people. They violate people’s rights with impunity. They refuse to release some citizens granted bail by the courts. Two years ago, agents of the state mowed down some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in what they called Operation Python Dance. And early this year, soldiers raided the premises of Daily Trust newspaper, carted away some office equipment and arrested some of its journalists. The crime of the newspaper was perceived unfavourable report on the war against the Boko Haram insurgency.

Unfortunately, there is no unanimity of purpose among the people of Nigeria. For instance, some northern elements saw RevolutionNow as a protest against their interests. They vowed never to be part of it. Some southeasterners viewed the protests with suspicion. To them, Sowore was a lackey playing a self-interest game.

Recall that musician, Charles Oputa (Charley Boy), once organised a protest march in Abuja. He tagged it “Our Mumu don do.” Oputa narrowly escaped being lynched by some characters who saw his actions as anti-North and anti-Buhari.

The first coup in Nigeria led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu in 1966 had similar colouration. Some northern soldiers who saw it as an Igbo coup staged a counter-coup. They not only killed the then Head of State, Aguiyi Ironsi, but also precipitated in a pogrom against the Igbo in the North, which eventually led to a 30-month civil war, with the attendant catastrophes. Since then, we have been forced to remain as one country without any sincere efforts to heal wounds and renegotiate the terms of our union.

As it is, the only revolution that will succeed in Nigeria today will be a localised one. Communities should hold their leaders to account. People should question chairmen of their local governments on their stewardships. Same goes for state governors who are not doing well.

The governors should initiate watertight security measures in their respective states to curb banditry. They should organise and equip local vigilance groups to complement the efforts of the federal police. The planned joint security initiative by the governors from the South-West region is commendable.

Governors of other regions should map out their own strategies. Nigeria’s federal structure as presently constituted is not working. The British colonial master brought divergent groups together and forced them to live as one. No doubt, diversity is a great asset. But when the divergent groups find it extremely difficult to agree on many issues, there is every need to sit down and discuss.

You do not force marriage on an unwilling couple. If they are not compatible, the marriage will collapse. Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan organised a marriage course for Nigeria called National Conference in 2014. He could not implement any outcome of the course before he left office in 2015.

President Buhari is rigid about renegotiating the terms of our corporate existence as a nation. Perhaps, restructuring does not serve his interest. But for how long are we going to cage ourselves in this manner?

Re: Efi Igbo, SMEs and the Heritage example

I thank God for your shift too from the Nigeria’s unending problems to inspiring situations that can lift souls. Your outing last week was revealing as well as encouraging. Not many people are aware that Heritage Bank exists, not to talk of encouraging youth with business interests. It is through your writing that I had a recall to numerous Ehi Igbo in my childhood days. They used to be very smooth, fat with shiny black colours or spotted with white. There are several other areas of life one can venture into to make life interesting and more suiting. I thank you once again for a beautiful shift.

– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibekuta-Ibeku, Okwuato, Aboh-Mbaise, Imo State, 08036174573

You have reinvigorated the minds of Igbo nation towards the rearing of muturu cattle breed, otherwise called Efi Igbo, Ehi Igbo or Eshi Igbo, so that we can tell the heartless and rampaging Fulani herdsmen that we can do without their zebu or ndama breed, otherwise called Efi Hausa. I have stopped patronising butchers dealing in Efi Hausa and substituted it with chicken, fresh fish and ice fish, pending the supply of muturu breed to cattle market. Some people can even substitute zebu and ndama breed with pork meat, snail and bush meat. Throughout the civil war we did not taste zebu.

– Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno JP, 08063730644

My brother, your column of last Monday was insightful and timely, if only Igbos will think inward and learn their lesson from Nigeria/Biafra civil war and think home because Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun-powder, waiting for a time to explode. They have sent their lackey again, Sowore, who knows the next person?

– Smart, Abakaliki, +2348160638941

Despite years of delay, Golden Guinea Brewery coming back to life with the help of financial institutions, which Abia state government could not do for years, is a welcome development. There are so many organisations established by Dr. M.l. Okpara and Dr. Ibiam that went under that need to be revamped to create jobs for unemployed Nigerians, especially in the South-East region.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 12, 2019