Buhari’s First Faulty Steps

June 5, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union, June 5, 2015

Unity Bank Plc, the other day, made an unusual public announcement. The Bank informed its customers with bad loans to come forward to fulfil their obligations within 14 days. It warned that failure to do this would leave it with no option but to publish the names of defaulters, their addresses, photographs as well as directors and guarantors of the bad loans.

Being in serious debt is never a palatable experience for anybody. Our President, Muhammadu Buhari, appears to be in this type of situation currently. Seven days after he took over the mantle of leadership of this country, he presents the picture of someone who is highly indebted to some people. Never mind that he said in his inaugural speech, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”

Take the case of his recent appointments, for instance. Mallam Garba Shehu is his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity. Mr Femi Adesina is his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. Pray, who is the president’s main spokesman? And why appoint two people to handle the same function? Are we not going back to the same profligacy of the past, contrary to the public perception of Buhari as somebody who loathes waste?

Make no mistake about it, the two appointees are media gurus. I’m happy  that they have been called to serve their fatherland. But they could have been given different portfolios. One could be a minister of information while the other remains presidential spokesman.

As if to add insult to injury, the President, the other day, sent a list of 15 aides to the Senate for approval. One wonders what he needs 15 advisers for? Or is it to repay some political debts? Remember that ministers will still be appointed. I thought that the days of job for the boys are over?

Some state governors are already toeing the same line. For instance, Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, was reported to have concluded plans to appoint 15 special advisers. Besides, the governor reportedly said he would also appoint one senior political adviser and one political adviser. These appointments, according to him, are part of the strategies by his administration to actualise the agenda of prosperity for all Deltans.

Prosperity indeed! How on earth will appointing a retinue of aides translate into prosperity for all Deltans, nay Nigerians? The major benefit I see in this is the building of stomach infrastructure for the appointees and their cronies and family members.

Our political leaders, especially President Buhari, should realise that many Nigerians expect a lot from them. They should not disappoint them. Already, a number of Nigerians are becoming sceptical about the ability of this new regime to take us to the promised land. There is a disconnect between what was said during campaigns and what is happening now.

Buhari had intimated Nigerians during an interview with a national daily that he would scrap the office of the First Lady if he became the President. This is in line with his public outlook as an anti-corruption and anti-wastage man. But from what we currently hear about the wife, Aisha, Nigerians may be in for a big surprise.

Aisha was reported to have spotted a Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-carat white gold diamond wristwatch worth 34,500 pounds or N10,453,000 during the inauguration of the new government at Eagle Square, Abuja last Friday. Since this news broke, neither Aisha nor Buhari has denied it. If it is true, then it contrasts sharply with the President’s advertised Spartan lifestyle. It runs contrary to the report that Buhari borrowed money to buy presidential nomination form. The President’s media team needs to clear the air fast on this.

The President also needs to address some concerns over the recent declaration of his assets. He had promised during his campaigns that he would declare his assets publicly. But he did that secretly together with the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, to the Code of Conduct Bureau. If the President and his deputy have nothing to hide, they should come clean with an open declaration of their assets.

Already, some civil society groups have sharpened their knives of criticism. One of them, the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), dismissed Buhari administration as parading “the highest assemblage of doyens of corruption in the history of Nigeria.”

In a detailed statement entitled ‘Democracy Day Squandermania: How Nigeria Squandered N105.8 billion ($528 million) on 6,806 Public Officers in Seven Days’, Intersociety noted, “It is heartbreaking that Nigeria, which is a land naturally flowing with milk and honey has been turned into a land flowing with blood and tears, despair, anguish and torture courtesy of governance insanity, naivety and mercantilism; chronically inflicted on it by its 17,500-member  criminal governing council.

“The Team Buhari that just came on board with anti-corruption parroting voice  as its governance agenda  remains the highest assemblage of doyens of corruption in the history of Nigeria dominated by the country’s five leading cartels; and as such, it has earned a new indelible name, All Progressives in Corruption (APC).”

I don’t totally agree with Intersociety. Though a number of corrupt people surrounded Buhari during the campaigns, he is yet to make major appointments and he is yet to stabilise in office. So, it won’t be fair to brand his regime an assemblage of doyens of corruption in the history of Nigeria.

That notwithstanding, the President must do everything possible to stop the looting of our commonwealth in any form. The financial haemorrhage called severance package for some former political office-holders is unacceptable. In the national and state assemblies, in Lagos, Akwa Ibom and some other states, politicians are settling themselves with state resources. Some got houses in choice locations in Abuja and Lagos, cars and jumbo salaries for life. Some settled themselves with television sets, rugs and even kitchen utensils. Our greed knows no bounds.

We should not lose hope, nevertheless. There are still some leaders whose actions are worth commending. For instance, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has announced a 50 per cent cut in his salary and that of some other political office-holders in his state. We have already clapped for him.

But we will clap with both hands and legs the day Buhari and the governors will decide to also reject security votes and run a lean, fiscally-disciplined government. Then, and only then will their names be published, not on the debtors list this time, but in our hall of fame.

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Now That Change Has Come

May 29, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union, 29 May, 2015

Owelle Rochas Okorocha is an interesting character.  At social functions, you can’t but admire his swagger. When he gets up to talk, he first draws attention by chanting, “My people, my people!” And the crowd will roar, “My governor, my governor!”

As the governor of Imo State, Okorocha has made some impact – positive and negative – in the eastern heartland. Before he became governor, his house at  Umuodu Mbieri in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, could compare to any modern palace of a first class royal father in Nigeria. But within the first three years of his tenure as governor, he reportedly built what could compare to a presidential mansion, complete with a ranch, a big estate and multiple buildings. President Muhammadu Buhari, who visited Imo recently, was said to have expressed shock at such open display of opulence.

Being a progressive governor, Okorocha had dreamt change. Many Nigerians also clamoured for it. Today, that change has come. The All Progressives Congress has taken over the mantle of leadership at the centre. Many Nigerians are happy about it. But with the white elephants in Imo and elsewhere, is there any hope that this change will not be cosmetic; that it will not be like demolishing one palace to build another?

The answer is blowing in the wind. With the current trend of events in many of the so-called progressive states, there seems to be little hope. A few days to the inauguration of this new administration, workers in Osun State embarked on an indefinite strike over six months unpaid salaries. Retirees are also being owed arrears of pensions.

In Oyo, Cross River and some other states, the scenario is the same. Many of the states are reeling in debts. Lagos, for instance, is said to be the highest debtor state in the country with an external debt stock of $1,169bn and domestic debt stock of N278, 867bn.

Why should Lagos owe this much? Why is Osun overburdened with debts? What happened to the earnings of these states from excess crude account, federation account, internally generated revenues and ecological funds? The governors of these states have a lot of explanations to make.

Anambra was similarly a debtor state until Mr. Peter Obi came on board as governor. He changed the situation of the state and handed over N75bn assets to his successor. This is in spite of the fact that the state does not collect oil derivation money.

Real change will start when we begin to manage our resources prudently. Happily, Buhari appears set to lead the way. He has rebuffed plans by the same profligate governors to nominate ministers for him. He told them that the task to appoint ministers rested with him and nobody should tell him what to do in that regard.

The President should also ignore lobbyists and appoint people of integrity into his cabinet. The idea of having 42 ministers and ministers of state or hundreds of advisers and special assistants is superfluous. He is reported to be considering 19 ministries. That is good news. After all, the United States, which is far bigger and richer than Nigeria, has a cabinet of only 23 members.

Buhari should do everything possible to put an end to fuel subsidy regime and consolidate on the liberalisation of the power and oil sectors. Nigerians are impatient. They have high expectations. He should not disappoint them.

The President had also talked of probing the immediate past administration. That is not a bad idea. But if we must solve the problems of the future, we should not waste much time on our past mistakes.

I suggest he hits the ground running and focus on real governance for which he was elected. Probe will not yield any positive outcome judging from antecedents. But if he insists on it, then he has to make it go round. You cannot, for instance, probe the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in isolation because other ministries and parastatals were not manned by saints.

Look at the Central Bank of Nigeria under Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Recent media reports indicate that for three years running (2012 to 2014), the CBN has been operating without approved financial statement and reports. Neither has the apex bank made any submission to the National Assembly in line with the CBN Act. Financial experts described this as a major statutory infraction. This largely happened under Sanusi as Governor.

What of the Customs, the Police and the armed forces? A lot of shenanigans happen in those outfits and some other ministries, departments and agencies of government. It is either we probe them or we put machinery in motion to reform them.

President Goodluck Jonathan put it succinctly when he said any probe must go beyond his tenure. He asserted, “The Attorney General is aware of massive judgments debts. If we aggregate all of them, it’s almost going to $1 billion. How did we come to this kind of huge judgment debts? These issues should be probed. How do you allocate our oil wells, oil fields, marginal wells and all that.  Do we follow our laws? All these should be probed. And I believe all these and many more areas should be looked at.”

There is need to even reform the thinking pattern of many Nigerians. The mechanic who rips his client off needs serious reforms. The civil servant who refuses to do his job because his palms have not been greased needs to change. The emergency politician and contractor who parade the corridors of power asking for one favour or the other from public functionaries deserve to be reformed. The journalist who demands brown envelope before doing his professional duties needs total overhaul of his mind.

Above all, the self-styled progressives who inflict pains on their citizens by their actions and inactions need to go through some reorientation. The days ahead promise to be very interesting. Happy Democracy Day Nigerians!

Looting, Salary Arrears And Other Stories

May 22, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union, May 22, 2015

Bipasha, an Indian belle, was an air hostess with Lufthansa.  Sometime in 2006, the young lady engaged me in a discussion about my country, Nigeria. It was in London. She presented Nigeria almost as a place where jungle justice rules. In broad daylight, she said, people could be seen moving about with guns. But that is not all.

Nigerians, according to her, are too greedy. Each time their flight touched down in Lagos, cleaners who were brought in to clean the aircraft would end up also cleaning out the remaining food items inside the flying bird.

Of course, I did try to defend my country. I told Bipasha that her name should have been spelt Bi-partial; that her assessment of Nigeria and Nigerians was incorrect and biased. I informed her that only uniformed security men could hold guns in Nigeria and that she could not speak authoritatively about a country she saw merely from the air. “Nigerian men are strong and muscular,” I added, “and their muscular arms could resemble machine guns especially if one is looking at them from the air.”

Though I quickly diverted the talk to something else, I kept thinking about the cleaners rushing after free food inside aircraft. I remembered how area boys and area girls fight over food at social functions. My mind also went to government functionaries who clear every kobo in the coffers before leaving office. And I wondered whether it is we who do not understand what is happening to us or that what is happening to us does not understand us.

As we say in this part of the world, awoof dey run belle.  A few days ago, there were media reports that Senators and House of Reps members were looting the property of the National Assembly. The report has it that the lawmakers were carting away public property inherited from their predecessors. The legislators aides also reportedly got a good chunk of the property – televisions, computer sets, rugs, tables, chairs, refrigerators and so on.

Something must be inherently wrong with our genes. Are these not the same legislators who collect jumbo salary and sundry allowances? Why still take away mundane things that they could easily afford without much stress?

Legislators are not the only culprits. In football administration, in states and local governments, in ministries and parastatals, it is the same story.  For instance, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick,  last Tuesday, lamented that he inherited liabilities from his predecessor in office. “We are going through difficult times. People hear all kinds of stories of money or the other, yet nobody has asked where the federation is funding the participation of almost all the 13 national teams in international competitions,” he noted.

We have heard stories of people settling themselves with unspent budget of their ministries. A few years ago, this caused some furore in the nation when some high ranking officers of the Ministry of Health were accused of being  culprits in this case.

This is probably part of the reasons some state governments are owing backlog of salaries. From Osun to Oyo, to Cross River, civil servants are agitated. They are yet to get their salaries, in some cases, up to four months. And they are threatening strike. Do you blame them?

For most of our public officers, it is loot first, then pay salaries later. About two years ago, a report of the Senate ad-hoc committee on national planning, economic affairs and poverty alleviation identified high rate of corruption such as misappropriation and misapplication of public funds as well as abuse of immunity clause by some state governors as part of our problems. The report, which was a follow-up to the labour policy report 2011 of the Nigerian Governors Forum, also decried the incapacitation of the anti-graft agencies.

What prompted the reports was the revelation that 27 states of the federation were financially incapacitated. Only a few states like Akwa Ibom, Anambra, and Abia were declared viable. Currently, the majority of the states face insolvency and bankruptcy arising from huge wage bills and declining revenues.

Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi succinctly put it this way, “The bulk of the revenue of these states is currently financing payroll of the civil service which constitutes less than four per cent of the total population in all states. If this trend continues, many of the states would become financially insolvent and increasingly handicapped to finance real sectors and drive  economic growth, jobs and improved livelihoods.”

That is what is happening now. States and the Federal Government are passing the blame game, accusing each other of being responsible for the economic downturn.

While that is going on, some breadwinners are losing their jobs. Some of those still working cannot get their salaries. Burial ceremonies have almost become the greatest money spinners in the villages. Yes, sale of coffins is booming. Undertakers are smiling to the banks. A lot of people now depend on the food they eat at funeral ceremonies for survival.

It is disheartening that despite the hardship many Nigerians are passing through, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission has reportedly approved N200m severance package for two-term governors in Nigeria. This is not only insensitive, it is unbelievable.

There should be reduction in the cost of governance at all levels. I don’t see why we should have senior special assistants and special assistants for the same portfolio. It is also clear wastage, for instance, to have Minister of Education and Minister of State for Education. Legislators should only be paid sitting allowances. Security votes for governors and the President should be abolished.

Besides, states should diversify  their sources of revenue. Oil is not the only business we can do. Tourism is there. Agriculture and solid minerals are waiting to be tapped.

Above all, public officers should declare their assets on assumption of office. By the time they are ready to leave, we should be able to determine whether the awoof they have taken will qualify them for the prisons or community service. If we equitably distribute our national wealth, Nigerians will not have to rush remnants of food inside aircraft.

As Enterprising And Humble As Innoson

May 15, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union of May 15, 2015

Kosi, currently in Basic Six, is always asking me to help her do some of these assignments that require doing some research on the internet. If you have a child in primary school, you may have been passing through a similar experience. If it is not to print out the names of ministers and their portfolios, it is to give a list of state governors and their deputies. There was a time they were even asked to write on the impact of missionary education in Nigeria.

Sometimes, the homework could be on animals and their sounds; or what we call simile in dramatic literature – something like, as fast as a cheetah; as dirty as a pig; as slow as a snail or tortoise.

Last week, this homework flashed through my mind as I travelled down to Enugu from Nnewi with Chief Innocent Chukwuma in his car. I told myself that next time such an assignment would come my way, I would urge my daughter to add, “as enterprising and humble as Chief Innocent Chukwuma.”

Chukwuma, the Executive Chairman of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Group, is well known to many Nigerians. The first thing that strikes you when you enter his office in Enugu is the array of awards that hugs your sight. And the awards have not ceased coming.

Recently, he won the Silverbird Television Extraordinary Achievement Award 2015. He is among those who will be conferred with the 2014 Zik’s prize for leadership later this month. Among the numerous honours and awards he has garnered is the Nigeria Centenary Honours Award by President Goodluck Jonathan. It was in recognition of his role as the first indigenous vehicle manufacturer in Nigeria.

Some other awards include Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR), National Productivity Order of Merit, Hall of Fame Award by Bank of Industry, Most Outstanding Indigenous Entrepreneur by Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Entrepreneurial Award by Institute of Directors and many others.

Beyond the awards, he is a philanthropist. He provided a 500KVA Transformer to Emene Community in Enugu; offered 50 indigent Nigerians scholarships to study in Nigeria and abroad; funded erosion control project and provided electricity and pipe borne water to Nnewi people. He has also donated vehicles and funded projects in some academic institutions in Nigeria.

Chief Chukwuma is the last born of six children. After his primary education, he joined his elder brother, (Gabros International Limited) in his business. He later started his own and in 1981, he established Innoson Nigeria Limited, which traded in motorcycle business. In 2002, he established Innoson Tech & Ind. Co. Ltd. in Emene, Enugu, to manufacture different plastic products. Two years after, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd was born at Nnewi, Anambra State. Thus, Chief Chukwuma became the first Nigerian to produce different brands of a truly made in Nigeria vehicles. He is into many other business concerns.

The business acumen of this great Nigerian is legendary. He is the first Nigerian to introduce Complete Knock Down motorcycles into the market. He pioneered the local production of PVC plumbing hoses, motorcycle covers, crash helmets and so on. He has on his employ about 7500 workers.

Despite his numerous accomplishments, Innoson, as he is fondly called, is humility personified. He relates equally with everybody who comes across him. He picks all his calls except if the phone is not with him.

On our way back to Enugu from Nnewi, he received many calls both serious and unserious ones. One of those who called happens to be a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. The young man was speaking on behalf of a group which wanted one favour or the other from the man. He complained that he was not allowed to see Innoson when he visited in Enugu. Politely, Innoson apologised to the man and asked him to repeat the visit.

He drove himself from Nnewi to Enugu late evening of the day in question. As we chatted, he made me understand that he had driven the Range Rover we travelled in for 12 years.

As I wondered how this astute businessman was able to go this far without university certificates, he let me into the way his mind works. He said, “Before I went into motorcycle manufacturing, I was a spare parts dealer for both motorcycles and vehicles. That was when I noticed that it was expensive to buy motorcycles in the country. I decided to find out why and I observed that there were only four companies that were importing motorcycles into the country. .. The way they brought them in was by shipping about 40 motorcycles in one 40-feet container and the freight charge would take about 40 per cent of the cost and this was the main reason why motorcycles were being sold for about N150,000 in Nigeria.

“So when I travelled abroad, I discussed with them and they gave me the motorcycles in spare parts; so I brought them here, assembled them and sold them for N70,000 which is half the market price. Based on my selling price, people started buying new motorcycles again, foregoing the fairly used ones.

“After a while, I looked at it again and noticed that motorcycles had a lot of plastic components on its body. This made me to set up a plastic plant in Enugu to support the motorcycle plant. Having set up the plastic plant which now enabled me to produce the plastic parts, I further slashed the price to N60,000 which is the selling price of motorcycles in the Nigerian market today. I am the one responsible for that.”

What more do I add. Rather than asking pupils to keep cramming the names of governors or ministers who are always being changed, they should be made to study such great entrepreneurs like Innoson. At this critical point in our nation’s history, we need more of industrialists and entrepreneurs who will provide employment for our people. Politicians produce nothing but take the large chunk of our national wealth.  So sad.

Danger Signals From Incoming Buhari Government

May 1, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union of May 1, 2015

Prometheus Bound is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus. The protagonist, Prometheus, is a Titan, who, against the wishes of the gods, gives fire to humanity. For this rebellious act, Prometheus is chained and condemned to perpetual punishment.

Prometheus Unbound, a lyrical drama by Percy Bysshe Shelley, concerns itself with the torments this Greek mythological figure is going through. Hence, the supportive elements of Zeus, the god who is instrumental to the plight of Prometheus, abandoned him. He falls from power, necessitating the release of Prometheus.

It looks like this Greek tragedy is about replicating itself in Nigeria. Earlier in the week, the media fed Nigerians with the story of the banning and unbanning of African Independent Television from covering the activities of the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari .

According to the story, the President-elect would not want AIT around him because of security and family concerns. The station aired some documentaries that appeared to be in bad taste and against Buhari during the 2015 presidential campaign.

The President-elect’s spokesman, Garuba Shehu, asserted, “The Buharis have decided that they would have to resolve some issues relating to issues of standard and ethics. We will be talking with them to try and resolve the matter but for now, the station has been asked to stay aside.”

My first reaction to this was, who determines the issue of ethics and standards for the broadcast media? Is it Garba Shehu? Is it Buhari? Definitely not. If AIT has infringed on the right of any individual, there are established bodies that should call the station to order. There are other legal ways of seeking redress.

But some Buhari supporters would hear none of this. As far as they are concerned, AIT committed sacrilege by airing the documentaries against Buhari. They went to the social media to lampoon those who condemned the so-called ban.

Of course everybody is entitled to their opinion. Buhari’s supporters have also aired their views denigrating critics of their principal. Some even called for the crucifixion of  AIT and whoever is supporting them. If we have to follow their parameters, it then means that they too should be crucified.

To show that the action against AIT is repulsive, Buhari’s party, the All Progressives Congress, spoke against it. The party’s spokesman, Lai Mohammed, noted, “There must be repercussions, within the realms of the law, for media organisations which have wantonly breached the code of ethics of the journalism profession and turned themselves to partisans instead of professionals. But such repercussions will not include barring any accredited media organisation from covering the activities of the President-elect.”

Truth is, Nigeria has gone beyond jackboot democracy. Buhari could do what he was accused of doing now when he was the military Head of State. Then he promulgated Decree 4 which he used to hound and harass journalists.

Not anymore. Today, he is a democrat and should truly remain so. Happily, he appears to be listening to wise counsel now. His denial that he didn’t authorise the ‘fatwa’ on AIT is a testimony to this fact. The President-elect was reported on Wednesday to have said that he was not consulted before the ban on AIT was placed. He reportedly instructed his staff to steer clear of the media and allow his media team to handle all press affairs.

Before the AIT saga, he had said he would order a probe into the $20bn said to be missing from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation account. Is the President-elect saying he does not believe in the audit report by the respected PriceWaterhouseCoopers? Or are there other things to this NNPC accounts that we do not know?

The way the APC and the incoming government are going prompted the Federal Executive Council to accuse them of attempting to force Jonathan and his cabinet to abdicate office before the May 29th handover date. They warned that the magnanimity of the President should not be taken for cowardice.

It is good to hear that the President-elect said he was not on a mission to witch-hunt anybody.  He should maintain his words and endeavour to remain focused on the task of delivering dividends of democracy to Nigerians. He should strengthen our public institutions and refrain from personal vendetta.

When he assumes office, he should remain the father of all and the President of all. If he does not, he will see agitation greater than what happened in the Niger Delta when the late Umaru Yar’Adua was the President. Already, the old Eastern region has begun fresh agitation for resource control. In a meeting in Port Harcourt last Monday, the group known as the Lower Niger Congress demanded the restoration of the 1885 map of Nigeria with emphasis on the right of the people to own their land and resources.

At the gathering, a prominent Ijaw activist, Ankio Briggs, said, “Nigeria is oppressive in outlook and repressive in words. I do not believe that God created Nigeria, because Nigeria is confused. We are too educated to be oppressed. We are not a conquered people. They have done us a great favour by pushing (Goodluck) Jonathan out.”

The APC doesn’t seem to realise the dangers ahead. Now, they squabble over sharing of juicy offices. Some groups want the Senate presidency. Some want to have the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Some want petroleum ministry. In all these, nobody reckons with the South-East and the South-South.

It serves these two zones right you might say. They voted massively for President Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party. Now, the PDP is the opposition party. But it will be a grave mistake if the APC thinks it can do it without the South-East and the South-South.

Ultimately, it will appear as if the media and other oppressed of the society are in for a rough time, but the truth is that no one can bind Prometheus forever. One day, the superior gods will untie him from his seeming perennial shackles.

Xenophobia Is Worse In Nigeria

April 24, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union of April 24, 2015

Emmanuel Sithole  was from Mozambique. He lay helpless that fateful Saturday, April 18, 2015.  His attackers had no sympathy. They hit and stabbed him many times. The man died before any medical help could come his way. Seven other people were killed. Some others escaped death but their attackers looted their shops. The only crime they committed was that they were foreigners living in South Africa. They call it xenophobia – intense dislike or fear of foreigners or strangers. I call it barbarism.

It is a familiar phenomenon in South Africa. They once threw two Senegalese and a Mozambican off a moving train in that former apartheid enclave. In 2000, two Nigerians were among those who died in another xenophobic attack. The current cruel attack was reportedly precipitated by the Zulu king, Goodwill Swelithini, who was said to have called on foreigners to go home.

Different versions of this idiocy exist in different parts of the world. In the United States, an African-American woman was recently elected as mayor of a small town of Parma, Missouri. Tyrus Byrd, who was sworn in last week, was said to have beaten the incumbent, Randall Ramsey, to become the first African American woman to be so elected. But soon after the election,  police officers, and many other top officials of the city resigned en masse citing ‘safety concerns’. Is this really about safety, or irrational dislike of the black woman?

Here in Nigeria, we face variegated forms of xenophobia. The Igbo appear to be the worst hit. Many a times, they are attacked and their shops looted in different parts of the North. The pogrom against them in 1966 resulted in a 30-month civil war that led to the killing of millions of Nigerian citizens.

Since the war ended in 1970, the Igbo have been fighting to be reintegrated into the Nigerian society. They leave their home states and move to other states where they establish businesses and build houses. But sometimes, their host communities antagonise them and make them realise that they are visitors.   For instance, some landlords in Lagos refuse to rent their property to Igbo for reasons best known to them.

In entrance exams into unity schools, children from the South-East region are the most disadvantaged. A child from Anambra State, for instance, will be denied admission not because he is a dullard but because of where he comes from. His colleagues from Zamfara or Sokoto will be given top priority in the admission process simply because of their state of origin. Is this not xenophobia of a different hue?

The last elections brought some vivid memories back home. One of such is the threat by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, that the Igbo in Lagos either vote for the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, or perish in the lagoon. Hardly had the Oba finished issuing his ‘fatwa’ when some individuals went to the social media to denigrate the Igbo. They further warned voters that  a vote for Jimi Agbaje, of the rival Peoples Democratic Party, was a vote for the Igbo. My happiness is that most people condemned the Oba’s statement.

Elsewhere in the country, the voting pattern was skewed in xenophobic style.  The North largely voted for their kith and kin, while the South-East and South-South did the same thing. People also considered whether a particular candidate is a Christian or a Muslim. If he is a Christian, the other consideration is whether he is a Catholic or a protestant.

Happily, some non-indigenes have just been elected to represent Lagos in the national and state assemblies. This has not happened in many decades.  Recall that when Obafemi Awolowo’s daughter, Tokunbo Dosunmu, attempted to contest for the governorship of Lagos State in 1991, she was schemed out because she is not a Lagosian. This is somebody who has lived in Lagos for over four decades. Talk of xenophobia!

Meanwhile, a Nigerian, Mr Chuka Umunna, was (until March 30, 2015 when the British Parliament was dissolved to pave way for another election on May 7, 2015, ) a member of the British House of Commons. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Streatham in 2010 and could emerge later to be the Prime Minister of Britain. If Umunna were to be in Nigeria, he would be derogatorily called omo Igbo and would be asked to go to his state of origin to contest.

The tragedy of our existence is that we always try to remove the speck in someone’s eyes while leaving the log in our own. Now, we are clamouring for who will be Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker. But the major consideration is not who is capable but which zone will produce these leaders.

The current Senate President, David Mark, belongs to the PDP. So the possibility of his retaining the position is remote. From May 29, APC will become the ruling party and naturally, should produce the leadership of the National Assembly. The South-East, by some zoning arrangement, should have produced the Senate President. But there is no ranking APC member from the zone in the National Assembly.

Already, some individuals are blaming the Igbo people for not voting the APC. They say Senators like Chris Ngige could have easily emerged Senate President had they been elected by their people. This has also engendered some hate speeches from some quarters.

The question is, for how long are we going to continue with these primitive sentiments? How has David Mark’s leadership of the Senate impacted on his local community in Benue? How will Ngige’s leadership of the Senate bring food to the table of an average Anambra man? How will Governor Rochas Okorocha’s membership of the APC bring development to the South-East?

Granted that Nigeria is a complex mix of interests and groups, but must we continue to highlight our differences and complexities? Must we continue to discriminate against people on account of where they come from? Let’s stop deceiving ourselves.

The xenophobic attacks in South Africa are condemnable.  But we are also guilty in many other ways.

Okechukwu Buhari And Nigeria’s Stomach Politics

April 10, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union newspaper

Last Tuesday, one advertorial in the Daily Sun newspaper caught my attention. It was Elder Mrs Eunice Uzor kalu (Oduko N’mba) congratulating President-elect, “General Mohammadu Okechukwu Buhari (Ogbuagu 1 of Aba, Abia State) on your hard and sweet victory, which is victory for Nigeria.” Eunice is the mother of the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu.

Just as I was still trying to download the import of the congratulatory message, I saw a front page news story the following day in the same newspaper with the headline, “Kalu’s mum, brothers join APC…Party leaders woo ex-Abia governor.” Even the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, was reported in the same newspaper to have endorsed APC for Abia, Imo governorship polls.

I wondered how  the Ohanaeze that endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party could turn around so soon to endorse the All Progressives Congress. But I later realised that it was a splinter group led by Ralph Obioha that issued the statement and not the one led by Gary Igariwey.

The truth is that the last presidential election held on March 28, 2015, has caused the wind to blow and expose the rump of some of our politicians. In Plateau, Kogi, Niger, Imo and some others, erstwhile PDP leaders are singing ‘chaange’! They are now APC members.

Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) is one of them. Former National Legal Adviser of the PDP and an ex-governorship candidate of the party in Ondo State, Olusola Oke, is another.

Overnight, some of these characters have transformed themselves into friends of Muhammadu Buhari, the APC presidential candidate who won the election. Some others have become emergency advisers, advising the president-elect on how to be an effective leader.

I pity Buhari. These new-found lovers will bring him doom if he is not careful. They are not joining the APC because of any strong ideological leaning. In fact, they have no principles. It’s all politics of the stomach. The United States where we copied our presidential system from does not practise democracy this way. There are two major parties in the US – the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Their leaders do not jump ship because they lose elections.

This is why I now have more respect for Senate President, David Mark, and the Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu. In spite of the mass defections, these two leaders have stated categorically that they are not ready to leave the PDP.

Aliyu said, “I would rather resign from politics than defect. Those defecting from the PDP, based on the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, lack principles of integrity and morality; they are, indeed, stomach politicians.”

I cannot but agree with Aliyu. Many politicians have no ideology. They have no shame. All they are after is how to exploit every situation to their selfish advantage.

Look at what is happening in Ekiti State currently. The APC legislators, who had remained silent and redundant since Ayo Fayose returned as the governor, have now found their rhythm. They have threatened to remove the governor from office. The governor, in the same token, is battling for his survival. He has called the lawmakers jesters and has used or caused to be used, security agents to block the gate of the assembly.

It serves him right, you might say. Fayose, during the presidential campaign, published front page advertorials repudiating Buhari and saying he might die in office like Umaru Yar’Adua and some other North-Western leaders.

Our brand of democracy has no match anywhere in the world. The other day, it was the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, who threatened the Igbo to either vote the governorship candidate of the APC in Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, or perish in the lagoon.

The Oba was quoted to have said, “On Saturday, if any one of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it’s not my father who gave birth to me…I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode… If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you, if you go against my wish, you will perish in the water.”

This hate speech was preceded by some other invectives from the staple of both the PDP and the APC. The Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, for instance, used some harsh words against Buhari and the APC during the campaigns. Rather than lose, Buhari became stronger and went ahead to win the election.

In the same token, the threat by Oba Akiolu may end up working against his preferred candidate. And who told him that those Igbo who came to see him and pledged the support of Ndigbo for Ambode represent the Igbo in Lagos? Igbo people are republicans in nature and don’t really kowtow before any king, real or self-styled. The so-called Eze Ndigbo in Lagos or elsewhere speak only for themselves  and members of their families. The Igbo have their town union meetings where they take a collective stand on any given issue.

Sadly, what is happening now will only rubbish the noble legacy President Goodluck Jonathan wants to  leave behind for Nigerians. He lost the presidential election and quickly conceded defeat. But for this singular act, this country would have been plunged into a needless war.

My happiness is that there are still many well-meaning Nigerians around. A lot of people and groups, for instance, spoke against the threat of the Oba against the Igbo. Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, reportedly asked him to apologise. Socio-cultural groups like Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Aka Ikenga and Oodua Peoples Congress have condemned the threat.

Like the former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, who enthused after the peaceful presidential poll, that Nigerians had shamed their detractors, I pray that we make another positive statement by coming out en masse tomorrow to vote peacefully for a governorship candidate of our choice.

As for General Buhari (I never knew his name is Okechukwu), I can only say, beware of sycophants.

Nigeria’s Presidential Warfare And Politics Of Endorsements

March 27, 2015

Casmir Igbokwe

First published in The Union, Nigeria’s daily newspaper

Peter (not real name) forgot his bike in a popular market in Lagos. When he realised this careless mistake, he became quite disillusioned and thought he would never see it again. Like an antelope running away from a predator, he immediately dashed out to search for his motorcycle. To his greatest surprise, he still found it where he left it. His joy knew no bounds.

One particular Sunday, this happy man decided to do a special thanksgiving in his church. He parked his bike on the church’s premises and went to worship and thank God for His goodness and mercies.

After the church service, Peter headed for where he parked his bike. The thing was not there. He brought out his brown handkerchief and wiped his face. Again, he looked everywhere, but no trace of the motorcycle. Gradually, it dawned on him that his priced asset for which he came to do thanksgiving had been stolen!

When a Lagos-based Catholic priest told his congregation this story a few Sundays ago, people laughed. But that is the reality of Nigeria today. Almost every street has a church and perhaps, a mosque. But for most people, this professed love for God is phoney.

Nigerian politicians understand this perfectly and they are exploiting it to the fullest. Some of them have hired pastors, imams, and sundry men of God to endorse their candidates for one position or the other.

Some of these ‘men of God’ go beyond endorsing candidates. They predict, based on presumed revelation from God, who will become the next President of Nigeria.

For instance, on New Year’s eve, a popular Catholic priest, Fr. Ejike Mbaka, in a sermon to his large followers, not only endorsed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, but also predicted his victory in the March 28, 2015 poll.

The same man, in November last year, had praised the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Goodluck Jonathan, and prayed for him to return to power as President of Nigeria. Mbaka’s double-speak riled a lot of people who tongue-lashed him and asked him to face his spiritual work and leave politics for politicians.

Contrary to the cleric’s prediction, witches and herbalists predicted victory for Jonathan. In a recent media interview, the national coordinator and spokesman of Witches and Wizards Association of Nigeria, Okhue Iboi, said his group had endorsed Jonathan in their covens.

On his own part, Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, recently came up with 60 reasons he would not vote for Jonathan. He gave tacit support for Buhari. The same Soyinka, in 2007 , had catalogued Buhari’s crimes in a well publicised article entitled The Crimes of Buhari. Soyinka had said, “The grounds on which General Buhari is being promoted as the alternative choice are not only shaky, but pitifully naïve.”

Many other individuals and groups have also come up with their endorsements and counter endorsements.

So far, there have been threats and counter threats; abuses and counter abuses; and even fears about the continued existence of Nigeria after the elections.

For the main opposition, the APC, the catchword is “change”. At their rallies, they wave their brooms and sometimes do a symbolic sweeping of the ruling party out of power.

The party’s Presidential candidate, Buhari, has promised to tackle corruption when he assumes office as President. His supporters boast that the man has integrity and tackled corruption when he was the military head of state in 1984. In newspaper advertorials, they paint the picture of a disciplined man who would not broach any nonsense from any quarters.

Buhari and his supporters also boast about tackling the prevailing insecurity in the country. As far as they are concerned, President Goodluck Jonathan has failed in protecting lives and property of Nigerians. And they have promised that they will deal a serious blow to a group like Boko Haram if the opposition party takes over government.

There are other sundry promises from the staple of the APC such as creating jobs, eliminating poverty and giving each child a meal a day.

These are easier said than done. Yes, Nigeria needs change, but from what I have seen of the APC and its candidate, they cannot engender that change.

The party is presenting Buhari as a saint now, but he promulgated a decree when he was military head of state and used it retroactively to execute three young Nigerians for drug-related offences. He also used Decree 4 to jail two popular journalists, Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson, for publishing what his government considered embarrassing.

His sense of fairness is questionable. When he toppled the civilian government of Shehu Shagari in 1983, he unduly jailed some prominent politicians especially from the South and left many others, especially from the north where he comes from, to walk free. He kept the then President Shehu Shagari (a northerner) in cosy house detention but detained his powerless deputy who is a Southerner, Alex Ekwueme, in Kirikiri Prisons.

Besides, when he was the military head of state, Buhari was a bit docile and allowed his deputy, the late Tunde Idiagbon, to overshadow him. This may repeat itself if he returns to power.

What surprises many Nigerians is that the leading opposition candidate has bluntly refused to attend a debate with President Jonathan to defend his programmes or manifesto. He claimed the organisers were biased against him. But I suspect that it’s because he is not articulate. He claimed to have a school certificate but has not been able to provide concrete evidence.

In 2011, he vowed never to contest for the presidency again. He has breached that vow, contrary to his public image as a principled man.

Even his famed anti-corruption stance is in doubt as some Nigerians have continued to wonder how $2.8bn allegedly disappeared when he was the Minister of Petroleum under Olusegun Obasanjo’s military dictatorship.

Moreover, there were allegations of corruption and favouritism at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during his tenure as the chairman. Currently, many of the so-called progressives who have given him political backing are corrupt. How he will handle them if he becomes president remains to be seen.

At 72, the man is not fit for the demanding office of the President of Nigeria. Ironically, the governor of Lagos State and Buhari’s key supporter, Raji Fashola, in one of the campaign tours in Lagos, urged the electorate not to vote old men into office. He said an old man would end up sleeping all through in office.

Ultimately, President Jonathan may have made some mistakes. But for Nigeria to enjoy an enduring peace, he should be allowed to complete his second term in office. Parking our bikes in Buhari’s church now will bring more calamity to Nigeria. Please prove me wrong if you can.

Nigeria’s old impeachment games

December 15, 2014

First published by Aljazeera

Casmir Igbokwe

When former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, opens his mouth to talk about governance in Nigeria, what usually comes out is poison.

Recently the former president labelled many Nigerian federal legislators as thieves and looters. According to him, they indulge in extorting money from departments, contractors and ministries. “When the guard is the thief,” Obasanjo lamented, “only God can keep the house safe and secure.”

With what is presently playing out at the National Assembly of Nigeria, Obasanjo may be right after all. Currently, some lawmakers are purportedly plotting to remove President Goodluck Jonathan from office. About 65 out of 109 Senators are reportedly involved in the plot.

These anti-Jonathan lawmakers have told whoever cared to listen that they would table the president’s sins on December 16, 2014 when they reconvene from their current recess.

Chief among the president’s reported sins are failure to contain the raging insurgency in the north; refusal to sign some bills; and alleged unauthorised expenditure of 1.7 trillion Naira (about $9.5bn) on the oil subsidy fund in 2011.These anti-Jonathan lawmakers have told whoever cared to listen that they would table the president’s sins on December 16, 2014 when they reconvene from their current recess.

True, the security situation in the country is not palatable, but it has always been so since 2009 when Boko Haram started its violent uprising. No doubt, the president needs to demonstrate that he is capable of putting the terrorists to rout.

But then, why are the senators just waking up to the existential realities in Nigeria? Why are they just discovering that the president spent more than what was approved for the oil subsidy fund in 2011?

The point is, the lawmakers desperately need financial and political support to pursue their campaigns for the general elections coming up in February 2015. And the best way to get this, I suspect, is to blackmail the president with impeachment or removal. In a bid to retain his seat, the president is supposed to calm them down by greasing their palms and supporting their bids for re-election.

Empty threats

For many Nigerians, the legislators are actually acting true to type. In August 2002, when the nation was preparing for the 2003 general elections, the National Assembly waved the impeachment flag against the then President Obasanjo.

The lower chamber, the House of Representatives, gave him an ultimatum to resign within two weeks or be removed. They accused Obasanjo of incompetence and abuse of office. At the end of the day, the so-called impeachment turned out to be a storm in a teacup.

It has become a tradition that whenever the lawmakers want anything done in their favour, they arm-twist the executive with threats of probes or impeachment. But most of the probes end up an exercise in futility. Nobody is punished. No credible result is released.

In 2009, the then Special Adviser on Petroleum to the president, Dr Emmanuel Egbogah, alleged that oil companies took some senators to Ghana to feed and bribe them to oppose the oil and gas reforms being initiated by the federal government. Naturally, the senators were angry. They called for a probe of the allegations. It has become a tradition that whenever the lawmakers want anything done in their favour, they arm-twist the executive with threats of probes or impeachment. But most of the probes end up an exercise in futility. Nobody is punished. No credible result is released.

Senate President David Mark thundered then, “There is going to be a serious public hearing…because when people begin to beckon at their whims and caprices to label us in the way they want, we should take it seriously.” Nothing concrete came out of this.

There was also a probe of the power sector reforms undertaken by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Ndudi Elumelu-led committee of the House of Representatives that probed the rot in the power sector spent millions of Naira in the course of conducting their investigations. They turned in many volumes of the report on the probe. At the end, the House set up an ad hoc committee to review the report.

Of course, the review committee dropped the probe report. It reportedly accused the Elumelu panel of lacking understanding of the nature of power sector contracts. Hence, it exonerated the Obasanjo-led government of mismanaging funds for power projects. The rot in this power sector is still haunting Nigerians up until today.

Salary complaints

Undoubtedly, our lawmakers are incurable lawbreakers. Sometimes, they engage in physical combat in the chambers. Sometimes, their unruly behaviour leaves even children wondering why such supposedly mature individuals have become soup-guzzling elders.

They collect jumbo pay only to pass a few bills and devote most of their time in shadow-boxing. A good number of these legislators, for instance, never sponsored any bill since they were elected. Some care less about the interest of their constituents and don’t report back to them. They have also failed in their oversight of ministries and government agencies. The House has committees in charge of different government ministries. But what some members of these committees do, sometimes, is to demand monetary inducement to pass the budget of these ministries. In fact, money is the name of the game.

Last year, The Economist of London reported  that Nigerian legislators were about the highest paid in the world. According to the newspaper, with the basic salary of $189,500 per annum, the Nigerian legislator earns 116 times the country’s Gross Domestic Product per capita of $1,600.

Still, many of the legislators frequently agitate for increase in their already bloated salaries and allowances.

For instance, in 2010, some members of the House of Representatives, not satisfied with their personal quarterly allocation of 27.2 million Naira ($153,000), wanted their quarterly allocation increased to 42 million Naira  ($234,000) for each of them. The budget of the House could not accommodate it then. Hence, the lawmakers reportedly suggested collapsing the capital budget of the House to take care of their request.

It would serve the Nigerian nation better if the job of the lawmakers is on a part-time basis and their salaries are drastically cut. That way, many of them will not find it attractive to contest the position for the sake of the lucrative pay, not to mention thinking of issuing threats they will never carry through.

A Nation And Her Poisoned Apples

August 22, 2014

Casmir Igbokwe

Published in The Union newspaper, Friday, August 22, 2014

Tunji has a shop that is well located in the heart of Ikeja. He has a habit of waving at me each time I pass by his shop. It is a way of greeting and a way of drawing my attention to what he is selling. As I was driving home a few days ago, he waved and smiled. I stopped by to buy some items.

“Do you want some biscuits for the children?” he asked. I didn’t want biscuits because I had bought some tantalising red apples from Mallam, a fruit seller in one of the major streets in Ikeja.

“Apples!” the man exclaimed, “Be careful of apples o!” I was alarmed. What is it with apples again? I wondered. My mind went straight to the rumour some years back that a former Head of State died in office after munching some poisoned apples allegedly given to him by some Indian prostitutes.

I also remembered how Eve gave Adam the forbidden fruit that led to their being banished from paradise. I learnt that that forbidden fruit was an apple.

 I was still ruminating when Tunji cut in, “I heard that Boko Haram people have poisoned apples in Lagos. They are targeting Lagos seriously and they want to kill as many people as possible. They recruited all these mallams selling fruits to do it.”

Noticing the frown on my face, Tunji clarified, “It was announced on radio.” Did he hear this radio announcement himself? He said (pointing to a neighbour’s shop), “No, the woman in that shop heard it on Radio Continental and told me.”

Just as I picked my things to go, the man asked, “Oga, is it true that all shops close August 20 every year? Somebody just told me this.” I looked at him with surprise, shook my head and left.

My children did not allow me to drop my bag before rushing for the apples.  I stopped them. As I told them the poisoned apple story, my second daughter, Kosi, asked, “Daddy, how can they put poison inside apple?”

My quick answer was that they should wait until the following day. “Let me eat it first, if I die, then know that it’s poisonous. But if not, then you can eat,” I said.

“God forbid!” my first daughter, Favour, shouted. Of course, God did forbid my dying. I ate the apple that night and slept soundly. The following day, the children did justice to the apples.

The fact is, rumour and delusion have become part of the poison we must eject from our system.

Look at the outbreak of this Ebola Virus Disease, for instance. As at the last count, it has killed over 1000 people. In Nigeria, it has claimed the lives of five people, the latest being a female senior consultant that treated Mr. Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian/American who imported the disease to Nigeria.

Health authorities have repeatedly announced the mode of transmission of this disease and how it could be avoided. But what have we heard so far? Some cock-and-bull stories!

We are already familiar with the salt and water therapy story. Just one morning, some fellows started spreading weird messages that Ebola was in the air. To avoid contacting it, all one needed to do was to put salt inside water and bathe with it. Then, put some of the salt in water and drink. Over 20 people found themselves in the hospital that day.

Suffice it to say that it is this kind of dangerous rumour that prompted some misguided youths to invade a centre where Ebola victims were quarantined in Liberia. They carted away some items including bloodstained bedding of the patients. Their action was said to have been partly prompted by suspicion that their government was deceiving them. They believed there was nothing like Ebola in the first place.

Back home here, the Lagos State Government, last Wednesday, announced the discovery of five new suspected cases of Ebola in Lagos. The Federal Government fired back, asking citizens to regard the statement as a rumour. According to the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, no other body except the Federal Ministry of Health under him is authorised to issue any statement on Ebola.

Nevertheless, I have not forgotten the born-again Christians. Yes, some of them see this Ebola as a sign of the end time. They say when that time comes, there will be strange diseases; wars and rumours of wars; brothers killing brothers; sons killing fathers; pastors raping young girls and so forth.

Agreed, there are wars and rumours of wars. Pastors are becoming randier that the rest of us. But much of what we believe to be signs of the end time are figments of our imagination.

Today, I remember some 11 students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. In 2007, these students got some revelations about the end of this world. They are members of a Christian group called the World Ablaze Fellowship. They thought the world had really gone ablaze and went into the forest to await rapture.

For days, they prayed and fasted, claiming that God gave them a message to rapture. Unfortunately, the same God refused to spirit them away. They eventually emerged from the forest looking like skeletons. Elsewhere in the world, people had committed mass suicide believing that God wanted them to rapture.  

Thank God, our military authorities prevented a similar mass suicide by some hunters a few months ago. These hunters wanted to invade Sambisa Forest in Borno State with dane guns, bows and arrows and possibly some charms. Their aim was to eliminate members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect. Their second objective was to rescue those girls held in captivity by the terrorists since April 14 this year. Happily, the army refused their request to move in. And we still have them with us.

Aha! I almost forgot the mystery fire that gutted the headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation in Abuja last Wednesday. We hear that the fire started from the Chief Accountant’s office. You see, the president of the NFF, Aminu Maigari, has been on and off his hot seat. Today, you hear he is sacked. Tomorrow, the news will be that he has been reinstated on the orders of FIFA. And now this fire!

Seriously speaking, Nigeria is drifting. Boko Haram came with terror and rumours of terror. Ebola came with death and rumours of diseases. Corruption has always been there with mystery fire and rumours of probes.

We must all join hands to cast these rotten apples into the dustbin of history.