The Emperor Has No Clothes

By Professor Buchi Chuks

When I read about the preparations made by INEC for registration of voters and the timeline involved in the delivery of the DDC computers utilized, it was obvious to me that the registration process is another disaster in the making. Anyone who has ever managed a project will outright tell you that the outlined registration cannot be successfully done even by Professor Peller (Magician).

Just like the story of the Emperor that was conned by a transient Tailor who claimed he was making the Emperor new clothes that will be invincible to stupid folks and would only be seen by intelligent folks. The Emperor, not wanting to look stupid, inspected his new (invincible) attire and praised its array of colors. The Emperor’s Advisers, not wanting to look stupid, joined in the praise of the Tailor and his choice of colors. It was only a “loud mouth” young boy on the street corner that found it strange that the Emperor was parading down the promenade with no clothes. In his shock, the young lad screamed that “the Emperor has no clothes”. The rest is for the story books.

I am sure that more than 100 million Nigerians knew ahead of time that this INEC-Jega registration project is just going to “piss away” almost one billion U.S. Dollars and will be a failed project. I read where registration machines were being delivered the week of registration of voters. What time do those (Youth Corpers) expected to use the machine have to familiarize themselves and “debug” the computer or work out “kinks” attendant in almost every new computer you deploy ? If INEC is closing down schools and working on a tight timeline, shouldn’t INEC have been ready to “hit the ground running” ?

The systemic problems in Nigeria is just beginning to manifest itself to a conscientious observer. Let me be more specific. In the mid 1980s when the petroleum industry faced daunting economic downturn, investments dried up. Universities and similar institutions deployed resources where returns were better. Schools stopped funding petroleum related programs and training. When the Industry picked up post-gulf war , there was shortage of skilled labor to fill the need and to respond to massive capital coming back into the petroleum industry. The vacuum still exists over a decade later. With this analogy as background, Nigeria has lost a generation (or more) to mediocrity due to lackadaisical attitude to maximizing her human capital. My unscientific assessment, based on my interaction, with Nigerian University graduates is that substantial percentage are “functional illiterates” who have been forced into a corner by a defective system that mandates a post-strike examination without lectures or conventional classroom education. As the parable goes, if the bird learns to fly without perching, the hunter learns to shoot without aiming. Our leaders of tomorrow have been forced to survive in a prima facie defective system. The people that should care—including our dear (University) Professor Jega has even ordered that the carcasses we label schools should be closed until he concludes his unplanned and mind-boggling ad hoc experimentation.

If those put in office to manage Nigeria’s limited resources, including the naked Emperor himself, realize how limited the resources are, then they ought to have conscience not to brazenly waste these resources. Jega may be a saint and I will even give him the benefit of the doubt that he has not kept a Kobo for himself, but his handling of the resources entrusted to him through INEC is grossly negligent and reckless. If he were to be Asian, would resign and lean on his Samurai sword. But we know such will never happen in Nigeria, instead every local government will jostle on who will give him the most remarkable chieftancy. For those who think Nigeria has money, our budget is not close to annual sales of second-tier corporations in industrialized countries with less than 20,000 employees. Yet, Nigeria could possibly be flirting with a population of 200 Million people dependent on depleting resources.

Unless we start majoring in major, instead of majoring in minor, the future is very predictable for Nigerians living in Nigeria. I will end with this example. A friend of mine owns a business in the U.S.A. He was asked by a friend to hire a Nigerian lady that just arrived with American VISA Lottery and was unemployed. Hesitantly, he hired this remarkably beautiful lady as his office receptionist. By the second week he noticed her tardiness and disregard for timeliness. The third week, a client called him on his mobile phone at about noon and said that he is outside the office and the office was still in darkness and the doors locked. The “oga” left his meeting and rushed back to take care of the client and to comply with the landlord’s requirement that all offices must be open and functional between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. When he called the Receptionist at home to ask why she was not in the office or why she did not call-in that she would not be at work so proper arrangements could be made. The Receptionist started hailing abuses at the “oga” chastising him for not first inquiring about her welfare. She asked the “oga” how about if she was dead or unconscious in the hospital ? She told “oga” that all he cares about is his stupid job and that she would come-by whenever she has time to return the office key. “Oga” was dazed and had not recovered when he narrated his experience to me. As most people know, most owners and investors in America do not live in the city where their businesses are located. They set policies and the businesses run on auto-pilot. If you go beyond your delineated authority, you are fired and may even go to jail. So your conduct is guided accordingly. Until you have accountability, from top to bottom, our Emperors will continue to have no clothes and surround themselves with intelligent folks until a loud mouth “stupid” kid screams the word.. ..

Oh, about the Receptionist. I saw her in court six months later with a judge ordering a constable to throw-out her stuff from her apartment for owing three months in rent. Yes, people live under the bridge in America—few of them are Nigerians who carried on “business as usual” attitude in a land that practices “Rule of Law”.

• The writer is a lawyer and a Part-time Professor of Law© 2011

My Suffering Is Worse Than Yours

By Okey Ndibe

Little worries me more about the state of affairs in Nigeria than the rise of a relativist sensibility as a response to the nation’s malaise. Many Nigerians – too many, if you ask me – have become acclimated to the idea that their lives, of necessity, must be woebegone. They have developed a sad habit of announcing that their problems are worse than yours, that they have suffered infinitely more than you have, and (by some perverse logic) that they are more authentically Nigerian.

Put differently, it’s as if many of us have come to embrace suffering as the defining gift of Nigerian citizenship. It’s as if we insist that, for one to prove one’s mettle as a Nigerian – one’s Nigerianness – then one must show the rest that one’s suffering is worse than theirs. The gradient of woes is, for many of us, a measure of the authenticity of our identity as Nigerians. The contention goes something like this: If you can’t prove that you have suffered mightily – in other words, that you have suffered more than I – then, my friend, you must shut up!

I was always aware of this troubling acceptance of suffering as a national value and bequest. I once told a Nigerian civil servant that it was wrong that a state governor had not paid salaries for two months. Her response? “The man is trying,” she cried, as if the non-payment of her entitlement was some kind of brilliant statecraft on the governor’s part. Then she reminded me about a previous governor who had owed workers more than ten months in unpaid salaries.

On a different occasion, a man told how police officers at a checkpoint had dealt him a merciless beating with batons and butts. His crime was to complain aloud that there were too many police roadblocks. Without pausing to digest the man’s narrative, one of his listeners blithely said, “You’re lucky and you should thank your God.” Then he told the victim about a driver and his conductor, both brothers, who had been shot dead for refusing to “settle” the police with twenty naira.

The haste to compare travails is becoming reflexive. Tell some Nigerians that you lost all your money to armed robbers, and they’d say, “Ah, you’re blessed! I know somebody who gave all his money – and yet the robbers killed him.”

Lately, I have encountered this predilection for measuring suffering in a more personal way. Many Nigerians were upset to learn that the Nigerian government has me on a list of “enemies” to be stopped at airports and taken to the offices of the State Security Service (SSS). But some other Nigerians – apologists for state power as well as “suffering” relativists – have sought to make light of my experience. These apologists, fed by hate for the messenger or some sinister notion of real suffering, have focused on the fact that I wasn’t beaten, detained for weeks, or “tortured.”

They have brought up such names as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Gani Fawehinmi – crusaders who suffered multiple detentions and other privations – to question my experience. Their perverse contention: Unless and until you have suffered as these [two] men suffered, you may not speak. They can’t seem to grasp that, in accepting the small abuses, we fertilize the bloodier ones. They are unable to see that an innocent citizen should neither be detained for a minute nor locked up for weeks. They don’t realize that the point is – must be – to achieve a nation where criminals alone, not those who flay crime, should be subjected to arrest, detention or other restrictions.

Some of these apostles of “real” and “unreal” suffering are consistent. They speak out of that pernicious idea that to be a Nigerian is to demonstrate a capacity for being a “sufferhead.” They believe it is unNigerian to raise your voice in protest when your suffering is far from the harshest, your fate less than the cruelest. Don’t speak about a mere headache when there are people with migraine in the room; and don’t mention migraine, either, if there’s somebody racked by cancer around.

But there are others, it seems, who are driven by more personal impulses. They can’t stand the noise about the brief detention of a mere columnist and teacher! Since I had made a career of being a public critic, why, the state reserved the right to put me in my place. Some have even censured me for refusing to heed the dictate of the director-general of the SSS – to write a formal petition pleading for the removal of my name from the list of “enemies.” They miss the point: that, in the end, it’s not about whether my name’s on the list or not. It’s about whether a state should maintain a punitive list of those who have broken no laws – unless it’s a crime to insist that one’s country can, and must, rise to realize its potential.

Those who misrule Nigeria thrive on the witting and unwitting collaboration of unthinking citizens who believe that suffering is validated only when it’s established itself as the utmost. These misrulers get away with ineptitude because some Nigerians are content to point to a more inept misruler. Let me illustrate.

During his eight years in office, former President Olusegun Obasanjo accumulated a huge personal fortune while frittering away Nigeria’s. He acquired a huge stake in Transcorp, and then sold some of the country’s most prized assets to that corporation. He collected billions of naira in the name of his library from a coterie he’d enriched from public funds. Though financially wretched at the time he took office in 1999, he’s since built himself a hilltop mansion to rival that of his “competitor,” Ibrahim Babangida. And he’s become so loaded with cash that he recently donated a church to his god!

In a society that treasures the principle of accountability, Mr. Obasanjo would be compelled to answer for the source of his stupendous cash. Instead, his apologists remind us that he’s not the most corrupt ex-president (they tag Babangida as the champion). And they also contend that he’s not the worst performing (they name Umaru Yar’Adua as the leader in this category, forgetting that Yar’Adua was elected not by Nigerians but a “doing-or-dying” Obasanjo). Instead of making excuses for Obasanjo, why don’t we insist that he and Babangida as well as other public office holders account for their assets?

Another illustration. I was in Nigeria when most of the political parties held so-called primaries. With little exception, the events were farcical. A delegate who attended the ruling party’s presidential primaries in Abuja confided that it was a dollar-fest. Each delegate, he said, came away with close to $20,000 in cash. “My brother, we voted for the highest giver,” he said cheerily. The story was much the same with other political parties. In the Action Congress of Nigeria, one or two “chieftains” basically handed out tickets to their favorites – disdaining the wishes of the membership. In Anambra State, a longtime member of APGA told me that two or three men, including the state governor, decided who got the tickets. And that there was no room for principled dissent.

In three months, Nigerians will go to the polls again. Everybody I spoke to – in Lagos, Asaba, Awka, Enugu and Abuja – was certain that fraudulent elections could spell lasting doom this time around. Yet, after witnessing the impunity that passed for party primaries, it’s difficult to be hopeful in the prospects of credible elections in April. My fear is that it won’t be enough to say that the rigging under Attahiru Jega is not as bad as Maurice Iwu’s.

And there’s another terrible prospect. What if Mr. Jega goes down in history as the man who gave Nigeria its worst election ever? What then?



Time To Amalgamate Northern And Southern Nigeria

By Gomiluk Otokwala

January 1, 2014 – about three years from today – will mark one hundred years since the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria were amalgamated to form what is today the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sadly, almost a century after that merger, Nigeria still remains essentially two separate countries welded precariously into one. In this short piece, I argue that unless steps are taken to perfect that amalgamation, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as currently configured) can hardly make any meaningful progress.

To be sure, there are at least three hundred ethnic nationalities in Nigeria almost evenly spread across the landmass of the country. In the old Northern Region dominated by the Hausa/Fulani, very many ethnic minorities exist, many of whom do not as much as understand the Hausa language. The same is true of the old Eastern and Western regions, both of which constitute the former Southern Protectorate. Across the country, many of these ethnic groups are as similar to each other as the French are to the Chinese. However, as divided as Nigeria is by virtue of its breathtaking plurality, there is no other dimension of division as strong as the North-South dichotomy.

This sense of dichotomy is not a recent phenomenon. History books document that when in 1953 the late Anthony Enahoro moved the historic motion for Nigeria’s self-governance, it was widely supported by the southern parliamentarians (the Western and Eastern Regions) and opposed largely by the North. The January 15, 1966 coup, which swept away the First Republic, was also perceived as a southern (particularly eastern) ploy against the north. The counter-coup that followed was essentially motivated by a desire to get even. And to a large extent, an undercurrent of liberation from repression may have fanned the dastardly Civil War, which started one year later. In recent times, the north-south dichotomy has one of its clearest expressions in the clamor for the exclusive right of the North to produce the next president. And the division is not about to abate.
What is particularly disturbing is how little Nigerians from either side of the divide relate with or know about the other part of the country. For example, on Facebook, most Nigerians’ friend lists are stuffed overwhelmingly with people from only one half of the country. Most young people from the South think of all northerners as Hausas (generally called “mallams” or “aboki”).

Many Hausas think of everyone from the old Eastern Region as Igbo, even when you insist you are not. Many people from each side have not crossed to the other side of the divide, in some cases out of paranoia. Many grow old and die without doing so. For a child growing up in the south, the first contact with the north is likely to be with shoe cobblers, nail trimmers, water vendors, herdsmen and petty road-side shop keepers. That is, apart from the very wealthy babariga-brandishing politicians on TV. It is so easy then to grow up in the south with the image of a poverty-stricken north etched in one’s brain. And many young ordinary northern kids, I imagine, are most likely to have had their first ‘southern’ contact with the ubiquitous Igbo trader and his family, and TV images from Nollywood full of America-fond mostly-southern movie stars.
When confronted with a little more exposure we realize how much ignorance we’ve been wallowing in. A friend of mine recently got posted to Katsina for the mandatory youth service. She is so full of admiration for the simple ways of her hosts, the very clean streets and the more humane existence than she experienced in Lagos and some parts of the East. Another friend from Kaduna impressed me terribly by his eloquence and brilliance when we met at the Nigerian Law School. Though he’s not Hausa, most of us branded him one because he had to be if he hailed from Kaduna. Another one from Bauchi, with whom I later studied is one of the most brilliant young Nigerian minds I have met. And the list is endless. Fortunately, I hail from the South-South, studied in the East and the North, and worked in the Southwest. Because not many young Nigerians follow a similar trajectory, many remain in the regional closet by no fault of theirs. This should not be so.

There is a lot the government can do to weld the two “Nigerias” into one and create the much-needed common sense of nationhood in all of us. The National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC), before it was terribly abused, was one such scheme. It enabled (and I mean the past tense seriously) people from one region to do community service in a region different from theirs, mostly across the north-south divide. Unfortunately, these days, only those who are thoroughly helpless or who, though powerful, do not mind, get posted to undesirable places. Also, because violence of all kinds has virtually become a recurring decimal in some parts of the country, fewer people are willing to go on national adventures. Even worse, there are concerns about the employment advantages the service year gives to people from otherwise arid locations. For example, by the time a Port Harcourt resident returns home from national service in a remote village close to the border, the “corpers” who served in the oil companies have already stayed back to take up the few available spaces. All of these have defeated the NYSC’s objectives.

The actual amalgamation of northern and southern Nigeria requires conscious effort on the part of the federal government. One good step might be to require federal schools to retain a certain quota for student applicants and lecturers from the other half of the country. That way, I would not study law for five years in a class of over 400 with only three Yoruba’s and no Hausa, simply because the school is located in the South-East.

Similarly, as widely condemned as it is, the NYSC could be restructured and put to better uses. One way to do it might be to make the service year part of undergraduate training, but one year before graduation. That way, the competitive disadvantages that people suffer because of where they served should disappear. Of course that also assumes the government would take bolder steps against religious bigotry and mindless killings in some parts of the country. Also, the curriculum especially at secondary and primary school levels should be overhauled to teach more about other parts of Nigeria. And all schools could be encouraged to organize trips to, and exchange programs with, the other half of the country. One more thing: can we think more seriously about conferring benefits accruing to “indigenes” at state level primarily on the basis of where one is born or has lived instead of just where your great-grandparents migrated from.

This write-up is based on the assumption that there is a national consensus to keep Nigeria as one indivisible and indissoluble nation. I believe we are better off as one large, diverse and resource-endowed country. Some disagree. True, some northerners are “so different” from most southerners, but so too are many southern peoples from one another. The present generation of Nigerians will have to erase the mentality of a north-south divide. Of course there will always be the need to strike some kind of balance in a plural system such as ours. However, any crusade hinged on “North versus South” only keeps alive the ghost of Lord Lugard and pushes further away the Nigeria of our dreams. Even worse, it keeps us from pursuing a merit-driven agenda for the common good.

Gomiluk may be reached at: [email protected]

Aregbesola swears in secretary to government

 By Bamigbola Michael

Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State yesterday swore in Moshood Adeoti and Gboyega Oyetola as the secretary to the state government and chief of staff to the governor respectively, with a pledge to improve the economy of the state in the first year of his administration. Mr. Aregbesola promised to leave the state in a better position than he found it.

Mr. Adeoti was, until his appointment, the state chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria while Mr. Oyetola is an insurance expert based in Lagos. Mr. Adeoti is from Iwo, in Iwo Local Government Area and holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Benin while Mr. Oyetola has a B.Sc in Insurance and an MBA from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

Mr. Aregbesola further solicited for the cooperation of the people of the state for the success of his administration, and said agriculture and education would be given priority by his administration, just as he promised to ensure all-round development of the state.

Mr. Adeoti thanked Mr. Aregbesola and the Action Congress leaders for the confidence they had in him and Mr. Oyetola, assuring that they would give maximum support to the governor to ensure the realisation of his dreams for the state. He dedicated the appointment to the party members who lost their lives in the struggle to reclaim Mr. Aregbesola’s mandate in April 2007.

Aregbesola Moves to Probe Oyinlola’s Administration

24 Jan 2011

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Rauf Aregbesola

A serious battle of wits is now set between the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola and his predecessor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the government of Aregbesola has begun investigations into all the contracts awarded by the government of Oyinlola during his seven and a half years administration.

However,   the governor has set up a contract revalidation committee saddled with the responsibility of investigating all contracts awarded by Oyinlola and reclaim to the coffers of the state government necessary monies from the uncompleted projects executed by the Oyinlola’s administration.

The committee is headed by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola  who will recommend and also to ascertain the quality of projects executed by the Oyinlola’s administration and recommend to the state government how to ensure speedy completion of all uncompleted contracts awarded by the Oyinlola’s government.

 Consequently, the committee will also ensure the repayment of all monies by contractors who fail to execute the contracts awarded to them and give out such contracts to new contractors with deadline on their completion.

 It would be recalled that Aregbesola who was sworn-in as the fourth Executive Governor of the state on November 27, 2010 said his administration would not witch-hunt his predecessor and those who served in his government, the latest decision of Mr. Aregbesola has shown that his government may be set for a serious battle with Oyinlola and members of his cabinet.

The Chairman of the Contracts revalidation committee, Mr. Oyetola who had inspected all the contracts awarded  by the Oyinlola’s administration at the weekend, debunked  the facts that  efforts was aimed at witch-hunting Oyinlola, saying “the present administration would not take it lightly with the erring and defaulted contractors. We will ensure that we get back to the coffers of the government the monies due to it.”

However some of the project sites inspected by Oyetola and his team were the six uncompleted stadia located in the six zonal headquarters of the state, the free trade zone and the state pharmaceutical company among others.

Oyetola remarked after an inspection tour of the project sites that the contractors, who handled the contracts awarded by Oyinlola, said there was nothing to justify the huge amount of money which the past administration said it expended on the projects.

He was also worried with the level of work executed at the free trade zone where he said “the Oyinlola’s administration released #1.5 billion for the completion of the project at the twilight of his administration, but nothing to show for it up till now.”

Also it would be noted that Oyinlola’s government had in 2009 awarded the contracts for the construction of six stadia in all the six zones of the state, but the project was not executed until last year.

Equally, the free trade zone was awarded to foreign contractors during the first term of Oyinlola, but the contract could not be completed till the last day of Oyinlola in government.

Attempts by THISDAY to speak with the former Governor or any of his aid proved abortive as their telephone lines could not be reached.

Tags: Politics, Nigeria


Written by Dayo Modupe

To an average Nigerian the most corrupt law enforcement agents are found in the Nigeria Police. The reasons cannot be far fetched; these are the ones Nigerians catch in the act everyday either on the road, in their stations or other places demanding and collecting bribe.  I bet, not a few Nigerians cannot readily recognize a Nigerian custom officer in uniform.

My opinion of the Nigeria Customs Service as a paramilitary agency of the government until recently was that comprising officers, men and women of fine character, equipped to deal with smugglers of banned/ contraband goods, smuggled vehicles at borders or near border posts. But from the foregoing the service does not seem to be interested in smugglers or people caught with smuggled vehicles/goods, so as to deter the crime. They are more interested in the goods for their personal enrichment.

Unknown to many Nigerians, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is unarguably a worse culprit whose propensity for backhander has far surpassed that of the Nigerian Police. The NCS agents are ironically public enemies, who hold the ‘rest of us’ without political, economic and social power to ransom.  A lawyer friend of mine defined the ‘rest of us’ as non-citizens. He was correct! The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes a citizen as someone who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to its protection. The NCS is an arm of the government. Instead of deriving protection from them, what we get is tyranny. They thrive on our ignorance and defenselessness through official brigandage to inflict trauma on us, the result of which is helpless submission to their corrupt desires.

Many times before my sad experience with the ‘Men in Grey’ I had seen them at their duty posts on some border and non-border routes. They had never stopped me, so I had never shown any interest in them like I would grudgingly do police men once they appear in sight.

On Friday, 26th of November 2010, at a point, between sagamu and Papalanto, called Iyana abese, between 10am and 11am they had laid ambush. I was returning to Ibadan. No motorist can evade them at that crater point, where they laid siege on the long failed road.

They stopped me and asked for my car papers. As I had never been stopped by customs men before, I had the temptation to say I was driving a registered car which was obvious because of the number plates. But there was really no reason to fret, as even for about two years that I had been driving the car, policemen had never faulted my car papers. As a law abiding citizen, I obliged. After checking through the documents, they alleged that I did not have custom papers. I explained to the leader of the team, one ASC1 Ojeh, that I had never had an encounter with customs officers before neither did I even ever envisage having one. So, I pleaded that henceforth I would ensure that the papers were kept in the car.  In all sincerity, since I completed the car registration I had never taken the custom papers with me in the car. Police men had never asked for it so I took for granted the need to keep it in the car. I had kept away the custom papers in a file at home.  Sincere mistake really!

I was alone in my car while they were about 6 in number. A couple of them had guns.  I begged that I had the papers they required and that I could even go to Ibadan where I reside and fetch it, assuming that they were from Ogun State. I was therefore surprised when the team leader declared that they were taking my car to Lagos from that point. All my pleadings fell on deaf ears.

The team leader hence ordered his men to remove my car number plates, eject me and all my belongings in the car. The men obeyed to the letter and took possession of my car at gun point.  My plea that I was not in good health and to be allowed to follow them (either in my car or their patrol van) to where my car was been taken was rebuffed violently. As I stood bewildered, I gazed at car as it was driven away out of sight. As this brigandage cannot be less consistent with armed robbery, I concluded that my car had been snatched by some outlaws in uniform.

It may interest the readers to know that there was no paper issued to me, evidencing the confiscation of my car.

I was left stranded by the road at a great risk to my life, considering the alarming rate of insecurity in the country today, evidenced by incessant cases of kidnap and rituals. All attempts to reach out on phone to family and friends were abortive as the area did not enjoy any network service. Some good Samaritans, after more than two hours in the wilderness, later helped with useful information and transportation to Sagamu.

As soon as I got to shagamu I quickly contacted some friends on phone and relayed my troubles.  One of them swiftly got into action, by going to Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Nigeria Customs Service, in Ikeja to inquire if the people that seized my car at gun point and left me in danger were actually customs men or some bandits considering the mode of their operation.  I had intended   to go to Ibadan (where I kept the custom papers), from Sagamu,   to quickly pick it and head again for Lagos to present it hoping the men that violently took my car from me were customs men and had actually taken it to their office. But another of my friends, who is resident in Lagos strongly advised that I come to Lagos first and ensure that I locate my car. I heeded his advice.

I was in the Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service by 5pm, anxious and agitated. A crowd of civilians with tired mien and long faces, some standing in groups mixed freely with men and women in customs uniform.  My friend that had gone in advance to FOU was already waiting for me among the crowd. During my transit, he had tried to make enquiries as regards my concern but he did not get a clue. One woman who he spoke to and who was pretending to be of assistance was actually in the waiting to take advantage of my situation. She told my friend, ‘when your friend gets here, if he can quickly come up with some money he will get his car’.  My first interaction with her incited in me suspicion of extortion and of course a passionate feeling of hatred. I needed an assurance first and foremost that my car was safe but her close-minded interest had beclouded her sense of reasoning so much she could not perceive the trauma I was going through.

I was impatient, so I left my friend with her and looked around for a possibly more civilized and reasonable staff among the officials.  A seemingly motherly staff caught my attention. I approached her and told her my day long suffering in the hands of her colleagues. She seemed to be moved by my cry and attended to me by obliging my request – the need to sight my car as I was not sure if I had been robbed by some fake men in custom uniform or uniformed custom men with criminal intention.  She ensured that I locate my car in the unit’s mechanical workshop where seized cars are kept. She suggested that there was nothing I could achieve again that day and I should return on Monday with my car custom papers.  For the first time that day I had a let-up.

The following Monday I confidently produced the requested custom papers at the Unit’s Legal department with the hope that I would be able to take possession of my car. My trouble had just continued.

On the directive of the Legal officer-in charge, my papers were taken for verification on the NCS computer system. A 3-page document was generated from the system with information bordering on my car. A hand written and signed report, showing the car’s declaration at Lily Port Pond and the import duty paid on the car, was written on the back of the first page of the  generated document by the officer that did the verification. The document was thereafter passed to another officer for crosscheck. After 3 hours of waiting I was ushered in to his office. He opened the document and tried to call my attention to some data that I cannot comprehend and alleged that the chassis number of my car was not contained therein. Probing him to explain further, he asserted that the document was recycled. I did not still understand him so I replied that the paper was generated from the NCS system and asked him what the way forward was. He asserted that the document was fake and declared with finality that my car had been seized.

I was stunned beyond words! Observing his gaze behind some light-framed bifocals, I suspected some mischief and felt he was out to play a fast one on me in order to extort me. Quickly I demanded for the document which he reluctantly returned to me. Hence I began soliciting the interpretation of the entire document among some other custom personnel and some civilians around there some of who turned out to be clearing agents and have good knowledge of the workings in the system.

Everybody who checked the document agreed that something was fishy, basing their suspicion on the signed handwritten report, which was a confirmation that the information on the car clearance is contained in the NCS computer system indicating that the car was imported through the right channel and physically checked by Nigeria Customs as required, and not a smuggled car.

From that day on I was left to run from pillar to post in abject confusion in search of useful information in respect of the release of my car, as the operations of the customs service personnel had become shrouded in cult-like secrecy. The pursuit of the release of the car took me as far as Tin Can Island and Lily Port Pond, Apapa twice, where I got further useful information concerning the importation of the car. I also stumbled on the fact that an hour within which my car was driven into the NCS yard, it was placed under ‘’SEIZURE”, their terminology used for category of smuggled cars which are not recoverable by owners and eventually auctioned for pittance; a sharp departure from normal investigation while a car is in ‘’DETENTION’’. The point I have raised here should be an interesting concern for investigation.

With all the information at my disposal I still met brick walls. At this point I was advised to get a legal aid. About a month after my car was snatched and of daily appearance at the unit office, my lawyer came into the scene.  They refused to acknowledge the receipt of the memo sent by my lawyer. However, the content of the letter spurred them into action as they did not only study it but kept it, and diplomatically suggested that I leave my lawyer out of the matter. They conceded that an error was made by their patrol men to have placed my car under ‘’SEIZURE’’ and assured me that I would have my car back. But that was not to be immediate as the ‘’SEIZURE’’ status would have to be reversed by those who ‘’made the error’’.

On the 30th December 2010 the reversal was done by the patrol men. I had thought that I would be given my car immediately, and even get an apology for the more than one month suffering I went through while my car was erroneously placed in ‘’SEIZURE’’.

I was shocked when some days later they insisted that the car clearance at the port 2 years ago was not perfected and decided I would have to pay some money to have my car back.  I was given a hand written bill of =N=150,000 without reference to any guideline or authority, which eventually was reduced to about =N=71,000. At this stage, I had been beaten to submission and had to choose between enduring the suffering of traveling to Lagos everyday from Ibadan while my car  was still in the FOU mechanical workshop and getting damaged and just having my car back by paying.  Because of the slow bureaucracy in the system and financial inducement among the rank and file, my car was released to me two days after the payment was done at a recommended Zenith bank branch.

My car number plates were missing as at the time of retrieving the car. This was on January 5, 2011. For having the guts to complain at the gate of the mechanical workshop and ask for the number plates, the personnel on duty began to insult me and even threatened to lock me up. They said I should be happy enough that I was able to retrieve my car. I went to the head of the legal department to complain about the loss of the number plates. His response was neither helpful. My car is still without number plates as I write.

The motto on the NCS logo reads justice and honesty. The way and manner of the men and women of the service is a sharp contrast from the slogan. The generality of the service personnel at the FOU are uncooperative, insensitive and nonchalant lot whose handling of public concern is dependent only on the extent to which their personnal interest is involved. They do not see their position as a call to national service. They throw caution into the air in their demand for bribe. The entire place is a trade center.  A seized car owner must physically follow up on his vehicle case through the long processes and he dare not appear at any desk without preparing to pay a non-receipted fee. The customs men and women are so daring in their demands for bribe that one wonders if we still have a financial crimes or anti-graft commission in this country. One even wonders again if journalists ever fall victim of the oppression expressed by these men and women, to bring their acts to public knowledge.

Every car seized is an avenue for extortion and so long are the processes and many the different desks created for this extortion. Where their victims are not showing ready disposition to their demand, they resort to tactical and frustrating delay of the already inefficient and deliberately designed long processes.  The exercise is agonizing and traumatic.  The FOU personnel treat fellow Nigerians with lack of respect for dignity of human person, decorum and diplomacy. They even resort to detaining whoever has the guts to prove his right or challenge their inefficiencies.

This is a psychological violence against the public whose taxes sustain the service.  I call on well meaning Nigerians, Human rights organizations, Nigerian Bar Association and the Press to beam a searchlight on these men and women whose activities are capable of promoting the Rule of Force, a major threat to the jealously guarded refinements of a civilized society.

Culled from NVS

Atiku is a businessman with a mind in politics, says Bisi Akande

By Bamigbola Michael

The national chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Adebisi Akande, speaks on the party’s controversial consensus method of picking its candidates, its chances on the national level and the choice of Nuhu Ribadu as its presidential candidate.
The choice of Nuhu Ribadu as the consensus presidential candidate of the party
In August last year, our party decided to migrate from using the old hands and resolved to make use of the youth. That was why we encouraged the youth to pick our forms for elections. We felt that the youth of this country have been denied the opportunity to be in the forefront in the political life. So we wanted them to be able to come forward and showcase their stuff. So our party is determined to create opportunity for the youth to partake in elections and governance. As a result of this, we allocate enough space for the youth in our party. It is our desire to see the youth operating while we are still alive and we are trying to accomplice that. Therefore, because Ribadu falls within that bracket, he was able to get our ticket for the presidential election. I need to tell you that among the three persons that were presidential aspirants on the platform of ACN, there was unanimous decision that Ribadu should be the candidate. We thought there was going to be an election by the delegates to elect one of the aspirants, but when the three of them spoke, they came up with a decision that Ribadu should be the candidate. So, none of the remaining two, Bafarawa and Malami is aggrieved over Ribadu’s emergence.
The chances of an opposition party defeating the PDP at the national level
Honestly, we are very optimistic that we can win the presidential election in the forthcoming April poll. When we felt that our party may not be able to do it alone, we are trying to form alliance with other parties of like minds. We are discussing with CPC and ANPP and we hope that with such people in those parties, can easily strengthen the opposition and defeat the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party. The discussion is really progressing and I want Nigerians to be very assured that we are going to chase the PDP out of the presidential villa in Abuja this year.
Conduct of the general election

Considering the leadership of the INEC, I think one can say the election will be free and fair but we are not sure of the role that the police will play yet. The inspector general of police needs to come out with his agenda and convince Nigerians on his own commitment to ensure free and fair election.

Protests within ACN over imposition of candidates
We are in a democracy. So, what do you mean by imposition? It is the same democracy that is being practiced in England and Canada as well as India. The style they are using there is the style ACN is using here. It is only in America that they use primary election in choosing candidates. You cannot tell me that the American democracy is superior to that of the British. Such style practiced in America has the tendency of splitting the party into pieces. The British democracy is the oldest in the world and you cannot see political parties there conducting primary elections before choosing their candidates. They do it by picking competent hands that are trustworthy in the judgment of the party. So, we believe that election under a democratic setting is when we are contesting with other political party during polls. If election within our party is what you are trying to describe as internal democracy, then we reject such ideas. Nobody should accuse ACN of imposition because that is our style.
Anyone that is not comfortable with that should go and contest in another political party. So if you see anyone carrying placard around, he is wasting his time. We know the efforts we made before the party became what it is today and where were they when we were making the efforts. It is when they saw that the party was popular that they were attracted to it and we don’t expect them to come and hijack the party because of their dirty money. We don’t allow anyone to hijack our party and that is why we take the decisions in the interest of the party.
Possible return of Atiku to the ACN camp
Atiku is a businessman with a mind in politics. He thinks politics could be played the way business can be managed. If he is not careful, he will soon become a rolling stone that gathers no moss. The earlier he realizes this, the better for him. However, if he wants to come back to ACN, he is welcome. If Atiku comes back to our party, we will remind him, had you know, you would not have gone back to PDP again. So, anybody can join our party from their wards in their local governments and no one can prevent them.
His long romance with politics
I will die in politics. It is not possible for me to quit. Even when I become older that I cannot move around again, my soul will keep playing politics. Don’t forget that politics is ordained by God and it is through politics that you will be able to help other people in the society to be better. When you are in politics, you are an apostle of a kind. Oh! I love politics very much. I’m not going to quit.
Salary of lawmakers and political office holders
The nation’s constitution does not allow legislators to regulate their earnings and emoluments, but it is a lawless act coming from sheer impunity which is the major characteristic of the PDP government. As far as I’m concerned, it is looting. My party does not support such a thing. Instead of benefiting the generality of people of this country, they are busy enriching themselves with public fund. That is what we call self aggrandizement and it is naked stealing which is not acceptable to our own political party. That is the reason why our party is striving to make sure that those who will serve the public through our platform must listen to the party leadership. We are trying to make sure that those elected on our party’s platform don’t misbehave or steal. We are making them to realize that the party is superior, irrespective of the power that their offices give that after the elections. So, they must listen to the party. That is why you see governance in Lagos and Edo, because we don’t allow the governor to put themselves above the people.
Monitoring ACN lawmakers in the national assembly
It will be a little bit difficult. We cannot give such instruction because it will provoke crises within our party. Our representatives in the National Assembly know our attitude on this matter and they know that we are not comfortable as far as the issue of jumbo pay is concerned, but our lawmakers are helpless. They are human beings and it may be difficult for them not to take the money when their colleagues from other political parties are collecting theirs. We can stop that aberration when our party takes over the presidency through the next election. The emolument for members of the national assembly would be fixed by using what the labour wage and in consideration of the revenue that is generated by the country.
PDP unhappiness with ACN of Osun
I don’t think the judiciary did anything wrong by taking away the stolen mandate from the election riggers and return it to the rightful owner, Aregbesola. When the same judiciary gave it to PDP in Ogun and Oyo state, Omisore did not complain. However, I don’t blame him. The young man is frustrated. As you can see, he was very ambitious and his ambition just crashed. So, he is overwhelmed by the development and he was saying rubbish because he was confused. Choosing between Obasanjo and Tinubu Obasanjo is confused, while Tinubu is a focused party manager. Tinubu has some people he listens to while Obasanjo has nobody to fear.

Aregbesola, Alao-Akala Trade Words over LAUTECH

Aregbesola, Alao-Akala Trade Words over LAUTECH

This Day

23 Jan 2011


Mr. Rauf Aregbesola

Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has called on his Oyo State counterpart, Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala, to desist from giving out illegal directives to staff of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) College of Health Sciences and its Teaching Hospital, currently sited in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.

Speaking at a press conference in Osogbo, Aregbesola said the warning became necessary following what he called reckless issuance of directive to staff of the institution by Oyo State Government.

It would be recalled that Oyo State Government gave a directive to staff of LAUTECH College of Health Sciences and Teaching Hospital to report in Ogbomosho by last Wednesday.

But Aregbesola, who maintained that LAUTECH  and its Teaching Hospital are jointly owned by Osun and Oyo states said, “It is regrettable that Governor Alao-Akala has been acting as if LAUTECH  was established on whims and caprices rather than by charters of law.”

Aregbesola, whose text was read by Professor Sola Adeyeye, said most recently, Lautech College of Health Sciences and its Teaching Hospital are being taken hostage by the reckless impunity with which the Oyo State Government has undermined the running of these institutions.

“Faculty and staff have been illegally transferred to Ogbomosho despite the fact that the College of Health Sciences and Teaching Hospital were cited in Osogbo by an act of law,” he said.

The governor, while alerting Nigerians that neither LAUTECH  College of Health Sciences nor its Teaching Hospital has been ceded from Osun to Oyo State, maintained that “buildings per se constitute neither LAUTECH  College of Health Sciences nor a Teaching Hospital.

Aregbesola said the institution still belonged to Oyo and Osun states and “neither Oyo State Government nor the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria can disposses Osun of the medical school and teaching hospital… Neither has the authority under the law to alter the location of these institutions without the consent of the people of Osun and its elected government.” The governor said since the National Universities Commission (NUC) recognised that LAUTECH College of Health Sciences and its Teaching Hospital were located in Osogbo, other approving authorities should steer clear of its illegal relocation.

President plots to destabilize Lagos

President plots to destabilize Lagos –Lagos Peoples Vanguard (LPV)
Sunday, January 23, 2011

Photo: Sun News Publishing
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Chairman of Lagos Peoples Vanguard (LPV), a multi-ethnic pressure group, Comrade Sola Omoshola, has alleged plans by President Goodluck Jonathan to destabilize the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)-led administration in the state.

He alleged that the president was planning to incite some ethnic groups to work against the party, all in a desperate bid to pave the way for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to win Lagos in April polls.
The LPV Chairman made the allegation on Saturday when he led a peaceful protest to the new domestic terminal of the Lagos Airport, called MMA 2.

The protesting youths, numbering about 70, were armed with placards of various inscriptions and chanted zestful songs of protest. As they moved around the terminal, they drew the attention of passengers, security personnel and other workers around the place.

Some of the placards read: “Mr President! Please Lagosians are peace-loving people; Mr President welcome to Lagos; Lagos is peaceful; Do not incite Itsekiri, and Ijaw against other ethnic groups; Let your votes count in the next general elections come April 2011”, among others.

In his own remarks, the Chairman of LPV said: “The president is free to come to Lagos. He is welcome any day, but what is wrong is when the president comes to instigate certain ethnic groups against the others. That will not be good for the peace that reigns in Lagos. We’ll resist that. People in Lagos have been living in peace. Please let them leave us alone, we are very happy the way we are.

The dividends of democracy in Lagos can be seen everywhere, in every nook and cranny in Lagos, so we do not want anybody to destabilise it. We are forging ahead in Lagos, the Hausas are here, the Itsekiris are here, the Ijaws are here in Lagos. As a matter of fact, Lagos State is Nigeria, so let nobody destabilise us”, he said.

Omoshola urged eligible Lagosians to ensure they are registered in the ongoing voters’ registration as that remains their only power to elect candidates of their choice. “What we care about, is to get the voters registration right now; if we cannot do it now, then we will never get it right again in our lives. Nigeria is over 50 years and we cannot sell our rights to anybody. We are just saying let Lagosians go out there and register. If need be, let Jega go to the appropriate quarters and ask for extension of date. We want this election to take place in peace. Let people elect leaders they want to serve them”, he added.

Omoshola also urged the president not to allow himself to be used by desperate politicians who want to actualize their ambitions by hook or crook in the state. “There is this information reaching our desk that some people are pushing Mr President to come to Lagos to meet with Ijaws, Itsekiri people to incite them against the political platform that produced the administration in Lagos State. They might have another agenda in mind. If Jonathan wants to come to Lagos to meet his kinsmen, he is welcome anytime any day, but inciting one ethnic group against another will create problems,”he said.

No voter card, no salary in Ekiti- Fayemi

No voter card, no salary in Ekiti- Fayemi

The Nation

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state yesterday declared that civil servants who fail to obtain voter cards would forfeit their January salary.

He spoke at Ode-Ekiti, headquarters of Gbonyin Local Government Area of the state shortly after flagging off the Free Medical Mission packaged by the state for people at the grassroots.

Fayemi said:  “Your vote is your power and I want all of you to ensure that you register as voters to enable you exercise your civic rights at the forthcoming general elections.

“Any civil servant without voter card will not receive this month’s salary and the subsequent ones. I am emphasising it that voter card will be required from civil servants before they collect their salaries’’.

He said his administration places high premium on voter registration, which he described as an important step to prevent electoral robbery. 

Fayemi charged all civil servants to register at the nearest point to avoid forfeiting their salaries. 

He revealed that 99, 358 people had so far benefited from the free medical mission of the government, assuring the scheme is for everyone regardless of political affinity. 

Though treatment and dispensation of drugs in partnership with the Development Support

Initiative (DSI) remain free in the state, the governor stated that residents would be required to provide voter cards to benefit from the scheme next quarter.

“The Free Health Mission for the second quarter of the year will be based on voter cards because nobody will steal our votes this time around.”

CPC/ACN Alliance: The Last straw to break PDP’s back?

CPC/ACN Alliance: The Last straw to break PDP’s back?


By: Maikudi Abubakar Zukogi

At the close of count and the declaration of the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan as the flag bearer of the PDP in the April polls last Thursday January 13, 2011, it became clear to the opposition political parties that they will need to brace up for a gargantuan fight. The scenario is clear and not any different from 2003 when Atiku, the man who challenged Jonathan to a distant second position, shouted himself hoarse all over the country to install his former boss Obasanjo for a second time in power. PDP, it would be recalled, through the voice of Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, its deposed former chairman, vowed to rule the country for the next sixty years. Also, as in 2003, Chief Tony Anenih, former chairman of BOT of PDP sounded a similar warning recently in Asaba that there is no vacancy in Aso Rock in 2011. He followed this statement with an even more stringent warning to the southern delegates never to vote for any candidate beside their own, President Goodluck Jonathan. Therefore, if the ruling party detest internal democracy to create space for other contestants within its fold, how do we trust, in spite of the rhetoric, that it will allow for a level playing field and deliver a free and credible election in April, 2011?

With this haunting reality steering the opposition political parties in the face, it is certain that the road is already laced with mines, and the only way out is for the parties to look inwards and bend backwards to come up with an acceptable and formidable alliance to wrestle power from PDP. It is with this in mind that I see great prospect for achieving this seemingly impossible task in the proposed CPC/ACN alliance. Although not holding power in any state and barely one year old, CPC has created positive impact and sympathy in the minds of multitude of Nigerians, especially across the stretch of the north and beyond. The ANPP under whose flag General Muhammadu Buhari contested the 2003 and 2007 massively rigged presidential elections no longer seemed a trusted platform to carry on the struggle of delivering the Nigerian people from the suffocating shackles of PDP, having immersed itself into the PDP government in the bare deceit called government of national unity. Therefore, it is not unexpected that as soon as Buhari left the party, his sympathisers and supporters left with him to pitch their tents with CPC. Indeed, it is as a result of the party’s association with General Muhammadu Buhari, who has been given a unanimous nod to fly the party’s flag in the presidential election that CPC has incredibly prospered in so short a time. Buhari’s support has remain phenomenal and is well received everywhere across the country especially among the mass of Nigerian people who have been deprived, pauperized and completely denied the means of decent living as a result of twelve years of PDP misrule. Buhari, for the truly deprived masses of Nigeria, has come to represent the symbol of hope and a beacon of honesty, integrity, transparency, accountability, equality and social justice; virtues which are absent in the polity today. By every standard of measurement, Buhari has had a fair share of opportunity in life, beginning with military command postings, through to his appointment as governor, minister, and finally as Head of State. In all these, he has distinguished himself as a selfless, hardworking, principled and incorruptible leader. His most recent land mark achievement remains the PTF, which story and contribution is still being felt till today. It is thus not surprising that in politically active states of the north such as Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi, Niger and Nassarawa, CPC has become a household name and its support is increasing by the day.

The other party which is equally receiving large following as CPC is ACN. By the last count, the party now has four states-Lagos, Edo, Ekiti and Osun- under its control, no thanks to the political acumen and sagacity of one of its founding father, Chief Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state. Tinubu has proved himself over time as a consistent and principled politician whose contribution to the improvement of the human and critical infrastructures of Lagos is a point of reference. He fought epic battles with President Obasanjo as an active opposition state governor over several issues including the withheld Lagos local government funds. His many recent successes which include the takeover of Ekiti and Osun states from PDP, shows Tinubu as a dogged fighter and the emerging political leader of south west Nigeria, edging out the duo of Bode George and Obasanjo. Although its impact is restricted formerly to the south western states, ACN is gradually making in-roads into northern states by the day, with a legion of politicians vying for various elective positions under its banner.

In the coming days, it will be increasingly clear the extent the ruling party can go to consolidate its hold on power. The just concluded PDP presidential primary is a clear signal that the incumbency factor cannot be wished away. In fact, for the serious opposition political parties, the fear of the incumbency factor should be the beginning of wisdom. The opposition parties must take the assurances of the provision of a level playing field and the conduct of a free, fair and credible election with a pinch of salt. They must go the extra mile to demonstrate that they will not accept anything short of these assurances. But do they have the muscle to do this when many of them seemed like age grade or community associations than political parties? Have they thought over the gargantuan task of wrestling power from an incumbent government that is not willing to wish the power away? Whether or not they think of these, Nigerians are desperately looking for a glimmer of hope, a distant help to come and break this vicious circle of hopelessness, poverty, insecurity, unemployment, extreme plenty in the midst of extreme want. In the coming days, we look forward to the formalisation of alliance between CPC and ACN- these two parties sure hold the ace to the much awaited emancipation of the Nigerian people from the inhibiting, even debilitating chains which ties them down these past twelve mournful years. CPC/ACN alliance is the much awaited change that Nigerians have been waiting for. History beckons these two great parties to be flexible on certain points and to come out and announce their blossoming into that truly mega party to put back smiles on the faces of Nigerians, north, south, west and east.

Truth is the ruling party fears this alliance and will do everything possible to scuttle its realisation. The two parties share so many things in common compared to other parties. Both parties are gaining more supporters in droves who genuinely believe in the principles and philosophy guiding them. Both parties are people oriented- have the mass of the Nigerian people as its target for comprehensive social welfare programme and the entrenchment of social justice. Both parties have nominated two great Nigerians- Buhari and Ribadu- to fly its flags in the April presidential elections. For these political parties to believe in these two great Nigerians who don’t have millions of naira and dollars to spend on delegates goes to show that they have set out to demonstrate a difference, a change and truly, a breath of fresh air in the way politics is played in Nigeria. So, these two parties have so many things in common than they have against each other. Nigerians are waiting patiently, obstinately to this unmistakably divine alliance. In this alliance will emerge the leader not ruler, the servant not master, the Noah who will steer the Nigerian ship to safety from where it is precariously held?

Maikudi Abubakar Zukogi can be reached at [email protected]

Culled from: NVS