Nigeria’s Intriguing Corruption, By Dele Agekameh

Before the age of computers, the internet and all forms of modern media generally, oral story telling was a big part of cultural integration processes, especially in Africa. Great story tellers existed and their traditional tales thrilled children and adults alike, with the many twists and turns crowned by the inevitable moral lessons inherent in them. Fables were especially popular, and the tortoise was at the centre of many funny tales. It now seems like a wave of nostalgia about those times has come upon the corrupt elements in our society.

Like many incredulous stories that have come out of Nigeria in recent times, the rave in the past few weeks has been about a few cases of missing beans, which is not in itself strange news to Nigerians. This time though, there has been an unexpected twist to the tales of corruption – animals. Like scripts from some of the many fables we used to be so entertained by, we have heard of how mysterious snakes and monkeys made off with staggering sums of money. The story tellers, of course, are civil servants and government officials who were confronted with questions to which they could not give any satisfactory answer.

In the first case, a sales clerk at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) office in Makurdi, Benue State, produced an unbelievable account of how a mysterious snake made repeated trips into a vault that held JAMB’s money and swallowed a combined sum of at least N36 million. The clerk accused her house maid and other staff at the office of being accomplices or puppeteers of the mystery snake. The incredible storytelling was caught on tape, despite the fact that the story teller denied making the statement in an interview with CNN.

Without going into details of how a domestic help at the home of a JAMB sales clerk got caught up in the case of missing beans, one wonders why the clerk thought it wise to relay the tale to her superiors, truth or not. If the clerk believed the story to be true, why had she never raised alarm before the JAMB audit uncovered the deficit? Furthermore, there has been no word from the alleged maid or other implicated people, or the snake for that matter. Yet, the news spread like wildfire, intriguing the eventual victims of this very real theft – the Nigerian people.

In the next case, which is even more embarrassing than the implausible snake story, the now former head of the Northern Senators Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu has been implicated in the disappearance of the sum of N70 million. Senator Shehu Sani from Kaduna State spoke on the floor of the Senate after the letter of removal of Senator Adamu as leader of the forum was read at the Senate. He commented that there had been rumours that some monkeys raided the farm of Senator Adamu and carted away the millions. It was not readily clear whether the comment was serious or jocular, but the very fact that it wasn’t clear says a lot about where we are as a country today.

A country where looting becomes funny because some ridiculous tale has been told to cover it up, is not ready for real change. Soon after the snake and monkey episodes, other ridiculous stories have made the rounds, all supposedly in good humour.

 

Beyond the intrigues of this incredible storytelling, there are real issues of concern in these matters. First is the cash culture that is still prevalent in the country despite the supposed cashless policy of the government. In the JAMB case, at least, one is thankful that Ishaq Oloyede, the new registrar, has been able to phase out the cash transactions that enabled clerks in Benue to gulp down a whooping N36 million with no credible explanation. This is why the joke or no joke about N70 million and monkeys involving senators is a shame.

Government officials are amongst the most frequent handlers of large sums of cash, some of it coming straight from the Central Bank, as recent corruption cases have shown. With the knowledge that cash transactions increase the potential for corruption and minimises the accountability window in official transactions, one would expect that government offices and officials would be the pilot grounds for the implementation of the cashless policy. All evidence points to the contrary.

 

Another quite disturbing issue is the reception of the incredible tales by Nigerians. It appears that the weight of corruption has worn down the minds of Nigerians into a dispassionate state where we are majorly interested in the intrigues of corruption cases, while losing sight of the real issues. In this case, one can describe the reaction of Nigerians as that of fascination, rather than something like righteous indignation, in the least. Maybe the case of the clerk presented a scenario most could relate to as opposed to a governor making up the same story.

In any case, Senator Shehu Sani displayed this fascination the most while attempting to masquerade his delight with sarcasm. Before his likely-made-up statement about monkeys, which only served to disgrace the country further, the senator had been the one that visited the JAMB headquarters in Abuja with snake charmers to further make light jokes about a serious matter of embezzlement, while on the clock for his constituency of Kaduna Central. The man was simply so enthralled in the admittedly comic dimension of the whole affair that he lost touch of the real issue. Many Nigerians unfortunately mirror this reaction.

A country where looting becomes funny because some ridiculous tale has been told to cover it up, is not ready for real change. Soon after the snake and monkey episodes, other ridiculous stories have made the rounds, all supposedly in good humour. The fact that many other JAMB offices around the country had cases of missing sums that could not be accounted for became suppressed under the comic weight of the snake and monkey, and of course with assistance from a senator of the Federal Republic.

The world is always watching, and no matter the statistics, figures and charts we put out there, a foreigner wants to feel like they are in a civilised country when they visit, instead they pick up the morning papers and are greeted by these ridiculous tales.

 

Another disturbing aspect of the matter is the quarter of the population that actually believes the story. In a vastly religious country where older voodoo customs are still practiced by many, one cannot be too surprised that the clerk’s story of the snake sounds plausible to a section of the population. One can bet also that those who believe this will hold other ideas on how to move forward in the case now. There are many mysteries in the world, but civilised society cannot be run on logic-defying beliefs and notions.

The fables now being told by suspected looters and irresponsible lawmakers may rival the best stories we heard in old times, but there is no moral to these tales of corruption. The only lesson we learn is that we are not winning the war of greater accountability. Whether the clerk believed the tale she presented or not, the truth is that the mind-set of the custodians of the common purse at any point in time may be a barrier to accountability in official practices. If one were to believe the clerk, for instance, it is altogether possible that she was busy fasting and praying or visiting witch doctors of her own when she should have been reporting lost money.

It is indeed shameful also that these tales are getting international attention. That CNN interviewing the clerk is a deeply embarrassing episode for the country. Whichever way one looks at it, it casts us all in a terribly bad light, just as the appointment of dead men into government boards and other sorry tales that have emerged from the country in recent times. The comedy must appear to never stop for observers in other countries, particularly neighbouring African countries who are in the same race for greater development as we are.

The world is always watching, and no matter the statistics, figures and charts we put out there, a foreigner wants to feel like they are in a civilised country when they visit, instead they pick up the morning papers and are greeted by these ridiculous tales. It is all at once sad and uninspiring that these are the kinds of matters that are generating the most attention in an election season. Too bad!

Prosecutor Request Court To Jail Former President Luiz Da Silva Of Brazil With Corruption

The prosecutor’s office in Brazil has requested the court to put former President Luiz da Silva, known as Lula, in jail after the defendant’s legal team appealed the court’s decision to convict the ex-leader.

According to a media outlet called Diario Correo , The prosecutors requested the court to “immediately start the implementation of the punishment,”. The 72-year-old politician was sentenced to 9½ years in jail last summer on bribery charges.

An appeals court upheld the ruling in January and increased the sentence to 12 years and one month.

Lula, who denied any wrongdoing, is to be jailed when his defense attorneys run out of appeal options.

While Lula is one of the most popular presidential hopefuls according to opinion polls, he is unable to run for president in the upcoming October election.

He served as president between 2003 and 2010, but is now barred from serving in any government capacity for the next 19 years.

 

Nigeria’s Corruption Problem: Is Getting Worse A Step To Getting Better? By Uche Igwe

As usual, the release of the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) made screaming headlines internationally – which is good. Countries were graded according to their seeming progress in the fight against corruption – from where gainers and losers emerged. This time, Nigeria was one of the countries that lost just a point, falling from 28 to 27 in the score, just like front-runners in the Index – New Zealand and Denmark – while other countries like Switzerland and Sweden lost four points each.

Two African countries Nigerian and Ghana among others had a surprisingly poor outing. Nigeria’s place dropped from initial 2016 position of 136 to a much lower level of 148 – twelve places down. Ghana’s drop from a score of 43 to 40 cost the country 11 spots from 70th position to 81 st in 2017. Curiously, similar losses did not result in such a high level of impact on other non-African countries –Australia, for instance lost two points but remained in the 13th position. Some have argued this is can be justified mathematically but let us leave it there. Naturally, this rapid drop in position led many organisations in the Nigerian media and civil society to conclude that corruption may be getting worse in the Africa’s most populous country – they may be right.

These groups have expressed their genuine worries publicly that the fight against corruption in Nigeria might have been stagnated due to what they describe as the reluctance of government to tackle grand corruption. Without getting into the fray, there is a point in using the CPI to push for more reforms globally and apply political pressure to the leadership in countries like Nigeria and Ghana, where corruption is said to be endemic. Indeed that might be one of the reasons that motivated those who invented the index. In that sense, the CPI has done very well in giving the fight against corruption some boost and global visibility. However, CPI remains what it is – a perception. If this is the case, then it will be hasty and indeed improper that figures coming from a perception survey are now equated to the reality upon which magisterial pronouncements will be made over a country’s efforts. Do not get me wrong here. Corruption especially political corruption is still a huge problem in Nigeria – persistent, fastidious- describe it as you may wish.

For a President that was elected due to his anti-corruption credentials, it is important to note that many observers are concerned about the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to intensify efforts in this regard – just a little more. The way anti-corruption reforms are being implemented in our country now, makes it easy for anyone to conclude that the corruption problem is more than it actually is. This is because there are too many people fighting corruption in different directions leading to a cacophony of voices. That may actually be the case of Nigeria – too many fights rather than too little. The multiplicity of anti-corruption organisations and interventions with little coordination has been one of the perennial impediments in the success of anti-corruption in Nigeria. The apparent struggle among these institutions for public attention means that they regularly go to the media to announce the progress or otherwise of their efforts.

This strategy is wrong for three reasons. First is that it over-politicizes the reforms and makes it look unusually partisan, as if efforts are targeted to witch-hunt a select group of people. Secondly, it exposes the strategies of these agencies to these corrupt and unscrupulous individuals who now quickly mutate to thwart these efforts using their vast patronage networks across every arm of government. The third is, it magnifies the perception of corruption beyond proportions. These days of active digital media platforms and social media, the unnecessary and unwarranted exchanges between agencies on sensitive anti-corruption issues make the problem look as big as media headlines make them. I propose that we temporarily ignore the dispute between scholars and practitioners about the methodological shortcomings of CPI. After all, any business person or country expert – the type of people, who supply data for CPI country research, will be right to interpret the situation described above as regression rather than progress.

Worst still, enormous resources are lost or misapplied due to unnecessary duplication of efforts. Many observers now derogatorily describe the lingering squabbles in the Nigerian anti-corruption arena as an anti-corruption industry – something that is happening for the private benefits of the vocal actors and not in the interest of the Nigerian public. Bizarre! For instance, it is not uncommon to hear the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) and the Ministry of Justice take different positions on a corruption issue even though they are all supposed to be part of the same government. Why is it impossible for these agencies to compare notes

and harmonise their positions before going public? The fact that the National Assembly for instance has not been on the same page with the executive on several corruption and anti-corruption issues since the inception of this administration is another case in point. No one can justify this impasse especially when you consider that lawmakers are the ones who will enact the legislations that will codify lasting anti-corruption reforms. Until date, several important bills like that Nigerian Financial Intelligence Bill, Proceeds of Crime Bill, Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill, Mutual Legal Assistance Bill are all pending in the parliament for one reason or another.

Nigeria remains suspended from the Egmont group of 155 financial intelligence units. Those who insist that the President needs to up his game have a point. It has become necessary for him to set a high profile example, before those who voted him in loose their patience. It must be noted however that Nigeria has made quiet but considerable progress in implementing her commitment under initiatives like the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Progress in open budgeting, open contracting, tax transparency and the effort to establish a beneficial ownership register – achieved in collaboration with civil society groups- have laid useful foundation for a sustainable progress in several sectors capable of advancing good governance – yet a lot still remains to be done. It is a given that any successful anti-corruption fight must be accompanied by tough and often unpleasant decisions which President Buhari seems reluctant to take.

Besides there have been allegations of nepotism and other ethically questionable behaviours against some members of the President’s kitchen cabinet – something that could potentially tar his image which he is yet to address. With the adoption of the National Anti-corruption Strategy (NACS) by the Federal Executive, it is expected that the inter-agency bickering will be reduced, as the Federal Ministry of Justice takes up a coordinating role as prescribed by the strategy document – to urgently support the President to deliver on his promises. Another area of concern to the cacophonous voices is the delay in the prosecution of high profile anti-corruption suspects.

Speedy prosecution of these individuals within the rule of law is an important signal that will re-confirm to observers that the President Buhari’s anti-corruption effort is still on course. With the successful repatriation of some of the monies stolen by the late former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, it is expected that the resources will fund fresh investments in social sectors as agreed in a memorandum of understanding between the Nigerian government and civil society groups recently. It is gratifying that earlier in the year; the African Union crowned President Muhammadu Buhari the Champion of the fight against corruption in the continent.

Such a rare honour is an important recognition of what he represents in Africa. It is also an opportunity for him to scale up his domestic efforts so that he can have something to show to other African countries at end of his tenure in 2019. Surely, there may be a silver lining hanging in the cloud of perception. Even with the low CPI scores it may well be that corruption, at times, needs to get worse before it can actually get better.

“Nigeria Problems Caused By Corruption”

The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, says most of the problems plaguing Nigeria are caused by corruption.

He added that even cancer could be traced to corruption.

Magu said this when he visited the Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday.

The EFCC boss said, “Corruption is the worst enemy of Nigeria. It is a disaster. It causes all evils. Even cancer is caused by corruption. Every evil you find in society is caused by corruption directly or indirectly. So, it is high time you and I stamped corruption out.”

Magu called on Nigerians to assist the commission to tackle corruption, adding that the EFCC could not do it alone.

He also commended INEC for helping to tackle corruption.

The EFCC chair added, “We are all Nigerians and we all have equal responsibility of fighting corruption. Everybody in his home has a responsibility in the fight against corruption and no one can sit down and say he can fight corruption alone. Corruption is affecting everybody.

“Everyone must join in the fight against corruption. Corruption is a disaster, it has done too much damage in this country and I believe INEC is fighting corruption indirectly. They may not be fighting corruption the way we are fighting it. That is why I said fight corruption whichever way you want to fight it.”

In his remarks, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said over 200 INEC officials had been either suspended or sacked for alleged corrupt practices.

He, however, said most of the officials of INEC were not corrupt but honest people, adding that at least 7,000 officials were promoted for their honesty and diligence last year.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Transferred To A Maximum Security Prison

Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has been transferred to a maximum security prison after refusing to pay the $6 billion as part of a government anti-corruption purge.

Recall that the prince was amongst the 60 detainees being kept under arrest at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

The detainees were moved by Saudi authorities to Al-Ha’ir Prison. The jail, located south of Riyadh, is the kingdom’s highest-security prison. The relocation of detainees reportedly followed a failure to negotiate their release with the government, refusing to make large financial payments. Riyadh was planning to secure a reported $100 billion in settlements from the kingdom’s billionaire

Alwaleed is a nephew of Saudi King Salman, and is worth more than $17 billion. He is ranked as the world’s 64th richest man, and was once dubbed the “Arabian Warren Buffett.”

The billionaire, who owns stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup, was arrested in November.

Last year, the Saudi authorities detained dozens of royals, top government officials, and businessmen in a national anti-corruption push, offering freedom to some of the detainees in exchange for paying up to 70 percent of their wealth. The arrests followed the launch of a new anti-corruption committee headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

 

New York Jury Finds 2 Ex-FIFA Chiefs Guilty Of Corruption

A jury in New York has found two South American ex-FIFA chiefs guilty of corruption. They are Jose Maria Marin, former head of Brazil’s Football Confederation and Juan Angel Napout, former head of Paraguayan football.

And promptly, the once-powerful pair were remanded into custody.

The panel will return after Christmas to deliberate on the fate of a third defendant, former Peru boss Manuel Burga.

The seven-week trial in a Brooklyn federal court exposed endemic criminal activity at the heart of the world’s most popular sport, two and a half years after the United States unveiled the largest graft scandal in the history of world soccer.

On the sixth day of deliberations, Marin, 85, was convicted on six of seven counts, and Napout, 59, on three out of five, in connection with bestowing television and marketing rights to soccer matches.

They were quickly remanded into custody, as marshals in plain clothes burst into the room to surround the men. Napout had just enough time to hand a watch, neck chain and belt to his wife, who sat in the gallery for the verdict with their children.

“The defendants are facing very significant potential sentences,” said Judge Pamela Chen, dismissing pleas from defense lawyers against immediate incarceration. Marin takes medication for depression and hypertension, his lawyer said.

Under federal regulations, Marin and Napout each face at least 10 years in prison. Each conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

“I don’t think there are real reasons for appeal,” said Chen.

Manuel Burga: to know fate next week
But the jury said they had not yet reached consensus on Burga, 60, who faces one count of racketeering conspiracy. They will return to resume deliberations on Tuesday.

Government prosecutors indicted 42 officials and marketing executives, as well as the sports company Traffic, and detailed 92 alleged crimes to the tune of more than $200 million, but so far only these three defendants have faced trial.

Marin and Napout betrayed no emotion as they heard the verdicts.

Jonathan, Do Yourself A Favour: Keep Quiet!

By Akin Fadeyi

Each time we mouth the cliche “our heroes past”, I wonder if we dig enough into the enormity of sacrifices made and how some of those heroes moved against established norms of debauchery for which they paid dearly – the supreme price.

Each time I introspect on the events of the 1970s, I shudder at the brutal murder of General Murtala Ramat Mohammed.

Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, a historian of repute, in his seminal 1979 book For The Liberation of Nigeria had this to say: “Muritala was casual about his security”. “He distanced himself from imperial grandeur and did not move into the official residence of the Head of State in Dodan Barracks”.

But the one that piqued me most is premised on my discovery that Murtala “came to understand the essential features of Nigerian society especially the public institutions, and acted on this understanding to change them and make them serve the common people”.

Muritala thus constructed a model of contemporary Nigeria and mustered the courage to attempt to change it. General Mohammed established a link between the accumulation of wealth and public service. He was murdered while attempting to break that linkage, having realised that “abuse of public office was central to the chaos, indiscipline, confusion and whole underdevelopment of Nigeria”.

Simply put, AN ATTEMPT TO FIGHT CORRUPTION KILLED MURTALA MOHAMMED.

Muritala wasn’t perfect. He had his issues, ranging from hot temper to risk taking in a bizarrely daring manner. He was tough and described as erratic. But seriously, it is only a positively crazy man that can rule Nigeria. For this I’m at home with these weaknesses, and they cannot blight my admiration of him as a genuine Hero.

Fast forward to our era. I can’t help being bemused each time I hear Goodluck Jonathan say no Nigerian president can match his achievements. Then I’ll check what time of the day it is and wonder if it’s a weed smoking time. What achievements? Achievement of soiled hands? Achievement of looking the other way while the treasury was being looted? Achievement of alleged exploitation of Nigeria’s dire security situation to “clean out” the arms deal budget? There’s no other definition for blood money!

Jonathan is one peculiarly fortunate individual who sprang from obscurity and poverty and leapt into the rare ascendancy of a most coveted office. Despite being a minority, he beat the odds and became president. (Whatever “minority” means in a supposed state with equality).

One would therefore have expected him to practically “kill” himself in pursuit of a well-designed ambitious growth agenda, raise the quality of life of the people, confront corruption, and etch his name in gold. I dare say, he would have won his reelection without rigour. Instead, today, he has not just been sent out office, he’s struggling in defence of a very dark impression that he allegedly helped himself to some of Nigeria’s cookie jars.

Worse still, it’s obvious he fell for the sidekick tricks of his “domestic appendage”, a civil servant who today is shamefully laying claim to multi million dollars without answering the germane question of what manner of business brought such “blessings”.

So why is this man always throwing himself into space to defend such an administration full of heaving and sighing?

If you’re good, you’re good and your work will speak for you. The only thing speaking for the past administration are eye popping tales of unprecedented sleaze. Changing this narrative is a tall order.

Because of the circumstances surrounding our ethnic sensibilities, GEJ is already “granted immunity”. He therefore ought to maintain a stoic silence to earn some respect, not throwing himself in the ring every time to advertise a continuum of sheer chicanery.

GEJ put Nigeria in a quandary. And when the various chapters of the story of “our heroes past” are being written, to deserve a place at all, he will require unheard-of historical benevolence.

Akin Fadeyi is the Convener of the Corruption Not In My Country Project.

Denmark Gives Tips On How To Tackle Corruption In Nigeria

The Danish Ambassador to Nigeria, Torben Gettermann, has said that it was important for Nigerians to understand that eradication of corruption would not happen overnight.

While speaking in Lagos on Tuesday, Gettermann said that the fight to end corruption in any country would be gradual and continuous.

According to him, the fight to end corruption anywhere will require the understanding and commitment of the citizenry.

“I am not going to say that Denmark is the least corrupt country in the world, but we have, for five years now, been number one on that index.

“Nigerians must know that corruption is a problem that has been ingrained; so, they must know that fighting against corruption should be worked on continuously with a focus that you are going to eradicate it,” he said.

Gettermann said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at fighting corruption would succeed with the determination of Nigerians to desist from corrupt practices in public and private engagements.

The ambassador commended the Federal Government’s commitment to creating the right environment for ease doing business.

He said that more Danish companies had indicated interest in doing business and increasing investment in Nigeria.

“The way the Nigerian Federal Government is currently focused and deliberately working at changing the way business is done is quite encouraging.

“We are really working at making more Danish companies export to the Nigerian market what Nigerians really need.

“We would like to see a trade balance between the two countries,’’ he said.

(NAN)

How Buhari Is Preventing Corruption – Media Team

The Presidential Media Team, in a forthcoming book, offers deep insight into how the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is blocking corruption loopholes in the nation’s public institutions.

The book titled, “Making Steady, Sustainable Progress for Nigeria’s Peace and Prosperity: A Mid-Term Scorecard on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration”, is set for launch in Abuja on Nov. 16.

In an excerpt of the 348-page publication, the team notes that beyond arrest and prosecution of suspects, the Buhari government is strengthening public institutions for accountability and transparency.

The book explores measures being instituted by anti-graft agencies, especially the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), in this regard since the last two years.

These include conduct of System Study and Review in ministries, departments and agencies, and Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) in various sectors of the nation’s economy.

It says the education, health, water and aviation sectors as well as e-governance platforms, including the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), have benefited from the ICPC’s CRA exercise.

The exercise, it adds, has led to the identification of weaknesses in the systems that create opportunities for corruption.

Consequently, the commission has designed Integrity Plans directed at plugging the loopholes and enhancing the integrity profile of the systems for efficiency and effectiveness, it states.
The book promises to clear the cynicism of many Nigerians, who think the Buhari government is more reactive than proactive in its fight against corruption.

Nevertheless, the publication contains milestones recorded by the ICPC in the area of convictions, and recovery of looted funds and assets since the inception of the Buhari government on May 29, 2015.

The book was edited by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity; Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, and Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, (Office of the Vice President).

The Buhari Media Support Group (BMSG) contributed to the publication, whose foreword was written by the president.
The book will be presented by APC National Leader Bola Tinubu and reviewed by Prince Tony Momoh.

Buhari: Just Like the Mills of the gods by Femi Adesina

There is a saying bequeathed to mankind by the Greek physician/philosopher, Sextus Empiricus, who lived in Alexandria and Athens in the 3rd Century. It goes thus: “The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.”

What does this mean in everyday language? Justice may be slow, but it will come eventually. And for those who pray, it also means that God may not answer your petition immediately you make it, but He will eventually respond-at His own time. The vision is for an appointed time, and it will not delay. But if it tarries, wait for it. For it will surely come. The priest who shouts at God is being unnecessarily impatient and petulant. God will do what He will do-at His own time.

From the human perspective, Empiricus may have had President Muhammadu Buhari in mind, when he coined the saying about the mills of the gods. With our President, there is no rush on some issues, if they demand temporizing and being painstaking. The mills of the gods must be allowed to grind, if slowly, but exceedingly finely.

From his time as military leader, Nigerians who were of age then would recall that the then Major General Buhari often said; “this administration will not be rushed…” And truly, for the 20 months that the regime lasted, things were done with calm sure-footedness, and not at the dizzying speed that some people would have wanted. Easy does it. They stumble that run too fast. “Patience is the companion of wisdom,” according to Saint Augustine, the cleric.

And did the regime succeed? It did. It was on the road to forging a new Nigeria, where probity, accountability and discipline reign supreme, before a spanner was thrown in the works. Fifth columnists struck, and aborted our march to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Buhari was in limbo for many years. But in 2015, majority of Nigerians remembered what he had brought on the table between January 1984 and August 1985. So, overwhelmingly, they voted for him. And today, he is President.

But something fundamental has not changed in the man’s style. The mills of the gods still grind slowly. There are some decisions President Buhari will not take in a hurry. He will chew on the matter, digest it properly, and then come out with his position. There is no stampeding him, no setting of fire to his heels. The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly finely.
Yes, President Buhari has changed in many ways. He was an autocrat, now he is a democrat. Then, he adjudged you guilty, slammed you in Kirikiri Prisons, and asked you to prove your innocence. Today, if he suspects that you are corrupt, he does nothing to you, till he can prove that you are guilty. That is the way of democracy.

But something fundamental has not changed in the man’s style. The mills of the gods still grind slowly. There are some decisions President Buhari will not take in a hurry. He will chew on the matter, digest it properly, and then come out with his position. There is no stampeding him, no setting of fire to his heels. The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly finely.

On Monday, this week, the Engr Babachir David Lawal and Amb. Ayo Oke saga came to a denouement. The duo had been accused of some unsavoury acts, and sent on suspension in April, this year. A panel was constituted to look into the allegations against them, with a two weeks time frame.

A day before the report of the panel was to be submitted, President Buhari had to travel abroad on the second leg of a medical vacation. He was away till August 19.

In this period, some impatient Nigerians were totally restive. They even besieged the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, urging him to act on the report of the panel. They wanted to turn the man into jury and judge, discountenancing the fact that he had chaired the panel that conducted the probe.

When President Buhari mercifully returned on August 19, his plane had barely touched down, when the impatient people began to ask for the report of the Osinbajo panel. “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time,” wrote Leo Tolstoy. But such people would have none of it. They called for an immediate decision on the lingering saga.

On August 23, VP Osinbajo submitted the report, in six hefty volumes. Of course, there was an executive summary, as best practices would demand. And the noise continued from some quarters. We want action on the submitted report, and we want it NOW. They forget that “patience is not simply the ability to wait, it’s how we behave while we are waiting” (says the preacher, Joyce Meyer). And they also forget the mills of the gods, which grind slowly, but exceedingly finely.

They went forward to accuse the President of treating Nigerians with contempt. With scorn. Derision. Flippancy. Levity. They would rather justice had been miscarried, as long as the urge for blood was satiated. They would rather the President had played to the gallery, swinging the sword and decapitating everyone in sight, not minding whether they were innocent or guilty. Such people were like the mob in Julius Caesar, the work by William Shakespeare. They met Cinna the poet on the way, and accused him of being Cinna the conspirator, one of those who had murdered the emperor. Cinna explained that he was a poet, but they would not listen. They screamed: whether you are Cinna the poet, or Cinna the conspirator, Cinna is Cinna. You are a sinner, and must die. They killed him. And to justify the evil act, they rationalized that he was a poet that wrote bad verses. Good grief!

President Buhari took his time. If you know the man, he must have gone through the six bulky reports with a magnifying glass, a fine tooth-comb. Better that 100 criminals escape, than kill a single innocent man unjustly.

And finally, on Monday “come finally comes to become” (apologies to the late K.O Mbadiwe). The President communicated his decision to the country, which was acceptance of the recommendation to terminate the appointments of the two men who had been investigated.. A large number of Nigerians were relieved that a closure was being put to the saga. But trust those who had murmured and grumbled. They refused to be pacified. They are the type that when you answer their niggling question successfully, they change the question again. They came with many other queries: should the matter have taken so long? Was the matter not to be swept under the carpet, if we had not raised hell? Why were the two men not summarily handed over to the security agencies for prosecution? But if the President had taken the last option, and had directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to pull in the two men, they would have said: Enhen, we always said it. He was tele guiding the EFCC from behind all these while. Now he has shown his hands. The hand of Jacob, and the voice of Esau.

Head or tail, you can never win with some Nigerians. If you don’t have your bath, they say you are a ruffian, and you stink. If you have your bath too frequently, they say you love the opposite sex too much. No wonder some people say public service is a thankless job. If only we would change our mindsets, and also change our conduct.

But some people forget. Early in the days of this administration, President Buhari had told them: “Some people call me ‘Baba Go Slow.’ I will be slow, but I will be steady.” Isn’t there eternal truth again in the saying that slow and steady wins the race?

There are some matters that require speed. They should be treated expeditiously. No doubt. There are some others in which you could sacrifice fairness and justice on the altar of speed. When you have such, it is better to err on the side of caution. It is better to lay all the cards on the table, consider all the sides of the coin. Such was the Babachir/Oke saga.. They were men who had served the President faithfully, from what one could see. He dare not be precipitate in determining their destinies. Fair is fair, and foul is foul.

Talking again of the mills of the gods. The National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held at the party’s secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday. I was there. The atmosphere was friendly, almost convivial. At a point, someone moved a motion of confidence in the Buhari administration. The seconder, a former state governor, added to the motion, seeking an endorsement of the President as candidate for second term in 2019. As he raised the motion, I saw the President gesturing, with his two palms downwards. The gesture meant, please, cool down, not now. This is premature. And the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, weighed in, accepting the motion of confidence, and deferring the one on automatic candidacy. Everyone was satisfied.

You can imagine my consternation the next day, when I saw the newspaper headlines.. It was as if some of them were reporting a meeting held in outer space. They said a bid by governors to get automatic ticket for the President had failed. One newspaper exulted: “Govs’ bid to get automatic 2019 ticket for Buhari fails.’ Pure fiction. Concocted story. It never happened the way the newspaper had conjured. And it was the President himself who had dissuaded those who made the move, by his gesture. Hate news seems to have crept into the polity, and otherwise credible newspapers have eaten the forbidden apple.

Well, we were talking about the need for patience. Jean-Jacques Rousseau says “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” And Robert Schuller adds: “Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” That is where I pitch my tent. Under President Buhari, for Nigeria, the storm will pass (and is, indeed, passing), and the spring will come. The mills of the gods grind slowly, but exceedingly finely.
I believe. What about you?

.Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari

I Know Those Frustrating Buhari’s Anti-Graft War – Osinbajo

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has accused the elites, as well as religious leaders across the geo-political zones of frustrating the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Osinbajo accused the political, business and religious leaders of selfishness, saying they refused to make sacrifices, either in service or self-restraint.

The Vice President, represented by the Aso Rock Chaplain, Seyi Joseph, said this on Tuesday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state capital, during the dedication and commissioning of the 10,000 seater Ecumenical Centre, constructed by the administration of Henry Seriake Dickson.

According to Osinbajo, corruption, tribalism, religion and other parochial tendencies remained impediments to the growth of Nigeria as a nation.

He said, “Permit me then to make a concluding submission. It is my view that the Nigerian elite – political, business and religious – regardless of faith and ethnicity, think alike, and are driven by largely similar motivations. The elite are usually self-centred, selfish and unprepared to make the sacrifices either in service or self-restraint that leaders of successful communities must make.

“Playing the religious or ethnic card when necessary so as to get the masses in line is the grossly cynical default of our elite. However, the most poignant point to note is that, when you look at any list of alleged perpetrators of a heinous case of corruption, all tribes ethnicities and religions are well represented.

“In other words, high level corruption knows no religion or ethnicity. The conspirators include Christians and Muslims from all the Geo-political zones. They are in government, legislature, judiciary and the press. They are United, protect each other, fight for each other’s and are prepared to go down together. They are one tribe, indivisible, regardless of diversity. It is this tribe that confuse the arguments for change in society…Nigeria’s greatest battle is the Jane to bring integrity and accountability to public service and the private sector.”

To build a new Nigeria, Osinbajo canvassed a new tribe of men and women of all faith, tribe and ethnicity who are committed to a country administered on high values of integrity, hard work, justice and patriotism.

The edifice was dedicated by the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, and witnessed by a former President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and founder of the Warri-based World of Life Bible Church (WLBC), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, who said, “Bayelsa State is blessed.”

Source: Daily Post