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[Opinion] #Pardongate: Mr. Jonathan Is Not Clueless

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By Kikiowo Ileowo (@Ileowo4ever)

If someone had told me I would be writing this piece just a month after I decided to cut President Jonathan some slack, I would have waved if off as a big joke.  My focus in recent times has been on analyzing state budgets, most recently that of Ogun State, which is at best a comedy of some sort. My conclusion on Governor Ibikunle Amosun for now is that he might end up being an even worse governor than his predecessor, the legendary and alleged master thief Mr. Gbenga Daniel.  But lest I stroll off the point, let us return to President Jonathan’s administration.  In the past few months I have come to pity this ‘Doctor’ from Otuoke.

At the risk of been labeled a PDP apologist, I disagreed with twitivist and other opinion writers, asking them to cut our president some slack. The art of criticism had hit an all time low; we had people who simply joined the bandwagon, because criticizing the government was the in-thing in town. We had people practically calling President Jonathan names like fool, idiot, crazy, crook, stupid, clueless, dull, illiterate and worst of all corrupt.

“He has shown himself worthy of these names” they said, with his actions and inactions ranging from the unconstitutional sack of Justice Salami, who was likely going to give judgment against his election, to the fuel subsidy brouhaha and the bribery scandal that rocked the panel charged with investigating rot in the petroleum sector as instigated by his friend and personal confidant – Femi Otedola.

I decided to cut President Jonathan some slack because I erroneously believed he wasn’t prepared for the leadership position he plunged himself into. Reason being, he had always been satisfied with second position or assistant leader right from secondary school to the presidency, he was always in a position of assisting until something unfortunate happened to the leader.

Having witnessed his actions this past week alone, it is now clear that President Jonathan was prepared for the presidency, he was prepared to murder sleep and sleep he has murdered.

How could he possibly explain the granting of a presidential pardon to his mentor, godfather and political benefactor, the disgraced thief and fugitive Mr. Alamieyeseigha (who jumped bail in December 2005 and bolted to Nigeria from the U.K. after he allegedly disguised as a woman to deceive the U.K. border officials)? If you still don’t realize how immoral this act is, let me give you a snip view into the atrocity committed by Mr. President’s mentor.

Bayelsa state, created on October 1, 1996, is a very small state with eight (8) local governments and a population of 1.99m people.  It is endowed with natural resources and adjudged the richest state in Nigeria. Bayelsa State has one of the nation’s largest crude oil and gas deposits which makes it earn a lot from the Federal government, but as rich as the state is, its citizens wallow in poverty. There is no fully functional health facility in the state (remember that President Jonathan’s brother had to be flown to the State House Clinic in Abuja for treatment before he passed on), transportation is a joke and education is virtually non-existent save for the federal government established Niger Delta University.

Bayelsa has no trade or commerce worthy of note as the little subsistent farms have been destroyed by oil spillage and the fishes rendered inedible by polluted waters, thus making the Bayelsa State Government the highest employer of Labour in the state.

It may interest you to know that only one major road runs through the entire state, yet Mr. President’s guide and tutor looted the state dry. In my opinion, my president hates his state of origin. I see no other reason why he would grant a presidential pardon to that lunatic (yes, it takes a lunatic to loot at that alarming rate knowing the amount of poverty and suffering his people are entangled in).

The U.K. authorities seized $1.5 million (N225 million) cash in Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s London home as well as $2.7 million (N405 million) held in bank accounts at Royal Bank of Scotland PLC and Santolina Investment Corporation. His London real estate valued at $15 million (N2.25 billion) was also seized by U.K. authorities. He had £203,753.34 in his Barclays Bank Plc accounts while his Bank of America had $1, 600,000.00 account balance as at January 2005. £1.9 million in a Royal Bank of Scotland account belonging to his company Santolina which he had requested to be transferred to an account in Cyprus was also seized.

Other properties acquired with Bayelsa State funds in London include one at 247 Water Gardens, W2 2DG which he acquired for £1.75 million, another at 14 Mapesbury Road, NW2 4JB which cost £1.4 million and yet another at Flat 202, Jubilee Heights, Shoot uphill, NW2 3LJQ with an approximate cost of £3 million.  Properties in South Africa acquired with Bayelsa State funds include but are not limited to V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, which is worth over £1 millon.

You have to understand that the stolen assets listed above are just a fraction of the total amount stolen by one of Nigeria’s greatest thieves –Ex-governor DSP Alameyeisigha.

Contrary to what twitivist, politicians and ferocious writers conjure about the President, Dr. Jonathan is not clueless. In fact he has got lots of clues, vicious clues. Though one cannot trace an intelligent intervention, programme or policy he has thought of himself in critical sectors of our economy, he has come up with brilliant ideas for taking Nigeria backwards. President Jonathan was prepared for the presidency, so prepared that he doesn’t have to think twice before unleashing his unpardonable ideas on Nigerians.

This latest of his gaffes is worth condemning by every reasonable person on earth. Several CSOs, politicians, professionals, and international agencies like Transparency International (TI), among others, have condemned it. The only reasonable course of action left for President Jonathan is to reverse the pardon with immediate effect like he back tracked on the renaming of Unilag and the removal of the fuel subsidy.

It is clear to all that Nigeria’s President Jonathan is not fighting corruption. His wife clowns around with millions of Naira in cash, dolling it out to every Tomi, Dada and Akande. His friends and close confidants are convicted felons, criminals, ex-militants and folks who allegedly enriched themselves corruptly. Examples abound in Bode George, who he nominated as an executive in his party, also appointing his wife – Roli George – the chairman of the board of National Population Commission (NPC). Anthony Anenih, Asari Dokubo, Government Tompolo, Doyin Okupe, Alameyeisigha, Femi Otedola and several others are those the president who is supposed to be fighting corruption dines and rolls with.

The United States has come out to strongly condemn this act; it is up to the President to do what is expected. The US had in a statement through their Nigerian embassy twitter account, @USEmbassyAbuja, said “We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption.” It further tweeted that “the #USG (United States Government) is deeply disappointed over the recent pardons of corrupt officials by GON (Government of Nigeria)” and added, “We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption.” A State Department official has also said the American government is not taking the matter lightly and might apply sanctions. Speaking at the U.S. Department of State’s daily press briefing in Washington D.C. late Friday 15th March, 2013 Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said “the development in Nigeria might jeopardize the governance projects America is executing in Nigeria.”

Mr. Jonathan knows all that he is doing, he knows his chances of returning to power in 2015 are one in a hundred, and so he his perpetuating all these immoral acts he had carefully planned out before ascending the ‘throne’.

It is my hope that president Jonathan will reason with majority of Nigerians and the international community to reverse this latest gaffe, carefully serve his ‘mandate’ and vacate the seat by 2015. Enough of this international embarrassment called government in Nigeria.

In conclusion, here is a piece of advice for Mr. President if he is looking for people to pardon. He should go to the prisons, ask for Bayelsan residents who were convicted for stealing less than N10,000 due to hunger and unemployment during the tenure Mr. Alameyeisigha and pardon them. It is then and only then posterity can give him the benefit of doubt.

And if you still have hope in the presidency of Dr. Goodluck Azikwe Ebele Jonathan, you are of all men most miserable.

I am @ileowo4ever on twitter.

Kikiowo Ileowo is a public commentator and the Editor of The Paradigm, an online news medium.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mustapha kassim

    March 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Kai! what nameless leader are we having.

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Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Opinion

Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Opinion

Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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