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Who Will Call Governor Akpabio To Order? By Theophilus Ilevbare

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It is as reckless as it is feckless for Governor Godswill Akpabio to fritter away with zing the patrimony of Akwa Ibom state on his political associates, friends and sycophant in a showy and flamboyant manner to massage an over bloated political ego. It is the height of profligacy.

The latest gaffe of the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum has seen him enmeshed in yet another round of controversy. He confessed on camera that he manipulated the election result of the 2007 PDP senatorial primary election in the state by single-handedly replacing the winner with the name of his preferred candidate. The video has since gone viral on the internet.

This is coming on the heels of the recent wave of criticism that has greeted his financial recklessness, making more headlines than his role as chief servant of the people of Akwa Ibom state. Just when folks where torn in two minds if the spendthrift governor was doling out private or state money, at a press conference recently, he erased any doubt as he owned up that his string of father christmas donations have been from government coffers.

“Anything connected with my donation is captured within the law of the State.”  Struggling to sound convincing, “The budget is the law and there have been provisions that allow for grants for donations and for hospitality as enshrined within the budget.”

As the custodian of the state treasury, one begins to wonder what constitute donations for hospitality to Mr Akpabio. Is it hospitality to splash N230m of state funds as donation on behalf of the PDP Governors’ Forum, for the erection of an Anglican Church in Otuoke, the home town of President Jonathan? For him to be subsequently berated by other PDP governors who said they were not carried along before the donation was made is a pointer to where the millions were drawn. That provisions were made in the law for donations and hospitality should not be an excuse for such jamboree. The constitution certainly does not empower the governor to frivol the commonwealth of Akwa Ibom state at will.

What better use should such grants be put if roads in Akwa Ibom, like the Eket–Ibeno road leading to the venue of Tuface Idibia and Annie Macaulay’s traditional wedding ceremony, was in deplorable condition. The governor had to apologise to guests at the event that when next they come visiting the road would have been rehabilitated. It is noteworthy, that youths of Eket sometime ago protested that the road be reconstructed.

The rudderless governor scandalized many, when he gifted the couple with Two Toyota Prado SUVs, though the state government later issued a statement, claiming it was one. To underscore his infamy, he made a pledge to bankroll an all expenses paid trip for 20 delegates from the state who wished to attend the nuptial of the Idibia’s in far away Dubai. The reveler that he is, present at a lavish party organized in honour of the couple, again, gifted the newly wed with N3m. He has since taken financial recklessness and extravagancy with the people’s resources to an obscene level.

To Mr Akpabio’s  defence was his Commissioner for Information, Aniekan Umana, spewing inanities like his spendthrift Boss; “Looking carefully at the surrounding events in perspective, Mrs. Annie Idibia, nee Macaulay, is a daughter of Akwa Ibom State and the gift of a Prado SUV from her governor is only a gesture of love and goodwill. Her resolve to stand by her husband on this journey right from his days of youthful beginnings to stardom even in the face of challenges was commendable and a true attribute of the Akwa Ibom women.”

From Umana’s perspective, governor Akpabio might now have to donate a Prado Jeep to every Akwa Ibom daughter who decides to put up with the escapades of her boyfriend or fiancée to justify Annie’s gift. Publicity Secretary, Oscar Onwudiwe of the South-South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN) rightly queried the rationale of the Commisionner when he said “Will such largesse be extended to every newly-wed couple in the state and will that pass as the mean test for judicious management of limited resources?” He further warned that ”The frugal management of state resources are indispensable values necessary for the actualisation of our development plan, so we appeal to the state governors not to trifle with these essential requirements.”

The PDP will have us believe that the chairman of it’s Governors’ Forum is being magnanimous, which they believe is a virtue. Truly, this is the kind of virtue that has existed at all levels of the party typified in the present Nigeria with all the symptoms of a failed state.

At every event Akpabio is present, he sees a window for frivolous gifting. Last year the profligate governor, gave a cash gift of N10m for a return leg win against Mali by the national Under-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, in an African Under-17 Championship qualifier in Calabar. Just for a win.

Nollywood were not left out behind as Mr Akpabio instituted a N50 million endowment fund to honour exceptional actors and actresses in the industry.

The ungodly display of reckless wastefulness by Akwa Ibom state spender-in-chief, took a ridiculous twist at the South-South PDP reconciliation meeting in Port Harcourt where he embarrassed six state chairmen of the party with N6m for Mr Biggs (Lunch), after describing them as “hungry.”

“My brother (Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan) said you people (PDP South-South members) are hungry, to take care of your hunger, I’m donating the sum of N1m each to the South-South secretariat of PDP and I would want each of the chairmen to come and collect the sum at the end of my speech so that members could use that to buy (lunch) at Mr. Biggs!” Governor Akpabio said, descending from the absurd to the jejune. It was a bovine display of financial rascality. Expectedly, Uduaghan, Amaechi and other PDP chieftains walked out on him while he was still speaking.

Recently, he took delivery, of two exotic bullet-proof sprinter luxury vans from US-based Texas Armoring Corporation (TAC) customized to his specifications, at about N300 million. Why should he feel so insecure among his kinsmen contrasting a reputation he projects with numerous ads on TV and papers showcasing his “excellent performance” in office, claiming Akwa Ibomites love him to pieces. The prodigal PDP Governors’ Forum Chairman, has since joined the elite league of private jet flying governors with his top of the range, $45 million Bombardier Global Jet.

His much publicised achievement is light weight when compared with its monthly allocation, which is more than four times what some other states get from the federal allocation. This is aside internally generated revenue. In spite of this, Salaries of civil servants in the state are often owed. Same goes for pensioners. The state has one of the country’s highest rate of unemployment, the reason its indigenes are scattered across the country settling for menial jobs. Key sectors of the economy are below par with what is obtainable in states without the oil revenue Akwa Ibom attracts.

Governor Akpabio must retrace his steps. It calls for serious concern from those connected to the state. It becomes more worrisome when the state house of assembly look the other way. The EFCC can’t come within touching distance of the governor either so long as he continues to harp President Jonathan’s 2015 ambition from the roof top. The onus is now on the people of the state to call governor Akpabio to order.

 

theophilus@ilevbare.com

blog: http://ilevbare.com

Twitter: @tilevbare

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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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