The Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi is as beautiful as she is hard working. Never in recent times have we had a minister, especially a woman, who has made her impact felt in her assigned task like this princess from Anambra.
I must say that when she was assigned to the Ministry of Aviation in 2011, I was one of the skeptics, who thought her appointment had more to do with her looks than what she had to offer in spite of the fact that she played an active role in the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and Arc Namadi Sambo as President and Vice-President respectively. She was the duo’s campaign Director of Administration and Finance.
But she soon settled right in and two years after, Mrs. Oduah-Ogiemwonyi would ‘transform’ our typical motor park look-like airports into something of an organized, remodeled and upgraded motor-park! Apologies, but I hear the airports are still something of a child’s play when compared to others in some of our neighbouring West African countries. But she did something at least and that is what matters. History will not forget her in a hurry – and I mean that in every sense of the word.
I was a silent admirer of this woman for obvious reasons most importantly, after I was left shell-shocked about the revelations that my own, yes my own, Farouk Lawan, who has always dazzled me way back from 2003, took bribe and even had to stuff some of the gratification inside his cap, during the now forgotten House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy payments.
I digress. Somehow, call me a pessimist but I was still not convinced about Mrs. Oduah-Ogiemwonyi – she simply was just too good to be true and though I did not pray or wish that I was proved wrong about her, I just needed her to be my heroin. There are too many confused empty heads or ‘dead woods’ as one Tony Uranta famously put it in the present administration that I just needed one person (was I asking too much?) to be a shining light and a beacon of hope that all is not lost!
I have taken the last four paragraphs or so to try and eulogise Mrs. Oduah-Ogiemwonyi as well as impress it on the reader to understand where I’m coming from as regards my disappointment in this Amazon. Having said that may I quickly warn the ethnic voltrons, who are quick to whip up tribal sentiments in the face of facts, that this is not an opinion based on tribal bias, but one of a concerned citizen.
On Tuesday, Sahara Reporters had published an exclusive report with evidence of paper trail, which suggested that the aviation minister, Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, had abused her office by compelling the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to purchase two armoured BMW cars for her use to the tune of N255 million.
Personally, I’d hoped it was a false alarm. That this was another report designed to tarnish the good image and reputation of the minister; so I decided to siddon-look as we would say to see where the unfolding drama would end. And it ended too soon.
It ended too soon not because the minister pleaded ‘guilty’ to this particular allegation but because the General Manager, Corporate Communications of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Yakubu Datti attempted to bamboozle us with a very familiar rhetoric of how the aviation minister was very successful before she was appointed to public office.
In a denial that smacked of very stupid pride, lack of understanding of public relations and an assault on the sensibilities of millions of Nigerians, Mr. Datti had told PREMIUM TIMES, “I don’t respond to rumours… [and] as we approach 2015, people are bound to make up all sorts of stories,” further arguing blindly that, “This is a woman (Mrs. Oduah), who is successful and established. A woman that made her mark in oil and gas, who owned trucks, barges, and so on. What is two cars?”
Really? What is two cars? That cost tax-payers over N200 million in a country where millions still go to bed hungry? Lecturers are on a prolonged strike over claims by the federal government that the economy will collapse if all the demands by ASUU are met? Are these peoples serious? Do they even have the faintest clue what governance is about?
And as if to spit in Mr. Datti’s face, the aviation minister’s spokesperson, Mr. Joel Obi attempted to defend the indefensible by whipping up sentiments in the public domain.
He claimed that when the minister came on board with her reforms, which included reversing some concessions and agreements that were not in the interest of the people and government of Nigeria which led some entrenched interests (I’m surprised he didn’t use ‘cabal’) to feel like they had been dislocated from the sector.
“The minister began to receive series of threats to her life, but because of the general lack of security in the land, she did not want to raise an alarm but kept it quiet and then decided to protect herself. So those vehicles were purchased in response to the general state of security in the land and the personal threats to her life because of the giant steps she has taken to reposition the sector”, Mr. Obi said.
Just three questions for the minister: Is Mrs. Oduah-Ogiemwonyi trying to tell Nigerians that despite the elaborate security detail which she obviously enjoys among others, which also are a drain on the nation’s resources, she had to spend N255 million of ‘our’ lean resources on two special purpose vehicles? What happens to hundreds of Nigerians, who are killed on a daily by Boko Haram or armed robbers just because they don’t enjoy the type and level of protection that she enjoys?
If a minister’s life was under threat, as she claims now but decided to ‘keep it quiet’ and ‘protect herself’, how are we supposed to believe that? When did her ‘protection’ become a license to compel a government agency under her watch to purchase expensive armoured cars for her use? Where did the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, raise the money from? Was it budgeted? Were illegal levies imposed on airlines or were they subtly compelled to contribute towards the minister’s ‘protection?’
Does the minister have any modicum of patriotism in her at all? Because my thinking is if she did, she would have realized that patriots are not easily cowed or frightened by death threats but simply embrace it as a necessary sacrifice for the larger good. And nobody should preach any gender sentiment about it. Even in Nigeria, history is replete with the heroics of brave women, who died to preserve the sanctity and unity of this country. Why is Mrs. Oduah-Ogiemwonyi’s case different?
It is my humble belief that the aviation minister, as a woman of noble origins and enlightened one for that matter, will lead by example and tender her resignation letter to President Goodluck Jonathan without delay failure of which, she should be sacked!
The armoured cars, which I read were purchased from a local automobile dealership, should be returned and re-sold with the proceeds returned to government coffers.
Mr. Yakubu Datti should also tender his resignation for misleading the public and treating the Nigerian people with disdain failure of which, he should be sacked also.
I have tried not to accuse the aviation minister of corruption here or blamed her purchase of two armoured cars for the recent air mishaps we have experienced but simply blamed her for abuse of public trust, conflict of interest and presuming her personal safety is more important or that her life is more valuable than thousands of Nigerians, who are killed either by bullets from the guns of terrorists, armed robbers or policemen, that are paid to protect citizens.
Nigerians must stand up now, more than ever before to demand the removal of Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi from office. Enough is enough!
*Ayodele Daniel is a content creator at Information Nigeria
Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?
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.
Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye
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.
Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth
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.
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.
“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.
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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