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Security Guard Remanded For Stealing Judge’s Phone

An Ilorin Chief Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, ordered that two men, Samson John and Ayodele Oluwagbemiga, be remanded in Federal Prison yard for allegedly stealing of a cellphone belonging to a High Court Judge.

Chief Magistrate Ibijoke Olawoyin, gave the order, after the accused persons were charged with four counts of criminal conspiracy, trespass, house breaking, and theft.

Olawoyin adjourned the case until Dec. 20, for further mention.

Earlier, the Prosecutor, Insp Alhassan Jibrin told the court that on Nov. 22, one Sgt. Usman Olayinka attached to High Court Judge in Basin area, Ilorin, reported the case at the Area Command office of the police in Ilorin.

Jibrin said that the complainant, alleged that the accused who is a security guard in the judge’s house, and one other, broke into the judge’s house and stole one Samsung Galaxy phone, valued at N300,000, some jewelries valued yet unknown and the sum of N10,000.

The prosecutor said that the police followed the accused to his home town in Otupa, Benue and arrested him for interrogation.

Jibrin said that during police investigation, the accused  confessed in his statement that he used the security room toilet key to open the main door and gained entrance into the judge’s room, and stole the items.

He said that the accused also confessed to have sold the Samsung Galaxy phone for N10,000 to one Micheal at Asoka village, Benue, who is now at-large, and sold the jewelries at the rate of N7,000 to the second accused person at Fakeye street, Basin, Ilorin.

The prosecutor said that the offence contravened the provisions of sections 97, 348, 288 and 317 of the penal code law.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Sanwo-Olu flags off campaign, announces Badagry expressway fixing as priority

Lagos State chapter of All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has flagged off campaign as flag bearer of the party running for governorship office in the state.

Besides, Sanwo-Olu assured that fixing of the Lagos-Badargry express way would be one of his priority should he get into office after election in 2019.

The unofficial flag of by the candidate came 24hrs after Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officially lifted ban on campaigns for governorship candidates and that of other political offices’ seekers, aside  that of presidential,  which as removed barely two weeks ago.

Sanwo-Olu, while speaking before a political gathering at Lagos senatorial Badagry division on Sunday, which has Deputy Governor, Idiat Adebule, in attendance, after a visit to various monarchs in the axis, declared that campaign for his governorship move had kicked off on Sunday and that he would hitting ground running.

He said that those saying Lagos state is behind is very wrong as Lagos state is far ahead, and they do not know Lagos state very well. He said it’s a must Lagos – Badagry expressway is fixed, and it becomes a priority for his administration once he is elected. “I and my deputy will transform the two lanes to ten lanes if we are elected in the 2019 elections’.

Addressing the constituents, Sanwo-Olu said his visit to Badagry is imperative and significant because he will run an all inclusive government when voted in as governor of Lagos state.
He assured that the completion of the 10 lane Badagry expressway will be of utmost importance to his government .
He said his administration will bring succor to the people of Badagry as he promised to fix the Ijeodo road, Iyafin road in BADAGRY, Ijagemo and Ijegun road
Students in that area were not also left out,as Sanwo-olu promised to make free WiFi available for LASU and ACOED students this month.

Man Drowns At Friend’s Birthday Party

A 20-year-old man, simply identified as Chidiebere David, drowned on Thursday night in the swimming pool of a new but popular hotel on Margret Avenue, GRA, Aba in Abia, during a friend’s birthday party.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Abia, Mr Geoffrey Ogbonna, confirmed the incident on Friday.

“The man is about 20 years old. His name is Chidiebere David. He accompanied his friends to a birthday party in the hotel and got drowned there. That was exactly what happened,’’ he said.

Ogbonna however did not say if the police was foreclosing further investigations into the matter.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the deceased went with his friends who were over 16 in number to the hotel to celebrate the birthday of one of them.

Chidiebere who hailed from Imo died at the pool with no one realising that he had drowned until sometimes later.

NAN further gathered that when the deceased colleagues saw his body inside the pool and made frantic efforts to save him, they discovered that he had died.

The relatives of the young man were said to have later arrived at the scene, taken his body and deposited at a morgue close to the hotel.

An anonymous source within the hotel told NAN that the friends of the deceased were arrested and taken into custody same night by policemen from Aba Area Command.

 

NAN

Police arrests Governor over bribery allegation

By Newsdesk

The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezao, was arrested on Thursday over allegations he received bribes as part of the sprawling “Car Wash” graft probe, according to Brazilian media.

The Globo News television channel showed live footage of federal police at the residence of the governor, who remains in his home in custody.

Pezao is accused of taking bribes when he was vice governor under Sergio Cabral, who is currently in prison.

The police also raided the Guanabara Palace, headquarters of Rio de Janeiro’s government, searching for documents.

The Superior Court of Justice issued the arrest warrant based on the confession of Carlos Miranda, a former Cabral associate, who cooperated in exchange for a sentence reduction.

According to Miranda’s testimony Pezao would have received a monthly payment of 150,000 reais ($40,000) as well as end-of-the-year bonuses of up to one million reais.

The money would have been paid by companies and intermediaries bound by contracts with the Rio de Janeiro government during a period from 2007 to 2014.

The state of Rio de Janeiro is on the verge of bankruptcy and plagued by insecurity.

Wilson Witzel was elected in October to govern the state and is set to take office January 1.

 

NAN

EFCC Denies Receiving N10million Donation From Ganduje

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday rejected the N10 million donation by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State for hosting of the National Anti-Corruption Marathon.

Ganduje had reportedly donated the money to EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and other anti-graft agencies for the event.

The governor’s director of media and publicity, Aminu Yasser, stated that Ganduje made the donation in Abuja when he received members of the marathon’s organising committee.

The governor, who allegedly received $5 million bribe recently, explained that his administration placed high premium on the fight against corruption.

Ganduje revealed that investment in the state’s anti-corruption agency led to prosecution and removal of prominent individuals, including former commissioner, permanent secretaries in the state civil service.

The leader of the anti-corruption marathon race delegation, Jacob Onu, told the governor the event was organised by the anti-graft agencies to create awareness and bring together all segments of the Nigerian population in support of federal government’s war against corruption.

 

The anti-corruption body in a post on its verified Twitter handle,@officialEFCC, said that it has not received any amount of money from individual or group to carry out the project.

“#Alert For the avoidance of doubt, no State governor or some other individual or group has donated any amount of money to the EFCC to carry out the Anti-corruption Marathon project or any other project for that matter,” it posted on twitter.

Iya Kabiru and Other Stories

By Reuben Abati

“Iya Kabiru must be the luckiest woman in Nigeria today”

“Who is that? I don’t know anybody so-called”

“You don’t know Iya Kabiru? But you know Baba Kabiru?”

“Do they know me?”

“This is the problem with you. You only think about you, you, you. I am sure when I tell you now who Baba Kabiru is, you will jump up and say you know him”

“Look, just say what you want to say. I have too many things to worry about other than this your D.O. Fagunwa story about Iya Kabiru. Today is a busy day for me not a day for idle talk”

“Hey, don’t get worked up, chill, my friend. Iya Kabiru is the wife of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the comrade Governor of Osun State who is leaving office today after eight years in office. Kabiru is their first son. He got married last year. Many people who know the Governor call him Baba Kabiru.”

“So, what has that got to do with all the serious issues of survival that Nigerians are worried about. You know you should be more responsible. You can’t go about gossiping about other people’s lives.”

“I don’t gossip. I am trying to say something very serious. By the time I am done, even you will learn one or two things. Essentially, I am trying to review the eight years of Aregbesola as Governor in Osun State.”

“I tried to follow his stories. The man says he did not collect salary as Governor, even though he ate government food, used government cars…Good for him. But as for me.. I don’t like the role he played in the last Gubernatorial elections in Osun State. He practically imposed his own successor on the people of Osun State. We can’t have outgoing Governors behaving like dictators and insisting that they will hold the future of the state in their palms. And to think he is a Comrade like Adams Oshiomhole.”

“That is not what I am talking about. Osun state people are not protesting. I can’t come and be weeping more than the bereaved.”

“I know. But I thought you wanted an assessment of Baba Kabiru’s eight years in office. So, let us do it, since today is effectively his last day in office”

“Yes.”

“For example, he says he has no bank accounts anywhere. He has no money and he has only the house that he built before he became Governor. He is happy that he was able to transform the lives of the people of Osun State.”

“With Opon Imo. The tablet of knowledge. Ogbeni Till Daybreak. Let me help you. He also says he is leaving a state behind that has the lowest poverty incidence rate and the lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria.”

“He built roads and schools.”

“I know. I know. But what are the people of Osun themselves saying? What is the impression of the civil servants who were denied salaries for months? I will prefer to hear from the average man on the streets of Osun. But that is not what I want to talk about.”

“You want to talk about Iya Kabiru”

“Yes. I want to congratulate her. And I say, Iya Kabiru, e ku oriire o.”

“What of the Governor himself? You don’t want to congratulate him on his successful completion of two terms in office?”

“I will leave that to people like you. My big take-away from the exit of the Comrade Governor is the statement he made about his wife, Iya Kabiru. He told the people of Osun State that he has been an absentee husband for eight years. He was so busy as Governor, he had no time for his wife. He wants to go back to Iya Kabiru and “enjoy each other”. He doesn’t want to go to the Senate like others in his shoes, he just wants to go home and spend time with Iya Kabiru.”

“And how does that affect you?”

“You don’t get the point? This is the era of women empowerment. Our Governors should not get to office and become absentee husbands. That is an abuse of human rights and a violation of the integrity of the other room! If I had my way, I will recommend immunity for wives from the absenteeism of husbands. If there was more time, I would recommend that Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President, should lead a movement to defend the right of women who are married to politically exposed men in office, not to lose their rights of access and enjoyment with their husbands. Public service should not interfere with the rights of wives!”

“You always like to trivialize things.”

“No. When Comrade Aregbesola was asked what his regrets could possibly be, and I consider that an important question, his memorable response was that his being Governor did not allow him to enjoy his wife for eight years. He now wants to go and enjoy his wife. For me that was the most profound thing he said.”

“How profound! I thought you would raise serious questions. Will his successor become his stooge? Will Aregbesola continue to rule over the state of Osun and treat Gboyega Oyetola as his proxy? Is Aregbesola now a Godfather pulling the strings from the corner? Will the new Governor Oyetola be his own man? Is Osun going to revert to its constitutional name, that is Osun State, or will it still bear the strange name: The State of Osun?”

“Why should those things bother me? The one that I want to reflect upon is the absenteeism of Aregbesola as husband for eight years! And I identify with Iya Kabiru on this special occasion, marking the return of her beloved husband to full-time husband duties.”

“It is not your duty to intrude into other people’s privacy. What are you driving at? What the man says about his wife is not our business. He probably was talking more about truancy rather than absenteeism.”

“Na you sabi. I am saying congratulations to Iya Kabiru, all the same. As an advocate for women empowerment, I congratulate her on the many good things ahead: this special honeymoon that awaits her, in the loving hands of Baba Kabiru. And I say Iya Kabiru, e ku amojuba. E ku oriire, lopo lopo. In nine months, please invite us for a rice-and-soup-very-plenty-naming-ceremony. Triplets by the Grace of God!”

“You are very ridiculous. You are off limits”

“My friend, don’t be hypocritical. If our father, the Iku Baba Yeye himself, the Alaafin of Oyo, at 80 plus is still celebrating the arrival of babies, not just babies, multiple twins, Baba Kabiru must show proof of his own statement in nine months as a true son of Osun.”

“You are absolutely incorrigible. Who told you the only way a man can show affection to his wife is to put her in the family way. Is that what you call empowerment”

“I am just very happy for Iya Kabiru. I am overjoyed. Politics turned her husband into an absentee husband. Now, out of office, her husband says she will now be her project. Alihamdulilali!”

“I don’t see how Aregbesola can leave politics. Politics in Lagos and Osun. He will still be busy.”

“But with Iya Kabiru fully attended to. And by the way, Aregbesola should leave Lagos politics alone. He should stay in his own state of Osun.”

“You are crazy. Did you drink anything this morning? Can we change this subject?”

“On one condition”

“What condition?”

“You will congratulate Iya Kabiru”

“Okay, congratulations Ma. Thank you for standing by Governor Aregbesola through thick and thin. One yeye man in Lagos says you are the one we should congratulate”.

“Say it in Yoruba”

“Iya Kabiru e ku oriire o. E ku ti ipadabo Baba Kabiru o.”

“Only God knows how many women out there who have to deal with the challenge of having absentee husbands because their husbands are involved in the public arena. Such women are the true heroes of Nigerian democracy.”

“You know when you say that, what comes to my mind really, is the plight of the wives of the many soldiers who were killed recently by Boko Haram terrorists in Matele, Borno State. It is one thing to have a husband go to the battle-field, if he is absent, you at least know where he is and that he is busy, but to have him die on the battle-field, never to return, that is tragic. I feel for the widows of the fallen soldiers of Matele..”

“I am not satisfied with the way the Nigerian government has handled the matter. Obviously, Boko Haram has not been technically defeated. Has Alhaji Lai come up with anything yet?”

“Alhaji Lai? No, please. I watched a video of the attack that was in circulation over the weekend. I was horrified. The Boko Haram terrorists caught the Nigerian soldiers off-guard. They ambushed them and mowed them down. Sad. Very sad. I later saw a social media tweet by someone who said he saw his father in the video and the family has not yet heard from the Nigerian military. I also saw a post by a woman who cried out over the loss of her husband. Each time a soldier dies at the battle-front, many lives are affected.”

“118 of them. Just like that.”

“The government is obviously overwhelmed.”

“What really can government do? Terrorism is the new tragic reality of the age. It is the worst form of inhumanity known to man. It leaves governments in a bind; it drives society to the edge. It disrupts the order of values.

“There is a lot that the Nigerian government can do.”

“Please, this is not about politics. Don’t bring politics into this.”

“Who is talking about politics? I am saying our soldiers need to be better equipped and better protected. When a man signs up to be a soldier, he knows that he has signed up to die for his country if need be, but that does not mean he must be served up like barbecue to the enemy. Why are our military bases so porous, so poorly defended? Why is it so easy for anyone to get a military uniform? When our soldiers fall at the battlefront, what are the protocols for informing their families and managing the communication process? We need to professionalize the Nigerian military. If we must rely on technical assistance from other countries, let us do so. When our soldiers die, there must be special grants for their widows and survivors, to be paid for life if possible.”

“I will add another point. Any service chief that is not ready to focus on the job should be changed. Nigeria’s security chiefs should stop attending political rallies and meetings. We want soldiers in uniform, whoever wants to do politics should remove his uniform and wear agbada.”

“Anyway, the President has said that the loopholes that led to the fatalities will be blocked once and for all. I take that to heart.”

“Yeah, he spoke a whole week after the incident. I am surprised nobody is making an issue out of that.”

“You never know. May be the President was busy at the time. And a President doesn’t just talk. He has to consult and be briefed.”

“What is that? Busy doing what? Donald Trump talks every day. He is on twitter every morning, commenting on anything that catches his attention. He is involved.”

“This is Nigeria. This is not the United States. We have our own way of doing things here, from the Presidency to the man on the street. The President could have been busy for example, preparing for the 2019 Presidential debate.”

“Which debate? You think he will agree to participate in a debate?”

“Why not? I will like to see him in the debating hall, taking on issues with the likes of Omoyele Sowore, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu, Tope Fasua, Donald Duke, Obadaiah Mailafia and of course Waziri Atiku Abubakar. Let him defend the “Next level” and let Ezekwesili and Sowore take him on.”

“I see you are not a nice man at all.”

“How? There are things the President can and should talk about. You have been lamenting over the killing of soldiers, for example, but look at what the Federal Government has just done for policemen.”

“And what is that?”

“Yesterday, the President approved more pay for Nigerian policemen. He approved the Rank Salary Structure Adjustment for policemen”

“No wonder”

“No wonder what?”

“There is this policeman that I know. I saw him and his wife yesterday evening. The two of them were laughing like jackass. I have never seen them look so happy. I thought something was wrong. So, it is the salary increase?”

“Let’s just say policemen deserve to be happy too. But it is not enough to increase their pay. Nigeria is heavily under-policed. We need more policemen. Like the military, the police should also be better equipped. They need better training. Clean uniforms. Decent barracks. An average policeman should be a university graduate, not a primary school drop-out.”

“Why are you saying policemen should be graduates, when most of your politicians don’t even have secondary school certificates? Sometimes, I don’t get you.”

“I know what I am saying. Every policeman should be a college graduate. You don’t understand. It is a next level thing. Nigeria can only move to the next level if we all begin to think out of the box.”

“Like your thoughts on Iya Kabiru eh”.

“Ha. Iya Kabiru! A hero. Someday, she should tell her story: the story of the big sacrifice her husband made as Osun State Governor!”

Aig-Imoukhuede and the initiative for public governance

By Reuben Abati

A week ago, I stumbled on an article titled “Africa and the burden of Leadership” (The Guardian, Nov. 7), written by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, banker, investor and entrepreneur, former Managing Director of Access Bank Nigeria, our compatriot. The piece was actually excerpted from a speech he delivered at the graduation ceremony of government and public policy students at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, UK, in his capacity as founder of the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG). The AIG was founded by him in 2014.

The piece made me curious and I had to check out the Africa Initiative for Governance online. In this age of “google-it” or what others call the “white man’s oracle,” if you are in doubt about anything or you are looking for information, just consult the google-oracle. So I googled it to double-check some of the information already provided in the article before me.

Indeed in 2014, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede founded the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) as a not-for-profit, private sector-led Foundation to promote good governance and public sector reform. Every year, since 2016, the AIG, in partnership with the Blavatnik School of Government has provided post-graduate scholarships for a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) programme at the University of Oxford. To date, persons selected from Nigeria and Ghana have benefitted from the programme. Five of them graduated in November 2018.

They are expected to return to their home country and become change agents in their country’s public sectors. Five other AIG scholars enrolled for the MPP in September 2018.

Every year, the Foundation also awards the AIG Fellowship to an outstanding public official in Nigeria or Ghana. To date, Professor Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the immediate past Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Georgina Wood have benefitted from the Fellowship.

The AIG is involved in partnership with the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHCSF) to give teeth to a 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Transformation Strategy and Implementation Plan to ensure the transformation of the Nigerian civil service, and general public sector reform. As recently as October 2018, the Africa Initiative for Governance(AIG) sponsored and facilitated a session: “The Unfinished Business of Reforms” at the 24thNigerian Economic Summit held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja, FCT. I further discovered that my friend and brother, Olusegun Adeniyi sits on the board of the AIG. I recall that he actually once wrote a piece on the initiative when it was first launched.

Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede is a member of the emergent generation of Nigerian wealthy men and women, the 80s generation that made its money in the last two decades, from banking, finance, securities, real estate, oil and gas and just about anything that could be turned into money as the decades progressed.

This rise of new money in Nigeria as different from “old money” (represented by the the Odutola brothers, Dantata, Ibru, Ojukwu, daRocha, Fernandez etc) also seems to have coincided with a rising consciousness about the need to give something back to society, that is philanthropy or social responsibility. There has been, in Nigeria, a re-definition of capitalism, in terms of a more benevolent construction, and the rich man as a responsible man of community and an agent for social good.

What has been seen, therefore, is the growth of institutions and initiatives devoted to the public good or ostensibly so, with too much money seeking to do much good. Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, and one of the richest men in Africa, has the Dangote Foundation. Jim Ovia, owner of Zenith Bank, has a Jim Ovia Foundation, and is founder of the Jim Hope Schools. Tony Elumelu, Chairman of the Union Bank for Africa (UBA) runs the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) which has been supporting and grooming entrepreneurs in 44 African countries. Of all these efforts that I know, the least publicized in my view is the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG). Or to put it differently, in a country where a Foundation that distributes food to the poor, and another small one that gives out second hand clothes, are much better known, a Foundation like the AIG which focusses on reform, governance and policy deserves more aggressive publicity – not to promote ego, but to inspire a much broader debate about its goals and objectives.

The only significant thing I notice however is that the acronym of the Africa Initiative for Governance is AIG. The founder, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, is also more popularly known as Aig, a shortened form of his name. But greater publicity for the Foundation should expand access to the opportunities it offers. This is my point. How many persons in Nigeria or Ghana are aware of the scholarships and Fellowships on offer? Who knows that the Foundation exists? Aig-Imoukhuede may assume that the work of the Foundation will speak for it. These days, Foundations speak, and they should speak for themselves.

It remains for us to interrogate the foundations of the initiative, and some of the points raised in Aig-Imoukhuede’s article. The original assumption is that the civil service is the engine-room of a country and that for a country to function effectively, attain a competitive edge and for democracy to work, there must be in place a development-oriented civil service in place. Aig-Imoukhuede obviously believes as shown in his piece “Africa and the burden of leadership”, that the failure of African states is a function of the failure of the bureaucratic machinery in those countries, and that reform is required to reverse the trend, rediscover lost glory and reposition African countries for progress.

There is a touch of nostalgia in this. Many Nigerians growing up in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s in Nigeria will remember a country that once worked. Chinua Achebe referred to this when he titled one of his books, “There was once a country”. In that country referred to by Chinua Achebe, there may have been small corruption within the system, tongue and “tribe” may have differed, but Nigeria was a country that worked.

There was in place a state bureaucracy that provided opportunities and service for the average citizen. We had in the country some of the best schools in the sub-region, if not in the entire continent. Scholars from around the world came to teach at the country’s universities; there were foreign students in Nigeria as well. As a secondary school student, some of my teachers were from Pakistan, India and other parts of the Commonwealth. As an undergraduate, we had Faculty members from the United States, France, UK and Canada. Nigerian roads were fixed by a department called PWD, that is Public Works Department. In those days, teachers were special citizens because students and their parents celebrated them and appreciated their value.

A school principal or a primary school headmaster or headmistress was definitely a member of the local elite. There was a Sanitary and Hygiene Department at the Health Office. Today, Nigeria ranks second on the ignoble, global list of countries that are guilty of open defecation due to the absence of public latrines! There was regular power supply in those days. Nobody had any need for a generator. Today, every home is a power station. You have to generate your own water, your own electricity too. The situation is so bad that the Federal Government has had to declare a national emergency on water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

AIG believes that the narrative can be changed and that new thinking can produce a new Nigeria. Aig-Imoukhuede is convinced that public sector reforms focused on human capacity development and institutional capacity building can change our circumstances.

The truth is that there have been many public service reforms in Nigeria as has been convincingly argued and rigorously analysed by Tunji Olaopa, our former Perm. Sec at the State House who in a few days will be delivering an inaugural lecture as a Professor at the Lead City University in Ibadan. (see for example: Tunji Olaopa, Managing Complex Reforms, Ibadan: Bookcraft, 2011, 315 pp). Nonetheless, in spite of all of those reforms, Nigeria remains classified as a “hesitant reformer”. Countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, and Kenya are ahead of Nigeria. Nigeria remains resistant to new thinking.

Aig-Imoukhuede through the AIG, wants to intervene from within, through private sector injection, into the policy making process. His entry route is education. He believes that if the private sector can invest over time, in human capital, create a pool of public policy experts who have been schooled in some of the best institutions in the world, when such individuals are injected into the system, they can make a difference. He even intends to set up a public policy university in Nigeria where such new thinkers can be produced.

I get the point about human capacity investment. Many countries in the developing world have learnt to recruit into their bureaucracy only the best and the brightest available. In India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, you must be really smart to be a civil servant. It is understood that what happens in terms of the management of the state determines everything else.

In Nigeria, our civil service system has been overtaken by nepotism, lack of merit, incompetence and complete disregard for critical thinking. The same Nigerian civil service that once produced Super Permanent Secretaries (including Philip Asiodu, the late Allison Ayida and late Hayford Alile), now produces ethnic champions, looters, “area boys”, and closet politicians. Aig-Imoukhuede believes that a carefully groomed and intellectually exposed new elite can create a revolution. He has taken the strategic step of involving beneficiaries from Ghana and other African countries.

I assure Aig-Imokhuede that he may end up having more success stories from Ghana and elsewhere in Africa. But that does not mean he must give up on his own country. He made his money here and he has an obligation to contribute to the re-making of the country of his birth. The path he has chosen is much better than donating money to politicians who do not understand policy or the developmental process that will produce a better society.

It is a much wiser way of spending his money than acquiring additional wives or side chicks, living large like an octopus, dressing like a coxcomb, or becoming an embarrassing face of capitalism. My worry is this: when the new bureaucratic elite that he is helping to create through first world education return to Nigeria or Ghana, how do they fit in, into the rot in Nigeria especially? How do they fit into the prevalent culture of anti-intellectualism?

A Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from Oxford is great but is Nigeria’s civil service today, ready for Oxonian intellect and competence? What is the guarantee that some of AIG’s products will not end up elsewhere in other countries where they may be better valued? Aig-Imoukhuede wants to create 21st century technocrats for a 19thcentury system in Nigeria. Will elite public policy education also prepare his beneficiaries for the primordial constraints of the Nigerian public sector?

Let me simplify that. In Oxford, and I believe in the elite school that Aig-Imoukhuede wants to build, they will teach things like planning, processes, innovation, creativity, efficiency and outcomes as parts of the bureaucratic engine. How will the AIG agents when they return to Nigeria respond to their other colleagues who in the first place are holding strategic positions because of Federal Character and whose secondary school certificates cannot be traced and who have never been to anywhere close to Oxford? How will they relate with the horde of civil servants who will leave the office before noon every Friday and will not return?

How will they deal with a system where records are not kept and nobody wants to keep any record because of an established “Guardian syndrome” – the this-is-how-we-have-always-done-it mentality that has always made new thinking impossible in the Nigerian civil service? The plan is to train AIG Fellows to think modern, post-modern even, but what should they do with that other colleague who during the weekend had been shown wearing a masquerade attire and prancing about with a primitive sword in his hands, and paraded as the chieftain of a 9thcentury society?

I am not knocking AIG’s emphasis on human capacity development and institution building. I am trying to problematize what they propose by saying that there is a whole lot more beyond the development of a new skills-set, and a new generation of thinkers. Nigeria failed first at the level of values, culture and ideals before its public service followed suit and failed. The entire country itself needs to be re-built before the input of private institutions like AIG can be better felt. We need a different kind of leadership: a leadership that values ideas and the capacity of human beings to make a difference, and a governance system that is driven by ideas and a competitive spirit.

Nigeria cannot afford to continue drifting. It is the reason many of our capitalists are beginning to jump into the fray to see what they can do from the private sector-end to reduce the spread of institutionally generated madness. It is probably in their enlightened self-interest to be seen to be actively creating new currents within the country, and an enabling environment for capital to thrive, but we should hold Aig and others at the higher end of the spectrum: their love for country.

The founders of AIG and similar others have proven one point: that leadership is a collective responsibility and more so, between the public and private sectors. In doing so, they all hold up a candle to future generations and offer hope that some day, this country will reach the turning point of progress. AIG doesn’t want Nigeria and the rest of Africa left on the tarmac. That’s fine. Nigeria needs to board a flight to a higher destination…

The Spirit of the Jews in Squirrel Hill 

By Reuben Abi,

What was assaulted in Squirrel view, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States on Saturday, October 27, was not just the 11 persons that died and the six injured, or strictly the Jewish community in the United States. It was an assault on the entire humanity itself.  It was terrible. It was horrendous.

It stands condemned by all right-thinking members of the human community. We note for record purposes, that the children of YHWH have been victims of hate, terrorism and intimidation all through history, but a gun-man, Robert Bowers, 46, walking into a synagogue on Sabbath day, wielding guns and hate in his heart and gunning down innocent persons and injuring others is the height of the terrorism and intolerance that a chosen race has suffered over time.

The people of YWWH could be terrorized and slaughtered but it is written in human memory that they will forever live. But even that is no lasting consolation. The world must be made safe for all – regardless of race, ethnicity, colour or gender.

The latest case of hate crime in the United States further raises questions about gun control – the need to take a second look at the spread of guns in the United States and the readiness with which agents of hate pull out those guns to commit evil at all levels.

But it also draws attention to power relations; those who feel oppressed are bound to rebel against their imaginary oppressors, and they may choose wrong targets as victims of their depression. In Robert Bowers mind, that is the assailant’s mind, is the assumption that Jews, wherever they may be, no matter their circumstances, are oppressors. The hate in his heart takes us back to Egypt, the Crusades, the Granada massacre to the Holocaust.

He is a memorialist, a recorder of hate, with deep-seated evil in his heart. President Donald Trump has called for the death penalty, but even death may not erase or cancel the memory of hate in the minds of others like him. A world in which a group, any group at all – national or local, is made to feel like targets reminds us of the vulnerability of all humanity.

Jews, after more than two millenniums, from Egyptian captivity to the Babylonian threat, to Hitler, came to regard the United States and Israel as their places of refuge, away from centuries of persecution.  But now, not even the United States is safe anymore. Not even Israel is safe.

The world in which we live, needs a re-set, a rethink beyond primordial ghosts and binary thoughts that threaten human relations at all levels. The man of the skullcap must be able to live with the white supremacist and the community of persons with dark sins, and the Arabs and everyone else, to respect the values of difference, diversity and inclusivity. This is the lesson of the shootings in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, over the weekend – the need for a world without racism.

Anthony Anenih: A personal and political portrait

By Reuben Abati 

Anthony Anenih, the political leader, chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party who has died aged 85, was one of the most important figures in the story of Nigeria’s return to civilian rule, and a founding father and a major influence in the party that ruled the country for an unbroken stretch of 16 years.

I knew him and was privileged to know him, even more closely, when I assumed office as President Goodluck Jonathan’s official spokesperson and media/publicity adviser. For four years, we worked together and met regularly. We lived in the same neighbourhood in Asokoro, so it was very easy to pop into the Chairman’s house on my way to work, or on my return journey.

His doors were always open, but even more so because he took a very keen interest in the government and the Presidency and it was not before long that I became an errand boy between him and the President.  He referred to President Jonathan as his son, even if he did not make a public song and dance out of that. He told me many stories about how the PDP emerged and the journey of President Jonathan to the Presidency of Nigeria.

“This my son, I love him. I want the best for him, but he doesn’t always listen to me”, he often told me. He would now give long stories about how certain persons that should never have been given positions emerged as President Jonathan’s lieutenants. It was not in my place to respond to that. He also often talked about some other pieces of advice that he gave the President. “Can you tell him, I want to see him tomorrow?” Despite his larger than life image, Papa Anenih was a very humble man in the face of authority.

Perhaps because of his police background, he understood protocol, hierarchy and authority. He always asked for permission to see the President which was never denied. The President also visited him regularly at home. That was the extent of his influence. But it was not just the President that went to his house to pay homage. Whenever I visited, there was always a long queue of persons who had come to see him. He had the ears of the President.

He was the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees. He also had the advantage of age, and a reputation that preceded him.  He was a power broker, and a Godfather, not just nationally, but also in his native Edo State and the entire South South where he had fought many political battles.

Anenih first came into public consciousness through the old Bendel state chapter of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1981. President Shehu Shagari who was seeking a second term in office had gone to visit the former military Governor of the Midwestern State, Samuel Ogbemudia, to solicit for support.

Ogbemudia agreed only on the condition that Anthony Anenih, his friend, a former policeman who was then  Chairman of Yakon Group of Companies would be anointed as the Chairman of the party’s branch in Bendel state. The following day, Chief Tayo Akpata who was the Chairman of the NPN in the defunct Bendel State was removed. Akpata’s  exit marked the beginning of the Anenih phenomenon and legend.

 In 1983, President Shehu Shagari won the second term election in Bendel state and nationally. Anenih was considered the architect of the victory, at least in Bendel State. He would show up later in the Ibrahim Babangida government as an equally influential political leader. He helped Babangida to fix a few things. In 1992, Anenih further became the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In 1993, the SDP with M.K.O. Abiola as Presidential flagbearer won the June 12, 1993 Presidential election. That election was annulled.

Anenih again re-emerged in 1998 as a deputy campaign co-ordinator for the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Campaign Organization. Obasanjo won the election and emerged as President. Given Anenih’s unbroken record of success as a superintendent of electoral issues, he became knows as “Mr Fix It’ – the man who could fix any political problem.  In 2002, he led President Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election campaign for the 2003 election.

Anenih came into solid prominence during the President Obasanjo years. He was a power broker in Obasanjo’s government. His name may not have been known outside Nigeria, but at home, he represented the true and complete incarnation of the politician as a man of action. There were many malicious legends about him, though: they said he “chopped” the money meant for the construction and rehabilitation of Nigerian roads in his capacity as Obasanjo’s Minister of Works, but no one could point to any evidence of criminal conviction.

They said he was a political fixer, Mafia-like, so they called him “Mr. Fix-it, but no one could doubt that he was a strong man of influence whose word carried weight. He was a co-fighter in the struggle to establish a democratic order in Nigeria after many years of military misconduct. He was a back-bone to the front-liners. He fixed, so says the legend, whatever needed to be fixed, and he delivered, particularly for President Olusegun Obasanjo: the soldier and the policeman locked in an instructive esprit de corps.

He and President Obasanjo with whom he fought many battles were different in temperament and they eventually clashed, but it is good to recall that whenever they worked together, they complemented each other.  Anenih was originally a policeman. Not too many Nigerians like policemen. Anenih retired as a Commissioner of Police, but he probably did more for the police out of office to the extent that his example helped to dispel the pervasive impression that the Nigeria Police is a community of bumblers.

He was a solid public figure with a strong voice. He had friends everywhere, not because of the positions that he occupied but because of his belief in the Nigerian project. In a country where persons of minority extraction are often marginalized, Anenih became a standard bearer for the politics of inclusivity. The people of the South South owe him a debt of gratitude for the manner in which for decades, he helped to centralize their cause in the Nigerian conversation.

Even if they may not readily admit it anymore, many persons from the South South owe their pre-eminence in contemporary Nigeria to the pathfinder role played by the likes of Anthony Anenih, after Adaka Boro, after Anthony Enahoro, after Ken Saro Wiwa etc.. Anenih’s exit may well create a deep and lasting vacuum, but we can not yet make a final affirmation on the extent and impact of that.

As a private person, Pa Anenih was caring, kind and attentive. I want to explain what I mean by this. There are persons who claim that he was a tough husband and that he had issues in that area. I don’t know about that. Whatever happened in the late statesman’s other room, should not be the focus of our assessment of his place in the larger picture of Nigeria.

He is survived by wives and children – they should deal with their private issues, after the passage of their patriarch. My own private experience is that he was a very kind and generous man.  He was a gentleman who, in his later years, was most willing to assist every one who crossed his path. He was blunt though. He helped those he thought were deserving of his time and attention.

I recall that he had his own contacts within the Nigerian media, and he always insisted that I should attend meetings of that group because he wanted to use it to assist President Goodluck Jonathan. The first time I attended the meeting some of our colleagues were full of complaints.  Papa Anenih waded in. He smoothened the cracks. He re-assured our “very powerful” colleagues. We met now and then thereafter. The most difficult job in the Nigerian government is the management of the media.

I was lucky to have had the support, advice and guidance of the likes of Papa Anenih. The progress we made may not have been well appreciated throughout our tenure, but apparently, the Jonathan administration is beginning to look better than good, years after. I want to thank Papa Anenih for the leadership, the contributions and the support that he offered and from which our office benefitted.

I will like to say, however, that the last part of Papa Anenih’s life was perhaps, the moment of his decline. The younger members of the party went to his house to pay homage, but they thought his ideas were dated in the age of technology. This was the case despite the fact that he followed them everywhere at 80 plus and he spoke at every rally. He was strong. He was present-minded.

He was energetic. Long before the 2015 elections, he prepared a media campaign strategy document which he asked me to give to the President, and he asked that he would await an opportunity for further discussions. The biggest challenge old men face is that they end up being looked at as dinosaurs. Nonetheless, Anenih attended rallies and helped to mobilize the grassroots. He offered his ideas. I don’t think he got the appreciation that he deserved in his twilight moments. Even his own state Governor undermined him, playing across all fields, trying to grab the space.

Anenih was even accused at a point of anti-party activities in the matter of Imo state. In his own state, Edo State, also, Adams Oshiomhole as Governor and his agents dismissed him and accused him of irrelevance. His harsh critics were wrong then as they are now. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not here to open a can of worms, but to pay tribute and respect the memory of the dead. Anenih’s death on the eve of the 2019 elections is a major loss for the Peoples Democratic Party, for Edo state and for progressive Nigerian politics.

We commiserate with the people of Edo State on the passage of their illustrious son, Anthony Akhakhon Anenih, who rose beyond his local beginnings to become a man of nationalistic influence and a Nigerian statesman. When he was around, he made a difference which is what every human being of worth should seek to do. He is now in a place where neither malice nor mischief can reach him. Anenih, the man and the legend has departed.

Those who speak ill of him should worry more about the end of their own journey. They should also remember that he left a book behind. He told his own story.  So, I say this: Let the living deal with their many debts and agonies.  Anthony Anenih played his part… And now: “Holy Father, in Thy mercy/Hear our anxious prayer/Keep our loved ones, now far absent/’Neath Thy care…/So mote it be.”   Travel well, sir.

Nnamdi Kanu as “Wailing Wailer”

By Reuben Abati

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement suddenly resurfaced in Jerusalem, Israel at the Wailing Wall, after his one-year disappearance that resulted in speculations about his whereabouts. Kanu has since issued a statement through Radio Biafra in which he denounced the Nigerian state and boasted that no Nigerian court can do anything to him.

Before disappearing from sight, under the cloud of the invasive Operation Python Dance in his home state of Abia, IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu had accused the Nigerian government of trying to kill him and destroy the Biafran movement that he leads. He has now been quoted as saying: “(The) Nigerian court is a kangaroo court. I did not jump bail. I left because the court failed to protect me. I shall not be honouring the court. I cannot be tried by a court I do not recognize. Nigeria cannot jail me.”

Whatever may be the quality of Nnamdi Kanu’s grievances, he must be told in clear terms that he cannot make such claims of superiority to the state as he has done. No non-Nigerian can even say that Nigerian courts are unacceptable and yet engage in acts that could have implications for Nigeria’s sovereignty.

Kanu says he escaped during the invasion of his home by Nigerian soldiers. We have condemned that invasion – its manner, style and intent. We have defended the right of indigenous peoples to ask for self-determination, under the right circumstances. But no other Nigerian, including Igbos, believes that Nnamdi Kanu is superior to the Nigerian state.

He is on record as having said: “I am Nnamdi Kanu, no mortal flesh can kill me. They have not given birth to that very person. Since they didn’t want me to come to court, I shall come back to Biafra land…” If no mortal flesh can kill him, why run away then? Ple-a-se! Some other reports indicate that when Nnamdi Kanu returns, he will bring “hell”. I am not sure that is a correct public statement to make. I do not see many Nigerians who are looking forward to a promised “hell”. They are in hell already.

And they are not likely to rely on the words of a man who vanished, when the Nigerian hell became too hot, but he is now bragging that he will return and lead his followers to a hotter part of hell. When and if Kanu returns, (he is probably just bluffing), he may find a smaller crowd behind him. What will he say to the many families who lost loved ones and property while he and his own family fled to safety? “I owe my survival to the state of Israel”, Kanu says. “I want to send my solidarity to @GovAyoFayose”, he purportedly added.

There may be politics tied to Nnamdi Kanu’s return. Why now, when an Igbo man, has been named by the opposition party as Atiku Abubakar’s running mate? Is anyone using Nnamdi Kanu as a curve ball to frustrate the Atiku-Obi ticket? Who dragged him out of whatever hole he crawled into, now to use him to play politics? However, by his conduct, and utterances,

Kanu has watered down the potency of the revolution that he leads. He disappointed many. He has also failed to realise that while he was absent from the battle front, the dynamics of the revolution changed.

He wants to hold a Biafra referendum. The only referendum Nigerians are interested in at this moment is a referendum on the Buhari government. Nnamdi Kanu and associates should tarry a while. You can’t just jump off the train of revolution and expect to jump back, at an opportune time, from the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, with a ticket made of spittle and a sheet of prayer requests.