Editorial – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com Breaking News in Nigeria Today Thu, 13 Jun 2019 17:28:26 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 https://tribuneonlineng.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/logo.jpg Editorial – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com 32 32 118125416 Nigeria’s outrageous railway contract sum https://tribuneonlineng.com/218370/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 23:24:42 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218370 Tribune Online
Nigeria’s outrageous railway contract sum

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THE country was shocked to the marrow recently when it became public that the Ghanaian-European Railway Consortium (GERC) had agreed to construct a 340-kilometre standard gauge railway line in Ghana for $2.2 billion. This is against the background of the cost of the 156-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan railway line, handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation […]

Nigeria’s outrageous railway contract sum
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Nigeria’s outrageous railway contract sum

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

THE country was shocked to the marrow recently when it became public that the Ghanaian-European Railway Consortium (GERC) had agreed to construct a 340-kilometre standard gauge railway line in Ghana for $2.2 billion. This is against the background of the cost of the 156-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan railway line, handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and put at $2 billion. The implication of this is that while a kilometre of railway line costs $6.5 million in Ghana, the same length costs $13.6 million in Nigeria. It is nothing short of a scandal that the Ghanaian project handled by a European consortium, which is reputed for charging more for infrastructure construction, is far cheaper than the Nigerian contract. We make bold to say that the country has been fleeced through the project, and we are unequivocal in our condemnation of this.

Why would the construction of a kilometre of railway line in Nigeria cost more than double what it costs in Ghana? This certainly is an indefensible rip-off of the country by a few people in connivance with a foreign interest. It is even more perplexing that this fraud is taking place in the life of a government that has made fighting corruption a plinth of its administration. This certainly is a scam of the country. It is a conspiracy of those in government against the people of Nigeria. It is an unpardonable theft of the common patrimony by the perpetrators of the act. This must be condemned by every Nigerian citizen. The civil society cannot afford to keep mute about this. Nigerians must rise as one people against those whose stock in trade is the perpetual pilfering of the commonwealth.

Rochas Okorocha sworn in as Senator

But apart from the differential in the costs of the two projects being a demonstration of a rape on the country, it is also agonizingly symbolic and reflective of the differences between the two countries. It explains why Ghana is advancing and Nigeria is on a retreat. It explains why electricity generation and supply is improving in Ghana while same is worsening in Nigeria. It shows why Ghana is making giant strides in infrastructure and Nigeria is doing a catch up. It explains why international organisations are abandoning Nigeria for Ghana. It shows that while government officials in Ghana are working for the people’s well-being and the good of their country, government officials in Nigeria are all out to corner the nation’s resources. It shows that while the leadership in Ghana protects the country from external extortion, leaders in Nigeria connive with foreign organisations to rob their country. It shows that while government officials in Ghana have respect for the people, leaders in Nigeria hold the people in disdain. Ghana is everything Nigeria is not.

Therefore, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to rise to this occasion and save Nigeria from the hands of those who are bent on bringing it to its knees. The president cannot keep mouthing his plan to stop corruption without any demonstrable action on his part. Wishes are not enough to address corruption; it requires definite actions. We beseech the president to ensure that this case does not go the way of others before it. Acting on this and bringing to book everyone involved in this horrendous scam will salvage the nation’s image. The government must institute a probe and get to the root of this scam. Everyone connected to it must be exposed. Anything short of this will signal a condoning of fraudulent practices by the president. The president cannot afford to fail on this one. As observed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, eradicating corruption does not take an eternity to achieve where the will to do so is not lacking. President Buhari must convince Nigerians that he is willing to stop corruption in Nigeria.

President Buhari must understand that when those in leadership are allowed to milk and bilk a country without any consequence, the country weeps and the people groan.

 

 

Nigeria’s outrageous railway contract sum
Tribune Online

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Yet another Abacha loot https://tribuneonlineng.com/218121/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 02:47:16 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=218121 Tribune Online
Yet another Abacha loot

Abacha

FOR the umpteenth time, the loot allegedly stashed away by the usually dark-goggled maximum ruler and dictator,  the late General Sani Abacha, recently returned to the front burner when a bank account containing 211 million pounds (approximately N82 billion) was traced to him. The money was recovered and subsequently confiscated in Jersey Channel Islands on […]

Yet another Abacha loot
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Yet another Abacha loot

Abacha

FOR the umpteenth time, the loot allegedly stashed away by the usually dark-goggled maximum ruler and dictator,  the late General Sani Abacha, recently returned to the front burner when a bank account containing 211 million pounds (approximately N82 billion) was traced to him. The money was recovered and subsequently confiscated in Jersey Channel Islands on the request of the United States government. Abacha was said to have laundered the money through the United States into Channel Islands before his death in 1998.

According to a report by Metro UK, the money was put in accounts held in Jersey Channel Islands  by Doraville Properties Corporation, a British Virgin Islands company. The report said that the money was being held by the government until authorities in the country, the United States and Nigeria came to an agreement on how it should be distributed. It was gathered that for now, Jersey Islands would keep the loot in its Criminal Confiscation Fund, which could be used to pay for a variety of projects on the Island. It will be recalled that not too long ago, a similarly circumstanced national wealth under the same tag was repatriated from Swiss banks which stipulated certain conditions that must be fulfilled for the government to lay any claim to the loot, part of which was to ensure that it was distributed among the poorest of the poor in the country.

Nigeria has descended into the abyss of poverty, becoming the world’s poverty headquarters, but Jersey Islands ironically has its eyes on the funds stashed away in its coffers and available to fund projects for its citizens while Nigerians are languishing in abject poverty, confronted and indeed ensnared by the full implications of infrastructure deficit and security lapses. What actually boggles the mind is the self-evident fact that nobody knows the actual amount that was stolen by the late dictator as only estimates are being bandied about by media houses. The $2.2 billion estimated as stolen from Nigeria’s coffers may actually be a conservative figure. New looted funds are still being discovered even though Abacha died 21 years ago.

It can be argued without any controversy that the development of the African continent has largely been hobbled by its kleptomaniac leadership irrespective of the manner of its ascendancy: through the ballot box or via military coups. Ironically, many of these thieving leaders are canonised and revered by the subsequent leaderships which inherited their positions after their demise or ouster. Apart from having so many national monuments named after him, for instance, the late General Abacha still enjoys the fond memories of President Muhammadu Buhari, who heads an administration which prides itself as one that is currently fighting corruption tooth and nail. Yet, many years after Abacha’s demise, so much of his stolen wealth is still being repatriated from various havens across the globe.

It boggles the mind that a Head of State could have such an unrestrained access to the public till through the Central Bank, an institution manned by professionals. Granted that maximum rulers can rarely be resisted by lesser mortals, but still, records of his massive withdrawals could at least have been kept by the country’s treasurers. Or could they too have been helping themselves to the public till all the while? To put it mildly, a situation in which nobody has the accurate figures of what has been looted from the public till leaves so much to be desired. It even raises doubts about the much touted available human resources. Where are they?

To think that such a looter, once at the helm in Nigeria, is still viewed as an icon of leadership by the current president is gravely disconcerting; in fact, even to the point of despair. The credibility of the corrective and restorative agenda under his watch is certainly in doubt. It becomes imperative to ask questions regarding what the Federal Government has been doing with the recovered loot, which the receiving and warehousing countries had previously used to develop their infrastructure while the legitimate owners languished in abject poverty.

Also, is there any guarantee that this horrible spate of unconscionable looting has abated? In the years to come, will tales of monumental theft of public funds be told in relation to those in power now or not? Without an institutionalised,  holistic approach, the fight against looting and other forms of corruption will remain vague, tepid and ineffectual.

Yet another Abacha loot
Tribune Online

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Twenty years of civilian rule https://tribuneonlineng.com/217980/ Wed, 12 Jun 2019 02:14:11 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=217980 Tribune Online
Twenty years of civilian rule

june 12

AS Nigeria attains 20 years of civilian rule in its Fourth Republic, nothing perhaps illustrates the sad fate of Nigerians than its designation as the global capital of poverty and host of two of the deadliest terror groups ranked on the Global Terrorism Index, namely Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. While the designation of June […]

Twenty years of civilian rule
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Twenty years of civilian rule

june 12

AS Nigeria attains 20 years of civilian rule in its Fourth Republic, nothing perhaps illustrates the sad fate of Nigerians than its designation as the global capital of poverty and host of two of the deadliest terror groups ranked on the Global Terrorism Index, namely Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. While the designation of June 12 as Democracy Day by the Muhammadu Buhari administration is quite in order given the historical significance of the June 12 1993 presidential election in the country, there is, in reality, hardly anything to celebrate today except perhaps the fact of Nigeria’s continued, even if admittedly imperilled, existence as a sovereign entity.  Naturally, though, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the various state Government Houses are agog with song and dance, with the powers that be celebrating June 12 without aspiring to the spirit of freedom, free and fair elections and the validation of the popular will that it represents, being completely isolated from, or perhaps indifferent to, the harsh realities that Nigerians are called upon to endure on a daily basis. Indeed, at no time since Nigeria’s independence have Nigerians been as divided, poor and horrified as they are now.  Did Nigerians imagine a day like this would come when they gave life and limb to send the military back to the barracks in 1999?

The year 1999 indeed came with a lot of promise because the elected president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, had been released from prison where he was serving a life sentence on trumped up charges only the previous year, and Nigerians expected that having been to the lion’s den himself, he would be at a vantage position to empathise with them and address the dastardly conditions in which they lived. The country had experienced military repression for 16 long, horrendous years (1983-1999) and Nigerians were therefore excited that democracy had at last arrived since 1983 when the Second Republic was interrupted by a military coup.

Obasanjo spent most of his first term travelling abroad, but he later won international praise for Nigeria’s role in regional peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Liberia; and also had to his credit the Greentree Agreement with Cameroonian President Paul Biya which formally resolved the Bakassi peninsula border dispute. His administration created the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Universal Basic Education Programme, set up anti-corruption agencies and increased the share of oil royalties and rents to oil-producing states from 3 to 13 percent; and Nigeria’s GDP growth rose to six per cent, helped in part by higher oil prices. But the administration’s use of anti-graft agencies in pursuit of political opponents, disrespect for the legislature; the genocide in Odi community in Bayelsa State, monumental corruption, particularly in the power sector, and the president’s pursuit of a third term agenda in violation of the Nigerian constitution set the country backwards.

The succeeding administration led by President Umaru Yar’Adua rolled out a seven-point agenda, but by 2010,  many of the stated goals remained elusive. It however recorded modest gains in taming the Niger Delta insurgency and pursued electoral reform, setting up a committee headed by Muhammadu Uwais, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, for that purpose. The Goodluck Jonathan administration, continuing with Yar’Adua’s seven-point agenda, recorded gains in the economy and the electoral process. It launched the Roadmap for Power Sector Reform and the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) Initiative to harness the creative energies of young people between the ages of 18 and 35, and the Transformation Agenda, with varying degrees of success.  But it was painfully circumscribed by lax handling of the country’s security challenges and monumental graft. Nevertheless, it succeeded in instituting a regime of free and fair elections and sought to advance the development narrative through the convocation of the 2014 national conference.

Since May 2015, the Muhammadu Buhari administration, elected on the promise to fight corruption and insecurity and revive the economy, has failed to deliver on its promises. Although it has been credited with the release of some of the Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram and some gains in the ant-corruption effort, the fact that it took all of six months to form its initial cabinet was a big drawback. What is more, its budget estimates have been poorly prepared, while the depreciation of the naira and its non-floating led to a gulf between the official exchange rate and the black market rate and opened up the opportunity for well-connected individuals to engage in arbitrage. It is no wonder then that the country’s corruption perception index has worsened. The president’s visit to 20 countries seeking loans has not led to the upgrading of infrastructure. And it is not exactly cheering news that insurgency has displaced over two million Nigerians from their homes.

As we noted in previous editorials, President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly seeking approval for a $3 billion external loan to re-finance maturing domestic debts and the issuance of a $2.5 billion Eurobond for the funding of the 2017 capital budget brought to the fore, the escalating debt profile of the country and the seeming helplessness of the government in stemming it. According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the Federal Government’s domestic debt rose from N8.51 trillion in March 2015 to N11.97 trillion in March 2017, an increase of N3.46 trillion. In the same period, external debt for both the federal and state governments also rose by $4.35 billion from $9.46 billion in 2015 to $13.81 in 2018. Accruing debts seems to give the government a thrill.  It is not thinking of entering into partnership with the private sector to build infrastructure and recoup its investment over a period of time.

Across the country today, bribery to legitimise deviously  obtained power inheres the political space; workers’ salaries have become an anathema and legitimate dissent is treated like treason, with even media houses being shut down for refusing to toe the line of government megaphones. The government has hobbled the democratic space, upended state institutions, serially disobeyed court orders and worsened poverty and insecurity. The conditions would seem to be promoting civil and ethnic strife. Families are in disarray. On the political front, party primaries are nothing but barefaced robbery and elections monumental theft and subversion of popular will. The parliament was invaded twice, first by bandits led by a senator, and then by security agents, in an effort to truncate democracy in broad daylight. In Zamfara, bandits kill people, including policemen, for sport and local government allocations are now increasingly expended on the payment of ransoms. Across the country, herdsmen are on the prowl committing rape, murder and brigandage without challenge.

Sadly, leadership at the state level has been no less disappointing. In fact, it has arguably been worse. Governors rush to China to trade off the future of their states, and roads have remained nightmares in most of the states. In most cases, what has been called development has been nothing more than the window dressing of state capitals. In the last 20 years,  the country has been confronted with the ugly spectacle of former governors reportedly owning almost everything of note in the states they governed; owing workers salaries for months on end, being embroiled in certificate forgery; getting arrested and imprisoned abroad for monumental theft; expending ecological funds on political campaigns, being linked with terrorism, and routinely demolishing the properties of political opponents citing non-existent crimes. Workers are hungry and angry.

Like the Federal Government, the state governments have failed to justify their existence. For instance, states amassed domestic debts totalling N1.27 trillion as their debt figure moved up from N1.69 trillion in 2015 to N2.96 trillion as of March 31, 2017. Indeed, a report by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission released last year but based on the 2016 fiscal year showed that most states in the country had racked up debts in excess of 50 per cent of their annual revenue, the limit set by the Debt Management Office (DMO). The debt profiles of 18 states exceeded their gross and net revenues by over 200 per cent, while those of Lagos, Osun and Cross River states ranged between 480 and 670 per cent of their gross revenue. It is therefore no surprise that most have found it extremely difficult to discharge their responsibilities to the citizenry; a huge chunk of their future revenue will have to be earmarked for debt repayments. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Nigeria currently expends 66 per cent of its tax revenue on debt repayment.  Many of the states are not any better than they were before the loans were taken, and the regulatory authorities that ought to have stopped them from exceeding the boundary failed to do so.

Given the foregoing dismal realities, we cannot endorse the current political practice or the practitioners. We can only salute Nigerians for their long-suffering while calling on those in power to change their orientation and style.

Twenty years of civilian rule
Tribune Online

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Ex-NIMASA DG’s conviction: A slap on the wrist https://tribuneonlineng.com/217684/ Mon, 10 Jun 2019 23:10:01 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=217684 Tribune Online
Ex-NIMASA DG’s conviction: A slap on the wrist

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

FORMER acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Calistus Nwabueze Obi, was recently sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Lagos State under Justice Mojisola Olatoregun. The court found him guilty of conspiring with one Dismal Alu Adoon using two firms, Grand Pact Limited and […]

Ex-NIMASA DG’s conviction: A slap on the wrist
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Ex-NIMASA DG’s conviction: A slap on the wrist

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

FORMER acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Calistus Nwabueze Obi, was recently sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Lagos State under Justice Mojisola Olatoregun. The court found him guilty of conspiring with one Dismal Alu Adoon using two firms, Grand Pact Limited and Global Sea Investment, to convert N225 million belonging to NIMASA to personal use. The court also imposed N10 million fine on the two firms. Obi, a former  Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Service at NIMASA, took over from Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi as the Director General in acting capacity. Akpobolokemi is currently facing five separate charges of fraud and theft.

9th NASS: New speaker will emerge in hallowed chamber, not on national TV ― Bago

Apparently, Obi was appointed ostensibly to sanitise and cleanse an agency that had more or less become a nest of sleaze, but he too got into a position of authority and began to line his pockets in cahoots with other criminals of his ilk. This is treachery and criminal betrayal of trust. Against this backdrop, it was expected that after the trial judge had admitted that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had proved its case against the convicts beyond reasonable doubt, the sentence should have been of the maximum hue. But what the judge handed down is tantamount to a slap on the wrist. Provision was even made in the sentence for an option of fine on the ground that the prisons are congested! It is a shame and an outright disservice that heavier sanction from the grid which could have served the purpose deterrence was not meted out to the public thieves.

Curiously, prison congestion has suddenly become a sufficient reason to let one or two big fishes off the hook whereas cognisance is hardly ever given to this obvious incapacity when small fries are involved. It seems that Nigerians on the lower rungs do not qualify for such consideration on the basis of prison congestion.  As it turned out, the unpatriotic public officials whose insidious activities contributed in one way or the other to the general incapacity and degeneration of facilities within the system are the ones benefiting from such sordid state of affairs. That is ironic and most unfortunate. The country needed to send a strong message to public thieves and the opportunity was provided by the EFCC’s unusual deft handling of the convicts’ case but that message was not sent by the kind of light punishment that the court administered.  And as if the prosecuting counsel of the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, had envisaged what was coming, he had passionately pleaded with the judge after the conviction, but before sentencing, to impose the maximum punishment prescribed by the law on the convicts.

He argued that Section 15(3) of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act, which the convicts violated, prescribed a maximum of 14 years for offenders and a minimum of seven years based on the judge’s discretion as permitted by law. But somehow, the judge chose the minimum sentence even when the convicts failed to take legitimate actions that could have swayed him to exercise his discretion in their favour. For instance, the convicts allowed the judge to go through the rigour of full-fledged trial instead of opting for plea bargain at the start of the trial. Indeed, at the close of prosecution’s case on November 11, 2016, the convicts actually filed a no-case submission, claiming that there was no prima facie case against them. Such convicts do not come across as the penitent or remorseful type that should have been favoured in the exercise of the discretionary power of the judicial officer.  But that is what has happened and the signal is wrong and dangerous.

The public service and the civil service in the country are reputed to be inherently corrupt. It is believed in many quarters that the cacophony often generated by cases of politicians’ malfeasance tends to obfuscate the rot in the civil service where far more monumental and systematic sleaze is deeply entrenched. In  the circumstance, it is imperative that  anyone whose  hand is caught in the cookie jar should not only be shamed but also made to  face sanctions that are commensurate with the intensity of their betrayal. And most importantly, the punishment  should be heavy enough to  prevent or deter potential criminals from replicating such ignoble action. But where confirmed criminals who plundered citizens’ collective patrimony are given a slap on the wrist by way of sentences so light as to approximate impunity, the essence of deterrence is totally defeated.  Yes, conviction is a stain in the public record of any convict but that only counts for much in a clime where people have a sense of shame, not in an environment where confirmed public thieves are rewarded for their dishonourable actions in palaces, mosques and churches.

We strongly urge judicial officers in the land to always endeavour to exercise their discretionary powers in favour of the society, especially in corruption cases and in situations where the prosecution has charged the suspects under the appropriate codes. The judges can perform this patriotic duty within the precincts of the law; all it takes is special but lawful  consideration for the society while making judicial pronouncements in order to  rein in the activities of criminals, especially the corrupt elements within the civil and public service.

Ex-NIMASA DG’s conviction: A slap on the wrist
Tribune Online

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Dropping May 29 as public holiday https://tribuneonlineng.com/217474/ Sun, 09 Jun 2019 23:32:56 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=217474 Tribune Online
Dropping May 29 as public holiday

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

LAST year, the Federal Government declared June 12 as Democracy Day to be observed as a public holiday. Specifically, the declaration was made in a statement on June 6, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari in honour of the late Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. The election, which […]

Dropping May 29 as public holiday
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Dropping May 29 as public holiday

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

LAST year, the Federal Government declared June 12 as Democracy Day to be observed as a public holiday. Specifically, the declaration was made in a statement on June 6, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari in honour of the late Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. The election, which was annulled by Ibrahim Babangida, the then military president, had been described as the freest, fairest and most peaceful election in Nigerian history.  Though the results of the election were not fully announced before it was annulled, Abiola was believed to have won the election based on collations from all the states.

I’m not emirate accounting officer, Sanusi replies Ganduje

Chief Abiola, who later died in government detention in pursuit of his mandate, was also posthumously conferred with the highest national honour, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), an honour reserved for presidents, on June 12 last year to mark the 25th anniversary of the annulled election. Until last year, many Nigerians had argued that June 12, 1993 was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29, 1999. The former is widely regarded as the day Nigerians in millions expressed their democratic will in what was undoubtedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful election since Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

The annulment plunged the country into crisis and provoked a struggle to force the military to return to the barracks. In the event, Nigerians revolted against the government, calling for a reversal of the annulment. General Babangida stepped aside and installed an Interim National Government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan and which was subsequently overthrown by General Sani Abacha. Many pro-democracy activists and protesters were killed while others were plunged into detention.  Many had to flee into exile in foreign countries.  The junta led by General Abacha carried on until he died suddenly on June 8 1998, paving the way for a swift return to democratic rule via a transition to civilian rule programme instituted by General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Abacha’s successor.

The declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and a public holiday is welcome. Previously, May 29 was observed as Democracy Day simply because it was the day Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999 after about two decades of military dictatorship. May 29 remains the day of inauguration of a new president and new governors across many states. The declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day has added to the number of public holidays by one day. Thus, retaining May 29 as a public holiday adds to the already unpalatable situation of too many holidays. Given the widespread poverty in the country, the least the leadership can do is to promote the ethics of hard work. The country needs to work harder to scale up production and advance prosperity. In the circumstance, the inauguration of a president or governor should be a solemn and sober event.

Nigeria needs leaders who behave in a manner that symbolises the commitment to transforming the country into a culture of resourcefulness, hard work and frugality. We therefore argue that May 29 should no longer be observed as a public holiday. The inauguration day should be a working day. In some states, governors are not inaugurated on that day because of the change in timetable of elections arising from court decisions on election-related disputes. Today, seven states do not inaugurate their governors on May 29. Furthermore, some governors in some states have set the precedent by taking the oath of office in the Office of the Governor rather than in a public stadium, without the fanfare that goes with the latter.

We therefore call on the Federal Government to revert May 29 into an effective working day. Having two public holidays relating to the return to democratic rule is excessive.  Nigeria can do without it. Instead, let citizens cultivate a culture of participation and involvement in the democratic process. Let the leaders show commitment to the rule of law and demonstrate that they value hard work.  They should demonstrate commitment to democracy by accountability and transparency in governance.

Dropping May 29 as public holiday
Tribune Online

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Obasanjo’s Fulanisation comment: Matters arising https://tribuneonlineng.com/217080/ Fri, 07 Jun 2019 00:13:08 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=217080 Tribune Online
Obasanjo’s Fulanisation comment: Matters arising

Buhari fulani

THE furore still trailing the recent comment by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on a supposed plot to foist a Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda on Nigeria is scary and worrisome. We had hoped that the government would use the opportunity at its disposal to adequately address the volatile issue that had lingered for so long before […]

Obasanjo’s Fulanisation comment: Matters arising
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Obasanjo’s Fulanisation comment: Matters arising

Buhari fulani

THE furore still trailing the recent comment by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on a supposed plot to foist a Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda on Nigeria is scary and worrisome. We had hoped that the government would use the opportunity at its disposal to adequately address the volatile issue that had lingered for so long before Obasanjo decided to lend his voice to the debate. As it is, the matter is bound to persist and hurt the system because the government glossed over fundamental issues raised by the former military and civilian leader. It adduced no concrete effort or evidence in dismissing the grave allegations and their undercurrents, in spite of the immediate and far-reaching implications of such an agenda on the country’s corporate existence.

It is instructive that Obasanjo only echoed what even the ordinary person in the country perceives as acts of genocide and other forms of provocation by herders of Fulani ethnic stock.  Other eminent personalities like former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), also alleged that Nigeria was descending into ethnic strife through the manipulation of state powers by the government. A body of senior citizens called the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), including a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Solomom Asemota; General Danjuma and Major-General Zamani Lekwot (retd), also alleged a similar plot to Islamise the country. “The appointment of only Muslims from the North into sensitive positions and the flagrant violation of the Federal Character Principle in the constitution is not democracy but Sharia. It is Sharia that is at the root of the jihad that has been launched in the country. Nigerians should realise that there is a deliberate attempt to truncate the constitution and replace it with Sharia as the source of legislation,” the NCEF claimed.

About a year ago, General Danjuma unmistakably said that Nigeria was on the brink of collapse because of the acts of genocide, especially in his home state of Taraba, by the military, the same institution he made enormous sacrifices to nurture and preserve. The distraught former Minister of Defence declared: “If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one. This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and other rural states of Nigeria, otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory and defend your state. Defend yourselves because you have no other place to go. God bless our country.” Similarly, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr.  Olisa Agbakoba, while expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s lackadaisical attitude to the issue, buttressed Danjuma’s view, citing the weird circumstances in which some Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted by Boko with a conclusion that “Nobody can trust the army anymore.” On its part, the Middle Belt Youth Council lamented that Nigeria had become “the choice sport of Fulani herdsmen without any repercussive action by the Nigerian government.”

All these developments strengthen the alarm raised by Obasanjo on the twin agenda capable of further placing Nigeria on the tinderbox. Therefore, unless the Federal Government applies the law in dealing with the matter as exercised in saner climes, Nigeria’s corporate existence will remain precariously on a cliffhanger. Suppression of dissenting voices will only create dissonance and exacerbate conflicts and suspicion as  currently experienced in the country.

The fact that the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, a known critic of Obasanjo, is on the same page with him on this matter means that the Nigerian house is indeed on fire which, if not quickly doused, could spell dire consequences for the country’s unity. Soyinka captured the point succinctly: “I think we should be very careful not to be too dismissive or even abrasive.” Former Catholic Archbishop of the Lagos Metropolitan See, Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie, equally expressed deep worries about what he called the current rudderless state of the country that has paved the way for anarchy and lawlessness. Obasanjo, Danjuma and other top military officers fought a civil war between 1966 and 1970 to preserve Nigeria’s multireligious and heterogeneous status. It ought to be clear that when people who are known nationalists and patriots who have always preached one Nigeria speak like this, there is a need for utmost caution and proactive measures by those in authority.

There is no ambiguity in how Nigeria found itself in the current quagmire. However, it behoves the government to act decisively on the core issues raised by the senior citizens. Nigerians demand explanations on the inaction of the government which has led to pervasive fear and apprehension among all other major stakeholders in the Nigerian project. The rising advocacy of self-help and traditional means of protecting lives and properties is due to the failure of the state to live above board in performing its statutory obligations in the face of acts of genocide. It is informed by the government’s favourable disposition to Fulani herdsmen. In reacting to the qualms of the elder statesmen, the Federal Government does not need to engage in vile abuse and character assassination. Rather, it should proclaim the terrorists enemies of the state and deal decisively with them.

The peace reigning in Nigeria is akin to that of the graveyard; the Fulani herders have continued to kill, maim and abduct innocent citizens for ransom. Peace has taken flight in most communities because the terrorists are laying siege to major highways and forests across the country. Families have either lost their breadwinners or abandoned their means of livelihood, especially farmlands on which they invested their life savings. A proper and sincere shake-up in the security architecture of the country is necessary to end the siege on other nationalities by Fulani herdsmen. The Federal Government must stop its undue tolerance and accommodation of the group and apply the full weight of the law. It must stop chasing shadows. Instead, it must provide convincing explanations and answers to the fundamental questions raised by Obasanjo, Soyinka and especially Okogie, who said that there appears to be a leadership vacuum in the country, which has become “more uninhabitable than it has ever been in its history.”

 

Obasanjo’s Fulanisation comment: Matters arising
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Paying parents for children’s education https://tribuneonlineng.com/216702/ Wed, 05 Jun 2019 23:55:16 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=216702 Tribune Online
Paying parents for children’s education

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

Recently, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) under the Educate-A-Child Cash Transfer Programme gave money to 7,342 parents of out-of-school children in Kebbi State to facilitate their children’s education. According to the UNICEF project coordinator in the state, Malam Isah Usman, the sum of N8,000 was paid every term to the mothers of the affected […]

Paying parents for children’s education
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Tribune Online
Paying parents for children’s education

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

Recently, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) under the Educate-A-Child Cash Transfer Programme gave money to 7,342 parents of out-of-school children in Kebbi State to facilitate their children’s education. According to the UNICEF project coordinator in the state, Malam Isah Usman, the sum of N8,000 was paid every term to the mothers of the affected children selected from nine local government areas of the state. Usman added that payment for the second and third terms was in progress and that 7,342 parents got the money for the first term.

He said: “The overall goal of the Educate-A-Child Cash Transfer Programme is to expand access to quality basic education for 501,749 out-of-school children by 2020 in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states. The programme aims to reach 31,044 child beneficiaries and their female caregivers in four years in Kebbi State. In the first year of the programme, the cash transfer was introduced in Danko-Wasagu, Suru and Maiyama local government areas and it will be expanded to Argungu, Bagudo, Dandi, Gwandu, Koko-Besse and Shanga LGAs in the following years. The key achievements under the cash transfer programme include massive awareness, poverty mitigation, women’s self decorum, income generation options, increased enrolment and improved learning performances.”

I was approached to join in destroying Tinubu —el-Rufai

It is indeed commendable that efforts are being made to ensure that children receive education in Kebbi State. Truth be told, every uneducated child is a threat to the society. The world today has become a global village in which life without education is increasingly an anathema. Indeed, recently, former Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, threatened that laws would soon be enacted  to punish parents who refuse to register their children of school age in school. According to him, “Unless the issue of parents preventing their children from going to school is made a crime and we start jailing parents, the menace of out-of-school children will not be resolved. There are many who are still hiding behind culture and religion.”

As we noted in previous editorials, the average poor and ignorant parent in the educationally disadvantaged states would rather use children as economic assets than expose them to learning that would cost him or her something in addition to depriving him or her of the assistance the children would otherwise have provided. Sadly, in 2018, about 92 million Nigerians reportedly slipped into poverty. It is therefore not surprising that the out-of-school children figure rose from about 10.5 million less than five years ago to 13.2 million this year. To say the least, the economic condition of the average parent has worsened.  The poverty question therefore has to be addressed.

But there is a more fundamental issue involved in the phenomenon of parents being paid to allow their children to go to school. Why, for instance, is it that no parent in some parts of the country needs to be induced financially before sending their children to school? Why is it that such parents even sell their landed and other properties to give their children education? The answer, quite simply, is that they have internalised the value of education. Therefore, it is not just poverty that is implicated in the Kebbi State issue; the value of education is still not appreciated in the state.

In our view, the practice currently in place in Kebbi is not sustainable. If you pay parents to facilitate their children’s attendance of primary school, do you also pay them to allow their children to attend secondary schools and universities? To be sure, the money being given to mothers in Kebbi by UNICEF, although seemingly paltry, would at least solve some of the financial challenges that they have. For a petty trader, N8,000 is definitely a boost and not a disincentive. But there must be reorientation on the values of education not only in Kebbi State, but also across the northern states. Parents need to learn that educating their children is a must, if only because, all other things being equal, education provides the surest route of escape out of the appalling economic conditions in which many families remain trapped. In this connection, we urge the Kebbi State government and indeed other state governments facing similar problems to roll out massive enlightenment programmes while also doing their best to address poverty. If they cannot do this, they have no business being in office.

Paying parents for children’s education
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FG and Westerhof’s apartment https://tribuneonlineng.com/216507/ Tue, 04 Jun 2019 23:48:24 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=216507 Tribune Online
FG and Westerhof’s apartment

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, the Nigerian national football team, the Super Eagles, flew to the United States to take part in the country’s first ever men’s FIFA World Cup. Although the Super Eagles entered the tournament as the reigning African champions having overcome the KK 11 of Zambia 2-1 in April of that year to clinch […]

FG and Westerhof’s apartment
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Tribune Online
FG and Westerhof’s apartment

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, the Nigerian national football team, the Super Eagles, flew to the United States to take part in the country’s first ever men’s FIFA World Cup. Although the Super Eagles entered the tournament as the reigning African champions having overcome the KK 11 of Zambia 2-1 in April of that year to clinch the African Cup of Nations trophy on foreign soil for the first time, very few supporters thought the Eagles had any chance of advancing beyond the preliminary round. In fact, for most Nigerians, the fact that the country’s flag was being flown at the world’s premier football tournament was enough cause for celebration.

But the Super Eagles did not just parade the Nigerian flag; instead, they took the tournament by storm, handing Bulgaria a comprehensive 3-0 defeat in their inaugural game, before losing narrowly to Argentina 1-2, and then taking Greece to the cleaners in their last group game. By the time the Super Eagles lost 1-2 to Italy in the Round of 16 (a game they really should have won but for a last- minute loss of concentration), the team had put the world on notice that something special was brewing in African football. Heading into the 1994 World Cup, the Nigerian team was ranked fifth in the world, an achievement that, since then, has not been equalled, either by the Super Eagles or any other African team.

Makinde appoints Tribune Politics Editor, Taiwo Adisa, as CPS

Impressed, like most Nigerians, by the team’s exploits, the then military government of General Sani Abacha announced the award of a house in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to each member of the squad and its technical team led by Dutchman Clemens Westerhof. That it has taken the Federal Government all of 25 years to redeem its pledge to Mr. Westerhof, as it did eventually last week at a ceremony presided over by Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, is a fact to be lamented.

Better late than never, some might interject, and granted, there is something to be said for that. But as the good book says in Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” As the honourable minister himself noted while speaking at the ceremony, some members of that team who should have been beneficiaries of a largesse that the Federal Government voluntarily announced, have since passed to the great beyond. For such players, who served the country with distinction, no atonement is possible.

This is not to make light of Mr. Fashola’s gesture. We applaud him for doing the right thing, and we congratulate Mr. Westerhof on receiving his letter of allocation. Nevertheless, we are genuinely baffled by the fundamental mismatch between promise and actuality, and what seems like a serious case of institutional amnesia at the highest levels of governance in the country. As Mr. Fashola admitted, it took the personal intervention of a public-spirited journalist, Mr. Onochie Anibeze, for one of Mr. Westerhof’s assistants, Johannes Bonfrere, to receive his own promised house back in 2017.

In any case, even Mr. Westerhof’s own apartment is not ready yet because as the minister disclosed, the apartment is ‘under renovation’ and the coach would only get the keys when it is ready for occupation. As Westerhof himself said: “I am thankful to you all, and I can feel myself more of a Nigerian now. I can now stay here when it is so cold back there in Europe. I also thank God for this blessing of being invited here today to collect my papers. I hope I will soon get my keys, because you never know with Nigeria.” Since the Federal Government is yet to make good on its promise to several other members of the team, there is no better time than now to do so. It should not take the intervention of a random journalist for the Federal Government to redeem its pledge to citizens who hav

e done the country proud.

FG and Westerhof’s apartment
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Herdsmen, bandits’ siege https://tribuneonlineng.com/216337/ Tue, 04 Jun 2019 03:10:31 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=216337 Tribune Online
Herdsmen, bandits’ siege

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

IF there was any doubt that the country is now effectively under the siege of herdsmen and bandits making life  horrendous, nasty and brutish for law-abiding Nigerians, such qualm was laid to rest last week by no less a personality than the wife of Nigeria’s president, Mrs Aisha Buhari. Echoing the dire warnings earlier handed […]

Herdsmen, bandits’ siege
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Tribune Online
Herdsmen, bandits’ siege

marijuana, ban on okada, e-border project, drug cartels, life pension, Ngige, revenue collection, Magdalene Yohanna, investors, open defecation, state police, Sex romp, most miserable, Cyclone Idai, small scale enterprises, Nigerian, Ogoni, out-of-school children, NSCDC, Kajuru, Ita faji, No smoking day, oil marketers, FIFA, Leah Sharibu, customs, police, elections, tariff, El-Rufai

IF there was any doubt that the country is now effectively under the siege of herdsmen and bandits making life  horrendous, nasty and brutish for law-abiding Nigerians, such qualm was laid to rest last week by no less a personality than the wife of Nigeria’s president, Mrs Aisha Buhari. Echoing the dire warnings earlier handed down by elder statesmen like former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Minister of Defence, Lieutenant-General Theophilus Danjuma (retd) apparently to a deaf administration, Mrs Buhari tasked the country’s security agencies to step up their game before bandits finished all Nigerians off. Speaking in Katsina State during a visit to victims of banditry taking refuge in Dakin Baki area of Katsina city and against the backdrop of reports that some 25,988 internally displaced persons were taking refuge at various camps in the state, Mrs Buhari said: “When the Katsina SSG spoke out, I sent it to all security outfits in the country. I told them it’s either they went and helped out or allowed us all to be killed. It is a must for people to come out and speak.”

Moon sighted, Sultan declares Tuesday Eid-el-Fitr day 

Frank and brutally honest as they are, Mrs Buhari’s comments do not come anywhere close to capturing the full extent of the atrocities committed by bandits and herdsmen across the country. In the past few months, the phenomenon of herdsmen in military fatigues waylaying travellers on the highways, dragging them into the bush and subjecting them to rape, butchery and carnage has been essentially a daily occurrence. Scoffing at the law and riding on the waves of governmental disinterest in the safety of the people on whose behalf its functionaries live in the lap of luxury, the felons tear women’s clothes with bayonets and subject them to brutal and blood-curdling rape before their husbands. They beat and rape daughters in the presence of their parents before collecting ransoms from their relatives in millions of naira. According to chilling details by survivors, the terrorists tie women and men to trees in the forests, subject them to sleeplessness and, at their beastly best, behead them for sport. This is of course when they are not raping and killing women on their farms before setting crops and any livestock in sight ablaze.

The fact that the atrocities have reached boiling point was underscored on Sunday by the governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, who accused herdsmen domiciled in Afikpo North, Onicha and Izzi local government areas of the state of assaulting and raping women in the communities. Speaking during a peace talk between herders and farmers at the Akanu-Ibiam International Conference Centre, Abakaliki, the apparently distraught governor lamented that the herders were defiling the land of Ebonyi. He said: “I want the chairman of Miyeti Allah to know that we have a very strong traditional affinity to wives. For any Izzi woman—whether the man is from Izzi or outside Izzi and he has sex with the Izzi woman in this place— the land is desecrated and the woman as well is desecrated and cannot return to her husband’s house again and that is our culture. And the man that did it is not allowed to stay in that land. It is the same thing in the entire Ebonyi State.”

Pushed to the wall, women in Ondo State recently invaded the palace of the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, declaring that the state was no longer safe as Fulani herdsmen had surrounded its forests and bushes. They lamented that herdsmen armed with  all kinds  of  weapons usually molested, maimed, raped and even destroyed their farmlands and livestock. Indeed, a 72-year-old woman was allegedly raped by some suspected Fulani herdsmen on her farmland at Ore in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state recently. Said another victim: “I was working on the farm when the two men invaded my farm and before I could question them on their mission, they gagged me, tore my clothes and raped me one after the other. They threatened to kill me if I made any noise.” Youths under the auspices of the Ondo State Youth Coalition and farmers across the 18 local government area of the state have consequently threatened to take the law into their own hands if the state government and the security agencies failed to address the issue immediately.

Indeed, the chilling details recently provided by a Nigerian woman in the Diaspora who experienced the herdsmen’s atrocities with her family support the conclusion that they (herdsmen) have declared war on the South-West and other communities in the country. The tragedy happened at the Ijare junction on the Akure-Ibadan highway where the driver felt a rupture in the tyres of the wagon in which the family was travelling and decided to change them. Wrote the survivor: “In a jiffy, a motley crowd of armed men in military uniform came out of the bush, firing at the boot of the car. They hit me on my chest, hit my daughter on her head, and blood oozed. At this time, it was better to kill me. I shouted at one of the armed men. His response was hell. He went straight for my private part, tore my dress with his gun. The others ripped my dress. Two of them dug their teeth into my breasts. We were marched for nine hours. I was half naked. My daughter was totally naked. Her tears were like a stream of blood on her cheeks. Our phones had been seized.

“We ended up in an ungoverned region in the thick of the forest.   There were some people with their legs chained to trees, as if half dead. I was separated from my husband. My daughter was taken away. I only heard her scream intermittently. Three beastly criminals sat on my husband’s back, jumping until he was too weak to stand.  I was not allowed to put on any additional cloth on my body for 24 hours. I became a sexual museum for the armed men who in turn addressed me and asked questions about my financial standing. New Fulani men joined the camp. They organised military training for the new Fulani men that came, teaching them how to shoot and walk through circles of glowing fire. We were not released until after six days. We had to walk the same zig-zag journey back to the main road, our eyes blindfolded.” That was of course after paying  N8 million.

Reacting to the tense situation in the South-West following the herdsmen’s latest round of atrocities, Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr Kunle Olajide, accused security agencies of aiding and abetting the herdsmen’s atrocities, saying the herdsmen had reportedly built 1,123 cells inside the thick forests across Yorubaland. He called for the equipment of the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) with good vehicles, motorcycles and drones to fly over these forests and identify the locations of the criminals, adding that the permanent solution remained the decentralisation of the police.

Indeed, to all intents and purposes, the herdsmen and bandits’ atrocities cannot be divorced from the Nigerian state apparatus. It is simply illogical to assume that the felons’ apparent takeover of Nigeria’s sovereignty has been without the tacit support of subversive interests within the Federal Government. In Zamfara State, local government chairmen now reportedly pay ransoms to bandits on a daily basis and as we noted in our previous editorials, the Kaduna/Abuja highway has become a metaphor for a failed state, ceded to bandits. Many innocent Nigerians have lost their lives on the highway and many more have been maimed for life, causing the Nigerian Railway Corporation to deploy two coaches to complement the ones already being used as the rail sector takes advantage of the predicament of motorists. As we noted, for a nation increasingly divided along ethnic and religious lines, the situation portends danger, particularly in the possibility of disenchanted citizens resorting to self-help and thereby blurring the lines of civility and legality.  We have not been persuaded to change our view that a situation whereby people resort to rail transport only to save their lives is both worrisome and foreboding, not least because those who made the roads impassable can equally make the rails undesirable.

There can be no doubt that Nigeria is now a largely ungoverned lawless space and any ethnic group relying on the state security apparatus for its safety and security will, as Lieutenant-General Danjuma warned, simply perish. Given the fact that Nigeria exists principally because nationalities like the Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbo, Hausa, Izon and others exist and in fact pre-dated the formation of Nigeria as a sovereign entity, the time has come to address the very question of Nigerian nationhood itself, including the form its continued existence as a sovereign entity should take. Nigerians have suffered too much from herdsmen’s atrocities, particularly under the current administration, to expect that a governmental miracle would suddenly save them from their (the herdsmen’s) vile clutches. We find it worrisome that a government which wasted no time in labelling a separatist group like the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) a terror group has allowed Fulani herdsmen, a group which ranks highly on the Global Terrorism Index, to ravage and pillage innocent communities without challenge. To date, the government has failed to join the international community in labelling the herdsmen a terror group and it is open to question whether it can therefore be realistically expected to put a halt to their murderous activities.

We call on the governors and leaders of thought in the affected communities and states to devise means of self-defence allowed by international law while availing the security agencies with information on the activities of herdsmen and bandits in their communities. In case President Buhari has not yet grasped the point, Nigeria has become a lawless fiefdom under him and it is time he rose to the challenge of his oath of office. The ethnic and religious fissures stoked by herdsmen must be curbed lest the country irreversibly slides into  full-blown anarchy.

Herdsmen, bandits’ siege
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Nigerian girls for sale https://tribuneonlineng.com/216080/ Mon, 03 Jun 2019 02:52:39 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=216080 Tribune Online
Nigerian girls for sale

Trafficked girls

THE tragedy that started in the mid 17th century tagged the transatlantic slave trade which saw many Africans being enslaved and transported mainly to the Americas is gradually being reenacted in the 21st century. But this time round, the destinations and the purposes are different. And curiously, there is some level of participation by the […]

Nigerian girls for sale
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Tribune Online
Nigerian girls for sale

Trafficked girls

THE tragedy that started in the mid 17th century tagged the transatlantic slave trade which saw many Africans being enslaved and transported mainly to the Americas is gradually being reenacted in the 21st century. But this time round, the destinations and the purposes are different. And curiously, there is some level of participation by the victims in the initial discussions precedent to being enslaved even if slavery does not feature unequivocally in the usually surreptitious dialogues.  The usual line is that the victims are being assisted to travel to Libya, Mali and so on to seek greener pastures and get engaged in legitimate income-yielding endeavours, which are not readily available in the country. The target candidates usually are girls who already have visible feminine features. The most notorious destination currently is Mali where the girls are reportedly being callously prostituted by their ‘owners’ who bought them like a merchandise for between N210,000 to N240,000 from the Nigerian human merchants.

Many victims were deceived to leave their livelihood in Nigeria for the imaginary greener pastures in Mali. Perhaps a few of them knew they were going to work as prostitutes in Mali, but certainly they did not know they were going to work as sex slaves. Some of the victims were also said to have been abducted from Nigeria as epitomised by those that arrived in school uniforms. Going by the account of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), there are about 20,000 Nigerian girls in Mali being coerced to ply the illicit trade and the number is said to increase by 50 per day!  The sex slave trade is allegedly a well organised enterprise where agents graduate to become principals if the business runs its course without any hitches. According to Julie Okah-Donli, NAPTIP’s Director-General, after being sold, the girls are made to pay back between N1.08 million and N1.2 million within eight months to their madams. After gaining their freedom from their madams, sequel of course to the completion of payment, the girls would now begin to work and make money for themselves through prostitution before graduating to madams on their own. That is the damning progression: from sex slaves to free prostitutes and then barons of the illicit trade.

The downsides of the activities of this criminal ring are legion. Prostitution, apart from being morally reprehensible and criminal, completely robs women of humanity. Yet the worst  form of prostitution is sex slavery, especially because  it involves not only the dehumanizing aspect of pricing girls like ordinary commodities but also the use of their bodies to satisfy the pecuniary demands of their ‘owners’. That is horrible and demeaning. No human being deserves to go through such experience in order to eke out an existence. That is aside from the fact that the girls constitute health hazards to themselves and to those they get intimate with. Many of them are purveyors of sexually-transmitted diseases as they are allegedly forced to sleep with many men without protection.

There have also been reported cases of some of the girls being sent to the northern part of Mali where they not only offer sex but also become radicalised. Perhaps the most serious of the spin-offs from the shameful conduct of the Nigerian girls and their ‘madams’ in the foreign land is the alleged looming danger of xenophobic attack as Malian women are reportedly getting agitated that Nigerian girls are snatching their men. However, the Malian government officials both at the borders and in the hinterland are allegedly complicit in the illicit trade because it is fetching the government money by way of heavy  weekly taxes and compulsory  purchase of expensive condoms and other medications by the girls from official sources on a monthly basis. It should be noted nonetheless that the experience of Nigerians in South Africa has shown that the feelings and opinions of the ordinary people of their country of residence are more important than the disposition of the government towards them in determining their safety or otherwise when the chips are down.

It is saddening and embarrassing that Nigerian girls are being sold into slavery very cheaply in the 21st century. But no one should feign ignorance of how the country got to this sorry pass. The situation in the country, now reputed to be the global headquarters of poverty, is sad and it is even more unsettling that current official efforts do not point in the direction of amelioration in the immediate future. It, therefore, should be expected, albeit sadly so, that some citizens may take somewhat precipitate actions to combat what is patently an existential challenge. Truth be told, for as long as the parlous state of the country’s economy remains, for so long will Nigerians continue to leave the country in droves on a daily basis, risking life and limb. Nonetheless, we call on the government to rescue then enslaved Nigerian girls in Mali, and to arrest the gradual slide into anarchy over economic and security issues.

Nigerian girls for sale
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