In recent years, there have been several stories about the June 12, 1993 elections as the day has come to represent different things to different people with majority Nigerians and political observers concluding that the day symbolizes new dawn in the annals of the nation when a rebirth of new nationhood was about to spring up but unfortunately aborted by the maximum ruler, Ibrahim Babangida (IBB)’s government and what was supposed to be a unifying factor for the multi-various nationalities comprising of the nation, became a most divisive and destructive event. However, more than 25 (Twenty-Five) years after the annulment of the supposed freest and fairest elections in the country, the momentum has taken another angle, especially with the Muhammadu Buhari’s federal government declaring the day the new Democracy Day for the nation rather than May 29, which has no symbolic relevance to the nation than being a transition day from military rule to a democratic government.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) stated that June 12 is more of a day to dignify Ibrahim Babangida (IBB)’s, Government which created political parties and gave them ideologies by writing their manifestoes for them which he called a little to the left and a little to the Right underpinning his amorphous political undertone; built parties Secretariats for them instead of allowing the people to determine what they wanted, ideologically and through financial commitments of their members and their original founders. Political offices were built on his whims rather than where the people actually existed. To keen and informed political observers, everything that happened before, during and immediately after June 12, 1993 elections never signified true democracy in any way; the declaration of the election was not holistic, the open secret ballot system, even the option A4 was never democratic as other political parties were not only disbanded, but their leaders and founders prevented from establishing or belonging to any other political parties thus, preventing generality of the people the free choice to choose who they wanted.
The June 12 incident was the day Abiola acquired the instrumentality of struggle that made him commit grand suicide apparently by taking side with the majority of the Nigerian people that were very poor and ordinarily outside his original bourgeois class. Abiola rekindled the hope of the Nigerian people and fought on their side, ultimately sacrificing his life for what an ordinary and average, toiling Nigerian stood for. He campaigned throughout the length and breadth of the nation to give hope and succour to man in the street. He shocked members of his economic class by declaring that his emergence would signal a new beginning in the annals of socio-economic cum political affairs in the nation and would herald a time where ‘No Nigerian would go to bed on an empty stomach’. To the majority Nigerians, this was the galvanizing factor the MKO Abiola’s presidency represented. He had demonstrated this before with his enormous wealth put at the behest of many unfortunate and struggling Nigerians, from the West, East and South of the nation. It was, therefore, not surprising when he defeated his main rival, Bashir Tofa, at his own polling booth in Kano and most other parts of the nation. It was a day Nigerians collectively put aside their religious, ethnic and nationality grouping aside to vote a Muslim-Muslim ticket throughout the length and breadth of the nation and gave a general mandate to their symbol of ‘Hope 93’ as the slogan adopted by all.
Today, this same day, ironically, has been used by certain elements that were either originally responsible for the unfortunate annulment and destruction of a rare chance of rooting democracy in the country or those people that later ethicized or betrayed the struggle, one way or the other. One of the key figures in that epoch was Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, a Vice Presidential candidate of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, believed to have abandoned the ship when it mattered most and currently a member of the kitchen cabinet to President Muhammadu Buhari’s federal government. This is why the JUNE 12 has become different things to the classes of the ruled and the rulers, to those in government, it represents a day their class survived a major political tsunami, meant to galvanize and mobilize the mass against their rudderless system and supplant their reign, while majority Nigerians view it as a day the masses had an opportunity to free themselves from the shackles of social enslavement and economic miasma. As the Yorubas are wont to aver, “Ninu ikoko dudu ni eko funfun tin jade’, literally meaning we get our white pap from a blackened pot. Though events and activities leading to June 12, 1993, maybe far from being democratic or civil, the symbol of that event, MKO Abiola, seized the momentum to side with the toiling and suffering Nigerians and rekindle their hope in a new Nigeria where religion, ethnicity and other primordial considerations would pave way for merit and excellence in determining leadership and other strivings in the country. Like the United States of America (USA)’s Civil Liberty emblem, Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr., equally assassinated while struggling for racial equality and non-discrimination, Abiola has come to make June 12 an unforgettable moment in Nigeria’s quest for social identity and political/ideological direction. This informs why we advise that the government should declare the day (June 12), MKO Abiola Day never to be forgotten and to reiterate the lesson and occasion when we all chorus and say, NEVER AGAIN. As a civil society organization with a preference for open and responsible leadership that eschews corruption and its devastating effects, we received the news of the NATIONAL STADIUM Abuja being named after this patriotic Nigerian that laid down his life for the emergence of a new Nigeria with so much éclat, we, however, implore the current government to call on the then Humphrey Nwosu’s National Electoral Commission, NECON, to officially declare the final results of the June 12, 1993, Presidential elections, which Chief MKO Abiola won so that he is officially recognized as the 2nd democratically elected Executive President of the nation and accorded all benefits and recognition derivable thereto.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has berated the leadership of the senate led by Senator Ahmed Lawan for playing to the gallery by embarking on a solidarity visit to Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, following the Chief Whip’s release from Kuje correctional facility.
In a release, issued by CACOL on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, he stated, “it would be recalled that Kalu had been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after he was initially found guilty of conspiring and diverting N7.65bn from the Abia State coffers, during his tenure as governor of the sta
te. The two-time governor and two others were found guilty of the N7.65billion fraud, in an amended 39 counts which was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). But on the flip side of it, the Supreme Court, in its verdict delivered on May 8, 2020, held that Justice Idris gave the judgment without jurisdiction. This amounted to the judgment being annulled on the ground of technicalities”.
However, after spending a few months behind bars, the lawmaker was set free by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided over by Justice Mohammed Liman who ordered Senator Kalu’s release on the 2nd of June 2020, after listening to an application filed by the former governor.
The chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran said “the visit by the senate delegation headed by the Senate President is a charade, travesty and a mockery on the intelligence of common Nigerians. It shows that despite the horrible situation the country has found herself, due principally to good leadership that has eluded the country from independence, the leadership of the Senate are not bothered by the menace of corruption that has stagnated the destiny of this great country. By their action, they have brought Nigeria to the spotlight again as a country whose leaders does not only celebrate corruption but are “fantastically corrupt” thereby making Nigeria a laughing stock among the comity of nations”.
“It is regrettable that while some of us are perturbed and worrying about the Supreme Court judgment and its attendant implications for the legal jurisprudence and the fight against corruption in Nigeria, the leadership of the Senate is not in any way concerned and is more at home with felicitating and celebrating with the beneficiary of the Supreme Court judgment”.
The anti-corruption czar noted that “we found it amusing and laughable that the leadership of the second arm of government would leave their statutory duties and embark on a wild goose chase in the name of a “Solidarity visit” to a man that was accused of stealing his state dry when he was a governor of the state”.
What exactly do they want to achieve by that visit, what are they telling the common Nigerians on the street that are not corrupt? What lessons are they passing on or indirectly inculcating in the minds of our younger generation or aspiring politicians? Are they telling us that corruption pays? Are they telling us that they were and are still with him in his struggles to escape the law from catching up with him? Is the solidarity visit meant to assure him (i.e Kalu) that come what may, his seat at the Senate will not be declared vacant? Or are they indirectly telling Nigerians that birds of a feather will always flock together, come what may.
The CACOL boss added “we therefore call for an explanation from the leadership of the Senate to let Nigerians know what they set out to achieve with the visit to Orji Uzor Kalu. We also call on them to always see their position as the representatives of the people whom they would have to report to at one time or the other. They should also note that their actions or inaction are being recorded on the pages of history and that even generations yet unborn would read about all what they are doing now. Moreover, members of the hallowed chamber ought to serve as role models and lead by showing good examples that the incoming generations can always learn from and not portray themselves as members of “big boys club” that are always above the law”.
Coordinator, Administration and Programmes
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on anti-corruption agencies for necessary investigation of corrupt practices of inflated Airfare rates for members of staff of Nigerian Ports Authority management.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Adegboyega Otunuga, the anti-corruption organization’s Coordinator, Media and Publications on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, started operations in April 1955 following the implementation of the Ports Act of 1954. As records have it, the public corporation managed only the Lagos and Port Harcourt ports, ab initio while some private companies managed the remaining Nigerian ports. In addition to managing cargo handling, quay and berthing facilities at the Lagos and Port Harcourt ports, the initial law also gave it the responsibility of managing harbours and approaches to all ports in the country. By 1963 the firm had grown successfully, it was operating a cargo ship from Lagos to Port Harcourt and also began dredging the Bonny terminal for oil operations. After the Nigerian Army’s directive for cement supply in order to enable it build adequate number of barracks to house almost all its soldiers and the influx of ships bringing cement (cement armada) to the country, Tin Can Island port was hastily constructed in 1976 to ameliorate the problems; and it comprised of 10 berths and 2.5km of hard quay, while about 24 terminals were later concessioned for greater efficiency and resourcefulness (NPA would continue to act as the landlord and provide common user facilities, technical oversight and other marine services. The private operators were to be involved in loading and offloading of cargoes).
“However, over the years, the NPA has been embroiled in a number of corruption allegations, leading to the arraignment and conviction of its Chairman from 2001 to 2003, along with five (5) other board members for ‘approving contracts beyond their approval limits’. This and many other acts of impropriety have made the NPA one of the most corrupt agencies in Nigeria, latest of which is an internal memo of the Nigerian Ports Authority dated January 24, 2020, an online news medium, SaharaReporters, showing how management of the agency had been siphoning public funds. In the document with reference number: Ref: HQ/GM/C&SC/OP/VF/045 and addressed to the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication, Engr Adams Jatto, and titled: Review of airfare rates (local), the management could be seen engaging in sharp practices by jerking up the current rate of local airfares astronomically. In the document, Jatto said, “The Division has observed the recent hike in prices of local tickets across the country.
“In view of the above and in order to keep abreast with reality of our times, it is hereby recommended that the rates for local flights be reviewed upwards accordingly as detailed below.”
“Outlined on a table in the document, the NPA management proposed and approved between N180, 000 (One Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira) to N320, 000 (Three Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira) for a return trip on business class depending on the state to be visited, and between N150, 000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) to N290, 000 (Two Hundred and Ninety-Thousand Naira) for a two-way journey on economy class subject to the route. Whereas, findings indicated that a round trip airfare anywhere in Nigeria costs between N44, 000 and N75, 000 regardless of airline and class of seat. This means that on the lowest category of airfare rates approved by the NPA management, officials of the agency would pocket N75, 000 per staff flying such trips. On the highest fares approved, officials could rake in as much as N245, 000 per staff that uses such facility. All these could run into millions and even billions of Naira of tax payers’ money at the end of the year, thus putting serious financial strain on the domestic economy”.
The anti-graft czar added, “Considering the strategic and critical role of seaports operations in any country, we are seriously concerned about the enormity of corruption going on in the administration of ports functioning in the country. We therefore, call on the federal government to quickly wade into ports administration with a view to sanitizing it and bring those responsible for their underperformance to book so as to serve as a deterrent while decongesting their operations to relieve the Lagos Port Complex of undue congestion and slow pace of work. This should lead to greater activities at Delta port, Calabar port, Rivers and Onne ports for improved port efficiency and greater revenue base to the nation.”
Coordinator, Media and Publications
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called for self-isolation of the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, some states’ governors and other dignitaries that attended the last Thursday National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by the Vice President at the Presidential Villa.
In a release issued by CACOL on behalf of the organization’s Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, he averred, “It would be recalled that earlier today, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor of Bauchi state on Media, confirmed that his principal, Bala Mohammed tested positive for coronavirus. This is coming in the heels of revelations suggesting that the governor and former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku’s son, Mohammed Atiku (who has since tested positive and undergoing treatment of the ravaging virus), had met inside an aircraft that headed towards Abuja where he later attended same meeting with other governors and the Vice President. It is therefore imperative that all those at that crucial meeting should be encouraged to go on self-isolation with immediate effect while necessary efforts are made to establish their testing positive or negative.
“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus on December 31, 2019, there have been nearly 400, 000 (Four Hundred Thousand) cases of affliction with over 18, 000 (Eighteen Thousand reported deaths at the global level while Nigeria has recorded 40 cases, though with only one death reported so far. However, the commendable efforts at prevention and minimization of effects of this virulent epidemic in our shores, seems to have diminished overtime with serious errors of the past resulting into degenerative and sorry state of our public health system, seems to have finally caught up with us as a nation. This has become apparent with dearth of medical facilities and personnel to effectively meet up with the challenge of an outright escalation of the scourge, coupled with inadequate research culture and porous borders dotting our various entry points to the country. This is why CACOL, as an Anti-Corruption coalition is making this clarion call to various tiers of government in the country that, while we commend and appreciate the swift response of the current leadership in the country to the pandemic, we urge the governments and the general public to apprise themselves of the enormity and probable dimensions of this virus and view it with all seriousness it deserves.”
The CACOL Boss added, “Maybe the urgent assignment aside the immediate call of getting all our public office holders to subject themselves to the coronavirus test, is to also restrict the movement of generality of Nigerians within the next couple of weeks so as to motivate all for self-isolation and self-distancing, which could culminate in general assessment of contracting the virus or not. This sort of national emergency would go a, long way in nipping the ravaging menace of the virus in the bud and provide a safer approach towards curtailing it.”
Coordinator, Media and Publications
In response to reported statement by President Muhammadu Buhari, that former dictator, Sani Abacha, ‘stole close to $1billion’, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Saturday faulted Buhari’s submission, saying that Abacha stole far more than $1billion.
The group cited Transparency International report, which submitted that ‘Abacha may have stolen between $3bn and $5bn in public money’.
Recall that Buhari had in his article titled “Post-Coronavirus, Africa’s Manufacturing Moment”, published on Newsweek.com, said, “Nigeria can now move forward with road, rail and power station construction in part, under own resources-thanks to close to a billion dollars of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland.
L-R Debo Adeniran, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Former Speaker LAHA, Mark Adebayo (National Chairman, KOWA Party)
UNDER THE AUSPICES OF DEBO DISCUSSIONS – Dialectical Extrapolation on Babelian Oddities
THEME: LAUNDERED LOOT AS POTENTIAL FOREIGN RESERVE FOR AN ECONOMY: WHAT LESSONS FROM NIGERIA’S ABACHA
DATE: 15th May, 2020 TIME: 12 NOON
The colloquium was held at the Talk Hall, Angle 1706, Sango- Otta in honour of the Comrade Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) as he marked his 60th birthday. Due to the need to observe social distancing and other protocols introduced by the Federal Government’s to prevent the spread of the dreaded Corona virus only about 15 participants were at the Venue. Most of the discussants joined the colloquium online via Zoom. DEBO Discussions is a regular interactive forum inaugurated on the day and is meant to hold at regular intervals as a retirement engagement by the Celebrant. The forum is meant to find meeting point on what is said, promised or meant by duty bearers (ruling elites) and what is understood, expected or desired by right holders (the citizenry) on socio-economic and political issues at different levels of government in Nigeria.
During the discussion, some observations were made by participants concerning the looted funds in Nigeria.
That there had been too much emphasis on the late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha’s loot whereas there are still many more looted funds stashed away in foreign banks while the culprits are moving about freely just because they are still alive.
That other past heads of state who are suspected of looting public treasury during their tenure in office should also be probed and their loot equally recovered
That such recovered loot could be used to provide critical infrastructures for the country.
That it is unfortunate that some of the petitions submitted to anti-corruption agencies by civil society organizations were not investigated.
That foreign countries that received these looted funds always paid back such funds without interest despite using them to develop their economies but give stringent conditions to repatriate the recovered loot.
That our foreign reserve is denominated in U.S dollars while America’s reserve is denominated in Gold which makes it less volatile like the U.S dollar.
That the youth of today are not showing much interest in assuming leadership positions.
Participants at the colloquium recommended as follows:
That the various petitions against corruption submitted by civil society organizations should be investigated while indicted culprits be properly prosecuted, their loots recovered and adequately punished.
That our leaders must be responsible, transparent, accountable and be just while holding public offices.
That anyone who has been accused of any corrupt act should not be allowed to contest public offices in any part of the country.
In view of number three recommendation above, the participants were of the opinion that our judicial system should be empowered to facilitate quick dispensation of justice especially on corruption matters so as not to deny innocent people their democratic right.
There is an urgent need to give the right education to Nigerian youths and re-orientate them so as to sharpen their leadership skills and prevent them from being perpetually enslaved by the ruling class.
The participants also encouraged the youths to know and bn always aware of their roles in the society.
It was also recommended that the discussion should not be limited to an online event and that it should be held at regular intervals.
That those guilty of corruption charges should be seriously punished and sanctioned so as to serve as deterrent to others.
In conclusion, participants at the colloquium commended the organizer of the colloquium for using the occasion of his birthday to discuss an issue that is so germane to national development and congratulated him on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
PARTICIPANTS AT THE COLLOQUIUM
RT. HON. ADEYEMI IKUFORIJI (Former Speaker Lagos State House of Assembly)
Mrs. ABIMBOLA JUNAID
COMRADE DIDI ADODO
BARRISTER FEMI FALANA (SAN)
COMRADE MARK ADEBAYO
COMRADE OLAWALE ISMAIL
MRS. ABIMBOLA ADEGOKE ADEBAJO
MR AKIN AWOKUNLE
AREMO KAYODE MICHAEL
COMRADE (BARR) FEMI ABORISADE
JULIET ISI IKHAYERE
LANRE LEGACY ADELEKE
COMRADE LEKE ADEBANJO
Ms GBADEBO OMOTAYO
MR MUIDEEN OYEWOLE
COMRADE ABIODUN AREMU
MR FAWOLE RAPHAEL
CAPTAIN OGUNBIYI ABIODUN
MR IDOGA ISAAC
OGBENI KOLAWOLE ISOLA (Represented Rt Hon Olakunle Oluomo, Speaker Ogun State House of Assembly)
TAJUDEEN O ANIMASHUN
HON KEHINDE JOSEPH (Represented Rt Hon Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly)
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has applauded the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for the retrieval and handing back to the management of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), 17 publicly owned vehicles that were carted away by former officials of the agency.
In responding to the development, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran stated in a press release that: “This is a fall-out of what damage Corruption has done to the psyche of many of our Civil Servants and those in authority in Nigeria. The impression is always given that ‘whatever belongs to government belongs to nobody’ and so could be stolen without fear for any consequences. The other time, it was a retired Police top brass that was reported to have willfully taken away more than 15 cars after leaving service. This was at a time the same Police force was finding it so difficult to police the country effectively due to lack of adequate patrol vehicles. Without mincing words, this is a clear act of corruption and abuse of office with impunity”.
“We therefore concur with Engineer Salisu Daura- the Director of Engineering services that represented FAAN’s Managing Director at the hand over occasion for the recovered vehicles- for expressing delight at the partnership between the agency and the ICPC. We also support his request that the anti-graft agency should intensify efforts at recovering more vehicles that have been previously carted away by former officials of (FAAN)”.
The Executive Chairman of the Centre therefore concludes: “From all of this, one could easily deduce that beyond the initial 17 vehicles of different brands taken away and recovered by ICPC, numerous other vehicles have been carted away by serving and retired officials of the agency. We therefore call for proper arraignment, prosecution and trial of the erring ex-officials to serve as a deterrent and also positively change the attitude of public employees to public property within and outside service.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has condemned the hijacking of foreign scholarships meant for brilliant young Nigerians by senior officials at the Federal Ministry of Transport. The scholarship which was provided by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), was meant to train gifted young Nigerians in railways engineering. Although the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Sabiu Zakari later issued a statement denying the availability of the scholarship, there is evidence to suggest that such denial holds no water.
In a Press Release issued by the Centre on Monday, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, stated: “Our position is always that any act of dishonesty, either by an individual or an organization is Corruption and would always have deleterious and debilitating effects on society as a whole. From available evidence, President Buhari’s Administration is desirous of resuscitating our railways system just as successive governments in Nigeria have engaged the Chinese experts in this regard for decades”.
“We are equally aware that one of such projects is to have a double-track standard gauge railway track from Lagos to Kano. This led to the CCECC approaching the transportation Ministry, informing it of its plan to sponsor a number of brilliant young and qualified Nigerians to study for bachelor’s degrees in railway engineering fully funded by the company so as to have a generation of qualified personnel for maintenance of the railway infrastructure”.
“It is therefore preposterous and primitive for senior officials of the ministry to willfully corner these scholarship offers for only the children of the high and mighty, as this is capable of encouraging mediocrity and disillusionment in the eyes of more qualified Nigerian youths being shortchanged. Such opportunities and scholarship are meant to be publicly advertised on both the print and electronic media’s while also ensuring that there is enough time for qualified candidates to apply. This odious behaviour clearly negates the fight against corruption of President Buhari’s government”.
“We therefore join other Nigerians in the call for the government and other relevant agencies to intervene and encourage openness and transparency to guide the scholarship exercise while measures are taken to guarantee that the beneficiaries would not only make maximum opportunities of this window, but that whatever knowledge and expertise garnered, are eventually converted to the overall benefit of the nation. It is thus imperative to call for the requisite deterrents to those who are found guilty of these selfish and greedy crimes after diligent investigations have been carried out”.