The organised labour has variously condemned and announced its resolve to embark on a nation-wide strike action to bring to book those who are enjoying the status of sacred cows but are behind over N30Billion fraud allegedly perpetuated by the last Board of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and some Management officers of the Fund. This is a major cause of concern as it spells terrible bad omen for the senior citizens of the country at retirement, having meritoriously served their father land with the vigour of their youths.
We do not only support the intended strike of Labour but equally call for mass action against what appears as a systemic ploy to sweep this weighty scam allegation under the carpet. We note with apprehension that this fraud came into the public domain through activities of a whistleblower and the EFCC has since arranged the Managing Director, Umar Abubakar and some former Board members and Management staff for diverting money from the Funds account into private purse between 2012 and 2015 which included the N18Billion Grant given by the Federal Government to NSITF.
The Centre, while applauding the reconstitution and inauguration of the NSITF Board under the Chairmanship of Chief Frank Kokori by the Minister of Labour and Productivity , Dr. Chris Ngige following the directives of Mr. President, demands that all administrative panels and on-going prosecutions of culprits by anti-corruption agencies must not be in any way compromised. We are apt to observe that it is rather tragic the resources at the disposal of the NSITF which were supposed to be invested in long term social infrastructures were shamelessly looted and plundered by a powerful cabal. It is instructively to note that this heinous pillage was committed under the watchful eyes of even the organised labour and other social partners like the organised private sectors and stakeholders who are all statutory members of the Funds. No doubt there is a dire need for re-examination of the composition of the NSITF Board as established by the enabling Act.
Our main concern however, is that no sane thinking and responsible citizen or society would take with care free attitudes the wellbeing of its retired and pension citizens. The NSITF was established essentially to take care of the needs of these vulnerable elder citizens at retirement. It is an saving-insurance for their future. If we all allow this Fund to be pillaged and endanger the future of our senior citizens , we would be embedding a vicious culture of every man for himself, God for us all. This would invariably continue to threaten the social stability, good governance, transparency and accountability in public office. Every serving elected or and appointed workers would see a blink future except by self-help into the public tilt.
With the antecedent of Chief Frank Kokori as a social crusader, we know that heavy burden lies on his shoulders to ensure that all those fingered in the massive looting of NSITF are brought to book without fearing whose ox is gored. We pledged our unalloyed support in this respect.
WE PAY OUR TRIBUTES TO BEKO RANSOME KUTI ON THE OCCASION OF THE 12THBEKO ANNIVERSARY OF HIS HEROIC PASSAGE
The Beko Rights Klub, BRK, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL and the Peoples Action for Democracy, PADare paying their homage to the heroic feats of Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti in the struggle for the freedom, equity and socio-political and economic justice on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of his revolutionary passage to commune with the ancestors.
The quintessential revolutionary, dogged fighter and crusader for democracy, social justice and human rights passed on 12 years ago, precisely on 10 February 2006. For us, that incident was only a passage to the other World as his spirit is still living in us and with us; his spirit continues to guide us in almost everything we do even beyond revolutionary activism.
The dogged fighter and crusader for democracy, social justice and human rights passed on after living and leading a life of commitment to the struggle for the prevalence of a socio-economic and political order that will ensure an egalitarian and harmonious societal co-existence. His voyage on such terrains witnessed confrontations with both military and civilian regimes that deployed all means possible to make the lives of the poor working and toiling people miserable. Beko, working with other compatriots contributed monumentally to the ousting of the military from government; the struggle against civilian dictatorship, the resistance against IMF/World Bank imposed policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), deregulation and corruption. As a matter of fact it was during the heat of the battle against deregulation that the renowned Medical Doctor passed on barely 4 months after the activist community incurred a similar colossal loss in the passage of Comrade Chima Ubani.
Beko Ransome Kuti was a foremost pro-democracy revolutionary activist who dared all the odds to play several roles in leadership of the struggles of the oppressed peoples of Nigeria for social emancipation. His monumental contributions to the ousting of military rule, the enthronement and deepening of democracy remain epochal and serve as sources of inspiration to the BRK and Nigerians generally. An indefatigable crusader and defender of human rights, democracy and good governance with exemplary leadership and bravery, Beko’s footprints on the sands of the struggle for an egalitarian society remain indelible and worthy of emulation.
Following the demise of Beko, and in appreciation of his historic roles we found it duty-bound to carry out annual activities that will immortalize the late colleague and ingrain the memory of the Hero in the hearts of those he left behind and their yet unborn generations. This we believe is the only way we can keep the memories in perpetuity. This is done annually to immortalize the ideals of Late Beko Ransome-Kuti. Thus we are inviting compatriots to join us as we commemorate his memory as follows:
THEME:No Democracy Without Socio-Economic Rights
DATE: February 15, 2018.
VENUE: Beko Garden, Anthony Village, Lagos.
TIME: 12.00 noon
NOTE: Procession starts by 10:00am from Obalende to Ikoyi Cemetery, for Wreath-laying Ceremony, and ends at Beko Garden, Anthony Village, Lagos.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL finds the statement credited to Mr. Raji Fashola that lack of adequate electricity in Nigeria cannot be responsible for the country’s slow-paced industrial, or drop in levels of her economic growth as illogical and insensitive to the sufferings of Nigerians.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing in a recent meeting with civil society groups to review the contents and implications of Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) initiated by the Federal Government with support from the World Bank claimed that the inadequate supply of electricity power cannot be held responsible for the company’s inability to climb out of economic doldrums and slow paced industrialization. This is not only a pathetic assertion but also a cruel and criminal justification of the conscious de-industrialisation policy of the hawks in our ruling class.
The first point to note is that the country has committed a huge investment into the power sector yet there is no commensurate out-put. Contemporary African nations like Ghana, Angola and South Africa spent much less on power sector yet their citizens enjoy un-interrupted power supply. This is the reason why these countries are preferred destination points for direct foreign investment. Yet, our ruling class indulges in ludicrous justifications on why we cannot take elusive flight to become industrialised nation. Industrialisation is advanced economic phase in civilization which requires higher apprehension than the semi-feudal, lumpen-market trader economic culture that the ruling elite are foisting on the country. No wonder the easy resort to uncouth social stratification and political climate in Nigeria.
The other critical issue is that in Nigeria, neo-liberal financial institutions like the World Bank are imposing economic systems on us that stultify growth by ensuring that the vast Nigerian market remains a perpetual dumping ground for finished industrial goods from foreign western countries. Tragically, triple Minister Fashola who strongly adheres to the neo-liberal schemes of these financial agencies that are fully beneficial to foreign industrial nations but injurious to our ailing economy. The policy that government has no business in business, in providing social infrastructural facilities like health, pipe-borne water, education, roads, etc for its people.
Fashola does not only regurgitate this neo-liberal ideological platitudes, he put them into full blown practice while he served as Governor in Lagos State, he commercialized all public infrastructure, hospitals, schools, roads with toll gates just as he is planning to bring same on federal roads with the so-called public-private sector partnership.Thus, his lame claim and deliberate castration of the power sector from taking off is just in total sync with his character of serving foreign master while Nigeria bleeds. Nigeria warehouse different types of consumer goods and industrial ones from countries with lesser human and material resources like Japan, China, India, Brazil, and from Asia!
The Minister claims that the power generating companies GENCO produces 7000 megawatts of electricity while the distribution companies DISCOS distributes 5000 megawatts leaving an unused 2000 megawatts supply of electricity which could have been used for our industrialisation. Sometimes when one lies through both side of his/her mouth, many times only empty airs would be constructed as words. The reality is that if there are sufficient generation and distribution, why is most of our communities still battling with epileptic power supplies? The naked reality is that many of Nigeria industries have folded up or wound down their operations because of the high cost of operations occasioned by the fact that they have to independently provide their power supplies. Many of these companies have relocated to neighbouring countries like Ghana even Togo.
A corollary factor for industrialisation is the dire need for constant research and development of new product. No serious research institution can function well without twenty four hours uninterrupted power supply especially industrial research centres. There is no single industrial research institution in the country that is doing justice to its areas of thematic focus because of the problem with power supply. There are legions of instances where other nations have taken some of our agricultural products like cocoa, perm-kernel etc to their research institutes and refined them into commercial gold products. For elements like our Minister with three portfolios, it is better for our cassava to be processed in China while open the flood gate of our country to cheap, cheap industrial goods from this same countries.
As state earlier, constant, un-interrupted power supply, industrialisation and civilization walk together. It is our inability to get our right on this note that makes the ruling elites to seek medical treatments outside the shores of Nigeria; send their children to schools in other countries, shop for their wares in foreign and spend their holidays in industrialised nations. It reflects the fact that they are aware that without power supply Nigeria is still in dark ages. Yet, Mr. Fashola has the effrontery to rub it in our nose.
The statement credited to the Minister clearly vindicates of position that President Muhammed Buhari ought to sack him for his cluelessness, ineffectiveness and overall poor performance in the three ministries he superintend over. Fashola should be replaced a person who will be effective, creative and sensitive to the sensibilities of patriotic Nigerians and who demonstrate a firm commitment to address the deficit in the country’s power supply.
‘The labour of our living and social heroes must be fully appreciated and compensated”
Our independent, explorative investigations around various service stations, barracks and discussions with individual cadets and officers of the Nigerian Army as well as Police Force has revealed an abysmal state of living, poor work conditions and pervasive hopelessness swallowing up the dignity of work for these crucial security agencies and their families. The Nigerian government and relevant authorities need to take urgent step even if possible declare an emergency intervention program to re-invent these institutions and tackle the question of ameliorating their sordid welfare and working conditions.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has identified the patent requirement to call public attention to the plights of Nigerian Police and Army personnel through a coordinated and intense campaign in order to sensitise and ensure that government and other well-meaning Nigerians, corporate and individuals take concrete, affirmative action. We urge the mass media organisations to beam their investigative tool kits to unearth the gory situations prevailing in these vital sectors. We observe that in close to two decades or more specifically since the return of democratic governance in 1999, the police and army have been gradually but consistently sliding into serious state of comatose. You will recall the Nigerian Police had to embark on a national-wide strike action to press home demand for better remuneration and improved welfare package. Curiously rather than address the ailments, the Government merely sacked the Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun. In recent time, the some army officers and rank and file had to desert their duty posts in Sambissa because of lack of provision and inadequacy of logistics necessary to prosecute their official mission. Again, rather than address the message, the State decided to court-marshal officers involved.
All these however, are just symptoms of a more devastating cancerous tumour eating deep into the fabrics of the Nigerian Police Force and Army security force. The Nigerian State seems to be treating ringworm while abandoning leprosy to fester when it comes to these security issues. CACOL’s tentative investigations reveal that it is now norm for non-regular payment of monthly remuneration of the officers and men of the army and police force while other allowances are perpetually owed. It is an established fact that when any worker is not paid his labour due as at when due, his concentration and performance on duties would be grossly affected negatively. More importantly, it gives wide rooms for devious temptations to creep in. Those who are primarily saddled with the duties to maintain our internal and external securities may inadvertently become tools in the hands of those intent on subverting our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Today, the nation is awashed with news various transgression in our borders, the custom’s daily displayed arbitrary intransigence in combating smugglers, Cameroonian gendarmes constantly invade and raid communities; belligerent foreigners have takenover our communities from Chad, Niger and Sudan. As a matter of fact, mercenary elements from the camp of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are touted to be the brain box of both the Boko Haram sect and armed herdsmen hordes;discovery of arms and ammunitions smuggled into the country are now regular occurrences.
It is not only that the Police and Army were owed months of salaries and allowances but security agencies are also starved of standard conditions that motivate security forces to work enthusiastically and patriotically. The glory of the barracks of the police and armies are tucked in past while they now live in broad-day nightmare in dilapidated, dirty, rat infested quarters. Many officers cadet are squatters in a room rat-holes shared by between two and four families. Social amenities in quarters of these security bodies like markets, schools, clinics and pipe-borne water have not only collapsed but in some instances. The truth is that it is logically impossible to force any set of people to live and work under conditions that are not befitting to human beings yet expect such group of people not to demonstrate zoological species’conducts. It is the collective responsibilities of all well-meaning Nigerians to rally round the Army and Police to rehabilitate the collapsing edifice of these institutions. Some of the sore areas seeking drastic interventions include:
· Administration: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for any individual to be recruited into these security forces on pure merit alone. Then, the majority of them kit themselves up, purchase promotion, transfers etc. Army and Police men volunteered to CACOL they pay huge amounts of money running into millions before they can get promotions that has been due for years.At retirement, pension and gratuities for the personnel of these security bodies is always a mirage paid with dud cheques, and in case of death on active duties, families of the deceased are left a-sorrowing.
· Inadequate Logistics: The Army and Police Force would perform more efficiently when they are well provisioned with necessary equipment to carry out their duties and constitutional responsibilities. In fast developing technological society, Nigeria cannot keep attempting to arrest crimes and maintaining internal and external securities with analogue technology while the world around us have moved into the digital age.
· Internal Security and Food Security: The elementary need of every human being revolves round three core issues, food, shelter and housing. Any society that cannot provide food and security of lives and properties of citizens would be permanently enslaved or be in servitude to its neighbours. The deplorable living and working condition of the Police and Army can be better appreciated with the un-abating and escalated insurgencies, armed violent clashes and social dislocations across the nooks and crannies of the country. Even as the government draft the army, police and other security forces into special squads and launches special operations. The Army between 2015 to date has launched several operations such as the Harbin Kunama I and II, Crocodile Smile I and II and Python Dance I and II. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai while appearing before the Senate Committee to defend the 2018 budget proposed by the Nigerian Army lamented that poor funding, security operation across troubled spots in the country is crippling the Army.
It is scary to imagine what the current insecurities ravaging several regions of the country imply. The middle belt region is the food basket of the country. States like Plateau, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa have huge contributions to the country food security. If the Army and the Police Force are unable stop armed insurgence due to ill-equipment, lack of psychological motivation because of arrears of salaries and allowances, crop farmers and even those of livestock would be continue to be in great jeopardy and flee their farm settlements and villages which would inevitably lead to shortages of farm products and slow down the pace of Agriculture’s contribution in the diversification of the nation’s economic mainstay from over-reliance on crude oil.
We are at a moment of history when we must all rise to address these decadent living and working conditions of the Nigerian Army and Police Force before our internal and external security situations are gravely compromised which can provoke monumental devastations of the country. The Government should declare an emergency intervention schemes to fundamentally address the welfare and working conditions of the officers and men of the Army and Police Force. The welfare of these security organisations cannot be left for government alone especially with the meager resources at the government’s disposal but every segment of the society must make some forms of contribution because they provide social functions. We call for the establishment of a pool of funds to assist in alleviating terrible conditions of the quarters of these officers like the Lagos State Security Trust Funds. We call for the launching of Armed Security Forces Welfare Trust Funds which corporate bodies and other organisations can buy in and partner with the Federal Government.
The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka scripted “The Trials of Brother Jero”, the immaculate one with more tricky and deceptive maneuvers than can be imagined, tempted not by anybody but only by himself. This sums up the on-going drama in our political landscape. The court of appeal has ordered that the code of conduct tribunal can entertain the case of false declaration of assets against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Earlier, the Code of Conduct Bureau has dragged the Senator to the Tribunal on allegations of false declaration of properties while he was Governor of Kwara State and at resumption of office as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Bureau laid an eighteen count charges against the Senator. However, the Tribunal in its judgment in June acquitted the Senate President which was challenged by the Bureau at the Court of Appeal. The decision at the appellate court that the Senator has a case to answer on count numbered 4, 5 and 6 is not only worthy of commendation but it is instructive to all public office holders who usually declare false assets and sometimes forget properties they own by proxy.
We, at the Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, (CACOL) strongly condemn every attempt to arm twist the judiciary particularly the courts which are supposed to be the last hope of the nation. It would be recalled that the trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was characterized by ploys to stampede the Tribunal with solidarity mobilization of members of the Senate to proceedings which invariably intimidated the Tribunal into taking its political judgment. The decision of the Court of Appeal is a resounding reminder that the judiciary is still independent and can assert the law irrespective of whose ox is gored. Though the Senate President has signified intentions to appeal at the Supreme Court, we hope the path of justice would neither be muddled nor delayed by this process. For it is not common sensical for a judgment to come after the tenure of the Senate President has expired.
Nigerians know how cases drag on for years in our court system. CACOL demands that if the Senate President intends challenging the Appeal Court decision, he should first resign as the President of Senate. As a matter of fact under refined democratic rule in comparism to the crude democracy in Nigeria, even the appearance of the Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal would have warranted his stepping aside.
CACOL warns the judiciary to be wary of those who engage in technicalities to divert the smooth sail of justice. The defence that the prosecution did not proofthat Dr. Saraki operates a foreign account with American Express Service Europe Limited merely goes a long way to vindicate our position about systemic conspiracies. It is a trite fact that most Banks that serve as warehouse for laundering ill-gotten wealth would always hide under the veil of confidentialities not to reveal indicting documents. CACOL call on global leaders and well-meaning people to rise up to the challenge of piercing the invincible corporate veil whenever corruption charges are at stake.
It is instructive that the prosecution team should diligently appraise the recently released Panama Papers where the Senate President was exposed to have maintained a foreign account in a tax haven country. An account which obviously was not declared in any of the Asset Declaration Forms.
The narratives of economic sabotage committed by people in public office are legendary and this is done with impunity, believing that the system can never catch up with them. The Senate President’s family has a robust history in this regard, the collapse of defunct Societe Generale Bank is a vintage example. The Code of Conduct Bureau should re-examine the papers of all public office holders because we are confident that Dr. Bukola Saraki is just a symbolic representation of a pervasive offence by most if not all public office holders.
“LAGOS BUDGET OF PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT WORHTY OF EMULATION – THE DEVIL IS IN DIRE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY AND CITIZENS OWNERSHIP OF BUDGET “
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has presented the 2108 budget to the State House of Assembly. The budget tagged “ Budget of Progress and Development” proposed N1.046Trillion to be spent for the completion of on-going projects, commencement of new ones and social infrastructural facilities including health, education, transportation, security and welfare schemes to mention a few. The breakdown shows that N699.082Billion would be spent on capital project and N347.039Billion on recurrent expenditure representing 67% and 33% respectively as well as 28.67% increase over 2017 budget. A number of critical narratives are imperative on this budget proposal.
Indeed, it is not praise singing to note and applaud the fact that in the entire country, it only in Lagos that there is a semblance of governance in the country. There are various developmental projects and investment embarked upon by Mr. Ambode, the general improvement in the road network, bridge construction like the Abule Egba flyoversis worthy of commendation. The State plan to explore and refine oil is a huge and golden investment in the future of the State and its citizens. Yet, the 2018 budget demonstrates that the State is not sleeping on its oars. The budget is not just its highest in the history of the State and second only to that of Cross Rivers State Government in the country. However, while most States and even the Federal Government are enmeshed in budget financed by debt, Lagos is sustaining. The State does not also have any notorious case of owing workers or retirees’ pensions.
As much as we identify with the pivot focus of the budget, we believe that a well blessed State like Lagos should also spend more of its budget on social infrastructures. The allocation of less than 12% to education is not acceptable; Lagos should be able to execute the UNESCO recommendation of 26% of its annual budget. The same goes on provision for health, housing and pipe-borne water. It is apposite to equally insist that a State desirous of taking on developmental flight, there two critical projects of the State which this administration is in the best position to execute. The Independent Power Project and Subway Transport System which has been denied the over populated State on the political intrigues can be initiated now. With the State and the Federal Government controlled by the same Party, there should be conscious policy initiatives to implement these projects. In the same vein, the clamour that Lagos should be recognized as a Federal Capital Status should be a major projection in every policy of the State, showing in the Budget what the State loses or can gain with this status.
We are aware that in advanced industrial democratic world, budget is not a ritual of just the Executives and the Legislature but a festival of the entire society. The inputs of social stakeholders, business, labour, informal sectorand civil societies are rarely factor into processes of budget passage in the country and when done, it is conducted shoddily. Lagos should be a leading example in this direction. This is even more important because under democratic governance, the general populace are supposed to owned the budget.
The question of peoples ownership and transparent passage of budget is even more critical for a society like ours where the eternal vigilance of the populace is necessary for budget monitoring and execution. This is in addition to the fact that it serves as veritable tool to block leakages and wastages in the system. Corruption is best resisted when the citizens are aware the project, the cost and time of execution in their various areas. In the same way, citizens’ support can be mobilized for the projects in their constituencies.
It is our fervent hope that Lagos State would take the leap forward to ensure the citizens of the State owned this budget. We call on the State House of Assembly to request that the Executive furnish it of the list of projects contemplated for the Year 2018 and publish same for the entire society to be aware.
“NIGERIA CANNOT AFFORD TO DANCE TO THE RHYTHM OF JUDICIAL IMMUNITY”
As presently protected by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, immunity to the President and his Vice as well as State Governors and their Deputies remains a highly volatile provision against the background of unbridled brigandage, banditry or naked criminality displayed by those covered by this provision while in office. It is therefore very disturbing perceiving attempts by some strands of the judiciary to cloak that arm of government, particularly serving Judges with immunity from the backroom as evidenced in the recent pronouncement of Appeal Court quashing corruption charges against Justice Nganjiwa.
It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa for allegedly receiving the sun of $260,000 and N8.65Million to unlawfully enrich himself as a public officer. In the trial, he pleaded not guilty and contended the jurisdiction of the trial court to entertain the case. He lost the contention and proceeded to the court of appeal where it was held that the Judge cannot be prosecuted until he had either been dismissed or compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council (NJC). In every civilized society governed by the rule of law, it a given fact that there is always separation of powers and where there is overlap, the traditional custodian of the right supersedes the interloper. For instance, the provisions of an enactment of the parliament is superior to a case law while Judiciary interprets the law, it is the executive arm that carries out the day to day running of the law.
It is thus confusing when an NJC is being robbed with the investigative powers of a law enforcement agency. There is no doubt that the NJC as a professional administrative body for legal practitioners has the power to set standard ethics, practices regulations and investigate and sanction members over professional misdemeanor but that is just where it ends. The body does not have powers to investigate or sanction members over allegations bothering on criminal malfeance, this is an offence against the State.
It is very unfortunate that the NJC which is not a court of law is indirectly been empowered to supersede the court of law by its assertion that a Judge can only be investigated after NJC “Green Light”. This further confounds any reasonable thinker to wonder if the any law enforcement body like the anti-corruption agencies would be able to investigate and prosecute members of the NJC, the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, the High Courts or the Magistrate Courts? If a Judge conspired with others to steal, rape, kill or receive bribe from a politician or any other private citizens, how would such a Judge be brought to book since there is already brick wall of unconstitutional “Judicial Immunity” smuggled in to our legal system?
We, unambiguously condemned this ploy to shatter and destroy known pillars of rule of law and democracy with this judgment. It is a trite fact that the law respects nobody and there is equality before the law just every person even when on trial is presumed innocent until proven guilty. One therefore wonders why some sections of the judiciary are in haste to provide protection and barricade of immunity for its privileged members from been investigated or prosecuted except on clearance from its administrative body – NJC. The determination of this case would decide whether Judges through the instrumentality of NJC and manipulation of processes would soon become a specie of “above the law”.
Nigerians are asking NJC to come out into the public market to manifestly demonstrate how many of its high profile members that it has sanctioned or recommended for appropriate criminal investigation prosecution. Whereas, any toddler would roll out cases of cover-ups and filibustering perpetuated by the Judiciary to protect its own. We warn that justice must be done since no heaven shall fall.
Being the Address of Press Conference by Debo Adeniran of CACOL on the Occasion of Marking the 2017 International Anti-Corruption Day, Saturday, 9th December, 2017
“Concerned about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law”…….Rationalization in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
BACKROUND CHECK: This year’s thematic pre-occupation of the United Nations in marking International Anti-Corruption Day is very apt in capturing situation in Nigeria and what remains to be done. This is even more succinct when examined against the fact that UNODC and UNDP have developed a joint global campaign focusing on how corruption affects education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and development submitting that corruption is the greatest impediment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
President Muhammadu Buhari presented an N8.6Trillion 2018 budget to the national assembly with a deficit of N2.005Trillion and a plan to borrow N1.69Trillion from local and foreign lenders to execute the budget. He also informed Nigerians that the budget would be part financed from proceeds of recovered loot. Interestingly, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Femi Falana has variously asserted that the country has over N300Billion unrecovered loot. In a co-related twist, several European countries where the country’s stolen wealth where kept like Australia have demanded that the Government should demonstrate the infrastructural development project which the funds would be invested on before they can be released. This clearly paints a vivid impact of corruption on our nation’s development.
The President in its 2015 campaign promised to fight corruption and insecurity. This anti-corruption crusade got the kudos of the major leaders of world. John Kerry, the Secretary of State of United State expressed support for the anti-corruption policy at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while Grant Sharp, the Minister of Interior of United Kingdom explicitly showed the direction of Europe when he stated that “ …. We would continue to provide capacity building technical support to Nigeria to tackle corruption”.
President Buhari is often quoted as stating that the historic duty of his administration is summed up in the clarion that “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”. No doubt if this is imbibed by the entire populace, it would be re-echoed with vigour. Many corruption cases have since been blown into the open; Halliburton, Siemens, Mallabu, Panama and Paradise Papers, and the in recent period time the scandalous, brazen sharing of the N2.6Billion arms deal.
HOW FAR FROM LAST YEAR?
In commemoration of Last year International Anti-Corruption Day, we embarked on anti-corruption to highlight the state of infrastructural decadence in the country particularly in Lagos and environs. We were at the then notorious Sango-Otta toll gate, Alimosho and visited a public primary school.
It is highly imperative to note and commend the Lagos State Government in particular that after our tour and awareness campaign last year, most of the affected roads have been taken care. As a matter of fact, the astronomical speed and pace with which Lagos State Government has embarked on road construction and rehabilitation particularly opening up of feeder road has been breath-taking. This has no doubt reduced traffic grid on some major roads thereby reducing the productive man-hour usually wasted on traffic lock.
We however also note that there is continuous downward and negative slide in the standard of the country’s social infrastructure. The health clinics are indeed death clinics, there is no portable pipe borne water, many Nigerians are living in slums or as destitutes while the ruling elites loot the treasuries to buy choiced properties in Dubaiand Europe where no one lives. Even the informal settlements that our people built themselves without government help had been stolen by state land grabbers in places like Makoko; Badia; Ilubirin; Tejuosho market; Otodo Gbame, and others without following international standards on evacuation and relocation of mass housing areas and in clear negation of judicial pronouncements. This is unfair to a people that really need low-cost social housing units enmasse. Public education is not only underfunded but consciously castrated to pave way for private education institutions and no guaranteed social welfare scheme for Nigerians.
The country has become a society where amidst plenty, the majority goes starving and the elites loot more than they can ever spend in their combined lives span. We hear of suicide every day. And the masses groan the more. It is common knowledge that the recession still persist, and only a few in the business class are making the billions. All these are ailments that we have diagnosed over and over again. When corruption bedevils a society, development would go amiss, peace will be eluded, and security would be in tatters!
EFFECTS OF CORRUPTION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, PEACE AND SECURITY
It is correct to assert without any iota of contradiction that Nigeria needs to tackle the monster of corruption before it can effectively embark on its flight to development. What is however worrisome is whether the government, the ruling class and Nigerians realize the enormity of the task of the campaign as manifestly confusing and sometimes conflicting signals are what can generally be discerned by observers. For instance, no state, local government or government agency has openly come with its version or acceptance of the dire need for an anti-corruption policy.
In recent period also, there are obvious cases of dysfunctionalism in the prosecution of the anti-corruption campaign. There is the glaring lack of synergy and absence of coordination among the various anti-corruption agencies [ACAs], as well as between and among the ACAs and other relevant law enforcement and security agencies.The most recent example is that involving the botched attempt by the EFCC to arrest the retired Director Generals of both the DSS and the NIA.Acting on a warrant of arrest issued after the failure of both Ex-DGs to honour invitations with the EFCC, the agency made an attempt to execute the warrant of arrest which also included a search warrant to search their residences. The EFCC operatives were however prevented from executing the warrants by DSS officers, a situation that led to a standoff which lasted more than 10 hours in broad daylight. This arrogant display of official lawlessness is not only reprehensible but an indictment of the President and his team failure to walk his talk on the corruption anti-corruption campaign.
This is not the first time however that similar scenario will be played out. We had something similar when the EFCC raided the homes of some serving judges, and arrested them, with both the EFCC and the NJC trading accusations as to who was to blame for the lack of cooperation which prompted the EFCC to act the way it acted.
Also, the unfolding Mainagate drama speaks volumes as to the absence of coordination within the government. Not only are the two most senior bureaucrats of the government – the Head of Service and the Chief of Staff pitted against each other, but so also are several organs of the government, including the ministries of interior and Justice, as well as the Federal Civil Service Commission [FCSC]. In the same regards, we can also cite the recent public disagreement between the Minister of State for Petroleum Affairs, and the Group Managing Director [GMD] of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] over acts of insubordination and alleged breach of statutory limits for contract approval by the GMD.Given that in this specific instance, the President is also the substantive Petroleum Minister, it begs the question, how this could have happened under the watch of the President. And it also raises the question as to what the Federal Executive Council [FEC] actually really deliberates upon during its weekly midweek meetings.
Perhaps nowhere else is the consequences of corruption more glaring as in the situation with internal security and the economy. The on-going investigation into the dare devil sharing of funds allocated for combating the insurgency in the North East is a vintage example.
We continue to have a situation where with all the plethora of security outfits at Federal and State levels, all by their legal mandate performing policing and therefore internal security roles and functions; we still have huge and significant gaps with internal security.Kidnapping, armed robbery, gangsterism and cultism, as well as rural banditry and the now seemingly intractable conflict between Herders and Farmers; have all continued to grow in intensity and fester like untreated sours on our body polity.
Compounding this as a significant driver is the unprecedented levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment – particularly youth unemployment.The police and other security outfits performing policing and internal security duties including Road Safety, Civil Defence, VIO, and all the retinue of paramilitary units and neighbourhood watches established by state governments; lack adequate training, facilities, equipment, welfare conditions, and all the necessary infrastructure required to support effective policing and provide adequate internal security cover.
A core and central part of the problem however is thus this absence of coordination, and the inability to effectively deploy in a complementary manner the available internal security resources in the country.
A government and administration that is torn apart by internal strife, a regime bedevilled with mutually antagonistic internal disputes cannot however be well positioned to provide the political leadership and strategic oversight required to achieve the anti-corruption war of the administration and the needed level of coordination to improve internal security situation
It is pathetic to note the increasing militarization of the polity, yet the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies are notorious as nest of corrupt practices. There is an ongoing campaign to scrap the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) which epitomizes a dangerous, violent corrupt security body. Rather than address the fundamentals, we continue to witness repressive militarization of the society. The Government continues to demonstrate its commitment to draft the Armed Forces more and more into internal security duties and operations. The result is that according to the Internal Police Service Association, our own Police Service is the worst performing police force with respect to internal security among 127 countries whose internal security situation was assessed.
It is curious to note that just as we have the Anti-Corruption Task Force, as well as other task forces, yet the experience is gloomy and the outcome has been increasing levels of dysfunctionality and systemic failure.The only sane and strategic conclusion to be drawn is that coordination, and building synergy is not synonymous with holding meetings. Government must show seriousness by removing all the square pegs in round holes so that corruption can be sent to oblivion once and for all. It is now clear to whoever is honest that there is aneed for all the government agencies to have unity of purpose. There is no way we can kill corruption when some other agencies are openly fighting EFCC or there is entrenched inter-agencies rivalries instead of collaboration
We in CACOL want to call on President Buhari to put his house in order and address the recent internal sabotages against the much-acclaimed Anti-corruption war.
We in CACOL also want to say that economic Development is one of the major ways corruption can be killed. The Buhari government must make bold to start the conscious mass re-industrialization of the country. The rate of unemployment can be drastically reduced if the 2018 budget invests in massive industrialization and capital investment through the revival of public industries and creation of new ones. When industrialization is effected accordingly, there will be less primitive money to steal by those in government and their cronies. This is the logic we have been arguing for a long time now. This country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder if corruption is not killed.
We also want to note that the judicial frustration of anti-corruption cases must be addressed by the Buhari government if there is any seriousness. The office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice needs to be separated and overhauled especially as its strategic hold on the outcome of the anti-corruption war is highly significant. The power of that office portends a great danger for the survival of our democracy.
Finally, we call on the President to start rejigging this non-performing cabinet. The combined ministries of Works, Housing, and Power has been lukewarm and helps vigorously as leakage for corruption especially as the combined ministry has gotten the largest chunks in budgetary allocations since the inception in 2015. Government needs express qualitative functionality in a way that keeps development in the front burner. Performance helps to keep corruption at a low pace. It is trite to emphasise that the refusal or inaction in executing the planned dualisation of Lagos-Ibadan express way, Ojo-Badagry, Onitsha East road and rehabilitation of many roads that are in state of total dis-repair becoming death traps is an indictment of this unwieldy three-star ministry.
We thank you once again for your prompt attendance.
A House Divided Against itself cannot Withstand Adversarial Wind
Almost in spite of wise counsel and common intelligence to the contrary, virtually all the key officers manning anti-graft under President Muhammed Buhari are tearing at each other’s jugular determined to ensure that battle against the monstrous corruption fails beyond any form of redemption. Complicated revelations of mind boggling scandals of allegations and sometimes counter allegations by public office holders and bodies under this administration makes the recent assertion of the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle very apt when he alerted that “we need to caution the President in particular that the fight against corruption may not be too far away from around him. Those hands that are not right around him, he should be courageous enough to deal with them”.
The comedy of error is legion and the fallacy of “what about you” under this dispensation is legendary. The drama premiered with cutting Ibe Kachikwu to his place by Maikanti Baru was followed by Abdulrasheed Maina reinstatement, sack and disappearance which is as tearfully comical as the shouting bout of Abba Kyari and Oyo- Ita in the hallowed chamber of Federal Executive Council. The collective indictment for us as a nation comes when corruption points accusing fingers at all, as the Minister for Justice and Attorney General sings “ it wasn’t me ” and others in the Interior, Presidency, Head of Service et.al chorus for him. We are now at a cross road where the various anti-graft agencies are either at open cold war or marking time to take sides. The obvious implication is that these security agencies, DSS, EFCC, NFIU, CCB, ICPC have been effectively muffled, becoming toothless bulldog that can not give sinew to the President anti-corruption campaign while “corruption” and its proselytes are the only beneficiaries of the attendant, raging inter-service rivalries.
A cursory example suffices to buttress our point and show a gory portrait of the situation. The EFCC accused the Department of State Security Service attempting to scuttle its investigations into the $2Billion arms scam perpetrated by the former Security Adviser, rtd. Col. Sambo Dasuki, by refusing to release the department suspected officers for question. DSS on the other hand is alleging witchhunting because its Director General, Lawal Daura did not give a clean bill of health to the Senate during the screening of the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu. If there is no synergy between security agencies, when issues degenerate into the low abyss of inter-personal interests, how can they prosecute the battle against corruption with one mind? This is volatile landmine waiting to explode; concerted efforts must be garnered to diffuse it.
It is instructive to note that all over the world, there are instances of inter-service rivalries but this is usually on operation matters and not to the extent of compromising securities or mandated objectives, whenever this occur, the consequences are always very fatal. For instance, the twin bombing in the United States in 11th September, 2001 was discovered to have occurred due to the absence of inter-agency collaboration. The work of most agencies are inter-twined, therefore, there must be sharing of information at real time as the findings into the 9/11 incidence revealed. Today, because of intra-agency petty and negative rivalries, the country has been suspended from the Egmont group which is the operational arm of the global organisation for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), ostensibly because of an initiative by the Attorney General to yank off National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from EFCC as its autonomy is a desideratum to be pa the of the Egmont group.
The logical necessity for inter-agency collaboration is that while money laundering falls under the mandate of EFCC; there are issues in counter-financing of terrorism that are under the purview of DSS internal security mandate particularly because of events in the North East or external activities of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). It is only a devious system design by an element like Adolf Hitler that would consciously promote the negative import of inter-service rivalries instead deploying same as a balancing factor as was his policy of “survival of the fittest” between the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS during the Third Reich.
Nigeria has a rich history of collaborations between security agencies either as unified or joint command structures which have over the years proven very helpful. Examples abound in the operations of the various Joint Task Force (JTF) which litter our geo-political landscape. The Eagle square bombing of 1st October, 2010 underscores more imperatively why inter-agencies rivalry must be shunned at all cost and collaboration embraced.
“ A House Divided Against Itself Can Never Stand ”
In less than a month, there are several reports of incidences of inter-agencies clashes especially between officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Securities (DSS) in a manner lacking all the paraphernalia of civil governance guarded by entrenched decorum, protocols, rules and patriotic responsibilities.
In a brazen display of national disgrace and embarrassment, the EFCC and DSS flexed muscles in gangsteric style when the anti-corruption agency wanted to arrest a former Director General of DSS, Ekpenyong Ita, and the same fiasco was displayed at the residence of the former Director General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayo Oke. The operatives of the two security bodies lay armed siege against each others, brandishing sophisticated weapons, taking pictures like yoyo kids for hours.
This act in itself is not only condemnable but it is symptomatic of a larger ailment afflicting our nation. Nigeria is held at captive in a permanent siege by the bankrupt and degenerate ruling class who do not respect the constitution and the citizens aspirations better life and socio-economic advancement in the same way the DSS and EFCC are pursuing a grand design to stalemate President Muhammadu Buhari anti-corruption campaigns. More importantly, the security forces in the country are not suffering from bringing forward the military mentality during the military absolute despoliation of governance in the country but act according to their conception. The security force in Nigeria were established by colonial dispensation as “ Forces of Occupation”, decades after, we are yet to purge these bodies from these idiosyncrasies and civilinised, constitutionalised and democratized their operations.
It is a trite fact that the EFCC and DSS are creation of laws and should be accordingly guarded without this menace of inter-agency clashes. The EFCC, like its sister organizations Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), was established by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and deriving further legal sinew from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), African Union Convention on Preventing and combating Corruption, ECOWAS Protocol on Corruption, UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The DSS on the other hand, though as an intelligence organization, there are various enactments, Instruments and protocols given it powers and regulating its operations, mechanism and jurisdictional demarcation.
Thus under normal and abnormal circumstances, there should not be any valid reasons for the two agencies to have jurisdictional clashes. These agencies are supposed to work together, their operations are meant to be complementary not contentious and antagonistic. We are clear that there breaches by the parties leading to this clashes which must be quickly probed by the Presidency and stopped immediately.
CACOL calls on Mr. President to urgently call the pointsmen of the two organizations to order before the tear eachothers’ jugular and shred into dirty pieces this administration’s commitment to prosecute without resting the campaigns to eliminate corruption from our national psyche and menu.