The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the move by the House of Representative to investigate the alleged failure of the Nigeria Police Force to account for firearms totalling 178,459 as of January 2020.
In a release, issued by the Director of Administration and Programmes of the anti-graft organization, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the Chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, noted, “It would be recalled that The House of Representatives has mandated its Ad hoc Committee on Arms to investigate alleged 178,459 arms reported to be missing by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu”.
According to the 2019 audit report, the arms which include AK-47 rifles and other assorted rifles and pistols from different Police formations nationwide could not be accounted for by the Nigeria Police. The House resolved to probe the missing arms following a motion moved by the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), on Thursday, during plenary. Leading the debate, Mr Okechukwu lamented the poor record-keeping of the police on arms and ammunition. He said the missing arms could be connected with the spike in insecurity across the country.
Speaking in support of the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), said the investigation will reveal a lot. He, however, argued that there is no need to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter, rather an existing committee investigating arms should be charged with the probe. Consequently, the committee investigating arms procurement chaired by Abubakar Fulata (APC, Jigawa), was charged with the investigation.
The Chairman of CACOL opined that “It is very unfortunate that the Nigeria Police Force has become a shadow of its former self as a result of maladministration of various funds budgeted for firearms, welfare, logistics and capacity building of the rank and file of the force over the years but which vanished into thin air This is a classic example of how much damage corruption and mismanagement of scarce resources have caused us as a nation and has made law enforcement a herculean task for the Force.”.
The issue of alleged missing firearms is just a tip of the iceberg, considering the monumental misappropriation going on in the circle of those saddled with the responsibility of carrying out various procurements for the Force. It is a known fact that the Police Force has been permanently incapacitated, disabled and rendered helpless majorly by the non-availability of firearms and the use of superior firearms by various enemies of the State which has deprived the Police of carrying out its primary duty of maintaining law and order within the country and also made the use of the Armed Forces inevitable even for internal security.
Concluding, Mr. Adeniran commended the House of Representative’s effort geared towards unraveling the whereabouts of the missing firearms and urged the Committee Members to carry out their duties without fear or favour and those found wanton should be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on the Federal Government to do more in the fight against corruption in the country and ease the burden of the citizenry especially at a time the government is just easing the lockdown.
In a release issued by the Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the Acting Director of Administration and Programmes, to mark CACOL’s 13th Year Anniversary he enthused that “the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) formerly known as Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders was established on the 3rd of September, 2007. Incorporated in 2016, our vision is a Nigeria without corruption both in public and private sectors. Our mission is to use any legal and civilized means available to cause relevant authorities to probe and try all corrupt leaders both in public and private institutions”.
Over the last 13 years, CACOL has been engaging in the business of research, enlightenment, advocacy and monitoring of government activities with a view to reducing corruption. We have been at the fore front of enlightening members of the society on the virtues of living modest and corrupt-free lives. We have organized public enlightenment programmes at regular intervals on the need to be good leaders. We have also liaised with relevant government agencies in carrying out global best practices on act of governance. We have come up with researches, studies and surveys on needy areas and unanswered questions concerning corruption and we have participated in budget tracking, scorecards, open parliaments, etc.
Furthermore, we have been the vanguard of enlightenment to the people on the need to see leadership as service to the society. Over the years, CACOL’s main activity is to campaign against corruption and advocate for open governance by embarking on fact-findings through: Research, Investigations, Surveys etc., We engage in policy review and engagements, by publishing books, journals, reports, pamphlets, posters, handbills. We also carry out mass outings like, rallies, processions, marches, petitions, litigations, festivals and anti-corruption tours. We also intervene on behalf of victims of corruption.
It is on record that we have been directly involved in writing petition against and exposing some suspected and alleged corrupt public officials notably Olusegun Obasanjo former President of Nigeria, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Petroleum Minister, and James Ibori former Governor of Delta State which in turn led to his indictment, prosecution and conviction.
As we clock 13, we have observed that not much have changed in the Anti-Corruption drive in the country. In as much as we would like to commend the government for the introduction of various measures like Bank Verification Number (BVN), Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS), among others, aimed at curbing corruption in the country we believe there is still much to be done as corruption persists in both public and private sectors in the country. We also call on the three arms of government to synergize more to stem the tide of corruption in the country. The Judiciary as the last hope of the citizen should do more in the area of quick dispensation of justice so as to serve as deterrent.
As if that was not enough, the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, appears set to hit N160 per litre as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has increased the price at which it sells the product to marketers from N138.62 per litre to N147.67. This is coming at a time when most Nigerians are coming out of the lockdown forced on them by the outbreak of the novel Corona Virus pandemic.
Many Nigerian workers have not being paid salaries for months as some sectors especially the hospitality and private schools have not reopen for business. Others, especially those working in the banking and aviation sectors have lost their jobs and sources of livelihood due to the fact that their organizations have either downsized or outsourced their jobs.
Prices of foodstuff have skyrocketed while commuters have been forced to pay almost double as transportation fares due primarily to the social distancing regulation being observed by transporters. All these have negative impact on the disposable income of Nigerians most of whom will still struggle to pay house rents and other bills.
The anti-corruption crusader said “we want to say emphatically that the current increase in electricity or energy tariff and the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit is a wrong move coming at a very wrong time. It is ill-advised, unkindly and unsympathetic to the plight of the already overburdened Nigerians who eke out a living by a dint of hard work”.
“CACOL would like to call on the government to deliberately reduce prices of energy and power which are used by most Nigerians majority of whom did not benefit from the palliatives distributed by the government to cushion the effect of the lockdown. The government should rescind these unholy decisions and think of ways to ease the current socio-economic problems of the already overburdened citizens rather than further extorting them. Government should also desist from introducing anti-people policies that will burden the people and further ensnarl them in abject poverty while the few individuals that were elected to govern them live so large on the commonwealth of the generality of the populace”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the right decision in a bid to calm frayed nerves at the University of Lagos.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Acting Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “it would be recalled that due to the aftermath of the announcement of the removal of Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the University’s Vice-Chancellor on Wednesday 12th of August, 2020 at a meeting of the governing council held in Abuja, there have been several reactions from different quarters.
On our part, as a concerned civil society organization, we tried to intervene in the crisis. It is on record that a letter was sent to the President, Muhammadu Buhari on 11th December, 2019 titled “MISAPPLICATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS: MATTERS ARISING” in which we suggested that “the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as the Visitor to the university could also seize the constitutional provisions to, direct the National Universities Commission (NUC) to set up a visitation panel to visit and examine the state of University of Lagos (UNILAG) as at today and act upon their findings and recommendations”.
It should also be noted that in our press release dated 19th August, 2020, “we called on Mr. President who is the Visitor to the University to intervene in the ugly situation playing out at the University”
The CACOL boss said “it gladdens our heart when we read the government’s position on the crisis as contained in a statement issued on Friday night by the Director, Press and Public Relations, in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong. The statement in which the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and the chairman of its Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), was directed to step aside pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by the President, Muhammadu Buhari. The statement also directed the Senate of the university to “nominate an acting vice-chancellor from amongst its members for confirmation by the Governing Council.”
CACOL therefore commends President Muhammadu Buhari’s wisdom for intervening in the crisis rocking the University before it goes out of hand. The decision taken by the President was in line with our earlier position as stated in the letter we sent to the President and our last press release on the same issue.
We have always believed in the principle of University Autonomy which is the institutional form of academic freedom and a necessary precondition to guarantee the proper fulfillment of the functions entrusted to higher-education teaching personnel and institutions.
We hope this intervention will not in any way violate the autonomy being enjoyed by the university and also believe this will bring a lasting solution to the crisis and engender peace and mutual co-existence between all the stakeholders of the university.
Mr. Tola Oresanwo
Acting Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces
Aso Rock Villa, 3 Arms Zone
Garki – Abuja
Federal Republic of Nigeria
NIGERIAN ROADS: A TALE OF WOES
Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was established by Act No.7 of 2002 enacted by the National Assembly and assented to by President Olusegun Obasanjo. With this Act establishing the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency and for matters connected herewith, FERMA became Nigeria’s first institutional mechanism for monitoring and maintaining all Federal roads in the country. First Governing Board of FERMA chaired by Engr. Guy Otobo was inaugurated by the then Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih on 27th January 2003.
The Mission of the agency is to efficiently and effectively monitor and administer road maintenance with the objective of keeping all federal roads in good and safe conditions while the Vision is to become the most efficient road maintenance management organization that will enhance the economic well-being and interest of Nigerians.
From the foregoing, it can be observed that the agency has not lived up to expectation going by the present state of roads in the country. Most of the federal roads that dotted the length and breadth of the country are crying for attention.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed once disclosed that most of the bad roads in Nigeria belong to the states. The minister argued that most bad roads in the country were within the jurisdiction of states. She made this statement after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that held on the 13th of November, 2019 in Abuja.
She went further to state that the Federal Ministry of Works was the biggest beneficiaries of funding in the 2019 budget as it was adequately reimbursed for the purpose of roads rehabilitation in the country.
Ahmed acknowledged that the government had not done enough to rehabilitate roads all over the country but still attributed most of the bad roads in the country to the states.
In the same vein, and contrary to general reports making the rounds that Nigerian roads are terrible and not motorable, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola was also reported as saying that Nigerian roads are not as bad as people think.
Fashola made this statement late last year after one of the Federal Executive Council meetings. He dismissed reports on the poor state of the country’s roads as exaggerated. In his words “The roads are not as bad as they are often portrayed. I know that this is going to be your headline, but the roads are not that bad”, he had told State House correspondents.
We found this statement by the honourable minister as a clear indication that some of those occupying public offices are not in tune with the terrible realities of their fellow citizens’ daily experience.
Despite the claims made by the Ministers, ordinary Nigerians plying the roads know the true situation of our roads. Most of the roads are now death traps. It is worrisome that in addition to the adverse effects of the poor state of the roads, kidnapping and armed robberies, loss of vital man-hours, loss of lives and merchandise and enormous damage to vehicles on a daily basis are recorded, thus adversely affecting the growth of the developing economy like Nigeria’s.
For example, the current state of the Lagos – Sango Ota – Abeokuta express way that links Lagos and Ogun state is appalling and an eye sore as virtually all sections of the road has completely broken down. Major bus stops like Obadeyi, Kola, Salolo, Moshalashi, Alakuko, Toll-Gate, Joju among others are characterized by crater-sized potholes and gullies resulting in commuters and motorists spending long hours in traffic, accidents and damage to health and vehicles which is immeasurable in monetary terms and health costs. Sometimes, petrol tankers and container trucks have fallen at bad portions of the road, causing havoc to people.
One can only wonder the essence, importance or relevance of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), if federal roads under their direct supervision can deteriorate to such an inhuman state without any intervention to mitigate the suffering of the commuting public. More annoying is the fact that the Ministry of Works and Housing who happens to be the supervising ministry of FERMA is maintaining an unholy silence. Is it that the Ministry is unconcerned?
Though we are aware of the fact that the Lagos Sango Abeokuta express road is a federal road, we believe that the Governors of Lagos state Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Ogun state counterpart, Dr. Prince Dapo Abiodun can harmoniously and as a matter of urgency come to the aid of the suffering commuters in both states, whose manhour, lives and livelihood is being jeopardized by the unmotorable state of the Lagos Sango Ota Abeokuta express road, by directing their respective states ministries of works and roads intervention agencies to urgently provide palliatives to the road.
Apart from the federal roads, the roads that are within the purview of the states are not faring better. In fact, state-owned roads are just as horrible as the stretches of roads controlled by the federal government. In Lagos state, from the expressways to the inner streets, it is a tale of complete abandonment and neglect. The dividends of democracy in terms of infrastructure development promised to be delivered to the electorates by the politicians are just nowhere to be found.
Knowing how Lagosians crave good roads, the Governor, a day after his inauguration, signed an executive order, directing the state Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to run at least two shifts and work till 11p.m and the state Public Works Corporation to commence patching and rehabilitation of bad roads to address the perennial problem of traffic in the state. Till date, Lagosians are still waiting for this order to be carried out in some areas.
From the mainland to the Island, particularly, the densely populated areas of Ikeja (like Ipodo Street), Coker-Aguda (Akin Olowolagba Street), Somolu (Haastrup Ajimoke Street off Apata Road), Mushin-Odi-Olowo (Agege Motor Road before Olosa bus stop, Idioro), Ikorodu (Church Street, Odogunyan, Frontage of Ikorodu West LCDA, Odonla Road, Ojuemuren Street Odogunyan, Sagamu Road), Yaba (Herbert Macauly by Birrel Avenue, Kadara Street, Oyingbo, Ladipo Street off Bornu way) Lagos Island (Idumagbo Avenue, Oroyinyin Street off Adeniji Road) the story is the same as one is faced with the embarrassing sight of the decrepit roads that dots Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan city despite the high internal revenue generated by the government.
So bad are the roads in Lagos thatThe Economist Intelligence Unit and World Bank in their 2018 Global Liveability Index, ranked the state as the third worst city for humans to live in the world. The state was ranked 138 out of the 140 cities considered for the ranking. This, however, was a slight improvement from the 2017 ranking, where the country was ranked 139th out of 140 cities on the index. According to the ranking, Lagos only outperformed Dhaka in Bangladesh and Damascus in war-torn Syria. Out of an overall score of 100, Lagos was rated 38.5 points. The 2019 least liveable list has 10 cities with five from Africa. Lagos, Nigeria tops the list for the continent. This is Lagos’ third consecutive time as the worst liveable city in Africa.
Similarly, Ogun State that happens to be a close neighbour to Lagos is fast becoming a State identifiable by its bad roads. From Toyin to Giwa, Oke-Aro, Lambe, Matogun, Isaashi, Akute, Ajuwon, Alagbole, Agbado to Agbara, Lusada and all other major roads in that axis where some major factories are located, the sad reality is the same.
Recently, it was reported that the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun was fully aware of the challenges occasioned by the deplorable condition of Sango-Agbado Expressway and other roads. The statement was credited to the Ogun State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Ade Akinsanya, who inspected the abandoned project. This followed his earlier inspection of the Ojodu-Abiodun-Denro Ishasi-Akute and Oke Aro-Lambe-Matogun roads some weeks back, as engineers from the ministry visited the area to further assess the roads.
Akinsanya, who said it is worthy of note that the construction of the 32km Sango-Agbado road was started by the immediate past administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, decried how the project was left unattended to months before the end of Amosun’s administration.
He said: “The Prince Dapo Abiodun-led Administration is now engaging contractors, as the government evaluates how to rescope, accelerate and get the contractors back to site towards completing the road for use by the people”.
The key to economic growth and development in any nation is the provision of basic infrastructure such as good road network. We believe the rehabilitation and completion of the various roads will revive economic activities in the axis while ensuring the safety of persons, goods and vehicles.
In addition, we feel the pains and agony being encountered by the commuting people on our roads who have had to endure both the physical and psychological trauma of traffic gridlock all over the state caused by the poor condition of roads.
Your Excellency, the pains and agony commuters are enduring on our roads on a daily basis can only be mitigated by the commitment of both the federal and state governments of the states concerned to deliver dividends of democracy to the people through reconstruction, rehabilitation and completion of various road projects that litter the various parts of the states in particular and the country in general. There is an urgent need for both the Federal and the State Governments to redouble their efforts and commitments to addressing the hardship being faced by road users across the country. Alternative means of transportation like the rail and the waterways should also be improved upon to reduce the pressure n our roads.
Therefore, we are calling on your office to immediately swing into action by directing and mobilizing the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to provide palliative measures for temporary relief pending the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the federal roads in Lagos state in particular and other states in general.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the action of Former Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari for allegedly assaulting an environmental officer enforcing the COVID-19 protocol put in place to curb the spread of the dreaded virus at the nation’s airports.
In a release issued by CACOL on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo, he noted, “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL received with concern and disapproval news making the rounds to the effect that the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari allegedly assaulted an airport official who was doing what he was paid to do”.
It would be recalled that the airport officer, on Saturday at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State, tried to disinfect the luggage of the former governor who was a passenger but Yari pushed him away, claiming he was a very important personality.
“We condemn the attitude of this former governor in its entirety. His action is reckless and height of irresponsibility. By his action he has portrayed himself as an enemy of the state going by the enormity of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the country. One would have expected a supposed ‘Very Important Personality’ to support and abide with all directives and protocols laid down to stem the tide of this pandemic”.
“It is lamentable that a man of his status would make nonsense of a well thought out arrangement and protocol aimed at curtailing the spread of the dreaded virus. His attitude shows that many of our past and present public office holders see themselves as superman and demigods that should always be revered, adored and worshipped wherever they are. Can he try that absurdity in a foreign land? Little wonder then, the reason many of them are so bold to engage in various acts of corruption and acting as if they were above the law while holding public offices and forgetting that power is ephemeral”.
The CACOL Chairman added, “Against this unfortunate aberration, we therefore call on Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to put mechanism in place that would prevent reoccurrence of this unfortunate incidence and spell out sanctions that would be meted out to anyone who violate the COVID 19 protocols so as to serve as deterrent to others while calling on the former governor to publicly apologize for his action”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on anti-corruption agencies in the country for necessary investigation of fraud allegation rocking the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Coordinator, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that Fraud running into hundreds of millions of naira has been reportedly uncovered in the Lagos State Waste Management Authority. The Punch newspaper reported that the beneficiaries were some contractors, who engaged street sweepers for the cleaning of Lagos roads. It was learnt that due to the connection of some of the culprits, who are mostly politicians, there was fear nothing would be done about the discovery. It was also reported that a former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of LAWMA, Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin, was said to have been removed as storms gathered on allegations of fraud in the system. It was also reported that the running cost of LAWMA rose from about N540m to N1bn and the governor, who wanted to save money, asked the former Managing Director to step aside for an audit while the new Managing Director, Mr Ibrahim Odumboni, was asked to oversee the process.
“The report, detailed how the management of the agency had been siphoning public funds through corrupt practices of padded wage bills by contractors of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority and passed the cost to government as the salaries of their workers”.
“The PUNCH reported that trouble started when auditors got to the Ikorodu area to verify claims made by the contractor in charge of the route. She (contractor) was identified as Iron Lady and allegedly had 66 routes assigned to her. The woman, it was said, claimed to have 2,310 workers. The auditors discovered that most of the names submitted by the woman to collect money were non-existent, while a number of the routes were unkempt. Based on the figures she submitted to the government, her company was collecting over N80m monthly from LAWMA. On the appointed day, only half of the number she gave showed up for verification. In some cases, a sweeper would be discovered to own several phones documented under different names”.
The report also has it that the audit was only one week old when a protest broke out among the street sweepers, who claimed that they had not been paid for several months.
The CACOL boss also said “from our direct interactions with some of the sweepers in the State the Punch story is not far from the truth. It is also noteworthy that the Commissioner for the Environment also corroborated the Punch story by saying “there was no reason why the Agency should owe the sweepers because their funding comes directly from the Ministry of Finance”.
The anti-graft czar added, “Considering the strategic and critical role of the agency in the maintenance of cleanliness in the State, we are seriously concerned about the enormity of corruption going on in the waste management authority in the State. We, therefore, call on the anti-corruption agencies to quickly wade into the matter now with a view to sanitizing it and bring those responsible for the alleged fraud to book so as to serve as a deterrent to others while maintaining a cleaner environment for all Lagosians”.
“We, therefore, make a clarion call for the immediate handing over of the former Managing Director of the Agency to the ICPC or EFCC to answer for the allegations. The laxity, mediocrity and ineptitude he brought on LAWMA are the reasons why everywhere was flooded during the week and a few lives and property were lost irretrievably”.
“We also call on the State Commissioner for Environment to as a matter of urgency constitute an emergency Drainage De-silting Exercise to safe people from imminent floods as heavier rains are still expected before the last quarter of the year”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has called on all security agencies and the general public living and operating at Ile Zik Round-about, Ikeja Lagos, to be more vigilant as hoodlums has converted the boat monument into a brothel where unsuspecting victims are lured extorted and raped.
This was contained in a press release issued on behalf of the Centre’s Chairman, Debo Adeniran on Saturday June 20th.
The Centre got wind of these immoral acts through one of its CACOL’s Good Governance, Accountability and Transparency Educators (C-GATE) Units.
According to the CACOL Chairman, “the CGATE Units were created and inaugurated in all Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Developmental Areas(LCDAs) in both Lagos and Osun state to educate the grassroots on how to hold the government accountable and demand transparency through its educators.”
The Chairman expressed worries on the escalation of the nefarious acts perpetrated by the hoodlums in that vicinity during and after relaxation the lockdown.
According to the Mr Adeniran, “report reaching us at one of our C-GATE meetings indicated that this wicked and ungodly act has been persistent underground even before the Coronavirus lockdown and many have fallen prey to the criminals hunt as undergarments, purses, wallets, school bags and one passport picture of a young school girl were found at the suspected crime scene. Although the notoriety of the place had been acknowledged in the recent past, up till this present moment, nothing has been said or done by the law-enforcement agents to detect, investigate and to bring these suspected possible perpetrators of the suspected heinous crimes to book.”
The anti-corruption leader expressed his utmost disappointment towards the security agencies under-performance in curbing street crimes in Lagos, especially during this pandemic crisis.
The CACOL Chairman lamented on the increased rate of crime and sexual violence during this pandemic and urged all security agencies to up their games in bringing it under perpetual check.
According to him, “since the beginning of the pandemic and the attendant lockdown, reports of rape cases have sky-rocketed in all states of the federation, hence the extra vigilance of all security agencies on active duty and the protocol cannot be overemphasized. He urged the authorities to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the capacity of different security agencies are reinforced to ensure maximum protection for the Lagos citizens and that of Nigeria in general.”
The CACOL’S boss therefore demands for an immediate investigation into this demonic and shameful act and diligently prosecute anyone found culpable to ensure that the guilty ones are given deterrent punishment.
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