Last week, after countless assurances by the Federal Government that it has details of where rogue politicians stashed away stolen public funds, President Mohammadu Buhari announced that formal trial of suspects would soon commence. But from the nature of speeches, and body language of the nation’s ruler, those involved do not seem to be mere suspects; they appear to me, convicts already.
After a meeting Buhari held with members of the National Peace Committee, headed by a former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, where, the subject was discussed, members emerged with valid concerns.
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, and spokesperson of the Peace Committee, Father Mathew Kukah expressed deep concerns over the way and manner the Federal Government was handling the issue of probe.
“This is not a military regime. This is a democracy, where, investigations and valid trial by competent courts of jurisdiction are expected to discharge their constitutional responsibilities and not probes and incarcerations|”.
Kukah is troubled that a lot of trial is going on, on pages of newspapers, apparently tilting towards the body-language of the incumbent president, which he fears, would diminish the gains of a united, peaceful and hopeful nation, achieved following the patriotic concession by former President Goodluck Jonathan in course of the 2015 general elections.
“No amount of billions could buy the peace and stability which that singular act of patriotism Jonathan exhibited, earned us as a people”, Kukah told a panel of interviewers on channels television.
“If the Federal Government has specific cases, they should hand-over to constitutional authorities to investigate and charge suspects to court for trial, and not use the process as a substitute for governance,” he said, adding, “the people want actions, signs of good governance and indeed governance and not spend all the time on threats and vilifying key actors of the immediate past administration”.
Kukah said that government should start something by forming a credible cabinet of Ministers and not spend all the time heating –up the polity with probes and threats of probes, when what is required is proper investigation of the affected issues and then trials.
Father Kukah is not alone. Former Head of State, Abdulsalam Abubakah himself said, no sane Nigerian would be against an objective recovery of stolen public funds, but warned that the rule of law must be followed.
That indeed is the crux of the matter. Early last week, President Buhari assembled a team of criminologists and academics headed by Prof. Sagay to investigate the same issues, the federal government had claimed, it had answers to. After his US trip, Buhari told Nigerians that he had details of all dubious transactions, foreign bank accounts where stolen funds from crude sales were lodged. They also know the location of such banks, some tankers impounded in foreign lands and indeed the former public officials involved.
Government even said it had details of how Nigerian crude was shared among public officials and sold by individuals and proceeds paid into their personal accounts. And that all such details were within government’s grasps. If that is so, what is the duty of the Sagay Committee, now calling on people to come and confess?
Is the committee a replacement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a Probe Panel or a Judicial Commission, without a serving or retired judge or is the Committee to confirm the claims of the Buhari government, so as to justify any further action it might take, thereafter, including incarceration?
Nigeria operates the accusatorial process of prosecution, by which, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Its opposite is the inquisitorial process by which an accused is presumed guilty until he or she proves himself or herself innocent.
The nature of public comments on a matter yet to be properly investigated and suspects put to trial, cuts the picture of condemned criminals. What this does is that institutions finally entrusted with the trial of such cases go the extra mile to ‘re-affirm’ what the master had already told the public, so that the master is not portrayed as a liar.
Infact, many Nigerians believe that no trial will be just enough to guarantee justice to those already convicted by the government. This is because, the government whose duty it is to transfer information to the judicial arm for proper trial has already assumed the position of judge in their own cases, if official public comments on the issue are any leads to go by.
No one wants to question Buhari’s integrity or resolve to fight corruption. But there are indeed civilized ways of doing it, in a democratic dispensation.
Whatever ‘facts’ government has or thinks it has amount to mere suspicion and the affected Nigerian or foreigner a mere suspect. Such ‘facts’ should be properly investigated by a competent constitutional institution, in this case either the EFCC or ICPC or both. It could also include other constitutionally approved security institutions.
Then follows facts analysis. Where the facts are weighty enough to get conviction, the suspect is then charged to court for trial, with government and its agencies represented as prosecutors. It is only in a Military regime, that government prosecutes, makes the laws and also serves as judge in its own case.
It is indeed only in such instances, that the nature of pre-trial vilifications and condemnation on pages of newspapers will sell, not in a democracy where, the judiciary must be allowed to perform its constitutional duty.
This is why many agree with the National Peace Committee, particularly its spokesperson, Bishop Kukah, that the way government was going about its war against corruption was grossly undemocratic and could merely succeed in heating-up the polity. A polity claimed by the patriotic concession of defeat by a serving President, only to be the target of a vicious probe and threat of probe.
In My Agony last month, I pointed to one reason why African leaders prefer to die in office rather than hand over power. It is the fear of the unknown indeed of the uncertainities after power. It is surely for those, the incumbents do every and anything to protect their seats and become despots.
For such sit-tight rulers, human life, national stability, peace and indeed unity are not considerations. The only consideration is self-survival. It is this same consideration that for years made democracy a mirage in Africa. What is going on in Burudi, the blood birth, the unrest and the fear of more deaths, all stem from the same individual insecurity and the unwillingness to let go of power.
This indeed was what President Jonathan saved Nigeria, by simply picking the phone to congratulate Buhari, even before the final results of the February 28, Presidential election results had been announced. Rather than ordering loyal soldiers to enemy areas, as most despots would do or kidnapping the INEC Chairman and forcing him to announce favourable results, Jonathan did the honourable things, not knowing that he was mortgaging the future of his supporters, his ethnic group, his family and friends and indeed all other Nigerians who identified with his ambition. He thought, it was a personal sacrifice for peace, unity and survival of a nation, long predicted to be heading towards its last days, by prophets of doom.
It was a sacrifice which all the billions allegedly stolen could not buy. It was a sacrifice which all the human blood saved could hardly quantify. It is indeed a sacrifice which does not deserve political vendetta, vindictiveness and hate in recompense. This indeed is the worry of the National Peace Committee which played a role, in assuring President Jonathan that history would never forget his rare demonstration of love for nation, of selflessness and of uncommon statesmanship.
To be rewarded with the nature of official public vilification and demonization being dramatized by beneficiaries of Jonathan’s sacrifice, is the height of ingratitude posterity hardly ignores.
My Agony is that many of those playing the drums for the dancing bird, fail to remember, that today, was the tomorrow many talked about yesterday. And as usual, this same today will be yesterday some day.
Methinks, the best difference Buhari can present to Nigerians is how he utilizes the four-year mandate granted him and not spend most part of it demonizing others before him, against the dictates of a line in our national anthem ‘the labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain’.
If to Buhari, Jonathan is a villain, to many Nigerians, like Kukah and My Agony Jonathan remains a national hero, fountain of democracy and beacon of national peace and unity, who deserves respect and honour. Nothing less.
Soye Wilson Jamabo
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.
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