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Beyond Cameron’s Apology …Another Look At Anti-Graft War

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President Buhari and Prime Minister Cameron

President Buhari and Prime Minister Cameron

By his antecedents, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, it is generally believed, brought to the Presidency and governance a rare measure of acceptability, especially to his avowed war against corruption. From his modest life-style, his disciplinarian mien and his mark of transparency, by publicly declaring his assets, none should doubt his credibility.
That is why when British Prime Minister David Cameron recently described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt”, many took offence as if the abuse was on Buhari. Strangely, Buhari’s initial response was statesmanly, when he said, in that case, Cameron and his ilk should help return the stolen loot still stashed away in various financial institutions in Europe and America.
The bottomline is, anyone who hides a thief cannot be a saint, neither can one who buys or secures, away from the primary owner, any stolen funds. The United Kingdom cannot make such a blanket statement about a nation part of whose stolen wealth is hidden within her boundaries.
Strictly speaking, Cameron went beyond his bounds, especially as one who was to play host to world leaders for an anti-corruption conference, in which the Nigerian leader was going to be in attendance. It didn’t amount to playing a good host, although, it was later gathered, Cameron’s view was not intended for public consumption.
Interestingly, the reactions of some Nigerians were diverse and amusing. But, lets ask ourselves some basic questions: Are we, as a country, truly fighting corruption? What is corruption? Is it when it is suspected that members of a government out of power exercised some indiscretion in managing public funds? Has the Buhari government bothered to truly check the background and antecedents of some of those around him in the party’s ranks.
Gradually but surely, the definition of corruption has been reduced to vengeance against political foes. This is in spite of the fact that there are many in the ruling party, who, so corrupt, cannot be depended upon to fight corruption, the way Buhari should, without fear.
The activities and investments of such key characters in Buhari’s government, may be concealed from Nigerians but they are public knowledge in the UK and USA. That is why when comments like that by Cameron make the air waves, they should call for introspection and not vile outburst.
Remember former Delta State Governor James Ibori? Nearly all Nigerian anti-graft agencies found him clean, pure and innocent until he was found guilty abroad. There are several such secrets just awaiting brave whistle-blowers.
But one cannot totally blame Buhari. In politics, three things are very important. The first is money, the second money and the third, money. No matter how credible, creditable, upright and trustworthy an ambitious politician might be, that pedigree cannot pay the bills. He needs funds to tour the states, appoint points’ men, sponsor media needs and above all, get the right not necessarily honest men, to bankroll his needs.
In the quest to actualize one’s political ambition, no money is bad money, no sponsor is a corrupt giver and no supporter is a bad one. Only men like US Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump and may be late Nigerian Business Mogul Moshood Abiola could bankroll their own campaign needs, and damn all consequences.
Unfortunately, Buhari did not fall into that class, so how sure can he be that all monies, channeled towards his ambition was clean and not ill-gotten? How sure is Buhari that some of the support he got from politicians in course of his campaign were not ill-gotten or stolen state funds? How did they amass such wealth?
If a serving governor, not Aliko Dangote, donates as much as N3billion in four trenches, shouldn’t a question  be raised? Could such funds be his or his state’s? Will it be fair to accept such gifts without verifying the source?
But politics is like a Church. Armed robbers and even prostitutes pay tithes. So do coffin makers and mortuary owners. That is why no politician ever summons the courage to question the source of funds he needs badly to fund his ambition. Is it why no former PDP governor now in the ruling APC can ever be considered corrupt, even if, as is repeatedly said, the PDP institutionalized Corruption for 16 years, and many of them, part of eight years?
Does it mean that once a corrupt governor defects to APC his sins are washed clean? Or that no more questions can be raised about his legendary earnings, while, in the PDP and office?
That is why many see Buhari’s attempt to probe election funds, allegedly spent by officials of the last government as very good, as long as the APC will also make public a comprehensive account of its own campaign expenses and donors to the President’s electioneering course, and treasury.
Such a statement must state clearly all donors, contributors and financeers of both the APC as a party and the Presidential elections. It is only that way that skeptics, especially, the international community would see us as serious-minded in the fight against corruption. A crusade that adjudges all of the President’s men as innocent, even if some of them ran their state’s resources aground in preference for political relevance, cannot enjoy the people’s total support.
Even with Buhari’s pedigree and unblemished credibility, many Nigerians don’t see his anti-graft war as a true battle against corruption. The closest it is viewed is vengeance against members of a political party who had denied him the Presidency thrice.
This is not good for a good course like the anti-graft war. It will instead continue to attract comments like Cameron’s, even if not voiced yet, for pecuniary benefits some world leaders hope to make from a country in desperate need of foreign investors.
Even within Nigeria, the word on the street is not different. If Buhari had at least investigated petitions raised by Lagos and Rivers States against their former governors, no matter how helpful they were to the actualization of Buhari’s Presidential ambition, the anti-graft war would have been credible.
For, many believe, if the same accusations had been raised against others, their travails would surely be worse than those of the former National Security Adviser (NSA)Sambo Dasuki. But it does appear, no matter the size of one’s, loot, once defected to the ruling party, all one’s sins are washed clean.
These are perhaps why Cameron, inadvertently voiced what ought to have remained a guarded secret, not necessarily that it’s a lie, by upgrading the present day Nigeria from merely being corrupt to being ‘fantastically’ corrupt.
Viewed from an even broader perspective, there have been actions and inactions under the present Federal administration, that tend to question the sincerity of the crusade.
A vital public document like the 2016 Budget Proposal presented to the joint-session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, disappeared from the Senate and re-appeared with amendments which law-makers called padding. None considered the act an offence. None was punished. And with the signing of the fiscal document into law, that matter is closed. Pronto.
Also, it is nearly a year into the life of the government, and over 2,000 ghost workers have been found. Who has been signing the salaries of the ghosts? What has been done in reprimand?
Another was the reaction of government that bail-out funds granted some states were diverted. Who are those state governors? Are they APC governors or PDP governors? Critics say those names may have remained guarded secret apparently because they may be chieftains of the ruling party.
These  lack of consistency and transparency are what is giving some dent to the credibility of President Buhari, and which every step on the way forces many to question the true definition of corruption. The Commander-In-Chief is either too trusting or bugged down by past goodwill to turn on some of his own, same heat being faced by opposition politicians.
There should be some measure of balance, fairness, objectivity and justice in the daily pursuit of corruption related complaints. If the crusade is to succeed, the Federal Government must not pick and choose which to probe. Every complaint should be considered a possible lead to something concealed.
My Agony is that the antecedents of some politicians being protected by the Federal Government today are like mirror to the international anti graft agencies. It is with such knowledge that our promotion from just corrupt to fantastically corrupt came about. Sadly, Cameron did not say, ‘Nigeria was corrupt’ but ‘Nigeria is fantastically corrupt. That should worry Buhari.

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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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.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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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.

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