BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE (2)

General(Rtd) Olusegun Obasanjo in the letter entitled “Before it is too late”, dated December 2, 2013 said:

BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

I am constrained to make this an open letter to you for a number of reasons. One, the current situation and consequent possible outcome dictate that I should, before the door closes on reason and promotion of national interest, alert you to the danger that may be lurking in the corner.

Two, none of the four or more letters that I have written to you in the past two years or so have elicited an acknowledgement nor any response. Three, people close to you, if not yourself, have been asking, what does Obasanjo want? Four, I could sense a semblance between the situation that we are gradually getting into and the situation we fell into as a nation during the Abacha era. Five, everything must be done to guard, protect and defend our fledgling democracy, nourish it and prevent bloodshed.

Six, we must move away from advertently or inadvertently dividing the country along weak seams of North-South and Christian-Muslim. Seven, nothing should be done to allow the country to degenerate into economic dormancy, stagnation or retrogression. Eight, some of our international friends and development partners are genuinely worried about signs and signals that are coming out of Nigeria.

President Jonathan and Gen. Obasanjo (Rtd)
President Jonathan and Gen. Obasanjo (Rtd)
Nine, Nigeria should be in a position to take advantage of the present favourable international interest to invest in Africa – an opportunity that will not be open for too long. Ten, I am concerned about your legacy and your climb-down which you alone can best be the manager of, whenever you so decide.

Mr President, you have on a number of occasions acknowledged the role God enabled me to play in your ascension to power. You put me third after God and your parents among those that have impacted most on your life. I have always retorted that God only put you where you are and those that could be regarded as having played a role were only instruments of God to achieve God’s purpose in your life.

For me, I believe that politically, it was in the best interest of Nigeria that you, a Nigerian from minority group in the South could rise to the highest pinnacle of political leadership. If Obasanjo could get there, Yar’Adua could get there and Jonathan can get there, any Nigerian can. It is now not a matter of the turn of any section or geographical area but the best interest of Nigeria and all Nigerians.

It has been proved that no group — ethnic, linguistic, religious or geographical location — has monopoly of materials for leadership of our country. And no group solely-by itself can crown any of its members the Nigerian CEO. It is good for Nigeria. I have also always told you that God has graciously been kind, generous, merciful and compassionate to me and He has done more than I could have ever hoped for.

I want nothing from you personally except that you should run the affairs of Nigeria not only to make Nigeria good, but to make Nigeria great for which I have always pleaded with you and I will always do so. And it is yet to be done for most Nigerians to see.

For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsible for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria and in any case most others will hold you responsible and God who put you there will surely hold you responsible, and accountable.

I have had opportunity, in recent times, to interact closely with you and I have come to the conclusion painfully or happily that if you can shun yourself to a great extent of personal and political interests and dwell more on the national interest and also draw the line between advice from selfish and self-centered aides and advice from those who in the interest of the nation may not tell you what you will want to hear, it will be well.

The five positions which you share with nobody except with God and which place great and grave responsibility on you are leadership of the ruling party, headship of the Federal Government or national government, Commander-in-Chief of the Military, Chief Security Officer of the nation, and the political leader of the country. Those positions go with being the President of our country and while depending on your disposition you can delegate or devolve responsibility, but the buck must stop on your table whether you like it or not.

Let me start with the leadership of the ruling party. Many of us were puzzled over what was going on in the party. Most party members blamed the National Chairman. I understand that some in the presidency tried to create the impression that some of us were to blame. The situation became clear only when the National Chairman spoke out that he never did anything or acted in any way without the approval of concurrence of the party leader and that where the party leader disapproved, he made correction or amendment, that we realised most actions were those of the chairman but the motivation and direction were those of the leader.

It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the chairman for all that goes wrong with the party. The Chairman is playing the tune dictated by the Paymaster.

But the Paymaster is acting for a definite purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients. Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me.

And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say that it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honourable path. Although you have not formally informed me one way or the other, it will be necessary to refresh your memory of what transpired in 2011. I had gone to BenueState for the marriage of one of my staff, Vitalis Ortese, in the state. Governor Suswam was my hospitable host. He told me that you had accepted a one-term presidency to allow for ease of getting support across the board in the North. I decided to cross-check with you.

You did not hesitate to confirm to me that you are a strong believer in a one-term of six years for the President and that by the time you have used the unexpired time of your predecessor and the four years of your first term, you would have almost used up six years of your first term and you would not need any more term or time. Later, I heard from other sources including sources close to you that you made the same commitment elsewhere, hence, my inclusion of it in my address at the finale of campaign in 2011 as follows:

“…PDP should be praised for being the only party that enshrines federal character, zoning and rotation in its Constitution and practices it. PDP has brought stability and sustainability to the polity and to the system. I do not know who will be President of Nigeria after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

That is in the hand of God. But with PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from where, in term of section of the country, the successor to President Jonathan will come. And no resort to sentiments and emotions or religion and regionalism is self-serving, unpatriotic and mischievous, to say the least. It is also preying on dangerous emotive issues that can ignite uncontrollable passion and can destabilise, if not destroy our country.

This is being oblivious of the sacrifices others have made in the past for unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria in giving up their lives, shedding their blood, and in going to prison. I personally have done two out of those three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will serve the best interest of Nigerian dream. Let me appeal to those who have embarked on this dangerous road to reflect and desist from taking us on a perishable journey.

With common identity as Nigerians, there is more that binds us than separates us. I am a Nigerian, born a Yoruba man, and I am proud of both identities as they are for me complementary. Our duties, responsibilities and obligations to our country as citizens and, indeed, as leaders must go side by side with our rights and demands. There must be certain values and virtues that must go concomitantly with our dream. Thomas Paine said, ‘’my country is the world’’, for me, my country I hold dear.

On two occasions, I have had opportunity to work for my successors to the government of Nigeria. On both occasions, I never took the easy and destabilising route of ethnic, regional or religious consideration; rather I took the enduring route of national, uniting and stabilising route. I worked for both President Shagari and President Yar’Adua to succeed me not just because they are Moslems, Northerners or Hausa-Fulani, but because they could strengthen the unity, stability and democracy in Nigeria. We incurred the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country. That is in the nature of burden of leadership. A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.

In the present circumstance, let me reiterate what I have said on a number of occasions. Electing Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in his own right and on his own merit, as the president of Nigeria will enhance and strengthen our unity, stability and democracy. And it will lead us towards the achievement of our Nigeria dream.

There is press report that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has already taken a unique and unprecedented step of declaring that he would only want to be a one-term President. If so, whether we know it or not, that is a sacrifice and it is statesmanly. Rather than vilify him and pull him down, we, as a party, should applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him. He has taken the first good step.

Let us encourage him to take more good steps by voting him in with landslide victory as the fourth elected President of Nigeria on the basis of our common Nigerian identity and for the purpose of actualising Nigerian dream…”

When you won the election, one of the issues you very early pursued was that of one term of six years. That convinced me that you meant what you told me before my speech at the campaign. Mr President, whatever may be your intention or plan, I cannot comment much on the constitutional aspect of your second term or what some people call third term. That is for both legal and judicial attention.

But if constitutionally you are on a strong wicket if you so decide, it will be fatally morally flawed. As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character. I will want to see anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character.

I will respect you for upholding these attributes and for dignifying that Office. Chinua Achebe said, “one of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” It is a lesson for all leaders including you and me. However, Mr President, let me hope that as you claimed that you have not told anybody that you are contesting and that what we see and hear is a rumbling of overzealous aides, you will remain a leader that can be believed and trusted without unduly passing the buck or engaging in game of denials.

Maybe you also need to know that many party members feel disappointed in the double game you were alleged to play in support of party gubernatorial candidates in some states where you surreptitiously supported non-PDP candidates against PDP candidates in exchange for promise or act of those non-PDP governors supporting you for your election in the past or for the one that you are yet to formally declare.

It happened in Lagos in 2011 when Bola Tinubu was nocturnally brought to Abuja to strike a deal to support your personal election at great price materially and in the fortune of PDP gubernatorial candidate. As chairman of BOT, I spoke to you at that time. It happened in OndoState where there was in addition evidence of cover-up and non-prosecution of fraud of fake security report against the non-PDP candidate and his collaborators for the purpose of extracting personal electoral advantage for you. In fact, I have raised with you the story of those in other states in the South-West where some disgruntled PDP members were going around to recruit people into the Labour party for you, because, for electoral purpose at the national level, Labour Party will have no candidate but you.

It also happened in EdoState and those who know the detail never stopped talking about it and you know it. Ditto in AnambraState with the fiasco coming from undue interference. If you as the leader of the Party cannot be seen to be loyal to the PDP in support of the candidates of the party and the interests of such party candidates have to be sacrificed on the alter of your personal and political interest, then good luck to the party and I will also say that I have had occasions to say in the past, Goodluck to Goodluck. If on the altar of the party you go for broke, the party may be broken beyond repairs.

And then when in a dispute between two sides, they both stubbornly decide to fight to the last drop of blood, no one knows whose blood would be the last to drop. In such a situation, Nigeria as a nation may also be adversely affected, not just PDP. I wish to see no more blood shed occasioned by politics in Nigeria.

Please Mr. President be mindful of that. You were exemplary in words when during your campaign in the 2011 elections, you said “My election is not worth spilling blood of any Nigerian.” From you it should not be if it has to be, let it be. It should be from you, let peace, security, harmony, good governance, development and progress for Nigeria. That is also your responsibility and mandate. You can do it again and I plead that you do it. We all have to be mindful of not securing pyrrhic victory on the ashes of great values, attributes and issues that matter as it would amount to hollow victory without honour and integrity.

Whatever may be the feud in PDP and no matter what you or your aides may feel, you as the leader of the party, have the responsibility to find solution, resolve and fix it. Your legacy is involved. If PDP as a ruling party collapses, it will be the first time in an independent Nigeria that a ruling party would collapse not as a result of a military coup. It is food for thought.

At the prompting of governors on both sides of the divide, and on encouragement from you, I spent two nights to intervene in the dispute of PDP governors. I kept you fully briefed at a every stage. I deliberately chose Banquet Hall at the Villa to ensure transparency.

Your aides studied all the recordings of the two nights but I told you at the end of the exercise that I observed five reactions among the Governors that required your immediate attention as you are the only one from the vantage point of your five positions that could deal effectively with the five reactions which were bitterness, anger, mistrust, fear and deep suspicion. I could only hope that you made efforts to deal with these unpleasant reactions.

The feud leading to the factionalisation of the Party made me to invite some select elders of the Party to mediate again. Since I was engaged in assignment outside the country, I was not able to join the three members of the elders group that presented the report of our mediation to you. I was briefed that you agreed to work on the report. It would appear that for now, the ball is in your court as the leader of the party.

I can only wish you every success in your handling of the issue. But time is not your friend nor that of the Party in this respect. With leadership come not just power and authority to do and undo, but also responsibility and accountability to do and to undo rightly, well and justly. Time and opportunity are treasure that must be appreciated and shared to enhance their value and utilitarianism.

It is instructive that after half a dozen African Presidents have spoken to me to help you with unifying the Party based on your request to them and I came in company of Senator Ahmadu Ali to discuss the whole issue with you again, strangely, you denied ever requesting or authorising any President to talk to me.

I was not surprised because I am used to such a situation of denial coming from you. Of course, I was not deterred. I have done and I will continue to do and say what is first, in the best interest of Nigeria and second, what is in the best interest of the Party. I stand for the aims, objectives, mission and vision of the founding fathers of the Party, to use it as a wholesome instrument of unity, good governance, development, prosperity and progress of Nigeria and all Nigerians.

I have contributed to this goal in the past and no one who has been raised to position on the platform of the Party should shy away from further contribution to avoid division and destruction of the Party on any altar whatsoever.

Debates and dialogues are necessary to promote the interest and work for the progress of any human institution or organisation.

In such a situation, agreements and disagreements will occur but in the final analysis, leadership will pursue the course of action that benefit the majority and serve the purpose of the organisation, not the purpose of an individual or a minority. In the process, unity is sustained and everybody becomes a winner.

The so-called crisis in the PDP can be turned to an opportunity of unity, mutual understanding and respect with the Party emerging with enhanced strength and victory. It will be a win-win for all members of the Party and for the country. By that, PDP would have proved that it could have internal disagreement and emerge stronger. The calamity of failure can still be avoided. Please, move away from fringes or the extremes and move to the centre and carry ALL along. Time is running out.

I will only state that as far as your responsibility as Chief Security Officer of the nation is concerned for Nigerians, a lot more needs to be done to enhance the feeling of security amongst them.

Whether one talks of the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, the underlying causes of which have not been adequately addressed, if addressed at all, kidnapping, piracy and abductions and armed robberies which rather than abate are on the increase and Boko Haram which requires carrot and stick approach to lay its ghost to rest, the general security situation cannot be described as comforting.

Knowing the genesis of Boko Haram and the reasons for escalation of violence from that sector with the widespread and ramification of the menace of Boko Haram within and outside the Nigerian borders, conventional military actions based on standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram.

There are many strands or layers of causes that require different solutions, approaches or antidotes. Drug, indoctrination, fundamentalism, gun trafficking, hate culture, human trafficking, money laundering, religion, poverty, unemployment, poor education, revenge and international terrorism are among factors that have effect on Boko Haram. One single prescription cannot cure all these ailments that combine in Boko Haram.

Should we pursue war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence and applying solutions to deal with all underlying factors such as root, stem and branches? Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped. I am convinced that you can initiate measures that will bring all hands on deck to deal effectively with this great menace.

Mr. President, the most important qualification for your present position is your being a Nigerian. Whatever else you may be besides being a Nigerian is only secondary for this purpose.

And if majority of Nigerians who voted had not cast their votes for you, you could not have been there. For you to allow yourself to be “possessed”, so to say, to the exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an ‘Ijaw man’ is a mistake that should have never been allowed to happen. Yes, you have to be born in one part of Nigeria to be a Nigerian if not naturalized but the Nigerian President must be above ethnic factionalism. And those who prop you up as of, and for ‘Ijaw nation’ are not your friends genuinely, not friends of Nigeria nor friends of ‘Ijaw nation’ they tout about.

To allow or tacitly encourage people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults on other Nigerians from other parts of the country and threaten fire and brimstone to protect your interest as an Ijaw man is myopic and your openly quieting them is even more unfortunate. You know that I have expressed my views and feelings to you on this issue in the past but I have come to realize that many others feel the way I have earlier expressed to you.

It is not the best way of making friends among all sections of Nigeria. You don’t have shared and wholesome society without inclusive political, economic and social sustainable development and good governance. Also declaring that one section of the country voted for you as if you got no votes from other sections can only be an unnecessary talk, to put it mildly. After all and at the end of the day, democracy is a game of numbers. Even if you would not need people’s votes across the country again, your political party will.

Allegation of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, it cannot augur well for the nation, the government and the people of Nigeria.

Here again, there is the lesson of history to learn for anybody who cares to learn from history. Mr. President would always remember that he was elected to maintain security for all Nigerians and protect them. And no one should prepare to kill or main Nigerians for personal or political ambition or interest of anyone. The Yoruba adage says, “The man with whose head coconut is broken may not live to savour the taste of the succulent fruit.”

Those who advise you to go hard on those who oppose you are your worst enemies. Democratic politics admits and is permissive of supporters and opponents. When the consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there to help carry the can. Egypt must teach some lesson.

Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of the victims. Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he did for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch.

As Head of Government, the buck of the performance and non-performance stops on your table and let nobody tell you anything to the contrary.

Most of our friends and development partners are worried and they see what we pretend to cover up. They are worried about issue of security internally and on our coastal waters including heavy oil theft , alias bunkering and piracy.

They are worried about corruption and what we are doing or not doing about it. Corruption has reached the level of impunity. It is also necessary to be mindful that corruption and injustice are fertile breeding grounds for terrorism and political instability. And if you are not ready to name, shame, prosecute and stoutly fight against corruption, whatever you do will be hollow. It will be a laughing matter. They are worried about how we play our role in our region and indeed in the world. In a way, I share some of the their concerns because there are notable areas we can do more or do better than we are doing.

Some of our development partners were politically frustrated to withdraw from Olokola LNG project, which happily was not the same with Brass. I initiated them both. They were viable and would have taken us closer to Qatar as LNG producing country.

Please do not frustrate Brass LNG and in the interest of what is being best for Nigerian economy, bring back OK LNG into active implementation.

The major international oil companies have withheld investment in the projects in Nigeria. If they have not completely moved out, they are divesting. Nigeria which is the Saudi of Africa in oil and gas terms is being taken over by Angola only because necessary decisions are not made timely and appropriately. Mr. President, let me again plead with you to be decisive on the oil and gas sector so that Nigeria may not lag behind.

Oil with gas is being discovered all over Africa. New technology is producing oil from shale elsewhere. We should make hay while the sun shines. I hope we can save OK and Brass LNG projects. Three things are imperative in the oil and gas sector — stop oil stealing, encourage investment especially by the IOC’s and improve the present poor management of the industry. On the economy generally, it suffices to say that we could do better than we are doing. The signs are there and the expectations are high. The most dangerous ticking bomb is youth unemployment particularly in the face of unbridled corruption and obscene rulers’ opulence.

Let me repeat that as far as the issue of corruption, security and oil stealing is concerned, it is only apt to say that when the guard becomes the thief, nothing is safe, secure or protected in the house. We must all remember that corruption, inequity and injustice bread poverty, unemployment, conflict, violence and wittingly or unwittingly create terrorists because the opulence of the governor can only lead to the leanness of the governed. But God never sleeps. He is watching, waiting and bidding his time to dispense justice.

The serious and strong allegation of non-remitting of about $7 billion from NNPC to Central Bank occurring from export of some 300,000 barrels per day, amounting to $900 million a month, to be refined and with refined products of only $400 million returned and Atlantic Oil loading about 130,000 barrels sold by Shell and managed on behalf of NPDC with no sale proceeds paid into NPDC account is incredible.

The allegation was buttressed by the letter of Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria to you on non-remittance to Central Bank. This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators. Please deal with allegation transparently and let the truth be known.

The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for will one day be public-knowledge. Those who know are watching if National Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime and naked grand corruption. May God grant you the grace for at least one effective corrective action against high corruption which seems to shrink all around you in your government.

The international community knows us as we are and may be more than we claim to know ourselves. And a good friend will tell you the truth no matter how bitter.

Denials and cover-up of what is obvious, true and factual can detract from honour, dignity and respect. Truth and transparency dignity and earn respect. And life without passion for something can only achieve little. I was taken aback when an African Development Bank director informed me that the water project for Port-Harcourt, originally initiated by the Federal Government to be financed by the bank, is being put in the cooler by the Federal Government since the Amaechi-Jonathan face-off.

Amaechi, whether he likes it or not, will cease to be governor over RiversState which Port-Harcourt is part by the end of May 2015, but residents of Port-Harcourt will continue to need improvement of their water supply. President Jonathan should rise above such pettiness and unpresidential act, if it is coming from him.

But if not, and it is the action of overzealous officials reading the situation, he should give appropriate instruction for the project to be pursued. And if there are other projects anywhere suffering the same coolness as a result of similar situation, let national interest supercede personal or political feud and the machinations of satanic officials.

Mr. President, let me plead with you for a few things that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. Don’t always consider critics on national issues as enemies. Some of them may be as patriotic and nationalistic as you and I who had been in government. Some of them have as mush passion for Nigeria as we have.

I saw that among Nigerians living abroad, hence, initiate Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, NIDO. You must also differentiate between malevolent, mischievous and objective criticism. Analyses, criticism and commentators on government actions and policies are sinew of democracy. Please, Mr. President be very wary of assistants, aides and collaborators who look for enemies for you. I have seen them with you and some were around me when I was in your position. I knew how not to allow them create enemies for me. If you allow them, everybody except them will be your enemy. They are dangerous than identified adversaries.

May God save leaders from sycophants. They know what you want to hear and they feed you with it essentially for their own selfish interest. As far as you and Nigeria are concerned, they are wreckers. Where were they when God used others to achieve God’s will in your life? They possess you now for their interest.

No interest should be higher or more important than Nigerian interest to you. You have already made history and please do nothing to mar history. I supported you as I supported Yar’ Adua. For me, there is neither North-South divide nor Christian-Moslem divide but one Nigeria.

Let me put it, that talks, loose and serious, abound about possible abuse and misuse of the military and the legitimate security apparatus for unwholesome personal and political interest to the detriment of the honour, dignity, oath and professionalism of these honourable and patriotic forces. Let me urge the authorities not to embark on such destructive path for important element of our national make-up. The roles of the military and the security agencies should be held sacrosanct in the best interest of the nation. Again, let not history repeat itself here.

I believe that with what Nigeria has gone through in the past, the worst should have already happened. It must be your responsibility as the captain of the ship to prevent the ship from going aground or from shipwreck. For anybody close to you saying that if the worst happens, he or she would not be involved is an idle or loose talk.

If we leave God to do His will and we don’t rely only on our own efforts, plans and wisdom, God will always do his best. As I go round Nigeria and the world, I always come across Nigerians who are first-class citizens of the world and who are doing well where they are and who are passionate to do well for Nigeria. My hope for our country lies in these people. They abound and I hope that all of us will realize that they the jewels of Nigeria wherever they may be and not those who arrogate to themselves eternal for ephemeral.

Also, to my embarrassment at times, I learned more about what is going on in the public and private sectors of Nigeria from our development partners, international institutions and those transacting business in Nigeria most times I was abroad. On returning home to verify the veracity of these stories, I found some of them not only to be true but more horrifying than they were presented abroad. Other countries look up to Nigeria for regional leadership. Failure on the part of Nigeria will create a schism that will be bad for the region.

Knowing what happens around you most of which you know of and condone or deny, this letter will provoke cacophony from hired and unhired attackers but I will maintain my serenity because by this letter, I have done my duty to you as I have always done, to your government, to the party, PDP, and to our country Nigeria.

If I stuck out my neck and God used me and others as instruments to work hard for you to reach where you are today in what I considered the best political interest of Nigeria, tagging me as your enemy or the enemy of your administration by you, your kin or your aides can only be regarded as ridiculous to extreme. If I see any danger to your life, I will point it out to you or ward it off as I have done in the past. But I will not support what I believe is not in the best interest of Nigeria, no matter who is putting it forward or who is behind it.

Mr. President, I have passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened, induced or bought. I am never afraid to agree or disagree but it will always be on principles, and if on politics, in the national interest. After my prison experience in the close proximity of and sharing facilities with an asylum in Yola, there is nothing worse for anyone alive and well. And that was for a military dictator to perpetuate himself in power. Death is the end of all human beings and may it come when God wills it to come.

The harassment of my relations and friends and innuendo that are coming from the Government security apparatus on whether they belong to new PDP or supporters of defected Governors and which are possibly authorized or are the work of overzealous aides and those reading your lips to act in your interest will be counter-productive.

It is abuse of security apparatus. Such abuse took place last in the time of Abacha. Lies and untruths about me emanating from the presidency is too absurd to contemplate. Saying that I recommended a wanted criminal by UK and USA authorities to you or your aides to supplant legitimately elected PDP leader in South-West is not only unwise and crude but also disingenuous. Nobody in his or her right senses will believe such a story and surely nobody in OgunState or South-West zone will believe such nonsense. It is a clear indication of how unscrupulous and unethical the presidency can go to pursue your personal and political interest. Nothing else matters. What a pity!

Nothing at this stage of my life would prevent me from standing for whatever I consider to be the best interest of Nigeria – all Nigeria, Africa and the world in that order.

I believe strongly that a united and strong PDP at all costs is in the best interest of Nigeria. In these respects, if our interests and views coincide, together we will match. Putting a certified unashamed criminal wanted abroad to face justice and who has greatly contributed to corruption within the judiciary on a high profile of politics as you and your aides have done with the man you have enthroned as PDP zonal leader in the South-West is the height of disservice to this country politically and height of insult to the people of the South-West in general and members of the PDP in that zone in particular.

For me, my politics goes with principles and morality and I will not be a party to highly profiling criminals in politics, not to say one would be my zonal leader. It destroys what PDP stands for from inception. By the government not acting positively and promptly in the case of Kashamu wanted in the US for drug trafficking and money laundering crimes, it is only confirming the persistent reports of complicity or involvement of high-level political figures in drug trafficking and condonation of the crime for political benefit. Whichever way, it is a very dangerous development for Nigeria.

Sooner than later, drug barons will be in control of large real estates, banks and other seemingly legitimate businesses, in elections, they will buy candidates, parties and eventually buy power or be in power themselves. It may be instructive if I quote fairly extensively from Lansana Gberie’s recent paper titled, ‘State Officials and Their Involvement in Drug Trafficking in West Africa’:

“…The controversial and puzzling case of Buruji Kashamu, a powerful figure in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), suggests that a successful and wealthy politician’s association with drug trafficking is hardly disabling. Kashamu was indicted by a grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois in 1998 for conspiracy to import and distribute heroin to the United States. The indictment named him under his own name as well as two suspect aliases: ‘Alhaji’ and ‘Kasmal’. His whereabouts were unknown at the time, however, and his co-accused were tried and convicted.

Later that year, he was found living comfortably in England, and, on receipt of an extradition request from the US, the UK arrested Kashamu. After a very protracted proceeding lasting until 2003, however, an English judge refused to extradite Kashamu on grounds of uncertainty about his true identity.Kashamu triumphantly returned to Nigeria and soon after became a key political figure.

He is now believed to be very close to President Goodluck Jonathan, because of his ability to mobilize votes in key states in Western Nigeria. The US government reviewed Kashamu’s case, with the famous Judge Richard Posner presiding. Posner concluded that while Kashamu’s identity remains murky, there is little doubt that the figure now exercising authority in Nigeria’s PDP is the same as Kashamu the ‘Alhaji’ who was indicted for conspiracy to smuggle illicit drugs into the United States.

Despite this, Nigeria’s government has persistently ignored calls by civil society groups to investigate Kashamu and extradite him to the U.S. On 2 July, 2013, the Federal High Court in Lagos determined that Kashamu should be extradited to the U.S. Kashamu immediately appealed against this decision, yet in November 2013, a new panel of judges constituted by the President of the Court of appeal unanimously held that his appeal lacked merit, and that Kashamu should be extradited. His extradition to the United States will certainly set an important precedent …unless of course, he uses his political skills and contacts to continue avoiding it…”

God is not a supporter of evil and will surely save PDP and Nigeria from the hands of destroyers. If everything fails and the Party cannot be retrieved from the hands of criminals and commercial jobbers and discredited touts, men and women of honour, principles, morality and integrity must step aside to think.

Let me also appeal to and urge defected, dissatisfied, disgruntled and in any way displeased PDP governors, legislators, party officials and party members to respond positively if the President seriously takes the initiative to find mutually agreeable solution to the current problem for which he alone has the key and the initiative. I have heard it said particularly within the Presidency circle that the disaffected Governors and members of PDP are my children.

I begin to wonder if, from top to bottom, any PDP member in an elective office today is not directly or indirectly a beneficiary, and so to say, my political child. Anyone who may claim otherwise will be like a river that has forgotten its source. But like a good father, all I seek is peaceful and amicable solution that will re-unite the family for victory and progress of the family and the nation and nothing else.

In a democracy, leaders are elected to lighten the burden of the people, give them freedom, choice and equity and ensure good governance and not deceive them, burden them, oppress them render them hopeless and helpless. Nothing should be done to undermine the tenets, and values of democratic principles and practice. Tyranny in all its manifestation may be appealing to a leader in trying times of political feud or disagreement. Democracy must, however, prevail and be held as sacrosanct. Today, you are the President of Nigeria, I acknowledge you and respect you as such.

The act of an individual has a way of rubbing off on the generality. May it never be the wish of the majority of Nigerians that Goodluck Jonathan, by his acts of omission or commission, would be the first and last Nigerian President ever to come from Ijaw tribe. The idea and possibility must give us all food for thought. That was never what I worked for and that would never be what I work for. But legacy is made of such or the opposite.

My last piece of advice, Mr. President, is that you should learn the lesson of history and please do not take Nigerians or Nigeria for granted. Move away from culture of denials, cover-ups, and proxies and deal honestly, sincerely and transparently with Nigerians to regain their trust and confidence.

Nigerians are no fools, they can see, they can hear, they can talk amongst themselves, they can think, they can compare and they can act in the interest of their country and in their own self interest. They keenly watch all actions and deeds that are associated with you if they cannot believe your words. I know you have the power to save PDP and the country.

I beg you to have the courage and the will with patriotism to use the power for the good of the country. Please uphold some form of national core values. I will appeal to all Nigerians particularly all members of PDP to respect and dignify the office of the President. We must all know that individuals will come and go but the office will remain.

Once again, time is of the essence. Investors are already retreating from Nigeria, adopting ‘wait and see attitude’ and knowing what we are deficient of, and it will take time to reverse the trend and we may miss some golden opportunities.

Finally, your latter-day conversion into National Conference is fraught with danger of disunity, confusion and chaos if not well handled. I believe in debate and dialogue but it must be purposeful, directed and managed well without ulterior motives. This ovation has not died out yet and there is always life after a decent descent.

Accept, Dear Mr President, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours sincerely.Olusegun Obasanjo

P.S. I crave your indulgence to share the contents of this letter, in the first instance, with General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who, on a number of occasions in recent times, have shared with me their agonising thoughts, concerns and expressions on most of the issues I have raised in this letter concerning the situation and future of our country.

I also, crave your indulgence to share the contents with General Yakubu Danjuma and Dr Alex Ekwueme, whose concerns for and commitments for good of Nigeria have been known to be strong. The limit of sharing of the contents may be extended as time goes on.

Olusegun Obasanjo Jonathan replies

Last night, President Jonathan in a response articulated by his media adviser, Dr. Abati said:

OBASANJO’S LETTER UNBECOMING, SELF-SERVING AND HIGHLY PROVOCATIVE

“We have noted the publication on several websites today of a letter recently written by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

“The Presidency acknowledges that it has indeed received the said letter from Chief Obasanjo.

“We however find it highly unbecoming, mischievous and provocative that a letter written by a former Head of State and respected elder statesman to President Jonathan has been deliberately leaked to the mass media in a deplorable effort to impugn the integrity of the President and denigrate his commitment to giving Nigeria the best possible leadership.

“While many patriotic, objective and well-meaning Nigerians have already condemned the leaked letter as self-serving, hypocritical, malicious, indecent, and very disrespectful of the highest office in the land, President Jonathan has directed that none of his aides or any government official should join issues with Chief Obasanjo over it.

“The President himself will, at the appropriate time, offer a full personal response to the most reckless, baseless, unjustifiable and indecorous charges levied against him and his administration by the former Head of State.”

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Yoruba vs Ibo Toxic War of Words.

Most regular readers of Posts, blogs and commentaries on face-book, will no doubt have been bordered by unwarranted toxic war of words on tribal abuses hurled on one another by the two major ethnic tribes located adjacent to each other in Nigeria. One group on the South-Western end and the other on the South-Eastern part of the Country. A lot of readers have expressed their outrage, shocked and disappointment on the content and level of toxic utterances by these seemingly in-matured individuals who bottled animosity, hate and prejudice against their fellow men and women barely separated by thin line of each other. We at imatchadvocate org, are sicken and ashamed by these two ethnic ire-dentist tribal jingoists posting such disrespectful tribal slurs on various time-line and forums on the face book.

Most matured readers of these uncomplimentary posts are daily offended by the level of deep seated unwarranted hatred and abuses sporadically heaped to a whole member of ethnic group different from the other on account of differences in dialect; even-though each of these two groups are barely separated by distance of about 400-500 miles East -West of the other on administrative State of origin.

The above acts are not only done in bad taste, it tells a lot on the personal character of the writers who engaged in such a disgusting posts and behavior. It portrays nothing but narrow mindedness. In the first place, neither of these tribal writers were mandated by any group to represent them. These loquacious writers commits their outrageous incivility like Soldiers of fortune. The irony of the matter is some of these writers reside outside their own tribal enclave. Some even live in Europe and North America or Asia amongst members of multicultural, nation States or multinationals. You wonder why they never learn any lesson about human behavior.

While I do not want to wade into tribal war of words between Yoruba and Igloo tribes of Nigeria, I am impelled to appeal to the two Waring factions to drop their machetes, or ammunition before reaching the nuclear option. What these war of words portends for the nation have over reaching consequences. These Soldiers of ‘fortune’ ever wonder, why are their nationals defy law of good behavior when they migrate to other parts of the World, be it in Europe, America, South Africa, or Asian nations etc?

We hereby like to appeal to the above two warring factions to eschew bitterness for the sake of humanity. Our God given energy can be better deployed for the greatest ‘goods’ of the ‘greatest’ number for their fellow men and women. Let us use our talents, power of words, inspiration to help pull our fellow tribes men and women out of their present social economic predicament. Poverty in the midst of Riches. Nigerian rulers have turn themselves to Emperors of pre-industrial revolution of the 7th-10th era in Europe. An estimated Seventy per cent of Nigerian People are still living below human standard in this age. This is shame to all us as member of African race.

We need to share inspiration from World great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Pandit Nehru, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafa Balewa, Kaduna Nzegwu, Murtalah Mohamed, as well as so many great World and African leaders too numerous to mention. It is time to be proactive in political and social-economic development of our fellow human beings.

If Nelson Mandela can forgive White South Africans who oppressed, degraded and killed Black Africans in their own Country including sentencing Mandela to life imprisonment for daring to fight for his fellow Men and Women. Why can’t we all forgive one another? Why don’t everyone get along? Forgive and forget whatever happen in Past. Let us face the future.

God bless.
Imatchadvocate.org
Fatai Deji Animashaun.

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Tribute To Nelson Mandela.

Tribute

Tribute


The passing away of Nelson Mandela is a loss to the entire human race. He is an icon of Freedom and emancipation of oppressed People from the clutches of oppression and human degradation. He rose from twenty seven plus years of imprisonment for his conviction and self-determination to stand up for the emancipation of his ‘People’ from the economic and political shackles of oppression. He was a great political activist. He organized revolt against the minority government under the apartheid policy passed into Law in 1948. Hew was arrested, tried and sent to Prison for life. His People continued with the struggle, demanded for majority rule which became a Watershed in the history of south Africa.

Nelson Mandela, Vanguard of resistance and struggle toward majority rule in South Africa, eventually yielded successful result. He transitioned from Prison to the office of the President of an embittered and deeply divided South Africa, in Post majority rule. He subdued and eradicated apartheid system in the nation. As a pragmatic leader, he established national reconciliation for Peace, Human dignity, fairness and all embracing Nation building for South Africans as an emerging modern progressive nation. Nelson Mandela as the new leader eschewed bitterness in his new role as President. He became a leading example for the rest of humanity. He was endowed with a deep sense of humility and inspiration as a transient World leader. A great Patriot.

Nelson Mandela lifted his Country from implicit oppression, Servitude and human degradation of multifarious groups turn by racial, tribal and economic deprivation for over hundred of years. He reformed and transform his nation to a united, prosperous, fast growing and developing great nation where Whites, tribal groups of Africans, Asians and other nationalities were united under the spirit of one united nation bind by diversity in unity for every men and women in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela legacy of inspiration is worthy of emulation by other African leaders in their nations building as well as the whole wide World in general. The legacy to the World is that this is a lesson in leadership of international development. He is a great Patriot. He started his struggle for moving his Country forward right from the period when he organized uprising against the minority government till the period of assumption as the Presidency of his nation.

He exudes enduring patience, perseverance, and an aura of politics without bitterness. His legacy will live on. It is an understatement to refer to him as a legendary leader.

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Go Quietly en-mass or Else.


African political Actors/Operators, otherwise, widely but erroneously referred to as 'Political Leaders' as constituted, are made up of People with colonial mentality of pre-independence era. As an astute follower of African history and political scene of the past several decades, I have witnessed a seeming cobweb of entanglement of conflicting juxtaposition of barren infliction of idea and mentality of these most African political Actors and Operators. These technocrats make social, economic, political decision-making so slow, awkward and clumsy. The result is detrimental to over all progress of their People.

An observation of the political terrain of African political Actors/Operators, otherwise erroneously referred to as 'Political Leaders' as constituted, are made up of People with colonial mentality of pre-independence era. As an astute history and African political scene in the past several decades, I have witnessed the cobweb of entangled, conflicting half baked to barren of idea and mentality of the so called African leaders. Often, saddled with the major responsibility of decision-making for the majority of the People.

No wonder, decision-making is so slow, awkward and clumsy. Most nations south of the sub-Sahara, like Nigeria, will reveal poor, uneconomic, awkward decision-making process for the Country. It is no wonder why the nations take one step forward while simultaneously take two steps backward. It is no wonder why government and governance for most African nations are not socially and economically moving forward laterally. The citizens in the Countries, such as Nigeria endure and lives with infrastructural deficient facilities such as roads, electricity supply, lack of healthcare delivery, inadequate educational system at primary, secondary and Tertiary levels, huge unemployment and lack of opportunities for youths, men and women.

In addition to the above, the pandemic of institutionalized corruption at every level of government. Nigeria rated 118 out of 126 countries, is making African nationals disappointment over their life existence. Accordingly, the opinion pool of majority of Citizens survey in the sub Sahara nations, showed that the People are feed-up with being led and misruled by conglomeration of backward thinkers and vision less political Actors/Operators erroneously being classified as 'leaders'. These generic leaders have failed to use commonsense in National Planing of their respective Nations.

The Founding Fathers of Independence in sub African regions such as Kweme Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Jomo Kenyata etc have vision and hardship confronting the Citizens in their respective Countries. They all did their best solve the social and economic problems of their citizens with limited resource at short span of time of their reign.

Hitherto, the subsequent leaders in the sub Saharan Africa, except of handful of head of state like Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Nelson Mandela etc.

Political Actors/Aperators in a place like Nigeria behave like emperor, regard the ruled as peasants that contribute revenues toward opulent living of the government functionaries. Corruption is proactively encouraged by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branch of government.

It is almost impossible to have progress in African nations because the different ethnic, religious, and geographical congruous sections are polarized. The rulers tend to benefit from the situation.

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EFCC arrests Nigeria Premier League boss

Davison_Owumi

Davison Owumi Gets Arrested

EFCC arrests Nigeria Premier League boss

Author: Tunde Eludini

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arrested Davidson Owumi, Chairman of the Nigeria Premier League board, over allegations of corrupt practices while he was in charge at Rangers International Football Club, Enugu.

Owumi was picked up from the NPL’s board meeting in Abuja and will be taken to Enugu today to respond to a petition filed by Ray Nnaji, a former member of the board of the NPL.

Femi Babafemi, Public Relations Officer of the EFFC, said the inability to get a flight to Enugu led to the delay in taking Owumi there yesterday.

“I can confirm that he was arrested and it is for cases of fraud and award of fictitious contract,” Babafemi said.

When asked if Owumi committed the alleged fraud as chairman of Premier League Club, Rangers International or as a member of the former NPL board headed by Oyuiki Obaseki, Babafemi said: “It cuts across board but more of Rangers because the case is being handled by our Enugu office”.

Not guilty

Initial efforts to get Owumi to comment on the matter were unsuccessful but the NPL Chairman was later quoted by SuperSports.com, a sports news website, to have said he is innocent of the allegations against him.

“I don’t have anything to hide. I am open to any probe. I have heard people say I used money from Enugu Rangers to build my house and I laugh at that because the records are there. Also, I can say I have not got any contract from government or anywhere,” he said.

Foster Chime, the Media Officer of Rangers, said he was surprised by the development noting that the arrest could not have been as a result of Owumi’s activities in Rangers.

“Rangers is owned and run by the Enugu State government and so any issue of misappropriation or foul play should be pointed out by them, which for now has not been done. Even Owumi has left the club for quite a while so I wonder why now,” he said.

However Babefemi said the commission need not wait for the Enugu Sate government before it acts.

According to him, once sufficient information is received on any corrupt practise, the EFFC can swing to action.

More in the net

Owumi’s current travail is the latest instalment in a short tenure pockmarked by controversy since being elected earlier this year.

He joins the list of football officials being investigated by the EFFC. Sani Lulu, former President of the Nigeria Football Federation along with former vice-president, Amanze Uchegbulam; Taiwo Ogunjobi, former head of the federation’s technical committee; and Bolaji Ojo-Oba, its former Secretary General are also answering charges of corruption and abuse of office while they were in charge of the Nigeria FA.

The EFCC has also waded into the cash-for-vote allegations brought against FIFA executive Amos Adamu by setting up a panel to investigate the matter.

The new NPL season is expected to kick off on Saturday after several postponements and it is not clear whether the latest development will have any impact on it.

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PRESS RELEASE:N5.2B REA Fraud; You Have A Case To Answer, Court Tells Ugbane

Author: Femi Babafemi, Head, Media & Publicity |

Hard-fighting former Senate committee chairman on power, Senator Nicholas Ugbane on Monday November 1st, lost a major bid to quash the amended 65 count charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as an Appeal Court sitting in Abuja dismissed his suit seeking to quash the case against him. Ugbane filed an application before Justice Jimi Olukayode Bada claiming that, as a serving Senator with the privilege of immunity, the EFCC’s charges against him were ineffectual and could not establish a prima facie case against him.

However, in a landmark ruling, Justice Bada knocked the bottom off Ugbane’s claims, saying that “the proof of evidence and material submitted at the lower court proves beyond reasonable doubt that there is a prima facie case against the accused person”. On the alibi of immunity, Justice Bada said that Ugbane had “no immunity whatsoever to stop the EFCC from discharging its statutory mandate as enshrined in the Act establishing the EFCC.” On the strength of all these, the judge affirmed that Ugbane had a case to answer and directed him to go back to the lower court and face trial.

Senator Nicholas Ugbane is standing trial along side former House Committee Chairman on Power, Ndudi Elumelu and one other lawmaker, Hon Jibo Mohammed before Justice Abimbola Banjoko of the FCT High Court on a sixty five (65) count amended charges, bordering on misappropriation of funds, abuse of office and conversion of money for personal use. They were specifically docked for the misappropriation of the N5.2 billion Rural Electrification Agency fund, a charge that swirled public opinion against them.

They were originally arraigned along six others on Friday 30th October, 2009 on a 130 count charge. The charges were separated thus: the three lawmakers among them were originally and jointly facing a 65 count charge while the other six accused are jointly facing a 68 count charge. The three lawmakers are: Hon. Godwin Ndudi Elumelu, Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane and Hon. Jibo Mohammed. The other accused are Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, Simon Kirdi Nanle, Engr. However, in an apparent move to throw boulders in the trial, Ugbane unilaterally filed an application before a Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja seeking to quash all the 65 amended charges preferred against him .He also sought the invocation of the immunity clause to put paid to the trial.

Femi Babafemi

Head, Media & Publicity

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Press Statement on the Recent Sacking at the NSE

Author: Festus Keyamo

On Thursday, 5th August 2010, the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh, and some of her senior staff, leading about 150

keyamo

heavily armed security personnel (members of Mobile Police Unit of The Nigeria Police Force and the State Security Services {SSS}), invaded the premises of The Nigerian Stock Exchange in military Commando fashion and through brute force usurped the powers of the Council and Management of The Exchange. As we speak, there is still a detachment of these security agencies stationed inside the offices of The Exchange

According to SEC, this unprecedented and unlawful intervention in the Council and Management of The Nigerian Stock Exchange (private sector institution) was in response to alleged and unfounded issues such as:

- “Inadequate oversight of The Exchange”

- “Ongoing litigation”

- “Allegations of financial mismanagement”

- “Governance challenges”, and

- “Inordinate delays in the implementation of management succession”

We shall look at these issues in some detail later, as I intend to proceed to the immediate reason for calling this press conference.

2. SELECTIVE AND PERNICIOUS DISENGAGEMENT OF STAFF

The intervention of the SEC in the governance of The Stock Exchange has had dire impact on persons and institutions involved in the operations of The Exchange and its market. As to be expected in the current governance miasma at The Exchange, on 26th August 2010, the Sole Administrator, Mr. Emmanuel Ikhazobor, without due process, sacked 32.5% of the workforce of The Exchange in an exercise he described as “rightsizing” of the workforce, but which in fact was an exercise in witch-hunting and an initiative to forestall possible opposition to a grand design by a ‘cabal’ to take over the ownership and management of The Exchange for personal gains, as opposed to all the pretence about ‘serving public interest’.

The so-called right-sizing was without any consideration and approval by the Finance and General Purpose Committee of Council, which has responsibility for all staff matters. Significantly, even the Council that was purportedly reconstituted by SEC that was said to have approved the proposal to right-size the workforce at its meeting of 25th August 2010 did not have any appreciable insight into what was proposed, as no names, functions or files of the affected staff were provided to the Council members who were cowed into granting the so-called approval by the presence of heavily armed mobile policemen by the door of the Council/Board room.

It is pertinent to note that in the October 2009 SEC inspection report, the point was made that there was an “inadequacy of staff to effectively discharge all functions of The Exchange”. Therefore, should The Exchange be “right-sizing” its workforce at this point in time? These are highly trained technical and skilled officers, and I wonder where The Exchange will get the replacement for such personnel. I wonder because there is only one Stock Exchange in Nigeria where people can acquire skill and experience in running a stock exchange, unlike in banking where a highly skilled banker can readily be sourced and moved from one bank to another without further training. So, I highly consider this action of the Sole Administrator as a disservice to the capital market and the economy as a whole.

A high number of these aggrieved staff are my clients and I have their instruction to file a class action suit in order to protect their rights and jobs, and to prevent further damage to their reputation and psyche.

From my understanding, The NSE is a 100% private organization. I wonder what it has done to warrant a complete takeover of the organization by SEC as we are currently witnessing. This is a company Limited by Guarantee that is not into deposit-taking from the public. I need to be educated on this development. Does the mere declaration of an organization a “public interest entity” predispose it to the kind of takeover that has been demonstrated at The Exchange? I believe that this has grave implications for Nigerian businesses.

Stakeholders of The Nigerian Stock Exchange should also be concerned about the fallen staff morale at the organization, as there is uncertainty among the remaining workforce of The Exchange as to their future in the organisation, given sustained hints of further reduction of workforce and the sustained presence of armed policemen inside and around the offices of The Exchange. The sole administrator has continued to hire staff through the back door after the so called rightsizing exercise designed and conceived to victimize the original members of staff.

With the active backing of security agencies who may not know the limit of their duties, arbitrariness, intimidation and blackmail have become the order of the day at The Exchange as staff are sacked and dismissed without consideration for due process. Staff have been made to sign letters of resignation under duress, with threat of termination of employment and personal embarrassment from armed mobile policemen that have become a feature of The Exchange. Staff are now searched as they arrive and leave the office. They have been directed to leave their computers, files/file cabinets and drawers open and to leave the office by 5 pm daily, leaving the so-called forensic and hostile auditors and lawyers to rummage through these records. Can these records not be tampered to the advantage of the so-called investigators? Ordinarily, should these records not be inspected in the presence of the affected officers?

My brief is that the role of Alhaji Aliko Dangote in all of these is that having failed to hijack the 51 % equity of the Nigerian Stock Exchange which the sacked management kicked against, he has positioned himself to do so through the help of SEC and his associates. He has been the second vice president, first vice president and later president of Council of Nigerian Exchange from 2006 – 2010. At no time did he raise issue(s) with the accounts of the Exchange. He infact was the President/Chairman before he was sacked by the Federal High Court. Because he failed to have the support of the sacked management in his desperate moves to thwart and frustrate the implementation of two separate court judgments ordering him to vacate the office of the president of council of NSE. Curiously, Aliko Dangote who still has Bench Warrant dangling like a sword of Damocles over his neck moves freely around the country and have conveniently agreed to respect the status quo ordered by the courts over 7 months ago and now informed the SEC appointed President and Interim Administrator that he is still the first vice president. WHAT A COUNTRY!!! Dangote through his wealth and political affluence now chooses when and how to obey the ORDERS OF OUR HALLOWED COURTS!!!. In his letter dated August 9, 2010 addressed to the interim president and copied to the sole administrator, which I shall make available to you all, Dangote advised that ‘The NSE is now saddled with a bloated workforce whose output quality is quite suspect’. The Public should know that N.S.E has only 297 staff while SEC has 700. The sole administrator and the interim president obviously took a cue from Dangote’s letter and sacked these Nigerians from the NSE. It is obvious that Dangote now controls the NSE.

I reiterate that in the recent sacking of staff of The Exchange, the Finance and General Purpose Committee of the Council was bypassed. Contrary to the observation of the SEC inspectors and the Accenture-facilitated Enterprise Transformation Programme of The Exchange, staff were sacked when in fact more hands are needed to drive the business to the next level. The Interim Management of The Exchange played on the intelligence of Nigerians when it said the exercise was “rightsizing” instead of correctly calling it witch-hunting and an action taken to facilitate total control of the ownership and management of The Exchange by some shadowy self-serving cabal.

In considering the extant governance regime at The Exchange, Nigerians must begin to ask questions at the time they matter most:

a) What qualifies Mr. Ikhazobor for his current job at The Nigerian Stock Exchange?

b) What is the job description of a “Sole Administrator”? How does this contrast with his professional experience? Does the job description include functioning as a Receiver Manager? Has the office of the DG/CEO of The Exchange suddenly become a job that just anybody could do, even if on an interim basis?

Is this not the same Ikhazobor that was Managing Partner of Akintola Williams Deloitte when the firm was indicted by SEC over the Cadbury accounting scandal? Does simple respect for decency not disqualify Ikhazobor from his current duties at The Exchange? More so because his Firm AUDITED the same Accounts of The Stock Exchange from 2006 – 2009 while he was the managing partner and Akintola Williams Delloite has been External Auditors to the Stock Exchange from 1960 till today and has Never Qualified any accounts of NSE.

3. THE NIGERIAN STOCK EXCHANGE IS DYING A SLOW DEATH

Current inept management of The Nigerian Stock Exchange following the usurpation of the powers of the Council and Management of The Exchange by a band of puppets and puppeteers has created a leadership vacuum that is beginning to undermine the workings of The Exchange and the capital market, with adverse implications for the larger economy. These days companies are suspended for breaching the rules of The Exchange and at the same time others are granted “waivers” that enable them to subvert the same rules of The Exchange. Should a responsible, honest market leadership be seen as approbating and reprobating on the same issue? Why grant a waiver to Dangote Cement plc on the minimum free-float requirement of the Exchange at the same time that companies that have failed in their financial reporting obligations to the market are being suspended? Both conditions impact adversely on the pricing efficiency of the stock market and neither should be made to look like a lesser evil. Certainly, double standard cannot help the growth and development of the stock market. With the speed that attended the approval of the proposed BCC/Dangote Cement Plc merger by SEC and the “Interim Administration” of The NSE, it is now becoming clear why SEC had to subvert its own rule to forcefully intervene in the management of The Exchange. Apparently, this was one deal that SEC and the so-called Interim Administration at The Exchange believed must go through inspite of obvious defects in the transaction. How much did Dangote Cement Plc pay to The NSE in Application Processing Fee for the proposed listing of combined business? How much did Benue Cement Company Plc and Dangote Cement Plc pay to The Exchange in Application Processing Fee for the proposed merger? Why has The Exchange allowed an unlisted company to takeover its listed company, contrary to its policy aimed at encouraging public quotation? Why is it that only one stockbroker (Afrinvest) seemed to be acting for both companies involved in the merger? Why should SEC and NSE approve that an unlisted company pick a very high price over and above that of a listed company it intends to merge with? Is it not the market that shall determine which price any company’s stock should have? It appears Alhaji Dangote now wants to have one third of the entire market capitalization. The entire market will finally be his by the time NSE is demutualised, a process conceived by the sacked management which Dangote failed to hijack then. Now is the GOLDEN opportunity for the scheme of ONE MAN to grab the heart and soul of the Nigerian economy by having majority OWNERSHIP of the Stock Exchange.

4. RENEWED LOSS OF VALUE IN THE STOCK MARKET

The Nigerian stock market was beginning to recover until the SEC inordinate intervention dampened investor confidence. Earlier in the year, The Exchange’s All-Share Index had rallied by 24% to become one of the 10 best performers among 93 indexes tracked by Bloomberg globally. In fact, as recent as July 2010, which was the month preceding the SEC’s intervention in the management of The Stock Exchange, there was significant growth in major market performance indicators. However, in August 2010, following SEC unlawful intrusion, equity value fell by N37 billion and All-Share Index lost 6.1%, while turnover value fell from N58.8 billion in July to N46.91 billion in August.

From published pronouncements, the SEC anchored its ill-conceived action on the “protection of public interest”, stressing at every opportunity that The Exchange is a “public interest” organization. There is a lot of subjectivity in the definition of “public interest” as applied by SEC. The pursuance of Public Interest should shore up investor confidence and stem falling share prices on The Exchange, but this has not happened, as share prices have been falling since the SEC intervention in the management of The Exchange. Please see ThisDay of Monday 13th September 2010, page 33 (“Equities maintain 3-week downward trend”).

5. DEMUTUALISATION OF THE NIGERIAN STOCK EXCHANGE

The Interim Administration was appointed on 5th August 2010 and by 26th August 2010 had sacked 32.5% of the workforce. For outsiders in the business, they certainly could not have in the short time understood the organization and its business as a basis for this drastic action. The interim administration can only be acting a script:

i. Personal interest, as opposed to national interest, informs the current siege on The Nigerian Stock Exchange. New issue/listing approvals have been given in questionable circumstances and demutualisation has become the new mantra. Demutualisation is about the reincorporation of The Exchange as a for-profit organization and the sale of its shares, in this instance, to certain interest groups. Nigerians should begin to ask who these interest groups represent. We have seen the application of the Core Investor concept in the Privatisation programme and know that it could be abused.

ii. I have it on good authority that the original proposal by the previous Management of The Exchange on the allocation of the shares of a demutualised NSE as thus: 30% for Dealing Member firms; 10% for the 19 Settlement Banks; 9% for Institutional Investors (PFAs {3%}, CSCS {3%}, and Insurance Companies {3%}), and 51% for the generality of Nigerians, with no single investor (individual or company) expected to get more than 1%. This promises to offer the desired spread and should be supported. People like us who believe that The Exchange is for all Nigerians must insist on a demutualisation model that is seen to benefit all Nigerians instead of allowing The Exchange to be hijacked by a cabal.

iii. It should also concern Nigerians that there is an active interest in the demutualisation of The NSE when there is active disinformation that The Exchange is “near-bankrupt”. If the intention of demutualisation is to sell The Exchange to the generality of Nigerians, why would SEC be interested in selling a so-called financial wreck to the Nigerian public? Obviously, there is more to this than meets the eyes.

iv. Contrary to what has been demonstrated in the recent past in the Nigerian capital market, investor protection is not merely about protecting the interest of the big investors in the stock market; in all responsible jurisdictions, the thrust of investor protection is in favour of minority/small shareholders. Unfortunately, small investors have continued to lose value in the market as a result of SEC’s extant regulatory misadventure that is aimed at serving vested interests masquerading as ‘whistleblowers’ and reformers – men that should actually be at the receiving end of the regulatory cane and who I will soon proceed against for their various economic crimes and blatant disrespect for the judiciary in Nigeria.

6. FLAWS IN THE ACTIONS OF SEC

We have identified numerous flaws in recent actions on SEC that led to our action to challenge the unlawful disengagement of the sacked staff of The Nigerian Stock Exchange through a class action suit. As a background to our case, we invite Nigerians to note some of the flaws in the actions of SEC:

i. SEC deployed an unorthodox and violent method in forcing the exit of the Director General of The Nigerian Stock Exchange from office. It should be clearly noted that Professor Okereke – Onyiuke is NOT one of my clients and is not included in this Class Action Suit. The Investment & Securities Act (ISA) provides fully for the process of removing the CEO of a securities exchange from office by its Council/Board of Directors. However (and curiously), SEC trampled upon the law in its highly questionable move against the management of The Nigerian Stock Exchange led by Professor Okereke-Onyiuke. Nigerians should worry about the implications of this for our civil liberty, where the administrator of an Act wantonly disregards the provisions of the law it administers, especially in a democratic government that we now proudly have in Nigeria.

Incidentally, by a letter dated 4th August 2010 to the Council of The Nigerian Stock Exchange SEC unwittingly admitted to being aware of a procedure for removing the Chief Executive Officer of a Registered Securities Exchange (in this instance, The Nigerian Stock Exchange) but subverted the process midstream for an expediency that is now beginning to manifest as response to the desires of a vested interest. Apparently, the Commission came to a sudden realization that the objective of removing Professor Okereke-Onyiuke from office must be done expeditiously, by hook or crook. For the avoidance of doubt, we know for a fact that the DG/CEO of The Nigerian Stock Exchange is appointed and removed, when necessary, by the Council. There is nothing under the SEC rules, Investment & Securities Act and the Memorandum and Articles of Association of The Exchange for an Interim Administrator or the removal of the DG and appointment of Interim Administrator for The Exchange by SEC. Also, this is the context in which Nigerians must see the SEC letter of 4th August 2010 directing Council to remove the DG/CEO (albeit without indicating a timeframe as required by law) or indicating her offence). That letter, at least, was anchored on due process, which, ironically, the SEC subverted by issuing another letter to Professor Okereke-Onyiuke on 5th August 2010 notifying her of her removal from office without recourse to the Council/Board of The Exchange despite the fact that the D.G had given Notice of Voluntary Retirement as far back as April 2008, January 2009, January 2010 and June 2010 to the Council and this has been in the Press and Punch carried her Retirement Leave Date of Sept. 5, 2010.

ii. On the issue of “ongoing litigation”, have our democratic ideals become so bastardised and Nigeria has degenerated to the extent that the legitimate prosecution of a matter in the court of law has become an offence and a basis for unceremonious termination of a person’s career, more so when the person being punished was not involved in the litigation? The litigation under reference was between the aggrieved shareholders of African Petroleum Plc and Aliko Dangote, Not Okereke-Onyiuke and Josephine Igbinosun (NSE company secretary).

iii. Also, should SEC be relying on the unsubstantiated allegation of Aliko Dangote to punish the Management and staff of The Exchange as has happened since 5th August 2010? It must be noted that Aliko Dangote was at the time of the alleged financial mismanagement a member of the Council (board) of The Exchange. He had never at any time expressed any reservations with financial management at The Exchange. In fact, the Council of The Exchange is not aware of the allegations by Aliko Dangote on which basis SEC intervened in the management and Council of the organization. Dangote’s conduct in this instance is self-indicting and should be condemned for the instability it has brought to the stock market.

Also, SEC has not been sufficiently circumspect in its handling of the allegation, given that the accounts under consideration were not Management Accounts but Audited Accounts of The Exchange that went through all the required levels of approval without any qualification. For the avoidance of doubt, the accounts in question were prepared by the Council of which Dangote was a member, vice president and briefly, the president until the Court removed him. (show the accounts).

Incidentally, I know that these accounts had been subjected to special audit by SEC working with external consultants. In an October 2009 report of this extra-ordinary inspection, SEC inspectors remarked that “the auditors of The Exchange gave unqualified reports for the three years ended 2006, 2007, and 2008”. Furthermore, the SEC report noted that The Exchange had no external liabilities between 2006 and 2008, adding, among others, that the functions of the Finance & Accounts Section were “distributed to staff in such a way as to facilitate internal checks and controls”. By the published statement of the SEC, the Commission has commenced investigation into the allegation of financial mismanagement at The Exchange in order to confirm the veracity of the allegation. This is putting the cart before the horse because Professor Okereke-Onyiuke and the rest of the management of The Exchange have already been subjected to a severe punishment by SEC, including international malignment of their Integrity, even though the Commission cannot as we speak accuse them of any offence. In the circumstance, it does not take a genius to know that the said SEC investigation is contrived, hostile, imbued with a hidden agenda, and has a pre-determined outcome – that is, the investigation can only work towards an answer with a view to justifying the unjust and condemnable actions of the SEC.

The question should be asked: What manner of investigation is done in a major institution without talking to its Directors, erstwhile Chief Executive Officer, erstwhile Chief Accountant (who was the Assistant Director General), and other Management Staff? Instead, questions are being hauled at middle level managers and very junior staff who did not make decisions. They are being intimidated to answer questions on issues discussed at Council (board) meetings to which they were not privy. What business does SEC and the Sole Administrator have in directing retired executives of The NSE, including a long-retired DG, to return cars that they were entitled to, but which may no longer be functioning? Is that part of corporate governance? What business does SEC have to want to take over the construction of The NSE’s office building in Port Harcourt? Is this also corporate governance?

Why is SEC/Sole Administrator of The NSE sending letters to retired Council members of The NSE to refund monies paid to them as Council members to go on industrial trips to other stock exchanges and thereby strengthen their role as directors of The NSE? When did director education become an offence in Nigeria? The so-called forensic auditors have labeled such legitimate payments as “productivity bonus” instead of money paid as travelling expenses for industrial visit to other stock exchanges. Nigerians should not be deceived by the deliberately leaked false findings of the much-touted forensic auditors. I know for one that the real Council members of The Exchange have vowed to challenge the findings in court. Even though the “whistle blower” himself (Aliko Dangote) has acknowledged that he intends to return the N80 million he collected and spent as travelling expenses between 2007 and 2008, he has not denied ever collecting money and utilization of it for Traveling Expenses or Productivity Bonus.

The media should know that it is common knowledge that certain persons in the Council of The Stock Exchange always destroyed whatever they could not control. Unfortunately, Nigerians are folding their hands and watching this monopolistic tendencies being played out at The NSE with the active connivance of the Government Regulator.

iv. SEC alleged “inordinate delays” in the implementation of The Exchange’s management succession programme. But what is unknown to the public is that SEC was a major part of the problem. There is evidence that The Exchange was committed to the implementation of a management succession programme and the process had progressed smoothly until SEC, prodded by some vested interests, intruded into the process under the guise that The Exchange was a “public interest organization”. Suddenly, the Commission came up with a draft Rule 115 in April 2010, which even though it has not gone through the known process of Rule Making by the Commission, is now held as the standard that must guide The Exchange in its proposed appointment of DG/CEO and Executive Directors.

v. It is worthy of note that the illegal interim administration at The Exchange and SEC are now vacillating on the timeline for the appointment of a new DG and EDs for The Exchange. It is now being said that a new CEO would not resume at The Exchange until “early 2011”. Nigerians should ask SEC how much time is required to perform this “simple task”, especially in view of the fact that the stock market is today suffering as a result of the management vacuum elicited by the ill-advised actions of SEC.

Also, in considering this matter, I believe that the time has come for an exhaustive examination of the role of Accenture in the unfortunate drama that is threatening the future of the Nigerian capital market. I recall that at the height of the media campaign that set the stage for the SEC’s intervention in the management of The Exchange, Accenture was prominently reported as not being party to the Executive Recruitment exercise at The Exchange. Against rational expectations, Accenture chose not to respond to this falsehood and in doing so reinforced the disinformation that the Executive Recruitment was without independent professional input. But, curiously, soon after the management of The Exchange was taken over by SEC, Accenture availed SEC with statistics of responses to the advertisements it placed in respect of the executive recruitment programme of The Exchange. The question is: Who is Accenture working for? Who is paying Accenture? Answers to these questions will manifest in due course.

vi. Finally, on the allegation of “governance challenges” against The Exchange, I can only describe it as obtuse and lacking in substance, seeing that every organization, including SEC, is constantly dealing with some form of governance challenge. If anything, it is now, following the intervention of SEC, that The Exchange is facing the worst kind of governance challenge imaginable – which is to be expected, as the Commission, in spite of the many flaws attendant to its actions (and the premise of the actions), has since 5th August 2010 proceeded to alter the governance framework of The Exchange by installing a “Sole Administrator”, an “Interim President” and a Mobile Police Force for The Exchange when SEC itself is NOT a “Member” of the Exchange. Does it mean that Stock Exchange is now a parastatal of SEC? Obviously, SEC is now a Regulator as well as a Day – to – Day OPERATOR of the Capital Market!!!!

Definitely, no foreign investor will invest in a market where a Regulator can “INVADE” the Capital Market in a military coup – style and take over the functions of a Registered Exchange! No where in the world has this happened; not even during the military Governments in Nigeria!

7. CONCLUSION

Current developments at The Nigerian Stock Exchange have blighted the future of The Exchange, which had always been positive and assured, and threaten the socio-economic development of our dear nation.

i. Already, as widely reported in the Press last week, officials of Ghana Stock Exchange, are worried that the developments in the governance of The NSE and its market would not augur well for the proposed integration of the stock markets of West Africa. Mr. Ekow Afedzie of the Ghana Stock Exchange had warned that The NSE officials were at the fore front of the integration and doubts that envisaged integration would be achieved in the absence of these officials. The tragedy is that Nigeria would have been a major beneficiary of the proposed integration, given the size of our market in the sub region.

ii. International investors have adopted a wait-and-see attitude to these developments, especially in the light of the poor picture they paint of Nigeria as a country whose regulators are disrespectful of the laws, rules and regulations of the capital market. This attitude explains in part the renewed and sustained drop in stock prices following the SEC’s martial intervention in the market processes.

iii. In contemplating the current situation in the Nigerian capital market, we must remember that the Federal Government’s Financial System Strategy (FSS) Vision 2020 programme is in large part focused on the capital market as a vehicle for achieving Nigeria’s aspiration of becoming one of the Top 20 global economies by 2020. Arbitrariness and lawlessness, as demonstrated by SEC (and its collaborators) and the activities of an Interim Management and Council (Board) at The Nigerian Stock Exchange undermine the workings of the capital market and should be condemned by all.

Thank you

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Cecilia Ibru forfeits N191bn assets, gets 18 months jail term

Author: Tony Amoleodo and Ademola Alawiye
October 9, 2010

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday sentenced a former Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Bank International Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, to 18 months imprisonment without an option of fine for granting $20m and N2bn credit facilities above the apprIbruoved limit by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had prosecuted the ex-CEO on a 25-count charge of financial crimes before she entered into a plea bargaining with the anti-graft agency and pleaded guilty to a reduced three-count charge on Friday.

The Chief Judge of the FHC, Justice Dan Abutu, thereafter convicted Ibru on the said three-count charge and ordered the forfeiture of her N191bn assets comprising 49 properties in Nigeria, United States and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to a Federal Government agency, the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria.

The forfeited properties include shares in over 100 firms that are listed and not listed on the Nigerian Sock Exchange.

The CJ added that the convict was sentenced to a six-month imprisonment on each of the counts, saying that the terms would run concurrently.

The development indicated that the ex-banker would only spend six months in Ikoyi Prisons.

But the CJ added a caveat when he directed the prison authorities to take the convict to a highbrow hospital, Reddington Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos, for continuation of treatment, following a passionate appeal by Ibru‘s lead lawyer, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN).

Osipitan, who led Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN) and other lawyers, had during an

(plea for leniency), urged the court to take judicial notice of the fact that his client was suffering from chronic cardiac problem, saying that specialists in the hospital had to remove some gadgets from Ibru in order to allow her to come to court and take her plea.

He added that there was an agreement between the parties on his client‘s health status, urging the court to direct the prison authorities to return her to the hospital upon conviction.

He raised the alarm that his client‘s situation was critical and urged the court to avoid an unfortunate situation where a former member of the House of Representatives, Morris Ibekwe, who was in a similar situation, was ignored on the grounds that he was feigning sickness but eventually died.

Osipitan claimed that his client built the bank from nothing to something, saying that her prayer was that the bank should continue to grow while she attended to her failing health.

The appearance of the convict, who was assisted into the courtroom by her relatives in a blue skirt suit, showed that she was indisposed, as the court had to allow a doctor to attend to her during the proceeding.

But the lead lawyer to the EFCC, Mr. Kola Awodein (SAN), who led Dr. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN, Mr. Damien Dodo (SAN), Mr. Godwin Obla and Mr Rotimi Jacobs, informed the court that justice was a three-way issue, saying that justice must be done on the case.

The senior advocate had earlier told the court that there was an agreement and urged the court to forfeit the properties attached to section VI of the settlement agreement to AMCON

.The CJ said, ”The accused is hereby convicted and sentenced to six months imprisonment on each of the three-count charge. The sentence is to run concurrently. In addition, all the assets set out in section VI of the settlement agreement are herby forfeited to AMCON.

“The prison authorities shall, not later than two hours after receiving the convict into their custody, take the convict to Reddington Hospital from where she was brought to court to continue her treatment until she is certified fit by the hospital authority to continue to serve her sentence in the prison.”

Ibru was sacked by the CBN along with the managing directors of four other banks on Aug. 14, 2009, following allegations of corruption, bad corporate governance practices and mismanagement of public funds.

The CBN had said last year that Oceanic Bank had a total non-performing loan of 278bn, which was 37 per cent of the total non-performing loan of the first set of rescued banks.

The CBN governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi had said in an interview, “We looked at the institutions and saw in their books huge non-performing loans and when we entered the institutions, we discovered that 75 per cent of the non-performing loans were given to the companies directly related to the CEOs of those institution.”

The CBN alleged that Ibru engaged 19,000 workers for Oceanic Bank through a job consultancy firm fronting for her and the bank did not need such employees

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