More than a fortnight ago, the story broke about a five-year old bribe scandal involving former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori. The former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that Ibori had sent the$15 million as bribe to him, so the latter would not pursue the charges of graft which the anti-graft agency was investigating against him. Ribadu made a show of the bribe, announced it publicly, took it to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, and according to them, the raw-minted bundles of the dollar were spread all over the red-rugged floor in one of the Villa rooms where Obasanjo was shown the bribe. Then, EFCC was hot and fierce. Knowing the implication of the expose, Ibori was believed to have denied being the one who sent the money. That was in 2007. The money was then kept in the custody of the CBN. And over time, everybody seemed to have forgotten about it and moved on to fresher and heavier scandals. This was the status until the Federal Government recently announced that if within 14 days, nobody came forth to claim the money, it will be inputed into the treasury of the federation. The first to step forward was the Delta State government which asked that the money be returned to the “government and people of Delta State”, from whence the money was believed to have come. That, in itself, was an admission that the former governor indeed offered the bribe, although the Delta State government never declared any such amount missing from its treasury.
Shortly after, a certain Chibuike Achegbu went to court, with a coterie of ten lawyers—four of whom are SANs—claiming that the said $15million actually belongs to him. He told a convoluted tale of how he wanted to donate N3 billion to assist the political campaign of the PDP. And had to pass the sum of N2 billion through Senator Andy Uba, who was then an aide to President Obasanjo. He explained that Uba did not pass the money to the PDP, but instead ploughed it into his own gubernatorial campaign. And he could no longer reach Uba to collect the money back. Rather, he was consoled that Uba’s governorship adventure ended up in smoke. And that it was only when the issue of the $15 million bribe came up that Uba called him to say that was the same money (N2billion) he allegedly gave. It is such a silly cock-and-bull story! It is even more perplexing that respected Senior Advocates of Nigeria--- the chief priest of the legal profession, could associate themselves with such a tale with all the characters of a nerd, all because of the commission and legal fees they expect from such an ill-cast case. In the first place, stepping forth meant that Achegbu and his lawyers are admitting that they offered bribe, which is a crime. Ribadu did not say the sum of N2 billion was the bribe money. It is $15 million! So, did Achegbu donate naira or dollar? Many people donated money to the PDP at the time. Why did he have to pass his through Andy Uba? Why did he not donate to the PDP directly? Was Andy Uba ever a national party official? And five years after, Uba did not forward his donation to the party, and did not return the money to him, and he kept his peace all the while? Even a Dangote will not be that peaceably kind and indifferent over a hard-earned money? Who is Achegbu , by the way? Where is he coming from? To claim that the security around Uba was too much and so could not assess him to confront him makes no sense. The Uba govenorship misadventure happened over four years ago. So what security apparatchik is yet around Uba, as a senator, that so scared a man who could donate N2billion through a proxy? It all smells like a cheap and poorly-packaged lie. He claimed that Andy Uba directed that a financial house has to screen the money to confirm its source before it can be forwarded to the PDP. Really? So is the EFCC a financial House? And how many donations that came to the PDP went through the EFCC?
In all of these, Nuhu Ribadu is yet quiet. Was it Andy Uba that brought the money to him, from Ibori? Uba was alleged to have claimed that the present EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, as the then Director of Operations of EFCC, was the one directed to receive the bribe money. Can Ribadu or even Mr Lamorde please speak up and clear this smelling smoke.
Is Achigbu and whomever he represents merely keen on grabbing the $15 million without minding the consequence? The amount has become a bait offering such a strong temptation to discount the implication of being a bribe giver. The belief also may be that given the skewed judicial system in the country, the case could be manipulated by vested interests such that when the amount is eventually recovered everybody will have a share, and smile to the bank, forgetting that offering a bribe is a punishable offence. That is the limit of greed.
The duo of Uba and Achigbu, perhaps realized how odious their story is and later decided to withdraw their suit from the court. It does not appear that the government knows what to do with the case. But the suit filed by the Delta State government is still running. Without prejudice to whatever the court will find out, my hunch tells me that Achigbu and co are just trying to reap from where they did not sow.
So what if the First Lady is Sick?
The rumour (?) has been making the rounds that our dear First Lady, Dame Mrs Patience Jonathan, one of the most-talked-about first ladies we have ever had, is sick and seeking treatment in a German hospital. All through the week, the story kept popping out of the thick wrap Aso Rock managers have shrouded it with. Presidency sources have been in strong denial of the story, even when it has become such an open secret. And I shudder at the wisdom behind the denials. Pray, what is wrong in falling sick? Is the First lady not human enough to fall ill? Is she a piece of rock or a Dues ex machina, who should not and cannot fall sick? Why the secrecy? Does our knowing she is ill reduce the presidential aura associated with her? What is wrong in confirming she is ill and ask Nigerians to pray for her? Or do her media minders think that as soon as the news of her ill health is blown open, then all the witches in sub Sahara Africa will gather to mortally harm her? One would have thought that we have moved away from such analoguos and primitive information management models. The husband of the Queen of England was recently ill. It was a global news item. Media mavens kept a tab on his recovery pace at the hospital.
But rather than admit that she is ill, Aso Rock keeps claiming that she is resting abroad. Really? Can we please see the pictures of Her Excellency at the beach, at the swimming pools or wherever she is doing the resting? The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was humble and human enough to declare that as human, he could fall ill, he could recover, he could also even die. And he did. But to present the façade of presidential immortality, as is being done with the First Lady, is to upturn the natural course of humanity.
I know our First Lady did not go on a leisure trip, so I join many other Nigerians in wishing her a quick recovery and an early return to her country.
Our Youths, Our Cross
When I look around, I keep wondering what hope lies ahead for the country, given the indices of mediocrity that seems so prevalent.
Mediocrity? How? Where?
I am talking about our youths. They do not inspire me. They make me fear for our future.
Our youths, the vibrant and energetic Nigerians?
Vibrant in what? Have you forgotten that most of the crimes in the land are committed by the youths? Do you realize that the present day youths are not interested in work and diligence? They cheat through school. obtain certificates unworthily, they perform cracked jobs when you hire them and all you get from them is crass mediocrity. Can’t you see how eager they are to make quick money, cut corners, drive big cars, even fly PJs? Live ostentatious life? Can’t you see them? Is it not such desperation that drives them into what they now call yahoo-yahoo business, where they con unsuspecting people with all kinds of subterfuge? If you talk about the drug menace, it is the youths. Imagine the case of the murdered Cynthia Osokogu, it is the same youths that strangled her, all because they want quick bucks. They want to experience parvenu.
What is PJs?
You got it all wrong. The youths are the future of the nation, as in all places. They represent the vibrant workforce of the nation. Without the youths, the nation would have collapsed. You seem to have forgotten that it is these same youths that led the January protest that brought down the price of petrol to N97 per litre. You forgot that it is these same youths that help to keep the leaders of the nation in check with their zealotry on the social media. You forgot that…
(cuts in) I forgot nothing. The conduct of the youths is not inspiring. Do you realise that it is youths like former Gov Saminu Turaki, the youngest governor in his time, that squandered N10billion in one single day in pursuit of a windy scheme of third term project? Do you realise it is a youth like Dimeji Bankole, who was even a bachelor as Number Four citizen of the country that was accused of huge financial fraud as the Speaker of the House of Representatives? Before him was another youth, Salisu Buhari who so shamefully lied about his age, so he could qualify to be elected? Are these the same youths you are talking about?
You are anything but fair to the youths. These are people who struggle through crowded schools, manage to obtain a certificate after spending more years in school than necessary because of the endless strike of the elders called ASUU members, and the youths graduate only to find that all job spaces have been circumscribed by the same elders through all kinds of favouritism, nepotism, tribalism etc. is it any surprise that many of the youths are eager to get out of their father land? Do you know the volume of unemployed youths in the country? Go to school, they went to school. Get a certificate, they got plenty of it. But after all that, there is nothing for them to do. What crime did they commit against society which has dumped them? The youths are struggling to make ends meet. To eke a living. Do you know that many graduate youths are even riding Okada in the cities, just to earn a living? These greedy elders had it rosy in their days. They had jobs waiting for them at graduation. Now they have damaged the country, with their crushing corruption. Everywhere is choked now. And the youths are complaining. The least you can do is to identify with them, not run them down. After all, they are mirroring the elders. They are our youths, they are our cross. I guess you should give the youths some credit. And rather than create ways of comfort and meaningful engagement for them you are here labeling them with tags of infamy. Is that fair?
The youths must brace up with the challenges of life. It has never been exactly rosy at any age, place and time. People strive through challenges, work through the rope to the top. But these youths want to climb a tree right from the top. They must change their orientation. That is why many of them think it is any different outside Nigeria. That is why many of these same youths end up populating the prisons in China, Japan, UK, America and the rest of Europe. They want a wash-and-take life. I think Mike Omeri of National Orientation Agency (NOA) must have a summit for them. Their values must be transformed.
You talk as if you do not know that whatever complaints you are making now, are copied from the elders. Pray, is Cecelia Ibru a youth or is Erastus Akingbola a youth? All the rougish crimes going on in the National Assembly, Ministries and Parastatals, are they being perpetrated by youths? How many youths are Perm Secs? Or you don’t know those are the oracles of corruption in the Civil service? How many youths were involved in the Police pension scam? How many youths were involved in the Farouk/Otedola $620,000 bribe saga? How many youths helped to subvert the fuel subsidy regime?
Support the youths. Tell the elders to show good examples. And it shall be well!