The 25 Billion Dollar Palaver

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The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

…I recall a particular episode when we were going to Saudi Arabia for the Third OPEC Summit, in November 2007. Before we left for the airport, someone had given me copy of a publication by a foreign website dedicated to oil and gas reporting. The publication detailed how oil lifting licences were given out by President Yar’Adua in a manner that lacked transparency. In the course of the flight, I scribbled a handwritten note, attached the document to it and went to hand it to him in his cabin.

Not long after, the president called me back and confirmed that all the information contained in the publication was accurate. It was at a time the president was holding on to the Energy Ministry portfolio. He said whenever we reached Saudi Arabia, I should meet the Minister for State for Energy, Mr Odein Ajumogobia and give him the document to read in my presence and let him know that I was acting on his instruction. He said I should listen to his comments and report back to him. He added that I should do the same to the GMD of NNPC, Eng. Abubakar Yar’Adua (not a relation of the president).

When we got to Riyadh, I acted as the president directed. I met the GMD first and he blamed everything on Ajumogobia and the president. When I later met Ajumogobia, he explained that he was powerless and that the GMD of NNPC had no regard for him since he was reporting directly to the president. He also agreed the report was accurate but that the said allocations were done between the president and the GMD.

I reported my “findings” back to the president who took time to explain his own role as well as the promoters of some of the “briefcase companies” on the list. They were prominent people in the society, including those who had held senior positions in government in the past. The president also debunked the charges by both Ajumogobia and the GMD by explaining the role each played in the matter. What was, however, not in doubt, even from the president’s explanation was that the GMD was indeed bypassing Ajumogobia because he had direct access to the president. This to me was not right. With my background in the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), a governing body to which I had been appointed by President Obasanjo in 2004, I was able to offer candid advice which the president promised to heed. When we returned, he indeed directed the GMD to be reporting directly to Ajumogobia but not long after, (Dr Rilwan) Lukman took charge of affairs in the ministry and the equation changed…
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In view of the controversy generated by a recent letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, the foregoing excerpts from my book, ‘Power, Politics and Death’ is instructive. It is also a clear indication that the power struggle between Kachikwu and the GMD of NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru is not new. Except you are Diezani Alison-Madueke, (the first, and to date only, sole administrator ever to superintend Nigeria’s oil and gas sector), it is difficult to compel the GMD of NNPC (who has enormous powers of patronage) to report to anybody other than the president.

Thanks to Mrs Oby Ezekwesili who nominated me as representative of the media and President Obasanjo who, to my surprise, approved the appointment, the best education I had going to my job as spokesman to the president in 2007 was my almost four-year experience as a member of the founding NEITI National Stakeholder Working Group. It is also for that reason that I am not carried away by Kachikwu’s allegations or the self-indicting rebuttal by Baru. When it comes to our petroleum sector where the more you look the less you see, I prefer to keep my own counsel.

However, to the extent that serious questions that border on transparency and accountability have been raised by Kachikwu, I hope the president will not treat the matter with deodorant as he did with the report on the ‘grass-cutter’. What the scandal suggests is that for an administration that claims to be fighting corruption, there is no preventive mechanism in place to enthrone any systemic change. In fact, it would seem that this administration has a narrow concept of corruption which is why so much energy is being expended on the retail side while the greater corruption–lack of adherence to the rule of law and due process–which, stripped of all pretensions, is what this scandal is all about, is largely ignored.

If he can wriggle out of the constitutional implications of signing approvals at a period he had ceded powers to his vice president, as it is now being alleged, I hope President Buhari will use this opportunity to identify and fix the gaps that have been exploited in NNPC and perhaps all such other entities. And there is no better way to do that than to order an independent review of all the contracts awarded by the corporation from June 2015 to date. I limit the scope to his period in office so it doesn’t become another weapon to which-hunt his immediate predecessor.

Meanwhile, even though this scandal may not be about any stolen money, I am almost certain that if it were under President Goodluck Jonathan, the APC propaganda machine would by now be on overdrive in telling Nigerians about “how the billions of dollars were shared and who got what”. That is why I am disappointed that nobody in the opposition is making life difficult for those who are notorious for spinning any and every untruth to score cheap political points.

Now, I am sure there will be some claims to a competitive bidding process in the awards of the oil contracts. Yes, it is true that the NNPC invites some stakeholders to witness such contracts bid openings. But as the Yoruba people would say, it takes no magic to put a lump of meat in the mouth and make it disappear. The bottomline is that the NNPC is, and has always been, opaque in its dealings because it has so many things to hide for the federal government, especially regarding the management of the federation account that statutorily belongs to the three tiers of government.

In all the foregoing, what saddens is that the NEITI has provisions that should have helped in detecting some of the breaches being alleged at the NNPC. The question for this administration therefore is: Does the President know and care about the instrument he has in NEITI?

I believe the president should use this crisis to remove the incentive for corruption in the national oil company and clean up the sector by investing in systems that pass the smell test. The passage of the key components of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is key in that direction even as I also enjoin President Buhari to inaugurate the Procurement Council as required in the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act so that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) can stop awarding contracts. Incidentally, this is one of the many promises in the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign document.

All said, the only way President Buhari can redeem his vanishing credibility is to launch a bold deregulation agenda for the petroleum sector and as a first move, he should immediately relinquish the position of Minister of Petroleum and withdraw his Chief of Staff from the NNPC Board. It was, and still remains, a needless decision that runs counter to the enthronement of good corporate governance in such a critical sector.

 

 

Time Out with The Oba of Benin

 

 

One year after, how does the palace compare with your former life as a diplomat?

That was my first shot at His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, at his expansive palace in Benin, Edo State capital, on Monday evening. He shot back immediately: “Segun, I have no other life. This is my only life. If you cast your mind back, you will remember that even in those days at L’Aquila with the late President (Umaru Musa) Yar’Adua, I was always in my royal beads and regalia. That is because this has always been my life. This is what I was born into.”

Despite the awe-inspiring palace protocol that the four Benin Chiefs (who were present in the course of my interaction with their monarch) seemed bent on enforcing at every point, the 39th Oba of Benin indulged me a great deal on Monday, perhaps because he was the one who invited me to his kingdom from Abuja. And we had a most engaging conversation, especially considering that he wanted his chiefs to know about a difficult challenge he once encountered as the Nigerian ambassador to Italy. It happened during the 35th G8 Summit between 8th and 10th July 2009.

Hosted by the then Italian Prime Minister, Mr Silvio Berlusconi, the summit was held in L’Aquila, the capital city of the Abruzzo region of Southern Italy located in the middle of some amazing snow-capped mountains. It was the first G8 summit attended by then United States President Barack Obama and the last by former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. It was also one of the last official trips of the late President Yar’Adua who was invited as one of the six leaders from Africa.

The problem started when on arrival in Rome, I learnt that an embassy official who was in charge of accreditation had been sloppy hence could not register members of my media team within the stipulated time. Given the way G8 is usually organized, that in effect meant that they would have to remain in Rome and not travel to L’Aquila with us. But the then Benin Crown Prince took charge the moment he got to know that the official detailed for the assignment had messed up.

At this point, Oba Ewuare II took up the story. “That night, I called my father to inform him of the challenge I was going through. I was very close to my father so he prayed for me with the assurance that my ancestors would not let me be disgraced. How would the media team of my president not be allowed to cover a meeting he was attending? I got in touch with the office of Prime Minister Berlusconi and all my contacts in government. I was desperate. At the end, they agreed to reopen the accreditation process to accommodate my request. When I walked into your room in L’Aquila that night to inform you and the ADC that I had brought your journalists, I saw your relief and I felt really happy,” said the Oba as he recounted the episode more for the benefit of his chiefs than for me.

Looking back, it was indeed a defining moment because I recall the sacrifices and the efforts he made. Rather than join us in the presidential helicopter; he volunteered to travel by road to L’Aquila, just because he was determined that all the members of the media team from Nigeria would secure accreditation to cover the summit even after the organisers had said they would not allow them. At the end, his tenacity paid off and in a way, the Oba has brought that same sense of purpose to the Benin Kingdom where he is redefining the role of the traditional institution.

As Oba Ewuare II explained to me, the first proclamation he made on assuming the throne in October last year was the immediate suspension of Community Development Associations (CDAs) in all the seven local government areas of Edo State which constitute the Benin Kingdom: Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba Okha, Uhunmwode, Orhionmwon, Ovia South West and Ovia North East. He could do that because, as the paramount ruler within that jurisdiction, the Oba has traditional right over all native lands that fall outside the consent of the governor under the Land Use Act.

When I asked him why he took the decision, Oba Ewuare II explained that for a long time, some men of questionable character had turned the CDAs into an avenue to threaten the peace of communities while extorting money from land developers. “They were collecting dues in hundreds of thousands of naira from land developers through violence and intimidation and many of them were also notorious for selling lands, including those that do not belong to them, to different persons. These people had become not only a big nuisance but also law onto themselves.”

The Oba said he took time to study the antics of the CDAs while his father was on the throne. “What they were doing was antithetical to our culture and they were driving development away from Benin. At a point, I came home from Rome to discuss the issue with my father. ‘Why is the palace condoning this sort of criminal practices in Benin?’ I asked my father, who was already advanced in age at the time. He said he had done all he could on the matter but the people would not listen. He said he had also written to the government to no avail”.

According to Oba Ewuare II, before he returned to Rome, he went to see the then Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on the issue. “Governor Oshiomhole was genuinely concerned and he promised to deal with the situation and he actually made efforts in that direction. But I could also see that the government was hamstrung because of what could be the political repercussion of taking up those powerful people who had constituted themselves into terror gangs. I have been to Sicily so I understand how such gangs work and how to dismantle them. I told myself that if and when I assumed the throne, I would never allow those gangsters to continue to hold Benin people to ransom.”

Following the Oba’s declaration banning CDAs upon his coronation, the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, went further to give it official seal with a bill to the State House of Assembly. And with its passage, Obaseki appointed the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, to chair the task force to drive its en¬forcement. “My administration be¬lieves that the way to sus¬tainable development is to unleash and nurture our productive energy and that of investors. Investment will not thrive in a lawless environment, it is a thing of pride that we signed this bill into law”, Governor Obaseki told the Benin monarch while presenting him a copy of the law in April this year.

One other intervention of which Oba Ewuare II seems excited is the Benin Customary Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (BCADRC) which will be inaugurated today to replace the Open Mediation System that he instituted upon assuming the throne. “What I met on ground was a compromised system in which most Benin people had no trust in. Nobody believed they would get any justice from the chiefs who served on the panels to settle disputes and that explains why, after bringing matters to the palace, the people were still going to court to seek redress. What I did was to personally head a panel of chiefs. Once a week, we would sit to hear cases and at the end, deliberate and give our rulings. That way, we brought back equity but I want to delegate that responsibility. I am reconstituting the committee to be composed of eminent Benin sons and daughters with unimpeachable integrity” said the Oba who told me that it will be headed by Justice Samson Uwaifo, one of Nigeria’s most respected jurists who retired from the Supreme Court in January 2005.

From human trafficking, especially the prostitution ring on which Benin has become internationally notorious, to the issue of cultural reawakening, Oba Ewuare II told me of the plans he has to change some of the negative narratives of his people. On the first, he is planning a skill acquisition centre to discourage girls from seeking the elusive greener pastures abroad while on the second, his plan is still evolving. Benin, according to the monarch, has 201 dances even though many of them are now lost. But in assuring me of his commitment to the cultural exposition of the kingdom, I was delighted he’s fully behind the effort of my friend and brother, Ose Oyamendan, as he begins the creative process of making a film about the looted Benin Art works. It is a project very dear to Ose, a proud son of Benin and an accomplished Hollywood-based filmmaker.

On food security, Oba Ewuare II said he has a vision of a day no Benin man would go hungry by creating a system that will ensure that indigent people within the society are taken care of. “Right now, I am working on the idea of a special market like you have in Europe where poor people can shop for their groceries at affordable prices. I already have the land I want to use for the project and plans are at an advanced stage for its launch. In the special market, I am looking at a situation where a tuber of yam will sell for about N50 so that the poor can also buy foodstuff. We must banish hunger from our society” he said as he explained to me how the concept would work.

At a time traditional institution is fast losing its allure due to a combination of many factors, including politics and religion, it is remarkable that Benin people have succeeded in preserving their own institution to combine elements of both the ancient and modern. With Oba Ewuare II preoccupied with the socio-economic welfare of his people that should ordinarily be the concern of government, he can only endear himself to his subjects. And as he prepares for the first anniversary on the throne next week Friday, October 20 (also his birthday, as he told me), the Benin kingdom palace is already buzzing with preparations for what will be a very big occasion.

Oba ghato ‘kpere, Ise!

  • Ekpetu

    How many people on this comments section have their voter’s card? This is what we do the most – talk, talk, and more talk. 2019 is around the corner. From what I see here, there’s no saying the same mistakes won’t be made as were in 2015. Those here who have their PVCs will again vote either APC, or PDP, or abstain… and the beat will go on!

  • Mystic mallam

    I can’t recall who said it first – ‘you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time’. The man President Buhari, Oil Minister and his proxy NNPC Board member/CoS, awarding $13 billion of 25 billion dollar contracts to themselves, poor Buhari, he has become the proverbial king with no clothes on. He clearly fooled some of us for a while, but now, some of us are fooled no more. The king has no clothes and we can see his raw behind.

  • Iskacountryman

    very funny bini man…he wants to organise a market where he would fix the price of yam without worrying about the production of yam..and what was that about skill acquisition centers for bini gals?…please..oba, just go ya way…western union is a reality…and bini gals already know a thousand dances….

    • obinnna77

      Ha ha

    • Don Franco

      Dear Iska,

      If all monarchs in this zoo were as proactive and solicitious as the Oba, maybe, just maybe this Lugardian contraption may yet be saved from self-destruction. You should give credit where it is due; and not just criticize and castigate for the sake of doing so…

      • Iskacountryman

        is that so?…what proactive action has your monarch taken against edo gals in italy?…was he not the ambassador there…did he not see them and approve their visas?…what study did he have done to see why edo gals love italy?

  • Akins

    President Buhari approved the contract of $25b while on sick bed after he had transfer or handover to Mr Osinbajo the Vice president. This is impeachable offense in a sane country but alas the house of assemblies are something else. Unbelievable. If this is true and proven, I expect Mr Osinbajo to resign honourably from this government.

  • Sarah

    Re the possibility that Pres. Buhari approved circa $1.8bn oil contacts even after transferring full presidential powers to V.P. Osinbajo. This is an impeachable offence if proven true.
    Elsewhere it’s been reported that NNPC persistently refused to say who gave the approval, simply answering “.. presidential approval is presidential approval..”. However same NNPC later said VP gave approval as Ag President. On the other hand VP’s office is refusing to confirm or deny their role in the matter.
    Recall that we were told how VP as Ag President told NNPC GMD to consult Kachikwu re appointments. Would the same Ag President accept GMD’s request to approve $1.8bn without Kachikwu’s input?
    As children we were warned not to lie because each lie needs to be covered by at least 3 additional lies, each of which further needs to be covered by 3 additional lies If the investigator is persistent.
    If our media is patriotic and persistent, it appears they may uncover a potentially impeachable offence at the core of this crisis.

    • tdjakesNG

      Haa Sarah na who you want to answer the hard question???.Na who give the Presidential approval,as for me,I know its not Prof,he was busy then,maybe na the other Acting President in the Kitchen…….hahaha.

      • KlasJ

        Sarah was quoting the NNPC Spokeman – Ndu Ughamadu’s follow-up interview as published yesterday by Premium Times

        • lord of jaspers

          actually dey have revised dat claim!

  • American Abroad

    There is no such thing as a perfect leader.

    But Buhari, who may have finally succeeded in demystifying himself as an aloof, incompetent, undiscerning, manager of materiel and men, now risks being widely perceived as corrupt to boot. Which would be cruel irony, even for the ever-shifting sands of Nigeria’s ruthless identity politics. A lot of my fellow citizens, myself included, fully embraced Mr Buhari’s Nigeria-Go-Better shtick, an overdone, hypocritical, ascetic-as-leader, neo-Ghandi (Mahatma, not Indira or Rajiv) esthetic, which has now worn extremely thin. Prior to his ascension to high office, the skeptical populace were regaled with tales of his iron disposition, commitment to Justice, simple character, religious bona fides, even clearly apocryphal tales of an Igbo (!) driver and in-laws (!!!), fluency in Yoruba language, long-term residency amongst his kin, the Edo (as a non-paying guest of Mr Babangida, his 1984 nemesis), and worse, his mild, sober, forgiving spirit (towards You-Know-Whom-At-Minna). Ah, the epic falsehoods of political campaigns…

    Historical whitewashing notwithstanding, nobody starts out in life being perfect. Indeed, nobody can be perfect at all times. It was the incomparable Ellie Hubbard who reminds us that “Every man is a damn fool for at least 5 minutes each day; wisdom consists of not exceeding that daily limit”. Even here, Stateside, the venerable Benjamin Franklin ran away from home as a teenager, fathered an illegitimate son, and declared bankruptcy (not once, but twice!) before attaining the stature of polymath and patriot. George Washington, Father of his Nation, was a military disaster at the Battle of Fort Necessity in 1754, which would later transform into the Seven Years War, way before the same George was discovered never to have told a lie. Take Thomas Jefferson, a disciplined, insightful, avatar and philosopher-king, whose innermost thoughts found expression in that iconic phrase, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal…”, perhaps the most consequential phrase in the English Language; yet, old Tom could not keep himself from tomcatting with the hired help…. but I digress, as this is about Nigeria.

    It appears that Mr Buhari, even on his sick bed (which could have just as easily been terminal), was signing multi-billion dollar contracts as the substantive Minister of Petroleum, without the knowledge of his Minister of State and general dogsbody, the hapless Mr Kachikwu (who should now do the honorable thing and resign), and most probably, without the knowledge of Mr Osinbajo, whom had assumed full “the more-you-look-the-less-you-see” executive powers before Mr Buhari’s extended sick leave began. Some would argue that Mr Buhari might have been taken advantage of; could he have really understood what he was signing, in the midst of a reportedly titanic struggle for his very life? Perhaps. But death-bed politics is not a peculiarly Nigerian aberration, though one would have thought it was too soon for an encore, only 6 short years after Yar’Adua’s epic Turaicracy. Here in the United States, March 2004, a then unknown Deputy Attorney-General, Mr Comey, received a distress call from the distraught wife of Attorney-General John Ashcroft, that her husband, weak from general surgery and anesthesia following gallbladder surgery, had been accosted in his hospital room by the Attorney to the President, Alberto Gonzales, and White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, to sign some papers reauthorizing an extension of wire-tapping, being part of the fluid mosaic of the infamous Patriot Act. Ashcroft had previously refused to reauthorize wire-tapping (i.e. domestic surveillance), deeming it unconstitutional outside of a dire national emergency, but the White House thought otherwise, and calculated that he would be most vulnerable soon after surgery. Comey sought the assistance of then-FBI chief, Robert Mueller, to form a human barricade against “executive over-reach” right at the hospital bed, with the groggy, confused, John Ashcroft being none the wiser until days after the event. The White House, miffed at Ashcroft’s seeming intransigence, went ahead and reauthorized the domestic surveillance program, against all conventional (and official) legal opinion. Comey, Mueller, and several senior attorneys in Justice and FBI penned their resignations in concert, a development that forced George W Bush’s White House to finally acquiesce and back down. Do we have any Comeys or Muellers at Aso Rock: folks dedicated to the Constitution and not to either temporal authority or Mr Abba Kyari?

    Back to Mr Buhari. Again, from Elbert Hubbard: “Many a man’s reputation would not recognize his character if they met on the street”. Sadly, in a nation without any heroes, Mr Buhari’s pristine reputation, at long last, is now in congress with his base character, right into the abyss-of-no-return. And again, there is nothing to cheer in this very dispiriting news. Our last best chance of a hero as President appears fatally doomed. How long can Nigeria survive such self-inflicted wounds? Perhaps, the lesson in all this is that a society that elects a President to save it from itself falls into the same fallacy as a lady who marries a man to reform him, or a gentleman who weds a courtesan to make an honest woman of her: they all are doomed to never-ending grief and futility.

    Mr Buhari is now standing naked, alone, at the Dock of History.

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      A people first require a certain level of education so that they can discern enough to make a choice in a democracy. A people first require a human right standard of living before they can protect themselves from stomach infrastructure selling of votes. My point? We are practicing a system of government and operating a set up that can never lead to development.

      The Nigerian election of a President does not necessarily offer morally legitimacy to govern.

      Add to that, the threats implied from Buhari, the violence through BH and other militia that was being visited on the country, the foreign collaborators who all conspired to defeat an also ‘not-fit-for-purpose’ incumbent. Let us not pretend that Buhari was ever the ‘peoples’ choice. Don’t forget the massive rigging that went on.

      I do not blame many who fell for the spin and considered Buhari a messiah. But you? A master of history and compelling analysis – what happened? How come such error of judgement? Without being smug, it was not so hard to see that this was ‘advance vote fraud – aka 419 from APC. I will not be too hard on your wrong choice, because how does one measure the destructive impact between a tweedle dee and a tweedle dumb?

      Ibe will not resign. The black soup is too sweet. And anyway, I cannot imagine that in two years of being in and around the kitchen, he has not obliged himself. He is merely making noise at the dinner table and for that he i imagine has been summarily sent to his room to think about lack of manners. His family and friends can also not be happy with him and must also be like flea in his ear because they too are ‘allegedly’ benefiting. One wonders why he rocking the boat.

      The facts are that NNPC and the vast wealth it generates ‘belong’ to the ruling party and it is to the party that the funds must be directed. So, please let us not act like we do not know. And one day, Ibe may tell us the real reason for his gripe. I cannot imagine how this will ever go his way.

      • American Abroad

        Dear MK: Thanks for the back-handed compliment. Pardon my intransigence, but I still believe, 2 years on, that choosing Mr Buhari was still the better option to an encore with the dissolute Mr Jonathan. Perhaps, because I can still hope that Mr Buhari might yet deliver on his anti-corruption agenda; I already knew that Mr Jonathan would deliver on nothing. However, I think it is insane to continuously litigate the 2015 election.

    • Don Franco

      Dear MKSP,

      In the name of God and all that is holy, how would have American Abroad’s non-endorsement of the Certificateless One altered the outcome of the 2015 election? American Abroad is only one individual; he didn’t even vote! l doubt that he’ll ever do more than be the intellectual conscience of those of us that subscribe to truth-telling and holding government to account.
      I would be greatly assisted if yourself and William Norris can orientate commentators like myself about the ways and means that American Abroad enthroned the Daura Dullard into that cursed house on the rock; outside of pointing out that he’s of a better character, as human being than GEJ?
      Then and since, American Abroad has vociferously stated without ambivalence that the Dullard is the worst President that Nigeria has ever had; even as recently as in his last comment.
      My point is that it is pretentious for us to continuously hold other people to a higher standard of reasonable than ourselves; for the collective cowardice of our people that has kept corrupt individuals in power from 1979 to date.
      Those of us with a higher stake in the political outcomes of 2019, and who reside in Nigeria permanently should be in forefront of rushing to the barricades; not waiting for one man “Abroad” to share or validate our political opinion before we overturn the bulwark of our oppression.
      Buhari and Baru must find oil and gas in Sokoto, before or after 2019; whether Kachikwu likes it or not. There you have it!

      • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

        You are quite right mr brother. I suppose in a moment of ‘told you’ i couldn’t help a reminder – although I still do not understand how anyone did not see Buhari coming – but you are right, it is not the issue at hand.

        This continued search for a resource that no one will need in twenty years is suicide

        A country with self harm instincts may have mental health issues

        • Iskacountryman

          who told you that no one would need oil in the next 20 years?…could you try and apprise your mind that as nigeria develops, internal oil consumption would surpass supply….there is no law that says oil must always be consumed externally…

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            Oil was not our messiah in the past, it will not be our messiah in the future.
            The oil we get from the ground, we send abroad the remainder is sold back to us.

            We are not and will not be an island and we are on the wrong side of this fixation with oil. We should shine our eyes now. The resource for which we earn much of our forex will have no market in the not too distant future!!!

          • Iskacountryman

            mister michael…if you turn your oil and gas to power electricity generation alone in your country…you would not have enough….there would always be a market for oil…INTERNAL market…you are fixated on external demands only….how many hours of electricity do you receive in nigeria daily?

          • obinnna77

            Develop? How? Your kin will buy more generating sets to power their rumpa in the bush? Or in the proposed ranches, yeah?

          • Iskacountryman

            and generating sets uses ogogoro not oil. does it?….

          • obinnna77

            Ah, you get it.

          • Iskacountryman

            your ‘smart’ brothers would move their guangzhou factories to nnewi…you would then buy more oil to generate electricity…but not to worry, eboes learn slowly…very soon a fula would teach you that it is cheaper to manufacture close to your consumers…you cannot mess with a 150m strong consumer market…held together by us…

          • obinnna77

            Consumer market of how many herdsmen, genius? The entire formal market is just a distribution net for petrol proceeds, which also pay for your lafiya doles, and harbin kadangares,but hey, what do I know? Sai mulki ko, ba fulata?

          • Iskacountryman

            mulki….mulki…mulki….patience which is not an attribute of the eboe, would be your undoing…are we not buying fake medicines and spare parts already….dont worry…very soon, we would buy transistor radios…

          • obinnna77

            Patience, till you dumb us all down to your level. Yeah, we noticed your recent shenanigans with the Jamb scores. We shall not accept serfdom, willingly. Mu ba bayin ku ba, kaman katafawa, da hausawa.

          • Iskacountryman

            okay…ga fili, ga doki….we are holding this country for you to trade in…and you would not thank us…why?

          • obinnna77

            You hold too tight, ba mu jan numfashi. It is a stranglehold.

          • Don Franco

            Tau, ga barrawu, ga kaya (translated behold the thief and his stolen goods); …. some holding, some country, some trading. Thank you for what. .? We need out of your zoo, that’s why.

          • Iskacountryman

            don franco…but you are already out, looking in… we view the eboes as the housefly, whose dilemma is best captured by – fawa biu tana bata hankali’n kuda….and dont come with that i dont eat meat nonsense…

          • Don Franco

            Dear Iska,

            If it weren’t beneath my dignity, I’d have reminded you about your similarity to that cowardly antagonist in the Passport of Malam Iliya. …..

          • Iskacountryman

            well let us say it is beneath you…for i also did not read cyprian ekwensu…

          • Don Franco

            I’m very sure you didn’t. … Mr. Ekwensi’s didn’t write with your type in mind.

          • Don Franco

            Dear Iska,

            Who told YOU that there will still be a Zoo in the next 20 years to have progressively developed and will require internal oil consumption that would have surpassed supply; you’re highly talented in building castles in the air, aren’t you? Dream On!

          • Iskacountryman

            dreams are free….but speculation is self indicting…do you think that you are right to speculate that your zoo would not exist in 20 years, but fail to appreciate the simple truth, that oil would still be found in the soil or offshore niger area…i was talking of what could be done with that oil…and not worrying about a zoo…raise the game…

        • Darcy

          ” I still do not understand how anyone did not see Buhari coming”

          Devil and the Red Sea type situation.

      • Political Affey

        Dear Franco

        In fairness to American Abroad he is doing exactly what many of us have done in this forum for many years. We point to the faults of the system without offering practical solutions. Great to see your radical solution. IT is still not practical enough.

        • Don Franco

          Dear Political Affey,

          Do you mean that if 10% of the Nigerian populations march on the Villa and the NASS, for one full week for 24 hours, Buhari will not resign, and Saraki and Dogara will not abscond to London?
          I’m sure you recollect what happened in Ukraine and Egypt, even Libya… It is cowardice of spirits, and deleterious, noxious mixture of tribalism and religion that prevents even 5% of the population to form the critical mass necessary to chase our corrupt government out of power.
          In any event, what in your opinion would constitute a “practical enough” solution? Like JonWest said, a little education never goes amiss…..

      • MDG2020

        Dear DF,
        Please do not blame our comrade “in-quest-for-truth” MKSP. Perhaps he was never opportuned to study Literature in English in his days in secondary school, or worse still, never lived around grand parents who regaled us with soothing unverifiable tales, as most of us did: and so, always hit cloud nine anytime AA, serenades him with his boring poetry-like narratives crammed from un-contemporary history foreign history books.
        Back home here, we deal with antecedents (aka profiling), and facts, before we present our arguments, commentary and justifiable judgment. Suffice to say also that a good student of Nigerian history between 1984 and 2011, need not look far, nor apply verbose alien-language, to know the true character or person of ‘citizen? buhari.’
        This then brings to question the character of the person of AA, if truly he was one of those that expended their electoral franchise on ‘citizen? buhari,’ to elect him -albeit rig him in- as a 21st century president of the federal republic of Nigeria!
        My brother we know where every one stand on this issue as it affect us. You are one of those on this forum who have made PRINCIPLED contribution your watch word, always standing on what you believe in as the part of truth without rationalization or prevaricating.
        AA and his audience also know where they stand ‘Un-Principled.’ But will rather like WALEXIT, resort to verbose confusing alien-language to rationalize their own mistakes and confusions. In which case are neither helpful to themselves, nor their confused audience that are deeply ensconced in the confused verbosity they often spew in the name of “na we sabi alien language pass, and once we decide on a matter, una wey never see onyinbo before must know-tow with us.”

        • Don Franco

          Dear MDG2020,

          Commending you for a deliberately and incisive and thoughtful contribution; Make I ask you, something; don’t you feel that this forum is made richer by the reflection of all shades of opinion, diction, lexicon and the nuisance value of some of the commentators? What I wanted MKSP to let me know is the rationale for a cult of “anti-AA” fraternity that has built up over the past 24 months in this forum, around the same leitmotif of his endorsement of the Certificateless One, they remind him of it at every turn without let or hinderance.
          The man is probably an academic; I suspect he’s a tenured professor of History or Politics, which is reponsible for his peculiar writing style; he’s comments are targeted at a particular group. He has disowned the Daura Dullard severally, but maybe not in the scathing invective terms that will suffice for or satisfy yourself and MKSP, or even William Norris and the rest of the anti-AA fraternity. Abeg, make una forgive am joh!
          I have no qualms with his political opinion of still advocating One Nigeria, just as I’m sure he respects my ardent Biafran sentiments.
          MDG2020, I believe that it is through the contestation of diametrically opposed positions that the truth can be discerned, if we disagree long enough without into the person degenerating into the inundating invective that is poured on AA’s head for endorsing that wicked dull man without a WASC certificate.
          In the final analysis, the truth is usually somewhere “in between” the two opposing sides.

          • American Abroad

            Dear Don:
            The only appropriate response to MDG2020 (Millenium Development Goals, I presume?) would have been a quotation from Nietzche, which somehow I doubt he’ll appreciate: “The surest way to corrupt a young man is to teach him to esteem more highly those who think alike than those who think differently”.
            Maybe, I really should come home and head the Education Ministry!

          • Don Franco

            Dear American Abroad,

            Latching unto your last sentence, I once read that when the students are ready, the teacher will appear; with the current levels of truancy, you might head an Education Ministry full of empty classrooms. I guess the point that some of your detractors are making (and they all cannot be totally wrong ) is that you haven’t communicated until your audience can make heads or tails of what you’re saying; and secondly that you arrogantly choose the dead language of Latin and cite authors that most people has never heard of to buttress your points, thereby coming across as a “know-it-all”. For why must a reader always have to quickly Google up a reference to understand whatever the hell this American Abroad guy is saying?
            Thirdly, Buhari has set Nigeria back so far that your continued failure of not condemning him in the strongest of terms can only amount to intellectual disingenuousness of the worst kind, considering your (perceived) supercilious attitude and knowledge about politics and politicking.
            All in all, me, I’m awaiting the outcome of your conduct in how and whom you’d support (endorse) for 2019, hopefully the aphorism that Once beaten twice shy will be your mantra, as you descend from Buhari using Atiku as your guide.

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            Lol
            A fistful of ill gotten dollars awaits you my friend

          • FrNinja

            Please don’t. We saw where classical education took Africa. Our so-called intellectuals are still sucking on the breasts of mother west quoting in Latin and Greek across the internet. We need brave men ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            OK
            I am still in the room
            And it is a little unfair to state that I ALWAYS pull AA up on his support for Buhari at the time.
            I did on this occasion and to be honest, his response that considering all that has happened he still thinks Buhari was the better choice over tweedle dumb deflates me
            But over and above it all, your admonishment that I should let that go because it did not matter one way or the other is a comfortable place to rest that particular issue in the spirit of moving on.

        • American Abroad

          Sigh.

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            Sigh sigh

      • American Abroad

        Now, now, gentlemen.
        My thanks to my unpaid consiglieri, Don Franco, who often gets short shrift on my behalf.
        I’ll try to make the necessary responses, which will be brief:
        1. Biafra is, in my humble opinion, a pipe dream; but I have nothing against dreams, even if they happen to be hallucinations. Biafra I, judging from the accounts of those who actually lived it, was horrible; there is nothing to make me conclude that Biafra II would be any better.
        2. I do not write for the sub-literate; I thought that much should be obvious by now. There is no word used in the text, including such complex, mystifying words as “courtesan”, “fallacy”, “abyss”, “acquiesce”, “surveillance”, “intransigence’, “groggy’, “encore”, “apocryphal”, “avatar”, even the “French” term, “Turaicracy”, that should be beyond the ken (meaning, reach) of a school certificate holder.
        3. Our principal (meaning “primary”, meaning “number #1”) problem as a nation is the quality of our citizenship; the poor quality is because of poor education; poor education is as a result of our poor quality of citizenship….. if Nigerians place government contracts above ensuring the proper education of their children, imagine what your children would say on reading articles written by the literate in another 10 years? C’mon, guys; I can’t write at that level, even if I wanted to, which I don’t.
        4. My references are to world events/history: it is, truly, a shrinking world. I find nothing esoteric (meaning extraordinary) about using contemporary American experience, which is where I live, anyway.
        5. I have no apologies for supporting Mr Buhari; he has been a serial disappointment, he has let many down, he might never get it right. Voting him him, to appropriate an American Football metaphor, was a national Hail Mary (I can’t simplify that, ask anyone you happen to know in America). He remains, in my opinion, despite his many failures, still a better option than Mr Jonathan, until at least 2019. Were he to deliver only on 1 thing, that being to stop Corruption in Nigeria, history will be kind to him.
        6. What should Buhari do: Clear the deck; stay true to your instincts; hold your friends (and even your 5% “enemies”) close to you; listen to those who love you most, including your long-suffering wife, who though not politically sophisticated, means well for your legacy.
        7. If my language is too esoteric, why not simply skip my Commentary? For instance, I am almost never interested in the sort of topics typically addressed by Mr Dele Momodu, so I do not read him. But I’ve periodically stumbled upon irate commentary on his interventions at these BackPages: is that self-punishment, idleness or what?
        8. Finally, I enjoy a relative anonymity, as I am not politically connected to Nigeria’s nascent democracy. I just want to help provide another, hopefully, less tribal and presumably saner, perspective. My conclusion: 99% of Nigeria’s problems are predicated by massive societal ignorance. If I can help illuminate some dark crevices in our societal nightmare, then I would have made my parents proud. By the way, I still teach within my “arcane” field of expertise, but it is neither History nor Literature.

        • Don Franco

          Dear American Abroad,

          Of the eight points you made, above, I can never in good conscience grant you point’s 1 and 5. For myself and 95% of decent Igbos, Biafra is anything but a pipe dream, and we all posit that the 5% whom like yourself, believe that our people have any future in a country that is only united by the anti-Igbo virus in the bloodstream of the other tribes must be the ones hallucinating. We equate you guys with those Jews who before 1939, even in the face of Kristallnight, and the credible testimonies of escapees from Auschiwstz, reprimanded their brethren for speaking out against genocide, or for daring to emigrate out of Europe from Nazi Germany; hell, for even venturing to suggest that the Balfour Declaration for a Jewish homeland can become reality.
          Nigeria, even after 47 years hasn’t been able to equal the feats achieved by Biafra 1 in simple terms like efficient refining of oil, rocketry, guided missile systems, or even a robust Constitution; can you even compare the Ahiara Declaration with the current anthem? We were eons ahead; and still are in so many other ways that I refuse to delve into, so as to discourage the economic jealousy that’s responsible for the disunity and hatred underpinning python dances and your Dullard’s sanctioned kidnap of Ohamadike.

          That Biafra is already here, by default; enabled by the vehement refusal and denial of every cogent effort or discussion by a constituent assembly is why the northern intelligentia and Military Political Capital are directing all discussion around it to the NASS where they have the advantage due the disparity in numbers to not devolve power. How long do you think this will last? Whether you know it or not, Biafra II is reloaded and the gates of hell shall not successfully prevail against it. You must tell me how jackboots can kill an idea whose time has come and for which its adherents have being paying the ultimate price since 1914 in Lokoja and, their first pogrom in Jos, in 1945. There will be a country, again; as there was once was one.
          On your point number 5; I don’t see how the Certificateless One can achieve even the “one thing” of winning the war on corruption; when the Dullard, even by your own admission, has exacerbated corruption by authorizing Maikanti Bar as GMD of NNPC, to bypass and corruptly violate a sitting Board and award $24 billion in oil and gas contracts and while at it promote 15 northerners and only 3 southerners, knowing there’s not one drop of oil anywhere north of the Zoo. What can be more corrupt than this? I think I know; it is using northern lecturers from geological departments of ABU and the University of Maiduguri to corruptly prospect for oil in the barren sands of the sahel with the proven oil revenue’s from Akure, Bonny, Yenagoa; Warri, Eket, Izombe and Oguta; and this at a time when your targeted customers have legislated to upgrade to renewable energy twenty years hence.
          AA, your Buhari is the most corrupt leader in the entire history of Nigerian civilization, if you consider that unlike IBB, his very distant second; he pretends to be fighting corruption while doing his damned best to enable it at the NNPC, the very heartbeat the zoo”s mono economy. To hell with the zoo.

          • Orphic

            You’ve not even addressed his accumulation of foreign debt that will send Nigeria back to its indebted days.

        • Arabakpura

          Interesting Mr. American Abroad; you offer beyond Nigerian politics – very cerebral and magnanimous with words to boot!

        • Ekpetu

          Yes, Buhari (in your opinion) was a better option than Jonathan. But was he a better option than Professor Remi Sonaiya of KOWA? If not, why didn’t you drum up support for her?

    • power

      What do you think that Buhari should do in this present circumstance? How should he redeem himself please?

      • American Abroad

        Dear Mr Power: see my response to Don Franco above. Mr Buhari can still salvage his Presidency.

        • power

          Okay. Nice one

    • KWOY

      You live in the clouds. I’m sorry to say that, but you are not real. Eisenhower, George Washington, etc, such vanities… That is the kind of things forming yur ideas about nations & national life, & that’s why your opinions & suggestion do not offer concrete solutions. I may be wrong, but tha’s what I think!

      • American Abroad

        Sir: just 3 days ago, in the Commentary on The Forgotten Conversations, I gave a full repertoire of specific solutions to our Education malaise. Perhaps, you haven’t really been paying attention? But sure, I agree that my benighted country of birth has moved so far apart from the rest of the world, that I might as well be living in clouds, comparatively speaking. Which is exactly why I write. History, even of the placid Eisenhower, should never be perceived as a luxurious vanity.
        Sigh.

        • Arabakpura

          Some of us still appreciate the beauty that good English construct can strike in an enlightened and appreciative mind! Just ride on – if only for the sake of it! Some of the words are very sonorous to the ears!

        • Fula

          Reading your opinion is a threat i reserve for myself every week. Like you rightly pointed out sir, you do not write for everybody. It is no longer possible to get students to invest brain energy to understand difficult subjects, they demand answers be given to them upfront. shame really

        • nwaurualla

          Who oratory epp?

    • obinnna77

      Verbosity aside, the General remains the champion of the almajirai. And, so long as he is alive, that is all he needs to be.

      • American Abroad

        Dear Obinnna77: see my response to the untiring Don Franco above. Verbosity? I plead ignorance.

    • James Gunn

      It’s unfortunate. Less than 5000 eligible voters will read this post. Worse still, less than 2000 will understand the importance of the message therein.

  • KWOY

    “Meanwhile, even though this scandal may not be about any stolen money, I am almost certain that if it were under President Goodluck Jonathan, the APC propaganda machine would by now be on overdrive in telling Nigerians about “how the billions of dollars were shared and who got what”. That is why I am disappointed that nobody in the opposition is making life difficult for those who are notorious for spinning any and every untruth to score cheap political points.”

    The reason is because the Lagos-Ibadan press was the media arm of APC for reasons well known to you. It remains the media arm of APC & a defender of Buhari against Jonathan out of a sense of embarassment.

  • Daniel Obior

    On the “25 Billion Dollar Palavar”, Buhari is simply just being Buhari. He contrived this whole mess ab initio, making himself the petroleum minister, appointing an NNPC GMD of northern extraction who would report directly to him and bypassing a dummy minister of state and board chairman appointed from the South-south, only to fulfill some righteousnes. All talks about fighting corruption by this man mean nothing in the face of his personal style that lack transparency of any form. He will not fire Baru because Baru is acting under his instructions. He will not relinquish his position as the minister of petroleum given his obsession with power and control. All said, Kachikwu may ultimately be the sacrificial ass, if anything comes out of this saga. In the meantime, fools can keep deluding themselves that we have a government fighting corruption. Nothing can be further from the truth.

    • “Korede

      “On the “25 Billion Dollar Palavar”, Buhari is simply just being Buhari. He contrived this whole mess ab initio, making himself the petroleum minister, appointing an NNPC GMD of northern extraction who would report directly to him and bypassing a dummy minister of state and board chairman appointed from the South-south, only to fulfill some righteousnes”

      Keep on ranting out of unnecessary hatred. You will need to read the response of NNPC to Kachikwu allegation in the letter and also research on who Baru was before the appointment as GMD of NNPC. Baru is not qualified to be GMD of NNPC because he is from the north or because he is incoompetent? Just move on and wait for 2019.

      • Daniel Obior

        Trust one of the deluded ones to come to the rescue of his despotic, feudal and parochial hero. I have read the response of NNPC and nothing there changes the point I have made. The new buzz word nowadays in the toolbox of sympathisers of this incompetent government is hatred. The discerning ones are not intimidated and will always speak up. Since when has Baru become the only qualified person to be NNPC GMD? I will not hold my breath for 2019, as I believe it will be a nonevent. Buhari has systematically compromised the improved INEC he inherited. Of course dunces like you would not notice.

        • “Korede

          I will not join issues with you on your bad diction. You are known to use abusive words when challenged on your tribal and primordial sentiments.

          May be you never came across the fact that as at the time Kachikwu was appointed the NNPC GMD, Baru was the most senior executive director at NNPC. So, for Buhari to appoint him GMD of NNPC after Kachikwu has been elevated to the post of a minister is still a sin to you and you cannot come to terms that he is from the north.

          You must be so low in IQ that you cannot make your point without abusing people.

          • Daniel Obior

            You are so dumb you cannot even see that the so called elevation to the post of a minister of state without authority over NNPC GMD, was a ruse. That was the plan all along to isolate Kachikwu in favour of one of his. Secondly, given all the appointments Buhari has made, is it not obvious he is parochial? Why couldn’t Buhari leave Kachikwu as NNPC GMD and appoint someone else as minister of state? He had an agenda and we are seeing it live. You are of course too gullible to realise it. As for abusive words, I hardly start it. I responded in kind to yours. If you know you do not have the stomach for it, do not start it. Tribe has nothing to do with my comments. You do not even know where I am from. Stop spinning your wheels. As for IQ, mine is much higher than yours anyway.

          • “Korede

            You don’t need to tell us where you are from. It is so obvious and everybody here knows you. You are just displaying your immaturity.

          • Don Franco

            Dear Korede,

            It would help if you addressed the point and logic raised by Daniel Obior relevant to why Baru wasn’t elevated to Minister of State, seeing as he’s so very qualified and senior in the NNPC; and Kachikwu retained as GMD?
            Why did Baru appoint 15 Northern senior executives, and only 3 from the South?
            These are the kernel of the matter?

          • “Korede

            If you cannot start by condemning the abusive language Daniel is using, it means you agree with his style. Again, why are you guys approbating and reprobriating at the same time. You are condemning quota system and you are still raising isdue with appointment based on north and south. Why is he and you not talking about the competence of the people appointed instead of where they cone from? Can we talk about same thing in previous governments? I abhor the hatred in his comment and that is what i tried to address in my first comment.

          • Daniel Obior

            I have stated that I do not abuse contributors in this forum unless they abuse me first. Why should that be condemned? The president has the prerogative to appoint whoever he likes. Does that mean his appointments are not driven by parochialism? You cannot even argue intelligently. You talk so much about ethnicity because you have stupidly assumed I am from a part of the country you dislike. Since I have not told you where I an from, your accusation of ethnicity is baseless. Use your head, please.

          • “Korede

            You are a nonentity.

          • Daniel Obior

            The donkey that you are could not address the points I made.
            Rot in your urine, dunce.

          • ychukwuka

            You appoint a man without certificate to NNPC because he’s either a moslem or from the North, he stays there donkey years and use the fund to get some ‘good’ and ‘saleable’ certificates along the line. With time, nonentities and ignorant folks will start reminding us that he is the most ‘experienced.’ Experience in what? This applies to our leadership, judiciary and other govt. agencies. No need to wonder why Nigeria is as bad as it is.

          • Daniel Obior

            Who is the everybody? Speak for yourself, dummy. Where I come from or where you come from, are not the issues here. Being mentally challenged, you are unable to address issues, hence where I come from becomes interesting to your stupid self.

  • Omooba

    SEGUN THE REPORTER, YOU SHOULD HAVE ACCURATELY INFORMED THE READING PUBLIC IN THIS ARTICLE THAT THE MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION WAS TELEPHONE IN REFERENCE TO “AT A POINT, I CAME HOME FROM ROME TO DISCUSS THE ISSUE WITH MY FATHER”.
    AS DISTINCT FROM “HE WENT TO SEE THE THEN GOVERNOR, COMRADE OSHIOMHOLE ON THE ISSUE”.
    BECAUSE ONCE INSTALLED, THE EDAIKEN OF USELU DOES NOT SEE EYE TO EYE WITH THE OBA OF BENIN. JUST A MATTER OF VALID OBSERVATION AND CORRECTION.

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      Thank you Omooba;

      This story was a great opportunity to inform and regal readers with the rich tapestry that make up the Oba and his Kingdom in Benin by explaining certain norms and traditions along with the interesting stories.

      Imagine also that the Oba like many traditional rulers in Nigeria are closer to their people, have stronger moral grounds to rule and interestingly enough, if you study the monarchy in Benin, it has it’s own form of democracy. Will they steal the people’s money like our current so called democracy allows?

      Unknown to many, the Benin Empire was at its most affluent when it traded brass etc etc with the Portuguese in the 15th century. Ditto the other Empires that make up modern day Nigeria.

      We then of course sold ourselves, and through the war (we did not know it was a war) of colonialism, we lost our languages, our heritage and importantly our religions so that the only way we communicated with each other was through a foreign power. Even today, our current President’s first important policy speech was in Chatham House in London. And today, we rule ourselves through the ‘copy and paste’ constitution that is not married to our essence as a people and we wonder why we cannot move forward.

      When a people have been this abused for this long, you have to consider the mental health issues. This is why we continually self harm!!