Saraki’s ‘Robbery Links’ and the Insolence of Dan-Ali

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Ring True

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

I am still struggling to understand why the Police have been holding press conferences to celebrate the alleged confession of the Offa robbery gang to sordid links to Presiden t of the Senate, Bukola Saraki. These conferences are utterly unnecessary and a shameful celebration by the police. For me, the police are just out to ridicule the Senate President as part of the war to decimate him. The leadership of the police apparently wants to be seen helping the Executive in this war against Saraki. The truth be told; it is all about the 2019 Presidency. Unfortunately, the police have only succeeded in ridiculing itself and desecrating the entire country with its partisanship. In sane societies, discreet investigation would follow such confessions by criminals caught in the act; not media trial. This is why lucid societies don’t take us seriously. This Saraki media trial is thoughtless, insensitive and highly offensive. Decent people must all rise and speak up against shenanigans like this one.

The politicization of police investigations and summons must end. Nigerian police must learn to adhere to global standards in investigations and summons, so that we can exit the inglorious club of badly policed countries. It is so sad; in this part of the world, most of those in positions of authority seem to act under the influence of excessive codeine. The joint session of the National Assembly held on Tuesday to deliberate on shenanigans by heads of our security agencies and resolutions reached should challenge the Executive to have a volte-face and reinstruct heads of these vital federal agencies; they must stop playing politics with virtually everything. I concur with the NASS resolutions, particularly the caution to President Muhammadu Buhari to always adhere to the Rule of Law.

I also agree that the “systematic harassment and humiliation by the Executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinion, including legislators and judiciary, by the Police and other security agencies must stop” and that the President “must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction those that carry out any act which will ridicule or endanger our country and democracy.”

For me, heads of our security agencies should channel the energy and resources being used to persecute perceived political opponents of the President towards tackling the killings across the country. I doubt if they are aware that in the early hours of Wednesday, killer herdsmen launched fresh attacks on Guma and Logo local government areas of Benue State, leading to the death of nine persons. These two local government areas have for months faced incessant attacks. Aside from the killing of innocent Nigerians, security agents are also being killed in hundreds by killer herdsmen and Boko Haram. These should burden our security chiefs.

This one is for our dear IGP Ibrahim Idris. Just on Sunday, an inspector, a sergeant and a corporal were slaughtered by killer herdsmen at Maraban-Udege village in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. The state Police Command has confirmed this. The policemen were ambushed and killed on their way to quell a fight between Agatu farmers and Fulani herdsmen. This should burden IGP Idris who recently sent hundreds of policemen after weaponless Senator Dino Melaye. He should please send these policemen after killer herders.

On the flip side, another of the President’s men who has been behaving strangely is Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd.). With a man like this minister, this country will continue struggling to end killings. Notwithstanding the outcry against nomadic cattle rearing and the killings trailing it, Dan-Ali insists that this retrogressive practice must continue in our modern society. The defence minister on Tuesday in Abuja advised the nation’s Security Council presided over by Buhari to suspend anti-open grazing laws in Benue, Taraba and Ekiti states, while also demanding for safe routes for herders. He said this would be negotiated with the farmers. Only God knows what he means by this.
Dan-Ali seems unaware that the 1999 Constitution empowers state Houses of Assembly to make laws for the good governance of the states. He is shamelessly ignorant that states are empowered by the Land Use Act to take ownership and management of land resources and wants the federal government to dabble into the affairs of states.

Senator Barnabas Gemade was apt when he reprimanded Dan-Ali thus: “This is not the first time that we will hear this kind of absurd statements coming from no less a personality than the Minister of Defence. If a Minister of Defence is calling for anarchy, where else can we find peace? We understand that the minister comes from Zamfara State and I wonder if all the killings in Zamfara that are almost equal in number with the ones in Benue, are also as a result of the anti-open grazing law. And if by his own experience, the killings in Zamfara have nothing to do with the anti-open grazing law, why does he believe that the killings in Benue and Taraba are because they enacted the laws? While we are looking up to the government for protection, and indeed looking up to the security agencies for protection, we get so dismayed by the attitude of those who lead these security forces.”
My dear Dan-Ali, nomadic cattle rearing is an aberration in any modern society. Ours can’t be an exception. Please, stop these retrograde moves.

Shehu Sani and the Running Cost Quagmire
Nigerians now know how much federal lawmakers take home monthly, thanks to Senator Shehu Sani. This nonconformist threw numerous federal lawmakers into uneasiness with his recent disclosure that senators collect N13.5 million monthly as running costs. Sani has now extended his battle for full disclosure of running cost to the Executive arm of government at all levels. Certainly, Nigerians deserve to know what the President, Vice President, governors, ministers and heads of federal departments and agencies collect monthly as running cost in the spirit of transparency and anti-corruption. The senator representing Kaduna Central is calling on Nigerians to demand that all the public officers listed above should publicly disclose their running cost. I fully concur.
Querying the running cost of the Executive at all levels, the Senator said: “There should be no grey areas in public office; and now that Nigerians know what the members of the National Assembly are earning, they should also know the running cost of our ministers; what is the running cost of our governors? What is the running cost of heads of government parastatals? What is the running cost of presidential advisers, aides and the men around the government? And what is the running cost of the president and vice president?

”So, it may be unpalatable or painful that I revealed what we are being given every month but it has healed and brought a close chapter to the fact that people don’t know what we are actually earning. Now we know. If you are doing some good to your people, they know very well that it is not an act of charity, not philanthropy; that you are giving them what rightly belongs to them.”
This is a just and patriotic battle and we must all support this senator. Recall that former Presidential Spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe, had also challenged President Buhari, Vice- President Yemi Osinbajo, ministers, special advisers to the President, heads of government agencies, parastatals and other top government functionaries, to make public their running cost.

I stated in an earlier article that while tackling federal lawmakers over their running cost, Nigerians should also interrogate the Executive and Judicial arms of governments at all levels regarding running cost. All holders of elective and appointive offices still access huge amount of money as running cost in an era of change. Many will clearly be shocked if they know what ministers, heads of departments and agencies draw as running cost monthly. Maikanti Baru, who heads the NNPC, allegedly collects perplexing figure monthly as running outlays. The lady at the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman and my friend at NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, are also said to be drawing frightening figures monthly as running cost. In the Presidency, aides of Mr. President pocket millions of Naira monthly as running expenses. These public servants should make public their running cost in the spirit of “Change.” There should be transparency in an era of change.

A country where millions of people now wake up without breakfast and go to bed without dinner can’t afford these follies. A country where millions of civil servants have not been paid for months can’t afford a treat like this. A country with a comatose economy, where millions of graduates roam the streets without jobs must not continue with this luxury of huge running cost.

A Word for Femi Gbajabiamila
The lawmaker representing Surulere (Lagos State) Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila recently empowered his people. I was shocked to see him distributing motor cycles, 160 in all, to young men in this area dominated by “area boys.” If Gbajabiamila truly wants to empower them, it should be with skills and not encouraging them to become “Okada” riders. I doubt if Gbajabiamila knows that using “Okada” for commercial transportation is a signal of a failed society. I am sure that he did not experience this in all his years in the United States. With his 160 “Okadas”, this lawmaker has simple shown his flawed determination to sustain an “Okada” generation instead of a skillful generation. On the flip side, Gbajabiamila pretends to be unaware that “Okada” riding has been destroying lives across our country. He needs to visit “Okada” ward at the National Orthopedic Hospital in Igbobi, Lagos, to see the number of “Okada” accident victims brought in daily, followed with a large number of amputations. This lawmaker and other legislators who indulge in empowering our youths with “Okada” must immediately end this folly. My dear Gbajabiamila, emphasis should be on empowering our teeming jobless youths with enduring skills that will make them self-employed. This country must build a skillful generation and not an “Okada” generation.

Still on NNPC’s Losses
I have just gone back again to read the string of losses recorded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in the last three years. I am still shuddering. NNPC recorded a total loss of N546.63 billion during this period, according to statements on its website. The corporation’s unaudited financial operations showed losses of N267.14 billion, N197.49 billion and N82 billion in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively, in contrast to its budgets that showed operating surpluses of N466.94 billion, N334.04 billion and N601.15 billion for the three years under review. Its ineffective refineries and fuel-retailing arm are the biggest money guzzlers. While other state oil corporations in places like Norway, Brazil and Saudi Arabia are making money for their governments, ours keeps devouring money; wasting money in an era of depression.

Money guzzling is the name of NNPC’s game. Not long ago, this corporation told a bewildered nation that petrol consumption had jumped to 60 million litres daily, with N1.7 trillion paid as subsidy in 2017. Many are questioning these new figures. NNPC’s petrol import and expenditure claims are cloaked. I doubt if they are verified by an independent body. A responsible government will privatise the loss-making refineries and liberalise the oil downstream to stem this ugly trend. Unfortunately, this has refused to happen in Nigeria amid so much poverty. The big men who use NNPC as a cash cow have refused to allow this happen. They control any government that emerges in mother Nigeria. What a country!