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The Abuja Rail Surveillance Contract and Matters Arising 

The Abuja Rail Surveillance Contract and Matters Arising 

Eddy Odivwri

There is no doubt, we are in a deep mess as a country. Many things are no longer what they used to be. We can no longer take many things for granted. One of such is travelling. We can no longer guarantee that when we set out, we shall arrive. Beside the possibility of road accidents or armed robbery attacks, we now contend with the fiercer version of uncertainty: banditry and kidnapping. I should think insurance companies will soon develop products to accommodate this new fear.

SPerhaps it is in a bid to discount such eventuality that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)Alhaji Mohammed Bello, recently awarded a contract for the surveillance of the Abuja rail line to two security companies. The rail line is within a 45-kilometer stretch, between Abuja metropolis and the  Abuja airport, at the cost of N718 million.

The rail service which had been suspended ostensibly because of security concerns is likely to resume as soon as the security outfits perfect their surveillance task.

 The two organisations given the contract are: Al-Ahli Security Guards Limited and Messrs Seaguard Security and Protective Company Ltd. 

While Al-Ahli Security Guards is to man 27.4 kilometers of the rail stretch (hosting eight train stations) at N407,214 million, Seaguard Security and Protective Company Ltd will man 18 kilometers of the stretch with four rail stations at the cost of N310,979,250 . 

Well, it is advisable to take precautionary measures against any attack on the rail service in Nigeria. But the arising questions are troubling:

First, why is the same surveillance contract not being awarded for other rail services in Nigeria, such as Lagos-Ibadan route and the Warri-Itakpe route?  Are the Abuja passengers more valued than passengers on other routes?

 Secondly, why was a mere 45-kilometer rail stretch split between two security contractors, whereas there are other routes that remain unsecured in the country?

 Perhaps a point of greater concern is the issue of the background of one of the security organisations: the Al-Ahli Security Guards, purportedly owned by Alhaji Abdullahi   Bala-Lau, the National Chairman of Jama’atu Izalatul Bidi’ah wa Ikamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS), an organization that has been severally linked with financing terrorism in the country, especially the Christmas Day bombing of the St Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, on December 25, 2011. 

 Along with some other Islamic fundamentalists, Kabiru Sokoto, the mastermind of that dastardly attack, eleven years ago, was said to have been funded by the Izala movement, also known as JIBWIS, by Bala-Lau. JIBWIS is one of the largest Islamic organisations in West Africa. One of its main creed is not to allow a non-Muslim to lead Nigeria. 

The allegation that they support the activities of terrorists has not been denied.

The indications from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) establish a link between the winner of the contract and the Izala movement.

So, the arising question is why is the federal government knowingly awarding such a huge and sensitive contract to persons suspected to be linked with terrorist activities? Is it so the terrorists can be better funded to continue their attacks on the Nigerian state or is it so, the terrorists will be placated not to launch any other attack on Nigerian train services? 

Did the BPE undertake the usual background check of companies it awards government contracts, before awarding this rail surveillance contract to an organization accused of funding terrorism?

It is acts like this that fuel the suspicion in many quarters that the government not only knows those behind the spate of insecurity in this country, but that the government is also not willing to truly and sincerely tackle the blight. 

I have not forgotten the grave confessions of Alhaji Kawu Baraje, former chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who, in an interview, disclosed that the APC, in a desperate move to ensure the party won the 2015 elections, brought in Fulani militias from Mali, Sierra Leone, Senegal etc., to Nigeria. Needless to say that those Fulani militias are those who have transmuted to being a sustained terror machine, killing and maiming Nigerians in their homes and on the highways. Baraje is still alive. Nobody, till date, has either arrested him or refuted what he said. 

 The utterances of the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai few years ago, about his cuddling romance with the terrorists lend credence to what Baraje said.

The militias were brought in to cause maximum mayhem, if the APC lost the election. But having won, the militia could not be sent back from where they were brought. And today, they have become our collective albatross, on which huge sums of our resources have been expended without respite, and to no avail. Indeed, the falcon can no longer hear the falconer, and things are falling apart.

It is thus safe to say the APC-led government brought this menace on us.

 So Mr FCT minister, you need to explain to Nigerians why this surveillance contract was awarded to an organization with such a badge of terror stuck on its profile.

It is safe to infer that splitting the contract between the two organisations is to use the Seaguard Security and Protective Company Ltd to deoderise the miasma which the Yola-based Al-Ahli Security Guards represents.

How can we justify government’s resources being deployed to organisations that the same government claims to be fighting? Little wonder that the more government spends to combat terrorism, the more dastardly they get. It is acts of contracts and supports like this that clearly lionize the terror gangs. 

But hey, where was the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo when this Surveillance contract was approved by the Federal Executive Council? Osinbajo, it was that disapproved of the installation of security gadgets on the Abuja-Kaduna train service, which could have averted the March 28 bomb attack on the Kaduna-bound train.  Osinbajo had argued that the company recommended by the Ministry of Transport had neither cognate experience, nor sufficient capital base to undertake such a project costing about N3 billion. That memo was knocked off, and few months later, the March 28 terrorist attack occurred. Some of the kidnapped passengers on that train service are still in the bush.

Why were the same questions not asked about these new security organisations? What is their experience? What is their background? How much do they have in their kitty?

And pray, how much will the Abuja metropolis train service be making as to pay out N718 million every two years?


The Battle for the Soul of Delta State 

Eddy Odivwri

Did you watch the huge jubilation in Government House, Asaba, earlier in the week?

Huge jubilation? Over what?

Didn’t you hear that the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja in a major judgment restored Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state? 

Is that why there should be such a jubilation and celebration? Is such jubilation not hasty? They have a bigger river to cross, which is the main election. If you ask me, the said jubilation amounts to counting your chicks before the eggs are hatched.

You don’t understand. The belief is that winning the PDP ticket is the most contentious part of the contest, essentially because the state is considered a PDP state. Since 1999, PDP has been ruling the state. Besides, jubilating over the Appeal Court ruling is also a way of expressing gratitude to God for granting that level of victory, pending the ultimate victory at the general election. Don’t forget that the Oborevwori supporters had gone into prayer and fasting for the judgment.

You speak as if winning the PDP ticket is all there is to the governorship battle. Look, it is far more complex than you think.

First, do not ignore the fact that the Oborevwori fellow is not endorsed by the supreme elders of the party in the state. The Ogidigborigbo political machine is not buzzing behind Oborevwori, but behind David Edevbie. It is only the sitting governor, Ifeany Okowa that is prodding the Speaker of the House, ostensibly to cover up his tracks, as most people believe. Don’t forget Okowa himself is a creation of the Ogidigborigbo Political academy. No wise man can be seen to be challenging his Chi to a wrestling match, according to Chinua Achebe, in his book, Things Fall Apart.  The Ibori political engine is revving. The Okra plant can never outgrow its owner, if you know what I mean.

 It is not over until it is over. So, I can tell you that it is not yet Uhuru for the Okowa camp. The Edevbie faction still has a window of the Supreme Court to challenge the validity of Oborevwori’s candidature.

Hmmmm, you seem to be suggesting that a great duel lies ahead. Look, Ibori or no Ibori, do not discount the power of incumbency. Okowa is in office. He is a quiet operator. He amasses so much….

 (cuts in) He amasses so much what? Look, don’t delude yourself in the name of incumbency factor. No matter how long an arm is, it derives from the chest. Go and ask Okowa himself if he was the choice of his predecessor, former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.  While Uduaghan preferred the late Tony Obuh, Ibori, from faraway land endorsed Okowa. And that was how Okowa got the governorship ticket and seat. Go and ask him. So, don’t forget, there is still anointing in Bethel. If loyalty is the creed, then authority must be respected.

What is more, even on the kinetic edge, Okowa is battling for his Vice presidential race. He will be too distracted to engage in a tussle with his political godfather. Trust me, the cloud is not quite clear.

Forget about the cloud. There are many Ika-based rainmakers, they will soon clear whatever cloud you are seeing. 

 My brother, I speak in metaphor, you are hearing me in nursery rhyme. I maintain that the cloud is not quite clear. And if you doubt this, wait till the Ovie Omo-Agege movement is unleashed on the system. He is a political typhoon. You can see that the APC has been quiet.

Go and check the Electoral Act, as amended. If any irregularity is detected on the profile of the said Oborevwori (be it in academic credentials, name, identity or any other information about his person and record), then it is over for both the candidate and his party. One of the reasons for the failure of Edevbie’s case is because it was hasty. It didn’t wait till all relevant information and documents had been filed with INEC before instituting his case, and so, he inadvertently gave Oborevwori ample room to re-arrange himself before filing his papers with INEC.

But all things considered, I can assure you that the rivers ahead for Oborovweri and his party are wider and deeper. His source of oxygen is narrow and small.

The APC is warming up, big time. There is no guarantee that the apple cart cannot be upset. Do not delude yourself in thinking that because the PDP has always been in charge of Delta, then it will always be PDP. Go and ask one Vincent Ogbulafor, former National Chairman of the PDP who falsely prophesied that the PDP will rule and dominate Nigeria for the next 50/60 years. He was a delusionist. Few years after that mendacious prophecy, PDP was thrown out of the centre, after 15 years. My brother, nothing is cast in stone. This is democracy. The people are going to ask critical questions.23 years of PDP rule in Delta State, where has it taken the state? What has changed in the socio-metrics of the people? Are they poorer or richer? When Okowa came with the campaign lingo of “Prosperity for All”, how much faith did he keep with such promise? Did the people of the State actually experience prosperity? I can tell you they are a lot wiser today. The era of blind and mindless political flocking is over. The mass hysteria of political discipleship is over. This is the 21st century. 

Are you saying that the PDP could lose the guber polls in Delta State?

You said so. The variables are complex, my brother. Check and re-check, nothing is all so certain. Like Charly Boy’s show, anything can happen.

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