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*sheer blackmail

By Bisi Lawrence
The recall of Ms. Aruma Oteh, the formerly suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission by the Federal Government, seems to have caused a widespread commotion within the Capital Market enclave, and within the membership of the House of Representatives.

She had been indicted of activities that were said to be contributory to bringing the Market to a state of near-collapse. Listed were offences like regulatory failure in some of the recent mergers; acquisitions and approvals of transactions by the SEC and general inability to carry her staff; board and management in decision-making in the SEC; and questionable recruitment policies; and incompetence in the management of human and material resources at her disposal etc, etc, etc.

The indictments, though many, were not so varied. A few were so close that probably only the luxury of verbiage distinguished one from the other. In fact, some of them would appear to have been properly dealt with already during a session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Near-Collapse of the Capital Market before which she appeared .

However, one indictment which seemed serious enough for further scrutiny was in regard of “Project 50*, which has implications of misappropriation of funds.

This was what we concentrated upon on this page. Beyond all the vague accusations and unsubstantiated indictments, that was what provided something to sink one’s teeth in. That also what was the Federal Government based its general assessment of Oteh’s culpability on.

The external auditors who had probed the “Project 50” while the SEC D-G was on compulsory leave reported that there was no instance of a criminal breach or fraud found against her. Based upon that, the FG found it only fair and just to ask her to return to her post. But all of that is on the surface.

Deep, deep down is the underlying murky waters of filthy intrigues directed at the career of this hard-working lady by the cabal that simply wants her out of the Commission. It is generated by sheer envy, fuelled by personal animosity and engineered by an obsession with “PhD” – “pull him/her down”. Several projects that had gone astray, and which contributed in no small measure to the sorry state of the Capital Market, were ignored, glossed over or mischievously put at her doorstep. She was even virtually accused of being guilty of having been employed with less than fifteen years’ experience in Capital Market operations— as though she employed herself. We know from where this odious stench originates.

They have launched a campaign of intimidation. They say the President shields corruption, and that, they suppose, would frighten him to give in to their blackmail. They have found a way of bringing Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke into the matter; they have also their old ready whipping-boy, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. But they forget names like Lawan Farouk … or is it the other way around?

However, I have news for them. We all criticize Goodluck Jonathan, but only as our President. Naturally, he resents it when it seems harsh. But when we think of him as a weakling, then we need to change our thinking caps. He is not without any support in his constituency, which is the entire nation, not just a strip of legislative terrain. He will not prostrate before any cheap blackmail.

If he has made up his mind that Diezani shall stay; or has decided that Arunma shall not go, he should look at all those blackmailers in the face even if they shout “impeachment” to the heavens—and not give a damn.

 *from lagos to edo

Many people from all sections of the country have expressed deep satisfaction at the success of Adams Oshiomhole at the recent governorship polls in Edo State. Many political figures, individually and severally, sent him heartwarming congratulatory messages, including President Goodluck Jonathan among other personalities of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

But not so the party itself which declared it was “disappointed”. The message of congratulations it sent to “the winner” was boorish and out of step with the spirit of the time, which the party may not have noticed to be brand new.

The mood, the inclination, these days, is towards not just success, but good success. That is what Oshiomhole’s victory in Edo State typifies, following closely the pattern of Babatunde Fashola, SAN, in the Lagos State last elections. Commenting on the Edo “broom” operation in Edo after the election, the Lagos State governor declared that what he was waiting for was not whether Oshiomhole would win, but with how wide a margin.

In the same vein, that was precisely what most people were similarly engaged in with regard to the last Lagos polls, just over a year ago. It was not where victory would swing to, because it was obvious, but how well the PDP candidate would be trounced.

The Lagos example, you might say, blazed the trail for Oshiomhole’s footsteps. It was not as though he were a neophyte himself in the jungle of politics. He had been primed and had honed his skills of harangue too in the wild and woolly field of trade unionism. He had absorbed the psychology of appearances. He had overcome the fear of failing which makes people fall, even from the start.

He was therefore equipped to tackle the toughest and battle with the roughest. His “Tai Solarin” outfit proclaims that fact, and his action marks every conception of it. The PDP knew that they could not actually contain the magnitude of the contest the man would launch. It was even more evident when he broke out of the constraints, in size and scope, of the Labour Party.

With Fashola and now Oshiomhole after him, the colour of electioneering in Nigeria may have changed irreversibly, fueled by the yearning for regionalization, from the insecurity that is now capable of turning indigenes to refugees in their home base, That is why the assertion of President Goodluck Jonathan, that democracy in Nigeria would collapse without the PDP appears or sounds, with all due respect, absolutely unrealistic and unreasonable to some extent.

“Democracy in Nigeria is older than the PDP; democracy in Nigeria is more firmly entrenched than the PDP; democracy in Nigeria is bigger than the PDP. Statements such as that makes one wonder where our highly respected President is coming from .. With current  developments, can’t he see that the notion of a “sixty-year” reign by the PDP has suddenly become archaic?

The idea of a divinely ordained, or fortuitously framed, lengthy supremacy in favour of any political party, will naturally dwindle and fizzle out with time

The decisions, too, from Aso Rock be uplifting. All these should come fairly easily with the hirde of senior advisers that are around him and are supposed to rub minds with him. Transformation implies an element of innovation. They should bring out fresh ideas.

For instance, the changing of the name of Lagos State University to MKO Abiola University is trite, to say the least. If we could have June 12 as Abiola Day, a holiday celebrated with distinctive national activities every year, even Jonathan himself would be remembered for it. That is the kind of long-lasting honour that has been conferred on Mandella.  And, as we all know, he richly deserves it.

brf  on  brt

The example of forthright leadership which was emulated by Adams Oshiomhole, and now replicated across the West and beyond came openly on stage earlier in the week in its birthplace, when Governor Babatunde Fashola arrested—okay, apprehended—a senior army officer who was invading the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Lagos Island. They do it all the time.

The dedicated route came into its own as never before since the beginning of the repairs on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. He was a passage free of the massive gridlock that held the Commercial Capital of the nation in thrall for hours on end.

Everyone, even people who owned their own vehicles, rushed for the safe, easy ‘means of conveyance provided by the BTR. When the problems on the bridge are over, several would’ have ,found the convenience of the system difficult to put behind them, especially those who have to commute over a fair distance to the city.

However, the effectiveness of the system is ruined when road-users infiltrate the route, leading to a replication of the log-jam that it was created to solve—and is solving. The perpetrators are usually those “big men” who foolishly consider themselves to be above the law.

Unfortunately, they are being acknowledged as “rogue” models by an increasing number of mindless Nigerians who stray into that way of anti-social behaviour. Their number will now sharply decrease with that confrontation that “BRF” had with the errant military officer this week.

As a matter of fact, it was not the first time on record that the Lagos State Governor would have such an encounter with traffic law-breakers who, as military officers, abuse their uniforms in public. It also happened a while back on Victoria Island when the governor accosted a senior air force officer driving against the traffic on a one-way road.

But the point here is that it should not happen ever, not with all those highly-valued LASTMA officials who demean their positions and disgrace their calling by demanding and extorting money from motorists who run foul of traffic rules.

They are so pre-occupied with their nefarious pastime that they hardly have time for their legitimate business. But is it fair that they should make a State Governor do their work for them?

Time out


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