thieves
 

By Dele Sobowale

The first part of this series ended last week with the promise to start with facts already established.

One of the indisputable truths in the book I am already writing is the fact that Oshiomhole and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, after accepting Akpabio into their party, called all the leading members of APC in Akwa Ibom State and ordered them to turn over the party structures in the state to Akpabio and regard him as their leader.

Akpabio, it was alleged, had convinced the two leaders that he could single-handedly deliver the state to the APC.

Well, as the American circus master, P.T. Barnum, said, “A sucker is born every minute.”

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Oshiomhole and Tinubu actually believed Akpabio’s claim.

But I could have told them free of charge that with the blunder, APC lost Akwa Ibom State which it could have won if the original leaders were left alone.

More on that in the book which is now work in process.

Oshiomole’s recruitment of Akpabio paved the way for his appointment as Minister.

One must wonder why Buhari and APC chose to reward a person who lost every election including his own race for the Senate.

That error and its consequences could have been avoided if any other candidate from Akwa Ibom had been made Minister.

In reality, Buhari could not have made a more serious blunder if it was his intention to paralyse the NDDC which Akpabio supervises as Minister.

Like a bad chess player, Akpabio allegedly persuaded Buhari to jettison the Board of NDDC which the Senate had approved and to replace it with an Interim Management Committee, IMC, whose legality is in serious doubt.

We now know that among the measures taken by the IMC was to award N1.3 billion to themselves and the staff of the Commission as “COVID palliatives”.

So far, they have told us how much the IMC Directors and staff got.

But the figures don’t add up. Somebody else not mentioned got some of it.

And from sources inside NDDC, I know who.

“How NDDC paid staff N655m for training, foreign trips during COVID-19 lockdown…” PUNCH, July 25, 2020, p 14.

Just as Buhari is responsible for Akpabio, the Minister is also responsible for the actions of the IMC he allegedly recommended for appointment and still defends.

Now, the public knows that “the total cost of the trip was N85.6m paid to 14 staff members to travel to the United Kingdom…the travelers include the MD/CEO, Prof (Daniel) Pondei, the Executive Director, Projects, Dr Cairo Ojuogboh, and another Director, Mr Luke Ibanga”.

How any officials will travel to see students they have left stranded and turned to beggars is an unresolved mystery.

How they flew out and returned during airports’ lockdown worldwide is a puzzle to unravel.

One other enigma is why the Minister is defending the NDDC IMC.

Last week I made it clear that despite the overwhelming evidence that Buhari has failed in his war against corruption, there is no evidence available to me that he benefited from the alleged corruption going on. Buhari reminds me of President Shehu Shagari of the Second Republic.

After an exhaustive inquiry by Buhari’s military junta, Shagari and his Vice President, the late Dr Alex Ekwueme, were totally exonerated from any taint of corrupt self-enrichment while in office.

In the same manner, I want to declare that there is no credible evidence in my possession to think that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has so far benefited from corrupt practices.

But the exoneration of the two leaders does not extend to their subordinates.

Ranking higher than the NDDC in my league of corruption-ridden agencies of the FG is the Social Investment (aka Intervention) Programme, SIP. More public fund may have disappeared without trace through this programme alone in four years than in all the years of the NDDC or OMPADEC which it replaced.

Like Buhari and Shagari before him, Osinbajo trusted his subordinates absolutely and gave them a free hand to operate.

It was a grave error.

If ever a comprehensive audit of the SIP is conducted, the likelihood is that it will reveal more rogues than Buhari could have imagined possible.

Remember that silence always means consent.

Below is what was written about SIP before. No rejoinder has been received. None will ever come.

 

‘SIP: POOR NIGERIANS SWINDLED AND NOW ABANDONED’

“It was beautiful and simple; as all truly great swindles are.”

  1. Henry, 1862-1910, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 239.

“You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest”.

Louis McHenry Howe, 1871-1936, VBQ p 192.

Have you heard the great good and bad news delivered in one line of the 2020 Budget presented by President Buhari? Well, let me tell you. The budget for the Social Investment (or Intervention) Programme, SIP, introduced to alleviate poverty, provides N5, 000 per month for five million poor Nigerians, feed the nation’s school children and engage over 100,00 graduates as teachers – among other promises – has been reduced to N38 billion. That is part of the good news.

From 2016-2018 and 2019 respectfully, N500bn, N500bn, N500bn and N350bn were the budgets for SIP.

The bad news is that without coming out and confessing it, Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, after using the SIP gimmick to achieve second term, have now completely abandoned the poor people.

No one can now deny that N38 billion cannot possibly help Nigeria’s nearly 100 million poor.

The APC had used the alimajiris to win second term and, in its very first budget after the elections, had stabbed them in the back.

There will be hell to pay for that.

The entire episode actually now demonstrates how cynical and ruthless Nigerian politicians can be. Granted, only a fool will believe the utterances of those who take up a profession which in Nigeria has become a hybrid of prostitution and banditry.

But, to toss out millions of people at the first opportunity after “stealing” their votes with false promises smacks of the sort of heartlessness seldom seen in Nigeria. Wahala will follow. Mark my words.”

That was the prediction last year when Buhari presented Budget 2020.

“There are only two families in the world; my old grandmother used to say: The haves and the have-nots. Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616, VBQ p 87.

And BIG WAHALA has followed the unfulfilled promises.

Instead of lifting millions of people out of poverty as Buhari promised on May 29, 2015, he has added so many more millions to those he found in dire need such that Nigeria has now, during his tenure, become the Poverty Capital of the World. Consequently, all over Nigeria now, the have-nots have taken control – especially in the North – where bandits call governors in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara to negotiate the ransom government must pay as a condition for temporary peace.

The peace invariably lasts until the bandits run out of money and it dawns on them that there must be more where the last batch came from. It has never occurred to the governors that they are actually providing funds with which the bandits procure more weapons!!!

At any rate, the bandits are keenly aware that the amount given to them is often less than the figure claimed by government officials.

The Northern Invisible Market consisting of corrupt government officials, bandits and gun runners is a very active one.

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” US Justice Louis Brandeis, 1856-1941.

Brandeis, an Associate Supreme Court Justice, who has an elite Jewish university named after him in Waltham outside Boston, US, was a strong believer in prompt dispensation of justice. He frowned on litigants seeking long and needless adjournments when they had a weak case – irrespective of who was dragging their feet. Brandeis would have been livid with rage with regard to how Nigeria’s current Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, had delayed cases involving former governors and other highly-placed and politically-exposed individuals since he ordered all the case files transferred to the Ministry from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Some individuals, who have cases with the EFCC, are now Ministers or appointees to top position.

One of them is now busy messing up his Ministry and its major agency with atrocious revelations.

Meanwhile, the EFCC, which the AGF supervises, is neck deep in charges and counter charges with the AGF himself being fingered in some of the alleged corrupt practices like appointing a company allegedly already charged with grave crimes as auctioneer for seized assets in the company’s sector.

We cannot quickly forget Malami’s alleged role in bringing back and reinstating Maina charged with embezzling billions from the pension scheme.

Malami is number three in ranking in government after Buhari and Osinbajo.

He is by our Constitution, the nation’s chief law enforcer.

But, a situation in which the AGF of Nigeria appears to be sympathetic to enemies of the state should worry us.

Top law enforcers, like Caesar’s wife, are expected to be above reproach.

To be continued…

Vanguard

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