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I decided to read a copy of the National Grazing Reserve Council Bill and I was surprised at what I saw. The Bill creates a council to be chaired by a Chairman to be appointed by the president.

The council shall have the power to take your land anywhere the land is located in the country and then pay you compensation. Your land, when taken, shall be assigned to herdsmen who shall use your land for grazing purposes. They shall bring cows to the land and you shall lose the land permanently to those Fulani cattlemen. If you feel that the council was not right to take your land, you can go to court but before you go to court, you must first of all notify the federal attorney general of your intention to sue the council. 

Apart from notifying, you must get the consent and authority of the Federal Attorney General before you can sue. So that means that if the Attorney General refuses to give his consent to the suit, you have lost your land forever to the herdsmen. And this law, when passed, shall apply to the whole country so it means that your land in the village or anywhere is not safe.

The National Grazing Reserve Council would have the power to take away your land from you anytime they want and pay you whatever they want as compensation (even when you don't want to sell, and remember that for you to get compensation, you must have documents showing or proving ownership). So I think that we all in the South West, South South and South East must rise up and reject this Bill. We must do all things to force our national Assembly members from passing that bill into law.

That bill is a deliberate attempt to take our lands and hand the land over to the Fulani cattlemen since it is only the fulanis that rear cattle in Nigeria. That law, when passed, shall fulfil the directive of Uthman Dan Fodio and other northern leaders to take over other parts of Nigeria. 

I implore you to use all available means to implore your senator and Rep not to pass that law. That law will destroy Nigeria. All over the world, ranches are established and used to rear cattle. The farmers buy land and put their cattle there. There is no country where the land of the citizens are compulsorily acquired and given to others.

This is evil, and designed to favour the Fulanis where the president comes from. We must resist the passage of that bill into law to save Nigeria, and to protect our future generations.

Tonnie Iredia, Phd, is a journalism teacher, mass communication expert, former NTA DG, and an attorney. 

The Enugu State Government has opposed the creation of grazing reserves across the country following the invasion of Nimbo community in the state by suspected herdsmen.

The Deputy Governor of the State, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, made the declaration in Enugu on Friday while presenting the government’s position on the incident to the Defence Headquarters Committee on Persistent Clashes between Herdsmen and Farmers in Nigeria.

The committee led by Maj.-Gen. Edward Nze was in the state on the mandate of the chief of defence staff to find a lasting solution to menace of herdsmen in the country.

Ezeilo recommended that the Federal Government should create ranches to reduce the clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

In the document, the state government called for immediate disarmament of the herdsmen across the country and a proper screening by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to repatriate the aliens among them.

It also said that in discussions with herdsmen, they accused the Shua Arabs headed by one Ahmed Adamu who was included in a peace committee as a major culprit in the security challenges.

“There should be immediate disarmament of the herdsmen across the country, as they carry sophisticated weapons such as AK-47.

“Adequate measures should be taken to ensure proper policing of the country’s borders to check the influx of irregular aliens and security men equipped to face challenges,” it stated.

The state government called for a proper investigation into the circumstances that surrounded the invasion of the community where scores of residents were killed and compensations paid.

“Having spent enormous resources in the construction of a heliport for the Nigeria Police Force in Enugu, the state government calls for effective use of the facility with regard to fighting crime.

“Network providers should be made to provide network services to rural communities to enable security experts perform maximally and to share information among the citizenry,” it stated.

The document was signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Gabriel Ajah.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation said that there was a compelling need for a military action to curtail the aspect of criminality and terrorism of the herdsmen.

Nze said that all levels of government must rise to the occasion to defeat the marauders.

“The conflict between herdsmen and farmers has escalated over the last decade with adverse impact on national security and could lead to other consequences if not checked.

“There must be a military solution to this problem because we observe that some elements of criminality and terrorism have reared their head in it,” he said.

He said that the incidence in Enugu State had given impetus to the directive of the chief of defence staff on the urgent need to stop the marauders forthwith.

Nze said that the committee was set up to ensure a coordinated action against the menace, saying that it was unfortunate that the committee was in Nasarawa State when the marauders struck in Nimbo community.

“We were slated to visit Enugu State on April 27 following a letter dated April 13 from the chief of defence staff to that effect,” Nze said.

Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun has assured the people of the state that Sen. Iyabo Anisulowo, who was kidnapped by gunmen on Wednesday, would soon be rescued alive.

Amosun gave the assurance on Thursday when he visited the farm of the Anisulowos at Sawon community in Yewa-North Local Government Area.

Anisulowo, a former senator, was abducted at about 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday between Sawon and Imaseyi junction in the council area.

Amosun was accompanied by heads of security agencies in the state including the state Commissioner of Police, state Director of the DSS and the Commandant of the 35 Artillery Brigade, Abeokuta.

The governor said that security officials had already been detailed to ensure a speedy rescue of the victim.

“The government is already interfacing with security officials and I can assure you that everyone here is involved, including the local farmers, hunters and vigilante service.

“We will rescue her alive and bring her back safely and I believe that in a matter of hours, we will have cause to thank God over this incident.

“We are ready for the abductors and they will regret what they have done.

Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State

Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State

“Ogun State will never be a comfort zone for criminals,” he said.

Amosun, who described Anisulowo as enterprising and industrious, said she was passionate about farming.

Bala Hassan, the Assistant Inspector General(AIG) of Police in charge of Zone 2 comprising Lagos and Ogun Commands, described the development as “unfortunate.’’

Hassan, who recalled the arrest of the kidnappers of school children at Ikorodu in Lagos State, gave an assurance that Anisulowo’s kidnappers would suffer the same fate.

The victim’s husband, Aderemi, who condemned the act, expressed satisfaction at “the timely response” of the state government.

Anisulowo’s driver, Wasiu Afonja, who had earlier painted a graphic picture of the incident to Amosun, said the kidnappers had laid siege to their vehicle in a bush while they were returning from the farm.

He said the kidnappers, who were four in number, attacked the jeep in which he, Anisulowo as well as two other occupants were travelling.

Afonja explained that the kidnappers pulled him and two other occupants from the car and beat them up before driving away with Anisulowo.

The Commandant of the Vigilante Service in charge of Yewa-South Local Government Area, Zachaeus Oluyemi, expressed the belief that the kidnappers were still within the community.

He also gave an assurance that the victim would be rescued while the kidnappers would be arrested.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested the managing director of Fidelity Bank, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo in connection with the $115 million slush fund routed through the bank by former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke to buy votes for Goodluck Jonathan.

Also detained is the Fidelity Bank’s head of operation, Martin Izuogbe.

The $115million was contributed by several oil companies, including Diezani directly handing over $25million, all converted into N23. 3 billion to buy INEC officials to rig the 2015 election for Jonathan.

The arrest of the former resident electoral commissioner for Rivers state, Gesila Khan unlocked the gate to the scandal, which has also led the EFCC launch a manhunt for Ugonna Madueke, the former minister’s son.

Nnamdi Okonkwo, MD/CEO Fidelity Bank

Nnamdi Okonkwo, MD/CEO Fidelity Bank

Also under probe are the four companies which made up the $115million slush fund.

They are Northern Belt Gas Company Limited; Auctus Integrated; Midwestern Oil and Gas; and Lenoil, owned by Laitan Adesanya.

Out of the N23.3 billion distributed by Fidelity Bank, Gesila Khan, now REC for Cross River got N185.8million.

Fidelia Omoile (Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State) got N112.5 million; Uluochi Obi Brown INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State got N111,500,000.

A former Deputy Director of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga was paid N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo also got N214,127,000.

The EFCC is now busy compiling the list of INEC officials in all the 36 states, who were recipients of Diezani’s N23.29billion.

The Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman, has returned N23m to the Federal Government, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

Usman was last Thursday arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly receiving N2.5bn which emanated from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

A reliable source at the EFCC told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that she had promised to return more funds.

“Nenadi Usman has been cooperating with us. In fact, she has returned N23m to the Federal Government,” he said.

Usman, who is being quizzed by the EFCC, told investigators that all she did was based on the instructions of Jonathan, adding that she did not know that the funds belonged to taxpayers.

According to the source, Usman told investigators that as the Director of Finance of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation, she was asked to set up a bank account during the build-up to the election, which she did.

She allegedly said all donations were made to Jonathan’s campaign through Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited and it was through the said account that funds were released to all campaign directors, zonal coordinators and other related parties and groups which campaigned for the PDP.

It was through the same account that the Director of Publicity, Femi Fani-Kayode, was paid N840m. It was also through the same account that the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Chief Olu Falae, and Rashidi Ladoja, allegedly received N100m each.

Ex-political adviser to Jonathan, Prof. Rufai Alkali, who was the Coordinator of the Goodluck Support Group, allegedly collected N320m on behalf of the group while several governorship candidates of the PDP equally received money from the account.

However, the EFCC source said, “She told us that she did not know the funds belonged to the Federal Government. However, we asked her why she didn’t verify and also why didn’t she set up an account bearing the name of the PDP. Why did she use her company account if not that she wanted to keep things secret.”

Meanwhile, one of the campaign managers of Jonathan’s re-election campaign said the National Intelligence Agency was aware of the alleged diversion of funds from the CBN.

It was reported that N4bn was transferred from the account of the CBN into a mysterious account known as the Ministry of External Affairs Library before it was moved to an account known as Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited which is controlled by Usman.

However, the source said the account was set up by the NIA, which is under the Office of the National Security Adviser.

It was learnt that some officials of the NIA had been quizzed by the EFCC to explain why the account was set up.

A reliable source said, “During the build-up to the last elections, when monies were going to be diverted from the account of the CBN, the Ministry of External Affairs Library was set up with the connivance of officials of the NIA. It was done so that the transaction would seem as if the money was being transferred to a Federal Government account and it would not raise any red flags. The Permanent Secretary at the Villa then drew up a memo on the instructions of the President and the CBN deposited the funds into the account of the Ministry of External Affairs.

“From there, the money was paid into Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited, from where monies were sent to all stakeholders during the electioneering. Preliminary investigations however suggest that the Ministry of External Affairs Library does not even exist.”

From the Ministry of External Affairs Library, N2.5bn was transferred to Joint Trust Dimensions Nigeria Limited while N140m cash was allegedly paid into her Zenith Bank Account with number, 1000158311, domiciled on 7, Kachia Road, Kaduna.

In a related development, security experts have called for investigation into the alleged diversion of N4bn through the NIA.

A former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said if it was true that the agency was used for money laundering, this means it had lost credibility.

“If they are using NIA for money laundering, it means it has lost credibility. If it was being used for money laundering, a crime against the nation, this means that NIA has totally lost credibility.”

Another security analyst, Max Gbanite, said it was unlawful for politicians to use an intelligence agency to divert public funds, adding that officers involved in the alleged crime should be interrogated and made to explain what transpired. “Politicians have been embezzling money before now, but if politicians used the NIA to divert money, it is criminal and the officers in the agency need to be interrogated,” Gbanite said.

 

MOST of the 23 states that got bail out cash from the federal government for the settlement of arrears of workers’ salaries and emoluments, diverted the funds for other purposes, thereby defeating the purpose of the government’s effort to provide succour for the workers. A comprehensive analysis carried out by the  Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in conjunction with the Nigeria Labour Congress,  revealed last night that many of the states deliberately lied that they were owing their workers huge debts when the reverse was the case.

A major feature of the analysis released by the ICPC and signed by its Commissioner for Public Enlightenment, indicated that many of the states failed to apply the amount received from the federal government to settle their indebtedness to their workers, leaving them enmeshed in huge arrears of salaries to the staff despite collecting the bailout cash. A breakdown of the analysis indicates that out of the 27 states that applied for the fund, only 23 had been paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria as at the end of December 2015.

The benefiting states are: Adamawa, Bauchi,  Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Katsina, Gombe, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto, Kwara, Bayelsa and Imo. Others are: Enugu, Oyo, Delta, Kebbi and Zamfara. Of particular concern to the ICPC, is the case of Zamfara State, which applied for N32.5bn  but as at the time of collecting N10 billion from the federal government for workers’ arrears, the state was reportedly not indebted to any of its workers.

But after receiving the cash, the state government made overtures to its House of Assembly to approve the use of the money for the settlement of indebtedness to contractors and other purposes.

The House of Assembly thereafter approved the disbursement of the money as follows: *Outstanding of payment to 14 LGS of the State: N4,262,560,629.83 * Outstanding payment of fertilizer for 2014 farming season: N3,056,300,000.00 *Outstanding certificate for construction of Bungudu-Nahuche Kyabarawa Road 22.6Km: N265,256,342.76 * Outstanding certificate of Hostel Block at Abdu Gusau Polytechnic. T/Mafara:N55,000,000.00 * Payment of outstanding cost of Vehicles supplied to State: N319,430,000.00 * Outstanding certificate of construction work at K/Namoda Juma’at Mosque: N20,4 79,100.39 * Outstanding certificate of construction work at Emir’s Palace. Gusau: N6,020,000.00 * Share of 14 Local Government Councils Bailout: N2,035,705,000.00.

In a different dimension of misuse, Imo State, which collected the sum of N26,806,430.000.00 from the CBN, paid the amount into two commercial banks and transferred part of the money into uses not related to workers salaries. The ICPC said it discovered that N2 billion was lodged into a Government House Account, N2 billion paid into Imo State Project Account, while another N2 billion was lodged in a micro-finance bank and a ‘management fee’ of N21 million paid into an unspecified account out of the bailout fund received by  the state.

Similarly, Adamawa State got N9,578,360, 000.00 as bailout cash but disbursed only N2,378,360,000.00 with a balance of N7,200,000,000.00. According to the report, the state could not adduce any reason for the slow process of off-setting the debt as at the time of the report. However, the state claimed not to owe outstanding salaries as at September, 2015.

In the case of Bauchi State,  the report shows that out of the N8.609.100.000.00 it received as bail-out fund, it disbursed N8.4I4.088,383.26 with a balance of N95.011.616.74. The State claimed not to owe salaries as at September. 201 5.

Also, Benue State received N 12.503,439.787. 48 as bailout fund and disbursed  N10,852.536.702. 96 with a balance of N 1.650.903.084.52. Analysis of the documents submitted revealed a double payment of N37,760,000.00 in favour of Office of the Deputy Governor. The ICPC said it was investigating the double payment to the Deputy Governor.

Cross River State  is said to have received N7.856,400.000.00 as bailout fund and disbursed N3.140.883.040.77 with a balance of N4.715,516.959.23. However the State claimed not to have outstanding salaries to workers as at 19/11/2015.

Ekiti State according to the report, received N9.604.340.000.00 as bailout fund and disbursed N9.213. 816.252.44 with a balance of N390.613.747. 56. The State owed one month salary as at 28th October 2015.

Katsina State got Nl1, 086.630.000.00 as bailout fund and disbursed N2.512.214.530.71 with a balance of N8.574.415.469.29. The State claimed to have cleared all outstanding salaries as at 18lh February, 2016.

Gombe State got N11,000,000,000.00 and disbursed N6,321.684.423.67 with a balance of N4,678,315,576.33. The state claimed it was not owing salaries as at September, 2015, according to the report.

Nasarawa State received N8,317.167.368.87 in two tranches of N3.956.047.519.60 and N4.361.119.848.27 as bailout fund and disbursed N3.956.047.519.60 with a balance of N4.361.1 19.848.27. The State claimed not to have paid Local Government Workers’ salaries due to an on-going verification exercise.

Niger State received N4.396.810.000.00 as bailout fund and the entire amount was claimed to have been expended in off-setting salary debts.

Ondo State  received N9.443.059.226.92 as bailout fund and disbursed N7.905.484.176.60 with a balance of N1,537.575.050.32. The State reportedly owed one-month salary and several months arrears of gratuity/pension as at 30th September. 2015.

Osun State received N34.988.990.000.00 as bailout fund and disbursed N18.677.224.582.20, leaving a balance of N16.311,765.418 billion as at November. 2015. The Commission said it was verifying allegations that Osun State public servants had only been paid salaries up to July 2015.

Ogun State claimed it received N18,916.208.664.86 as bailout fund and duly expended the entire sum for salary arrears and did not owe workers as at 9th October, 2015. Plateau State  received N5.357.570.000.00 as bailout fund and disbursed N5.330.589.061.15 with a balance of N26.980.938.85. The State was owing  two months salaries as at 30th September 2015.

Kwara State received the sum of N4.320.950.000.00 as bailout fund and disbursed N4,291.087.985.08 for staff salaries and emoluments with a balance of N29.862.014.92. The State claimed to have cleared all outstanding salaries as at 20th October. 2015.

Bayelsa State applied for the sum of N 1.285.000.000.00 and had concluded disbursement formalities but the Central Bank of Nigeria was yet to release the said fund to the State as at 18th December, 2015.

Enugu State was granted N10,174,238,681.19 as bailout fund as at 16th November 2015. Analysis of the documents submitted revealed that, the State disbursed N5, 967,238,681.19 from the bailout fund to settle domestic debts and claimed that funds for the payments of Staff salaries and  emoluments was not yet assessed.

Oyo State was granted N26,606,944,831.03 as bailout fund and disbursed N25,495,292,422.63 with a balance of Nl, l 11.652.408.40. The State owes four months’ salaries as at 7 April. 2016. Delta State has a total debt value accrued from Staff salaries and emoluments of N36,417,217,601.53. The State was granted N10,936,799,299.36 as bailout fund and disbursed N8,129,888,279.86 with a balance of N2,806,9I1,019.50. However, the state claimed not to owe salaries as at 24th November. 2015.

Kebbi State received N7.080.000.000.00 as bailout fund and disbursedN2,617,152,577.20 with a balance of N4,463,975,420.27. The State claimed to have cleared all outstanding arrears on salaries as at September. 2015. 

Abuja— Former Finance Minister, Mrs Esther Nenadi Usman, was yesterday, taken into custody by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly receiving N2.5 billion of the N4 billion taken out of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on the orders of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, in the heat of the 2015 election. Usman was the Director of Finance of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign and was said to have access to huge cash, some of which the EFCC said came from the CBN.

Also arrested by the EFCC was former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Clement Iloh, for obtaining a questionable N316 million from public account. The two former top public officers were being quizzed  over  what an EFCC top source described as serial acts of corruption by EFCC operatives last night.

According to findings, the former minister is being quizzed over various sums of money which were paid into her account during her tenure as senator. She was said to have received N2.5 billion of the over N4 billion which was transferred out of CBN into various individuals and company’s accounts. Illoh, on his part, was arrested by the EFCC after N316 million was traced to his Zenith Bank account. During the investigation, EFCC is said to have discovered that N14.1 million was paid to Clement & Bob Associates, a company in which Dr. Illoh is the sole signatory.

It was further discovered that   the sum of N49 million and N13 million were also paid into Clement & Bob Associates account   from the now defunct Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE –P. Dr Illoh has been unable to provide satisfactory answer on how he came about the said N316 million in which he has the sum of N200 million in fixed deposit and over N16 million as balance in Zenith Bank.


Ahead of the September 10 governorship election in Edo state, war of words appear to be causing a crack in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) family, as some of its aspirants are fighting dirty over who is qualified to fly the party’s flag in the election.

It is pertinent to recall that in their determination to dethrone the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, all aspirants of the party had pledged to stick together and work as one family, no matter who emerged as the party’s flag bearer.

But indications that things are beginning to fall apart in the party emerged on Monday when one of the aspirants, Osaro Onaiwu, called on the leadership of the party to call another aspirant, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to order over an alleged denigrating statement he made against other aspirants, describing the statement as “unacceptable.”

Onaiwu who was the Director-General of PDP Governors’ Forum, said: “Ize-Iyamu said and we have him on tape, that he is the only one criticizing Oshiomhole, that none of us is doing that. Secondly, that he was the only one that gave N100,000 each to 192 wards during the elections and thirdly, that he is the only person that has the capacity to fight APC and that other aspirants don’t have what it takes.

“But let me remind him: He said he has structures more than three of us, during the last elections, I am from the two Ovia, we were able to deliver the two constituencies for Omosede Igbinedion to win the House of Representatives election. Mathew Iduoriyekemwen is from Ikpoba Okha, he was able to deliver EJ Agbonayinma as a House of Reps member today.‎

“Solomon Edebiri is from Uhumwonde, he delivered Uhumwonde votes. Pastor Ize-Iyamu is from Orhiomwon and our candidate, Larry Ogieva, lost the House of Representatives election. He could not deliver Larry in Orhiomwon. Urhoghide who is a Senator today in Edo South, went to the court because of Oriomnwon votes. So if he says he is the one who can win elections, he should have delivered Orhionmwon for PDP.‎

“Also, don’t forget he is the only aspirant among the four of us who has changed his local government twice. He was operating in Oredo [but] has now moved to Orhionmwon. Is that the kind of person you want us to trust. ‎

“They destroyed PDP in this state but we are trying to build it back. No matter the differences you had in the party you ganged up against it and you are proud to say that you formed the Grace Group to destroy PDP and today you said you want PDP governorship ticket.‎

“You are proud to say that the leadership of the party at that time de-registered you and you went to form ACN, why did you not remain in the ACN that you formed? Why did you not remain with Oshiomhole that you are criticizing? Was it that Oshiomhole was not doing well when you left him? If there are issues with Oshiomhole, go and sort it out and leave the party out of it. Don’t create an impression that you are the only one that can fight APC, we are not going to war and no individual has an exclusive right to violence.

Onaiwu then urged party leaders to call him to order. “The party leadership in Edo state should advise him to campaign about what he wants to do for the people and not destroying other aspirants. He lacks the credibility to think he will lead us to victory. He is creating an impression that he is the only one that can fight Oshiomhole. Running me down, running Iduoriyekenwem and Edebiri down is unacceptable. The party leadership should talk to him. I just pity the party and I expect the party leadership to call him to order.”

‎But in a swift reaction, Pastor Ize-Iyamu said he still stands by the bond of the PDP aspirants, adding that, they are one and that whoever gets the ticket will have their support.

“I never castigated anybody. I have always mentioned what I did for the party at fora where I speak. I never mentioned any aspirant’s name.

“If a man is talking about how he gave money, how is that an offence? I have a right to talk about my contribution to the party. Onaiwu has been talking about how he was DG to Governors’ Forum and what he did, I never reacted to it.

“How I left PDP and came back is in the public domain stand. I stand by our bond and I will never run any aspirant down,” Ize-Iyamu said.

“Accursed are those nations whose leaders are small-minded. They cannot accomplish great things in concert.” This writer’s take on leadership pettiness.

In northern Nigeria, almajiri is a term used to refer to boys or adults who go from house to house, or openly along the street, begging for food or for alms. The word is said to derive from the Arabic word for ‘migrant’.

To the extent that since assumption of office as president, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, has spent as much time outside the shores of Nigeria begging for foreign assistance as he has spent at home, one is tempted to infer that Nigeria has become an almajiri nation.

Indeed to the extent that President Buhari has been going from country to country begging for one form of assistance or the other, one can also say based on fairly solid evidence that ‘almajirism’ has become the cornerstone of Nigeria’s foreign policy .

Now this writer does not know about any successful Nigerian who has publicly claimed that he was once an almajiri. Every so often one hears about rags-to-wealth stories of successful Nigerians who were once taxi cab drivers, or street hawkers, or domestic servants or laborers, or fashion designers etc.

Apparently almajirism has never proven to be one of the routes to later success in life. This is not to suggest that it is impossible. It is just that the odds are well stacked against almajirism as a roadmap to success.

President Buhari’s diehard supporters will surely claim that Nigeria’s almajirism if at all that is what it is, is a short term desperate measure well suited for the desperate times Nigeria finds itself. The only problem with this claim is that the career path for an alumnus of the almajiri system invariably leads from almajirism into violent urban rioting accompanied by the stabbing to death of kafirs (non-muslims).

From urban rioting there is a progression into fanaticism or fundamentalism, finally crowned for some alumni of almajirism by a transformation into full blooded terrorists. Surely this is not the ideal roadmap we want to traverse as a nation.

President Buhari’s supporters may also deny the fact of Nigeria’s almajirism on the grounds that any aid received so far from foreign nations such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, China, Britain to name just a few has come mostly in the form of “soft” loans which must be repaid someday and not as outright grants in ‘almajiri style.’

However the crucial question arises. Can Nigeria ever repay these so-called soft loans given the current trend of things?

Can an administration which claims that agriculture is one of the centerpieces of its strategy for national economic revival, reasonably rely on agriculture to drive national economic recovery when it always looks on rather benevolently as well armed Fulani herdsmen who may or may not be Nigerians, terrorize, kill or dispossess indigenous professional farmers of their farmlands?

Posing the same question in another way, can an administration whose policy is to seize and transform ethnic farmlands into “grazing” areas (read conquered territory) for both the indigenous nomadic Fulani as well as foreign nomadic Fulani from the West and Central African sub-regions reasonably rely on agriculture as a driver of national economic resurgence?

While on this matter and as an aside, the reader’s attention is drawn to a recent essay by this writer titled “Herds or Tales – The Herdsman Always Wins (Parts 1 & 2)” which at its tail end proposes a possible solution to the herdsmen vs indigenes conflict that guarantees justice for all.

Furthermore can a nation which wants to emerge from poverty and repay the loans it took in times of economic peril, afford to alienate, marginalize, dehumanize and suppress some of the most vibrant, most creative, most energetic, and most entrepreneurial segments of its population under an ill-conceived feudalist policy as is currently being meted out to the South-East and possibly the South-South regions of Nigeria?

Can an administration which is currently attempting to institute a national dual caste system of Fulani Herdsmen as the “upper caste” and the rest of the nation as “lower caste” peoples ever re-create the peaceful atmosphere necessary to engender the sort of national productivity imperative for wealth creation and repayment of the so-called soft loans it is taking around the world?

Can a nation which is inexorably sliding into avoidable conflicts through obnoxious and discriminatory actions of state organs or state agents ever be realistically and holistically mobilized for genuine wealth creation?

Can a political administration which for short-sighted and petty reasons chooses to be the Divider-in-Chief rather than the Reconciler-in-Chief of the nation engineer the national reconciliation and harmony inevitable for genuine progress?

If the answers to the above listed posers are all in the negative, then it is as clear as daylight that the humongous loans this current administration is begging for around the globe cannot be repaid by Nigeria as things currently stand, without prejudice to the price of a barrel of crude oil.

To repay these accumulated debts under prevailing circumstances, President Buhari has to perpetually keep making the rounds of foreign capitals, beggar’s bowl in hand, pleading for ever more aid, almajiri style.

It is clear that presidential pettiness more than corruption and poverty now poses the greatest danger to state security. Presidential pettiness is a confirmation of the presence of feudal statecraft in high places.

Presidential pettiness encourages institutionalized discrimination against targeted segments of the nation by sycophantic agents of the state. Targeted discrimination runs counter to the Nigerian constitution which holds all Nigerians equal and is a sop to feudalism which is an abuse of office.

Each discriminatory act against bona fide Nigerian citizens, dead or alive on the basis of ethnicity or religious beliefs by State organs or State agents, delegitimizes the current administration unless it expressly and publicly distances itself from such obnoxious and atrocious acts through the punishment of the perpetrators.

The recent alarm raised by the Department of State Security (DSS) about the unfortunate murder of 5 Fulani herdsmen-citizens out of 55 other citizens’ corpses found in shallow graves in the South-East region while remaining completely unconcerned about the deaths of the remaining 50 dead citizens is an act of institutional discrimination even in death.

It diminishes the stature and credibility of the Buhari Administration and portrays it as completely lacking in the type of statecraft necessary to govern a modern country as opposed to a primeval feudal society.

There is deafening silence by the Buhari Administration as well as an apparent lack of serious minded criminal investigation into the following violent acts.
(1) The cold-blooded murder of more than 300 citizens of Agatu in Benue State as well as countless other citizens of Nigeria by Fulani herdsmen.
(2) The cold-blooded murder by the Nigerian Army of 370 to 800, protesting Shiites with number of casualties depending on who you ask. 
(3) The cold-blooded murder of several peaceful, unarmed neo-Biafran agitators by State agents. 
(4) The recent kidnap and cold-blooded murder of a serving colonel of the Nigerian army. 
This trend is truly disturbing to all fair minded people in Nigeria regardless of political suasion.

The Buhari Administration must summon the courage to condemn all these violent acts done against innocent Nigerian citizens including the aforementioned 55 persons killed in the South-East all of who it was constitutionally obliged to protect. It must also do all in its power to honestly identify and bring all the perpetrators of these violent crimes to justice regardless of ethnic origin, religious affiliation or public status.

Unless and until it does both, the Buhari Administration runs the risk of incrementally delegitimizing itself and affirms that under its watch Nigeria can never pay back the foreign loans it continually seeks and acquires under our nation’s new almajirist state policy because unity, peace, justice and consequently progress will always remain elusive.

It effectively confirms therefore that Nigeria is now an almajiri nation hooked on foreign aid with a concomitantly bleak almajirist future.

Anthony Chuka Konwea, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, MNSE, FNIStructE, MNICE.• 

THE END -

The Presidency on Wednesday dismissed an article by The Telegraph (London) allegedly accusing Nigeria of using Britain aid to persecute President Muhammadu Buhari’s political foes rather than fight Boko Haram.

A statement issued in Abuja by Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, said the article was full of factual inaccuracies and a clear ignorance of Nigeria and the country’s ongoing war against terrorism.

The statement read: “our attention has been drawn to a piece published on April 12, 2016 in The Telegraph (London) paper by one Con Coughlin (identified as ‘Defence Editor’), titled “Nigeria using UK aid to persecute president’s political foes rather than to fight Boko Haram.”

“The piece is not only full of factual inaccuracies, it also betrays a shocking ignorance of Nigeria and the country’s ongoing war against terrorism.

“Mr Coughlin’s editorial tactic is to quote unnamed senior officials’ and `western diplomats’ and `western officials’ and `political opponents’, making fact-free and unfounded statements.

“It also appears that he sought out only those opinions which suited and reinforced his disgracefully false headline.

“Nowhere in the piece is there anything that suggests he attempted to contact the Nigerian government for its own side of the story.

“Coughlin writes that “American officials are also angry that 2.1 billion Dollars of aid given to the Nigerian military to tackle Boko Haram has not been properly accounted for.

“It does not occur to him that the 2.1 billion Dollars he refers to was budgeted for and wholly spent by the government that President Buhari and his party defeated in the March 2015 presidential elections, and that one of President Buhari’s priorities has been investigating the misuse of those funds.

“It also does not appear to occur to Mr Coughlin that the “political opponents” he is falsely accusing President Buhari of “targeting” and “persecuting” are actually on trial on account of how they spent the 2.1 billion dollars in question.’’

According to Shehu, Coughlin is equally unaware of the fact that the investigating panel set up by President Buhari to probe the 2.1 billion Dollars recently published a preliminary report that confirmed that much of that money was indeed looted or mispent by the accused persons.

He said that already, government had started to recover the looted funds.

The presidential aide also dismissed Coughlin’s accusation that President Buhari’s government was attempting to cover-up the abduction of 400 women and children “abducted last year by militants from the Nigerian town of Damasak.’’

“This is absolutely untrue. The Damasak abductions he’s referring to, which were recently widely reported, took place, not “last year” as he says, but in late 2014, well before Buhari was elected President of Nigeria.

“And by the way, President Buhari came to power on May 29, 2015, not July, as Coughlin reported.

“A simple search by Mr Coughlin of his archives would have revealed these facts. A simple fact-check by his copy-editors would have spared the Telegraph the embarrassment of publishing this drivel.”

According to Shehu, there are several other inaccuracies and baseless statements in the piece, but Mr Coughlin is too enamoured of his anonymous sources to realise they might be misleading him, or be as ignorant about the situation as he is.

“The suggestion that Boko Haram is going “from strength to strength” is an eminently laughable one; not even Nigeria’s opposition party would make such an absurd claim.

“Since President Buhari took office, schools in Borno, shut for more than one year under the previous government, have reopened.

“The same applies to the airport in Maiduguri, shut in December 2013 after a devastating Boko Haram attack on the nearby Air Force Base.”

Shehu noted that thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had now started returning home, while on Sunday, El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club played its first game in its home base of Maiduguri in more than two seasons.

He said “until now, the club had been forced to play home games outside the region, on account of security concerns.

“There are several more examples of how the people of the region are finally getting a chance to rebuild their lives, as the Nigerian Armed Forces and a Multinational Joint Task Force continue their work of routing the terrorists.

“Coughlin not only sounds like a spokesperson for the very people whose corruption and mismanagement allowed Boko Haram to bring Nigeria to its knees – and whose disastrous legacy President Buhari spent the last one year redeeming Nigeria from – he is also guilty of failing to observe the most basic rules of responsible journalism.

“Coughlin needs a refresher course on responsible journalism as much as he needs a crash course on Nigeria.

“Until he submits himself to these, we’re afraid he will continue to embarrass not only himself, but also the revered British media institution that is the Telegraph.”

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